Saturday, June 21, 2008

River Saraswati and Sidhpur (ShreeSthal)

Sidhpur or ShreeSthal as it was known in the Skanda Puranas is situated on the banks of the Vedic Saraswati. Sidhpur is considered to be the ‘Kashi’ of North Gujarat. Sidhpur has also been described in the Rig Vedas. Sidhpur is also known as ‘ShreeSthal’ or a "pious place" finds a place in the Rig Veda and was then known as Dashu village.
Modern Sidhpur is in Patan district in North Gujarat, India. Sidhpur and neigboring Unjha are now well known for cultivating 'Jeera' and 'Isabgol'.
About the 10th century, under Solanki rulers, the city was at the peak of fame and magnificence. The ruler Siddhraj Jaisingh built his capital at Sidhpur, thus the name Sidhpur which literally means the town of Siddhraj. He built a temple dedicated to Shiva, Rudra Mahalaya. Rudra Mahalaya was a magnificent Shiva Temple with a three-storeyed 'shikhara', 1600 pillars, 12 entrance doors, central 'mandapa' and porches on east, north and south and sanctum in west. Around the temple, there were 11 shrines of Rudra. The eastern gate was adorned with beautifully carved 'Toran', with a flight of steps leading to the Saraswati River.
During the 12th century Mohammed Ghori destroyed the town Sidhpur on his way to Somnath. Around 30,000 people were killed in the raid, and the Solanki Empire was
destroyed. Later Ulugh Khan and Ahmed Shah of Ahmedabad ruthlessly destroyed this magnificent Shiva Temple, in the late 13th century or early 14th century and converted the grand temple into a mosque.
The ruins of Rudra Mahalaya in the shape of a column here or a platform there stand as mute witnesses to the insensitivity, cruelty and heartlessness of the Muslim invaders who destroyed this magnificent Shiva temple

The remnants of the once magnificent Rudra Mahalaya destroyed by Muslim invaders

The Puranas regard ShreeSthal as the most sacred spot in the ‘Saraswat-Mandal’ of Gujarat. The Bhagvata Purana associates it with Kardama rishi, (son of Manu) who had his hermitage here, and also with Kapila Muni who was born in this place on the bank of the sacred Saraswati River. It is said that Anahilwad-Patan (Anahillapataka or Anahillapattana), the capital of medieval Gujarat was founded where it is now, because of its closeness and proximity to ShreeSthal.
Sidhpur is the only place in India where matru-shradh is being carried out. At the banks of River Saraswati, thousands of people come here annually to perform the rituals for their mothers who are in heavenly abode. This tradition was started by Bhagwan Parashuram, also known as the protector of the Saraswat Brahmins.

Sidhpur is also known as Matrugaya Koshers. Bhagwan Parashuram, the sixth avatar of Vishnu (Parashu = axe and Ram i.e. axe wielding Shree Ram) had performed ‘Pind dan’ dedicated to his mother Devi Renuka at Sidhpur on the banks of River Saraswati. Now, pilgrims from all over India come to Sidhpur for performing this pooja.
Today, this ritual is performed at Bindu Sarovar. Learned Brahmins who have been educated and trained to perform this special type of pooja are always available in Sidhpur
A Brahmin performing Pooja at Bindu Sarovar
The five most holy and ancient lakes of India renowned for their sacredness are: (1) Manas Sarovar (Tibet) (2) Pushkar Sarovar (Rajasthan) (3) Bindu Sarovar (Gujarat) (4) Narayan Sarovar (Kutch, Gujarat) (5) Pampa Sarovar (Karnataka). The Bindu Sarovar has its special sanctity and glory due to it being the Tapobhumi of Shri Kapil Dev - an incarnation of God and founder of Samkhya philosophy. It was on the banks of the Bindu Sarovar that Kapil Dev preached the essence of attaining Moksha to his mother. Bhagwan Swaminarayan had also sanctified the Bindu Sarovar.
Posted by Vivek Hattangadi

Another view of Bindu Sarovar


architect ELsee said...

several decades ago, an architect had linked the path of the river Saraswati and the origins of the community - its mention in the puranas and the vedas - there is a queen's step well in Patan that is linked to this revelation.
elsee - (the search for architectural meaning)

nagar K said...

understanding the broader history of the region over the last eight to nine thousand years is essential - to discover this link - which is encoded in the rig veda too of the origins of the chitrapur saraswats