Mandvi Knowledge Guide
Mandvi was founded by the Rao of kutch State, Khengarji I in 1580. The city Mandvi was named after Sage Mandavya (Mahabharata story), who lived here. He was also known as AM BABA.When Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama discovered Europe-to-India sea route in 1497, he had a Gujarati by his side to show him the way. Historians and scholars gathered at Gujarat's port town Mandvi are discussing how a Kutchi sailor, Kanji Malam, navigated the commander to Calicut from Malindi on east African coast. Malam hailed from Mandvi, a shipbuilding hub, where a three-day maritime conference 'Gujarat and the sea' is in progress. Scholars and research institutes from France, Portugal, China, Singapore and Sri Lanka are taking part in the event. At Malindi, Gama's crew roped in a pilot who could guide the expedition to Calicut . Historians have differed over the identity of the sailor, calling him a Christian and a Gujarati. German author Justus says it was Malam(Kharva)and he was a Hindu Gujarati who accompanied Vasco. Italian researcher Sinthia Salvadori too has concluded that it was Malam who showed Gama the way to India. Salvadori has made this observation in her 'We Came in Dhows', an account written after interacting with people in Gujarat. "Malam's role in the Vasco expedition has largely been overlooked by historians. It is high time we studied this," says historian Makrand Mehta, who will address the conference on Sunday. On Saturday, scholars like Lotika Varadrajan, Manuel Joao Ramos, Alok Tripathy, Paul Lunde and Vishwarao Sonawane discussed aspects of Gujarat's maritime history. As per chronicles of Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas – many clans of their community, especially, Gohil, Bhatti, Jethwa, Solanki, Rathod clans & also Visavaria Brahmins shifted to Mandvi in between 15th to 16th century AD, from Dhaneti. The establishment of the town dates back to the late 16th century (1581 AD) and is attributed to the first Jadeja ruler of Kutch, Rao Khengarji I. In the 18th century, the Mandvi merchants collectively owned a fleet of 400 vessels trading with East Africa, Malabar coast and the Persian Gulf. In the early 19th century, it was a major port of entry for the inland trade with Malwa, Marwar and Sindh. Mandvi was at the junction of two trade routes the maritime spice trade-route and the desert camel caravan route, acting as an important trade center. Mandvi was originally a fortified town having a fort wall of about 8 m high and 1.2 m wide stone masonry. The fort had several gateways and 25 bastions; but at present, most of the wall has disappeared. The bastion on the southwest is largest and acts as a lighthouse. In the heyday of maritime trade, before the arrival of steamboats, Mandvi was a rich and prosperous town, earning four times more revenue from export than import. It was a profit-making center of the Kutch state, surpassing the capital city of Bhuj in terms of wealth. Dr. Manubhai Pandhi, a local social leader, recorded shipbuilding art and collected old documents which is treasured now in Prince of Wales Museum (www.bombaymuseum.org ) in Mumbai. As most of the top ports of India were controlled by Europeans, especially the Portuguese, even the Mughals held the Maharaos of Kachchh in high esteem, as they needed the port of Mandvi for exports, imports and also for pilgrimages to Mecca. In decade of 1960, the Dabeli is said to have been invented here by Keshavji Gabha Chudasama (Malam)(Kharva).