Palanpur Today

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Overview

Palanpur is the district headquarters of Banaskantha, which lies near the border of Gujarat and Rajasthan. The population is approximately 1,50,000. The district is predominantly arid and semi-arid. The mountains in the north still stand even today, but the forest area has almost vanished.

The climate in Palanpur is extreme. During the winter months i.e. from November to February temperature goes down to 4.50 C and during summer it can get hot with temperatures of 40-450C.

The district of Banaskantha covers an area of 10,400 square kms with a population of 25.02 lakh as per census of 2001. Divided into 12 talukas, it has one Parliamentary seat and eight seats in the state Legislative Assembly.

Economy

Agricultural activity is widespread and a variety of cash crops are grown. Deesa has become the centre for potato cultivation, while wheat and millet are also grown in the area. Dairy farming has also gained momentum, after the White Revolution engineered by NDDB (National Dairy Development Board). Banas Dairy at Palanpur is instrumental in the continuance of the cooperative movement in the dairy farming sector. It is now one of the largest dairies under NDDB.

Although not substantial, several industries have emerged. One major industrial activity is marble stone-cutting along the National Highway No. 14. Some industries are related to an agricultural produce called isabgol (Pscillium seeds), known to be a natural laxative. Also present are the small-scale cement industry, stone crushers, cement and metal pipe manufacturing, submersible pumps and small tools. The diamond cutting and polishing industry has grown in the last 40 years, and credit for this goes to the Jains of Palanpur engaged in the diamond trade.

Palanpur is not a tourist attraction. It has neither towering forts, rock-cut temples nor any relics of the Indus Valley civilisation. Palanpur was and is still famous for it perfumes and fragrant oils extracted from Champa and Kevda flowers and for its finely tempered swords and knives.

Changing Face

Palanpur is a busy town during the day; its economic strength can be sensed from the buzz of activity. The town is expanding and modernising - luxurious bungalows, shopping complexes, multiplexes, restaurants and hotels have come up in the last decade. Palanpur’s railway station is an important link between Delhi and other parts of Gujarat. Though Deesa has an air strip, it is not operated on a regular basis. The highways are excellent, so one can travel to Palanpur from Ahmedabad in just two and a half hours.

Palanpur was once a fortified city, 5 km in girth with bastioned gates and towers, mounted with cannon mainly for defence against the incursions of marauding tribes. Today there is hardly any trace of the fort or its gate or the ditches described by Walter Hamilton in 1813. In a mere 250 years, the vestiges of the fortified city are barely visible. However, the old houses, narrow lanes, carved pillars, antique Jain derasars still remain, reminding us of the town’s heritage. Some of the old monuments which are about a century or less old still stand like the Kirti Stambh, King George V Club, Mota derasar, Jorawar Palace and some government buildings. Taley Baug, the summer house of the Nawab, has been converted to a school and is well maintained.

New schools including English medium schools, colleges, even institutions for vocational training and for the handicapped have come up. Vidyamandir is one of the best schools in the state of Gujarat -- it sends more students to medical colleges than any other school in Gujarat. As a result there are over 200 medical practitioners from different disciplines. This has made Palanpur the medical capital of North Gujarat. The majority of their clientele is from the neighbouring districts of Rajasthan. These medical services bring around 30,000 people daily into the town and that is today the lifeline of Palanpur.

The erstwhile Nawab of Palanpur Iqbal Mohammad Khan and his two sons live in Mumbai now. He is loved and respected by all Palanpuris.
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