Bhavnagar, in the Indian state of Gujarat, is a port city on the coastal region of the Saurashtra peninsula abutting the picturesque Gulf of Cambay. It is fifth largest city of Gujarat is situated in the eastern coast of Saurashtra, also called Kathiawar and to the west of the Gulf of Khambat. It is the second largest city of Saurashtra.
Bhavnagar is primarily a business town, close to Alang which is the biggest ship breaking yard in South Asia. People coming in for business in Alang make Bhavnagar their base as all the offices are situated here, region and is known for its cultural capital.
In 1823, a new capital near Vadva village was established by Maharaja Bhavsinhji Gohil and the place was named Bhavnagar, after his name. The place gained importance owing to its location that facilitated maritime trade. It became the capital of Bhavnagar State. Until Indian Independence in 1947, the Rajput Gohil clan ruled the independent state of Bhanvanagar.In 1948, it was the first Indian princely state to unite with the Indian Union.
Takhteshwar Temple is a famous temple situated in the Bhavnagar city in Gujarat. It was constructed in 1893 at the instructions of the then ruler of Bhavnagar, Maharaja Takhatsihnji. It has a magnificent shrine with a three eyed Lord Shiva who is regarded as the powerful and fascinating deity of the Hindu Trinity. The temple is constructed in white marble which showcases a rare architectural beauty. It also offers an aerial view of the city of Bhavnagar and the surrounding regions.
On the confluence of the rivers Shatrunai and Talaji on the hill top the town of Talaja is located. Carved out in the hills are Buddhist caves or monasteries which were built thousand of years ago. A pleasant climb up the hill brings one to magnificently built Jain temples. Located 160 ft above sea level, the place is famous for a small cluster of temples and ancient caves, believed to be Buddhist origin, carved into the hills. Talaja Teerth is a center of religious activity.
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.
Gandhi Smriti stands in Bhavnagar city as the vital link of the life of the political leader and the city. The memorial, which houses a hoard of photographs of the Mahatma, stands by the clock tower in Crescent Circle. Gandhi Smriti in Bhavnagar preserves a huge collection of books and other memorabilia used by Mahatma Gandhi. The repository also displays photographs that recreate the various events in the life of this great leader. Artifacts like religious carvings and betal cutters that are cultural representatives of Saurashtra are also found in Gandhi Smriti at Bhavnagar.
The Lock Gate of Bhavnagar is situated in a dockyard of the city that was built 100 years ago. It is a very old dry dock of the country, which is still operational. It is at present used for the making of ships. The Lock gates impound the sea-water in order to keep the ships floating in the time of low tides. One can watch the lock gates in action after taking special permission. Among the various places to see in Bhavnagar, the Lock Gate is surely a popular tourist choice.
A beautiful hamlet on the coast of the Gulf of Khambhat and at a distance of 10 Kms from Talaja, the taluka headquarter of Bhavnagar district is Gopnath. Vying for eminence on the tourist circuit with development of a heritage hotel - Gopnath Bungalow, it was a pleasant sea-shore retreat of Gohil rulers of Bhavnagar. The bungalow built in a European colonial style with cottages and mansions surrounding the courtyard faces the sea and offers a beautiful view of the gulf.It attracts marine life and birdwatching enthusiasts to the rocky shores on the coast. It is also renowed for the temple of Gopnath Mahadev, where Narsinh Mehta is believed to have performed penance. The coast in this area is full of tiny islands and offers a picturesque delight to the onlooker.
Nilambag, the royal palace now converted into a heritage hotel reflects the grandeur of the eighteenth century and is set amidst vivid lawns and gardens. The pillared porticos, stepped arches, pleasant center courtyard, turning marble staircase, dining hall furnished with European chandeliers and the historic library takes one back to the era of royalty and splendor.