India // Gujarat //

Bhavnagar

The port of BHAVNAGAR, founded in 1723 by the Gohil Rajput Bhavsinghji, whose ancestors came to Gujarat from Marwar (Rajasthan) in the thirteenth century, is an important trading centre whose principal export is cotton. With few sights of its own, Bhavnagar does, however, boast a fascinating bazaar in the old city, and is an obvious place to stay for a night before heading southwest to the Jain temples of Palitana. For Gujarati industrialists, it serves as the jumping-off point for the massive, controversial and booming ship-breaking yard at Alang. The yard, where twenty thousand labourers work, has been off-limits to foreigners since Greenpeace red-flagged it for environmental damage, toxic spills and hazardous work. Bhavnagar has produced a string of artists and writers, notably poet Jhaverchand Meghani. Locals also claim to speak the most grammatically correct form of Gujarati.

The focus of interest is the old city, its vibrant markets overlooked by delicate wooden balconies and the pillared facades of former merchants’ houses. The marble temple, Ganga Devi Mandir, by the Ganga Jalia Tank in the town centre, has a large dome and intricate latticework on its walls, while the Takhteshwar Temple, raised on a hill in the south of town, affords a good view over to the Gulf of Cambay in the east.