Wadhvan City Guide

"The finest examples of living fortified town"
Wadhvan is one of the finest examples of living fortified towns of Gujarat. The town is located on the banks of river Bhogavo and the high fort wall and several gates of the town are intact even today. Wadhvan rulers belonged to the Jhala Rajput clan and the region was known as Jhalawad having other principalities of Dhrangadhra, Limbdi and Wankaner under Jhala rule.

The history of the town dates back to ancient times when it was known as Vardhamanpuri. It is an important center of Jainism and the footprints of Mahavir Swami lend a special sanctity to Wadhvan, among the other pilgrim centers of Jains.

This town is a witness to the famous story of Sati Ranakdevi and the great Solanki ruler Siddhraj Jaisinh. Ranakdevi committed a ritual of Sati at this place to protect her honour, when Siddhraj Jaisinh murdered her husband, Ra'Khengar and two sons. It is believed that her curse to Bhogavo, a mute witness to this injustice, made it waterless, forever. A small, beautiful temple of Ranakdevi is located on the southern edge of Wadhvan, at the cremation ground along with cenotaphs of Wadhvan rulers and hero stones of warriors.

There are two ancient step wells in Wadhvan- Madha Vav (1294 AD) and Ganga Vav (1169 AD). Both are fine examples of subterranean architecture, typical of Gujarat.

The rulers of Wadhvan have built several buildings in and around Wadhvan and the most interesting of them are Raj Mahal and Hawa Mahal.

The late H H Balsinhji built the Raj Mahal in the 19th century. The sprawling campus of 14 acres has cricket pitches, tennis courts, gardens, fountains and lily ponds. The palace is designed around a central pillared courtyard with marble fountains, statues and carved marble furniture. The Darbar Hall has many life-size paintings of past rulers and the royal throne. The drawing room is decorated with crystal chandeliers and the Shish Mahal has Belgian mirrors. Every nook and comer of the palace is covered by intricate decoration.

The rulers of Wadhvan were great automobile enthusiasts and their passion for cars is reflected in their collection of Vintage, Classic and sports cars and a well-stocked library of automobile books. Raj Mahal is being converted into a heritage hotel, with about 10 rooms and will be operational soon.

The Hawa Mahal literally means 'wind palace.' It was an ambitious project, abandoned halfway by the Wadhvan rulers. The incomplete structure stands outside the fort and is a building worth studying for its architecture, showing different stages of construction. Even today, around the Hawa Mahal, one can see Sompura artisans carving stones for various Hindu and Jain temple projects in India and abroad.

Wadhvan is famous for its craft traditions of tie and die, brass utensils, metal wares and educational wooden toys. It is equally well known for its culinary delights of 'Ganthia' and 'Peda'. A visit to the bazaar can be a wonderful experience. The low height wooden buildings of an old bazaar, with shops at lower level and residences at upper level with projecting carved balconies and the hustle-bustle of rural folks in colourful attire, transports one back to the last century, into medieval oriental bazaar.

Wadhvan has a Swami Narayan Temple with a majestic gate and nicely painted interiors using bright colours, truly in the style of architecture of the Swami Narayan sect. The ancient temple of Goddess Wagheswari is famous for its Navratri celebration, in which only men perform Garbis. Wadhvan, a town with old world charm and its own serene pace, will make it a memorable experience for any traveller.

Excursion : Muli (Swami Narayan Temple, royal palace, temple of Mandavraiji) 27 km, Nal Sarovar (bird sanctuary) 40 km, Dhrangadhra (royal palaces. bazaars, stone carving) 40 km

Travel Information :
Air : Nearest airport is Ahmedabad (111 km)
Rail : Wadhvan City on Surendranagar-Bhavnagar railway line
Road : Ahmedabad (111 km), Rajkot (116 km), Surendranagar (5 km)
Accommodation : Hotels at Surendranagar
Local transport : Non-metered auto rickshaws
Food : Local restaurants and eating joints

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