Gujarat – The Manchester of the East

Gujarat also known as the land protected or ruled by the Gurjars, or from Gurjar-Rashtra, the Gujjar nation. The Gurjars were historically known as the Sun worshipers as their copper-plate grants and seals also bear an emblem of the Sun. Ahmedabad also known as Amdavad is the capital city of Gujarat.

History: Gujarat is known as one of the main centers of the Indus Valley Civilization. Lothal, Dholavira, and Gola Dhoro are the major ancient metropolitan cities from the Indus Valley and about 50 Indus Valley settlement ruins have been discovered in Gujarat.

From 1297 to 1300- Allauddin Khilji, Sultan of Delhi, destroyed Anhilwara and incorporated Gujarat into the Delhi Sultanate.

From 1411 to 1442- Sultan Ahmed Shah, restructured Ahmedabad as the capital.

1576- The Mughal emperor Akbar the Great conquered Gujarat and annexed it to the Mughal Empire.

1614- The British East India Company established a factory in Surat.

Late 17th century- Chatrapati Shivaji the great Maratha leader attacked Surat between 1664 and 1679 and attacked the city three times.

18th century- Maratha Empire dominated the politics of India as Pilaji Gaekwad, first ruler of Gaekwad dynasty, established the control over Baroda and much of Gujarat.

1761- Post the Battle of Panipat all Maratha general established themselves as autonomous government while keeping nominal authority of Peshwas of Pune and Chatrapati from Satara. The Maratha Gaekwads of Baroda (Vadodara) made a separate peace with the British and acknowledged British sovereignty in return for retaining local self-rule.

From 1818 to 1947- Most of present-day Gujarat, including Kathiawar, Kutch, and northern and eastern Gujarat were divided into hundreds of princely states, but several districts in central and southern Gujarat, namely Ahmedabad, Broach (Bharuch), Kaira (Kheda), Panchmahal, and Surat, were ruled directly by British officials.

1947- The new Indian government grouped the former princely states of Gujarat into three larger units; Saurashtralil, Kutch, and Bombay state.

1960- The new states of Gujarat and Maharashtra were formed due to the agitation created by both Gujarati and Marathi nationalists.

1970- The first capital of Gujarat was Ahmedabad and later the capital was moved to Gandhinagar.

Culture: Gujarat has diverse ethnic groups categorized as Indic (i.e., northern-derived) or Dravidian (southern-derived). The Indic group includes the Nagar Brahman, Bhatia, Bhadela, Rabari, and Mina castes and the Dravidian group include Bhangi, Koli, Dubla, Naikda, and Macchi-Kharwa ethnic groups. The rest of the population, including the aboriginal Bhil tribe, exhibit mixed characteristics.

Dangs also form another tribal district. Ahmadabad district has the highest proportion of Scheduled Castes. Gujarati and Hindi are the official languages of the state. Hindus form about 70% of the population and the minorities are of the Muslims and Jains. About one-third of the population is urban compromising of the Ahmadabad-Vadodara (Baroda) industrial belt. Rajkot, Junagadh, Bhavnagar (Bhaunagar), and Jamnagar are the major towns that were once capitals of princely states.

The folklore and folk culture of Gujarat are traced to the mythology of Lord Krishna. Garba and Bhavai are the dance forms and festivals in honour of Lord Krishna which still exists. Gujarat’s handicrafts are famous the world over. The trade and craft guilds known as Mahajans are the most durable and effective of the state’s cultural institutions which helped in solving disputes, acted as channels of philanthropy, and encouraged the arts. Gujarat is also known for its sarees, zari works and Bandhinis.

Lip-smacking delicacies of Gujarat are Daal Dhokli, Dhokla, Fafda, Farsi Falafel, Ganthia, Hahdwoh, Kachori, Khakhra, Khaman, Khaman Dhokla, Khandvi, Khichu, Lilva Kachori, Muthia, and Sev Khamani. The concentration of sugar is more as compared to slat and spices; hence the Gujarati food is favorite among the people who have a sweet tooth.

Topography and Weather: Gujarat is bordered by Rajasthan to the north, Maharashtra, Union territories of Diu, Daman, Dadra and Nagar Haveli to the south, Madhya Pradesh to the east and the Arabian Sea as well as the Pakistani province of Sindh on the west. Weather of Gujarat is moist in the southern districts and dry in the northern region. As the Tropic of Cancer passes through the northern border of Gujarat, the state has an intensely hot or cold climate but the saviors Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Cambay, keeps the climate pleasant and healthy. The winters exist from November to February, the summers from March to May, the south-west monsoon season from June to September and the intervening month of October.

Places to Visit:

  • Kankaria Lake
  • Teen Darwaja
  • White marbled Hathee Singh’s Temple
  • Sarkhej Roza
  • Mosque of Sidi Saiyad
  • Dada Hari Vava
  • Jumma Masjid
  • Rani Sipri Mosque
  • Shaking Minarets
  • Gandhi Ashram
  • Porbandar
  • Rajkot
  • Lothal
  • Modhera
  • Somnath
  • Patan
  • Sasangir
  • Dandi
  • Saputara
  • Palitana
  • Dwarka
  • Bhavnagar
  • Junagarh
  • Chorwad
  • Ahmedpur Mandvi
  • Jamnagar

How to Reach:

Air: The state of Gujarat has 10 domestic airports of which the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport being the only international airport in the state capital Ahmedabad. The airport is well networked across all major cities and abroad as well.

Rail: The rail network of Gujarat is very extensive and well-connected. The major cities like Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Surat are connected to all the major cities via trains. With broad gauge lines, the network within the state is also effective.

Bus: Gujarat State Transport Corporation and other private operators, operates regular bus services to all the major cities in the state and outside. The interstate buses and private luxury coaches connect various cities of Gujarat with cities in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan.

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