Patan, the former capital of Gujarat, is a place famous for Patola sarees, one of the finest hand-made textiles in the world. One can see this exquisite fabric being woven here.
The Patan Patola is one of the finest hand-woven textiles produced the world over. It combines the art of tying and dyeing of the warp and weft threads and their weaving together, when each warp thread is carefully placed against the corresponding colors of the weft. Also known as the double Ikat, it is woven only in Bali, Indonesia besides Patan.
In an area called Sadvi Wada, one can watch the complex weaving of silk Patola saris, which are now made by just one family. Each sari takes from four to six months to produce, and is sold for up to Rs. 70, 000 (more than US$ 2,000). Silk threads are dyed in a set pattern before being woven on a complex loom and utmost care is taken to ensure completely even tension throughout the fabric.
Patan produces very intricate patterns worked with precision and clarity with the characteristic geometric delineation of the design, while maintaining the soft hazy outlines, a natural effect of the technique.
Patan is situated around 130 km from Ahmedabad in the Indian state of Gujarat. The city extends from the latitude 23°52' in the north to longitude 72°1' in the east. The place is well connected by roads and rail to the other cities in the region.
The historic town of Patan, founded in AD 796, is situated on the banks of the river Saraswati, about 51 km from Mahesena and 130 km from Ahmedabad. Originally known as Anhil-Vad-Pattan, the town flourished during the Solanki dynasty in 8th-11th century and has some interesting monuments. The city was the capital of the formidable Solankis, but lost all its charm when Mahmud of Ghazni attacked it in AD 1024. Ravaged by time and plundered for religion and riches, very little of the city's earlier glory remains now. Today, Patan is celebrated the world over for its exquisite Patola silk sarees.
Best Time to Visit
As the Tropic of Cancer passes through the northern border of Gujarat, the state has an extreme climate. But the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Cambay in the west and the forest-covered hills in the east, soften the rigors of the climatic extremes. Maximum temperature during summer hovers around 35°C while the minimum temperature during winter dips down to around 10°C.
How to Reach
BY AIR -The nearest airport is Ahmedabad from where one can catch flights to the other important cities in Gujarat and India.
BY RAIL -Patan is linked by rail with Ahmedabad, Delhi, and Mahesena. There are six local trains daily between Mahesena and Patan.
BY ROAD -Buses run by the state transport corporation and private luxury coaches connect Patan to the various important centers in Gujarat. It is situated at a distance of 144 km from Ahmedabad.
Of all the monuments at Patan, the Queen's Step well or Rani Ki Vav is the most stunning and speaks volumes about the sculpting skills of the artisans of the Solanki era. Constructed by queenUdayamati (AD 1022-63) and built in the Khajuraho style, the vav is 90 feet wide but there are no erotic images here. Instead, the walls are lined with images of Sheshshai Vishnu, Shiva and other gods and goddesses. As the vav remained buried for a long time, its numerous sandstone images adorning the walls have survived the ravages of time.
Also situated here is the Sahastralinga Talav or tank of a thousand Shiva shrines. Its construction was carried out by the great Jayasimha Siddharaja (AD 1093-1143). Spread over an area of five km, it is believed that the tank does not hold water anymore due to the curse Jasma Odan, a gypsy woman.
The temples of the Jains in Patan are said to number over a hundred, among which the one dedicated to Panchasara Parasvanath is the largest. It has a famous white marble image of Vanaraja and in the vicinity of the temple is the Hemchandracharya Jain Gyan Mandir that contains valuable Jain manuscripts, some of which were written in ink made of gold. Prior permission of the custodian is required for accessing these manuscripts stored in safes.
Places Around Patan
Unjha is a little town known for the marriage customs of the Kadwakanbis who live in this region. Marriages are solemnised only once every 11 years and on that day, every unmarried girl of the village over 40 days old must be married off. If no husband can be found, a proxy wedding takes place and then bride is considered a widow till a suitable match shows up.
Around 19 km from Patan is Sidhpur where one can find the ruins of an ancient temple.Mahesena is around 34 km away from Patan and a popular base for the tourists visiting Patan.Modhera nearby has a beautiful and partially ruined Sun Temple built by King Bhimdev I in the 11th century AD. The sun temple is also the venue for an annual dance and music festival organized by the Gujarat Tourism Development Corporation.