Although Morbi is known as Paris of the East, many have compared it to the London of the Victorian era. Indeed, as visitors enter the town through its famous suspension bridge across River Machu, they are transformed into another world comprising of town squires and cobbled alleys. The buildings too are reminiscent of 19th century Europe. Although two big disasters have robbed the city much of its historical edifices, what is left is of no little significance.
Unlike many ancient cities, which have grown up haphazardly, Morbi was developed up according a set plan. Sir Waghji Thakor, who ruled over the state from 1879 to 1948, was much influenced by European style of the town planning and incorporated those ideas in the layout of the Morbi town as much as possible.
Just as any European town, Morbi too has a town squire known as the Green Chowk located at its center. The chowk is approachable by three magnificent gates. Among them, the Nehru Gate is the most significant.
Nehru Gate in MorbiIn olden days, Nehru Gate was known as the Nagar Dwarja or City Gate. It was inaugurated in 1925 by Sir Lloyd, the then Governor of Bombay and hence it was known as Lloyd Gate. Later it was renamed as the Nehru Gate.
Nehru Gate is made out of stones. To a large extent, it resembles the architectural style of Rajasthan. However, a clock at the top of the gate also lends a European touch to it. In fact, most of the heritage monuments in Morbi are mixture of Indian and European style of architecture. The earthquake of 2001, which played havoc in a large part of Gujarat, partly destroyed this gate. It was later restored in 2007 by Morbi Municipality under the supervision of Hemen Sanghavi and Arpan Ravel.
However, there is another magnificent gate leading to the Green Chowk. Just as the Nehru Gate, this gate also highlights the successful amalgamation of two distinct style of architecture. It has been constructed in the European style; but a dome at the top lends a touch of east to the whole set up.
Wagh Mahel and Mani Mandir
Mani Mandir built by Sir Waghji Thakor in the memory of his queen Mani is located in the same premises. The temple has been built with stones brought from Jaipur at the cost of rupees thirty lakhs. Presence of numerous arches, brackets, jails, chhatris and shikhara makes this temple a unique example of Indian temple architecture.
Although the temple is mainly dedicated to Radha-Krishna Lakshmi-Narayan ji, Lord Rama, Mahakali and Lord Shiva are also worshipped there. The temple also has many hidden cellars. It is believed that most of these cellars have remained untraceable till date.
The Victoria Garden Opposite Mani Mandir is also worth a visit.
Art Deco Palace
The Art Deco Palace is made out of granite. It is an example of
the art deco movement that swept over Europe after the end of World War
I. It is a low two storey building with horizontal fenestration, curves
and bays. The palace has fourteen bedrooms and six dining rooms and a
bathroom made out of sea shells. The erotic murals on subterranean
bedrooms are wonderful example of art
Other Places of Tourist Interest in MorbiAmong other places of tourist interest, we can name the Suspension Bridge across River Machhu, Green Tower, Darbargarh Palace, Nazarbag Palace etc.
Among them, the Darbargarh Palace was the official Residence of the rulers. It is located on the bank of River Machhu and can be approached through an imposing gate. It has now been turned into a heritage hotel.
The Nazarbag Palace, located on the other bank of River Machhu, now houses an engineering collage named after Lakhdhirji, the son and successor of Sir Waghji Thakor.
Lakhdhirji also had made great contribution to the beautification of Morbi. He was so inspired by the Eiffel Tower of Paris that he had a similar tower built in Morbi. As this tower is fully green it is called the Green Tower. The tower was inaugurated in 1888.
The Suspension Bridge was built by Sir Waghji Thakor to connect Darbargadh Palace with Nazarbag Palace. The bridge is 1.25 meter wide and 233 long. It represents the best technology available at that time. Many compare it with Brooklyn Bridge.
The railway stations at Morbi and Nazarbag too are worth noting. They combine the eastern and European style of architecture to create a unique art form.
When to visit MorbiOctober to March is the best time to visit Morbi. At that time, the temperature remains between 10°centigrade and 24° centigrade. In short during this period the climatic condition is neither too hot nor too cold, but just right for a wonderful trip.
How to reach MorbiThe nearest airport to Morbi is located at a distance of 67 Km at Rajkot. Ahmadabad, located at a distance of 245 Km, also has an airport. Travelers traveling to Morbi may use either of them.
Wankaner is the nearest railway station to Morbi; but visitors may also get down at Rajkot and then travel to Morbi by road. Alternately, they may catch another train for Morbi from Rajkot.
Since Morbi has NH 8A and SH 7 running through it, it is easy to reach the city via road transport. Apart from taxi services, one can avail regular bus services run by Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation and other private parties.