Once A Thriving Hub Of The Bohras, Sidhpur Now Is Gujarat’s Abandoned Town With European Buildings

At the heart of Sidhpur's allure lies its architectural marvels.

by Tejashee Kashyap
Once A Thriving Hub Of The Bohras, Sidhpur Now Is Gujarat’s Abandoned Town With European Buildings

The tranquil small town of Sidhpur in North Gujarat holds a significant role in mythology and history. The town’s history dates back centuries, with roots intertwined deeply with Hindu mythology. The town rose to popularity during the Solanki Dynasty. Today, Sidhpur’s crowning achievement is the European-style architecture created over a century ago in the Muslim suburb of Najampura, however, abandoned.

Abandoned Town Of Sidhpur

The town is a holy site, surrounded by temples, kunds, ashrams, and other spiritual constructions. Around the 10th century, under the Solanki emperors, this town was at the zenith of power and grandeur. However, the streets are now empty, save for the odd onlooker who gives a grudging smile before disappearing.

At the heart of Sidhpur’s allure lies its architectural marvels. The town boasts a seamless blend of Hindu, Jain, and Islamic influences, each leaving an indelible mark on its skyline. The Bohra Muslim quarter, with its intricately carved havelis and serene mosques, stands as a testament to the town’s syncretic heritage.

The Gujarati Shia Muslim traders known as the Dawoodi Bohras have a unique history and character. They are a close-knit society that is well-represented in East African nations like Madagascar as well as Indian cities like Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Following their migration, the Bohras, or Vohras as they are known locally, made investments in and constructed imposing and unique homes in their “native” cities and villages, much like other trading communities in India (such as the Chettiars of Chettinad in Tamil Nadu and the merchants of Shekhawati in Rajasthan).

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Houses Of Sidhpur

There is a distinctly European flavour to their old havelis and mansions, some of which are over a century old. A stroll through the ‘Bohra Vad’ is akin to a stroll through a dusk-time England, complete with lamplighters. They attempted to establish a small piece of Europe in their village. They were captivated by the lifestyle and manner of life of 19th-century Europe and wanted to be seen as nobles and respected members of the community.

These Victorian houses were constructed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by the rich Bohras to imitate European living standards and style. It feels like you’ve been dropped into England or a movie set as you stroll down the street lined with pastel-coloured Victorians. Each exquisite property showcases the owner’s inventiveness with its beautiful wood detailing and paint schemes of lime green, pastel pink, lilac, mandarin orange, and white.

However, for all its splendour, Sidhpur remains a town forgotten by time. Despite its cultural richness and historical significance, it languishes in obscurity.

Cover image credits: Gujarat Tourism

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