With in a month of establishment of Gujarat Vidyapith, Gandhiji established Gujarat Mahavidyalaya on 15 November 1920 in the house owned by Sheth Dahyabhai Izzatram Vakil. In the Mahavidyalaya, students were awarded Bachelor degree after completing the course of three years. Different departments of this Mahavidyalaya were known as ‘Mandir’ and History was taught under Samaj Vidya Mandir. The areas covered in this course was history of Asia, history of India, history of National activities, world history, etc. Muni Jinnvijay was appointed as head of Gujarat Puratatva Mandir on 28 October 1920. Subsequently, the Department came into being on 22 December 1920. Gujarat Puratatva Mandir used to look after the activities of Arya Vidya Mandir of Gujarat Mahavidyalaya. Students of Arya Vidya Mandir were taught subjects such as archaeology and Aryan culture. Apart from this, research was an important area of Gujarat Puratatva Mandir. In this way, the main thrust of Gujarat Puratatva Mandir was to research primary sources of history, archaeology, ancient literature, art, society, culture, etc. Eminent scholars such as Muni Jinnvijay, Muni Punyavijay, Pandit Sukhlal, Dharmanand Kosambi, Bechardas Doshi, Rasiklal Parikh, etc. served the Mandir. On the 54th birth anniversary of Gandhiji, Gujarat Puratatva Mandir started a quarterly journal called Puratatva. This quarterly ran till 1928 and published a total of five volumes. On 10 January 1932, the British government sealed all the properties of Gujarat Mahavidyalaya and Gujarat Puratatva Mandir, as a result all the activities of the Department came to a halt.
The Department of history and culture aims to make students aware about the socio-cultural aspects of regional history and develop a vision to look the history from below and Gandhian perspective.
- To promote research on social and cultural aspects of regional history on the theme of local diversity, tourism, toponomy etc.
- Give priority to research based on local and primary sources with special focus on archival, epigraphical, and oral sources of historical study.
- To promote historical research on Indian freedom struggle, especially on Gandhian era.
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The study of history at The Gujrat Vidyapith started in 1920 with the establishment of the Gujarat Puratattva Mandir and it comes under the Gujarat Mahavidyalaya. Different departments of this Mahavidyalaya were known as ‘Mandir’ and History was taught under Samaj Vidya Mandir. In 28th June 1947 Gujarat Vidyapith established Mahadev Desai Samajseva Mahavidyalaya and the Department of History and Culture came into being at the same time. In the beginning the teaching of history was limited till graduation. It was in 1970 that post-graduation and Ph.D. programmes were offered in history. M.Phil. programme was introduced in 1978.