History of Rajkot
Rajkot is the fourth largest state of Gujarat after Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara. The City is the centre of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat and is also the capital of Saurashtra State from 15 April 1948 to 31 October 1956, before it got merged with Bombay State on 1 November 1956. Rajkot was included into the Gujarat State from 1 May 1960. Rajkot is also the 7th cleanest city of India. Let us go through the history of Rajkot.
Early Period of the History of Rajkot:
Rajkot has been under different rulers since it came into existence. The early history of Rajkot goes back to the ear when it was founded by Thakur Sahib Vibhoji Ajoji Jadeja of the Rajput Jadeja clan in 1620. He was the grandson of Jam Shri Satarsal (Sataji) Vibhaji Jadeja of Nawanagar. The Jadejas lost against the Mughals in the battle of Bhuchar Mori. This region was a part of the Ghaznavid Empire ruled by Mohammad Ghaznavi and Muzaffarid dynasty ruled by Mahmud Begada.
The Thakur Sahib was imprisoned after the death of his father in the same battle. He joined the Mughal army and helped Shah Jahan in expelling Vaghelas from Sardhar. He married the daughter of the Vaghela chief and received tracts of land. His son too followed his father’s footsteps and got many tracts of land in reward.
Rajkot was named after Raju Sandhi who was the co-founder of the princely state of Rajkot along with Thakur Sahib Vibhoji Ajoji Jadeja.
The Continuation of the Mughal Rule over Rajkot:
The Mughals had ruled over the state for a good period of time. From 1720 to 1732, Masum Khan a deputy commander of the Nawabs took over Rajkot and renamed it as Masumabad, after his own name. He also built a fort in 1722, which was built to protect Rajkot from attacks of other rulers. The ruler built 8 gates to Masumabad namely, Kotharia Naka, Nava Naka, Raiya Naka, Bedi Naka, Bhichari Naka, Sardhar Naka and Pal no Darwajo; out of which Bedi Naka and Raiya Naka were reconstructed during the colonial rule.
The Comeback of the Jadeja’s:
Masum Khan ruled Rajkot for 12 years until he was subjugated by Thakur Sahib Ranmalji Mehramanji in 1732, he restored the name Rajkot. The Jadeja could not rule Rajkot and constant disputes were recorded. The family reigned monotonously; they accepted the British protection in 1818.
The British made it their headquarters of the British Political Agent. This marked the onset of development of the city. It eventually, under the British, became a hub of education as several institutions were established during the same period.
The Dominance of the British:
The British penetrated into the ruling reigns and subsequently became the ultimate power ruling over Rajkot and in 1807 Rajkot State became a British territory. The British constructed many impressive architectural sights, which are Connaught Hall, Masonic Hall, Lang Library, Watson Museum and The Rajkumar College. Rajkot became a preferred venue for meetings and discussions about cultural, political and intellectual activities.
The Indian rulers at that time were His Highness Bavajirajsinhji Mehramanji, however, the prosperity changed when His Highness Thakur Saheb Dharmendrasinhji Lakhajiraj succeeded his father in 1930.
Then What Happened?
The British didn’t allow him to exercise control over the state for a year long, but after that, he sprang up from hostility and started his obscure rule. He taxed his subjects heavily; he also hoarded good, made them scarce first and then sold them to his own subjects on extravagant prices.
Unlike his father and grandfather, Thakur Saheb Dharmendrasinhji Lakhajiraj spent more than 50% of the state funds on his lavish life. He died in 1940 whilst hunting lions in Sasan Gir after which his subjects were quite relieved. He had become a reason of several demonstrations, strikes and boycotts; Mahatma Gandhi too launched a hunger strike for the liberation of the people of Rajkot.
After the Second World War ended, the state merged with its neighbors to form the United State of Saurashtra in February 1948 and then Rajkot became the capital of the State of Saurashtra headed by U. N. Dhebar as chief Minister and Jam Saheb of Navanagar as Raj Pramukh in the same year.
Rajkot has a long history and had an important part during the Independence of India. It was a home for famous personalities in the Indian Independence Movement like Mahatma Gandhi. History of Rajkot has undergone several transitions, from cultural to industrial and economic. On January 26th, 2001 a major earthquake, epicentre at Bhuj, hit the city causing a great loss of life and property.
Rajkot is the 26th largest city in India and the 22nd fastest growing urban area of the world. It is indeed a city with an eclectic history.