Several great personalities have been born on the land of Gujarat. But for free India, Mahatma Gandhi is one of the eminent names in giving a free life to the Indians. Mahatma started his struggle from the place he was born –Porbandar. Situated between Dwarka and Veraval, Porbandar is a small beach side town. Earlier it was called ‘Sudamapuri’. It was named so because it is believed that Sudama, Lord Krishna’s friend lived here.
Porbandar was a rich port that belonged to Jethwa Rajputs who ruled the vast area of Kathiawad for nearly 2000 years. Many prominent personalities are attached to the ancient city. It is not only the land of Mahatma Gandhi but even Swamivivekand had done much of his research here. Moreover, Rabindranath Tagore visited the city for a considerable period of time. The city used to be a prosperous trading centre conducting much commerce with the Arabian and the Persian countries.

THE CITY

Porbandar is an ancient prosperous town and due to its prosperity, it has several places of attraction. Structures throughout the city display the architectural beauty. Till date on either side of the road one can see magnificently carved windows and gateways which speak the architectural language of the olden era.

Kirti Mandir is the most important attraction of Porbandar. It is a place where Mahtama Gandhi was born in 1869. The mid 19th century Haveli of the Gandhi family has three stories around a courtyard with a kitchen, 17 rooms and a wooden shrine. Kirti Mandir is constructed adjacent to the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi. It contains a library with books on Gandhism, a spinning hall, a children’s nursery and a lovely prayer hall. In the prayer hall of the Kirti Mandir of Gujarat prayers of all faith are regularly organized.

Huzoor palace is perhaps the most impressive structure in Porbandar. The massive structure built in the European style is situated at the edge of the sea. It has several massive windows and wings overlooking the sea. The palace was built by Natwar Shah, the then ruler of Porbandar. Sprawling gardens and fountains add to the beauty of the mammoth structure. Just by having a glance you might take it as some European Palace. The neo- classical pillars and the porticoes with a semi circular design, the terraces with beautiful rails and the slopping timber roof are the notable parts of the palace. The architecture, beauty, and the picturesque view of the sea attract a large number of tourists to the Huzoor Palace. Being located on the sea side it is visited by both residents and visitors of Porbandar.

Daria Rajmahal is another important palace of the city built by Maharaja Bhavsinhji in the 19th century. Standing on the edge of the Arabian Sea the palace shows the influences of the Arabian culture. However, some parts of the palace are Italianate in style with an interesting blend of Renaissance and Gothic touch. The interiors of the palace like chandeliers, painted murals and the European furniture are eye catching. Moreover the town hall and other public buildings are also no less in terms of architecture as they were made under the watchful eyes of the Maharaja. It is crowned by a tall tower that offers a marvelous view of the palace courtyards, the beach beyond, and the sea. The palace has now been converted into a college.

The land of palaces and forts has one more fort depicting its fortune. Darbargadh is a fortified palace built by Rana Sartanji. Stone carved entrances, wooden doors and windows are a part of the attention seeking entrance. The large mansion and courtyard are a beautiful example of Guajarati wooden carving. Moreover, the fort has several bastions, 3 small gates and 4 main gates. The main gates are Porbandar gate in the west, Kathiawar Darwaja in the east, Halar Gate in the North and Junagadh gate in the south. The smaller gates are Sita Bari, Bhinji Bari and Darbari Bari. One can approach the palace through Darbari bari, a beautiful entrance resting on the brackets adorned with four elephants with the jharokhas adding to the beauty. The palace resembles the Navlakha palace in Gondal. The palace is made to resemble a jewel box. It is designed with complex geometric designs, sculptures of musicians, intricately carved pillars decorative kanguras and horizontal friezes.

Everything that was built in the city during the ruling era has a royal touch. Even Grishmabhuvan, a pavilion built by Maharana Sartanji provides the glimpse of the Rajput architectural style. The three-storied summer pavilion has exquisite pillars, impressive domes and delicate arches. It is divided into four parts depicting four seasons. It was a kind of asylum for the Maharaja away from the crowd of Porbandar.

Over and above the palaces and forts, it is interesting to know that Porbandar is the only city in the country which has the temple of Sudama, the close friend of Lord Krishna. The beautiful shrine constructed between 1902 and 1907 is situated in the center of the city. While constructing Sudama Mandir there was a shortage of fund and hence in order to complete the structure people organized drama shows. There is a plaque in the temple depicting this entire course of events. The temple contains a maze. It is believe that crossing the maze washes all the sins of a person.

Another such shrine in the city is Bharat Mandir situated amidst a beautiful garden. There are a number of murals that depict the religious men and preceptors of India. There are beautifully matched mirrors in the temple which depict the Gods and legendary personalities from the Hindu Epics and the Indian Puranas. Here children can enjoy the distorting mirrors present in the temple.

PEEPING AROUND THE CITY

If one has a day or two more than Porbandar offers some beautiful places around the city. Wildlife lovers would not like to miss Kuchdi, a picturesque hamlet situated just 20 minutes away from the city. The place has a bird sanctuary and would be a paradise for bird and photography lovers. This is the only bird sanctuary in the state which is established very near to the city. The area supports good population of Flamingos and other resident and migratory waterfowl. In the past, flamingos had attempted nesting also.

If one is fond of viewing the age old constructions than Ghumli is the right place. It was once the capital of the Jethwas 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, with numerous flights of steps and string coursed carvings.

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.

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