Recently, Bhavnagar, a historic royal city in Gujarat, celebrated its 300th anniversary with three days of joyous festivities. The city was founded in 1723 by Maharaja Bhavsinhji I of the Gohil dynasty, and its tercentenary was marked with grand celebrations.
A Legacy Built Over Centuries
Bhavnagar holds a rich legacy shaped by its royal ancestors. Over the course of more than two centuries, they built magnificent public buildings, grand parks, railways, and even a white marble monument that draws a symbolic parallel with the Taj Mahal of Agra. The contributions of the Bhavnagar rulers have left a lasting impact on the city’s heritage.
Preserving Heritage in the Face of Urbanization
Brijeshwari Gohil, a scion of the erstwhile royal family of Bhavnagar, emphasizes the importance of preserving the city’s heritage amidst rapid urbanization. She expresses her concern over the loss of many old private buildings in Indian cities due to demolition or neglect. However, Bhavnagar has managed to retain most of its public landmarks, albeit some dimmed by nearby modern structures or in need of restoration.
A Dedicated Effort for Preservation
Brijeshwari Gohil plays an active role in preserving Bhavnagar’s heritage. She leads both the Bhavnagar Chapter of the Delhi-based heritage body INTACH and the Bhavnagar Heritage Preservation Society. Her academic background in archaeology, art history, and heritage management equips her to contribute effectively to the cause. Additionally, her family runs a heritage hotel housed in the 19th-century Nilambag Palace, which adds to the city’s cultural appeal.
Landmarks and Monuments
Bhavnagar boasts several iconic architectural landmarks that reflect its regal past. The grand Darbargadh, once the seat of the Bhavnagar State, stands as a testament to its royal heritage. Other notable landmarks include the old Alfred High School, Barton Library, old Samaldas College building, Ganga Deri memorial, and the Crescent Tower located in Crescent Circle. Efforts are underway to restore and maintain these historic sites, with Ganga Deri and Darbargadh being state-protected monuments.
Reflecting on Bhavnagar’s History
Prior to the establishment of Bhavnagar, the capital of the Gohil dynasty was in Sihor. However, due to repeated attacks, Maharaja Bhavsinhji I shifted the capital to its present location, near Vada village, and named it Bhavnagar. This decision laid the foundation for the city’s enduring legacy.
As Bhavnagar celebrates its 300th anniversary, it serves as a reminder to cherish the city’s heritage and ensure its preservation amidst the changing urban landscape.
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