Sahasralinga Talav is an artificial reservoir that was built to collect and store water. Located in the dry region of Patan in Gujarat, Sahasralinga Talav was built considering the minute details of architecture, and the knowledge of water management system that was available during the period. While preserving water was the main reason to build this lake, it was also decided to bring a holy touch to the place. This would make people consider water as ‘holy’ and would avoid wasting or polluting the water. Sahasralinga Talav was built by having a thousand lingas on either side of the water channel. (In fact, the lake is named after this: the name Sahasralinga Talav translates to a lake of 1000 lingas). This unique combination of water management system and maintaining the holiness of the place makes Sahasralinga Talav an engineering marvel.
Sahasralinga Talav was built by Raja Sidhraj Jaisingh in 1084 by diverting water from one of the channels of River Saraswati. The design of the Talav not only stored water, but also cleaned or filtered it. The reservoir was built on an existing lake called Durlabh Sarovar that was built by King Durlabhray. Today the talav is completely dry. You can only see a few remnants of the structure.
Architecture of Sahasralinga Talav
As you enter the site of Sahasralinga Talav that is spread over 5 kilometers, you can see a long channel for water, with steps on either side of it. The steps were needed in those times to fetch the water if its level was very low. The channel also has several pillars placed at regular gaps, and also has a small temple like structure at one end. If you look closer at the pillars, you can see sculptures of deities carved out. The pillars give an impression that it used to hold a roof at some time. Few pillars do hold a stone roof even today. The water source to this channel is through three ring like structures that channelled the water from the canal (that used to get its water from River Saraswati).
If you follow the water channels, you can see that they interlink each other with few twists and turns. The twists and turns of the water channels are very similar to the modern day pipelines, but at a much larger scale. At the end of all the channels is a large circular stepwell like structure.It looks like the main reservoir where the water used to be stored. Today, as the talav is completely dry, it looks like a huge amphitheatre!
It is believed that the whole reservoir is spread across 7 hectares of land. This was completely submerged with sand/mud, and was unearthed during an excavation exercise done in early 1940s. It is also believed that the reservoir was destroyed three times during various attacks over the years. However, some of the structures that still remain depict the durability at which they were built, even when none of the modern technologies existed!
Legend Behind the Dry Lake
It is believed that when the lake was being built, Raja Sidhraj Jaisingh fell in love with Jasma Odan. She was from a well-digging community, and was working hard to make the talav a reality. When the king expressed his interest to marry Jasma Odan, she rejected the proposal. Later, on fearing that the king may forcefully marry her, she cursed the king that he would remain childless, and the lake that is being built would never fill with water! After cursing so, she took the extreme step of ending her life (an unfortunate practise called ‘Sati’ that used to exist during those times). After she ended her life, her curse came true! On learning about the curse, the king wanted to undo the curse. He was suggested to sacrifice a person who had 32 lakshanas (qualities that indicates how good a person is). When this news broke to the villages nearby, a man named Mayo came forward and said he is ready to give is life for the benefit of the society. The king agreed to his sacrifice and said that a temple would be built to remember Mayo’s contribution. The temple is still functional and is located few meters away from Sahasralinga Talav.
How to plan a visit?
Sahasralinga Talav is located at a distance of 130 km from Ahmedabad. Ahmedabad is well connected to the rest of India by air, road and rail. From Ahmedabad, you can take buses to Patan which takes slightly over 3 hours to reach. From Patan, you can hire local taxis or shared jeeps to reach Sahasralinga Talav. You can also hire shared jeeps from Ahmedabad, but it may get uncomfortable as you have to travel for 3 hours! Another alternative is to club the visit to Sahasralinga Talav with Rani Ki Vav (just 1 km from Sahasralinga Talav) and Modhera Sun Temple (near Patan) and visit all these places in a taxi/car for the entire trip.
Where to Stay?
- Patan (Very few options)
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