Sidhpur: splendid architecture in a neglected town

Posted on May 16, 2019 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

Sidhpur

 

After a visit to the ghost village Durgapur (see earlier post here) near Mandvi, we visited another sleepy town called Sidhpur in Patan. Both places have exquiste haveli architecture but barely any occupants. What on earth happened to these places? I can't fathom why these home owners abandoned their beautiful homes. It makes me wonder if Gujarat is full of these demise towns and villages.

Situated on the left bank of the River Saraswati, Sidhpur is in fact a scared town within Patan, one of the early medieval capitals of Gujarat. Named after the great Solanki ruler of Gujarat – Siddhraj Jaisinh, the name literally means 'a pious place'. It was a prominent town in the 10th century under the Solanki rulers, and home to the desecrated 10th-12th century Rudra Mahalaya Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva (now it is a ruin and protected national monument). The town was full of temples, kunds, ashrams and other sacred places that drew pilgrims from everywhere.

Yet our guide did not take us to the archaeological sites, instead he brought us to another part of town where there are rows of abandoned/demolished havelis with few pedestrians and cars. As soon as we saw the architecture, it was another "Wow" moment for all of us. From afar, it reminded me of Cuba; although I have never visited Cuba, these havelis resemble the Cuban architecture I have seen in photograhs/video footage. Perhaps it is due to the European influences and neoclassical features, as well as the colourful facades.

 

Sidhpur

Sidhpur

Sidhpur  Sidhpur

Sidhpur

Sidhpur

Sidhpur

 

Welcome to the Dawoodi Bohras neighbourhood. The Dawoodi Bohras is a Shia-Muslim trading community, flourished in Sidhpur from the 1820s to the 1930s. These havelis were built by the prosperous Shia-Muslim traders, and they are all highly ornamented. Every house's façade has an intricate monogram with the initials of the owners, and unqiue decorations that differentiate itself from other houses. The architecture style here is quite eclectic, where you can see influences from Europe, Persia and India, thus it is really a big 'melting pot'.

 

Sidhpur  Sidhpur

Sidhpur

Sidhpur  Sidhpur

Sidhpur

Sidhpur

Sidhpur

 

The sad thing is that these havelis are mostly neglected, while some are being demolished. Like Durgapur in Mandvi, I doubt these houses are being preserved by the local authority, hence they may all crumble one day and just become piles of dust. I don't know much about India's architectural conservation guidelines, but it appears that the authorities tend to focus more on monuments than residential houses that also desreve preserving. If we look at SIngapore, their govenment has made immense effort into architectural conservation of heritage buildings, and have succeeded in conserving iconic monuments and residential buildings (despite that some may think that these buildings look too new and polished). If the local authority has the foresight, they could revive this neighbourhood and make it prosperous again.

 

Sidhpur

 

After we left the residential area, we saw more activities on the main road, and here the mansions look even grander. I felt like I have travelled from Cuba to Southern Europe within minutes. The facades remind me of the Renaissance architecture in Spain and Italy – amazing!

Since I am unable to do much to save these buildings, I can only write and post these photographs in the hope that more locals would become aware of their existence and persuade the government to protect these invaluable heritage buildings.

 

Sidhpur

Sidhpur

Sidhpur

Sidhpur

Sidhpur

Sidhpur

Sidhpur

Sidhpur

Sidhpur

 


This post was posted in Architecture, Travel, Architectural conservation, Design, India, Indian design, Kutch, Haveli architecture and was tagged with architecture, Architectural conservation, India, Indian design, Gujarat, Haveli architecture, Sidhpur. heritage

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