Gujarat is a state in the Republic of India. With 19.8% of the country’s total industrial output, it is the most industrialized state in India. Gujarat borders Pakistan, and the states of Rajasthan to the north-east, Madhya Pradesh to the east, Maharashtra and the Union territories of Diu, Daman, Dadra and Nagar Haveli to the south. The international border with Pakistan is to the north-west. The Arabian Sea makes up the state’s western coast. Its capital, Gandhinagar is a planned city and is located near Ahmedabad, the former state capital and the current commercial center of Gujarat.
Many settlements of the Indus Valley Civilization, also known as the Harappan Civilization, have been found in Gujarat. The most important of these are the trade port of Lothal in south eastern Gujarat and Dholavira in western Gujarat.
Migration and Hindu Kingdoms
The name of the state is derived from Gujarata (Gurjar Rashtra), which means Gurjar nation. According to one theory, Gurjars were one of the Central Asian tribes that migrated to India beginning from around the first century BC, according to another, they are an old clan that was already present in India in the Mahabharata period. Gujarat’s coastal cities, chiefly Bharuch, served as ports and trading centres for the Maurya and Gupta empires. After the collapse of the Gupta empire in the sixth century, Gujarat flourished as an independent Hindu kingdom. The Maitraka dynasty, descended from a Gupta general, ruled from the sixth to the eighth centuries from their capital at Vallabhi, although they were ruled briefly by Harsha during the seventh century. In 775 the first Parsi (Zoroastrian) refugees arrived in Gujarat from Iran. The Arab rulers of Sind sacked Vallabhi in 770, bringing the Maitraka dynasty to an end. A branch of the Pratihara clan ruled Gujarat after the eighth century.From eighth century to until the invasion by the muslim rulers of Delhi, it was ruled by the Solanki dynasty.
1297 AD – 1850 AD
In 1297 to 1298 Ala ud din Khilji, Sultan of Delhi, destroyed Anhilwara and incorporated Gujarat into the Delhi Sultanate. After Timur’s sacking of Delhi at the end of the fourteenth century weakened the Sultanate, Gujarat’s Muslim governor Zafar Khan Muzaffar asserted his independence, and his son, Sultan Ahmed Shah (ruled 1411 to 1442), restructured Ahmedabad as the capital that was early established by Karndev Solanki of Solanki clan and named “Karnavati” after his name. Cambay eclipsed Bharuch as Gujarat’s most important trade port. The Sultanate of Gujarat remained independent until 1576, when the Mughal emperor Akbar conquered it and annexed it to the Mughal Empire. It remained a province of the Mughal empire until the Marathas conquered eastern and central Gujarat in the eighteenth century; Western Gujarat (Kathiawar and Kutch) were divided among numerous local rulers.
1614 AD – 1947 AD
Portugal was the first European power to arrive in Gujarat, acquiring several enclaves along the Gujarati coast, including Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The British East India Company established a factory in Surat in 1614, which formed their first base in India, but it was eclipsed by Bombay after the British acquired it from Portugal in 1668. The Company wrested control of much of Gujarat from the Marathas during the Second Anglo-Maratha War. Many local rulers, notably the Maratha Gaekwads of Baroda (Vadodara), made a separate peace with the British, and acknowledged British sovereignty in return for retaining local self-rule. Gujarat was placed under the political authority of Bombay Presidency, with the exception of Baroda state, which had a direct relationship with the Governor-General of India. From 1818 to 1947, most of present-day Gujarat, including Kathiawar, Kutch, and northern and eastern Gujarat were divided into dozens of princely states, but several districts in central and southern Gujarat, namely Ahmedabad, Broach (Bharuch), Kaira, Panch Mahals, and Surat, were ruled directly by British officials.
Indian independence movement
Leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Morarji Desai, K.M. Munshi, Narhari Parikh, Mahadev Desai, Mohanlal Pandya, Bhulabhai Desai and Ravi Shankar Vyas all hailed from Gujarat. In addition, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s first Governor-General, spoke Gujarati as his mother tongue and his father was from what later became Gujarat. Gujarat was also the site of some of the most popular revolts, including the Satyagrahas in Kheda, Bardoli, Borsad and the Salt Satyagraha.
After Indian independence and the partition of India in 1947, the new Indian government grouped the former princely states of Gujarat into three larger units; Saurashtra, which included the former princely states on the Kathiawar peninsula, Kutch, and Bombay state, which included the former British districts of Bombay Presidency together with most of Baroda state and the other former princely states of eastern Gujarat. In 1956, Bombay state was enlarged to include Kutch, Saurashtra, and parts of Hyderabad state and Madhya Pradesh in central India. The new state had a mostly Gujarati-speaking north and a Marathi-speaking south. Agitation by Marathi nationalists for their own state led to the split of Bombay state on linguistic lines; on 1 May 1960, it became the new states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. The first capital of Gujarat was Ahmedabad; the capital was moved to Gandhinagar in 1970.
2001 Gujarat earthquake
Gujarat was hit by a devastating earthquake on January 26, 2001 at 8:46, which claimed approximately 30,000 lives, injured another 30,000 people and severely affected the lives of forty million people in the region.
Geography of Gujarat. Courtesy: NASA Earth ObservatoryGujarat is the westernmost state of India. It is bounded by the Arabian Sea to the west and southwest, and Pakistan to the north. The state of Rajasthan is to the northeast, Madhya Pradesh to the east, and Maharashtra and the union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli to the south and southeast of Gujarat.
Climate and natural features
The relief is low in the most parts of the state and involves diverse climate conditions.The winters are mild, pleasant, and dry with average daytime temperatures around 83F(29C) and nights around 53F(12C) with 100 percent sunny days and clear nights. The summers are extremely hot and dry with day temperatures around 115F(46C) and at night no lower than 90F(34C) with sunshine. The time just before the monsoon the temperature are similar to above but now there is high humidity which makes the air feel hotter. Relief comes when the monsoon season starts around in mid June. The day temperatures are lower to around 100F(38C) but humidity is very high and nights are around 80F(27C). Most of the rainfall occurs in this season. There is sometimes too much rain which cause severe floods. Sun is a rare sight during the monsoon season. Though mostly dry, it is desertic in the north-west, and wet in the southern districts due to heavy monsoon season. With the construction of Sardar Sarovar on Narmada River, a result of the largest dam in India, irrigation facilities have improved immensely, with water being provided to the most dry areas of Kutch and Saurashtra through a 550 km long canal. With the Gulf of Kutch and the Gulf of Cambay, Gujarat has about 1600 km of coastline, which is the longest coastline of all Indian states.
Anand,Gujarat is the birthplace of the Amul milk co-operative federation. Started by Verghese Kurien this movement has served as a model for other co-operative movements throughout India. It has now become a global brand as “Operation Flood”.
Gujarat has a wealth of tourist spots. It has several temples, sunny beaches,the rann of kachchh,historic sites, beautiful cities,national parks and sanctuaries.
Temples and religious sites
Dwarkanath Temple is situated at Dwarka and is one of the important temples dedicated to lord Krishna.It is on the tip of the Arabian Sea and is famous for being the legendary home of Lord Krishna, the eighth Avatara of Vishnu, hero of the Mahabharata epic. Ancient ruins of a city and temple complex found underwater suggest a historical basis for the legend. The Rann of Kutchch covers a large portion of western Gujarat, and is world-famous for its rare ecosystem, fossils, wildlife and terrain.
Palitana Temples are a complex of Jain temples situated 51 km south west of Bhavnagar. There are 863 temples from base to the peak of the Shatrunjaya hill, where the Palitana temples are located.
Somnath Temple located in the Prabhas Kshetra near Veraval in Saurashtra, on the western coast of Gujarat, India is one of the twelve Jyotirlings (golden lingas)or symbols of the God Shiva. It is mentioned in the Rig Veda. Somnath means “The Protector of Moon God”. The Somnath Temple is known as ‘the Shrine Eternal’, as the temple has been destroyed six times, but was rebuilt on each occasion.
Akshardham Temple in Gandhinagar is one the famous Modhera Sun Temple is famous for its rare position as specifically and uniquely designed for the worship of the Sun, Lord Surya. While the main temple is beautifully and intricately designed with complex architecture, painting and sculptures, there is a central pond and surrounding it stand 108 small temples for each of the Sun God’s 108 names.
National parks and sanctuaries
Gujarat has 4 National parks and 21 sanctuaries which include: Nal Sarovar, Anjal, Balaram-Ambaji, Barda, Jambughoda, Jessore, Kachchh Desert, Khavda, Narayan Sarovar, Paniya, Purna, Rampura, Ratanmahal, and Surpaneshwar. Gujarat is the only home of Asiatic Lions. Outside Africa, Gujarat is the only natural habitat of lions. Gir National Park in south-west part of the state covers only the part of lion’s habitat. Besides lions, the other big cat can be found in the state are Panthers. Panthers are spread across large plains of Saurashtra and mountains of South Gujarat.
Lothal is the site of the ancient ruins of the first Indian port, dating from the time of the Indus Valley Civilization. Dholavira, the ancient city, locally known as Kotada Timba, is one of the largest and most prominent archaeological sites in India, belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization. It is located on the Khadir island in the Kutch district of Gujarat – the island is surrounded by water in the monsoon season. The site was occupied from about 2900 BC for about a millennium, declining slowly after about 2100, briefly abandoned and then reoccupied, finally by villagers among its ruins, until about 1450.
While the city of Ahmedabad is a large and fast-growing modern metropolis, it was also the home of the Indian Independence Movement, with the Sabarmati Ashram of Mahatma Gandhi a standing legacy. Other major tourist sites include Palitana, Diu, Kutch, Jamnagar, Junagadh, and Rajkot in the region of Saurastra; and Champaner and Pavagarh in the Panchmahal district.
Gujarat is home to number of groups that settled from outside including Huns, Sakas, Muslims, Parsis. Gujarat is divided mostly along caste lines. The largest caste is Koli or Koli Patel which makes up 20% of the population. The second largest is Patidar or Kanbi which makes up roughly 15% of the population. Other major groups are Adivasi, Rajput, Vaniya, Harijan, Lohana, and number of other small sub-castes. The two largest caste, Koli and Kanbi, are distributed throughout Gujarat while other are found only in certain areas of Gujarat. e.g. Anavil are mainly found in South Gujarat while Lohanas are found in Saurashtra region.
The Meghwals are masters of weaving cotton and wool as also embroidery and appliqué work.
The 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.
The 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. They have been classified into three distinct groups, namely Vagadia, Dhabaria, and Kachhi. Women of this tribe engage themselves in making elaborate embroidery pieces while the men spend their time tending to their camels and sheep.
Moreover Gujarat being a heavily industrialized state of India, attracts lots of outsiders from various parts of India.