Bhavnagar – Witness The Vibrant Culture
Bhavnagar is a city in the Bhavnagar district of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat, a state of India. It was founded in 1724 by Bhavsinhji Gohil (1703–1764). It was the capital of Bhavnagar State, which was a princely state before it was merged into the Indian Union in 1948. It is now the administrative headquarters of the Bhavnagar district.
Bhavnagar is situated 190 kilometres away from the state capital Gandhinagar and to the west of the Gulf of Khambhat. It has always been an important city for trade with many large and small scale industries along with the world’s largest ship-breaking yard, Alang which is located 50 kilometres away. Bhavnagar is also famous for its version of the popular Gujarati snack ‘Ganthiya’ and ‘jalebi’.
The Gohil Rajput of the Suryavanshi clan faced severe competition in Marwar. Around 1260 AD, they moved down to the Gujarat’s coastal area and established three capitals: Sejakpur (now Ranpur), Umrala, and Sihor. Sejakpur was founded in 1194.
In 1722–1723, the forces led by Khanthaji Kadani and Pilaji Gaekwad attempted to raid Sihor but were repelled by Maharajah Bhavsinhji Gohil. After the war, Bhavsinhji realized the reason for repeated attack was the location of Sihor. In 1723, he established a new capital near Vadva village, 20 km away from Sihor, and named it Bhavnagar after himself. It was a carefully chosen strategic location because of its potential for maritime trade. Naturally, Bhavnagar became the capital of Bhavnagar State. In 1807, Bhavnagar State became a British protectorate.
The old town of Bhavnagar was a fortified town with gates leading to other important regional towns. It remained a major port for almost two centuries, trading commodities with Mozambique, Zanzibar, Singapore, and the Persian Gulf.
Bhavsinhji ensured that Bhavnagar is benefited from the revenue that was brought in from maritime trade, which was monopolized by Surat and Cambay. As the castle of Surat was under the control of the Sidis of Janjira, Bhavsinhji brokered an agreement with them, giving the Sidis 1.25% of the revenue by Bhavnagar port. Bhavsinhji entered into a similar agreement with the British when they took over Surat in 1856. Whilst Bhavsinhji was in power, Bhavnagar grew from a small chieftainship to a considerably important state. This was due to the addition of new territories as well as the income provided by maritime trade. Bhavsinhji’s successors continued to encourage maritime trade through Bhavnagar port, recognizing its importance to the state. The territory was further expanded by Bhavsinhji’s grandson, Vakhatsinhji Gohil, when he took possession of lands belonging to Kolis and Kathis, obtained Rajula from the Navab Saheb Ahmad Khan, and merged Ghogha Taluka into the state.
In 1793, Vakhatsinhji conquered the forts of Chital and Talaja, and later conquered Mahuva, Kundla, Trapaj, Umrala and Botad. Bhavnagar remained the main port of the state, with Mahuva and Ghogha also becoming important ports. Because of the maritime trade, the state prospered compared to other states. During the late 19th century, the Bhavnagar State Railway was constructed. This made Bhavnagar the first state that was able to construct its railway system without any aid from the central government, which was mentioned in The Imperial Gazetteer of India. Mr. Peile, a political agent, described the state as follows: “With flourishing finances and much good work in progress. Of financial matters I need say little; you have no debts, and your treasury is full.” Between 1870 and 1878, the state were put under joint administration, due to the fact that Prince Takhtsinhji was a minor. This period produced some notable reforms in the areas of administration, revenue collection, judiciary, the post and telegraph services, and economic policy. The ports were also modernized. The two people who were responsible for those reforms were E. H. Percival of the Bombay Civil Service and Gaurishankar Udayshankar Oza, Chief Minister of Bhavnagar State Bhavnagar Boroz.
In 1911, HH Maharani Nundkanvarba of Bhavnagar was awarded the Order of the Crown of India, the highest Imperial award for women of the Empire. The former princely state of Bhavnagar was also known as Gohilwad, “Land of the Gohils” (the clan of the ruling family).
Merger with the Indian Union in 1947
Until the independence of India in 1947, Bhavnagar was an independent state ruled by the Rajput Gohil family. In 1947, the Deputy Prime Minister of the newly independent Indian Union Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel undertook the ambitious and complex process of unifying 562 princely states with the Union of India. The last ruling Maharajah of Bhavnagar, Krishnakumar Sinhji handed over the administration of his Bombay State to the people’s representative in 1948.
Honorable Maharaja KrishnaKumar Sinhji was the First King of India whom give up his state (all area) to make a United India, due to this reason Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was highly impressed by him and made him Governor of Madras State After Independence of India.
The current royal family of Bhavnagar comprises Maharajah Vijayraj Singh Gohil and Maharani Samyukta Kumari, Prince Yuvraj Jaiveerraj Singh Gohil, and Princess Brijeshwari Kumari Gohil.
The erstwhile royal family of Bhavnagar continues to lead an active role in the public eye as well as in business (hotels, real estate, agriculture, and ship-breaking) and is held in high regard by the population both in the city as well as areas that comprised the former princely state of Bhavnagar.
Places To Stay: Efcee Sarovar Portico, Hotel The Basil Park, Nilambag Palace Hotel
Things To Do: Visit temples, photography, explore historical sites
Places To Visit: Nilambagh Palace, Barton Library And Museum, Gaurishankar lake, Takteshwar Temple
How To Reach: As Bhavnagar is equipped with an airport, the best way to reach this place is by air. From airport, you can take a bus or a cab to reach your final destination.
Famous For: Market places, vibrant culture