Friday, January 17, 2014

Rani Ki Vav at Patan , RudraMal, Siddhpur and On the road

Ranaki Vav,  Rudramal,  Siddhapur   slideshow 
Rani ki Vav (The Queen's Stepwell) is a wonderful example of a Royal Step Well near Patan, Gujarat, which was built between 1022-1063 AD. Rani ki vav is a famous stepwell situated in Patan town in Gujarat in India..  It is  also ranked as one of the seven  wonders of India  ( 7 Wonders of India: Rani Ki Vav, Patan).

Most of the sculptures are in devotion to Vishnu, in the forms of Dus-Avatars (10  incarnations )  KalkiRamaMahisasurmardiniNarsinhVamanVarahi and others representing their return to the world.NagkanyaYogini beautiful women - Apsara showcasing 16 different styles of make-up to look more attractive called Solah-shringar.   I have   tried to  identify   most of them in captions 

Raniki Vav  is picked for the  3D scaning   and   Laser archeology  by National Geogrpahy   

Siddpur  is city with beautiful  homes  by the   Dawoodi   community. The Dawoodi Bohras (or Vohras) are a Gujarati trading community which fanned out across India (and to East Africa) in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They are most visible in cities like Mumbai, as traders in hardware, glass and textiles.
Gujarat’s architectural history is marked by rich traffic between the Hindu and Islamic architectural traditions. .  

The  Toran at Rudramal, is one of icons of the state.   Ruins of Rudra Mahalaya temple and the Jami Masjid  should be  a top tourist attraction.  However it is closed and   picture taking is officially  banned.    This is because of   religious  conflict between Hindu and  Muslims.  However I did take few pictures and  so that may  be   relatively  rare to see, 

The Road trip to    Modhera  and Patan was  also interesting.

Modhera Sun Temple

M Modhera in Gujarat, is a temple dedicated to the Hindu Sun-God, Surya. It was built in 1026 AD by King Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty. This temple depicts the essence of ancient time. Beautiful columns and magnificent carvings decorate the hall. The exterior of the temple is intricately and delicately carved, showing demons and evolving gods. Despite its partial destruction by Mahmud of Ghazni and by subsequent earthquakes, it remains an outstanding monument, set against the backdrop of the barren landscape. Fifty two intricately carved pillars depict scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Unlike the exterior, the interior hall is plain with 12 niches representing the Surya's different monthly manifestations. Erotic sculptures panels complete the sensual decoration.

Modhera Sun temple Slideshow 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Somnath Temple

Somnath Temple is one of the very ancient temples of India located in Gujarat and stands as a famous landmark in the Indian history. The temple is so situated that there is no land from here to the South Pole. An arrow indicates the direction. 

Somnath Temple  Slide show 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Pols of Ahmedabad - - Vaarso- Hertiage Walk

The old, walled city of Ahmedabad is a contrast to the new city that’s known for its spic and span environs, well laid out roads and dedicated bus lanes,

A visitor can choose morning or evening heritage walks, organised either by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation or private players like the House of MG. The old city has around 360 ‘pols’ or gates with the Mahurat Pol being the first. Each pol, in some cases suffixed with ‘khadki’, leads into a small housing colony where people pursuing different vocations used to live. The deep division of social strata is evident from some of the names, for example ‘Khacharasi ni Khadki’ or where the sweepers and rag pickers lived.

The old city throws up magnificent Jain temples, densely populated market areas and many structures bound to pique tourist interest. The guides will not miss pointing out at the old Ahmedabad Share and Stock Brokers’ Association where Dhirubhai Ambani started his career as a broker.

Besides this structure in Manek Chowk, we find small traders with their desks filled with weights, measures and chemicals promising to check purity of gold ornaments. Moving ahead, we make our way to Rani na Hajiro and Juma Masjid, two of the biggest landmarks in that part of the town

I did heritage  walk with my high cgool friends . 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ashok Shila Lekh

I am  fast forwarding from   2500 BC to  300  BC.   From Lothal to Ashok's Shila Lekh.

History lovers can visit the Ashok Shilalekh or the rock edicts of Emperor Ashoka.  They may see  a jackpot in this  rock. It gives  an unique  connection to India's Past. If you are  an Indian or know tid-bits of the Indian history, then you must know "Chakravarti Samraat Ashok"  from Maurya dynasty and his writings on stones known as "Ashoka Stambh". Indian  national symbol have been taken from it

About 2 km east of Junagadh and 3 km from the foot of Girnar Hill, between the two places, is an edict of Emperor Ashoka inscribed on a rock dating from the 3rd century BC. The Ashokan edicts impart moral instructions on dharma, harmony, tolerance, and peace. An uneven rock, with a circumference of seven meters and a height of ten meters, bears inscriptions in Brāhmī script etched with an iron pen.It is interesting to note that Ashoka traveled all the way from Kalinga (present day Orissa) to this far away place in the west.

The inscriptions in Ashoka's 14 rock edicts on a large boulder are all done in Brahmi script. In the same rock, you can also find inscriptions in Sanskrit by the Saka (Scythian) ruler of Malwa, which have been added to it, around 150 C.E. by Mahakshatrap Rudradaman.

Ashoka was the third monarch of the Mauryan dynasty in India, anointed as emperor in 274 BCE, and is regarded as one of the most admirable rulers in world history..Although he is a major historical figure, little definitive information was known as there were no available records of his reign until the 19th century when a large number of his edicts, inscribed on rocks and pillars, were found in IndiaNepalPakistan and Afghanistan

The script was deciphered in 1837 by James Prinsep, an archaeologist, philologist, and official of the British East India Company. These scripts were found on the pillars at Delhi and Allahabad and on rock inscriptions from both sides of India, and also the Kharosthi script in the coins and inscriptions of the north-west.  The history of deciphering of the  script   by  James Prisep is also  very  impressive.


  1. Ashoks Major Rock Eddicts 
  2. Eddicts of Ashok 
  3. Brahmi script   introduction  and  Brahmi lanaguage books  
  4. Brahmi scripts ( wikepedia)  
  5. James  Prinsep    archaeologist  who deciphered Brahmi 
  6. Ashoka: The Search for India’s Lost Emperor by charles Allen

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lothal (લોથલ) : Ancient port city 4500 years back

Lothal is  one of the most fascinating  remains  of  an  ancient  port city from the  Indus civilization3300–1300 BCE; mature period 2600–1900 BCE) .  The place   was discovered   in 1958  Dr. Rao from the  archaeological  society of India.  Lothal is    the  exhibit- A   of the  existence of   life  and advanced  civilization thriving  in Gujarat  in prehistoric or geologic times ..  The place is only 80 KM form  Ahmadabad. Lothal is one   the oldest man-made structure and city  on the planet.  Per   Wikipedia's list of the oldest  man-made  structures,  only two structures pre-dates that.
(The wiki list of the oldest man-made structures is not updated with the  new archaeological find in the Orkney Islands off the northern tip of Scotland Ness, Scottland, the story at PBS : Scottish Island Discovery Digs Up New Information About, timed  3300 BC   about the Neolithic  religion).

{Side Note 1:One of the   relatively   "breaking news"  is about the  discovery of  the dinosaur  bones in  Gujarat per BBC News - The dinosaur wonders of India's Jurassic Park . { Also  at Wiki  "The Indroda Dinosaur and Fossil Park in Gandhinagar in the state of Gujarat, India, has been described as the second largest hatchery of dinosaur eggs in the world.[1] The Park was set up by the Geological Survey of India[1][2] and is the only dinosaur museum in the country."]. I  plan to  visit Dahod ( The birthplace of Mogul  Emperor Aurangazeb), 
Chamaner ( built by  Mahamad  Begada, the most prominent Sultan, Only UNESCO  heritage site in  Gujarat at present ),  Jambhughoda  along with  Dang district ( Place of  "adivasi"  the "native Indians of India', Kawant ), Dabhoi  and Malav or Madhya Pradesh(MP)  , part of Gurjar-Prathara empire  , an Indian Gurjar imperial dynasty that ruled much of Northern India from the 6th to the 11th centuries.    End of side Note 1

So  excluding the the "Jurassic Park", Lothal is the  Oldest place in the long history of  Gujarat with  irrefutable set of the scientific  and archeological supporting  facts. 
Lothal  was  excavated in 1958.  The map in the archaeological survey of India office, shows scores of Indus Valley sites scattered across the whole of Gujarat  most of them occupying positions near deltas.  The place  currently being excavated   is  at Dholavira,Kutch ,  For someone  interested in archaeology and ancient civilisations, Lothal is a perfect place to get an insight into the Indus Valley civilization like Dholavia  which  is under excavation  and   being developed for  Gujarat tourism as well for the application for theUNESCO heritage site.

Lothal literally  means  “mound of  dead”. The ancient city  is  one of the southernmost outposts of the Indus civilization and certainly one of the most interesting of Harrapan town planning ( The Indus Valley Civilization also known as Harappan culture)   Lothal  has  the unique lockgated dockyard is perhaps the greatest of maritime architecture from the ancient world, and to the Sabarmati river just before its meeting with the sea in Gulf of Cambay. 

A museum is stocked with archaelogical findings that offer an insight into the Indus Valley period..One of the  iconic  findings is  the  Stampseal with unicorn and ritual offering stand, ca. 2000-1900 B.C.; Harappan. Indus Valley, Harappa. At Lothal  the archaeologists also  discovered  two  human  skeletons  with double burial, which  they are still not able to find at other sites like 

Seals appear in the Indus Valley around 2600 B.C. with the rise of the cities and associated administrators. Square and rectangular seals were made from fired steatite. The soft soapstone was carved, polished, and then fired in a kiln to whiten and harden the surface. Seals made of metal are extremely rare, but copper and silver examples are known. The square seals usually have a line of script along the top and a carved animal in the central portion. The animals depicted on the seals, usually males, include domestic and wild animals as well as mythical creatures, such as the unicorn.  

Artifacts from the Indus Valley Civilization   was spread over some 1,260,000 km²,  up to Afganistan  . making it the largest ancient civilization  The Indus Valley is one of the world's earliest urban civilizations, along with its contemporaries, Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. At its peak, the Indus Civilization may have had a population of well over five million.   The civilization is noted for its cities built of brick, roadside drainage system, and multistory houses.

The Indus Valley Civilization is also known as the Harappan Civilization, as the first of its cities to be unearthed was located at Harappa, excavated in the 1920 . Up to 1,999, over 1,056 cities and settlements have been found, out of which 96 have been excavated, mainly in the general region of the Indus  . Among the settlements were the major urban centres of Harappa, Lothal, Mohenjo-daro (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Dholavira, Kalibanga, and Rakhigarhi.

The most dominating sight at Lothal is the massive dockyard, which has made Lothal so important on the international archaeological map.

{Side Note 2:  I  had about it when my  family moved  back  to Ahmadabad  in 1964.  I have been   ever very keen to  visit it.. However  I  managed to see  it for the first time in this trip of  2013
Part of  my high school reunion agenda was a  visit to  Gundi to visit Ashram run by my classmate and friend at Gundi (also  in Dholaka  Taluka)   in the last picture.  I was joined  by my two NRI friends .   On the way to Gundi, we stopped  by at a village named Ganpatpur, which has  Ganesh temple  and  was preparing for a  fair  next week, expecting   500,000 visitors. That is also an interesting stop among the  near by places. In past I have been to Dholaka  as  a stop from   school picnic in  1965 ( to  Vautha)  which has a historical  lake .  The  story pops-up from memory in  context to   the current challenges of  state vs private property  around the world.  The  designed  man-made lake has  a crooked corner as the old-lady a dancer  refused to move. The Queen-mother Minaldevi around 1050 AD  let her stay  and moved the lake around her  house. It is known as the exhibit of  Justice and  may be the  earliest  exception to the "Eminent domain"   ( the power of the state to seize private property without the owner's consent.  Side Note 2: } 

Reference :
  1. A.S. Khadikar, N. Basaviah, T. K. Gundurao and C. Rajshekhar Paleoenvironments around the Harappan port of Lothal, Gujarat, western India, in Journal of the Indian Geophysicists Union (2004)
  2. The Indus Civilization: A Contemporary Perspective - Page 80-83  ( Google book) 
  3. Prehistory And Harappan Civilization - Page 225-271 (Google Book,   recommended 
  4. Wikipedia : Lothal , Indus Civilization  Harappa Culture 
  5. Dancing Girl Of Mohenjodaro, Indus Valley Civilization C- 2700-2000 BCE. The "Dancing girl" found in Mohenjo-daro is an artifact that echoes the architectural wonders of ancient, deep buried long ago. She   frequently  refereed in  the write-up of the Indus Civilization  . Like the enigmatic of  smile of Mona-Lisa, the attitude  of the  dancing  this 4500 old dancing girl  has been subject of annotations by experts and critics, 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Introduction; Gujarat 5000 years of history, People & Places

I  am neither  a history  buff  nor  a travel  buff.   However  I  always find myself enticed most  by both of them. It is  said, heritage is the  essential part if the present we live in; and of the future we  built. I  marvel at the immense  repository  of  history through five millenniums, cultures and  traditions,  religions diversity and  knowledge. History in Indian subcontinent  is  invariably associated  with the  parallel track of  history through mythology. Gujarat is the place of power of Lord Krishna who  ruled his kingdom from the port city  of  Dwarka.  Gujarat is also the birth place of  father of the nation of  India, Mahatma Gandhi and  of Pakistan  Muhammad Ali Jinnah ( along with mine  ) along with some of the most leading entrepreneurs  of India like Ambanis, Tata, Azim Premji 

Here is the picture  from Gandhi Ashram, quoting Mahatma Gandhi: "It is my firm opinion that    no culture has treasures so rich as  ours has.  We  have not  recognized its value . If  we do not follow our culture,  we  would be committing suicide as a people" . I tend to agree with  the statement in essence and at least  second to  the assessment  that  " We  have not  recognized its value".   So I am writing this blog  through the help of photo-essays.  I wish to bring this  relatively  less  known  treasure  to   future travelers to   Gujarat  specially the new generation  born and raised here in US and coming generation to be  born  yet..  

In January 2013,  I  got an opportunity  to  travel to the place where I had  traveled  several times before,  lived  there for many  and most valuable  years of my life  and  also knew more about the tidbits of the history  compare to many other place.  

Gujarat is  the place, I consider   my  first homeland and  the heartland.  I have been also hearing  lots of fuss    about how polished Gujarat has become lately ! Assuming  that I know the pulses of the people and  well-verse with  land, I am  uniquely qualified  to judge it better my self.   I  will try to avoid  giving my opinions  about  political  or other controversial  areas in this blog ( but no guarantee).   So when  my high school friends  invited me to join   a reunion of the class after about four decades  of leaving the school,  I  jumped on the opportunity to  meet, reconnect,  travel  and learn what I  knew  and  what  I did not .  However   I decided  to  attempt  traveling  my homeland with  a  hat of tourist and  lens of an outsider. 

Here is the  current  Overview.  For most of the picture there is a separate   album(s) to cover the  subject. 

Gujarat Overview Slideshow

When I  took the  pictures, I recalled  statement of   the Bollywood  Director Abishesk Kapoor   of new film "Kapiyo che", shot in Gujarat , that  Gujarat as a state has great potential for picturesque locations..   The idea of  Gujarat and pride of in Gujarati  identity is pre-modern. 
ગુજરાતનું   ગૌરવ , ગુજરાતની  અસ્મિતા  ( Glory of Gujarat, Pride of  Gujarat) .   The  glimpses  of the pride can be seen in the   in the 8th century poem Kuvalyamala of Jain Monk  Kdyotansuri in Gurjar-Pratihari Dyanasty , to many modern  days. 

 {Side Note  1:   Today, on 1/26/2013  Indian  Republican day , I  also realized  my sense of belonging  when   12 years back  when  Gujarat has earthquake  and I got involved in the 

Earthquake Relief Fundraising  at my workplace.  I got similar  jolt during this   this trip. 

Most of the pictures are  from  the subset of   6000+ pictures I  took during my short trip of 10 days in January 2013 , but there are few  form past  trip or handful from fellow sojourners who traveled with me  for that segment of the  trip.   I plan to  start posting them  in reverse  chronological  order ,  starting with 2900-2400 BC old,  recent archaeological discovery of  the  Lothal city, part of the  Harappa civilization   to modern  Gujarat   to some  peep at the future Gujarat.   I cover  places and people.  This is no  way an  exhaustive work, leading to  authentic statements , nor I am  a writer.  I  have also  embedded  few personal side notes,  observations, travel tidbits  under   {Side Note  no} notations. The  busy  reader  can skip the side notes. 

Many of the  external references in sites like Wikipedia are no longer current, or the referenced  books are  no longer  available from major retailers in west and east  like Amazon, Crossword  etc.  When  I have found  the  references from scanned archive books, I have added. I also have made  references from  the  half a dozen books I purchased during  my trips  to Gujarat. I have  taken some  relevant photos from these book, specially of the historical archives .

This blog is more a set of   reflections  and  travel logs  of an amateur  traveler,  with some curiosity and  cursory observations, augmented with  the growing  hobby in photography.  Please  use the  listed  references or other sources for  more  detailed and  reliable  information 

The subset of the albums are posted. The public albums can be seen 
at   More albums and the  associated  blog entries  will  follow at  this site,  you may check for the new links at the  right  side bar.  Also  entries may be posted at my facebook  account at  and  at  twitter account  @tjshah. 

  ~  Tushar  J  Shah;   01/26/2013.   end of  Side Note  1}