Lord Swaminarayan and His paramhansas often came to Gondal and bathed in the waters of the River Gondali in Gondal town. The temple near the river was inaugurated in 1934. It is an attractive building with beautiful murals inside.
The Bhuvaneshwari Ayurvedic Pharmacy at Gondal has been manufacturing herbal medicines according to ancient principles from the 1910s. A visit to the pharmacy is arranged for guests. The palace management can also set up appointments with the ayurvedic doctor at the hospital for counseling or treatments. Ayurvedic massages can also be provided in the rooms.
For groups, the management can organize Art of Living and Yoga courses in collaboration with renowned foundations.
Gondal is excellent for birding with many species coming into the gardens of the Riverside Palace and Orchard Palace to feed, roost or even to breed.
The lakes of Gondal attract large flocks of winter migratory birds like the demmossile and common cranes, white pelican, geese and ducks. The vegetation around the wetlands are important breeding grounds for resident ducks, ibises and wading birds.
The Umbada Veedi is a large tract of rolling grassland on the outskirts of Gondal where rufous-breasted prinia, Syke’s crested lark, skylark, rufous-tailed lark, short-toed lark, rock bush quail, grey and painted francolin partridge, chestnut-bellied sandgrouse, Montagu harrier and other birds can be seen. In the monsoon, the grassland has often witnessed the breeding of the endangered lesser florican.
Nilgai antelope, jackal, jungle cat, black-naped hare and other mammals could also be seen at the grassland as also reptiles like the monitor lizard.
Gondal is also the base to visit the Hingolgadh Sanctuary for chinkara gazelle, Botad Dhakania grassland for blackbuck antelope and the Gir Interpretation Zone for Asiatic lion.
Textiles and Handicrafts
Gondal is a centre for beadwork, embroidery, spinning, handloom weaving, woodcarving, silverware and brassware. 30 km south of Gondal, the textile town of Jetpur is known for its screen and hand-block printing.
Rajkot, 39 km north of Gondal, has the Rashtriya Shala working to revive ikkat weaving skills
Guests can also see interesting pieces from the royal family’s collection at the palaces of Gondal.
Bhuvaneshwari Gaushala and Ashwapalak
This stud farm is working towards breeding and promoting indigenous breeds of livestock like the Gir cattle and the Kathiawadi horse. It has won many prestigious awards like the Gopal Ratna.
Gandhiji Charantirth Maharaj known as the author of many books on medicine, astrology and philosophy at the Bhuvaneshwari ayurvedic complex in 1915 and a plaque here says he was welcomed as a Mahatma by the Maharaj. Gandhiji's childhood home and school can be seen in Rajkot, 39km from Gondal.
39km from Gondal, Rajkot has the excellent Watson Museum, impressive school buildings and the childhood home of Mahatma Gandhi.
Once part of the princely state of Gondal, Dhoraji has impressive buildings like the Darbargadh.
60km from Gondal, the picturesque city of Junagadh has a rich and varied history. It has been associated with the Mauryan and Gupta empire, the Chudasama Rajputs, the Gujarat sultanate, the Mughal conquest of Gujarat and finally the Nawabs who prospered during British rule in Junagadh. The city is filled with historic monuments, and encircled by hills that add to its scenic charm. Despite the bustle and grime that follows urbanization and commercial growth, the city is worth visiting for its immense range of monuments and museums.
The Uparkot fort, with its high walls and imposing gateways, was a strong hold of the Mauryan dynasty, which promoted Buddhism and later the Guptas. After the fall of these empires in the 5th century, Junagadh saw a dull period when Vallabhi became the major city of Saurashtra. Then the Chudasama Rajputs built the walls that are about 70 ft high and about four km in length, after they occipied Junagadh in the 9th century. Uparkot was subjected to 16 attacks, one of them a long siege over a potter's daughter. The girl was coveted by a neighbouring prince, and came for refuge to the ruler of Junagadh, who promptly married her. In the war that followed, the chivalrous prince of Junagadh was killed in 1094 AD, and the girl committed Sati on his funereal pyre. The fort fell to Sultan Muhammad Bhegada in the 16th century.
The fort has the palace of Rani Ranak Devi, which Sultan Mahmud Bhegada tried unsuccessfully to convert into a mosque, the Adi Charan Vav stepwell said to date from the 11th century and is named for two slave girls, the Navghan Kuva dated from 1060 AD and named for Navghan, the Rajput ruler of Junagadh at that time, with flights of spiralling steps taking you down 120 feet to the water source through a 10 ft wide pas¬sage, the Nilam canon whose bronze inscriptions in Arabic state that "the canon was cast in 1531 AD to fight the Portuguese who are infidel enemies of state and religion" and the smaller Ottoman canon,which were brought here after the sultans and the Ottoman allies failed to protect Diu from Portuguese conquests.
Girnar hills whose 3660 foot high summit is crowned by some of the finest and most religiously important temples in Jain religion. The climb is a steep one and best undertaken in the very early hours of the morning, with several thousand steps broken by level stretches, through scrub forests, thermalling vultures and kites, and trees full of Hunuman langur monkey. You could also splurge on a doli(sling chair) on which people are carried up at a steep price. The hilltop enclosure is well filled with temples of both Hindu and Jain religions, but only five Jain temples are really impressive-the Neminath temple, built from 1128-1159 AD, with delicate carvings of the Tithankars of Jainism, Mallinath mandir, erect¬ed in 1231 AD by Vastupal and Tejpal, the brothers responsible for such marvels in marble as the Dilwara temples of Mt Abu, Rishabdeo temple (1442 AD) and a 15th century Parshwanath temple called Meravaksi. Other temples are the modern Panchbhai temple, 1803 AD Parshwanath temple with a cobra pro¬tecting the marble image, the Amba temple and the 12th century temple built by the Solanki dynasty, which is responsible for many of the finest Jain and Hindu temples in western India.
The Babi governors of Saurashtra, appointed by the Mughal emperors after the conquest of Junagadh, declared themselves independent after the fall of the empire and built Venetian-Gothic palaces. One of them is now a museum with its Durbar Hall appoiinted with silver plated thrones and chairs, fine carpets, European mirrors and huge chandeliers. Right next to the main hall is a collection of howdahs and palanquins, the prize exhibit being an exquisitely carved silver plated howdah with silver mermaids at the corners and a silver tiger guarding the velvet cushioned seats. In another room, the carpets and other textiles include a red silk carpet set with diamonds like stars of a crimson sky, and some carpets lavishly embroidered with gold thread. The royal armoury exhibits Nepalese Kukris, armour, turtle shell shields, swords, daggers, medieval weapons, rifles and period hand guns.
Two great landmarks of Junagadh are mausoleum complexes known as Maqbaras. The older complex near Chitkana chowk offers some remarkable 18th century architecture with vertical columns, delicate carved arches, cornices and domes in a range of sizes, the whole accentuated by a wealth of bril¬liant stone carvings. The newer complex, near the town gates, is even more impressive and attractive, with an almost fun-fairish flamboyance! The new complex was begun by His highness Mahabat Khanji in 1878, completed in 1892 by his successor, HH Bahadur Khanji. Also enshrined here was His highness Rasul Khanji in 1911 AD. The complex is shared by the mausoleom of Baha-ud-din, minster of Nawab Rasul Khanji, which is the most spectacular of the mausolea - two sets of minarets with pir¬ouetting spiral staircases, a facade rich in stone carvings, beautiful silver doors and massive domes mark the architec¬ture of this tomb of Baha-ud-din, who was called Vazir-e-azam or the great minister to the Nawabi dynasty of Junagadh. Next to it is a mosque, dated to 1886-97 which has geometric rows of variously coloured pillars leading to a cool marble minbar, and an Islamic religious school.
The Baha-ud-din college with a massive façade and a huge central dome has a 160 sq ft assembly hall, with intricate wooden ceilings and brackets.
Set in the Sakkarbagh zoo complex, this museum has an interesting collection of pre-historic and proto-historic implements made from stone and bone, stone sculpture including a 9th century Vishnu, bronze sculpture of the medival period, copper inscriptions and manuscripts, silverware, glass, porcelain, wood carvings, traditional textiles, folk art and some miniature paintings.
Distances from Gondal
- Ahmedabad: 259 km
- Bhavnagar: 200 km
- Bhuj: 258 km
- Dwarka: 250 km
- Jamnagar: 110 km
- Junagadh: 64 km
- Palitana: 150 km
- Porbandar: 149 km
- Somnath: 149 km
- Sasan-Gir: 124 km
- Vadodara: 330 km