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 Rajputs 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 honor,
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
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 covered by intricate decoration.
The rulers of Wadhvan were great
automobile enthusiastic and their passions for cars is reflected in
their collection of Vintage, Classic and sports cars and a well-stoked
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
tradition 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 low level and
residences at upper level with projecting carved balconies and the
hustle-bustle o rural folks in colorful 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 Wagheshwari 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