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Amidst the dry and arid state of Gujarat is the city of Bhavnagar. Founded in 1723, Bhavnagar was prone to an annual shortage of grains due to climatic and natural factors. To avoid this yearly calamity, Maharaja Takhatsinhji commissioned the British architect R.M. Simms to create a granary.


The public granary was named Darbari Kothar drawing inspiration from the Kothis (family granaries) of individual homes. Laden with materials such as brick, stone, steel and wood, the Kothar was a path-breaking modern building when built, and did not comply with any popular local architectural design of the time.


The Mangalore tile roof continues to adorn the Dhrangadra stone and lime mortar masonry of the structure. Inside the Kothar is a beautifully carved iron spiral staircase, which was brought in its entirety from Britain by sea. The chief officers of the Kothar would monitor the work and oversee their juniors by the convenience of this intricately designed exquisite staircase.


Darbari Kothar is an architectural and engineering marvel of its time. The minutest of details was assessed before building the structure. For example, the materials chosen to build the Kothar were chosen very strategically keeping in mind that the grains had to be shielded from the scorching summers, the icy winters, and the damp monsoons of Saurashtra.


Incidentally, the location of the building was decided on the basis of its proximity to the lake and the farmland while its functionality was devised keeping in mind the height of the bullock carts that would enter the tall structure.


Tragically, Darbari Kothar goes unnoticed by most who pass the structure now. The first floor of the Kothar is still being used for the purpose of storage for housing government records and archives. Sadly, the ground floor has become a dumping ground for toxic chemicals such as DDT. The Kothar has the potential to be a public landmark, one that the city should be proud of.


For now, this historical edifice simply stands testimony to a rich time and era of visionary kings and kingdoms

Darbari Kothar

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