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Rajkot History, India

Rajkot history is about 400 years old, having been established by the Jamnagar Jadejas in 1620. The city and its surrounding region, of course, had some pre-history and they have been part of both the Ghaznavid (997 to1030) and the Muzaffarid (1335-1393) Empires.

Rajkot history is indeed interesting in every respect – the place where Mahatma Gandhi spent his childhood days and did his schooling, Rajkot was an important center of India’s non-violent freedom struggle, in addition to being a British headquarters; the capital of the erstwhile princely state of Rajkot (and later that of Saurashtra), of course, continues to be the H.Q. of the Rajkot district.

Rajkot History – 1620 to 1720

The foundation of the city of Rajkot was laid in 1620 by a member of the Jadeja-clan, Thakore Vibhoji Ajoji Jadeja. The tale of foundation goes like this – ‘Following the death of his father (in 1590) in a battle against the Mughal Empire, Ajoji Jadeja was captured and taken to Delhi, where he grew up under the supervision of his maternal uncle. Ajoji later joined the Mughal forces and is said to have led the Mughal campaign to subjugate the Vaghelas of Sardhar. Subsequently, Ajoji married the daughter of the Vaghela chief and became the ruler of Sardhar. His services to the Mughal Emperor brought him land-rewards in the form of control over Ardoi, Kalipat, Rib and Ribda; he united all these to carve out a separate principality under his rule.’

This was just the beginning; after Ajoji, his successors held sway over the region for a whole century, till 1720.

Rajkot History – 1720 to 1929

Rajkot was conquered by Masum Khan (a mid-rank military officer of the Junagarh Kingdom) in 1720. The city’s fortress (that mostly lies in ruins today) belongs to Masum Khan’s reign, which lasted for only 12 years; he had even named the city Masumabad after his own name. In 1732, Thakore Ranmalji Mehramanji reclaimed Rajkot and it once again became a stronghold of the Jadejas.

The Jadejas continued to rule the princely state of Rajkot even during the British rule of India; in fact, the rulers had sought British Protection – something that worked in favor of the state and soon it became an important H.Q. of the British rule. The city’s many grand colonial buildings like Connaught Hall, Lang Library and The Rajkumar College belong to this period of Rajkot history, when the city was going through a period of peace and prosperity.

Rajkot History – 1930 to Present Times

In 1930, however, things took an ugly turn; this was the year when Thakore Dharmendrasinhji Lakhajiraj came to power. Unlike his predecessors (who did everything in their power for the development of the state and the well-being of their subjects), Dharmendrasinhji misused his powers – taxing his people unreasonably and squandering state funds on his lavish lifestyle. This mishandling of power and authority roused public opinion against him and national leaders of the highest stature like Mahatma Gandhi staged protests and demonstrations to highlight the plight of the people of Rajkot.

Following his death in 1940, he was succeeded by his brother Thakore Pradyumansinhji Lakhajiraj. Pradyumansinhji was the last ruler of the Rajkot State, ruling till the new state of Saurashtra was created in 1948 by the merger of Rajkot and some of its neighboring states of Western India. Rajkot was merged into the Bombay State on November 1, 1956 and some three-and-half years later, Rajkot became a part of the State of Gujarat.

The 2001-Earthquake (which had its epicenter in Bhuj) was the worst natural disaster to befall Rajkot city in recent times. The H.Q. of the Rajkot district, however, had been quite quick-paced in rising above the damage and destruction and today the city promises a commendable/satisfactory, if not very-high standard of living to its people.

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