Municipality of Wankaner in Rajkot district has a remarkable and palatial palace which makes an important tourism destination in Gujarat. Rajkot is well known among the people of Gujarat as a tourist city with hordes of historical monuments and associations with Mahatma Gandhi. In itself, the city is often visited by people for its scenic beauty and travelling about 57 kms from Rajkot is the town of Wankaner. Even though it is a small town, but its presence over a hill, with an average elevation of about 81 meters, gives the town a cool climate throughout the year. This town is also known for its peaceful living, ceramic industries and business houses. Some of the sightseeing places in this town are Kalkama Ni Tekari, Gayatri Mandir, Jateshwar Mahadev Temple, Gatral Mandir, Nagabawa Mandir and Motareshwar Mahadev Mandir, apart from the palatial building of Ranjit Vilas Palace.
Ranjit Vilas Palace is found in the town of Wankaner in Rajkot district, Gujarat. This beautiful and historical palace of Wankaner is situated on a hill, overlooking the town. From Rajkot city, it is about 53 kms away and in itself is a self sufficient palace. The hill on which this palace is constructed has the River Machchhu going past it in a bend, thereby justifying the name of the town as Wankaner, which means, near a river bend.
Maharaja of Wankaner HH Amarsinhji built this palace personally in 1907 AD. Thereafter, he named the palace after his dear friend Jam Ranjitsinhji of Jamnagar, who is also known to inaugurate the palace. Along the ground area, this imposing structure spreads out on 225 acres of land. Much of this structure still stands tall and had been previously the summer house of the rulers, who ruled the region of Jhalawar in Saurashtra. According to legends, a blessing or may be a curse was put on the town of Wankaner by the state Rajguru, Nagavaba that the town and its structure would be destroyed by fire or water and no other calamity or means would devastate the city. Since many years, a large public fair is arranged near the palace on Shravan.
Other Structures Near Ranjit Vilas Palace
Inside the campus of Ranjit Vilas Palace are two other buildings, Chandra Bhavan, which is the state guesthouse and the Royal Oasis Wankaner, which is a heritage hotel now along the banks of River Machchhu.
Finesse of architectural designs in Ranjit Vilas Palace is worth a look. Front and back side of the building have been designed to merge with the surrounding landscape. Terrace like appearance has been created due to receding heights of the structures towards the front. These structures culminate in terraces with designed pavilions and gothic arches. Town of Wankaner is towards the back side of this palace. The clock tower rise up to seven floors, having Mughal styled dome on top and towards each corner. There is a five storied high bastions, with hexagonal chhatris. Throughout the structures, there are Italian designed pillars, gothic arches, classical parapets and Victorian windows. Central part of the palace is having a Dutch styled roof over a large expanse. Inside the building, there is a double staircase, which adds uniqueness to the interior decor. This was supposed to be used by the ladies of the palace, to go up and down, without being seen. Inspiration for this staircase was from a similar structure at Chateau de Chambord in France.
Apart from architectural planning and beauty, the collections inside the Ranjit Vilas Palace are worth a view. These are inclusive of ancient and medieval era chairs, glass galleries, chandeliers, period furniture, huge portraits and extensive collections of spears, swords, regal lamps, dresses, chests, thrones and military items. There is also a large garage having some vintage cars like Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, American cars, vintage horse drawn carriages and a stable containing numerous Kathiawadi horses. Italian fountains adorn the well laid and green gardens.
Presently, the Ranjit Vilas Palace is occupied by HH Dr Digvijay Sinh Zala, who has served as a union minister and as the Member of Parliament in Indian Government. The palace is possible to be viewed by the public during their trips to Rajkot and Wankaner.