Monday, August 24, 2009

Madhera and Mahesana and surroundings in North Gujarat

Madhera is the main attraction of North Gujarat.

Sun Temple of Madhera

Sun Temple of Madhera built by Solanki king Bhimdev-1 in the 8th century is a masterpiece. However, there is a second school of thought regarding the founders. Going past the wonderfully decorated entrance is the 15 sq meter wide podium for regal Assembly; on the left is the museum. At the end of the Assembly is the original Sun Temple. Between the main temple and kund is Ranga Mandap, with 4 sides 4 gates. At the entrance 50x20 meter rectangular kund, which has now dried up. In 1024, the invasion of Mahmood, the Sultan of Gazni and the 19th century tremor devastated the Sun Temple partly.

The Nagara Style 56x26 ft temple has such a geometric dimension that the rays of the rising sun used to fall straight on the temple deity, the Sun God. The original form of the deity is no more there. But, inside the palace, the alcoves house 12 images of the Sun God which symbolize changes in solar cycle in 12 months. The outer portion of the temple is well ornamented. Profiles of human beings in different poses, god and goddess, brutes and beasts, even erotica are there elaborately sculptured on the walls. On the right entrance, the images of a woman giving birth to her child are unique. The gate has caved in, but the pillars are still there. 15 sq meter Sabhamandap or pavilion is exquisitely sculpted. The pillars, arches, cornices, pyramid-shaped roof, high peak, everything is wrought with carvings. There are resemblances with the temple of Dilwara and Konark Sun Temple.

There are 108 tiny temples encircling the big square Suryakund in front of the temple. They are all the outstanding instances of architectural ornamentation. The gods are many and different. Puspabati river flows silently behind the temple. Enthusiasts may climb the hill and have a glimpse of the old fort nestled atop Madhera.

How to reach Madhera:

By Passenger train at 18-10 in 2 ½ hrs or by bus reach Mahesana (65 km) from Viramgam. Mahesana is situated on the Delhi-Ahmedabad Railway. From Mahesana trains ply towards various destinations. From Mahesana on two routes, buses ply regularly in 45 minutes for 26 km west Madhera. Passenger trains leaves at 6-15,6-50,15-10,20-25,23-15, at 6-05 and on Mondays,Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8-05,10-00,11-00,17-45,21-55,0-55 Express trains also reaching Madhera.

Madhera is 68 Km from Ahmedabad, South East to Mahesana. It is around a 2 hrs journey. Buses ply directly from Ahmedabad to Madhera via Mahesana. After reaching Mahesana you can hire jeep, auto rickshaws to reach Madhera. Buses are available from Mahesana to Abu Road, Ranakpur, Ajmer, Jodhpur, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat.

Gujarat Tourism arranges package tour for Adalaz, Madhera, Patan, Shanku Water Park from Ahmedabad on a day's tour between 7-00Hrs to 20-15 Hrs.

Where to stay at Madhera

For lodging, PWD Rest house, Panchayat Rest house and Dharamshalas are there. Food is available at TCGL's Toran Restaurant. But you don't need to stay at Madhera, you may view Madhera from 8-00 am to 6-00 pm and come back to Mahesana and can board a train or a bus to reach Abu Road 118 km from here and from Abu Road visit Abu hill. You may chose to go to Delhi or Ahmedabad to take a home-bound train; or may even chose to visit Taranga/Ambaji/Abu Road from Madhera by bus.

Places to see around Madhera

17 km from Madhera by bus is the legendary Becharaji Temple. Seven days are symbolised by seven images of Devi Durga in this temple. A farmer had found an image of Durga, and the deity became popular as Becharaji. Childless women come to the Goddess for a child. Locals believe that, the Goddess herself go out in the night to help her distressed devotees.

29 km from Madhera and 25 km North West of Mahesana is Anhilawada Patan, the ruins of the capital of Hindu kings of Gujarat in the 8th century, devastated in 1024 by the Sultan Mahmood of Gajni. 108 Jain Temples are still remaining there.

Rani Ki Vav founded for Solanki Queen Udaimati in 1050 has been renovated in 1980. You can see thousand Yotirlinga Temple in Patan. Patola silk saree of Sadviwada of Patan is famous. Wood-carving of the residential houses of Patan and their ornamentation is praise-worthy.

Places to stay in Mahesana and Patan

At Patan Bus Stand: Hotel Neeauv, Hotel Ashis, Hotel Sarvodaya, Hotel Navjiban
At Mahesana there is Water World Resort, Amipura Ph: (+912762) 245504, and TCGL's Toran Tourist Centre Ph (+912766) 221515.
For lodging there are other hotels in Mahesana

Hotel Apsara at Janata Super Market,
AVON GUEST HOUSE, Gujarat Lodging and Boarding House, Nataraj and Satya Vijay, and Govt accommodation facility Bishranti Griha, Mahesana and Railway Retiring Room.

Dharamshalas are also available in Mahesana.

Places you can visit by bus or car from Mahesana:

From Mahesana by bus you may go to 57 km east to Taranga and from Taranga by another bus on the hill track to 3 km ahead of Taranga hill, the hill hosts the 2nd Jain Tirthankar Ajitnath's Jain Temple built during the rule of the Solanki Dynasty. You can plan to visit the temple next day. The name Taranga Hill derives its name from Buddhist Goddess Tara Devi. Amidst the natural beauty, even more beautiful is the sculptured temple of white marble with the image of Ajitnath. Mithun image are also there. After visiting the temple you either can come back to Mahesana or, you may chose to stay in Taranga Hill at Digainbar Dharmashala.

Amusement Park in Mahesana is also an interesting visiting spot. Government Departments are now housed at the old Rajmahal Palace.

Stationing at Mahesana visit Madhera/Becharajj on the 1 st day, Taranga on the 2nd and from Taranga on 3rd day by bus visit Ambaji 45 km from here.
After visiting Ambaji, travel to Abu Road( 23 km). Direct bus from Ambaji to Abu hill is available.

However, enthusiasts can take the alternative route from Mahesana to Abu to see the ruined Jain Temples at Sidhpur, on the bank of the Saraswati, 43 km to the north. This 10th century this ruined temple was built by king Mulraj at a cost of Rs 14 crore. The Rudramal temple was built in Solanki style and is now site the example of destruction by Alauddin Khilji in 1297. On the premises of temple a masjid had been installed during the Mughal period. However, today both the temple and the masjid are closed. 4 pillars still bear testimony of the glorious past. Sidhpur is situated the bank of Saraswati, is believed to be the birth place of Kapil Muni, one of the seven spiritual sons of Brahma. Parasuram offered Pinda here for the salvation of the soul of his mother. Since then the Ashram of Kapil Muni here became the holiest centre of offering pinda for the salvation of mothers and offering of Tarpana, in the Harshabindu Sarovar.

At the riverside Tapobhuni there is a Ram Mandir.
Opium is grown now in Sidhpur.
That is no hotel here. But there are two dharamshalas— Manika and Panchal.
Ordinary Ambaji Guest House is near Railway station.

This article is originally published in Travel India and India Study Channel

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