Malav Talav, Dholka, Ahmedabad District, Gujarat

Gujarat’s famed nyay ka prateek (symbol of justice) is the thousand-year-old Malav Talav in Dholka built in the 11th century (perhaps 1050 CE) by the chaste and wise Maharani Minal Devi of the Solanki dynasty. Maharani was revered by one and all for her philanthropy, kindness and virtue.

 

She was perhaps one of the most prolific builders of that period and is credited with the construction of temples, halls, stepwells, lakes, dharmashalasgurukulbhog mandapa and palatial quarters. Though Malav Talav is one such fine example of her architectural ingenuity, this lake also portrays her as a beacon of justice.

 

According to the locals, Maharani had commissioned a lake to be built in this region to cater to the needs of the citizens. This lake spread over a large area was designed as a circular kund with a series of steps, stone piers, a large pillared mandapa with a temple and a stone bridge.

 

However, a lady who had been living in her home for a number of years refused to give up her land for the construction of the lake. The officers appealed to her but she declined to accept the renumeration. The matter was brought to Maharani who then intervened and asked them to leave the old lady alone and build the lake to include her home.

 

The lake is not a perfect round but still manages to exude the serenity and bliss that was the original intention of the project. The ghats are profusely decorated with sculptures, NavagrahaDasavatara, foliage and floral patterns, auspicious Hindu iconography, sacred symbols and repetitive linear and horizontal elements.

 

A Rudrakund was also designed near the lake to collect the excess water that flowed in. Ekadasa Rudras have been carved on the four sides of this kund.

 

Interestingly, the inflow and outflow of the lake has been meticulously planned in such a manner that on the event of flooding, the bridge that connects the temple in the middle would be untouched.

 

The layout of this lake appears to have undergone some change in the 13th century with the construction of walls and pavilions that differ from the architectural and artistic style of the Solankis. Elephants, figures, musicians, dancers, apsaras, gods and goddesses are seen on these walls that have now fallen into a state of disrepair.

 

The popular saying is “Nyay jovo hoy to jao Malav Talav“, if you want justice, go to Malav Talav. The structures built in and around the lake were destroyed by the Muslim invaders with debris lying in the bottom.

 

A comprehensive ASI survey will help one ascertain the facts.

 

Written by Lakshmi Subramanian

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