Gondal was an 11-gun salute princely state covering an area of about 2,652 square kilometers. Founded in 1634 by Jadeja Rajputs, Gondal Princely State was modernized by HH Maharaja Sir Bhagwatsinhji from the 1880s to the 1940s. Bhagwatsinhji took great interest in education – Gondal became known for its public institutions and schools, and education of the girl child was free and compulsory. He also was the first to start a traveling dispensary and an asylum for the maintenance of the poor. During his long reign, the residents of Gondal State were free from rates, taxes, customs, octroi and export duties. Gondal was noted for its road network and Bhagwatsinhji was one of the pioneers of railway enterprise in the Kathiawar peninsula. The grand Sagramsinhji High School is situated next to the Riverside Palace.
The Riverside Palace is a European style mansion, built-in 1885 as the Yuvraj Bungalow (Crown Prince’s palace). The mansion is set in gardens beside a river. The property is furnished with old dressers, four-poster beds, and antique pieces. The 11 bedrooms are spacious and high-ceilinged, with elegant colonial period furniture, and each has an attached bath. Stroll around the garden and riverside to spot birds.
Must see in Gondal: Guests staying at the Riverside Palace also get to visit the Darbargadh, the old palace which is a festival of stone carvings. Within this palace are museum collections of silverware, textiles, turbans, toys, furniture and other memorabilia. TheRoyal Vintage and Classic Car Collection includes family’s excellent collection of cars from a pre-1910 New Engine, the 1920s and 30s European vintage models and imposing 1940s and ‘50s American cars to sports cars.
The Swaminarayan temple of Gondal has some interesting murals. The Bhuvaneshwari Mandir is another old temple. The Bhuvaneshwari Ayurvedic Pharmacy is among the oldest in Gujarat, making medicines according to ayurvedic principles. The Bhuvaneshwari Gaushala and Ashwapalak support indigenous breeds of cattle and horses. The Khadi Plaza is a handloom factory with a handicraft shop. Handicrafts can also be bought at Udhyog Bharati and in Gondal town. Gondal also has a number of silversmiths.
For birdwatchers, Gondal’s lakes and grasslands are excellent places to watch birds and small mammals.
FILM TOURISM: Blockbusters like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo were shot on location in Gondal.