Rajkot rightly described as a "doorway" to Saurashtra, is situated in the heart of this south western province of Gujarat state. Like many other parts of India, people here are colourful, mixing, fun loving and adapting to latest fashion trends and modern lifestyles. And hence, this once upon a princely state, is quite appropriately known as "Paris of Saurashtra."
The history of Rajkot is littered with glory, thrills and exhausative cultural features. Its dynamic and lively character has contributed significantly to the nation.
Originally the king of Kutch, Maharao Jadeja's cousin's occupied Jamnagar and Morbi. Later on the cousins of the king of Jamnagar made Sardhar their capital and identified themselves as Thakur Jadeja dynasty.
While Rajkot city was founded in the year A.D 1610 by Vibhaji Jadeja. Raju Sandhi had helped Vibhaji to win the territory of Sardhar, hence Vibhaji gifted the place near Aji river to Raj Sandhi. Thus the city was named after Raj Sandhi as Rajkot, who established his kingdom here. The siblings of Raj Sandhi ruled over Rajkot till 1645 for about 35 years. Later on the Subedar of Delhi's badshah Mehmood Sorath, Masoom Khan won the territory of Rajkot and renamed it as 'Masumabad'. His rule exceeded for about 12 years. But once again, Ranmalji I with the support of his Jamnagar brothers won Rajkot from the muslim regime, and shifted his capital from Sardhar to Rajkot. And since then the Thakur Jadeja dynasty ruled Rajkot, finally in 1948 the present prince of Rajkot Shri Manhorsinhji was cermoniously seated on the throne. Till then 17 kings had ruled Rajkot for about 364 years.
The city was once the capital of the state of Saurashtra. Saurashtra, meaning the good country or land of a hundred kingdoms, was actually divided among 220 princely states till it became a part of Gujarat. Rajkot, where the Political Agent of the British Government resided, was strategically an important place then. Gandhiji spent the early years of his life here when his father was the Diwan of the state.
Rajkot has a very rich heritage. It has its own personality, character and background.The old monuments built years ago are sill standing majestically, displaying the rich glory, culture and the golden days of the past.
- In 1831, the main court here was established by the Britishers to give justice to the Kathiawar princes and the people.
- In 1836, the first hospital of Kathiawar was established here, which was recognized as the west hospital later on.
- In 1837, the first primary school of Kathiawar was founded here. This is now recognized as the Padmkuvarba Shala No-5.
- In 1853, the first English medium school of Kathiawar was founded here. This school is known as The Mohandas Gandhi Vidyalay.
The golden period of Rajkot's development was during the era of Sir Lakhajiraj-2 from 1888 to 1927. Some of the other historical monuments which have preserved the heritage are:- The Rajkumar College, The Alfred High School, The Gandhi Smriti, Watson Museum etc.
Despite the mixed nature of populous of all the races and castes including Jains, Vaishnavs, Muslims, Christians, Sindhis, Swaminaryan etc there is so much of peace and prosperity in Rajkot. Infact later is the result of the former. Gujarati, with typical "Kathiawari" ascent is the local dialect. Most Gujaratis are strict vegetarians and some of them do not even use onions and garlic in their food. The women here dress themselves in a gujarati style sari while some men wear a white dhoti-kurta and the rest adapt themselves to the western style. The celebration of various festivals like diwali, navratri, holi, etc. unfold the rich cultural aspects of the city. During these days the customs displayed, the gorgeous outfits of people, delightful delicacies eaten, etc. are the outcome of the inherited culture of the Rajkotians.
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