Shrimal Or Bhinmal

We have thus far learnt the background of the original history of the Shrimalis , i.e. all the resident communities of Shrimal . Now we shall turn towards the history of Shrimal which is known at present as Bhinmal .
Most people call themselves as Shrimalis , but very few among them know about the place called Shrimal .
{ As this book was published in the early 1970’s the means to reach Bhinmal may have become more simplified than those mentioned in the next paragraph . Persons who wish to go there should find that out } .
Today Shrimal is a small town . With the availability of electricity and water , the population has been increasing . To reach there buses are available from various towns of North Gujarat . One can also reach there by meter gauge train from Ahmedabad . On the Ahmedabad – Gandhidham route , one should get down at Bhildi junction . From there , by another train on the Marwar route , Bhinnamal station is 103 kms. away . Near the station is a bus – stand . Opposite the bus – stand is a Dharmashala [ charitable accommodation ] , nearby is a marwari vishi ( hotel serving lunch / dinner ) . A guide is available for seeing the town . There are homes of Shrimali Brahmans and shops of Shrimali Sonis . After enquiring with them , one should arrange for a guide .
We have already referred to Shrimal Puran . After that another book by Shri Kashiram Bhaishankar Oza ( Premi ) was published on Shrimal on behalf of the magazine ” Shrimali Brahman Hitechhu ” in Vikram Samvat year 1984 [ 1928 A.D. ] . In that the condition of Shrimal at that time was [ around 1928] has been described . In those days of British rule the area of Rajasthan state was known as Marwad . The book describes the condition of Shrimal as follows :
” In Marwad , the land of famous wars and her illustrious valiant warriors , Shrimal is situated in the vast plain between Jodhpur and Abu . Bearing the longitude N 24 – 42 and latitude E 72 – 4 , it is spread over a hillock 20 feet high and about three – quarters of a mile long , extending north – south . It is situated 50 miles north – west of Abu road railway station . There is no greenery around . On its north are the Sukdi and Sukri rivers , on the east the range of Abu mountains , on the south the Sachor region and on its west the Luni river . ”
The book further goes on as follows :
In ancient times , today’s Bhinmal was a beautiful city . With its high – rise buildings and its thick population it was attracting the eye of the foreigners . It was a flourishing business centre . It had beautiful lakes and it was considered as a holy pilgrimage centre . It was largely populated by religious and cultured Brahmans and Vania ( trading / business ) communities . With the ravages of time , this once prosperous and famous Bhinmal is today lifeless and barren . It has ceased to be a beautiful city and has become a small village with ruins and barren places .
The prosperity and glory of this city were intact till the beginning of the 13th century . But gradually with declining business and declining population , it has fallen on bad times and lost its glory . But in 1583 when the Moghul Emperor Akbar merged Jodhpur into Marwad , it was the headquarters of Jaswantpur district . The Rana ( king ) Malji of Loyana near Bhinnamal had rebelled against Maharaja Jaswantsingh of Jodhpur . Jaswantsingh quelled the rebellion , conquered Loyana , changed its name to Jaswantpur and made it the district headquarters . From that time onwards , the trade in Bhinmal practically stopped and its decline started . Today its ruins are witness to the glory of this once famous place . No longer does one see the original Bhinmal in all its glory .
Where ninety thousand Vanias ( traders / businessmen ) and forty – five thousand Brahmans and other communities totally made up a population of two – hundred and fifty thousand people , there today one finds around 1500 houses and a population of about six – thousand . { these figures are that of 1968 and must have increased by now } . Where once small and big Palaces and beautiful Temples existed , one finds today huts and a few buildings . Where the strong fort extended over an area of 36 miles , one finds today open plains , scattered orchards and fields surrounded by cactus hedges . Where there were Temples and Lakes , one finds puddles , ruins and hillocks . Instead of homes of Vanias and Brahmans , one finds huts of the Rabari , Bhil and other communities . In 1611 , the English trader Nicholas Usselet had come to Bhinmal . He has described it as a city with a periphery of 36 miles . His description of the area is mentioned in this way in the Bombay Gazeteer , ” As late as A.D. 1611 Nicholas Usselet , an English traveller from Agra to Ahmedabad notices Bhinmal as having an ancient wall 24 kos ( 36 miles ) round with many tanks going to ruin . ”
Today it resembles a dessert with hillocks and ruins . The old gates outside the city such as the Jhalor dhwar ( gate ) in the north , the Sanchor – dhwar , Papila – dhwar in the west , The Surya – dhwar in the north – east , the Lakshmi – dhwar in the south – east and the Gujarat – dhwar in the south are completely destroyed . In the history of Bhinmal in the Bombay Gazeteer , the names of these gates have been mentioned .
1) Krushna Vav [ step – well ] about 6 miles away in the north near Nartan and big well
2) Surajpal , 6 miles away in the east from Bhinmal near Mahadev Temple near Khanpur .
3) Rasdighar 6 miles south of Bhinmal near Sumaan Temple.
4) Dhartighar , 6 miles west of Bhinmal near Vandar and Molekuva . This fort extends from Gujarat darwaja ( gate ) to Pipaldhwar in the west and proceeding from there by the side of the canal of the Yaksha Sarovar ( lake ) , proceeds southwest of the lake , from there to the south bank of the lake , and then goes northwards to Jhalor dhwar . From Jhalor the fort’s wall goes further in the east towards Kirat connection near the lake . This wall goes south and meets the fort’s wall at Dakshin dhwar . This last mentioned part has practically vanished . The ruins of Pipal dhwar and Gujarat darwaja are visible . The last gate and its construction is clearly visible . It appears that the Kings of the Rathod Dynasty got it repaired in the 18th century . Similarly the Jhalor dhwar too seems to have been repaired during the time of the Rathod rulers .
Although Bhinmal has lost its earlier glory of a prosperous city and is now like a poor town , there are some places worth seeing from the archeological and ethnograhic point of view . The ruins and history of Bhinmal really leave you wonder – struck . The four Jain Temples of Parshwanath seem to have been recently renovated . In the eastern part of the town , there is a Temple of Varaha Bhagwan . The Idol is really wonderful to look at . At very few places in India , does one see the Idol of Varaha Avtar . ( In this Avtar the Lord has taken the form of a Boar ) . The Idol at this place is artistically very attractive . The Idol is 6 feet high in a standing position . The two feet are shown kept on sea – waves . In the soles of the other two feet , there is a small Idol each of Vishnu Bhagwan and his consort Lakshmi . The face of the Idol is in the shape of a Varaha ( sabre – toothed Boar ) , with the sphere of the earth – about 1.5 feet – resting on the two sabre – teeth . ( This is in keeping with the mythological story in which the Lord lifted the earth out of rasaataal or deep down from the sea and saved it from drowning ) . The Idol seems to have been sculpted from a single dark red colored stone . This Temple is very beautiful and is the main Temple of the town . Regular worship with all the rituals is carried with pomp and Kirtans ( Religious Songs ) are sung there regularly . There are many buildings around the Temple . South of the Temple there is a dharmashala ( charitable accomodation for the pilgrims and travellers ) . On the pillars of the building , carved messages can be seen . The carvings indicate that the pillars have been removed from the Sun – Temple and fitted here in place of earlier original worn – out pillars . On the south of Bhinmal there is a small Temple in the ruins of the court where a Devi ( Goddess ) has been installed on the two hoods of serpents . This Devi is the Kuldevi ( Devi of the Clan ) of the Rathods which is inscribed there . She may also be assumed to be the Patron Goddess for the village .
Among the ancient ruins is a broken – down Temple of Surya ( Sun – God ) on a hill in the south . There is a carving here dated Vikram Samvat 1117 , Mahar Vad 6 , Sunday ( i.e. 1061 A.D. in the 6th day of the second fortnight of the 4th Hindu month called Maha ) from which it appears that this Temple was renovated by two Vaniks ( Vanias ) of the Oswal caste and one Vanik of the Porwal caste during the time of the King Raja Krushnadev , of the Parmar Dynasty . Shrimal Puran mentions earlier near the Temple there was a hermitage called Sarvasiddhidashram . 50 yards west of this Temple there are ruins of Gujarat Darwaja ( gate ) and a Vav ( step – well ) . On the south a 100 yards away is the Temple of Navlakheshwar Mahadev . A little distance away in a vast plain there is a very big Idol of Hanuman ( The Monkey God ) and Temple of Siddhi Vinayak ( Elephant God ) . A small distance away is the Brahma – Kund ( tank ) . Near the Brahma – Kund are the Temples of Pataleshwar Mahadev , Chandi Devi ( Goddess Chandi) and Chandeshwar Mahadev .
Further on from Brahma – Kund there is the Khadaliya Jalashay ( pond ) and the Temple of Jayeshwar ( or Jageshwar) . It appears that in the olden days there were Temples of Nashini Devi and Mokulini Devi near this Temple , near which are ruins of the old Sanskrit Language Pathshala ( School ) . It is said that after the collapse of Bhinmal , the students of this school went away to Dholka ( in Gujarat ) because of the harassment of the Bhil Tribals .
The famous legendary Sanskrit poet Magh was a student of this school in 700 A. D. Outside the city’s borders and about 300 yards from the school the ruins of the Nibadi pond can be seen . Half a mile from this pond are the Banks of the Gouni Pond . The steps going down to the pond exist even today . They are known as Gowghat ( the bank for the cows ) . A small distance away from this Gouni Kund , there is a cremation ground for the Shrimali Mahajans ( Sonis ) and higher caste Hindus . A little distance away from the cremation ground , there are ruins of Saldi Sarovar ( pond ) . Nearby is the Tryambak Sarovar and the Temple of Tryambakeshwar Mahadev . A little away the Karaal Pond starts . This pond was prepared by King Kanishka ( Kanaksen ) . On its south are the ruins of the fort extending upto Jhalor durg , Suvarnadurg . Beyond it is the Temple of Maheshwar Mahadev . On the western bank is the Temple of Kirateshwar .
Towards the north and north – west of Karad pond there are four Holy Places –
Brahma Sarovar (pond) , Van Kund ( tank ) , Gautam Kund and Yaksha Koop ( well ) . There is a small island in the middle of the Gautam Kund . It is known as the Ashram ( hermitage ) of Gautam Rushi ( Sage ) . At the moment it is ruins . The Gautam Kund remains full of water round the year . Near the southern bank is the Bhairav Temple and a dilapidated mosque . On the northern bank of the Gautam Kund is an idol in a sitting posture with its back resting on the trunk of a tree . Some parts of the idol are broken , but it is still being worshipped . It is said that this pond was built by a Yaksha king . ( A Yaksha is a celestial being in Hindu Mythology ) . The Shrimal Puran mentions that this Idol is that of a Yaksha called Kuber . According to legend this Idol was originally in a Temple about 20 feet away from its present place . The ruins of this site make us believe the above tale to be true . A little distance away from there are two graves of Muslims . These graves are said to be of two brothers called Ghaznikhan and Hamalkhan who became Martyrs while fighting for the protection of Shrimal .
A little away is a well called Daadeli Kuvo and a 150 yards is the Temple of Neelkanth Mahadev . Half a mile to the south of Yaksha Sarovar ( Pond ) is the Baan Pond with an island called Lakhra in its midst . Near the Baan Pond is a 500 feet high mountain called Sudh – Sogandhik Parvat (mountain ) . On this mountain are the Temples of Lakshmichamunda and Sadamata . Going further from here is a vast beautiful jungle . In this area , there are big caves . In one cave there is a beautiful marble Temple built by the then King of Gujarat called Chamundrai . This is the Temple of Chamund Devi ( Goddess Chamunda ) . The windows , lattice – work , niche – work and balconies seem to have been carved from the mountain’s stone . The pillars of the Temple are placed in such a way that if one starts counting from a particular pillar , after completing the count , one is in doubt about the original pillar from where the counting started . The Idol of Chamund Devi is of black stone . Legend has it , that the Goddess manifested there of her own accord by tearing apart the mountain . The cave next to this cave has the Ling of Mahadev ( symbol form , not an Idol , of Mahadev ) .
About forty yards away from the Brahma Kund in the south – east is an earthen mound called Lakshmisthal ( place ) . It is said that here was a Temple of Mahalakshmi , the patron Goddess of Shrimal . After the collapse of Bhinmal , the Idol of Mahalakshmi was shifted and currently is installed in Patan town .
Towards the south – east of the above place is a pit called Khadalia Kund ( tank ) . Fifty yards towards the south – east is a small plain in which there is the Jageshwar Mahadev Temple . Shrimal Puran mentions that on the northern bank of the Savanti river there was the Ling ( symbolic form ) of Jageshwar Mahadev and the one in the Jageshwar Temple seems to be the same Ling . It is said that a man called Jag had this Temple built in order to receive the boon of a son . There is a Kund ( water – tank ) also . Seventy five yards to the south – east near the old Vidyalaya ( school ) are many ruins . In the ancient days this place was a college teaching the four Veds and other scriptures . According to the writings of Alkhat in A.D. 1030 , Brahmagupta , the son of Jishnu came here in A.D. 628 , received Brahmagnan ( Knowledge about God ) and wrote Brahmasiddhants ( principles of spiritual philosophy or spiritual principles ) . [ Ref. : Rajasthan no Itihas – Part 1 i.e. The History of Rajasthan – Part 1 ]
Towards the north of Bhinmal and near the Suvarnadurg there were Temples of Ahalyarudra and Aamalni Devi and Ratnamala Devi . In the north – east of the city were Ish Pond , the Temples of Durga Devi , Kamla Devi , Parashwar Mahadev and a water – tank . It is said that the hermitage of Sage Parashwar was here . It appears that the Kak Varaha Krushnasarovar also was here . Adjacent to the Talbi Pond in the south is the Karad – Purot pond . It is said that this pond was built by Kanishka who is said to have started the proclamation of the Shak year in A.D. 38 .
Besides these in the south – east corner are three square outposts with pictures of men and women on the stone – walls . In one of the outposts , there is a stone umbrella above a Devi ( Goddess ) and on this stone umbrella is a carving of a man on a horse , with a woman standing near him . Two hundred yards away from here , there are a few smarna shilas ( memory stones ) . On one such stone , the Vikram Samvat Year 1425 ( A.D. 1369 ) is carved . At this place , there is a Temple of Namdhoria Bhairav . Here the Hindus as well Jains pray and serve at the Temple . In the centre of this Temple , there are carvings of Hanuman , Nag ( hooded snake ) , Shakti ( Goddess ) and Bhairav . South of this pillar is a panchmukhi ( having 5 mouths ) Ling ( symbolic form of Lord Shanker ) . The Ling has mouth in all four directions and the fifth mouth is towards the sky . As mentioned in the Shrimal Puran this is said to be the Ling of Kashyapeshwar because around this place was the hermitage of sage Kashyap and also a tank . Besides these , there are many more ruins whose history is not available . If someone carries out research in future , much more will be known .
The proof of this city’s glory a thousand years ago is available from the above ruins . In the last 1000 years , because of denudation of the soil due to rains and other causes , the ground has risen by 10 to 15 feet . The ancient sites have been buried underneath . To prove that , the following proof will be sufficient .
The legendary and ancient Sahastraling Pond of Anhilvad Patan is legendary in the history of Gujarat . It was buried about 15 feet under the ground . The Gaekwad King of Vadodara carried out a digging 15 feet underground and the entire Sahastraling Pond with Sahastraling Mini Temples ( i.e. 1000 Mini Temples of Lord Shiv with symbolic form of Ling ) round it was exposed and revealed . The Mini Temples covered with marbles with many decorations on them were revealed . Similarly it is not at all impossible that many places of Shrimal are lying underground with the ravage of time .