Vadnagar Unleashed: A Traveler’s Guide to the Must-Visit Hotspots!

Vadnagar Unleashed: A Traveler’s Guide to the Must-Visit Hotspots!

Welcome to Vadnagar! Nestled in the heart of Gujarat, Vadnagar unfolds like a tapestry of wonders for the eager traveler. This comprehensive guide invites you to embark on a journey through the must-visit hotspots of Vadnagar, where every corner tells a story and every experience leaves an indelible mark. Join us as we traverse through time, uncovering the rich heritage, culinary delights, and cultural treasures that make Vadnagar a traveler’s haven. Get ready to be enchanted by the allure of Vadnagar Unleashed. A Traveler’s Guide to the Must-Visit Hotspots! Vadnagar Unleashed: A Traveler's Guide to the Must-Visit Hotspots!

Anartapur to Anandpura: Unveiling Vadnagar’s Rich History

The name of Vadnagar is inscribed as Anartanagar in an ancient inscription found at Junagadh of the Shaka ruler Kshatrap Rudradaman-I, who ruled in Gujarat in 400 AD. Hiuen Tsang, a Chinese traveler who visited India in the seventh century, called Vadnagar Anandpurana (Chinese pronunciation: o-nan-to-pu-lo) in his travel book. As noted, the name of Vadnagar is seen as Vadanagar in the history books written during the 14th and 15th centuries. Thus, it can be assumed that Vadnagar has been an important center in the fields of art, culture, trade and administration since ancient times.

Vadnagar: Tracing Greek Connections and the Birth of Nagar-Brahmins

As per the recent news, researchers from IIT Kharagpur, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and Deccan College have found evidence of a human settlement that is as old as 800 BCE (before the Christian Era) at Vadnagar in Gujarat.

Vadnagar Unleashed: A Traveler's Guide to the Must-Visit Hotspots!
Excavation at Vadnagar

Eminent anthropologist Herbert Risley and some other historians associate Vadnagar with Greek culture. According to his estimate in the 4th century BC, when the Macedonian emperor Alexander the Great (Sikander the Great) returned home from the Indus River, some soldiers of his army stayed in Indus and eventually settled in some parts of India. One such region is the Aryan Valley in Ladakh, while the other is said to be from Malana village in Himachal Pradesh. According to one reference, some soldiers of Sikandar’s army traveled south from Kashmir and settled at Anartpur, i.e., present-day Vadnagar. After they married Brahmin girls from Anartapur, a predominantly Brahmin population, a new caste was born called Nagar-Brahmins. A fair complexion, mastery of music and dance, war tactics, skill in cooking, and skill as an administrator were their distinguishing features. Greco-Macedonian coins and artifacts found during archaeological excavations in the area around Sharmishtha Lake in Vadnagar confirm Vadnagar’s connection with Macedonia.

In ancient times, Vadnagar must have been an important center not only for Hinduism but also for Buddhism and Jainism. The famous book of Jainism, ‘Kalpasutra‘, composed by Bhadrabahu, is believed to have been made at Vadnagar in the fifth century AD.

Vadnagar: A town that has seen many ups and downs

The residents of Vadnagar were skilled in music, art, metallurgy, weaving, agriculture, creation of various tools, etc. Hence, many people from surrounding areas used to come here to buy various items. Vadnagar was always bustling because of it. People were generally financially prosperous and mentally happy. History has witnessed that the prosperity and wealth of any kingdom always cause external invasion. This happened in the case of Vadnagar, too. News of the prosperity here reached Malwa province, so the rulers there launched an armed attack. They plundered and then economically exploited the townspeople by imposing heavy taxes. In no time, the shining star of Vadnagar dimmed.

Vadnagar’s Rise, Fall, and Resilience through the Centuries

Years passed. In the tenth century, Vadnagar once again rose to prominence under the rule of the Solanki dynasty in central Gujarat. The city became famous for learning, art, literature, music, dance, sculpture, architecture, commerce, and industry. After enjoying prosperity for almost 500 years, the shining sun of Vadnagar started setting again.Vadnagar Unleashed: A Traveler's Guide to the Must-Visit Hotspots!

This prosperous town was plundered several times by the Maratha-Mughal generals and rulers. According to the Urdu scripture ‘Mirat-al-Alam‘, which introduces Aurangzeb‘s reign, in 1683 AD, Aurangzeb ordered his army to destroy temples and structures, including the Hatkeswar temple in Vadnagar. From 1726 to 1737, the Maratha generals invaded Vadnagar and dealt the last blow, and Vadnagar fell into a state of near death. Despite this, the ancient city, which had been destroyed several times, was restored.

Today’s Vadnagar seems to have been built on a mound 7 to 30 meters high. But that hill is not natural but man-made. Excavations carried out by the Department of Archaeology support the fact that in the distant past, many structures were built and destroyed here. The mound is built up with successive layers of those structures. After briefly knowing the long history of Vadnagar, let’s now identify the masterpieces of art in the form of historic buildings, temples, and Buddhist monasteries.

Ancient and sacred Hatkervar temple

According to the records of the Archeology Department of India, there were about 320 temples in the ancient temple town of Vadnagar, of which the large and magnificent temple of Ishtadev Hatakeshwara Mahadev, the patron saint of Nagar Brahmins, is considered to be the oldest. This temple was renovated during the time of the Solanki rulers. The present version of the temple is believed to have been constructed in the 17th century (after the Maratha invasion) with reddish-yellow limestone stones.

Vadnagar Unleashed: A Traveler's Guide to the Must-Visit Hotspots!
Hatkeshwar Temple, Vadnagar

The summit portion, including the sanctum of the temple, has North Indian nagar (or town) style construction. In which artistic peak with Kalash and Amalaka (chakra structure below Kalash), 3 Uru-shikharas in each direction, as well as antrals, adorn the temple. The facade of the temple, with Mahamandapa and Ardhamandapa with carved arches and three domes on the roof, is an example of Indo-Saracenic style. The amalgamation of three different architectural styles—Mughal, Hindu, and Gothic (European)—is known by engineering scholars as Indo-Saracenic. Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Railway Station and the North Block and South Block houses of Delhi are built in Indo-Saracenic style.

Hatakeshwar Temple: A Marvel of Intricate Carvings and Spiritual Beauty

Standing with a spire about 80 to 100 feet high, the Hatakeshwar temple has a sanctum about 15 feet below the ground. Hence, it can be assumed that the construction of the present temple may have been done afresh on top of the main temple. The temple is a tripartite structure with an east-facing main entrance and complementary north-south gateways, with beautifully carved arches between each pillar.

Architects and craftsmen have not left any corner of this huge and magnificent temple blank without art. The outer walls from the large mandapa to the high spire have fascinating carvings of scenes from the Mahabharata-Ramayana, samudra manthan, Dashavatar of Lord Vishnu, the five Pandavas, Gita Upadesha, Ashta-bhairava, dancers, Gandharvas, Apsaras, presiding deities of the nine planets, musical instruments, elephants-horses, flowers, etc.

Kirti Toran, a unique piece of art

Why the two Kirti Toranas would have been built on a completely open site, without any major structure or construction set in the vicinity, is a mystery. According to archaeologists and historians, the Kirti Toranas of Vadnagar were constructed in the 12th century AD, as the gateway to a grand temple; otherwise, they may have been constructed as a memorial of victory against Malwa rule by King Siddharaja Jayasingh or Kumarapala. However, there is no mention in history as to why both pylons were erected where they are now.

Kirti Toran Vadnagar scaled
Kirti Toran, Vadnagar

Architecturally, both the Kirti Toranas, which have a high level of carving work, vividly resemble those of Polo forests in North Gujarat, Modhera, and especially the Rudramahalaya toran at Siddhapur. Out of the two pylons, about 40 feet high and covering an area of about 2.5 square meters, outside the Arjunbari Gate, north-west of Sharmishtha Lake, there is a small arch-like structure connecting two pointed pillars at the top of the pylon towards the lake. The second pylon does not have such a structure. The reddish-yellow stones are finely carved without any sticky substance like cement, which is not an ordinary thing.

Here, scenes of war and hunting are carved on the pillars of both pylons. The facial features of lions, Gandharvas, Apsaras, gatekeepers, deities, idols of Ganesha and Kartikeya, ornamental arrangements of flowers, etc. are also exquisitely carved. As the pylons are tall, it may be difficult to see the carvings in the upper part. Carrying a small pair of binoculars can be a pleasant solution to that problem.

Finally, an interesting short story: Years ago, Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad wanted to bring both the pylons to Vadodara as the identity of Vadnagar. By his order, the towers were divided into separate parts. But he had to drop this plan due to local opposition.

Vadnagar Tourist Information

Attraction Description
Historical Sites Vadnagar boasts ancient temples, step wells, and haveli structures.
Tana-Riri Sangeet Mohotsav An annual celebration of classical music near Tana-Rauri’s tomb.
Accommodation Gujarat Tourism’s Toran Hotel and Hatkeswar Mandir offer excellent stay options.
Transportation Nearest railway station: Mehsana (35 km)
Nearest airport: Ahmedabad (95 km)
Google Location Vadnagar, Gujarat

 

Abode of Buddhist monks

Vadnagar Unleashed: A Traveler's Guide to the Must-Visit Hotspots!
Buddhist Monks in Vadnagar

The true identity and history of Vadnagar remained buried under the ground due to new constructions layered on top of each other since ancient times. But outside the Ghaskol Gate here, a little away from the temple of Amther Mata, in 1992, a farmer found an idol of Bodhisattva 2nd century AD. After that, in the excavations conducted by the Department of Archaeology, a complex of Buddhist monasteries and viharadhams spread over a large square area of 14 meters by 14 meters was found, which is about 1,500 years old.

This discovery established the basic connection to the description of Vadnagar as Anandapura by the Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang in his travelogue in the seventh century. Hiuen Tsang described Anandapura as home to about 1,000 Buddhist monks and about 10 Chaityaviharas.

Apart from this, part of the fort rampart was buried in the ground excavated at other places. 4th–5th century currency coins, about 2,000-year-old bangles, pottery, toys, etc. were found. The discovery showing different periods of history is a testimony to how many times Vadnagar has been revived.

Serenity at Sharmishtha Lake: A Nature Lover’s Paradise

Immerse yourself in the tranquility of Sharmishtha Lake, a haven for nature enthusiasts. Discover the diverse flora and fauna surrounding the lake, providing a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Vadnagar Unleashed: A Traveler's Guide to the Must-Visit Hotspots!
Sharmistha Lake, Vadnagar

It is said that the ancient Vadnagar was built on the banks of the Kapila River. Many lakes in Vadnagar were fed by this river, which originates from the Aravalli mountain range. The largest of all lakes is known as Sharmishtha Lake after the name of devotee poet Narasinh Mehta’s granddaughter. Excavating around this lake, pottery, ornaments, weapons, etc. have been found. Sharmistha identifies the canal before the lake as Saptarshi Ach.

It is believed that the water from the Kapila River in Sharmishtha Lake may be coming from here. Sharmishtha Lake is popularly known as Vishwamitri Lake. In the past, there were beautiful palaces and temples around it. Today, only its remains are visible. The lake has been beautifully renovated by the Tourism Department of Gujarat. It is a delight to see it lit up with colorful lights in the evening.

Six gates of Vadnagar

HATKESHWAR MAHADEV VADNAGAR GUJARAT 01
Hatkeshwar Temple Carvings

Vadnagar spread in a large semi-circle from Sharmishtha Lake in the east-south direction. Defensive walls were constructed during the 1st century AD. A brick fort was built around the town, with improvements over time. The walls, damaged by the invasions of the Malwa kings, were repaired in the middle of the twelfth century by King Kumarapala of the Solanki dynasty, mainly with red stones and bricks. The walls of the fort were also rebuilt and 6 different gateways (Arjunbari, Nadiol, Pithori, Aamtol, Amarthol, and Ghaskol) were created. A 46-sentence depiction of this matter can be seen on a stone slab at the Arjunbari gate. The walls of the fort do not remain today, but the historic gates remind us of the Solanki rule in Vadnagar.

Vadnagar’s Hidden Gems: Temples, Step Wells, and Timeless History

Vadnagar Unleashed: A Traveler's Guide to the Must-Visit Hotspots!
Sharmishtha_Lake_Vadnagar

Apart from the above-mentioned places and structures, Vadnagar has 10th-century Amther Mata Temple, Pancham Mehta’s Vav (step well), Saptarshi Aaro (ghat) on the banks of Sharmishtha Lake, Gauri Kund, Kumarapala Elephant Derasar made of white marble, etc. The artistic and colorful haveli structures lining the streets inside the fort are also worth seeing. Vadnagar, which was once the capital of Gujarat region and an important center connecting Gujarat-Saurashtra-Malwa-Rajputana, has about 3,000 years of history mixed in its soil. An enlightening trip is a must to experience time travel in such a Lost World of Gujarat.

The legend of Tana-Riri, the music empress of Vadnagar

Born in Vadnagar around 1564 AD, sisters named Tana and Riri are revered in Indian classical music. These empress of music were the daughters of poet-devotee Narasinh Mehta‘s grand daughter Sharmishtha. Tana-Riri acquired expertise on raga-raginis through rigorous musical practice. They were matchless with the Ragas like Bhairav, Vasant, Deepak, Meghmalhar.

Akbar’s Challenge: Tansen, Raga Deepak, and the Soothing Power of Rag Malhar

Vadnagar Unleashed: A Traveler's Guide to the Must-Visit Hotspots!
Tana-Riri, the musical empress of Vadnagar

In the sixteenth century, Delhi was ruled by Mughal emperor Akbar and Akbar was known as Shahenshah-e-Hind. This music-loving Mughal emperor asked one of his nine jewels, Sangeet Samrat Tansen, to play ‘Raag Deepak ‘ and light the lamps of the court one day. In order to obey the emperor’s orders, Tansen lit a lamp by singing ‘Raag Deepak’, but by doing so, his body felt like burning coals. There was only one way to calm the unquenchable fire: ‘Raag Malhar‘!

Tansen’s Quest: Discovering Malhar in Vadnagar

Tansen wandered from north to central India in search of a singer who could sing pure Raag  Malhar and finally came to Vadnagar as suggested by his guru Haridas. Here, he spent the night on the banks of the Sharmishtha lake. The next morning, Tana and Riri came to fetch water with others. While filling the pot with water, both the sisters started singing Malhar songs. Hearing this, the music emperor Tansen was convinced that his quest had come to an end. Tansen went to the two sisters to express his grief and requested that they sing Raag Malhar. Tana-Riri graciously offered to help. After getting parental approval, they sang pure Malhar Raag. It rained like a monsoon in Vadnagar during the winter and flames rose up in Tansen’s body calmed down.

Tana-Riri’s Sacrifice: Defying the Mughals for the Love of Music

Vadnagar Unleashed: A Traveler's Guide to the Must-Visit Hotspots!

After returning from Vadnagar to Delhi, Tansen narrated the entire incident to Emperor Akbar. Akbar immediately sent some soldiers to Vadnagar to invite the two sisters in the Delhi court to enjoy Tana-Riri’s musical performance. Taking a vow to sing only before the idol of the goddess installed in the village temple, Tana-Riri refused to appear at Akbar’s court. The Mughal soldiers were determined to take them to Delhi by force. Also, after ignoring the order of Shehenshah-e-Hind, the village was attacked. Hence, both the sisters decided to cut their lives short for the sake of protecting the villagers. They offered the supreme sacrifice by drowning in the well of the Mahakal temple in Vadnagar.

It is said that when Emperor Akbar got the news of the sad incident, he asked Tansen to compose a new raga in memory of Tana-Riri. The melody begins with the chant ‘Nom ton tana riri‘ in Khayal type music derived from Dhrupad style of singing.

Tana-Riri Sangeet Mohotsav: A Celebration of Classical Music in Vadnagar

vadnagar
Performance at tana riri music festival, vadnagar

The Tana-Riri Sangeet Mohotsav is grandly organized by the Gujarat Government and Tourism Department every year on the 9th day of the first month of Hindu Calendar, near Tana-Rauri’s tomb in Vadnagar. In which masters of classical music from different corners of the country present their art. Moreover, on the occasion of the golden jubilee of the establishment of Gujarat in 2010, the Gujarat government has also started awarding the Tana-Riri award to musicians who have made significant contributions in the field of music.

Culinary Delights: Vadnagar’s Gastronomic WondersVadnagar Unleashed: A Traveler's Guide to the Must-Visit Hotspots!

Indulge your taste buds in Vadnagar’s gastronomic wonders, from street food to local delicacies. Uncover the flavors that define the city’s culinary identity, leaving you craving more.

Architectural Marvels: Vadnagar’s Modern Icons

Witness the harmonious blend of tradition and modernity in Vadnagar’s architectural marvels. Explore contemporary structures that add a new dimension to the city’s landscape.

Green Oasis: Vadnagar’s Parks and Gardens

Escape to Vadnagar’s parks and gardens, where lush greenery and well-manicured landscapes provide a serene environment for relaxation. Unwind amidst nature’s beauty in these hidden oases.

Cultural Immersion: Vadnagar’s Folk Performances

Vadnagar Unleashed: A Traveler's Guide to the Must-Visit Hotspots!

Engage in the cultural tapestry of Vadnagar through captivating folk performances. From traditional dances to melodious music, experience the artistic expressions that define the city’s cultural heritage.

Thrilling Adventures: Vadnagar’s Outdoor Escapades

For the adventure seekers, Vadnagar offers thrilling outdoor escapades. From trekking to water sports, satisfy your adrenaline cravings amidst the picturesque landscapes.

Nightlife Revelry: Vadnagar After Dark

Experience Vadnagar after dark as the city transforms into a lively hub of nightlife revelry. Explore the buzzing cafes, bars, and entertainment venues that keep the spirit of Vadnagar alive even after sunset.

Local Hospitality: Vadnagar’s Cozy Accommodations

Discover the warmth of Vadnagar’s hospitality in its cozy accommodations. From boutique hotels to quaint guesthouses, find the perfect haven to rest and rejuvenate during your exploration.

A Glimpse into Vadnagar’s Handicraft Heritage

Delve into Vadnagar’s rich handicraft heritage, where skilled artisans create masterpieces that reflect the city’s cultural identity. Bring home unique souvenirs that showcase the craftsmanship of Vadnagar.

Capturing Memories: Photography Spots in Vadnagar

Unleash your inner photographer at Vadnagar’s captivating photography spots. From panoramic views to architectural wonders, discover the best locations to capture memories that last a lifetime.

Good to know information:Vadnagar Unleashed: A Traveler's Guide to the Must-Visit Hotspots!

When to Go:

  • Best time to visit: November to March
  • The summer months can be very hot

How to Go:

  • Nearest railway station: Mehsana (35 km)
  • Nearest airport: Ahmedabad (95 km)
  • Vadnagar is 2 hours away from Ahmedabad
  • Transportation options: Own vehicle or taxi

Where to Stop:

Vadnagar Unleashed: A Traveler's Guide to the Must-Visit Hotspots!
Excavation at Vadnagar
  • Accommodation options: Gujarat Tourism’s Toran Hotel (02761-222051) and Hatkeswar Mandir (02761-222500)
  • Other hotel options available
  • Phone or online booking recommended, especially during festival days

Also Know:

FAQs

Q: What is the best time to visit Vadnagar?
Vadnagar is best explored during the winter months, from October to March, when the weather is pleasant, and outdoor activities are enjoyable.

Q: Are there guided tours available for Vadnagar’s historical sites?
Yes, there are guided tours offered for Vadnagar’s historical sites, providing in-depth insights into the city’s rich history and cultural significance.

Q: How can I reach Vadnagar?
Vadnagar is well-connected by road and rail. The nearest airport is Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad, approximately 100 kilometers away.

Q: Are there vegetarian food options available in Vadnagar?
Absolutely! Vadnagar boasts a variety of delicious vegetarian dishes, showcasing the rich culinary heritage of the region.

Q: Is photography allowed in Vadnagar’s temples and shrines?
While photography is generally allowed, it’s advisable to check with the authorities at each temple or shrine, as some may have specific guidelines.

Q: Are there budget-friendly accommodation options in Vadnagar?
Yes, Vadnagar offers a range of budget-friendly accommodation options, including guesthouses and lodges, ensuring a comfortable stay for every traveler.

Conclusion

Vadnagar, with its diverse tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty, is truly a traveler’s delight. Whether you seek adventure, cultural immersion, or serene relaxation, Vadnagar’s must-visit hotspots have something for everyone. Embark on this enchanting journey, and let Vadnagar unleash its wonders upon you.


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