The History of Bhavnagar goes back a lot
further then the city itself. It begins in the 12th-13th century, when
the Gohil Rajputs of the Surya Vanshi clan, facing severe competition in
Marwar, moved down to the Gujarat coast and finally settled at Gogha
port, near present-day Bhavnagar.
Bhavnagar was founded by Bhavsinhji Gohil, the rulers of Sihor in 1723
AD. It was the time of persistent Maratha raids of the States of
last princely ruler Late Sir Krishnakumarsinhji handed over the
administration of his State to the people's representative in 1948 on
the advice of Gandhiji.
Founded as a port in 1743, Bhavnagar is still an important trading post
for the cotton goods manufactured in Gujarat. The Bhavnagar lock gate
keeps ships a float in the city's port at low tide.
Bhavnagar was founded by Bhavsinhji Gohil
(1703-64 AD) in 1723 AD near the Gulf of Khambhat, on a carefully chosen
strategic location having potential of maritime trade. Till
independence, Bhavnagar State was ruled by the Gohil Rajput clan.
The Gohil Rajputs came to Gujarat from
Marwar in 1260 AD and had 3 capitals- Sejakpur, Umrala and Sihor; before
finally establishing Bhavnagar as their capital.
The old town of Bhavnagar was a fortified town with gates leading to
other important towns of the region. The Darbargadh (royal residence)
was located at the center of the town. The rulers of Bhavnagar
subsequently shifted to Motibag and Nilambag Palace.
Bhavnagar remained a major port, for almost two centuries, trading
commodities with Africa, Mozambique, Zanzibar, Singapore and the Persian
Gulf. This flourishing maritime trade resulted in the high rate of
urbanization surplus wealth and cosmopolitan culture of the town.
Present day Bhavnagar owes much to the vision of the past ruler Sir
Takhtsinhji Gohil (1869-96 AD). The town planning schemes were designed
and implemented under the guidance of progressive rulers of Bhavnagar.
During the reign of Sir Takhtsinhji, the British State Engineer Proctor
Sims supervised the construction of Barton Library, High Court, Alfred
High School and Sir Takhtsinhji Hospital.
Takhteshwar Temple (1893 AD) is located on a hill, on a high plinth,
offering a commanding view of Bhavnagar. The high shikhara rising above
the pillared rectangular mandapa makes it an important landmark.
Barton Library (1895 AD) is a beautiful two storeyed building,
appropriately designed for a road junction. It has two wings and a
central tower, constructed in ashlar stone masonry, with Gothic arch
windows and a sloping roof with Mangalore tiles. It is one of the oldest
libraries of Gujarat and also houses a museum.
Gangajalia (1893 AD) is a temple dedicated to Gangadevi, with a chhatri,
pavilion and bridge all in white marble. It is located in the middle of a
former tank. It was designed by Sir John Griffith, principal of Sir J J
School of Arts, Bombay.
Nilambag Palace, now a heritage hotel, is a magnificent building set
amidst a huge estate of 10 acres. It was designed by a German
architect, as a royal residence in 1859 AD. It combines elements of
Indian architecture with a modern outlook.
Town Hall (1932 AD) was formerly a Darbar Hall, where the coronation of
Sir Krishnakumarsinhji took place. It is an imposing structure in the
colonial style, set in a well laid out garden. Victoria Park covers an
area of about 500 acres with diverse flora and fauna. This park is a
paradise for bird watchers and nature lovers.
Gandhi Smriti is a memorial, with a library of Gandhian books and
photographs about the life of Mahatma Gandhi. It also has a fine
collection of art objects representing the culture of the Saurashtra
Bhavnagar has many good educational institutes with excellent
architecture- Sir P P Science Institute, Shamaldas College (Mahatma
Gandhi studied here in 1884 AD), Alfred High School and Central Salt