Shamalaji, Aravalli, Gujarat

Date built: 11th century
Deity:
Architectural style:
Major festivals Annual fair on Kartik Poornima
Locale: Shamlaji
District:: Aravalli
Address: National Highway 8, Samalaji, Gujarat 383355
Phone 02771240399

Shamlaji no medo, also spelled Shamalaji, (Gujarati: શામળાજી and Hindi: शामलाजी) is a major Hindu pilgrimage centre in Aravalli district of Gujarat state of India. The Shamlaji temple is dedicated to Vishnu or Krishna. Several other Hindu temples are located nearby.

There is a small shrine on the way from the Shamlaji Temple to the Meshwo river, where an image of a standing Ganesha idol from the late-Gupta period is still worshiped.

The temple at Harishchandra ni chori probably dates to the 10th century A.D. It has a rectangular sanctum with a large pavilion in front. The whole structure is enclosed within the courtyard. The walls of this courtyard have fallen down but the ornamental gateway (torana) still stands.

Numerous temples in ruins, ancient brick-work and scattered idols found at Shamlaji show that since ancient times it has been a popular and important center of pilgrimage on the highway between Gujarat and Rajasthan. Devni Mori, a place about two kms from Shamlaji, is having remains of a Buddhist monastery from around 3rd-4th century AD. The stupa which is considered as a sharir stupa, has proved the presence of Buddhists in Vadnagar. Excavating of the stupa brought to light an inscribed casket which contained relics of Buddha. It is quite clear that the bodily relics of Buddha in the casket.Being a place of pilgrimage established at a picturesque spot, there are several other ancient shrines scattered all over this place. Amongst them is the small temple of Trilokeshwer just opposite Shamlaji has a beautiful and unusual idol of Shiva with the trident. The Kashi-Vishwanath Mahadev is a simple but ancient temple, which is about seven feet below the ground level. The temple of Ranchhodji, is on the opposite bank. There is also the tomb of Navgaja Pir, a maulvi (muslim cleric) close by visited by many Adivasis.

Architecture

Shamlaji temple is located on the banks of the Meshvo river in the valley surrounded by well wooded hills.It is also referred to as Dholi Dhajawala due to white silk flag fluttering on top of the temple.

Built of white sandstone and brick it is surrounded by a wall with a gateway. It is of two stories, supported on pillars, and a canopy with arches on each side. The lower courses of richly carved stone are of great age. Above them runs a frieze with an unintelligible pattern, and, above this, running right round the building, a fringe of elephants’ heads and forequarters carved in stone. Above this is a very ranch worn frieze full of figures in bass-relief, men on horseback with bows, and animals. The elephant is a very frequent emblem. Besides the fringe frieze above mentioned, there are, on the outer wall, between every two angles, larger figures of semi-rampant elephants standing out in relief, and, in front of the entrance, stands on either side of the doorway a gigantic cement elephant. Above the shrine, a pyramid-based tower rises into a spire like a high-shouldered cone with flattened sides. The forepart of the roof consists of a number of small domes springing from a flat roof, or rather of a flat trabeate roof, with domes here and there, the largest being in the centre. Outside at all the angles of the roof are figures of animals and the gargoyles.On walls, there are some scenes from the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana.

Of the two inscriptions, one is to the left in the upper story and bears date 94 AD and 102 AD. This writing, cut in stone, is not very archaic and could not be of the date it professes to record. It may be a transcript of an older inscription or the record of an old tradition. The other, on copper at the entrance of the temple, records repairs executed in 1762 AD by the then Thakor of Tintoi. From these two inscriptions, name of the deity seems to be Gadadharji, the holder of the club, a well known title of Vishnu, Krishna, or Shamlaji.The cow idols are also worshiped depictiong childhood of Krishna as cowherd. It is one of the 154 important pilgrimage sites of Vaishnavism.

Legend / Local stories

A microlith site known as Dhek-Vadlo locally was found near Shamlaji. A Buddhist stupa known as Devni Mori is located near it which dates to Mauryan period.

Several ruins of temples, scattered idols and old brick-works surrounding the place establishes antiquity of the place.

The present temple dedicated to Shamlaji, a form of Vishnu or a name of Krishna, is built probably in 11th century in Chaulukya style and renovated at least 500 years ago. The temple was claimed by Jains in the past.Years ago the Idar State rulers gave the fiefdom of Shamlaji temple to the Modhari Rao Saheb with other villages like Revdar, Devdar, Napada, Khalsa, Sunsar, Modhari, etc. The Rao of Modhari still holds trusteeship of Shamlaji Temple

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