A Short History of Vadnagar

The chief city of Anartta(northern Gujarat) was Anartapura or Vadnagar. The first reference to this region in historical documents is found in the Junagadh Rock Inscription of Mahakshatrapa Rudradaman, dated Saka year 72 or 150 CE. Not much is known about this region prior to this inscription. It is generally assumed that the Mauryans (c. 322-185 BCE), Indo- Greeks (2nd Century BCE- 1ST Century CE), Saka Kshatrapas (1st Century CE- 2nd Century CE) and Guptas (400-470 CE) held sway over the region one after the other.

Though the historical documents do not throw much light on the history of the region for this period but religious texts, traditions, legends and customs are abound in stories. However it is easy to date these stories or find their sources of origin. Two important religious texts for the history of Vadnagar are: Skanda Purana and Baudhayana Dharmasutra. According to Skanda Purana, the chief city of Anartta was founded by King Chamatkar. The king was suffering from leprosy and as advised by a Brahmana took bath in the Shankh Tirtha on the 14th day of Chaitra and was cured of this disease. Thereafter he founded a town at the advice of the Brahmanas and named it as Chamatkarpur or Vadnagar (Rajyagor 1975:840). Baudhayana Dharmasutra says that the town of Vadnagar was named after king Anarta who was the son of Sharyati and the grandson of Vaivasvata Manu. According to another source Forbes (2014), the town of Vadnagar was established by one Kanaksen who seized the region from the hold of a prince of Parmar race and founded the town in 144-145 CE. Skanda Purana (as mentioned by Rao and Mehta 1955:19) records an interesting story about the region in its Nagarkhanda. It talks about a Brahmin settlement around a natural pond whose inhabitants are harassed by the “Nagas”.

Short-History-of-Vadnagar

First historical documents about Vadnagar start to appear from the Maitraka Period (470-788 CE). There are several copper plate grants of this period recording land grants to Branhmanas of Anandapura, Anartapura or Nagaraka.

The first important document which gives us some idea about the administrative status of Vadnagara, is the travelogue of the famous Chinese Traveller Hsũan Tsang (Wade –Gills) (also known as Xuanzang, Hiuen Tsiang or Yuan Chwang).

The Chinese monk visited Gujarat in c.640 CE and had given descriptions of Vadnagar. He says (Beal 1906:268) that the country of O-Nan-To-Pu-Lo (Anandapura) is about 2000 li in circuit and the capital is 20. “The population is dense; the establishments rich. There is no chief ruler, but it is an appanage of Malava. There are some ten Sangharamas, with less than one thousand priests; they study the Little Vehicle of the Sammatiya school. There are several tens of Deva temples and sectaries of different kinds frequent them.”

This description clearly shows that Vadnagar, at the time of Hsũan Tsang, was a part of the Malava Empire only. Malava was probably under the Maitrakas of Valabhi.

After the Maitraka Period, the region was shortly ruled by the Rashtrakutas and then Pratiharas. At around 700CE a local dynasty called Chapotkata (Chavada) held sway over this region. In 942CE Chalukya (Solanki) dynasty uprooted the last Chavada ruler. After the fall of the Solankis, the area experienced several phases of Turkish invasion.

From 1298 to 1411 CE it came under the rule of Khaljis and Tughlaqs of the Delhi Sultanate. This period was followed by the reign of Gujarat Sultans (1411-1573CE). During the time of Akbar(1573 CE) Gujarat along with Vadnagar became a part of the Mughal rule. With the disintegration of the Mughal rule, bad days of Vadnagar started. It was attacked by the Maratha forces several times, looted, plundered and destroyed.