After the great earthquake of 1819 when the river changed course, and port Lakhpat started loosing importance due loss of maritime activities. Further the area faced sever drought and famine in 1823, 1825 & 1832. Added to these natural calamity sea pirates and bandits from Sindh ( now Pakistan ) started looting the area for its wealth and prosperity. Lawlessness prevailed in the area for a long time till Deshalji II ( 1819 – 1860 ) brought things under his control at an young age after a relentless pursuit and warfare with the invaders from across the border.
During this time maritime activity began with trade to south African and Middle eastern destinations. Education institutions and administrative reforms were begun during the reign of Pragmalji II ( 1860 – 1875 ). Khengarji III ( 1875 – 1942 ) assumed the throne and ruled the longest time in Kutch. During his reign Kutch railway foundation was laid to connect it different parts of the country. Kandla port too was commissioned during his period. He also served as Aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria for sometime under an agreement. The state was elevated to the status of 17 Gun Salute and the title of Maharao was bestowed.
Khengaraji III wanted his son to have an independent palace to avoid ego clashes and instill a sense of independence. Thus Vijay Vilas Palace was commissioned in 1920 which was built with a blend of gothic and rajasthani style. The palace design was inspired by Orchha and Datia too. The palace was built in granite sandstone which gave its golden hue naturally. The design included a central dome and Chattri or umbrella type of open dome on sides. A symmetrical step type of design was adopted with plenty of windows to allow natural light and ventilation to seep through sea breeze. Since the palace was built close to the beach, it became a natural resort for the royalty soaking in sun and sea.
After the death of his father Vijayraji took over the reign ( 1942-48 ) and ruled the terrain for some years before he fell seriously ill. During his reign Kutch bus service was begun and was only the third province to do so after Hyderabad and Travancore. He also many reservoirs and dams to conserve water and irrigate the land. Kutch was one of the first state to accede to the Indian union after India gained independence volutarily. Vijayrai who was undergoing medical treatment in London instructed Madansinhji to sign on his behalf.
Vijayraji was buried in the campus and a Chattri was assigned in his name. The palace was very near and dear to his heart. After his death for some time the palace was left vacant, till the royal family once again decided to move after a period of mourning.
Currently Vijay Vilas Palace has become a tourist attraction with a ticketed museum and visitors flock in to click plenty of photographs on selfie mode. There is a resort and hotel run by the royal family too. Accomodation can booked from their website. One can enjoy the facility of a private beach and tented ac accomodation too is available for tourist. It is an ideal theme wedding for the rich and famous. For those who would like to check out.
Vijay Vilas Heritage Resort
Telephone:02834 277700 Mobile :098989 44958 / 099044 74740
E-mail :firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Vijay Vilas palace has been location for Hum Dil De Chuke sanam and even Amitabh Bachchan seems to have stayed overnight for shoot of Gujerat tourism advertisement. The royal family moved in after the 2001 Bhuj Earthquake wherein their palace Ranjit Palace at Bhuj was heavily damaged, luckily Vijay Vilas palace escaped the brunt and destruction of the earthquake. The palace may not be huge but still it is cosy and elegant in looks, your photographs will unravel it better than my words. Remember Kutch nahi deka toh Kuch nahi dekha.
Location : It is approximately 72 kms from Bhuj with an excellent road. Another good news is ferry service is being operated for tourist from Okha to Mandvi. It takes around 3.30 hours to reach Mandvi from Okha and tariff is Rs 900 per pax for AC business class. Ultimately ending up saving lot of time and money in travelling. http://gujaratitours.com/index.php This information was given by our taxi driver.
Disclaimer : I am not a promoter or paid endorser for Vijay Vilas Heritage Resort or any resorts.
Acknowledgement : Photos from Vijay Resort Website