Bhavnagar is fifth largest city of Gujarat and second largest city of Saurashtra. Bhavnagar is known as the cultural capital of Saurashtra. Bhavnagar is a coastal city, located in the eastern coast of Saurashtra, known as Kathiawar. Bhavnagar is city of education and culture, known as cultural capital of Saurashtra.
Bhavnagar is a coastal city situated in the state of Gujarat. It is located in the Saurashtra region and is also known as Kathiawar. Bhavnagar was once the capital of a princely state ruled over by the Maharaja of Bhavnagar and still exhibits the age old charm and royalty, which contribute to travel and tourism in the city. It was founded by Bhavsinhji Gohil, near the Gulf of Cambay. He chose the strategic location so that sea trade could be carried out easily from the port. Thereafter, Gohil Rajput ruled over it till independence.
The Rajputs came to the region from Marvar and established their capital at Bhavnagar. Initially, the royal family lived at Darbargadh and later shifted to Motibaugh and Nilambaugh Palace. The city remained a major port for about two centuries. The trade was carried out mainly with Africa, Mozambique, Zanzibar, Singapore and the Persian Gulf. This resulted in enormous revenue generation and developmental activities. The progressive rulers of Bhavnagar contributed immensely to the design and construction of the excellent buildings in the city.
After Independence, in 1948, the Deputy Prime Minister of democratic Indian Union, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, shouldered the responsibility of unifying the 565 princely states of India. The last ruler of Bhavnagar, Late Sir Krishnakumar Sinhji handed over the administration of the state to the people's representative in the year 1948. Thus, Bhavnagar became the first state to merge with the democratic Indian Union. Bhavnagar is still an important trade center for the cotton goods manufactured in Gujarat.
The Gohil Rajputs of the Surya Vanshi clan, facing severe competition in Marwar, moved down to the Gujarat coast around AD 1260 and established three capitals - Sejakpur, Umrala and Sihor (then known as Sirohi).
In 1822-1823, Sihor was raided by Khanthaji Kadani and Pilaji Gaekwad, but they were repulse by Bhanvsinhji Gohil. After great losses in the battle, he realized the weakness in location of Sihor. In 1823, he established a new capital near Vadva village, 20 km away from Sihor, and named it Bhavnagar. It was a carefully chosen strategic location having potential of maritime trade. Naturally, Bhavnagar became the capital of Bhavnagar State.
The old town of Bhavnagar was a fortified town with gates leading to other important towns of the region. Bhavnagar remained a major port, for almost two centuries, trading commodities with Africa, Mozambique, Zanzibar, Singapore and the Persian Gulf.
Bhavsinhji made various far sighted decisions to ensure revenues from marine trade for Bhavnagar. During that period, marine trade was monopolized by Surat and Cambay. Castle of Surat was commanded by Sidis of Janjira. To protect maritime trade of Bhavnagar, Bhavsinhji entered into agreement with them in 1739 AD, giving 1.25% of revenues generated by Bhavnagar port. When the English took over Surat in 1856 AD, Bhavsinhji entered into similar terms with them.
During his period, Bhavnagar rose from a small chieftainship to a considerably important state, with large addition of territories to the state as well as from maritime trade. This tradition was continued by successor of the founder who encouraged trade in similar manners.
Vakhatsinhji Gohil, grandson of Bhavsinhji Gohil, expanded the territory after taking possession of localities belonging to Kolis and Kathis. Also, he obtained Rajula from the Navab Saheb Ahmad Khan. Sultans of Gujarat had given the Ghogha Taluka to Babi family. It fell to Peshwa when Ahmedabad was conquered by the Marathas in 1757 AD. After falling under various hands (Momin Khan, Sher Zaman Khan), it was finally merged into Bhavnagar state by Vakhatsinji Gohil. In 1793 AD, Vakhatsinhji took over Chital, and also conquered forts of Talaja. Later, Mahuva, Kundla, Trapaj, Umrala and Botad became part of Bhavnagar state.
Bhavnagar is known for pioneering and laudable efforts in the fields of rural child as well as liberal women's education.
Nanbhai Bhatt, Gijubhai Badheka and Harbhai Trivedi were the trinity who experimented and sew new trends in rural and liberal child education. Nanbhai's Gram Dakshinamutri and Lokbharati have prepared three generations of brilliant workers and leaders engaged in reshaping village India. Gijubhai's Dakshinamurti became the cradle of new liberal children's education and charted a new direction in the field. Harbhai Trivedi pioneered a similarly new trend in secondary education and his Home School became a model for contemporary educators in Western India.
Liberal women's education was born in Bhavnagar through the efforts of another illustrious educator-social reformer Amrutlal Dani. What has become a vibrant cluster of women's schools and colleges today is due to his devoted and pioneer work.
Bhavnagar's Samaldas College is the oldest institution of higher education in the region. Mahatma Gandhi studied here in 1884 AD. Bhavnagar University is well known in the region having nearly 23,000 students, number of graduate colleges, 17 post graduate departments including MBA, MCA, MSc, engineering, and medical college.
Some of the famous educational institutes are:
� Bhogilal Maganlal Commerce High School
� Ramjibhai Kamani Ghar Shala (AKA the Home School)
� Shree Dakshinamurti Vinay Mandir
� Shantilal Shah High School (AKA Alfred High School)
� Sanatan Dharma Vividhlakshi High School
� Vishuddhanand Vidhya Mandir
Some famous institutions for higher education:
� Bhavnagar University
� Sir Prabhashankar Pattani Institute of Science
� Shamaldas Arts College
� Shantilal Shah Engineering College
� Bhavsinhji Polytechnic Institute (BPTI)
Culture and Arts
Bhavnagar is considered a city of education and culture, and is known as the cultural capital of Saurashtra. People of Bhavnagar are considered to be easy-going, and art-loving. The artistes and literary luminaries of Bhavnagar have immensely contributed to the culture of the city.
Gujarati is the language of normal life, although Hindi is commonly understood. Knowledge of English is limited to the more educated population of the city.
Bhavnagar has produced many poets and writers of Gujarati literature. Just to name few;
� Narsinh Mehta - a poet-saint, an exponent of Hindu devotional religious poetry, author of the famous Bhajan 'Vaishnav Jan To', born in the village of Talaja in Bhavnagar district
� Ganga sati - a medieval Gujarati saint and poet who wrote many bhajans on devotional themes, hailed from Samadhiyala village of Bhavnagar district
� Jhaverchand Meghani - one of the greatest Gujarati poets and writers of Gujarati folk literature, worked as a teacher in Bhavnagar and produced most of his literary works while living in Bhavnagar
Prahlad Parekh and Krishnalal Shridharani Two notable poets.
Kismat Qureshi, Nazir Dekhaiya, Barkat Virani..writer of Gazals.
� Kavi Kant - well known poet, served as the royal poet of Bhavnagar, born in Chavand village of Bhavnagar district
� Prajaram Raval - poet, born in Bhavnagar, worked as principal of Ayurvedic college of Bhavnagar
� Dula Kag - renowned poet, social reformer and freedom fighter, born in Mahuva town of Bhavnagar district
� Kalaguru Ravishankar Raval- a painter, art teacher, art critic, journalist and essayist, born in Bhavnagar.
� Vinod Joshi - poet, professor in Bhavnagar University, Head of Dept. of Gujarati language
The famous Gujarati novel "Saraswatichandra" by Govardhanram Tripathi was based on locations of Bhavnagar and Sihor. A Few chaptars were written during his stay in Bhavnagar.
Somalal Shah painter did all his active work in Bhavnagar.
Kishor Parekh Internationally acclaimed Photographer was born in Bhavnagar.
Gaurishankar Lake: A dry lake, it is currently used for organizing fairs and other public events. It also has a picnic spot nearby and a beautiful garden known as Pil Garden.
Gangajaha: In the midst of what was formerly a tank stands the temple of Gangadevi with a chhatri or partition. Made of white marble, designed by Sir John Griffits it was built by Maharaja Takhtsinghji in memory of Maharani Majirajba in 1893 A.D.
Lock Gate: The first of its kind in Gujarat, the seawater here is impounded by the lock gates to keep ships afloat during low tide, which can be seen with special permission.
Takhteshwar Temple: In the middle of city, on a hill a temple was built by Maharaja Takhatsihnji in 1893. This temple provides paqnoramic city view. The temple and whole compound is made of shining white marble. This is also a wide place to worship lord Mahadev and also a picnic point.
Central Salt and MCRI: The more-scientifically inclined may enjoy their visit to the Central Salt and Marine Research Institute. This institute is located on Waghavadi Road and enjoys immense popularity.
Alang: A modern wonder of Gujarat, the ship-breaking yard at Alang is a fantastic spectacle in itself. It is located on the coast between Bhavnagar and Talaja. Large ships from America, Europe, Asia are brought here to be scrapped. The reason behind the selection of this site was the nature of its tide, suitable for such maritime activities and the proximity of industrial zones that could utilize its metal and other scrap. It's India's largest ship-breaking site. Here supertankers, container ships, warships and other vessels are reduced to scrap by 20,000 workers toiling day and night.
Gopnath Beach: A beautiful hamlet on the coast of the Gulf of Khambhat and at a distance of 10 Kms from Talaja, the taluka headquarter of Bhavnagar district is Gopnath. Vying for eminence on the tourist circuit with development of a heritage hotel - Gopnath Bungalow, it was a pleasant sea-shore retreat of Gohil rulers of Bhavnagar. The bungalow built in a European colonial style with cottages and mansions surrounding the courtyard faces the sea and offers a beautiful view of the gulf.
Velavadar Sanctuary: This is the home of the Indian black buck. Velavadar in the Bhal region of Saurashtra is a unique grassland ecosystem that has attracted fame for the successful conservation of the black buck - the fastest of the Indian antelopes, the wolf and the lesser florican. Once found in open plains throughout the country and the state of Gujarat, its largest population at present occurs in Velvadar National Park. This exclusively Indian animal is perhaps the most graceful and beautiful of its kind. It has ringed horns that have a spiral twist of three to four turns and are upto 70 cm long.
Mahuva: A minor part Mahuva is famous for its handicraft work in wood and ivory. Lacquer work on wooden furniture and toys is its specialty, its fertile land bears 'Jamadar' mangoes similar to the Alphonso. There is an old mosque, Laxmi-narayan Temple and a Jain Dehrasar. The Pipavav project nearby is fast coming up as a major port and coastal industrial centre.
Gadhda: Famous for its Swaminarayan Temple, Gadhada is a premier town on the pilgrim circuit of Gujarat. The temple, built in 1829 A.D. is a fine piece of architecture with a high plinth, spacious square, an assembly hall and large sarais.
Palitana: Palitana is situated about 51 Kms. South west of Bhavnagar. It is about 182m above sea level and is the base for the nearby hill top complex of Shatrunjaya. "SHATRUNJAYA" literally means the place of victory and is Jain's most sacred pilgrimage site. At the foot of the hill flows the Shatrunjaya River.The hill has about 863 shrines. These temples, built over a period of 900 years. Shatrunjaya is the largest temple City of its kind in India. The hillside is about 31/2 Kms up with 3950 steps. The temples are grouped into nine enclosures.
Each has a central temple with smaller ones clustered around. Local traditions and legends tell the stories about Adinatha, the first Jain tirthankan. His temple is quite notable. Next to it is the Muslim Shrine of "Angar Pir" where women wanting children offer prayers and tiny cradles.