Friday, June 13, 2008

River Saraswati and its Relations with Gujarat

River Saraswati and its Gujarat-Connections
Vivek Hattangadi, Ahmedabad
II Rudravarte Kurukshetre Pushkare ShriSthale tatha
Prabhase Panchame Teerthe Panch Prachi Saraswati II
This verse is from the Rig-Veda. It means one ‘swaroop’ of Saraswati is Rudravarta; the second is Kurukshetra, the third Pushkar, the fourth Siddhakshetra (ShreeSthal, Sidhpur) and the fifth Prabhas (Somnath) (1).
The discovery of the course of Vedic River Saraswati traversing a distance of 1,600 kilometers from the Himalyas to Gujarat is an unparalleled discovery in the history of human civilization. Carrying the waters of River Sutlej and River Yamuna, the mighty river had drained most of North-west India for thousands of years prior to 3500 BC.
Today it is believed that the River Saraswati flows underground as detected by the remote sensing satellites. The river can also be seen in parts near the Lake Pushkar in Rajasthan, Sidhpur in Northern Gujarat and Somnath in Saurashtra, Gujarat.(2)
Gujarat and River Saraswati are inseparable.
Sidhpur
in North Gujarat is an historical place. It is located on the banks of the Vedic River Saraswati. It is a taluka of Mehsana district in North Gujarat.
Sidhpur derives its name from the great ruler of Gujarat, Siddhraj Jaisingh, who constructed a magnificent Shiva Temple in 12th Century AD, Rudra Mahalaya, at this town. The entire townscape of Sidhpur is dotted with temples, kunds, ashrams and sacred buildings along the banks of the Saraswati River.

In ancient times, two significant aspects - the natural features of the Saraswati River and the man-made feature of the Rudra Mahalaya - influenced the urban structures of Sidhpur.
Sidhpur has many places to see,
Rudra Mahalaya: It is an old Shiva temple built by Siddhraj Jaisingh in 10th century A.D. Today it is mostly in r
uins. The structure is said to have had 1,600 pillars with 12 grand entrance doors, spread over half of the present day Sidhpur and six storeys high.
Bindu-Sarovar: It is a small artificial tank, even mentioned in Rig-Veda and considered pious by Hindus.
Saraswati bank: Sidhpur is the only place in India where matru-shradh is being carried out. Thousands of people come here annually to perform the rituals for their mothers who are not on earth. This tradition was started by Bhagwan Parashuram, also known as the protector of the
Saraswat Brahmins.
About 25 km away from Sidhpur is Patan (Anahilwad-Patan). Patan was the ancient capital of Gujarat and is situated on the banks of River Saraswati. Rani-ki-Vav (The Queens Step Well), on the eastern banks of River Saraswati was built by the Solanki kings who ruled Gujarat during that period. Rani-ki-Vav was constructed about a thousand years back somewhere in 1050 AD. Sculptures of deities and other images adorn the walls flanking the steps. (3) Rani-ki-Vav is a magnificent contribution to architecture. In essence, Rani-ki-Vav is a storage tank developed for irrigation purposes. The waters could be reached by descending an array of steps. Rani-ki-Vav also served as a resting place for the royals to escape the tortuous summers. Rani-ki-Vav is connected to Sidhpur through a 25 km long tunnel and was to serve as an escape route for the royal family in case they
were defeated in a war.
Rani-ki-Vav was buried for centuries and suffered damage in past due to neglect and flood of the River Saraswati. After independence, the Rani-ki-Vav came into the custody of archaeological survey of India as protected monument of national importance. Till 1960's nobody knew that there existed the most ornate and highly sculptured vav. At this time, the vav was completely filled up except the top most portion of the well.
The Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary near Ahmedabad is one of the premier attractions of the diverse wildlife in Gujarat. Nal Sarovar is a natural lake, spread across a sprawling area of over 116 sq. km. It is 62 km from Ahmedabad and is famous for housing vivid migrating birds from Siberia. One estimate is that over two lakh migratory birds from Siberia visit this place every year.
Flocks of flamingos, a great variety of ducks, geese and pelican are some of the major attractions of the pla
ce. This water bird sanctuary is like a fairyland for birds here.
Nal Sarovar could be a relic of the River Saraswati. There are about a 100 archaeological sites around this Sarovar region. The discovery of over 500 archaeological sites along the coastline of Gujarat, south of Dholavira, the existence of Nal Sarovar which links up Little Rann of Kutch with Gulf of Khambat (Cambay) during monsoon periods when the Nal Sarovar expands, point to the possibility that River Saraswati had coursed beyond Rann of Kutch into Saurashtra through Nal Sarovar, Lothal, Padri, Rangapura and up to Prabhas Patan (Somnath). It is also likely that the ancient courses of Rivers Narmada and Tapti had also coursed through the present day Saurashtra which has uplifted regions caused by recurrent
plate tectonic events.(4)
Prabhas Patan (Somnath) is a small town on the south-western coast of Gujarat. It is four kilometers - from Veraval railway station and 93 kilometers from Junagadh. This is a place of pilgrimage of the popular
Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva, i.e., Somnath.
The literal meaning of Somnath is Lord of the Moon. According to Puranas, Shiva has made Prabhas Patan his abode since the beginning of the creation and will continue to abide here for ever. Prabhas Patan has also a number of places associated with Sri Krishna. One of them is Balka Tirth and the other is Dehotsarga. Sri Krishna is said to have been mortally wounded by the arrow of a hunter while reclining under a tree in Balka Tirth. His body was cremated at Dehotsarga, which is the place where three rivers — Saraswati, Kapila and Hiranya — unite to form a Triveni before joining the sea.
According to Hindu mythology, Balram, the elder brother of Sri Krishna, was an incarnation of Seshnag. There is a cave near Prabhas Patan called Balram Guha. It is believed that Balram passed to the netherworld (patal) through this cave. (5)
Veda Vyasa who wrote the Mahabharata observed the sky inscriptions from the banks of River Saraswati. “The epic describes a pilgrimage of Balram from Dwarka-Somnath (Prabhas Patan) to Mathura along the banks of River Saraswati in 200 shlokas in the S'alya Parvan. In the epic, Veda Vyasa himself says that day in and day out he is watching the planetary positions on the skies. His recording of over 70 such planetary events are almost like a record of celestial inscriptions within the
text. These celestial events are used to date the events which occurred on the banks of River Saraswati - events which are described in the epic poem. Since the planets on the sky and the celestial events are remarkably accurate and follow a precise pattern of cyclical movements, to a rhythm of time, the determination of planetary positions as observed by Veda Vyasa will help determine the date of events described in detail in the shlokas of Mahabharata”.(6)
The Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary (also known as Sasan-Gir) is the sole home of the pure Asiatic Lions. The fully protected National Park measures about 258 km² and the Sanctuary is 1153 km². The seven major perennial rivers of the Gir region are Hiran, Saraswati, Datardi, Shingoda, Machhundri, Ghodavari and Raval. The four reservoirs of the area are at four dams, one each on Hiran, Machhundri, Raval and Shingoda rivers, including the biggest reservoir in the area, the Kamleshwar Dam, dubbed 'the lifeline of Gir'.
Rishi Gritsamada calls River Saraswati “Ambitame, naditame, devitame Saraswati”: i.e. best of mothers, best of rivers and best of goddesses.
Can River Saraswati be revived? Dr. Jagdish Gandhi (who had made a presentation before P.P. Swamiji in March 2008 at Killa Pardi) told a gathering of scientists from Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) at Ahmedabad, that he has prepared a blueprint to show that the waters of the River Saraswati flowing through the Himalayas can now be brought to Kutch (a desert area) through a system of canals. He said he has presented these blue prints to the Central Government and the Governments of Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat. Dr. Jagdish Gandhi further said that enough water is available in the Himalayan glaciers to revive River Saraswati. Through his film, he showed that River Saraswati still flows in the Himalayas. River Saraswati now joins the River Yamuna. The waters of River Saraswati can now be diverted along the original Vedic Saraswati River route through canals and water can brought to Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Rann of Kutch. Jagdish Gandhi clarified and emphasized that drawing water through bore wells and capturing water from the original path of River Saraswati should be avoided at any cost. Dr. Jagdish Gandhi has provided the Central and State Governments details of the maps on this subject.(7)

II Ambitame, naditame, devitame Saraswati II
Bibliography
1. Babubhai Panchal: ShreeSthal Saraswati Mahima,
2. http://www.gsbkonkani.net
3. UNESCO World Heritage Center, Updated 11th June 2008
4. River Saraswati: Bharatiya civilization; Dr. S. Kalyanaraman Babasaheb (Umakanta Keshav) Apte Smarak Samiti, Bangalore 2004
5. GP Nagar http://www.lym.org.za/somnath.htm
6. Dr. S. Kalyanaraman: in Saraswati nadi shodh prakalp - Akhil bharatiya itihaasa sankalana yojana
7. Report from “Divya Bhaskar” , 22nd April 2008, Ahmedabad Edition
Posted by
Vivek Hattangadi- Ahmedabad

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