Halvad was a former capital of Dhrangadhra State and was
ruled by Jhala Rajputs. It is an ancient fortified town at the southern
edge of the little Rann of Kachchh. The
yellow earth of this semi-arid area and buildings of local yellow
sandstone makes the whole townscape glow with a vibrant golden yellow at
sunset and sunrise.
Halvad is famous for gourmet Brahmins and heroic warriors, who fought against past invaders to protect their hometown. Today, one can see several cenotaphs and hero-stones built of sandstone, at the edge of town.
Paliyas: The 'paliyas' (memorial stones) remind the
visitors, of bloody battles fought at the gates of Halvad. They evoke the
memories of women who committed 'sati' to protect their honour and men who
died fighting against enemies. Newly weds come here to perform the ritual
of untying of nuptial knots and pay homage to their ancestors. Even today,
once a year, an unusual competition of 'Laddu' eating is organised by
Brahmins at Halvad.
The 'chhatris' (15th century) resemble the architectural style of the smaller temple structures of Gujarat, with carved columns, high plinths and corbelled roof in a pyramidal shape. The vast arid landscape, dotted with 'chhatris', makes a picturesque setting.
At the edge of the town, on the bank of the Samatasar Lake, stands the finest example of wooden architecture of royal palaces of Gujarat. Other similar examples of palaces on the lakeshore, in Indian are palaces of: Udaipur, Alwar, Datia and Mandu.
The Halvad Palace campus has all the elements of Rajput palaces-zenana, hall for public audience, temple of family goddess, pleasure garden and administrative offices.
The entry to the Halvad Palace is from the town-side. The beautifully carved entrance gate leads one to a huge courtyard. The formal square plan of two storeyed palace structure, adorned with exquisitely carved wooden columns, brackets, friezes and jalis with geometric patterns defines the courtyard. Four raised pathways, from the center of each side, meet in the middle of the courtyard at the base of the seven storeyed, octagonal tower, with jharokhas overlooking all eight directions. From the top of this tower, on a clear day, one can see the surrounding villages, therefore it is popularly known as Jhalawad Darshan or Ek-Dandia Mahal.
The long façade, with carved stone jharokhas, brings in cool breeze as it overlooks the lake. The jharokhas were the favourite sit-outs of the royal ladies, while on the full moon nights the terrace was used for private royal gatherings. Even today, one can see beautifully carved sitouts of sandstone on the terrace. In short, the architecture of the palace is a perfect synthesis of two natural materials, stone and wood.
Halvad has four old step-wells and six Shiva Temples encircling the town. The Bhavani temple and Bhuteshwar mahadev at the cremation ground are at least 500 years old and are protected monuments. On the west bank of the Samatasar Lake, a famous pilgrim place of the dawoodi Bohra community- a dargah of Maula Qazi, is located.
Halvad is a base to visit the wild ass sanctuary at the little Rann of Kachchh, the Asiatic Wild Ass is a member of the horse family, with striking white underparts and a deep mane. It is a strong and powerful runner. Other animals spotted here are Nilgai, Chinkara and the birds seen are the Indian Sandgrouse, Hubara Bustard, Lark, Desert Warbler, Desert Wheatear, Indian Courser and Vultures.
Other Excursions: Dhrangadhra (royal palaces, bazaar) 27 kms, Wadhvan (Royal palaces, bazaar, stepwells) 65 kms, Morbi (Darbargadh, Wellingdon Secretariat, suspension bridge) 48 kms, Wankaner (royal palaces, stepwell) 75 kms, Maliya (royal palaces) 42 kms, Limbdi (Green Chowk, Gandhi Smriti Mandir, Jain Bhandar, palace, bazaar) 89 kms
How To Get There
Air: Nearest airports are at Ahmedabad (178 kms), Rajkot (110 kms).
Rail: Railway station is on Viramgam-Gandhidham railway line
Road: It is connected by road to nearby cities.
Local Transport: Non-metered auto rickshaws.
There are various dharamshalas that offer reasonable accommodation.
: 178 kms.
Rajkot: 110 kms.
Surendranagar: 62 kms.