The Legacy of the Gujarat Earthquake

They battled the Moghuls and withstood the passing of a millennium; modernisation could not deter them – until January 26th, 2001, when the Great Indian Earthquake shook Gujarat and nearby areas of Rajasthan with a fury mapping 8.1 on the Richter Scale, scattering amongst its rubble the heritage of a valiant land.

Jaisalmer’s Golden Fort and Badal Mahal, Wankaner’s Ranjit Vilas Palace, Bhuj’s Old Palace complex and Prag Mahal, Morvi’s Darbargarh Palace, Modhera’s Sun Temple, Ahmedabad’s Shaking Minarets, Mahatma Gandhi’s ancestral house in Porbandar: all ravaged, all beckoning like voices from the past, with the haunting quality of a shattered dream.

Long cracks now threaten the ancestral home of Mahatma Gandhi in Porbandar, Saurashtra. The Father of the Indian Nation was born here on October 2nd, 1869, and lived here to the age of twelve years, making the century-old building a site of patriotic pilgrimage. The house where Kasturba, Gandhiji’s wife, was born also suffered partial damage.

Worst hit of all was Wankaner’s flamboyant Ranjit Vilas palace – symbol of the country’s regal heritage. Standing 39 kilometres northeast of Rajkot, the palace was built between 1899 and 1914 – a symmetrical building whose spectacular arches revealed a riot of Moghul, Italian and Victorian Gothic styles along with large windows, domed towers and a frenzy of hunting trophies that loomed from the walls. The palace is today razed to the ground, with only a pile of stones left to speak for the past that once was.

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