Siddhpur is an ancient sacred town on the banks of the
Saraswati River. It finds mention in the Skanda Purana as Sristhala.
Siddhpur derives its name from the great ruler of Gujarat, Siddhraj
Jaisinh, who constructed a magnificent Shiva Temple called Rudra Mahalaya,
in 12th century AD, at this town. The entire townscape of Siddhpur is
dotted with temples, 'kunds', 'ashrams' and sacred buildings along the
banks of the Saraswati River.
In ancient times, the urban structures of Siddhpur were influenced by two significant aspects- the natural features of the Saraswati river and the man-made feature of the Rudra Mahalaya.
Religious Rituals: The unique geographical feature
of the Saraswati stream turning eastwards lends special sanctity to this
place. For all the Hindus, this is the place to perform the 'Matru
Shraddh' (the ritual ceremony for maternal spirits). This significance is
the reason for the large population of Brahmins, who act as priests in
such ceremonies. These ceremonies are performed at Kapilamuni Ashram,
where 3 sacred water 'kunds' exist-Gyan Vapika, Alpa Sarovar and Bindu
Sarovar. For anyone interested in the Hindu religious ceremonies, it is
well worth a visit.
Thali Building: On the opposite bank of the Saraswati river, there is an architecturally interesting building, known as Thali building, built by Ahilyabai Holkar, queen of Indore, a famous Maratha queen who patronized many such building projects in all the important Hindu pilgrimage centres of India.
Rudra Mahalaya: The ancient texts describe Rudra Mahalaya as a magnificent Shiva Temple with a three-storeyed 'shikhara', 1600 pillars, 12 entrance doors, central 'mandapa' and porches on east, north and south and sanctum in west. Around the temple, there were 11 shrines of Rudra.
The eastern gate was adorned with beautifully carved 'Toran', with a flight of steps leading to the Saraswati river. Ulugh Khan and Ahmed Shah of Ahmedabad ruthlessly destroyed this magnificent Shiva Temple, in the late 13th century or early 14th century. The cells on the surrounding walls were converted in to a mosque.
Mansions Of Bohra Muslims: Siddhpur is a major centre of the Bohra Muslims from few centuries. The Bohras are a rich and cultured community spread all over the major cities of the world. They are deeply attached to their native town of Siddhpur and regularly visit the town for important social ceremonies.
About a century ago, they built very beautiful mansions in a typical architectural style, from the wealth earned abroad. The well laid out paved streets, service lanes, mosques, perfect arrangement of row houses with profusely decorated facades using a common architectural vocabulary is a direct outcome of the collective vision of the Guilds of Bohra merchants.
For any visitor, a visit to the Bohravad is a must and it will be a wonderful experience to suddenly discover such a perfect example of urban design in the middle of chaotic Indian urbanization.
Vadnagar: (42 km from Siddhpur) Vadnagar finds
mention in many Hindu 'Puranas' and in the travelogue of great Chinese
traveller, Hieu-en-Tsang (7th century), as a rich and flourishing town.
The inscription on Arjun Bari Gate confirms King Kumarapla built the
fortification of the city in 1152 AD.
Sharmishta Talav: The town sits on the high bank of Sharmistha Talav, with an overlooking promenade, in a crescent and a series of steps leading to the tank. The fortification and undulating skyline mirorred in the water of Sharmistha Talav lend a picturesque quality to the whole composition.
Kirti Toran: It is located on the bank of Sharmishta Talav, on a road going down from Arjun Bari. It is among the few surviving examples of the entrance gates, once a regular feature of the architecture of Gujarat in Solanki period.
Architectural treatment and the exquisite stone carvings on every part remind one of Rudra Mahalaya at Siddhpur. Next to it, remains of one of the twin 'toran' provide an opportunity to appreciate the sculptural details.
How To Get There
Air: Nearest airport is Ahmedabad (111 km).
Rail: Siddhpur is a railway station on Ahmedabad-New Delhi railway line.
Road: It is connected with Ahmedabad and Mehsana by road route.
Local transport: non-metered auto rickshaws.
One can find reasonable accommodation in local guesthouses and dharamshalas.
Ahmedabad: 111 kms
Mehsana: 47 kms