Over the ages, Gujarat has seen a succession of races-settlers
as well as conquerors-and amalgamated their cultures into its own.
The result has been a wonderful fusion of new ideas and old world
traditions. Rich in crafts, history and natural beauty, this home
state of Mahatma Gandhi continues to attract artists, scholars,
intellectuals and businessmen from the world over.
Gujarat is situated on the western coast of the Indian
Peninsula, the history of the state goes back to 200 BC. The state
is bound by the Arabian Sea on the west, Pakistan and Rajasthan
in the north and northeast, Madhya Pradesh in the southeast and
Maharashtra in the south.
On the basis of physiology and culture, Gujarat can
be divided into several regions like Kutch, Saurashtra, Kathiawad,
and Northeast Gujarat. Kutch
is situated on the northwestern border of the state bordering Pakistan
with a maximum altitude of 300 meters and almost desert-like topography.
The ridge of Jurassic sandstone in the central part of the region
breaks into the landscape at several places. In the north is Rann
of Kutch, a salt marsh and in the south is Little Rann of Kutch.
Saurashtra and Khambhat is Kathiawad with a maximum altitude of
180 meters and if is flanked by sandstones in the north. It is a
region made up of Deccan lavas and cut across by the lava dykes.The
Central Kutch region extends to Northeast Gujarat and the
region has low hills and small plains. Southeast Gujarat
is an extension of the Western Ghats and receives the highest rain
in the state.
Gujarat has a tropical climate with hot summers and cold
winters. The summer months are from April to June with temperatures
ranging from 27ºC to 42ºC. Winters are better with a temperature
variance of 14ºC to 29ºC. Monsoon touches the state in
June and remain here till September.
and Fauna Though Gujarat has relatively little forest cover
left (9.61% forest cover), it still supports more than 40 species
of animals-including the rare Asiatic Lion, wild ass and blackbuck.
An assortment of birds and reptiles completes the tally of wildlife
this state supports.
Situated on the western coast of India, the name of the state
is derived from Gujjaratta, which means the land of the Gujjars.
It is believed that a tribe of Gujjars migrated to India around
the 5th century AD. The real cultural history of these people, however,
is believed to have begun much earlier. Many Indus Valley and Harappan
centers have been discovered in the state like Lothal, Dholavira,
Rangpur, Lakhabaval, Amri, and Rozdi and established the earliest
known history of Gujarat to around 3000 BC to 2200 BC. At that point
of time, Lothal was the main port of this civilization. With the
advent of the Yadava tribe led by Lord Krishna, some 3,500 years
ago, came the glorious days for Gujarat. It was followed by 100
years of Lord Krishna's rule.
is believed that Ashoka, the Mauryan king extended his kingdom to
Gujarat. The fall of the Maurya Empire led the small kingdoms to
establish their power in this state from time to time. The state
achieved a high level of prosperity during the time of Solankis
from the 9th century. In the 12th century AD, Allauddin Khilji,
the Sultan of Delhi defeated the Waghela king of Gujarat and a long
era of Muslim rule over Gujarat started. The Marathas ended the
Muslim rule in the 18th century only to be handed over to the British
in the early 19th century. Surat was the center of the first factory
of the East India Company in India and after the First War of Independence
in 1857, the region came under the British monarchy along with the
rest of the country.
was a part of the erstwhile Mumbai state till 1960, when the people
of Gujarat decided to have their own state on the basis of their
distinct language and culture. This led to formation of the two
new states of Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Ethnicity There are four groups of people who came to inhabit
this land at different points of time and now form the majority
here. Jats came from a place in Iran called Half (to be known latter
as Jat) and they were herders by occupation. Around five hundred
years ago they came to Kutch and Sind in search of new grazing pastures
and settled there. Those who joined agriculture called themselves
Garasia Jats and those who continued their ancestral occupation
were known as Dhanetah Jats, and those who chose to study the Koran
became Fakirani Jats.
Harijan is the name given by Mahatma Gandhi to the Meghwals, who
originally came from Marwar in Rajasthan. They are the masters of
weaving cotton and wool as also embroidery and appliqué work.
Ahirs came with Lord Krishna from Gokul in Uttar Pradesh. Most of
the communities of Ahirs began with selling ghee and milk and are
now spread all over the state.
Rabaris are a nomadic tribe always wandering with their herds. The
origin of this tribe has been traced back to Sind and Afghanistan
though many aspects of this tribe still remain a puzzle for anthropologists.
This tribe has been classified into three distinct groups, namely
Vagadia, Dhabaria, and Kachhi. Women of this tribe engage themselves
in making beautiful embroidery pieces while the men spend their
time tending to their camels and sheep.
and Crafts Crafts in Gujarat are a way of life, a process
that transforms even the most mundane object of daily use into a
thing of beauty. The skill of the Gujarati craftsperson-be it a
weaver or a metalworker, a woman who embroiders for herself or a
potter who creates pieces of art out of clay-is bound to leave one
are Gujarat's forte and one can find an immense variety of
textile traditions here, from robust folk textiles to fine brocades.
The most popular textile styles are Airakh prints of Kutch, Sodagiri
of Paithanpuri, and Bandhej of Jamnagar. Patola silk sari from Patan,
Pichwais of Lord Shrinath, Tanchoi or silk brocade from Surat, and
tie and dye of Jamnagar are quite famous all over India and
carving is another important craft in Gujarat, evident in the many
elaborately carved temples, havelis (mansions) and palaces as well
as objects of daily and ritual use. Utensils are another area where
the craftspersons of Gujarat have excelled. Gujarat is also famous
for its terracotta work, especially votive terra-cotta figurines
which one can find by the hundreds at small shrines built in forests,
along roads, outside villages, on lonely hill-tops and under large
trees, especially in south Gujarat. Jewelry is yet another
fascinating craft in Gujarat. Each tribe or clan has different
types of ornaments and each of them has retained the uniqueness
of these ornaments.
and Dance Gujarat has a rich tradition of song, dance and
drama. Ras, Garba, and Bhavai that are popular Gujarati folk
dance forms, have their origin to the ancient period of Lord Krishna.
The Ras dance is actually a form of Ras Leela in which different
childhood antics of Krishna at Gokul and Vrindavan are enacted.
Dandia Ras is performed during the Navratri Festival and men and
women both join in a dance circle with small sticks known as dandia.
Usha, the granddaughter of Lord Krishna, is considered as the first
dancer of the form called Lasya or Garba. This dance is performed
by women around a pot called Garbo, filled with water.
has a great tradition of music and it has given the country some
of the best talents in the field. Tansen and Baiju Bawra, greatest
of all the musicians in India, were from this part of the country.
Narsinh Mehta, the writer of the famous bhajan 'Vaishnava jan to
tene kahiye', was also Gujarat's contribution to Indian music.
Famous Indian ragas like Gujjar Tod, Bilaval, Khambhavati are all
said to be named after Gujarat, Veraval, and Cambay.
and Festivals Navratri, literally nine nights, is celebrated for
the 10 days preceding the festival of Dussehra-usually in October.
The most eagerly awaited festival of the year, which celebrates
harvest time, Navratri is an occasion when both rural and urban
Gujaratis worship the nine incarnations of the Mother Goddess, Shakti,
denoting cosmic energy.
following Dussehra is the famous festival of lights, Diwali, which
also has its genesis from the same epic-Ramayana. Interestingly,
it is the only Hindu celebration which falls on Amavasya, a moon-less
night in the lunar calendar.
on January 14, the festival of Makar Sankranti heralds the kite-flying
season and the International Kite Festival is held in Ahmedabad
on that day every year.
as the birthday of Lord Krishna, Janmashtami usually falls in the
months of July/August and is celebrated with great fervor in Gujarat.
Tableaux showing scenes from Lord Krishna's life are modeled and
displayed in homes and temples. The most common of these depicts
Krishna as a babe in the cradle.
small hamlet of Tarnetar, about 75 kilometers from Rajkot, is the
site for one of Gujarat's most well known annual fairs, held here
during the first week of Bhadrapad (September-October). This three
day long fair is primarily a 'marriage mart', called swayamwar,
where gaily attired young men, in their traditional attire, come
to be chosen by village belles dressed in colorful finery.
festivals of Gujarat include the Bhavnath fair, Dang Darbar,
Saputara Summer Festival, Madhavrai fair, and Desert Festival.
Gujarati cuisine is a vegetarian gourmand's dream come
true. It is a vegetarian wonder with complete nutrition derived
from leafy vegetables prepared in innumerable variations and subtly
flavored with spices. Simple, practical, down-to-earth and wholesome,
Gujarati cuisine truly reflects the heart of the state.
cuisine is primarily vegetarian, the main reason for which is the
Jain and Buddhist influences. However, the goodness of millet, yogurt,
buttermilk, coconut, groundnut, sesame seeds and jaggery makes sure
that this non-meat cuisine is not lacking in proteins.
One of the most industrialized states in India, Gujarat
attracts the cream of domestic and multinational investment flowing
in the leading sectors of the economy.
important minerals produced into the state are agate, bauxite, dolomite,
fireclay, fluorite, fuller's earth, kaolin, lignite, limestone,
chalk, calcareous sea sand, perlite, petroleum and natural gas,
and silica sand.
The state is the main producer of tobacco, cotton, and groundnut
in the country. Gujarat also contributes inputs to industries
like textiles, oil and soap.
the city of Ahmed Shah (the medieval ruler of Gujarat), is known
for its rich past and its association with Mahatma Gandhi. The city
offers the traveler a unique style of architecture, which is a blend
of Hindu and Islamic styles (Indo-Saracenic style of architecture).
The monuments of Ahmedabad mainly date back to the 15th century.
Ahmedabad has been known for its industry since medieval times.
Presently it is famous for its textile mills and is often referred
to as the 'Manchester of the East'.
situated about 25 kilometers north of Ahmedabad, is the newly
built capital of Gujarat. Gandhinagar, named after Mahatma Gandhi,
has been built on a grid pattern. The presence of abundant foliage
here has earned it the title of the 'Green Capital'.
is situated in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat around 302 km from
Ahmedabad. Major sites here include the Lakhota Fort, Kotha Bastion,
Willington Crescent, Solarium, Jamsaheb's Palace, and Rozi and Bedi
lies further north of Jamnagar, founded during the 9th century.
Originally known as Anhilwad Patan, the city is famous for its architectural
wonders built during the rule of the Solanki dynasty. The Rani Udayamati
vav (step well) and the Sahastralinga Lake are some of the tourist
the south of Ahmedabad lies the city of Vadodara, Gujarat's cultural
capital, which has a long tradition of music, fine arts and education.
The credit for this cultural awareness goes to Maharaja Sayaji Rao
Gaikwad who made primary education mandatory for both boys and girls
and encouraged artistes.
favorite hill resort for the people of Vadodara, Pavagadh is believed
by many to be the chunk of the Himalayas that was to be carried
by Hanuman to Lanka.
at the base of the Pavagadh hill is Champaner, the ancient capital
of Sultan Mahmud Beghara. The Jama Masjid here is considered to
be one of the finest in the State.
south of Vadodara lies the important trading center and port of
ancient India called Surat. Today, Surat is an important center
for textiles, zari (gold and silver threadwork) and diamond cutting
-literally, the Abode of Serpents-is Gujarat's best-known hill resort,
situated atop the second highest plateau in the Sahyadri range and
in the midst of thick forests.
by a Rajput chief in the 16th century, Rajkot had been the scene
of many a clash between the Mughals and the British. Located in
the center of the peninsula further northwest of Surat, the city
is mainly known for the handicrafts it produces. Especially famous
are its bead and mirror work, tie and dye (bandhani), silk embroidery
and appliqué work.
the southeast of Rajkot is the city of Bhavnagar, originally the
capital of a state of the same name and ruled by the Suryavanshi
Rajputs from Marwar. The prime attraction here is a Mahadev Temple.
the west of Bhavnagar, situated at the base of the Girnar Hills
is Junagadh. Its special claim to fame is the rock edict of Emperor
Ashoka, dating back to 250 BC.
of the biggest attractions about five kilometers from Junagadh is
Uperkot. The fort atop the Uperkot hill, originally constructed
by the Rajputs, has an ornamented triple gateway. Equally fascinating
are the Buddhist caves and stupa all dating back to 100-700 AD.
west of Junagadh, situated along the coast is Porbandar -the birthplace
of Mahatma Gandhi.
popularly as the gateway to Kutch, Bhuj is the most important town
in this region. An old walled city, the gates of which (in olden
times) were locked from dusk to dawn, it encloses within itself
not only the palace but also the entire bazaar and a lake too.
in Junagadh, near the port town of Veraval, Somnath is probably
one of the best-known pilgrimage centers of Gujarat.
another pilgrimage for which this state is known, is the holy town
of Dwarka lying on the northern tip of the Saurashtra peninsula,
at the confluence of the Gomti River and the Arabian Sea.
of the most sacred pilgrimage centers for the Jain community, situated
in Junagadh district, are the 16 marble temples atop the 1,118-meter
high Mount Girnar.
architectural grandeur of many of the 863 Jain temples at Palitana
has few parallels. Located on the 600 meter high Shatrujaya Hill,
this cluster of temples, dedicated to various Jain saints and deities,
is yet another important place of pilgrimage on the Jain circuit.
1,96,024 sq km
Population : 41,309,582
Religion : Hinduism (89.48%), Islam (8.73%), Others (1.79%)
Maximum Temperature : 42°C
Minimum Temperature : 14°C
Capital : Gandhinagar
Languages : Gujarati, Hindi, English
Per Capita Income : 16,251 (at current prices in 1997-98)
Urbanization Ration : 34.49%
Best Time to Visit : October to March
Literacy Rate : 61%
Air: Gujarat has 10 domestic airports apart from an international
airport at Ahmedabad. Most of the domestic airlines operate out
of Ahmedabad connecting it to rest of the country.
Rail: Gujarat has a good railway network that not only connects
the state internally but connects the state to other places in India
Road: Gujarat has a better road network than most of the other
Indian states and they are in a fairly good condition. The total
road length in the state is 68,900 km out of which 1,572 km is the
share of National Highway, making the state easily accessible.
Gujarat State Transport Corporation and private operators operate
regular buses to all the major destinations of the state from most
of the larger cities.