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Title: Kathiawar  
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Subject: History of Gujarat, Gujarat, Saurashtra (region), Ranjitsinhji, Porbandar district
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This is about the peninsula. See also Kathiawar Agency, Kathiawar cricket team.

Kathiawar or Kathiawad (Gujarati: કાઠીયાવાડ ) is a peninsula in western India, which is part of the Saurashtra region on the Arabian Sea coast by the Gulf of Kutch, on the west and south by the Arabian Sea, and on the southeast and east by the Gulf of Khambhat. Jigat Point is located at its western and Diu Head at its southern apex.

Etymology and history

Arrow Pillar or Baan-Stambh at Somnath
Scene in Kattiawar, Travellers and Escort

Kathiawar, also (Kattywar), the peninsula gets its name from the prominence of the Kathi darbar community which was widespread in the region and dominated central Saurashtra in particular for some centuries, and this is how it influenced Saurashtra as Kathiawar, whereas history of Saurashtra together is pretty old. Although the Kathis are believed to have migrated to the area in the 16th century, they have played an important part in the documented history of the region. During the reign of India Pratihar ruler Mihir Bhoj, the Gurjar empire had its one extremity as Kathiawad, other being Bay of Bengal.[1] Haddola inscription confirms that Gurjar Pratihars continued to rule in this region during reign of Mahipala I too.[2] The peninsula of Saurashtra dotted by antiquity and consistent historical turnover since prehistoric times to early periods of the Mahabharata through Indus civilization, remained influenced by Kathi people particularly between 16th century AD to very much till mid 20th century and therefore the emergent name of Kathiawar became a favorite alternative to the region of Saurashtra.

In geopolitical context, the area of Kathiawar is core or central Saurashtra. In feudal times, there were certain principle divisions of Saurashtra falling under princely states, namely Kathiawad, Sorath, Gohilwad, Halar, Panchal & Zalawad, Nagher, Okha Mandal, etc. But the principle Kathiawar covered parts of mainly Rajkot district, Gohilwad (Bhavnagar), Sorath (Junagadh, Amreli) and Panchal (particularly the delta of now Bhavnagar-Surendranagar-Ahmedabad districts and its interiors) making the Kathiawad shaped almost as an oval occupying the central Saurashtra. Some historians suggest that the Kathi people are basically Scythians who migrated to Saurashtra (referred to as Saraostus as well, by contemporary Greeks) around the second century B.C.

For a long span of time, the name Sorath remained limited to the region when Chudasama Rajput (Raa' dynasty) ruled from 875 to 1473. Concurrently, major Rajput clans that held a sway over this region include the Walas ( Kathis ), Jethwas, Raijadas, Chudasamas, Gohils, Parmars, Jhalas, Jadejas, Chavdas, Solankis, Patgirs or Pargirs, and Sarvaiyas, Savjis. Most of the princely states of Kathiawar were brought under the British protectorate by 1820, but from Kathiawad first treaty with the British was made by Vira Wala of Jetpur with Col.Walker at Baroda on 26 October 1803.

Political history

Before Indian independence in 1947, most of Kathiawar was divided into numerous princely states, ruled by local potentates who acknowledged British suzerainty in return for local sovereignty. These states comprised the Kathiawar Agency. The rest of the peninsula, chiefly in the east along the Gulf of Cambay, were districts ruled directly by the British as part of British India's Bombay Presidency, which included part of the peninsula.

After Indian independence, the states of Kathiawar acceded to India. In 1947, Junagadh's Muslim ruler desired to accede his territory to Pakistan, but the predominantly Hindu population rebelled, and while the prince fled to Pakistan, a plebiscite was conducted, as a result of which the kingdom was merged into the Indian Union. Pakistan still retains a claim to it. The former princely states of Kathiawar were grouped into the new province of Saurashtra, which became a state in 1950. In 1956, Saurashtra was merged into Bombay State, and in 1960, Bombay state was divided along linguistic lines into the new states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Diu remained in Portuguese hands until 1961, when it was occupied by Indian troops, then became integrated into India as part of the union territory of Goa, Daman and Diu in 1962.

Major cities

Presents Districts of old Kathiawar, Gujarat. (Note: Diu is not politically a part of Gujarat, currently it belongs to the Union Territory of Daman & Diu.)
Altar Cloth (Toran), Saurashtra, Gujarat, India, 20th Century, cotton, metal and mirror pieces. plain weave with embroidery and mirror work

The major cities of Kathiawar are Rajkot in the center of the peninsula, Jamnagar on the Gulf of Kutch, Bhavnagar on the Gulf of Khambhat, Surendranagar and the historic city Wadhwan in the central portion of Gujarat, Porbandar on the west coast, historic city of Junagadh on the South. Diu, an island town formerly part of Portuguese India and now part of the Indian union territory of Daman and Diu, lies off the south coast of Kathiawar. The city of Somnath and its famous temple are also located on the south coast.

Geography and ecosystem

The natural vegetation on most of the peninsula is xeric scrub, part of the Northwestern thorn scrub forests ecoregion. A range of low hills, known as the Gir Hills, occupies the south-central portion of the peninsula. The highest of these is Girnar. The hills are home to an enclave of tropical dry broadleaf forest, part of the Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forests ecoregion. Gir National Park, which includes the forested hills around Girnar, is home to the last remaining Asiatic lions left in the wild. Other national parks on Kathiawar are Blackbuck National Park (Velavadar) on the Gulf of Cambay and Marine National Park, on the Gulf of Kutch near Jamnagar.

Antiquity (places: history, archaeology, nature, religion)

People (Kathis)

People of Mer Community (majorly found in Saurashtra) in one of the Sword dance forms

Kathiawar or Saurashtra hosts a large number of communities, castes and settlements in the region, though the Kathis after who the name of Kathiawar became popular is a distinguished group. In a normal practice today, a person from Kathiawar is called a "Kathiawadi".

Bhil women of Kathiawar, 1890

Notable characters and figures

The list of some divine, notable figures, characters and events related to Kathiawar-Saurashtra can be very exhaustive. Covering different sections, fields and class of society, a few of them are as following:

Religion, pre-history, spirituality

Society, ideology, politics, leadership

Governance, nobility, reforms, politics

Art, literature, poetry, journalism, socialism

Sports, adventure

Cinema, entertainment, music, folklore

Business, industry, innovation, entrepreneurship, philanthropy

History, culture, bravery, events

See also


  1. ^ Baij Nath Puri (1986). The history of the Gurjara-Pratihāras. Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers. p. xvii. 
  2. ^ Narendra Singh (2001). Encyclopaedia of Jainism. Anmol Publications PVT. LTD. 
  3. ^ "A Few Words about Shri Harilal Upadhyay"

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