Patan TourismPatan is an ancient fortified town, situated on the banks of the sacred Saraswati river. Vanraj Chavda, founded it in 746 AD and Patan enjoyed a privileged status of capital of Gujarat, for about 600 years from 746 AD to 1411 AD. The major Rajput clans of Chavadas (746-942 AD), Solankis (942-1244 AD) and Vaghelas (1244-1304 AD) ruled Gujarat from Patan. The glory of Patan reached its zenith during the Solanki period the golden age of Gujarat. During these years, the city was a great place of learning and a prosperous trading center. The rulers were great patrons of fine arts and architecture and undertook construction of many civic and religious edifices in the city.
The Jain text, 'Kumarpala Rasa', describes Patan as a prosperous fortified town; 18 miles in circumference with 84 town squares, 52 bazaars, mints of gold and silver, well laid gardens with fountains and trees, grammar school of Sanskrit and Prakrit, numerous Hindu and Jain temples and Sahastralinga Talav.
After last Vaghela ruler, Karan Ghelo lost to Ulugh Khan in 1289 AD, the Muslims plundered the town, destroyed the temples and ruined the entire city. Today, one can barely find the traces of such a magnificent town. The most significant monuments in Patan are Rani ki Vav, Sahastralinga Talav and Khan Sarovar.
Rani ki Vav is an excellent example of subterranean architecture of Gujarat. This Vav was constructed by Udaymati, the queen of Bhimdev (1022-63 AD). The exisquisitely carved side walls, pillars, beams, series of steps and platforms lead to the elaborately carved water well. Every surface is adorned with finelly chiselled sculptures of maidens and Hindu deities, religious motifs and geometrical patterns. Rani ki Vav represents the finest of the Indian sculptures and architecture.
Sahastralinga Talav is among the many artificial tanks built in different parts of Gujarat, under the patronage of Siddhraj Jaisinh (1093-1143 AD). The architecture of this tank integrated the great sense of water management and sanctity of water in Hindu religion. The tank used to receive water from a canal of the Saraswati river and had spread of about five km with masonary embankments. There were thousand Shiva Shrines on the edge of the tank. Some remains of the same are even visible today. Looking at the rums, one can imagine the grandeur of this great water tank. The famous legend of Siddhraj Jaisinh's desire for Jasma Odan, a beautiful woman of the tank diggers' community, revolves around this tank. She refused to marry him and committed sati to protect her honour. It is believed that her curse made this tank waterless and the king without a heir to the kingdom of Gujarat.
Khan Sarovar, located outside South Gate, is a water tank from Solanki period with stone steps and masonary. Mirza Aziz Kokah (1589 AD) renovated this tank using the stones from ruined structures.
There are at least 100 Jain temples in Patan; the most important to visit is the Mahavir Swami Derasar in Dhandherwad with exquisitely carved wooden dome. The important Hindu temples are Kalika Mata, Sindhwai Mata, Harihareshwar Mahadev and Brahma Kund.
For visitors interested in Jainism and Indology, a visit to the Hemachandracharya Gyan Mandir is a must. It contains thousands of rare ancient manuscripts in Sanskrit and Prakrit. Hemachandracharya was a great scholar and grammarian- the first one to formulate the grammar of the Gujarati Rajasthani Language. Patan is the only center of unique weaving craft of 'Patola' since the time of King Kumarpal (ruled 1143-73 AD). Even today, this age old traditional weaving craft is practised by a few families.
The urban structure of the town is made of several neighbourhoods called 'Pols'. 'Pols' are densely populated and are like a maze with winding narrow lanes. Some of them contain old beautiful houses with carved wooden facades in traditional Gujarati architectural style.