Gondal’s Doctor Maharaja
People generally associate Maharajas and Nawabs with extravagant lifestyles and fabulous wealth – at least in the India of the 19th century CE – the Nizam’s jewels were famous as were the 36 Rolls Royce cars of the Maharaja of Patiala… but amidst this hedonistic opulence, there were some rulers of note who followed a different path. Few would have heard of the Maharaja of Gondal, Bhagvatsingh, in Gujarat who was a trained doctor. The work he did for the needy in his small kingdom in present day Gujarat is truly noteworthy.
In the 18th and 19th century CE, Saurashtra region of Gujarat was divided into 217 tiny kingdoms, of which Gondal was one. Bhagvatsingh was born on 24 October 1865 CE at Dhoraji in the present-day district of Rajkot, Gujarat. He was the third son of Thakore Sangramsingh II, the Thakore of Gondal, a small princely state established by the Jadeja dynasty, which also ruled over other kingdoms like Jamnagar and Kutch. Gondal was situated in the heart of Saurashtra and extended over 1000 sq miles. In those days, this was a very backward region with petty fights between different kingdoms and very basic infrastructure.