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Jethwa (or Jethva, Jaitwa Jethi or Kamari, Camari) is a Rajput clan that claim descent from Makardhwaja, son of Hanuman, who appears in the Hindu epic Ramayana. They are a branch of the Suryavanshi Rajput clan and are one of the oldest clans found in Rajput history.
The Jethwa claim their descant from Makardhwaja, son of Hanuman. As per folk tales of their clan, Makardhwaja had a son named Mod-dhwaja and he had a son named Jethi-dhwaja. Jethwas claim descant and name from Jethi-dhwaja and worship Hanuman as their Iṣṭa-devatā.
Further, it is said that Muslim governors of Sindh in 8th century repeatedly sent naval armed ships to conquer the western and southern coast of Gujarat, which were again and again repulsed by the "Saindhavas" who called themselves "masters of the Western sea" (apara-samudr-ddhipati). It has been suggested that the Saindhava ruling family is now represented by the Jethwa Rajputs.
Again one story goes that one of the prince from Kashmir after having lost his kingdom came to Gujarat near Porbandar and here with the blessings of Harsidhhi Mata, whose temple is located around 35 km from Porbandar at Miani, established his kingdom in Saurashtra. His descendents later came to be known as Jethwa, the erstwhile rulers of State of Porbandar.
One source says that the family took the name from one Jethaji but that is highly unlikely because the title Jethwa is of ancient origin and usually a Kshatriya or Rajput family or clan changes its name only to be named after an illustrious fore-father or after a major migration or event or a victory in a war. It is more likely that the Jethwa name is taken from name of Jethi-dhwaja, the son of Mod-dhwaja, the grandson of Makardhwaja and the great-grandson of Hanuman, the hero of Ramayana, to whom they claim their descant.
Further, many historians are of a view that Jethwa Rajputs have deep association with mer people since time immemorial, who are only the Senior (Jethwa) or rajakula (royal clan) of the Mers. The Mer have always been confidential and supported Jethwas in times of war and peace. It was the custom that when a Rana of Porbandar ascended the throne or Gaddi, the leader of the Mer people would cut the tip of his little finger and make a tilak with his blood on the forehead of the Rana.
The Jethwas have had capitals at starting with Morvi in 900 AD, changing with times to Shrinagar, Dhank, Chhaya, Ghumli, Ranpur and lastly to Porbandar (from 1685 till 1947). They were the first rulers of the Saurashtra area of Western Gujarat.
Jethwas seem to have entered from North West, that is, Sindh, Rajpootana and Kutch to Saurashtra in the 9th century AD and are oldest ruling clan of Peninsula. It is accepted by almost all historians that Jethwas established their rule in Saurashtra in around 900 AD and founded the city of Morvi as their Capital. Morvi was earlier known by name of Mayurpuri, named after its founder the Jethwa ruler Mayur-dhwaja. They spread further westward and captured Dwarka from Chawdas moved further and established the towns of Nagnah, Ghumli, Bhanvad, Chhaya, Dhank, Laodhva, Ranpur with colonies at Miani and Shrinagar on the coast. During the time of Mahmud of Ghazni, the Jethwas controlled all the west and north of the Kathiawar.
Colonial ethnographer James Tod in his 1832 The annals and antiquities of Rajastʾhan:or the central and western Rajpoot states of India includes Jethwa among the 36 royal races of ancient India and also names Jethwa or Jaithwa as Camari. Further, Colon James Todd opines that Jethwas come from old marital races of Indian Peninsula and were called Kanwar till the 8th century. Some Jethwa rulers suffixed Kanwar after their name and hence were also known as Kanwars or Kumars.
Sangaji was a Jethwa ruler from 1120 to 1150, who defeated the army of Virdhaval Vaghela, (the founder of Vaghela dynasty) near Morvi in 1125. Virdhaval, defeated, married his daughter and surrendered his title of Rana to Sangaji Jethwa. The title of Rana has been held by Jethwas rulers ever-since till last Rana died in 1979 without an heir.
Jethwas lost Morvi, when they were defeated by invading army of Qutb-ud-din Aibak in year 1193. Jethwas shifted to Nagnah and they later established their rule and founded Ghumli, under Sal Kumar. The rulers of Ghumli were also called Kumarants.
Ghumli was declared as second Capital by Jethwa dynasty, in 1220 by Rana Shiyaji, who took the title of Rana of Ghumli and shifted capital from Shrinagar Ghumli remained their Capital till 1313, when Rana Bhanji Jethwa, was defeated at a war, he fled Ghumli & shifted to Ranpur. It is said that Ghumli was destroyed due to curse of a Sati named Sone with whom Rana Bhanji Jethwa fell in love. Jadeja Jam Unaji (Jam Unad) of Jadeja clan came from Sindh and attacked Ghumli in 1309 but was defeated later in 1313 his son Jam Barmaniyaji Jadeja (Jam Bamanioji) attacked to avenge the defeat. He defeated Rana Bhanji Jethwa, who fled and Ghumli was completely destroyed and turned it into ruins. On the same night Goddess Ambaji came in dream of Bamanioji and told him that, as she has granted the wish ("Asha") of his father to conquer Ghumli, he should make a temple in her name. So Barmaniyaji built the Temple of Ambaji on the hill in the middle of Ghumli and named it as Ashapura Mata Temple, who is Kuldevi of Jedejas. The temple of Ashapura still stands on top of Barda hill near Ghumli.
Rana Bhan Jethwa escaped to Ranpur, where he established his new capital and set about founding a new territories. The Bhanvad is also named after Rana Bhan Jehtwa. However, after loss of Ghumli, they were confined to a district known as Barda.
In around 1525–35 Jam Raval conquered greater part of Halar from Jethwas and other Rajput rulers like Chawdas, Dedas and Vadhels. This led to further decimating the Jethwa territories in which Nagnah was lost, which Jams renamed as Nawanagar. Jam Ravalji's son, however, gave his daughter to Jethwa ruler Khimooji. But in later years, Jam Ravaljis's son Jam Sataji killed his own nephew Jethwa Ramdevji IV by a conspiracy and annexed further territory of Jethwas by force. This led to a fierce enmity between Jethwa and Jams, which continued for 300 years and there was apiya between them. Shri Khimoji II Bhanji Jethwa, Rana of Chhaya, elder son of Rana Shri Bhanji Ramdevji Jethwa, Rana of Ranpur, founded the state of Chhaya, after his expulsion from Ranpur in 1575. During this turbulent times in history of Jethwa dynasty, the Mers again came in help of in protection of Jethwas and helped them recover their lost territories. After the defeat at hands of Jams in 1525 the ruling Jethwa had to run from here to there till they found shelter at Chhaya. Later, the late Rana Bhanji's widow Rani Kalabai, a lady of out-standing courage and foresight raised an army of the Mers and Rabaris and regained her lost territory as far as Ranpur from Jams.
Later in 1671 Rana Vikmatji Khimoji Jethwa took possession of Porbandar from Moughals and built a fort there. He also took fort of Madhavpur. Though, he died at Porbandar, the capital remained Chhaya. It was his son Rana Saratanji II, who permanently shifted the Capital to Porbandar in 1685. The Jethwas of Porbandar entered into alliance with British in 1807 and agreement was entered into year 1809 with East India Company.
The princely state of Porbandar was a 13-Gun Salute State of British India. The reigns of Rana Bhavsinhji Madhavsinhji (1900–1908) and Rana Natwarsinhji (1908–1979) both Maharaja of Porbandar gave the state of Porbandar first class status after many battles for the throne within the royal family in 1811, 1869 and 1886. The Porbandar remained the Capital of Jethwa dynasty till the State of Porbandar was merged into Union of India, when the last ruler of the kingdom, Rana Natwarsinhji Bhavsinhji signed the Instrument of Accession on 15 August 1947. The last Rana and ruler of Jethwa dynasty of Porbandar, Shri Natwarsinhji died in 1979. Before him in 1977, the successor to his throne the crown-prince Udaybhansinhji Natwarsinhji Jethwa died, leaving the throne of more than 2000 year old dynasty vacant and uncertain, perhaps the longest continuous ruling dynasty of Indian Peninsula.
- Navlakha Temple at Ghumli built by Jethwa rulers in 12th century dedicated to Sun god is oldest sun temple of Gujarat. It has the largest base (Uagati) of the temples in Gujarat, measuring 45.72 x 30.48 m. Facing East, it had a beautiful entrance arch or Kirti Toran, that is now lost. The sanctum sanctorum (garbhagriha), covered pradakshina path, large gathering hall and its three shringar chokis are eye catching. On the surrounding walking path we find three directions with balconies. The mandapa has eight-sided pillars for support. In the small niches we find sculptures. The entrances are two storied. At the back wall of the temple we find two huge elephants fighting with their trunks. In Bhadra gavaksha is the image of Brahma-Savitri, in the west is the Shiva-Parvati, to the north is LakshmiNarayan. The Navlakha Temple built at a cost of Nine Lacs hence the name rivals the Somnath Temple in its architect and interiors. The temple is built in Solanki style of architecture have the three entwining tusks of elephants as its trademark and is considered to be high noon of Solanki style of architect.
- Kileshwar Mahadev temple built on Barda Hill near Ghumli.
- Vikai or Vikia Vaav, a Step well is the oldest and one of the biggest step wells of Gujarat built by Jethwa ruler Vikiaji after whom it is named. This ruined step-well is one of the largest of its kind in the state, measuring almost 60 by 40.5 sq m. The well has numerous flights of steps leading up to it and string-coursed carvings. The entrance pavilions can still be seen standing intact at three places.
- Jetha Step well, similar to Vikia step well near Ghumali.
- Bhan Gate named after Bhan Jethwa near Ghumali Navlakha Temple and Rampol Gate at Ghumali.
- Darbargarh, the palace of Jethwas at Chhaya built around 1600.
- Darbargarh at Porbandar was built by Rana Sartanji Jethwa (1671–1699) in end of the 17th century. This palace has a huge carved stone entrance gate flanked by high turrets and massive wooden doors. It is a typical example of such royal enclosures situated within the town of Gujarat. The fort has several bastions, 3 small gates (baris) and 4 main gates. The main gates are Porbandar gate in the west, Kathiawar Darwaja in the east, Halar Gate in the North and Junagadh gate in the south. Darbargadh is designed to resemble a jewel box, in the architectural style of the Navlakha palace situated at Gondal.
- Sartanji Choro at Porbandar :Rana Sartanji (1671–1699) also built Sartanji Choro, the three storied summer pavilion. This palace was built in the Rajput style as a retreat in the middle of the garden. Each side of the garden represent a different reason. It is also known as Grishmabhuvan.
- Daria Mahal Palace is located at the end of Marine Drive on sea shore of Porbandar city, in a huge campus. It was built in the late 19th century by Rana Bhavsinhji Madhavsinhji. Standing on the edge of the Arabian Sea the palace shows the influences of the Arabian culture. However, some parts of the palace are Italianate in style with an interesting blend of Renaissance and Gothic touch. The interiors of the palace like chandeliers, painted murals and the European furniture are eye catching. The palace has now been converted into a college.
- Huzoor Mahal Palace was built by Rana Natwarsinhji also on sea shore of Probandar city. This sprawling palace is built in the European style with sloping roofs, several wings and big windows, overlooking the sea.
- Anut Nivas at Khambalia, over looking the dam, is a summer palace built on Barda hills built by last ruler of Porbandar State, Rana ShriNatawarsinhji in 1927. The interior is lavish but not ostentatious. The Rajput Room is a museum of Kathiawad's past.
- The Lal Mahal or Red Palace in Porbandar, previously official guest house of the rulers of Porbandar State, now lies closed.
Other details and Kuldevis
The Jethwa Rajputs belong to the Gautam/Vajas Gotra and their Kuldevi is Vindhyavasini Devi. Jethwas also worship Chamunda and Harsidhhi, whose main temple was in Miani, one of their original colonies. In the temple of Harsiddhi at Miani, three lamps used to burn till dissolution of princely states, one lamp of the temple, one from Jethwa rulers of Porbandar and another from Jams of Nawanagar. Jethwas also worship Brahmani & Chamunda Mata as Kuldevi and their temples are located one at Anjar and another at Nagalpar. Some of them also claim themselves to be of Bhardwaja Gotra. Many also worship Momai Mata, who again is an incarnation of Harsiddhi of Miani. Again there is one aspect of devi, who is known as Jethwa Mata, who is identified as Gaur Matas or clan deities.
The main villages from which Jethwa Rajputs hail from are Morana, Ratdi, Shrinagar, Pandavadar, Gosa, Chhaya, Rozda, Hathla, Gadu, Kantela, Baradiya, Katvana, Lodava, Bhanvad and Ghumli in Saurashtra region of Gujarat. Jethwas are also found in Kutch in large numbers, where they seem to have migrated along with other Rajput / Kshatriya belonging to Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya group of warriors, who arrived in Saurashtra in early 7th century from Rajasthan fighting and repealing attack from North West. Later a major group entered Kutch in the 12th century AD and established themselves at Dhaneti. At present population of Jethwa in Kutch is centralised around Anjar town and some villages of Anjar Taluka.
The author of the book Shree Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Samaj : A brief history & glory of our fore-fathers, Raja Pawan Jethwa, further gives elaborate details of some known branches of Jethwas, citing references from a Gujarati book published in 1896 and records of Barots, as under:-
- Jethwa : Originally Jethwas came from North West and via Rajasthan and first entered present day Gujarat and settled in Viramgam from the 7th century onwards. They later founded Mayurpuri now called Morvi around 900 AD and declared it as its capital. The Jethwas after losing Morvi in beginning of 12th century shifted their capital to Ghumli. Ghumli was destroyed in beginning of the 14th century by invasion of Jadeja army, who came from Sindh. This led to major disbursement of Jethwa Rajputs of Gujarat.
- Poria Jethwa : A branch of Jethwas upon destruction of Ghumli, shifted their capital Ranpur, Chhaya and finally to Porbandar. The families of Jethwas, who migrated to various places in Saurashtra from Porbandar, especially to village Dhulkot in Saurashtra, began to call themselves as Poria Jethwa, to identify themselves with Porbandar. Many of these Poria Jethwas migrated from Dhulkot in year 1178 AD to Dhaneti and from there to Nagalpar in Kutch.
- Ravalia Jethwa : Upon destruction of Ghumli, some Jethwas migrated and settled in Raval village and thus called themselves Ravalia Jethwas. Some of these Ravalia Jethwa later migrated to Vijapar and Valasame. Again some from Vijapar shifted to Dhaneti and onwards to Mandavi in Kutch.
- Gola Jethwa : Again a branch of Jethwas upon demolition of Ghumli, migrated and settled in a village named Goladar, thus calling themselves Gola Jethwa. Again some of them shifted to a place called Nagvadar and from there to Dhaneti and finally settled in Anjar in Kutch.
- Bhagat ni akai (family of a Bhagat) : These are again a branch of Gola Jethwas in whose family a Bhagat (literally a Saint) was born in the 13th century, who was worshiper of Lord Rama. The descendant of him, started to call themselves as family of a Bhagat as well as Gola Jethwa. These family still worship Rama as their chief deity.
- Ghumalia Jethwa : Upon destruction of Ghumli, some Jethwas migrated and settled in Veraval city and thus called themselves Ghumalia Jethwa. They are also called as Darbar Jethwa (Darbar) in Veraval and surrounding areas.
The bardic tales of Jethwas are immortalised in folk tales like Rajasthani folk tale of immortal love between Jethwa and Ujali and heroic tales of Bhan Jethwa and Vijo related to defeat of Kathis by them, in which the names of Jethwa territories of Bhanvad and Lodhva are mentioned in bardic folk-songs of Kathiawar. Also the bardic songs of Bhan Jethwa, who fell in love with Son Kansari, who was in love with Rakhayata Babaria, his commander. Bhan got Rakhayat murdered by his servant Kumbha. Son became a Sati cursing that Ghumli will be destroyed in due course of time. Her prophecy came true when Ghumli was demolished by Jams in 1313. The Brahmins who gave shelter and also died for the cause of protecting Son built a temple in her memory later.
At present, outside India, the Jethwas are mainly found among migrant population in East Africa, United Kingdom, Canada and United States of America, as well as far flung countries like Australia, New Zealand.
- Natwarsinhji Bhavsinhji (1901–1979), the last ruler of Princely State of Porbandar; also a cricketer, painter, and author
- Udaybhansinhji Natwarsinhji Jethwa (1901–1977), the last Rajkumar of State of Porbandar, a recipient of Padma Shri award in 1971, in field of Trade and Industry.
- Amit Jethwa (1975–2010) – an Indian environmentalist and social worker from Gujarat, who was murdered for exposing political-criminal nexus and scam related to illegal mining.
- Jethwa/Jaitwa /Jheti or Kam(a)ri. Moon-descended.
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- PORBANDAR PRINCELY STATE RULED BY JETHWA DYA
- Shree Kutch Gurjar Kshatriya Samaj : A brief history & glory of our Fore-fathers: Section: History of Rajput Surnames, their origin and myths : sub-section : History of Jethwas : by Raja Pawan Jethwa (2007). pp 81–82.
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- ARMS: Tenne, on an inescutcheon between three eastern gallions argent, a Hanuman statant armed proper. Crest: A bull couchant proper. Supporters: Bison. Motto: "Sri Vusubh dwuj ya numah" (I bow to him whose sign is the bull). Lambrequins: Tenne and argent.
-  Ancient India by Ramesh Chandra Majumdar 1964
- One version of the story of Agni kula origins is that four warriors, Agnikul, Yadaukul, Suryakul and Odak, whose names are given to the Rajput clans, sprang from the sacred fire (Agni-kunda) in a ceremony performed by Sage Vashishtha near Mount Abu.
- The sub-castes of Odak Kshatriyas included Kamad, Jethwa, Chavada, Dabhi, Makwana, and Zala; these are the chief ones that first settled in Gujarat and later moved to other places.
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-  Gujarat State gazetteers, Volume 11, 1975.
- PORBANDAR STATE : RULERS : JETHWA :PREDECESSORS AND SHORT HISTORY
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-  The history of Kathiawad from the earliest times by Harold Wilberforce-Bell on Scythian coins the word " Kumar " frequently appears, and from bardic legends we find that after the founding of Ghumli in the seventh century by Shil Kumar Jethwa, the rulers of Ghumli were recognized as being Kumarants]
-  Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, Volume 8, 1884
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-  Encyclopaedia of Eminent Thinkers: The political thought of Mahatma Gandhi By K. S. Bharathi
- combination of sculptures and monuments are suggestive of this Town was built by Sailyakumar of the Jethwa dynasty of Saurashtra region of Gujarat.
- Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency: Káthiáwar
- the erstwhile capital of Jethwa, is a historical place located about 35 km from Porbandar
- Ordinarily, from the viewpoint of art and architecture the old Somnath temple is considered as the most ancient temple. However, Ghumli has a temple that rivals join to Somnath by nearly 500 years and from the viewpoint of art, it rivals in beauty with the Modhera Sun temple.NAVLAKA MANDIR
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- Jethwa and Ujali – a Rajasthani Folktale.
- Bhanvad & Lodhva : The Kathiani says, wherefore, Kathis, are you going to Lodhva to lose your honour? Doubtless, another Bhan Jethwa has arisen or another hero named Vijo has been found in house of Bhola, The Jethva uproots everyone in battle... Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency: Káthiáwar, 1884
-  Encyclopaedia of India, Volume 30
-  Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency