Just behind the gorgeous Rani ki Vav lies the Sahastralinga Talav. A structure if intact would have been equally good if not more gorgeous. It pre-dates the Rani ki Vav 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.
Sahastralinga Talav – Places to visit in Gujarat
As you walk towards this structure from Rani ki Vav, after crossing the 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 channels 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 amphitheater 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 a few villagers who were walking their cattle for grazing around the place. They said – The Sahastralinga 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 worshiped.
Legend of Jasma Odan
It is then we discovered the legend of Jasma Odan – a woman from the 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 would be childless and the well he was digging would be waterless. Legend is that the curse did come true and the 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 mean a good person was 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 worshiped by the villagers. I could not visit the temple due to the paucity of time, but listening to the legend from the villagers was an experience.
ASI Museum at Sahastralinga Talav
Right next to the Talav is the ASI office and museum. The open-air museum was locked. When we requested the ASI officials to open and show us the museums, we were told it was not meant for the 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 had never opened the museum to the public. I asked him to give me in writing that he can not open it to the 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 the public. It was then that he made a few calls and opened the museum.
Since it had not been opened for a long time, the 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 this marvel. And see the ancient engineering works for the public good.
Recommend you to read the following travel blog on Places to visit in Gujarat.