Founded by the Jadeja Rajputs, it was the capital of the former Saurashtra state. Today, Rajkot is one of the key commercial and transport hubs of Gujarat. The state of the art Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium (Khandheri cricket stadium) is also developing into a venue for international cricket matches. So while you are passing through the town or here to watch a cricket match, don’t miss out on some of the popular attractions.
Depending on your interests, you may start with a round of memorials associated with Mahatma Gandhi and the museums before lunch and head for the zoo after that or go the other way round, starting with the zoo.
Mahatma Gandhi spent his childhood here when his father, Karamchand Gandhi, was the Diwan of Rajkot. He returned in 1939 to establish an institution that would teach people about Swaraj.
The biggest and most attractive museum in Rajkot now is the Mahatma Gandhi Museum housed in what was earlier the Alfred High School (Kathiawar High School) where the Father of the Nation studied. Apart from the photographic displays spread across several galleries depicting the transformation from Mohandas to Mahatma, there is also a state of the art projection about the life of the Mahatma retold through a light and sound effect.
The museum (closed on Mondays) is open from 10am to 7pm. But do note the ticket counter closes at 5pm. The 20-minute light and sound show starts at 7pm. Those who have bought museum entry tickets need not purchase separate ones for the show but if you want to attend only the show, then you have to buy tickets for the same before the main counter closes. Pure vegetarian food is available at the Charkha food court. The family residence of Karamchand Gandhi when he was the Diwan has also been converted to a museum and is known as the Kaba Gandhi No Delo. It is open from 9am to 6pm, every day.
Mahatma Gandhi, on his return to Rajkot, established the Rashtriyashala to instil the tenets of swaraj (self-rule) in the minds of the people as a key step towards the country’s fight for Independence. Today, the school imparts educational and vocational training. It is said that it was this Rashtriyashala that encouraged local weavers to master the art of single ‘ikat’ weaving that is now a popular buy in Rajkot.
You can also visit the Jubilee Park, a colonial legacy, which houses the Watson Museum named after Col John Watson, a British political agent of the Kathiawar Agency (1886-89). Look out for exhibit copies of artefacts from Mohenjo-Daro, 13th century carvings, temple statues, and costumes and house designs of local tribes, as well as archaeological findings and coins. The museum also displays memorabilia from the former princely states.
The museum (closed on Wednesdays and Saturdays) is open from 9.30am to 12.30pm and again from 3pm to 5pm.
Spread over 55 hectares, the Rajkot Zoological Garden is situated in an area that was earlier known as Pradyuman Park, on the outskirts of the town. Laid over a slightly undulating ground, you will go past natural enclosures, cages, waterbodies, tree groves and lawns. The zoo has a large variety of Indian animals, including lions. It opens at 9am and closes at 5pm between Oct 16 and Feb 15 and at 6.30pm for the remaining period. Charges apply for entry and photography. Battery operated vehicles (separate charges) are available for pick up and drop at fixed points. The zoo stays closed on Fridays.
If you have children in tow, you may include the Rotary Dolls Museum in your post-lunch itinerary. Dolls from around the world, especially in traditional clothes, are on display. It is said that Rotary clubs from various countries donated these dolls for the museum. According to visitor reviews, the lighting arrangement is not good. The museum (closed on Mondays) remains open from 9.30am to 1pm and again from 4pm to 7pm (entry fee applicable).
During late afternoon, drop by the landscaped garden built in the downstream area. It is a place frequented by the local people for relaxation and walks.
Rajkot is also a good place to try typical Gujarat cuisine including the local Kathiawadi food. Some of the must-eats include dhokla and handva thepla, and undhiyu. Although the restaurant has received mixed reviews, you may also like to try Jaddu’s Food Field, the multi-cuisine restaurant owned by Indian cricketer Ravindra Jadeja.
In the evening, browse through the market areas of Rajkot. The city is known for its single ‘ikat’ weave, also known as Rajkot patola. Gujari Bazar is known for its textile shops and the right place to look for ‘bandhni’ or tie and dye fabrics and saris. For traditional wear, you may check out the shops in Gundawadi. Bangdi Bazar is the place to go to if you want to buy colourful bangles. You may also shop for beaded fabrics and dupattas here.
Information: Rajkot airport, about 3km away from town, is connected with Mumbai. The town is well connected by road to most of the cities of Gujarat and neighbouring states. Rajkot is a junction on the Western Railway Ahmedabad-Hapa broad gauge line. Trains for Delhi, Mumbai, Cochin, Coimbatore, Kolkata, Amritsar, Patna and Bhopal are available from Rajkot.