Family connections with Baroda, Bhavnagar and Vadnagar
The Gohil Rajputs of the Suryavanshi clan faced severe competition in Marwar (Rajasthan). They moved down to the Gujarat's coastal area and established three capitals: Sejakpur (now Ranpur, founded in 1194 CE), Umrala, and Shihor.
In 1722, forces led by Khanthaji Kadani and Pilaji Gaekwad attempted to raid Sihor (pronounced Shihor) but were repelled by Bhavsinhji Gohil. After the war, Bhavsinhji realized that the reason for repeated attack was the location of Shihor. In 1723, he established a new capital near Vadva village, 20 km away from Shihor, and named it Bhavnagar. It was a strategic location because of its potential for maritime trade. Bhavsinhji ensured that Bhavnagar benefited from the revenue that was brought in from maritime trade, which was monopolised by Surat and Cambay.
As the castle of Surat was under the control of the Sidis of Janjira, Bhavsinhji brokered an agreement with them, giving the Sidis 1.25% of the revenue by Bhavnagar port. He entered into a similar agreement with the British when they took over Surat in 1856. Whilst Bhavsinhji was in power, Bhavnagar grew from a small chieftainship to a considerably important state. This was due to the addition of new territories as well as the income provided by maritime trade. His successors continued to encourage maritime trade through Bhavnagar port, recognising its importance to the state.
In 1807, Bhavnagar State became a British protectorate. A princely State (also called Native State or Indian State) was a nominally sovereign entity of the British Indian Empire that was not directly governed by the British, but rather by an Indian ruler under a form of indirect rule, subject to a subsidiary alliance and the suzerainty or paramountcy of the British crown.
Thakor Sahibs (a term used for the ruling Kings)
Bhavsinhji I Ratanji (reign 1703-64)
Akherajji II (1764-72)
Akherajji III (1852-54)
Bhavsinhji II (1896-1919)
In all the published biographies, the word ‘Maharaja’ has been used in lieu of ‘Thakor Sahibs’, and so it has been kept accordingly in the text on this website as well.
The Bhavnagar Lancers
While the State had long maintained an artillery, cavalry and infantry for defense and security, in 1866, these gave way to a body of police, which was found more suitable for keeping order in the towns and villages under the Thakor Sahib. In 1890, the Thakur joined with other rulers in Kathiawad in offering a portion of their troops for re-organization under the Imperial Service Troops Scheme and in the following year it was agreed that Bhavnagar’s contribution would be three hundred Rajput cavalries.
Nevertheless, during the European war of 1914-18, Bhavnagar Lancers were on active service in Egypt, Palestine, and Mesopotamia, during which the unit gained a number of battle honors and some of its men received decorations for bravery in the field.
Upon the independence of India from British rule in 1947, the Maharaja of Bhavnagar, Krishnakumarsinhji, became the first king of a princely state who handed over its administration to the people's representative in 1948.
Today, Bhavnagar is the fifth largest city of Gujarat state after Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, and Rajkot.