Close to the northwest coast of Saurashtra, the busy, noisy city of JAMNAGAR has some fabulous architectural surprises. Founded in the sixteenth century, the walled city was built to the east of Ranmal Lake, centred on the circular Lakhota Fort. K.S. Ranjitsinhji, the famously elegant cricketer who played for England alongside W.G. Grace, ruled Jamnagar at the turn of the twentieth century, improving commercial contacts and replacing run-down buildings with attractive constructions that remain as testimony to a prosperous and efficient rule.
The most remarkable of Ranjitsinhji's constructions is Willingdon Crescent, the swooping arches of its curved facade overlooking the wide streets of Chelmsford Market and the old palace, the Darbargadh. In the heart of town, just off Ranjit Road southwest of Bedi Gate, stands the late nineteenth-century Ratan Bai Mosque. This grand domed prayer-hall, its sandalwood doors inlaid with mother-of-pearl, is the unlikely neighbour to a magnificent pair of Jain temples, both decorated with extraordinary murals. The most spectacular of the two, Shantinath Mandir, is a maze of brightly coloured columns. The outer side of the large dome over Adinath Mandir is inlaid with gold and coloured mosaic and both temples have cupolas enriched with a design of mirrors above the entrance porch. The temples form the hub of Chandni Bazaar, an almost circular market area enlivened by carved wooden doors, mosaics and balconies.
Stretching west towards the bus stand, Ranmal Lake and Lakhota Palace (daily except Wed and 2nd & 4th Sat of month, 10.30am–5.30pm; Rs 50 [Rs2]) were part of an employment-generating measure during a spell of drought in Jamnagar state during the 1750s. The palace is connected to solid land in both directions by a causeway but only accessible from the north side. Thick circular walls studded with gun-holes protect the inner building. On entering you'll pass a guardroom containing muskets, swords and powder flasks; the museum on the upper floor holds a mediocre display of paintings, sculpture, folk art and coins.