VANSADA - At the foothill of
Vansada is one of the two
former princely states of south Gujarat: Vansada and Dharampur. Vansada
town is surrounded by dense bamboo forests and probably derives its name
from ‘Vans’, meaning bamboo in Gujarati.
The history of the Vansada
State dates back to at least 750 years and the rulers of Vansada are the
descendants of Chalukya (Solanki) Rajput clan. Vansada was the capital
of the princely State of Vansada, till the independence of India in 1947
AD. Maharaval Virsinhji founded the present day fortified town of
Vansada in 1781 AD, in picturesque location, on the banks of Kaveri
River, at the southern foothills of the Sahyadri range. Before founding
the city, as per Hindu religious traditions, King Raval Virsinhji built
three temples- Vireshwar Mahadev, Vireshwari Mata and Virabhadra Hanuman
to sanctify the site chosen for constructing a new town.
Maharaja Pratapsinhji became the king
of Vansada in 1885 AD: soon after his accession, he introduced tax
reforms, a banking system and provided generous public charity during
the terrible famine of 1890 AD. His able administration over the years
resulted in surplus wealth in the State treasury. He was visionary ruler
and under his patronage several architectural and urban design projects
were constructed in Vansada, for the benefit of the public. The Clock
Tower, Town hall, Anglo-Vernacular School. Library and Ratankunwarba
Hospital have been built during his regime, which changed the skyline of
Vansada town forever.
Vansada town has two entrance gates.
The one near Vireshwari Temple is an imposing structure with a big
plaster decorated arch having motifs of fish on both sides, wooden roof,
cast iron brackets supporting two beautifully carved wooden balconies on
both sides. The another gate near the Town Hall, is a three storey high
structure with a carved wooden door, receding volumes and a sloping
roof. Although both these gates have lost their original functions as
security gates, they are still the famous landmarks of the town.
Kings of Vansada were great patrons of
arts and they have constructed some beautiful palaces on the vast palace
grounds, just abutting on bank of Kaveri river. The Digvir Niwas Palaces
is one of the finest examples of royal architecture in the early 20 th
century. The approach to the palace is through a beautiful plaster
decorated gate and the octagonal chhartris on both sides of the entrance
gate give it an imposing look.
The Digvir Niwas Palace is a low
profile linear building, with ashlar stone masonary. All the openings
are defined by white decorative plaster, creating an interplay of
textures. The entire façade has several architectural elements like
carved balustrade, arches, brackets, pediments, columns, semi circular
and octagonal verandahs, curved overhangs- protecting windows with
stained and coloured glass, with a steep sloping Mansard roof on the top
arranged in a creative design scheme to create an appealing edifice. The
setting of the palace building and the campus layout seem to have been
inspired by British castles and French chateaux of the European
A Gymkhana Building is located in the
Digvir Niwas Palace compound. It is designed in the manner of the
cricket pavilions of English counties having sloping roofs, wooden
trusses and Manglore tiles creating an intimate and cozy building.
Another interesting building is a royal
guest house – Sushil Sadan with a big pediment porch, terraces and
central tower capped by Manglore tiled roof, with Dormer windows. Two
other public buildings are the Clock Tower and Sir Pratap High School –
both are made using exposed brickwork. The tall Clock Tower has four
storied, with four corner pilasters terminating in to chhatris and the
central part is capped by a dome. Sir Pratap High School is a
symmetrical building, with a central porch, central Clock Tower and
sloping roof with Magnlore tiles.