India // Gujarat //

Patan and Anhilawada Patan


PATAN, roughly 40km northwest of Mehsana, has few monuments, but in the Salvivad area of town you can watch the complex weaving of silk patola saris, once the preferred garment of queens and aristocrats, and an important export of Gujarat, now made by just one extended family. Each sari, sold for Rs50–75,000, takes from four to six months to produce.

The big-city bustle of Patan is a far cry from the old Gujarati capital at ANHILAWADA PATAN, 2km northwest, which served several Rajput dynasties between the eighth and the twelfth centuries, before being annexed by the Mughals. It fell into decline when Ahmed Shah moved the capital to Ahmedabad in 1411. Little remains now except traces of fortifications scattered in the surrounding fields, and the stunning Rani-ki-Vav (daily 8am–6pm; Rs100 [Rs5]), Gujarat’s greatest step-well. It was built for the Solanki queen Udaimati in 1050 and extensively restored during the 1980s, recreating as perfectly as possible the original ­extravagant carving. Near the well are the remains of the Sahastraling Talav, the “thousand-lingam tank” built at the turn of the twelfth century, but razed during Mughal raids. This is part of the same complex (daily 8am–6pm) that includes a modest open-air museum.

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