The Gohil Dynasty


Ancient bardic tales and genealogical records suggest that the Gohil clan, to which the Royal house of Bhavnagar belongs, descend from the Lunar race of Paurava Rajputs. They ruled in Kathiawar in ancient times, certainly before 800 AD. They settled at Khergadh, in Marwar, after the collapse of the Valbhi Dynasty.
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The direct ancestor of the family was Sejakji, twenty-third in descent from Shalivahan and Chief of the Gohil clan of Surya Vanshi Rajputs. He returned the Gohils to Saurashtra after his expulsion from Khagadh by the Rathores. There, he married his daughter, Walam Kunverba to Ra Khengar [Kawat] of Junagadh, receiving Shahpur and several villages in jagir. He founded a capital in 1250 AD, naming it Sejakpur after himself. Dying in 1254 AD, Sejakji was succeeded by his son Ranoji, who established a new Gohil capital at Ranipur. Expelled from there, he was slain by Muslim invaders in 1309. Mokheraji, Ranoji's son, conquered Umrala from the Kolis and Gogha from the Muslims, succumbed fell to the sword of Muhammad bin Ghias ud-din Toghluk's in 1347. His great-great-grandson, Sarangji, assumed the title of Raol at the request of Raol Patai of Champaner, after helping him recover his throne from a usurping uncle.

Raol Dhunaji moved his capital to Sihor ca. 1600, where it remained for over a century. Bhavnagar became the capital in 1723, after Raol Shri Bhavsinhji I found Sihor vulnerable to attack by the Maratha invaders. Bhavnagar has been the capital and name of the state, ever since. A wise and politically astute ruler, Bhavsinhji followed a policy of conciliation with the Muslim rulers of Surat and with the British. Bhavnagar prospered and expanded through trade and commerce. He died in 1764, having divided his territories between his twin sons.

Akherajji, the inheritor of Bhavnagar, sided with the Marathas against the Mogul Viceroy of Gujerat. He assisted the British in reducing the pirate stronghold of Talaja, and sheltered Raghunath Rao Peshwa, when a refugee. His son, Raol Shri Vakhatsinhji spent his entire reign fighting various foes. Kathis, Jats, Kolis, Kathis, Gaekwads, Babis, even his Palitana clansman all savoured the cut of his sword. Vajesinhji, the son and successor of Vakhatsinhji, succeeded in making peace with the Kathis in 1829. He reigned for thirty-six prosperous years, leaving his throne to his grandson Akherajji III in 1852. He died without sons two years later, being succeeded by his brother Jaswantsinhji. The latter improved the administration and placed the revenues of his state on a sound footing, but died leaving a minor son as successor in 1870. 
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Takhatsinhji assumed full ruling powers in 1878, continuing in the footsteps of his illustrious father. He died in 1896, celebrated as one of the most generous, loyal and benevolent princes of his age. His son and successor, Raol Shri Bhavsinhji II continued his good works. He saved countless lives during the severe famine of 1899-1900, through a number of relief works. He also contributed generously during to the war effort during the Great War. These and other numerous services were rewarded with the hereditary title of Maharaja and increased gun salutes. A great supporter of female emancipation he promoted monogamy, advanced education and abolished "purdah". At his death in 1919, he left a flourishing state to his minor son, Maharaja Krishna Kumarsinhji.

The last independent ruler of his line, Maharaja Krishna Kumarsinhji, like his brothers, received an advanced education, within India and in England. He received full ruling powers on attaining his majority in 1931. He governed as a model ruler, closely involved in advancing the cause of independence for India. One of the first rulers to accede to the new Dominion of India, he served as the first Indian Governor of Madras between 1948 and 1952. He died at Bombay in 1965, being succeeded by his studious son, Maharaja Raol Shri Dr Veerbhadrasinhji. Vijayarajsinhji Gohil succeeded his father as titular Maharaja and Head of the Royal House of Bhavnagar in 1994.
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Gohil clan, of the Surya Vanshi Rajputs.


Murrey, an eagle or displayed; in chief on a canton of the second, a lion statant of the first. Helmet: Argent. Crest: An Eastern gallion argent profile in full sail. Supporters: Two bisons argent rampant, service with bezanté. Motto: "Manushaya Yatna Ishwara Kripa" (man proposes, God disposes) or on a label azure bordered or. Lambrequins: Murrey and or.
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A rectangular horizontal bicolour of scarlet over white, with the arms in gold in the centre.
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The ruling prince: Maharaja Raol Shri (personal name) (father's name) Sahib Gohil, Maharaja of Bhavnagar, with the style of His Highness.
The consort of the ruling prince: Maharani Shri (personal name) Sahiba, Maharani of Bhavnagar, with the style of Her Highness.
The Heir Apparent: Maharajkumar Shri (personal name) (father's name) Sahib Gohil, Yuvraj Sahib of Bhavnagar.
The younger sons of the ruling prince, during their father's lifetime: Kumar Shri (personal name) (father's name) Sahib.
The daughters of the ruling prince: Maharajkumari Bai Shri (personal name) Kunverba Sahiba.
The brothers and other male descendants of the ruling prince, in the male line: Raol Shri (personal name) (father's name) Sahib Gohil.
The other female descendants of the ruling prince, in the male line: Bai Shri (personal name) Kunverba Sahiba.
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The Medal for Good Service: instituted by Maharaja Raol Shri Sir Takhtsinhji to acknowledge distinguished services to the state and personal services to the ruler. Awarded in thre classes (1. Gold Medal, 2. Silver Medal and 3. Bronze Medal).
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The Medal for Good Service

Bhavnagar War Hospital Medal: instituted by Maharaja Raol Shri Sir Bhavsinhji II in 1916 to commemorate services on board and treatment in the War Hospital during the Great War 1916-1918. Awarded in two classes (1. Silver Medal, and 2. Bronze Medal).
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Bhavnagar War Hospital Medal, 2nd class in bronze.

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Male primogeniture, with the right of adoption by the recognised head of the family on the failure of natural male heirs.

Charles Allen and Sharada Dwivedi. Lives of the Indian Princes, Century Publishing Co. Ltd., London, 1984.
Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency. Volume VIII. Kathiawar. Government of Bombay, Bombay, 1884.
Lewis Bentham Bowring. Bowring Collection. MSS. Eur. G.38, Oriental India Office Collection, British Library, London.
Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage. Burke's Peerage Limited, London, 1900-1959.
Waman P. Kabadi (ed.), Indian Who's Who 1937-38,Yeshanand & Co., Bombay, 1937.
Sir Roper Lethbridge, KCIE. The Golden Book of India. Macmillan and Co., London, 1893.
List of Ruling Princes and Chiefs in Political Relations with the Government of Bombay and their Leading Officials, Nobles and Personages. Government of India Central Publication Branch, Calcutta, 1931.
Tony McClenaghan, Indian Princely Medals, Spantech & Lancer, South Godstone, Surrey, 1996.
Memoranda on The Indian States 1940 (Corrected up to the 1st January 1940). Manager of Publication, Government of India, Delhi, 1940.
Dr Hansdev Patel, Royal Families and Palaces of Gujerat. Scorpion Cavendish Ltd., London, 1998.
The Rajkumar College Alumni Website. 2006
The Ruling Princes, Chiefs and Leading Personages in the Western India States Agency, 1st edition. Rajkot, 1928.
The Ruling Princes, Chiefs and Leading Personages in the Western India States Agency, 2nd Edition, Delhi, 1935. IOR V/27/70/71. Correction slips to 2nd Edition 1936-1946 IOR V/27/70/72. British Library, St Pancras, London.
Thacker's Indian Directory, Thacker's Press & Directories, Ltd., Calcutta 1863-1956.
Capt. H. Wilberforce-Bell. The History of Kathiawad, from the earliest times. William Heinemann, London, 1916.
Who Was Who, Vol. I to Vol. VII, A&C Black, London, 1915 - 1980.
Who's Who in India 1911.
Who's Who in India, Burma & Ceylon, Who's Who Publishers (India) Ltd., Bombay, 1940

Lionel Curbal.
Nandita Gohil.
Father Lawrence Ober, SJ.
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Copyright©Christopher Buyers, February 2002 - February 2017