Going into the fortified township of Vadhwan, tourists cannot but get awed by the simplistic structures of the erstwhile kingdom of Jhala Rajput rulers, who had a major influence on the culture of the region. Also, remarkable is the culture of Jainism in this section of Gujarat. Vadhwan city is a part of the Surendranagar district of Gujarat located about 111 kms from the town of Ahmedabad. Vadhwan is a known location for its old world royal charm and serene space with a life and culture of its own.
History of Hawa Mahal and Vadhwan
Vadhwan rulers belonged to the Jhala Rajput clans and had good administrative and culturally inclined society. To provide sufficient protection to their clan and the people, the town of Vadhwan was fortified and gates were erected at most places to provide safety. Some of these gates and the fortified walls are still found in the city, although it has grown beyond these walls. Vadhwan was the centre of the princely state by the same name, which in earlier days was known as Vardhamanpuri, the name being derived from the great Jain Thirthankaras, Bhagwan Vardhaman. The prime ministers of this princely state belonged to the Rawal family who were given the title of Dewan Bahadur. Under their rule, a number of important structures were constructed, mostly during the era of 18th and 19th century.
Various structures which adorn the landscape of Vadhwan in Surendranagar district are related to Jainism, but there are two important tourist important palaces, the Hawa Mahal and Raj Mahal. The latter was the residence of His Highness Balsinhji in 19th century, replete with exotic gardens, cricket pitches, fountains, tennis courts and lily ponds.
Specialities of Hawa Mahal
During this era of Jhala rulers, the construction of Hawa Mahal Vadhwan was taken up which literary meant the ‘wind palace’. Even though it was an ambitious project with ultimate craftsmanship, the work was left incomplete, without the completion of the structure. The part which is incomplete is outside the actual fort and is in different stages of construction along with the study of architectural designs, which were stopped midway. These give a glimpse into the style of architecture used by the artisans in erecting Hawa Mahal. In the present day also, many of the Sompura artisans are seen involved in carvings and cutting of sculptures for various Hindu and Jain temple projects.
Sompura Clan of Artisans
Sompura Salat community was one of the Brahmin communities in Gujarat. They were master artisans, expert in special kinds of structures. Their ancestors were responsible for building the famous Somnath Temple with the jyotirlingas. They were the people responsible for starting the work on Hawa Mahal Vadhwan. In recent years, these people have been called upon for restoration work of various temples in Gujarat as well as in other parts of India.
There is good road communication between Surendranagar, Ahmedabad and Rajkot. Private buses and taxis and government run buses are available for tourists to take up a tour of this magnificent structure of Hawa Mahal Vadhwan. Non metered auto rickshaws are the best options for reaching by local route. In the railway circuit, it is located along the Bhavnagar-Surendranagar line. Nearest airport to reach Vadhwan and view Hawa Mahal is at Ahmedabad at about 111 kms.
City of Vadhwan has etched a name for itself, much because of the artisan works for temples and Hawa Mahal. Also, the patronage by the local rulers gave an impetus to such trade. Besides, this place is well known for other sightseeing places inclusive of various temples and palaces.
How to Reach:
Nearest Air Port is Rajkot is about 111.3 Kms
Nearest Railway Station is Wadhwan Railway Station is about 1 Km
Its within the City and 3.5 Kms from the Surendranagar Central Bus Stand