Mandvi is located on the banks of the Rukmavati river, only one km away from the Arabian Sea at the Gulf of Kutch. Mandvi lies to the southwest from the city of Bhuj and was established in 1581 AD by the Rao Khengarji, the first Jadeja ruler of Kutch. Mandvi was a originally a fortified town having a fort wall of about 8 m high and 1.2 wide stone masonry. It was also a 400 years old shipbuilding center. Mandvi is a busy little place with a shipbuilding yard where hundreds of men construct, by hand, wooden beauties for faraway Arab merchants. Today, Mandvi is a well known centre for the production of the country crafts. It has a very pleasant climate throughout the year and was a summer retreat of the Kutch Maharaos.
History of Mandvi
During the maritime trade, before the arrival of steamboats, Mandvi was a rich and prosperous town which earn four times more revenue from export than import. It was a profit making centre of the Kutch, in terms of wealth. Mandvi was a town of merchants and seamen, both mutually benefiting from each other. In the 18th century, the Rao Godji (1760-78) built and maintained a fleet of four hundred ocean-going vessels, including one that sailed to England and back in 1760. The Mandvi merchants established the trade with East Africa, Malabar and the Persian Gulf. In the early 19th century, it was a major port of entry for the inland trade with Malwa, Marwar and Sindh. Mandvi lies at the junction of two famous trade routes, the maritime spice trade route and the desert camel caravan route, thus acting as an important trade centre. Today, one can also see the smaller boats being constructed in the traditional techniques by the master carpenters.
Tourist attractions in Mandvi
The main tourist attraction in Mandvi is the Vijay Vilas Palace.
Vijay Vilas Palace
Vijay Vilas Palace is a royal palace set in the middle of well laid gardens with water channels and marble fountains. The architect and craftsmen from Jaipur designed and constructed the palace in 1920 AD. The palace has all the elements of Rajput architecture and is made largely on the plan of palaces of Orchha and Datia. The central high dome on the pillars, the Bengal domes on sides, the windows with coloured glass, carved stone jails, domed bastions at the corners, extended porch and the other exquisitely stone carved elements, are the worth visiting elements in the palace. This is an example of the traditional skill of craftsmen of early 20th century. The Vijay Vilas Palace has its own private beach, which is maintained in an eco-friendly manner to preserve its natural beauty. Now this palace has been used as the setting in various Hindi films and has become a popular tourist destination.
Besides the Vijay Vilas palace there are some very beautiful houses in Mandvi that belonged to the rich merchants with stone carving and plaster decorations. Their architectural style reflects the fusion of Indian and European styles of architecture. Other interesting buildings in Mandvi are a girls high school, a former palace built by Rao Lakhpat and light house.