The Gohil chief Salivahan, migrated with part of the Gohil clan from Mewar in 973 A.D., leaving behind his son Shakti Kumar with the rest of his people. They settled at Juna Khergarh, which they made their capital on the Luni River (present-day Bhalotra near Jodhpur) in Marwar. There is still a village there called ‘Gohilon ki Dhani’. For two and a quarter centuries, the Gohil dynasty thus ruled Mewar as well as Marwar.
Following the invasion of Muhammad Ghori and the establishment of the Slave dynasty in Delhi, the Rathores were forced out of Kannauj (in modern Uttar Pradesh) in the early years of the 13th century. They headed for Marwar, and as a fallout the Gohils were displaced.
Under their chief Mohodas, the Gohil clan then marched back to Saurashtra after nearly five hundred years, to the court of the great Chalukya ruler Sidhraj Singh. They were granted a jagir in modern Gohilwar, thus becoming governors of the Chalukyas.
The ‘Ruling Princes and Chiefs of India’ published by The Times of India in 1930 noted that: “No single portion of the vast and vulnerable land of Ind is wrapt deeper in the fascinating glamour of immemorial legend, tradition and romance than is Kathiawar, the ancient territory of the Vallabhi kings. To Kathiawar journeyed the mighty Gohils, that historic Rajput tribe whose very name signifies ‘the strength of the earth’, centuries before Norman William fought Saxon Harold at Senlac. Originally, as it would seem, vassals of the Vallabhi kings, the Gohils, by degrees conquered the greater portion of Kathiawar, until they permanently rooted themselves in the soil of Saurashtra. They were fighters ever, these men – warriors to the bone and marrow. Sejakji – Ranoji – Mokhdaji – what memories of raid and foray, of pitched battle, of fierce siege do these names not recall! It was Mokhdaji, it may be remembered, who took Ghogha from its Mohamedan defenders and made of Perim a royal capital. Mighty in physical stature as he was in deeds of derring do, he died fighting against Muhammad Tughlaq on Ghogha soil, leaving behind him a name never to be forgotten in the annals of Saurashtra.”
Mohodas’ son Sejakji (Sahajigji) was twenty-third in descent to Salivahan. He was chief of the Gohil clan from 1240, governor, commanding officer of King Kumarpal’s army and right-hand man of the Solankis, a branch of the Chalukyas. Sejakji befriended Rao Mahipal, King of Saurashtra, whose capital was Junagarh, and married his daughter Valumkunverba to Khengar, the heir apparent (Jayamal) of Saurashtra. Sejakji received Shahpur along with 24 villages in jagir, in the midst of which he founded a capital in 1250, naming it Sejakpur after himself. He added 40 villages by force of arms, before his death in 1254.
Somraj succeded as chief after the death of Sejakji, whose other two sons Shahji and Sarangji received jagirs in Mandvi and Arthilla, which later became the kingdoms of Palitana and Lathi.
Mulraj, brother of Somraj, was governor of Sorath. He died in 1290, by when had also carved out an independent principality Ghogha, with capital at Piram (or Pirambet), an island in the Gulf of Cambay, near present day Bhavnagar.
Ranoji became Gohil chief in 1290. He established a new Gohil capital at Ranpur but was expelled from there and slain by Muslim invaders in 1309.
Mokhdaji succeeded his father Ranoji and conquered Umrala from the Kolis, and wrested back Piram (Ghogha) from the Muslims. A master of naval warfare, he controlled the sea trade, to the ire of the Delhi Sultanate. Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq has to send an army by land to confront Mokhdaji. After a fierce battle Mokhdaji succumbed to sword wounds in 1347, a legend never to be forgotten in the folklore of Gohilwar.
Mokhdaji had married a Sarvaiya princess of Hathasani in Kathiawar. Their son Dungarsinhji succeeded as chief, and later his descendant Bhavsinhji founded the capital city of Bhavnagar in 1723. His second wife was a Parmar princess of Rajpipla, daughter of Chokrana, ruler of Junaraj (Old Rajpipla) in the western Satpuras, which was earlier part of the Imperial kingdom of Ujjain. The son of Mokhdaji Gohil and the Parmar princess, Samarsinhji, succeeded to the gadi of Rajpipla on the death of his maternal grandfather Chokrana, who had no male issue. Samarsinhji assumed the name Arjunsinhji.
Arjunsinhji thus became the first Gohil Rajput ruler of the principality of Rajpipla around 1340. Despite being hemmed in by such powerful Muslim realms as Gujarat, Malwa and Khandesh, and the Bahamani Kingdom, and later the Gaekwars, the Gohil sovereignty over Rajpipla survived through six turbulent centuries till merger with the Indian Union in 1948.