Just behind the gorgeous Rani ki Vav lies the Sahastralinga Talav – a structure if intact would have been equally if not more gorgeous. It pre-dates the Rani ki Vava and was another water management structure on the banks of river Saraswati and drew water from one of its canals and not only stored it but also did the water filtering / cleaning process.
As you walk towards this structure from Rani ki Vav, after crossing ASI office and museum, all you see is an elongated channel with steps at its bottom, some free standing columns along the way and a structure that resembles an ancient temple. As you walk around, you find the channel linked to another set of channel with some gate like structure in the form of arches.
As you reach the end of the boundary you see a giant circular step well, which is absolutely dry. It almost looks like an amphitheatre but without a stage. It gets linked to the channels that then go through twists and turns much like the modern day water pipe layouts and at the other end gets connected to the temple.
While walking around the place I tried talking to few villagers who were walking their cattle for grazing around the place and they said – The Talav is dry, what would you see. When I asked about the temple, they said it is not a temple and rather pointed to another temple some distance away probably to indicate that this is not a practicing or living temple and they pointed to the one that is still worshipped. It is then we discovered the legend of Jasma Odan – a woman from well diggers community, whom the then King Sidhraj Jaisingh wanted to marry. She committed Sati to avoid being taken forcefully by the king but not before she cursed the king that he will be childless and the well he is digging would be waterless. Legend is that the curse did come true and king started looking for ways to undo the curse. He was told that if a person with 32 lakshnas i.e auspicious signs that essentially means a good person were sacrificed, the curse would be nullified. A man named Mayo was identified and sacrificed and a temple was dedicated to him. It is this temple that is still worshipped by the villagers. I could not visit the temple due to paucity of time but listening the legend from the villagers was an experience.
Right next to the Sahastralinga Talav is ASI office and museum. The open-air museum was locked and when we requested the ASI officials to open and show us the museums, we were told it is not meant for public. When I asked – who is it meant for then, there was no answer. The person repeated that in all his years of service he has never opened the museum to public. I asked him to give me in writing that he can not open it to public or let me take a video statement that I can send to ASI, Delhi and ask the reason for not opening the museum to public. It was then that he made a few calls and opened the museum. Since it had not been opened for a long time, he rusted grill took some time to open. With us about 20 more people entered and saw the museum. Though I could not locate the Rani Udayamati idol that I expected to see here, it felt like a small victory to be able to see the in-situ sculptures.
If you are in Patan, you must visit Sahastralinga and see the ancient engineering works for public good.