Gondal is a tranquil little town in Gujarat, an hour’s drive south of Rajkot. On the banks of the river Gondali lie the beautiful 18th-century Naulakha Palace complex and two other royal residences, the Riverside Palace and Orchard Palace, both built in the 19th century and now heritage hotels. The rulers of Gondal were tremendous car lovers, so the royal garages house some rare vintage vehicles (the earliest has the registration plate 'Gondal 1').
Naulakha Palace boasts exquisite carvings, beautiful "jharokhas" (balconies), a pillared courtyard, striking gargoyles and a chandelier-lit "durbar" hall. It also houses an eclectic museum with artefacts collected by the Maharaja of a large number of toy cars, horse-drawn carriages, dolls and pictures.
At Orchard Palace peacocks wander the lawns and time stands still. Here, you will find a striking 'room of miniatures' sitting room with a magnificent collection of miniature paintings and antique furniture. The Riverside Palace is a colonial-style building set in beautiful gardens. Once home to the Crown Prince of Gondal, it houses period furniture from the royal family’s heirloom collection.
The Sangramsinhji High School, modelled on the English public school Eton, is also worth a visit. Gondal was the fortified capital of one of the most progressive and affluent princely states during the British Raj and was ruled by the powerful Jadeja Rajputs.
There are a number of temples in Gondal, the most impressive is the Swaminarayan Temple, also known as Axar Mandir. The Buddhist Caves of Khambhalida are a half hour drive from Gondal and the ancient, fortified city of Junagadh is just over an hour away with its stunning Mahabat Maqbara mausoleum.
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