Bhavnagar princely state was located in Saurashtra which became a part of Union of India on 15th February 1948. Gohil Rajput of Suryavanshi clan moved down to coastal areas of Gujarat where they established three capitals– Shejakpur, Umrala and Sihor.
Maharaja Bhavsinhjo Gohil established his empire in Sihor. When Khanthaji Kadani and Pilaji Gaekwad attempted to conquer Sihor, Maharaja Bhavsinhji Gohil and his army repelled them back. Sihor wasinvaded many times by different rulers. Bhavsinhji realized that the reason for foreign invasion was the location of Sihor. So, he established a new capital, twenty kilometers away from Sihor and near Vadva village which was named Bhavnagar after his name. Bhavnagar was chosen as a strategic location for maritime activities. Eventually, Bhavnagar town became the capital of Bhavnagar state.
Bhavnagar signed subsidiary alliance system with the British and became a protectorate of the British in 1807. Bhavnagar was a fortified town and its gates were placed in such a way that it opened to the way of other important towns. Bhavnagar was a chief port for almost two centuries. It traded with Mozambique, Zanzibar, Singapore and the Persian Gulf. It benefitted a lot from maritime revenue. Trade was monopolized at Surat and Cambay. Surat castle was under the control of Sidis of Janjira. So Bhavsinhji made an agreement with them and promised them to pay 1.25% of the revenue as commission. Due to prosperity in revenue, Bhavnagar turned from a tiny chieftainship to an important state.
Gradually, he added new territories to the state. His successor too encouraged maritime trade and therefore Bhavnagar port remained an important port for a long time. Wakhatsinhji Gohil, grand-son of Bhavsinhji, confiscated land of kolis, kathis and obtained Rajula from the Nawab Saheb Ahmad Khan. Ghogha Taluka was also merged with the state. He conquered various forts such as Chital, Talaja, Mahuva, Kundla, Trapaj, Umrala and Botad. Later, Mahuva and Ghogha rose to be an important port. The Bhavnagar was the first state to construct ‘Bhavnagar State Railway’ on its own expense, without any aid from the British which was also recorded in Imperial Gazetteer.