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 temples.
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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 - the fastest of the Indian antelopes, the wolf and the lesser florican.
Once found in open plains throughout the country and the state of Gujarat, its largest population at present occurs in Velvadar National Park. This exclusively Indian animal is perhaps the most graceful and beautiful of its kind. It has ringed horns that have a spiral twist of three to four turns and are upto 70 cm long. The body's upper parts are black and the underparts and a ring around the eyes are white. The female, light brown in colour is usually hornless.
The fastest of the Indian antelopes, they move off in a series of amazing leaps and bounds when threatened and then break into a lightening run.
A dry lake, it is currently used for organizing fairs and other public events. It also has a picnic spot nearby and a beautiful garden known as Pil Garden.
Khodiar lake, Sihor lake, Kailas Vatika, Bal-Ghar.
In the midst of what was formerly a tank stands the temple of Gangadevi with a chhatri or partition. Made of white marble, designed by Sir John Griffits it was built by Maharaja Takhtsinghji in memory of Maharani Majirajba in 1893 A.D.
Situated on a hill, the site provides a panoramic view.
Thapnath Mahadev. Jagdish Temple, Bhid Bhanjan Mahadev, Dhareshwar Temple, Parsi Fire Temple, Jain Derasars.
Nagina Masjid. Jumma Masjid. Selarsha Dargah.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 nothing short of breathtaking.
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.
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.
A minor part Mahuva is famous for its handicraft work in wood and ivory. Lacquer work on wooden furniture and toys is its speciality , its fertile land bears 'Jamadar' mangoes similar to the Alphonso. There is an old mosque, Laxmi-narayan Temple and a Jain Dehrasar. The Pipavav project nearby is fast coming up as a major port and coastal industrial centre.
Famous for its Swaminarayan Temple, Gadhada is a premier town on the pilgrim circuit of Gujarat. The temple, built in 1829 A.D. is a fine piece of architecture with a high plinth, spacious square, an assembly hall and large sarais.
Palitana is situated about 51 Kms. South west of Bhavnagar. It is about 182m above sea level and is the base for the nearby hill top complex of Shatrunjaya. 'SHATRUNJAYA' literally means the place of victory and is Jain's most sacred pilgrimage site. At the foot of the hill flows the Shatrunjaya River.The hill has about 863 shrines. These temples, built over a period of 900 years. Shatrunjaya is the largest temple City of its kind in India. The hillside is about 31/2 Kms up with 3950 steps. The temples are grouped into nine enclosures. Each has a central temple with smaller ones clustered around. Local traditions and legends tell the stories about Adinatha, the first Jain tirthankan. His temple is quite notable. Next to it is the Muslim Shrine of 'Angar Pir' where women wanting children offer prayers and tiny cradles. The temple ceremonies are elaborate and worth a visit. Tall solid walls or battlements surround the temple. The 'Chaumukh' temple also known as the 'Adinath Temple' has images of Adinath facing all four directions. Over it rises a tall thin tower. There is the 'Adishvara Temple', which has a double storied mandapa inside. In it is the image of Rishabhanath with eyes of crystal and a crown made of gold and jewels. The southern group of temples has the temple of 'Ramaji Gandharia' and the Labyrinth of 'Bhulavani'. This is a temple with a number of chambers resembling crypts each with their own domes. The Elephant gate or 'Hathipol' faces the southeast. Some of the temples are dedicated to Vimal Shah, Kumar Pal and Sampriti Raj. Leather items are not allowed in the temple complex. The Jains believe the 'Pundarika', the chief disciple of Adinatha attained nirvana here. The temple bells and the chanting of the pilgrims create a peaceful serene environment on Shatrunjaya Hill. Some of the names of the nine enclosures or 'Tuk' are Vimalavasi, Khartaravasi, Saka Premchand, Ujambi Hemabai, Sheth Hemabai Vakatachand and others. The 'Vallabhai Temple' has clusters of finely sculpted spires, which provide an amazing site for the visitors.