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 — or more commonly the Khandheri cricket stadium — is also developing into a venue for international cricket matches. So while you are passing through the town or are here to watch a cricket match, and happen to have some extra time on your hands, try spending it our way.
If you’re a history buff, start your day with a round of memorials associated with Mahatma Gandhi and the museums. Post lunch, head to the zoo or go in the reverse order, starting with the zoo. Mahatma Gandhi spent his childhood here when his father — Karamchand Gandhi — was the Diwan of Rajkot. He returned only in 1939, to establish an institution that would teach people about swaraj. The biggest and most attractive museum in Rajkot currently 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 colourful 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’d have to buy tickets for the same before the main counter closes.
The family residence of Karamchand Gandhi from when he was the diwan has also been converted to a museum and is known as the Kaba Gandhi No Delo. It is now open to the public 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.
History buffs can also head to the Khambhalida Buddhist Caves which are a short drive away. These caves were discovered in 1958 by renowned archaeologist, PP Pandya, long after Buddhism made a long-lasting impact in Khambhalida, around the 4th century.
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.
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. The museum (closed on Mondays) remains open from 9.30am to 1pm and again from 4pm to 7pm (entry fee applicable). During the 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.
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 are applicable for both entry and photography. One can also opt for battery operated vehicles, separately charged for, that are available for pick up and drop at fixed points. The zoo stays closed on Fridays.
Rajkot is also a good place to try typical Gujarati cuisine including the local Kathiyawadi food. Some of the must eats here include dhokla and handwa 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 the 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 bandhani, 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 if you want to buy colourful bangles. You may also shop for beaded fabrics and dupattas here.
Getting ThereRajkot Airport, about 3kms away from the town, is connected with Mumbai. The town is well connected by road to most of the cities of Gujarat and the neighbouring states. Rajkot is also 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.