Situated about 250 km away from
Ahmedabad , Bhavnagar
is an important trading centre for cotton goods manufactured in
Gujarat. Bhavnagar lies in the southeast corner
of the peninsular region of Gujarat known as Kathiawad or Saurashtra. Once
the capital of a princely state, Bhavnagar is home to several lakes and
Founded in 1743 AD, by Bhavsinhji Gohil, on the site of a small village of Vadva, near the creek, Bhavnagar was once a flourishing port. Today, however the only activities related to the sea near Bhavnagar take place at the port of Ghogha and at Alang, which has also Asia's largest ship breaking facility.
Gandhi Smriti Library, a museum, a gallery and a memorial to the Father of the Nation are worth seeing. Gaurishankar Lake and Takhteshwar temple are popular picnic spots lending an enchanting view from the hilltop. Its coastline is with ports, salt works, shipbuilding and ship breaking yards along the Bhavnagar coast. Its business today is vastly different, for it is a premier cotton-exporting seaport on the southeastern Saurashtra coast.
For the tourist, Bhavnagar serves as a convenient base to visit the Jain temples at Palitana on the Shatrunjaya Hills and the Velvadar Sanctuary, the home of the famous Indian Black Buck.
Gaurishankar Lake: A beautiful picnic spot near the Lake. There is also a well laid out park.
Takhteshwar Temple: Situated on a hill, the site provides a panoramic view.
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.
Velavadar Black Buck 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.
Once found in open plains throughout the country and the state of Gujarat, the Velvadar National Park boasts of the largest population of black bucks. This exclusively Indian animal is perhaps the most graceful and beautiful of its kind.
Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute: 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.
Samaldas College: Among Bhavnagar's many attractions is Samaldas College, just over a hundred years old, a frontline institution that claims Mahatma Gandhi as one of its students. Do visit the Barton Library, again a place which age has not withered.
Palitana: A 56 kms drive from Bhavnagar, Palitana lies at the foot of the Shatrunjaya Hill, with the Shatrunjaya River flowing to its south. The sacred hill rises in a crescendo of magnificient temples numbering 863 in all, soaring in marble splendour to the top of the hill.
The temples were built over an impressive span of 900 years with each generation of pilgrims making its contribution to the shrines of Shatrunjaya. The 600-metres climb to Shatrunjaya is usually made on foot. 'Dolis' or lift-chairs are also available for the ascent.
Shihor: An interesting excursion from the Vijay Vilas Palace is Shihor, with its historic old palace of the Maharaja of Bhavnagar, featuring gardens, wall paintings and woodcarvings. It can also be used as a base to visit Alang Ship Breaking Yard, the Jain temples of Talaja, the historic town of Vabhipur and the Velavadar National Park.
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.
Gangajaha: In the midst of a tank, stands the temple of Gangadevi with a 'chhatri' or partition. Designed by Sir John Griffiths, the white marble building was built at the behest of Maharaja Takhtsinghji in memory of Maharani Majirajba in 1893 AD.
Khodiyar Mata: Situated 4 kms from Sihor, is a famous shrine commemorating the family Goddess of the rulers of the former Bhavnagar State. The deity is held in great reverence and the shrine with 36 pillars and a vast 'mandap' presents a serene sight. The views are absolutely breathtaking.
HOW TO GET THERE
Air: Various domestic airlines connecting Bombay and Surat.
Rail: Bhavnagar is on the Western Railway line. It is 761 kms from Bombay via Ahmedabad and 788 kms via Virangam.
Road: State transport buses and private luxury coaches connect various centres of Gujarat. It is situated 791 kms from Bombay via Ahmedabad, 200 kms from Ahmedabad via Sihor.
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WHERE TO STAY
Bhavnagar has a reasonable choice of places to stay. There are a few budget hotels near the railway station, which also has retiring rooms. The more up market options are available in Darbargadh, towards the bus stand and around the bus stand itself.
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Palitana: 55 kms.
Rajkot: 165 kms.
Ahmedabad : 203 kms.