Wankaner City Guide

"On the bend of river Machchhu"
Wankaner derives its name from the geographical feature related to the location of the town: 'Wanka' means a bend and 'ner' means water stream in Gujarati. Wankaner literally means a bend on the stream and it is located on the bend of the Machchhu river.

The Jhala Rajput clan ruled Wankaner, the capital of the former princely State of Wankaner, till Indian independence in 1947 AD. It was one of the four princely states of Jhalawad, other three being- Wadhvan, Limbdi and Dhangadhra.

Sartanji founded the princely State of Wankaner in 1605 AD and the town was fortified in the late 18th century for protection against the bandits and neighboring enemies. King Amarsinhji, a noble ruler, who made Wankaner a rich city-state, ruled Wankaner up till 1947 AD.

Under the patronage of Amarsinhji, 5 palaces and many bungalows were built and named after the rulers of the princely States of Kutch, Rajkot, Mayurbhanj and Jamnagar.

Amarsinhji built the Ranjit Vilas Palace on a hill, overlooking Wankaner town. It took seven years to complete (1907-14 AD) and was designed by Amarsinhji himself. It was inaugurated by and named after his dear friend Jam Ranjitsinhji of Jamnagar. The ground of the palace extends to two hundred and twenty five acres. The state guesthouse, Chandra Bhavan is also located in the same campus in the vicinity of the Ranjit Vilas Palace.

Ranjit Vilas Palace is a very eclectic building, a bold attempt to sythesise various architectural styles. The front and back facades are appropriately designed in response to its location. The receding volumes, on the front, creating a series of terraces culminating in two beautifully designed pavilions with gothic arches. The back facade, on the town side, really establishes the palace as an impressive landmark. The seven storied central clock tower capped by a Mughal dome and two five storied high bastions, at both the corners, culminate in hexagonal chhatris. The facade has arcades of arched Victorian windows Italianate pillars, Gothic arches and classical parapets. A massive Dutch roof spans the central wing of the palace. A double staircase is the unique feature of the interior of this palace, where the royal ladies could ascend and descend without being seen by men. A similar double staircase at Chateau de Chambord, Loire, France, dating to the Renaissance period, inspired this staircase.

Ranjit Vilas Palace has a memorable collection of swords, shields and daggers, 95 species of stuffed animals, duelling pistols, pig sticking spears, silver, linen chests, silver-plated howdahs, thrones, paintings and portraits. The palace has magnificent spiraling marble staircase, stained glass galleries, chandeliers and period furniture. The garage, on the grounds of the palace complex, has Vintage cars like the 1921 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, some imposing American cars and horse drawn carriages. The palace also has a stable of Kathiawadi horses. There are large grounds with beautiful Italianate fountains.

Wankaner also has a step well, the last one to be built in Gujarat. In the royal oasis complex, the 3-storied step well, has 2 underground floors with cool subterranean marble rooms, fine sculptures and a fountain.

Wankaner was among the first few royal families of India to convert their palaces into Heritage Hotels, which have guestrooms, maintained in the original royal style.

Excursion :
Morbi (Green Chowk, Darbargadh, Art Deco Palace, Wellingdon Secretariat, railway station, Nehru Gate, Lakhdhirjee Engineering College) 27 km, Halvad (Ek-dandia Mahal-wooden palace, cenotaphs of warriors-chhatris, step wells, Shiva Temples) 75 km

Travel Information :
Air : Nearest airport is Rajkot (53 km), Ahmedabad (220 km)
Rail : Wankaner City on Ahmedabad-Rajkot railway line
Road : Rajkot (53 km), Ahmedabad (220 km)
Local transport : Non-metered auto rickshaws
Accommodation : Several local guest houses and Heritage Hotels- Royal Oasis and The Residency
Food : local eating joints and restaurants at Heritage hotels

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