Gujarat (ગુજરાત) is the
most industrialized state in the
Republic of 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 Arabian Sea makes up the state's western coast. Its capital,
Gandhinagar 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.
Dholavira, The ancient metropolitan city, locally known as Kotada Timba, is one
of the largest archaeological sites in India. 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.
The name of the state is derived from Gujjarātta (Gurjar Rāshtra), which means
the land of the Gujjars. It is believed that a tribe of Gujjars migrated to
India around the 5th century. 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 6th century, Gujarat flourished as an
independent Hindu kingdom. The Maitraka dynasty, descended from a Gupta general,
ruled from the 6th to the 8th centuries from their capital at Vallabhi, although
they were ruled briefly by Harsha during the 7th 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.
Ethnically there are four groups of people who came to inhabit this land at
different points of time and now form the majority here. These are Meghvals,
Ahirs, Rabaris and Jats. The Patel of Gujarat are wealthy and landlords. The Banaskantha
district, Mehsana, SabarKantha, Kheda, and Kutch have many Patel villages where
a sizable population lives. 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. There were also groups of
Rajputs who settled in Gujarat, coming from Rajasthan. They played a very
significant part in Gujarat's history, along with the Gujjars.
The Solanki clan of Rajputs ruled Gujarat from c. 960 to 1243. Gujarat was a
major center of Indian Ocean trade, and their capital at Anhilwara (Patan) was
one of the largest cities in India, with a population estimated at 100,000 in
the year 1000. In 1026, the famous Somnath temple in Gujarat was destroyed by
Mahmud of Ghazni. After 1243, the Solkanis lost control of Gujarat to their
feudatories, of whom the Vaghela chiefs of Dholka came to dominate Gujarat. In
1292 the Vaghelas became tributaries of the Yadava dynasty of Devagiri in the
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 14th century weakened the Sultanate, Gujarat's Muslim governor
Zafar Khan Muzaffar asserted his independence, and his son, Sultan Ahmed Shah
(ruled 1411 to 1442), established Ahmedabad as the capital. 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. It remained a province of the Mughal empire
until the Marathas conquered eastern and central Gujarat in the 18th century;
Western Gujarat (Kathiawar and Kutch) were divided among numerous local rulers.
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.
The people of Gujarat were the most enthusiastic participants in India's
struggle for freedom. Leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel,
Morarji Desai, K.M. Munshi, Narhari Parikh, Mahadev Desai, Mohanlal Pandya 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 India's independence in 1947, 217 princely states of Kathiawar and
Saurashtra, including the former kingdom of Junagadh, were grouped together to
form the province of Saurashtra, with its capitol at Rajkot. On November 1,
1956, Saurashtra was merged into Bombay State. The modern state of Gujarat was
created on May 1, 1960, out of the northern, predominantly Gujarati-speaking
portion of Bombay State. The southern, predominantly Marathi-speaking portion
became the state of Maharashtra.
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. Surat is known as
Diamond or Silk city of India and business city of India.
In Gujarat a few new towns have been established since Indian independence in
1947. Most of these are more like settlements established near existing urban
centres. Gandhidham, Sardarnagar and Kubernagar are three rehabilitation towns
more like refugee settlements than self-sufficient towns. The last two now form
part of the city of Ahmedabad. Ankleshwar and Mithapur were two of the earlier
industrial towns established in Gujarat. A complex of three small townships for
the oil refinery, the Fertilizer Factory and Petro-chemicals plant also came up
near Vadodara. Kandla is the only new port town established in the state.
Climate & Natural Features:
The relief is low in the most parts of the state and involves diverse climate
conditions. 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, an engineering
marvel. 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.
The major rivers flowing through the state include the Narmada, Sabarmati, and
Mahi in central and northern Gujarat; Mithi, Khari, Bhadar, Shetrunji and
Bhogavo in Saurashtra; Tapi, Purna, Ambika, Auranga and Damanganga in the
Gujarat is home to four National Parks, including Gir Forest National Park, near
Junagadh, Blackbuck National Park in Bhavnagar District, Vansda National Park in
Navsari District, and Marine National Park on the Gulf of Kutch in Jamnagar
District. In addition to these, there are twenty one
Wildlife sanctuaries, which include: Nal Sarovar, Anjal, Balaram-Ambaji, Barda,
Jambughoda, Jessore, Kachchh Desert, Khavda, Narayan Sarovar, Paniya, Purna,
Rampura, Ratanmahal, and Surpaneshwar.
Gir Forest is the only home of Asiatic Lions and the only
natural habitat of lions outside Africa. This 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.
The major cities in Gujarat are Ahmedabad, Vadodara (Baroda), Surat, Rajkot,
Bhavnagar Jamnagar and Junagadh. Ahmedabad, the commercial capital of the state,
is the sixth largest city of India. Other important cities include Nadiad, Anand
and Ankleshwar in central Gujarat, Bharuch, Navsari, Vapi, and Valsad in the
south; and Bhuj, and Surendranagar, Morbi, Dwarka in Saurashtra in the west.
The economy of Gujarat shows that it is one of the most prosperous states of the
country, having a per-capita GDP 2.47 times India's average. Of all the states,
Gujarat controls some of the largest businesses in India. According to the data
published by "Center for Monitoring Indian Economy" or CMIE, Gujarat ranked
third among all the states of
India in 2004, approximately same as Punjab and
Maharashtra, at Rs. 15,800. Major Agricultural produce of the state include
cotton, peanuts, dates, sugarcane, milk & milk products. Industrial products
include cement, and petrol. Gujarat is the largest producer of milk in India.
Amul, located at Anand is one of the largest milk product producer co-operatives
in the world.
Surat is a hub of the global diamond trade. It is home to a thriving diamond
trade and diamond cutting industry. Alang Ship Recycling Yard, located 50 km
southeast of Bhavnagar, on the Gulf of Khambhat, is the world's largest ship
breaking yard. Reliance Petroleum Limited, one of the group companies of
Reliance Industries Limited operates the oil
refinery at Jamnagar which is the world's largest grassroots' refinery.
Gujarat ranks first nationwide in gas-based thermal electricity generation with
national market share of over 18% and second nationwide in nuclear electricity
generation with national market share of over 16%. During the period 1960-90, Gujarat established itself as a leader in various
industrial sectors - Textiles, Engineering, Chemicals, Petrochemicals. Drugs &
Pharmaceuticals. Dairy, Cement & Ceramics. Gems & Jewellery, etc. Gujarat accounts for almost 21% share in the export basket of India.
Gujarat's 1600 km coastline is dotted with 41 ports (1 major, 11 intermediate and
29 minor). Country's first private sector ports. Pipavav and Mundra. are already
in operation. In addition. the liquid cargo (Chemicals) handling port at Dahej
is also set up in joint sector and made operational.
On 1960-05-01, Gujarat was created out of the 17 northern districts of former
State of Bombay. These districts were further subdivided later on. There are 25
administrative districts in the state (as of 2006).
Gujarat is governed by a Legislative Assembly of 182 members. Members of the
Legislative Assembly (MLA) are elected on the basis of adult suffrage from one
of 182 constituencies, of which 13 are reserved for scheduled castes and 26 for
scheduled tribes. The term of office for a member of the Legislative Assembly is
five years. The Legislative Assembly elects a speaker, who presides over the
meetings of the legislature. A governor is appointed by the President of India,
and is empowered to summon, prorogue, and dissolve the Legislative Assembly, and
to address the House after every general election and the commencement of each
year's first session of the Legislative Assembly. The Leader of the Legislative
Assembly is the leader of the majority party or coalition in the legislature
(Chief Minister), or his or her designee. The Leader sets the dates of the
legislative sessions, and decides what business is to be transacted in the
legislature and what order it is taken up. The administration of the state is
led by the Chief Minister.
Gujarat has 13 universities and 4 agricultural universities.
L.D. College of Engineering, Dharmsinh Institute of Technology (DDIT) Nirma
Institute of Technology and Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and
Communication Technology are among the premier engineering institutes of west
India. Centre for Environment Planning and Technology is a well known
institution for students of art and architecture.
Gujarat also has a National Institute of Technology in Surat.
Indian Space Research Organization is the premier space research institute
located in the city of Ahmedabad. Known as the cradle of Space Sciences in
India, the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) was founded in 1947 by Dr. Vikram
Sarabhai  in the city of Ahmedabad, near to Gujarat University and L. D.
College of Engineering campuses. As a unit of the Department of Space,
Government of India, PRL carries out fundamental research in select areas of
Physics, Space & Atmospheric Sciences, Astronomy & Astrophysics and Planetary &
Institute for Plasma Research is an autonomous Physics research institute
located in the capital city Gandhinagar, involved in research in various
aspects of plasma science including basic plasma physics, research on
magnetically confined hot plasmas and plasma technologies for industrial
applications. Ahmedabad Textile and Industries’ Research Association is also
located in Ahmedabad, gujarat.
Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute has been established under
Council of Scientific & Industrial Research Govt. of India at Bhavnagar. It was
inaugurated in 1954 with a view to carry out research on marine salt, and salt
from inland lakes and sub-soil brine. It is working on Reverse Osmosis, Electro
Membrane Process, Salt and Marine Chemicals, Analytical Science, Marine
Biotechnology and other related fields.
Indian Institute of Management Ahmadabad, one of the internationally reputed
management research institute is located in Gujarat's commercial capital
Ahmadabad. Indian Institute of Management Ahmadabad is one of the best
management institutes in the world.
Its official and primary language is Gujarati, while Hindi
is widely spoken and understood in urban areas. The religion of the majority of
its residents is Hinduism, in addition to significant percentages following
Islam, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity. Most of the Gujarati people are
vegetarian. Amongst Hindus the deity of Krishna is famously worshipped in His
form of Sri Nathji throughout Gujarat.
Palitana Temples is 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.
Dwarkanath Temple: it is situated at Dwarka and is one of the important temples
dedicated to lord Krishna. The 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) 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 although the temple has been destroyed six times it has
been rebuilt every single time.
The Swaminarayan Temple in Kalupur, Ahmedabad is the first built Swaminarayan
Temple in the world, this temple is know to be very popular with tourists.
The 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.
Dwarka city on the tip of the Arabian Sea
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. Only 500 years earlier, the area was
the Arabian Sea.
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 Saurashtra; and
Champaner and Pavagarh in the Panchmahal district.