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VADNAGAR - AN ANCIENT CITY

DAWN BREAKS BEHIND TORANA [VICTORY ARCH] VADNAGAR is an ancient city in Gujarat, India. Its known history goes back to 2500 B.C. Archeological excavations have established that the settlement of mainly agricultural community existed in the place more than 4500 years back. Pottery, textiles fragments, ornaments, tools, etc., were found during these excavations from various sites around the present lake Sharmishtha. Some archeologists suggest that it was one of the many Harappan sites.

SUN RISES OVER LAKE SHARMISHTHA THE early settlement was on the bank of river Kapila flowing from the hills of Aravalli. Later on an artificial lake was dug up and the settlement extended around it. Over a period of time the settlement grew into a city of considerable size.

PRESENT CITY SITS ON A MOUND The present city, which appears to be situated on a hill of a height varying from 7 to 30 meters, is actually sitting on a very large artificial mound. This mound is created by a number of layers of buildings built and destroyed in earlier periods. Diggings done for archeological excavations or construction of houses in recent times show no end to these layers till one reaches to the level of farmland surrounding the city.

Vadnagar or Aanartpur was at the center of Aanart Pradesh, which comprised of parts of present-day Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh. It was well connected by roads leading to the surronding region and beyond.

CULTURAL CENTER OF AANARTA PRADESH In the later period the settlement grew up as a trading center. The earliest names of the settlement one comes across are Aanarta and Aanartapur. The town of Aanartapur seems to have risen to considerable glory by the beginning of the First Century and the entire region surrounding it came to be known as Aanarta Pradesh. With the prosperity brought by the trading, the town soon rose in size and culture. It nourished arts like music, sculpture, architecture, dance, painting, etc. Also, it became a center of learning.

SEVENTH century Chinese traveler Hsuan-Tsang visited Vadnagar, then known as Anandapura, twice. In 632 A.D. he stayed in Anandapura and described the city as rich and densely populated. The people were wealthy enough to support rich culture, literature, arts, and religious centers of learning for Buddhist monks, and temple priests.

[Acknowledgement Hsuan-Tsang picture:"Journey to the West on the Silk Road" – The Prelude Written and photographed by Lee, Jing Jing (The head editor of Rhythms Monthly of Taiwan)]

[Acknowlegement: Map from ‘‘Travels of Hsuan-Tsang -- Buddhist Pilgrim of the Seventh Century’ By Irma Marx]

SEVENTH CENTURY Chinese traveler Hsuan-Tsang visited Vadnagar, then known as Anandapura, twice on his loop route to central India. In 627 A.D. he began his journey from the north-east China to far away India and returned to his native land in 643 A.D. It was a long journey by distance and time. He kept a detailed chronicle of his travels and gathered a large collection of books from India. He extensively traveled in Western India comprising of present-day Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra. Among the cities he visited were Anandapura, Vallabhi, Ujjain, and Bharuch. Hsuan-Tsang has written a separate chapter on Anadapura. He writes about it:
“This country is about 2000 li in circuit, the capital about 20. The population is dense; the establishments rich. There is no chief ruler, but it is an appendage of Malava. The produce, climate, and literature and laws are the same as those of Malava. There are some ten sangharamas with less than 1000 priests; they study the Little Vehicle of the Sammatiya school. There are several tens of Deva temples, and sectaries of different kinds frequent them. ”Going west from Valabhi 500 li or so, we come to the country of Su-la-ch'a (Surashtra).”
[Ref: SIYUKI : BUDDHIST RECORDS OF THE WESTERN WORLD, First Edition: London 1884 Reprint: Delhi, 1981, 1994, By Samuel Beal, MOTILAL BANARSIDASS PUBLISHERS.]

TORAN [VICTORY ARCH] Toranas or Victory Arches are the most outstanding historical monuments of Vadnagar. These magnificent arches, standing on the western shore of Lake Sharmishtha, are believed to have been erected by the Solanki rulers in the 10 th century. And probably they symbolize the victory over the occupiers from the north-east. More than four-stories tall, these intricately carved arches are made from red sandstone. MYSTERY OF THE TORANAS Some historians believe that the Toranas are remnants of a very large palace complex. It is quite possible that where they stand today might not be their original place. There is no

explanation as to why are they erected side by side in such an irregular way. Also, there aren’t any other ruins around them. Are they transplanted here from some other site? Much land area between Toranas and Naagdhara from where water flows into Lake Sharmishtha is made of irregular mounds. There were many ruins in this area and a large quantity of carved stone slabs as well statues were lying scattered all over till the late 1960s. Most of these seem to have disappeared today. But, if excavated properly, the entire area may still have a lot more to reveal to us. * * * For more about Vadnagar, please click: http://vadnagar.blogspot.com