Hemachandracharya Jain Gnan Mandir
Welcome to Patan,
Patan is one of the important fortified towns of Gujarat, situated on the banks of the River Saraswati. It was founded in 746 AD by the Chavda king, Vanraj Chavda. During the Solanki period, the glory of Patan reached its peak. It was known as the Golden age of Gujarat. The rulers of Patan were great patrons of art and architecture.
A number of civic as well as religious buildings were constructed in the city, including many Hindu, Muslim and Jain religious places. However, the Jain temples outnumber the others. They are about 122 in number and more than 100 years old. Besides, there are 9 Hindu temples and 12 Mosques in the city. These monuments are a major attraction from travel and tourism point of view. The foreign tourists throng the city, to view the amazing monuments adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures.
Hemachandracharya, renowned Jain scholar and poet, is credited with formulating Gujarati grammar. His treatise 'Siddha Hema Shabdanushasana', written during the rule of Siddharaj Jayasinh, is seen as a counterpart to Panini's treatise on Sanskrit grammar. The poet built this Gnan Mandir, literally "knowledge temple", an ancient library that includes a number of ancient palm-leaf Jain manuscripts (some written in ink of gold) and literature that he wrote.
Panchasara Parshvanath Jain Derasar is one of the largest of more than 100 Jain temples in Patan, a reminder of Patan's role as center of Jainism during the Solanki era, with sophisticated stone carvings and white marble floors that are characteristic of Jain architecture. It is also worth visiting Kapur Mahetano Pado, where the stone temple has a wooden interior. Jain temples were once all of fantastically and intricately carved wood until, it is said, the master-builder Uda Mehta saw a mouse carrying a burning candle in its mouth and realized that one mishap would destroy years of work, and from then on insisted that all Jain temples should be created in stone.
Mashru weaving is also a craft worth observing. The fabric is woven in vibrant colors from silk and cotton threads, in a satin weave, with silk on the outer face of the piece, and cotton worn close to the body. It was initially only used by Muslim men because the Islamic law prohibited pure silk, but Hindu communities too began using it later. It is used by women in some Kutchi communities to stitch garments for their dowry, and was also exported to Turkey and the Middle East. When the export market fell, the cheaper rayon replaced Mashru.
Explore the early Muslim constructions, built even earlier than those in Ahmedabad, such as the Sheikh Farid's mosque and mausoleum, with its beautifully carved ceiling.
Patola is the name of the silk saris unique to Patan. One version of the Patola legend is that King Kumarpal (12th century) commissioned Patola robes from Jaina (South Maharashtra), a new one for every daily puja. When he learned the King of Jaina was sending him used clothes, he went to the south to attack and defeat the southern ruler. He brought back 700 Patola weaver families to Patan. Of those families, only the Salvis continue the craft today.
Patola is one of the most difficult forms of weaving in the world. It uses a double ikkat style where the warp and weft threads are dyed meticulously before weaving, according to a pre-designed pattern. The weaver then aligns them perfectly on the loom, which naturally creates a unique combination of geometric delineation with soft hazy outlines. Besides in Patan, double ikkat is used only in Bali, Indonesia. It is said that an Indonesian king visited India, was awed by the Patola craft, and took it back to his land saying that only Indonesian royalty would be allowed to wear it.
The saris take 4-6 months to make, with more than 70 days for the coloring of the silk threads, and about 25 days for the weaving. They come in four styles: 1) for the Jains and Hindus, with flowers, parrots, elephants, and dancing figures, 2) for the Muslim Bohras, with geometric and floral design, to be used at weddings, 3) for Maharashtrian Brahmins, in solid dark colors bordered with designs of women and birds, called Nari Kunj, and 4) for traditional export markets in the Far East.
Rani (Queen) Udayamati commissioned this vav or stepwell, in 1063 in the memory of her husband King Bhimdev I of the Solanki dynasty. The vav was later flooded by the nearby Saraswati river and silted over until the late 1980s, when it was excavated by the Archeological Survey of India, with the carvings found in pristine condition. Rani Ki Vav is amongst the finest stepwells in India, and one of the most famous legacies of the ancient capital city.
The vavs of Gujarat are not merely sites for collecting water and socialising, but also simultaneously hold great spiritual significance. They were originally constructed quite simply, but became more intricate over the years, perhaps to make explicit this ancient concept of the sanctity of water by carving it out in stone deities. You may thus enter Rani Ki Vav as if it is a subterranean temple.
The steps begin at ground level, leading you down through the cool air through several pillared pavilions to reach the deep well below. There are more than 800 elaborate sculptures among seven galleries. The central theme is the Dasavataras, or ten incarnations of Vishnu, including Buddha. The avatars are accompanied by sadhus, brahmins, and apsaras (celestial dancers), painting their lips and adorning themselves. At water level you come to a carving of Sheshashayi-Vishnu, in which Vishnu reclines on the thousand-hooded serpent Shesha, where it is said he rests in the infinity between ages.
The Sahastralinga Talav (lake) occupies the north-western part of the historical city of Patan. It is on the left bank of river Saraswati. The 'talav' is reputed to have been built by Siddharaja Jaisinh, the Chalukyan ruler of Gujarat. An inscription found in the Shiva Temple in Vyala Kua Street of Patan indicates that the lake was part of a much larger work.
Siddhraj Jaysinh built the reservoir Sahasralinga Talav, meaning "lake of a thousand lingas", just north of Rani Ki Vav in 1084, over a lake originally known as Durlabh Sarovar, built by the King of Durlabhray. During his rule he had many artificial tanks built in different parts of Gujarat, but this one surpasses all the others, technologically, artistically, and spiritually.
Shankheshwar is an important tithas (place of pilgrimage)of Jainism. It is situated in the Patan district of Gujarat state of India. A fair is held here on the full moon days of the Hindu calendar months Chaitra, corresponding to March or April, and Kartik, corresponding to October or November, and the tenth day of the second half of Maghashirsha, corresponding to December or January. The temple ranks next only to those on Mount Shatrunjaya in Palitana, (Gujarat) in terms of importance to the Jain.
One can reach Siddhpur via Unjha. It is situated in Patan district. Here one comes across rows and rows of palatial wooden 19th century townhouses. Painted in subdued pastel colours and built three-to-four storeys high, most of them were erected by the Bohras, Gujarat`s affluent mercantile Muslim community. Today, most of the houses remain locked for most part of the year and exhibit an oddly quiet and desolated European town look. But once a year (generally in December), the streets again pulsate with life, because the Bohra families return to Siddhpur for social ceremonies.