Earlier, Bhavnagar was a flourishing port but today, various activities related to the sea takes place at the Ghogha and Alang port. Bhavnagar grew into one of the 15th richest princely states in India during the early 20th century. Today, the city of Bhavnagar is the home of several lakes and temples. This city is also associated with the Mahatma
Gandhi, who went to the Bhavnagar university. Bhavnagar is a busy industrial centre that makes a useful base for journeys to nearby Jain temples at Palitana and the Velavadar National Park.
History of Bhavnagar
Bhavnagar was founded by Bhav Singh ji Gohil in 1723 AD near the Gulf of Khambhat. Till independence, Bhavnagar was ruled by the Gohil Rajput clan. The Gohil Rajputs came to Gujarat from Marwar in 1260 AD and Sejakpur, Umrala and Sihor were their three capitals. Originally, Bhavnagar was the capital of a state of the same name and ruled by the Suryavanshi Rajputs from Marwar. The rulers of Bhavnagar also shifted their residence to Motibag and Nilambag Palace. For almost two centuries, Bhavnagar remained a major port and established trade with Africa, Mozambique, Singapore and the Persian Gulf. Bhavnagar has long been an important cotton trading post, but now supplement its survival on diamonds, plastics and ship parts- Bhavnagar lock gate keeps ships afloat in the port at low tide. The trade resulted in the high rate of urbanization, surplus wealth and cosmopolitan culture of the town. The tangled bazaars and crumbling wooden houses of the old city feel remarkably untouched by the outside world. The present state of Bhavnagar owes much to the vision of the past ruler Sir Takhtsinhji Gohil (1869-96 AD). During the rule of Takhtsinhji, the Barton Library, High Court, Alfred High School and Sir Takhtsinhji Hospital were constructed.
Tourist Attractions in Bhavnagar
The two important tourist attractions in Bhavnagar are the Takhteshwar Temple and Gandhi Smriti and Barton museum. The Takhteshwar Temple is located on a small hillock which provide good views over the city and the Gulf of Cambay. The Gandhi Smriti and Barton Museum is located in the northeast, by the clock tower and has a good collection of Gandhi memorabilia. The other tourist attractions in Bhavnagar are the Victoria Park, Takht Singh ji Hospital and Gaurishankar Lake
The Takhteshwar Temple is a historic temple, located on a small hill. This temple provides good views of the city and the Gulf of Cambay.
Gaurishankar Lake is a very popular place for the evening stroll, picnic and bird watching. Ducks, geese, pelicans, cranes and other wading birds can be seen on the banks of this lake. On the banks of the lake, the Bhav Vilas Palace is located which is owned by a relative of the family.
Barton Museum & Gandhi Smriti
Gandhi Smriti and Barton museum belongs to the 1895 AD. This museum has a fine collection of farming tools, beadwork, wood carvings, religious carvings, weapons, musical instruments, betel nut cutters, coins, stamps, sculpture, skeletons and various folk arts objects which represent the culture of the Saurashtra region. This memorial also houses photographs and some of the items related to Mahatma Gandhi which reminds of the Mahatma Gandhi as a student of Bhavnagar university. This museum also has a library that consists of the books and photographs of Mahatma Gandhi.
Barton Library is a beautiful two storey 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. This library is one of the oldest libraries of Gujarat and also houses a museum.
Nilambagh Palace is a heritage hotel in Bhavnagar. This palace was designed by a German architect, as a royal residence for the erstwhile Maharajas in 1859 AD which was later converted into a heritage hotel. This palace is a magnificent building that is set amidst huge estate of 10 acres. It combines elements of Indian architecture with a modern outlook.
Gangajalia temple is dedicated to Ganga Devi. This temple is built in white marble located in the middle of a former tank. This temple has a chhatri, pavilion and bridge, built of white marble. It was designed by Sir John Griffith, principal or Sir J J School of Arts, Bombay.
Takhat Singhji Hospital
Takhat Singhji Hospital was designed in 1979-83 by Sir William Emmerson, the architect of Victoria Memorial and Crawford Market.
Earlier Victoria park was the famous game reserve. Various interesting wildlife animals and birds are still found in this park. Antelope, jackal, blue bull, hare and hyena are the various animals which are found in this place. The marshes in the park also attracts many ducks and birds.
Alang (not allowed for tourist - Special permission requird)
Alang is situated on the coast between Bhavnagar and Talaja. Alang is the India's largest ship breaking site, where supertankers, container ships, warships and other vessels are dismantled by hand by 20000 workers day and night. A huge ship takes around two to three months to pull apart. In 2002, Greenspce visited the yard posing as buyers, gathering material and photographs to support its protests against the dangerous conditions for workers at the yard and the toxic waste produced through ship breaking. Their actions have had some success. In February 2006, French President Jacques Chirac was forced to recall an asbestos-laden French ship to Europe. These protests have made it more difficult for foreign tourists to visit the yard, but authorities can be lax. A few kilometres along the road approaching the shipyard is a fascinating curious collection of junk shops selling things pulled off the ships.