First steps to Sihor History

Established along river Gautami, Sihor (Gujarati: સિહોર, Hindi: सिहोर :: Corrupt name from सिंहपुर - Sinhpur) is quite an ancient, historical town, a municipality and Taluka headquarter in Bhavnagar district in the Indian state of Gujarat.

Immediately being associated with Brahma Kund, Siddharaj Jaisinh, Nana Sahib Peshwa, Navnath Yatra, Sihor's hills, Gautam Rishi, Ahalya, Lord Ram and scriptures of Ramayana, Gautameshwar Temple, exiled Prince Vijay who settled in Sri Lanka, snuff factories, Brass and Copper-ware, socialists philanthropists and donors, Sihor, the erstwhile capital of the Gohil Rajputs (Sisodiya-Suryavanshi Rajputs), has a magnitude of heritage and legacy to revive and conserve. Earlier, very much till 1947, lions were favorite habitats of Sihor hills, concurrently.

Surrounded by hills, it is situated about 23 km from Bhavnagar. Rulers of Bhavnagar and Sihor have been noble, kind, farsighted, adventurous and royal, which is evident not just in the historical accounts and books, it is the people who are proud of them, they speak up from their heart.

Buddhism & Jainism

It is often referred to as Saraswatpur in Puranas and epics in very early times followed by Sinhpur in imperial gazetteers, some ancient texts and historical data. It is said to be a thriving place during Maitraka rule (475 AD-767 AD), and Gupta period when Buddhism was equally prevalent and the Vallabhi was a dominating empire (now called as Vallabhipur, some 20-25 kms. away from Sihor), and a great center of learning. Vallabhi was famous for its catholicity and the students from all over the country, including the Brahmin boys, visited it to have higher education in secular and religious subjects. It is said that the graduates of Valabhi were given higher executive posts.

Interestingly, it remains a crucial outpost during the advent of Jainism in the subcontinent, while being an important place en route the famous Pilgrimage of Shatrunjaya Parvat (Mountain) or Siddhakshetra at Palitana where thousands of Jain pilgrims and tourists all over the world pay a visit every year. Palitana is some 30 kilometers from Sihor. The old traditional route to Shatrunjaya - Palitana was through the Hills starting from Sihor and much geographical changes have in fact changed the entire region and terrain of this part of Bhavnagar region.

Currents of Time

Vallabhipur was just foothills or the base for the pilgrimage to Shatrunjay with sea towards its south. A disastrous natural calamity is often said to have changed the maps and topography and entire space time of the region, where sea waters just disappeared from Vallabhipur fading as away as some 20-30 kms and the calamity nearly vanished the dominating cultural empire followed by attacks from Turks and Mughals, repetitively.

During advent of Jainism, Sihor while resembling to mountain range, ascends, thick forests, and thriving trails surrounding, it remained a significant place or the gateway to Shatrunjaya, some 30 kilometers away. The peaks and the top of Shatrunjaya are seen from a few spots at Sihor and it was a tradition to pay a tribute to Shatrunjaya from Sihor before reaching there.

There are some thriving and complex references of this Sinhpur in various texts and research works. Sihor or Shihor is a corrupt name of Sinhpur as it has transformed/pronounced like this, Saraswatpur -> Sinhalpur, Sinhpur/Sinhapur - Sinhapura - Sinhor - Shihor - Sihor. People belonging to Sihor (Sinhpur) in those times, or the settlers associating Sinhpur name with them derived from King Sinhavarma, were believed to be of Lion Clan, connected with upper Indus and Central Asia during the times of Indus civilization.

Getting older

Sihor has its own chapters in the History of region, and in the history of India throughout the Indian History time-line, at least right from Mahabharata, Bronze Age to Indus Civilization, Vedic Era, Ancient India, Medieval & Post-Medieval India, Colonial Era to Post-Partition period (post 1947), till now. One of the examples is Nana Sahib Peshwa's stay in Sihor for 45 years after the revolt of 1857. It is a geographically significant place with unique rock patterns of its hills with some unique prototype. It has some thriving architecture plying across the Hilly terrain and in the old town. There are at least 3 official archaeological sites denoted by the Archaeological Survey of India in Sihor. Interestingly, Sihor hills were among the favorites for Lions and Leopards for centuries even when lions were on verge of extinction in India and in Kathiawar peninsula at a few points of time.

The town has been a happening center hosting variety of businesses and industrial activities for centuries. Be it Manufacturing of Brass and Copper-ware, Ceramics & Pottery, Snuff works and allied products, Agriculture Products, horticulture, Oxygen Plants, Iron & Steel Plants, Rolling Mills associated with Asia's largest Alang Ship Breaking Yard. There are many other biz/industrial activities taking place in Sihor as of now. All chief communities of Sihor have contributed greatly to the progress, prosperity, growth and development of Sihor.

Presently, Sihor represents a typical Indian, a mixed settlement accommodating people from various regions and provinces. At least since 9th-10th century, it was purely an estate of Brahmins brought by Mulraj Solanki during 10th century, later in 1570 Gohils came in. After a praiseworthy governance the Gohils initiated from Sihor for about couple of centuries, it truly turned into a legacy and Sihor was donated back to Brahmins while Gohils changed the capital to Bhavnagar from Sihor. It has been a seat of learning, scholarship, spirituality, art, culture, bravery, charity and entrepreneurship.