Patan, situated in the culturally abundant state, of Gujarat, is one such historically significant city that is famous for its beautiful architecture, Patola royal sari weaves, archeological importance, rich history, effervescent culture, and heritage. Patan is a city situated in northern Gujarat state, West-central India; situated on the Saraswati River in the lowlands between the Aravalli Range and the Gulf of Khambhat (Cambay).

An architectural review of location: Patan, Gujarat - Sheet1
Patan Architectural Beauty_©Gujarat Tourism

In the medieval era, Patan is known to be the capital for 650 years of the state of Gujarat. Its existence was declared by the then king, Vanaraja Chavda, in 802 AD by the name Anhilpur Patan after his friend, Anhil Bharvad. Since then it has been the reign of many rulers of the Chlaukya Dynasty and many Jain scholars, and advisors like Acharya Hemchandracharya. Later it was attacked by Turkish ruler Mahmud of Ghazni in 1024 AD, who eventually sacked it. Therefore such political variations gave Patan its diversity in architecture and social and political conditions.

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Alleys of Patan_©Mapio

The city now works as a commercial center for agricultural products such as cotton etc. The industries include cotton milling, weaving, embroidering, and, wood and ivory carving. Owing to the industries here and the equipped craftsmen, Patan’s handwoven silk is known as one of the finest silk in India. The silk is used to manufacture the brightly colored and intricately designed patola silk saris, the signature of the city of Patan. The historical fame of higher education in Patan persists because of the famous Jain polymath and teacher Hemachandra and so there are several institutions of higher education including a medical college and Hemchandracharya North Gujarat University.

Into the alleys of Patan

On account of the rich history of this fortified ancient town, Patan houses many attractions dating back hundreds of years. It still houses a plethora of attractions in almost every alley portraying the history and culture of Patan.

Rani ki Vav

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Rani ki Vav_©Tourist Information Center

Starting with the most renowned one of them all, the beautiful historical step-well situated 4 km from Patan Railway station, Rani Ki Vav is this intricately carved, inverted temple-like structure with intricate carvings on the pillars. Situated on the banks of the Saraswati river, housing more than 500 major sculptures and adornments depicting the life of Gods; mortals; celestial beings; and religious, mythological, and secular representations announce it as one of the finest examples of step-well architecture in India. The craftsmen that were hired to do the deed proved their expertise and genius. As a testimony, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014 after the ASI restoration.

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History of Architecture of Rani ki Vav_©Kshitij_Charania

Rani ki Vav means Queen’s Stepwell; it was commissioned by the then Queen Udayamati in 1060, in the loving memory of her deceased spouse Raja Bhimdev I of the Solanki Dynasty. It is a major regional tourist attraction for the city of Patan. It has a huge scale measuring about 210 feet in length and 65 feet in width. Due to this enormous scale, the structure was prone to disastrous flooding which buried the stepwell under sand and mud for around a thousand years. Later in the 1980s, a long process of restoration and excavation of the vav was completed. However, the long-exposed columns on the top story that were removed in the 18th century to build the nearby Bahadur Singh ki Vav remained untouched.

Sahastralinga Talav/Tank

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Sahastralinga Talav_©Incredible India

Following the Rani ki Vav, there’s another architectural marvel situated at the north-western part of Patan at a distance of 1 km from Rani ki Vav and 5 km from Patan Railway Station, known as Sahastralinga Talav or Sahastralinga Tank which was built in the medieval times. It is an artificial water tank, which was formerly the most equipped water reservoir during the Chalukya Dynasty. It stays dry now. There lay around 1000 shrines devoted to Lord Shiva surrounding the pentagonal tank and the other ruins lay strewn. Architecture enthusiasts call this a marvel worth visiting once. It has been maintained by the Archeological Survey of India post-flood. The name ‘Sahastralinga Talav’ means ‘lake of a thousand lingams’. It was originally built by Siddhiraja Jaisingh over a lake known as Durlabh Sarovar built by another king of Durlabhray.

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Current conditions of talav_©Snehrashmi

Khan Sarovar

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Khan Sarovar_©Collections-Virtual Museum of Images and Sounds

In the southern half of Patan at a distance of 4 km from Patan Railway Station, lies the Khan Sarovar which was built in the 17th century by Mirzā Azīz Koka-the then governor of Gujarat. This water reservoir houses beautiful baroque-style pillars. The Sarovar adds up to the architectural importance of Patan tourism. It was constructed using the stones from the ruins by the then-governor of Gujarat, Mirza Aziz Kokah. The square-shaped, large water tank measures 1228 by 1273 feet and is separated by the baroque pillars of Hindu workmanship. It contains stone steps and masonry on all four sides.

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Views from sarovar_©Tourist Information Center

Hemachandracharya Gyan Mandir

An architectural review of location: Patan, Gujarat - Sheet9
Mandir_©Hidden Journeys

Following the trail, there’s Hemachandracharya Gyan Mandir which was built to commemorate Acharya Hemchandracharya, a famous Jain poet, grammarian, and wise scholar. This is an institution of higher education and the biggest hub of Sanskrit and Prakrit language manuscripts which demarcates Patan’s significance in the arena of ancient indigenous learning practices. It holds certain significance in the educational demographics of Patan and its neighboring areas.

Jain Temples- Panchasara Parshwanath Jain

An architectural review of location: Patan, Gujarat - Sheet10
Main shrine_©Tourist Information Center

Patan holds a significant number of prominent Jain temples all over the city, roughly exceeding 100 in number; the most prominent one being the Panchasara Parshwanath Jain Derasar at a distance of 2 km from Patan Railway Station. It is adorned with seamless marble floors and the finest stone carvings. Devoted to Shri Parshwanathji, it was built by King Vanraj Chavda in 746 CE. The moolnayak shrine was bought by him from Panchasara. It was initially built with wood but was later destroyed by Muslim invaders. After the course, it was rebuilt with stone during the 20th century. The main temple is surrounded by 51 smaller temples.

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Temples in surrounding_©Gujarat Tourism
An architectural review of location: Patan, Gujarat - Sheet12
Beautiful carvings_©Flickr

Patan Patola Heritage Museum

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Patan Patola Heritage Museum_©Gujarat Tourism

At a distance of 1 km from Rani ki Vav and 3 km from Patan Railway Station, Patan Patola Heritage is a prominent museum run by Salvi Family since 2014. It documents the history and making of the Patan Patola, a textile that combines techniques of tyeing, dyeing, and weaving. The family specializes in weaving these double-ikat textiles.  This art dates back to the 11th century; originated in Southeast Asia, this weave has now been passed on as a valuable heritage from generation to generation of the Salvi family. The live demonstration of the loom and a comparison of double-ikat and single-ikat weaves are displayed live in the museum. 

Patola Sari Weaves

Patola Silk Weaves_©Gujarat Tourism

When we think of Patan, the immediate instinct is the beautiful imagery of Patola saris. From the beginning of their existence, they were historically worn only by royalties as Patola saris are the beautiful silk wrappings that scream royalty and wealth. 

When to go?

Autumn and winter—spanning from October to April—is the best time to visit the historically rich old city as the temperature dips to create a pleasant experience for one to be able to see the views in comfort. The winter noons are perfect for exploring the market alleys of Patan. Summers are generally scorching hot thus, these months are best avoided.

Conclusion

Nevertheless, as the times are unveiling themselves, Patan’s ways of architectural evolution have been coming off as revolting. The sustenance of the culture and people in its architecture and heritage has been gradually persisting which is a good part of this city. Any individual who loves being in the presence of strong architectural, historical and architectural character surroundings must visit this place in and out and who knows, they might fall in love with the alleys of this city, Patan.

Reference List

Citations for websites:

BAYAR JAIN. Gujarat’s Patan: A Must-Visit Place To Learn About India’s Rich Heritage & Architecture

Available at https://www.travelandleisureindia.in/places/patan/ [2020]

Rani-ki-Vav (the Queen’s Stepwell) at Patan, Gujarat

Available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/922/  

Victoria Lautman. Patan

Available at https://www.britannica.com/place/Patan  [2015]

Trawel. 11 Top Tourist Places to Visit in Patan

Available at https://www.trawell.in/gujarat/patan/places-to-visit-things-to-do 

Author

Chaos within, Beauty Beyond. She is a compulsive person who obsesses over everything, every detail she finds beautiful! She aspires to make beautiful, functional & thoughtful works to play her part well. She’s not just a human being, she is art with a keen eye for aesthetics; She bleeds through art/words.

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