THE LAND OF THE MAHATMA
Porbandar, situated at the end of Saurashtra is a picturesque seaport on the Arabian Sea having pleasant beaches with beach villas. Birthplace of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, Porbandar is an intermediate seaport on the southwest coast of Saurashtra. To commemorate the birth of Gandhiji, a 79 feet high imposing building has been built in an otherwise simple lane of the city where Bapu was born in 1869 AD.
It is also known as "White City" because of its white stone construction. Visitors are also attracted to Bharat Mandir, depicting great men and religious preceptors of India, and to the Chowpaty, which offers a beautiful view of the beachfront. Modern villas have come up lately and there is also a small parlour serving refreshments.
If you prefer to combine a holiday by the sea with city facilities and seeing historic monuments, visit Porbandar by the sea. The very name evokes visions of Mahatma Gandhi who was born in this prosperous princely city on October 2, 1869. But the history of Porbandar goes back many centuries to Sudamapuri mentioned in the Hindu epic, Mahabharata, as the home of lord Krishna's friend, Sudama, and almost certainly the Paureliva, mentioned in the 9th century inscriptions at Ghumli.
Porbandar is a paradise for bird watchers. Great flocks of flamingoes, both greater and lesser, can be seen at a remarkably close range around the coastal marshes.
Kirti Mandir: The Kirti Mandir's premises is a three storeyed ancestral house of Gandhiji wherein the exact place where Putlibai, Gandhiji's mother, had given birth to the child Gandhi marked with a 'swastik'. Narrow wooden staircase leads the visitor to upper storey, in particular to Gandhiji's reading-room.
The adjoining new building, Kirti Mandir, houses a Gandhian library, a prayer hall, a nursery and a steeple decorated with episodes from Gandhiji's life. Behind Kirti Mandir is Navi Khadki, where Kasturba, Gandhiji's wife was born.
Huzoor Palace: The Huzoor Palace is a massive structure like a European mansion, sprawling, with a large garden at the edge of the sea. The palace has various wings in a zigzag formation, which created space for numerous forecourts and rear courtyards, which were used for gardens and fountains.
The structure is of a very modern style, crowned by trussed timber roofs and balustraded terraces offering a fabulous view of the beach and the sea. Semi-circular porticos on neo-classical pillars offer entry to the palace from different sides.
Daria Rajmahal: A short walk from the Huzoor Palace leads to Daria Rajmahal, Probandar's sea facing city palace, built in a style that blends Arabic, Indian, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture. The entrance is through a Gothic style archway, crowned by a tall tower that offers a marvelous view of the palace courtyards, the beach beyond, and the sea. Nothing remains of the Darbar Hall now, and the palace has now been turned into a college.
Morvi: The town is famous for its clocks, tiles and the ceramic manufacture. The erstwhile ruler of the State constructed a temple with adjoining secretariat, which is known as Wag Palace or Wellingdon Secretariat. The Suspension Bridge is an important landmark of the town. The bridge, 765 ft. long and 4.5 ft. wide, receives its support only from the pillars on the banks. The roadway is hung across the river on iron ropes passing over towers and anchored.
Gondal: Prettily situated on the bank of the Gondli River, this seat of erstwhile State of Gondal, is famous for its Naulakha Palace and the Riverside Palace of the erstwhile Maharaja, which have now been made into Heritage Hotels.
Kuchdi: It is a 20-minute drive away from the city centre. The place has a bird sanctuary and is quite popular with the bird lovers and photographers.
Ghumli: It was the capital of the Jetwas long before they moved to Porbandar. The place is famous for its Naulakha temple, considered to be the oldest Sun Temple in India built around the 8th century, and the 12th century Vikia Vav (step well), with numerous flights of steps and string-coursed carvings.
Gope: 50 km northeast of Porbandar, Gope has a 6th century temple with a sanctuary on a platform and the usual pyramidal 'shikhar' roof. The temple is in a terribly dilapidated condition but is important, as it is one of the first to have a roof of this design.
Barda Hills: A 30-minute drive from Porbandar takes one to Barda Hills covered with forests where one can find the Khambala Dam with its intricate, decorated kiosks.
How To Get There
Air: Porbandar is connected with Ahmedabad . From Ahmedabad, one can take flights to other important cities of India such as Delhi and Mumbai .
Rail: Porbandar is a railway station and is connected to many places in Gujarat and western India. The Saurashtra Express links Porbandar with Mumbai.
Road: State transport corporation buses operate to most of the important centres of Gujarat. Private operators have regular luxury bus services to Rajkot, Jamnagar, Ahmedabad , Junagadh etc. from Porbandar. A bus journey to Mumbai would take over 24 hours and is not recommended.
Local Transport: Auto rickshaws are convenient and cheap for local transport. They are useful when visiting places like Kirti Mandir where parking is a problem. Taxis can be hired locally for excursions, as can cycles, which can be rented near the State Transport bus stand.
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WHERE TO STAY
Porbandar has an adequate range of hotels. Those in town are generally better quality but noisier while the two seaside hotels have marine views to make up for their shortcomings.
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