I have traveled to Gujarat a few times and have explored many places in this beautiful state. Every time I traveled to Gujarat, I started and ended my trip in Ahmedabad because flight connectivity is very good from Delhi. There are some interesting places in around Ahmedabad, which can be explored in a day trip. During my last trip to Gujarat, I have visited Patan and surrounding areas. I traveled with a friend and we explored some interesting places in Gujarat. Patan’s Rani ki Vav and Modhera Sun temples are the most interesting places to visit near Ahmedabad for one day.
This time I have visited Rani ki Vav, Sahastraling Tank, a weaving unit of famous Patola sarees, Modhera Sun temple, and Adalaj ki Vav. This is one of the best day trips I had from Ahmedabad.
Another interesting overnight trip from Ahmedabad can be done to Little Rann of Kutch.
Since we have planned to visit all these places, so we booked a taxi and started in the early morning. The roads of Ahmedabad were empty in the morning time and we crossed the city faster. The highway from Ahmedabad to Mahsana is good and there was hardly any traffic. We reached Mahsana and decided to take a breakfast break. Since we have taken the bypass road so we didn’t enter the Mehsana city. There are few restaurants in the outskirts of the city and we managed to find a decent one.
From Mahsana to Patan road conditions is not good, the road is small and even broken at places. Patan is a small town and is mainly popular for two things. One is UNESCO’s heritage monument of Rani ki Vav and another is Patan ka Patola saree & textile.
Rani ki Vav in Patan
We reached Patan before 9.00 AM. Rani ki Vav is located on the other side of Patan town. We crossed the roads & lanes of Patan town and reached the Rani ki Vav. There were no tourists or crowd in the parking area or at the ticket window. I guess we were the first one to buy the entry tickets.
Vav is located in a very peaceful place in Patan.
The compound of Vav is cordon off with a metal fence to restrict trespassing. Rani ki Vav is located in the middle of a well maintained green garden area. Since the structure is below the ground level, it is not easy to see it from distance.
This seven-story stepwell is one of its own kind in India with beautiful sculptures on its walls and pillars. Rani ki Vav has religious importance also. It was a place used by the queen to spend some private time with her friends and maids.
Read in detail about Beautiful Stepwell of Rani ki Vav.
Sahastralinga Tank in Patan
Our next stop was Sahastralinga tank, which is approximately 1 km from Rani ki Vav. In local language people call is Sahastralinga “Talav”, which mean a pond. This tank was built in 11th century during the rule of Siddhraj Jaisinh. The tank was of great importance and received water from the Saraswati river. The water management system of the tank was very well designed and it used to be the main source of water during the summer months.
The name Sahastralinga came from the Hindi word “Sahastra” means thousand and “Linga” means the shrines of Lord Shiva. It is believed that there were one thousand shrines of Lord Shiva on the banks of the tank. These Shiva lingams destroyed over the years and now only one main shrine is remaining. Now, the tank has no water and it remains dry.
There are two very interesting stories associated with Sahastralinga tank.
According to one story, the tank was not filled with water due to the curse of Jasma Odan, the wife of Rooda (The Tank digger). The king Siddhraj Jaisinh was captivated by her beauty and sent her marriage proposal, which she refused and cursed. Finally to repeal her curse a man of Mayo community sacrificed his life and tank filled with water.
According to the second story, Akbar’s guardian/tutor was murdered here when he was on his way to Mecca for the Haj. Image Flickr
Patan Ka Patola or Patola Silk
The Patola silk saris of Patan are considered one of the best examples of traditional workmanship. The double ikat designs of Patola is traditionally made in silk and trademark of this area. The design is intricate and skill workmanship required to make the sarees. Due to the difficulty and time-consuming process of making, these Patola saris are very expensive. Once upon a time, these saris were worn by the women of royal and aristocratic families only.
We visited a Patola sari making unit and the owner told us Patan ka Patola’s history. The weaving of Patola saris is guarded by family tradition and they don’t teach the art to people outside the family. Nowadays there are only 3 families in Patan, who make these traditional saris with double ikat design.
We have been told that a traditional sari is made in 6 to 9 months after placing the order. They start the process only after the receipt of payment. The process of sari making is long. First, the warp and weft thread is dyed after tying the knots at strategic places to resist the dying to create the pattern. Then weaving is done by hand to create the required design. A sari can cost something between 70,000 INR to 1,50,000 INR depending upon the design and silk thread.
In earlier days the designs were woven depending upon caste and religion. Hindu women wore double ikat patola saris with designs of parrots, flowers, elephants, and dancing figures. Muslim women wore saris with geometric designs and floral patterns. Maharashtrian Brahmins women wore saris woven with plain, dark-colored borders with the body, and a bird design called Nari Kunj.
These saris were worn mostly for weddings and other special occasions. These Patola saris were a sign of social status and were considered as a women’s property in the household.
Modhera Sun Temple
Our next stop was the Modhera sun temple, which is 35 km from Patan. This sun temple is not as grand as sun temple of Konark in Orissa. It is a beautifully built temple and a good example of Maru-Gurjara style of architecture. Modhera Sun temple was much more crowded as compared to Rani ki Vav. There is no worship done in this temple and the complex is maintained by the Archeological survey of India.
It is believed that temple was built during 1024-25 during the reign of Bhima I of Chaulukya dynasty. The temple is east facing and the three important structure in the complex are axially aligned. These three main structures are Gudhamandapa (The hall) with Garbhagriha (The shrine proper), Sabhamandapa (Outer assembly hall) and Kunda (The scared water tank).
The dome of the roofs of Sabhamandapa and Gudhamandapa have collapsed long ago and now only the lower structure exist. Both the structures are built on an inverted lotus shape plate form. The outer walls are decorated with intricate carvings. The pillars and panels of the temple are decorated with figures of gods, dancers, and other religious figures. The figures of Surya is placed in prominent places on the walls because the temple is dedicated to him.
The steps leading from Sabhamandapa through Kirti-Torana are used to reach the Kund (The tank). There are stone steps all around the Kund to reach the bottom. There are several small shrines around the Kund, which are decorated with images of God and goddess.
The Gujarat tourism organizes 3-day an annual dance festival after the Uttarayan in the 3rd week of January.
There are some resort and hotels near Modhera Sun Temple and we stopped in one for the lunch.
Stepwell Adalaj ki Vav near Ahmedabad
One of the best places to visit near Ahmedabad is Adalaj ki Vav and it was our last stop for the day.
Adalaj stepwell is located in Adalaj village, which is 15 km from Ahmedabad. This was my second Vav of the day and after visiting the grand Rani ki Vav my expectations were high. Adalaj stepwell is not as grand as Rani ki Vav but it is a beautiful monument.
Once we reached the Vav, we checked for ticket counter but the guard told us that there is no entry ticket. There are three entry gates for the Vav, we went in from the gate next to the temple.
From the entry gate, I walked a few steps and reached the first floor. There are two small cubes of stones on both sides of the wall on the first floor. The beautifully carved windows of these cubes are facing each other and are the main attraction for everyone. People were going into the cubes and getting the pictures to click there.
Adalaj stepwell is a 5 story Vav with intricate carving on its walls and pillars. From the first floor, I walked further and climbed downed. The carving on the pillars gets better on the lower floors of Vav.
There is a roof on the Vav. A small garden is surrounding the Adalaj Vav, where people were sitting and enjoying the late afternoon.
Like most of the historic monuments, there is an interesting but tragic story associated with the Vav.
Adalaj villagers were suffering from water crisis due to bad rain and dry season. They have to walk miles to get water for their daily requirements.
To solve this crisis Rana Veer Singh Vaghela started the construction of Vav in the 16th century. He couldn’t finish the Vav because he died in a battle against Mahmud Begada. After controlling the Adalaj, Mahmud Begada met the Queen Rudabai, the widow of Rana. He got enamored with the beauty of the queen and asked her to marry him. Queen didn’t refuse his proposal but put a condition that he has to first complete the stepwell. After completion of the stepwell, she jumped into the well and ended her life as she achieved her objective of completing the stepwell started by her husband. This Vav is also known as Rudabai Vav.
It was a fruitful day and I saw some beautiful places.
Traveling to small towns in India, than read What to wear in India and Packing list for India.
Things to remember when planning a day trip from Ahmadabad-
* Start in morning to beat the traffic on roads of the city.
* If you want to visit all these places then hire a taxi for the full day.
* Dress conservatively because these are small towns and there is no point in getting unnecessary attention.
* Most of the hotels are medium to small in the area and serve vegetarian food. If you want a spicy food then order Gujarati food, don’t order Kathiawari food.
* There is a direct train to Patan from Ahmadabad and Rani ki Vav is 4 km from Patan station.
* Patan ka Patola fabric is expensive, so if you don’t know what is a traditional design don’t spend money.
* Don’t give food items to the Langoors at Sahastralinga Tank.
Do read these Travel tips for India for hassle free travel.