Story of Draupadi swayamvar of Tarnetar fair:
The fair is linked with the story of Draupadi's swayamvar and it is said that it was at this place that the great archer Arjuna performed the difficult task that won him his bride. A pole was erected in the centre of the kund and a fish was kept rotating at the top of the pole, at top speed. The contestant was supposed to climb up, balance himself with one foot on each of the two scales suspended there and looking at the reflection of the fish in the kund, pierce its eye with an arrow.
Matchmaking at Tarnetar today :
Today's tribal youths also visit Tarnetar, as it is usually called, to find a suitable match, although they do not have to emulate Arjuna's remarkable feat. Elegantly dressed in colourful dhotis, waistcoat and headcloth twisted at an angle on their heads, they hold large colourful embroidered umbrellas which indeed have become emblems of the fair.
The umbrellas, embroidered by them for over a year, and their hair styles, reveal their bachelor status. It is not surprising that, before the fair is over, they usually meet the lady of their choice! Tarnetar is one of the most important matchmaking melas. Its associations with the Mahabharat are underlined by the fact that the area is known as Panchal Pradesh the land of the Panchal clan, to which Draupadi belonged. The sand here is reddish in colour. This too is supposed to have been characteristic of Draupadi's homeland.
From Ahmedabad one can visit Gandhinagar, the new capital, which is 32 kms away. The mediaeval step-well of Adalaj is on the way. Only 115 kms away is Modhera with its 11th century Sun Temple. Sarkhej, only 12 kms from the city, is a building complex dating back to the Sultanate. Apart from these, there are numerous places of interest within Ahmedabad. These include the sandstone jalis or latticework screens which were intricately carved and form part of the Sidi Saiyed mosque.
Shamlaji Melo (Kartik Purnima Fair) :
Shamlaji, on the Ahmedabad-Delhi road, was once a town of great historical significance. It is 80 kms from Ahmedabad and 32 kms from Himatnagar. The Shamlaji Temple is a renowned Vaishnav shrine, and the deity housed therein is known by various names including Gadadhar - bearer of the mace - and Shaksi Gopal. Archaeologically, the temple is of importance, as it was built in the 11th century.There are several other temples and shrines as well, all of great antiquity.
This is also called the Kartik Purnima Fair and is held during the month of November, every year. It lasts for about two weeks . During this period, nearly 200,000 people of all communities and castes including the Garasias & Bhils, visit the fair. The visitors come from the adjoining districts and even from Rajasthan. The fair is also popular with the tribal people of the area, particularly the Bhils, who revere Shamlaji, the deity they refer to as 'Kalio Bavji', the dark divinity.
Apart from a darshan of the deity in the temple, a bath in the river Meshwo is. Considered essential. Visitors usually come in groups, and sing devotional songs, carrying religious banners.
Kesariaji, the Jain temple, which is about 48 km away; Modasa, 29 km; Bhiloda 15 kms, Meghraj 48 km, and Ahmedabad 160 km are the places worth seeing.
A magnificent fair is held every year at Vautha, where two rivers, the Sabarmati and the Vatrak, meet. The village of Vautha is small and has only 2000 inhabitants. Yet when this celebrated fair is on, the number of visitors may increase to an incredible 200,000. It is, in fact considered one of the largest of such fairs in Gujarat.