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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.
8th-century Muslim governors of Sindh 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.
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 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.
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.
In later years Vajesinh Jethwa alias Wajosinh, who ruled from years 1220–1245, was a brave warrior, who was truly known as Sinh and held considerable influence on Vishaldeo Vaghela.
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.
- 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.
- Ghumali Ganesha Temple at Ghumli
- Kileshwar Mahadev temple built on Barda Hill near Ghumli.
- 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.
- The Lal Mahal or Red Palace in Porbandar, previously official guest house of the rulers of Porbandar State, now lies closed.
- 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.
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 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.
- 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.
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