Surat, the capital of South
Gujarat, was India's most prosperous port and ancient trading centres in
the 17th and 18th centuries. Located on the southern bank of Tapti, Surat
is renowned for its fine silk and exquisite brocades like the Tanchoi,
Gajee and Kinkhab styles sometimes woven with gold and silver threads. It
is also famous for spices and its diamond market as well as ivory and wood
artwork of rare beauty.
Surat has the distinction of being the first European settlement in India
besides being host to the Dutch and the Portuguese, a fact reflected in
its little streets, which are charmingly European. The East India Company
established its initial warehousing facility here in 1612 A.D. Sir Thomas
Roe landed at the port of Surat before proceeding to the court of Emperor
Jahangir to present his credentials as the Ambassador of England.
It is popularly believed to have been founded by Gopi, a Nagar Brahmin,
who rose to be the Prime Minister in the Sultanate of Gujarat under Mahmud
I and Muzaffar II. On account of this belief, Gopi is generally called the
patron of Gujarat. In ancient days, Surat was the main port for Muslim
pilgrims travelling to Mecca for Haj. Vir Narmad one of the great literary
and social reformers hailed from Surat.
Even today, Surat
is a premier industrial city of India. It is a city of riches, of gems and
diamonds. Times may have changed but Surat remains and continues to grow.
Surat was founded by Parsi refugees in the 12th century, and it emerged as
a minor trading post during the 1500s when it was plundered and razed
numerous times by the Portuguese. In 1592, after a protracted siege, the
town fell to Akbar, under whose patronage, it became one of India's most
prosperous mercantile capitals, as well as a key transit point for Muslims
heading to Mecca.
PLACES OF INTEREST
The Old Fort: Built by Mohammad Tughlak in the 14th century, as a
defence fortification against the Bhils.
The Textile Market: Surat's vast and active textile market
testifies its importance in the textile trade even today.
Dumas: A seaside health resort 16 kms from Surat.
Hajira: It is situated 28 kms from Surat. The pleasant Hajira Beach
is fringed by feathery 'Casurina' trees and has a comfortable holiday home
Dandi: Situated on the coastline and well known as a salt centre,
Dandi has acquired a name in history after the famous 'Dandi March Salt
Satyagraha' launched by Gandhiji in March, 1930 AD.
While overtly the Dandi march purported to protest against the hateful
Salt Tax levied by the British, the underlying purpose was to kindle the
spark of Civil Disobedience and thereby attain independence.
On a warm April morning in 1930, Gandhi and his 78 followers marched 241
miles to Dandi and formally breached the Salt Law, an act that would go
down in the annals of history as the first salvo to be fired against the