Sunday, February 15, 2015

Vallabhipur (Gujarat), Ancient capital of Maitrakas, was famous for Valkabhi Vidhyapith (University)

Vallabhipur (Gujarat), Ancient capital of Maitrakas, was famous for Valkabhi Vidhyapith (University)

Vallabhipur, 160 kms from Ahmedabad, a small town in Bhavnagar District was very famous for its Vallabhipur Vidhyapith (University), like Universities of Takshsila and Nalanda. The University was unique with 800 Lectures teaching 6400 students, with 1:8 lecturer students ratio. 

It was founded by Vijaysen in around 3rd century, was under the rule of Skandgupta (455-467). Thereafter, the general of Skandgupta, Bhattark Maitrakas (AD 470-788) became ruler and made it a capital. Skanda Purana and Panini books referred it as a major centre for trade and commerce. 

As religion was linked with the religion of King in power, Vallabhipur was an important centre for Shaivism, Jainism and Buddhism in different time periods.  

The name Vallabhipur either derived from valhi (cotton), as it was a major trade centre of Cotton (valhi) Or may be named due to the unique design of the houses with roof top made differently. No major link found to connect its name with Lord Krishna (Vallabh).

It was a noted Jain centre. Vallabhi Council in 453 or 466 AD produced Jain Agams under leadership of Jain Acharya Shraman Devardhigani along with other 500 Acharyas. As per the quotes in book Aristanidhi, it was so rich that there were more than 100 Crorepatis, whose houses were bitting Naubat everyday. 

Chinese Buddhist monk and traveller Xuanzang came to Vallabhipur around 642, during the rule of King Shiladitya1 Dharmaditya. It was a Buddhist centre. He visited and stayed in the University for some time to study. He has described the glory of Vallabhipur and praised the ability of the King in governance in his travelogue "the Great Tang Records on the Western Regions", on his journey of 19 years (626-645) to Central Asia-India. 

There are different stories of Vallabhipur's destruction (Dattan Pattan). It was a trading centre connected through water way with Bhavnagar Khadi (gulf). Therefore the major reason might be flooding of the area and submerged into the Sea water. The word Dattan and getting vestige from 20 feet deep supports the argument. The ground water became salty, that might be another reason for migration of people from this place. Dttan Pattan may be Dakhan Paltan, that might have invaded the kingdom.

Another reason is a tale of Sadhu Dhundhinath, narrated by Zaverchand Meghani in his book Saurastra ni Rasdhar. The Sadhu when came to know after 12 years of his Tapa, that Vallabhipur people didn't give bhiksha to his only disciple except one Prajapati family, he gave curse to the town to dattan pattan and the town was destroyed. The Prajapati family was sent to other place before the curse.

Third story prevalent here is about Kaku Vanio and his daughter. Kaku was a rich Nagarsheth of Vallabhipur. His daughter had a Gold Comb. As she and the daughter of the King of the area were friends, the King's daughter demanded that Gold Comb from her. But Kaku's daughter was not ready to give it to her and King's daughter was obstinate to get it. Finally the King ordered Kaku to give the comb to his daughter. But Kaku denied and went away with his family from Vallabhipur. Later to take revenge from the King, he funded another army and got the King of Vallabhipur defeated in war and the town was destroyed. The barbarian has captured it.

The vestige of remains are not here to speak about the glory of the place but the ancient literature, temples and occasionally found vestige of old constructions or lingas confirm the ancient history of Vallabhipur. 

There are beautiful Shiva temples. Large size Shiv Lingas made from sand stone are very impressive. The height of Siddheshwar Shivlinga is more than 7 feet and circumference is more than 9 feet. The Nandi is also bigger than normal size. It was found without head. The head was remade and fitted by a Mistri Arjan Kacha from Rajkot in 1969. How were people offering water onto the Shiv Linga? Had they be more than 9 feet height? Ancient literature has stories of very tall people living in ancient India. It also suggests that worshipping Shiv Linga was the most ancient custom of Hinduism. 

The Shivlinga in nearby Buddheshwar temple has big circumference. The Vaijnath and Pragateshwar Shiv Lingas are other temples in the area. It is said that late Morarji Desai, selected Pragateshwar Shiv Linga for Somnath Temple, but it was not materialised. Vaijnath is a centre of Nimbark branch of Vaishnavism with a beautiful temple of Radha Krishna.

A small site was given to the Archeological Department in 1974 for doing excavation and research but after little excavation, nothing had progressed. 

All living here are wishing to bring back the Glory of Vallabhipur. The Chief Minister of Gujarat has visited the site recently. Patels, the farmers turned into diamond merchants from this area are planning to build New Vallabhipur Vidhya Pith for Education of 10000 students in different branches to bring back the Glory of Vallabhipur. Mahi-Pariej drinking water pipelines is going to be major vain of its success. It has potential to become Vallabh Vidhyanagar (Anand) of Saurastra.

If traveling this way, do visit Vallabhipur, famous for its Vidhyapith and as Capital of Maitrakas in ancient Gujarat. 

Punamchand
Vallabhipur
13 February 2015

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