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Gujarat

[gooj-uh-raht, goo-juh-]

Gujarat (ગુજરાત , IPA ) is a state in western India. Gujarat borders Pakistan to the north west and the state of Rajasthan to the north and northeast, Madhya Pradesh to the east, Maharashtra and the Union territories of Diu, Daman, Dadra and Nagar Haveli to the south. Historically, the North was known as Anarta, the Kathiawad peninsula, "Saurastra", and the South as "Lata". Gujarat was also known as Pratichya and Varuna.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 commercial center of Gujarat. An area of 75,686 sq mi (196,077 km²),

History

Gujarat state symbols
Animal Asiatic lion
Bird Greater flamingo
Dance Garba
Flower Language Gujarati
Song Jai Jai Garavi Gujarat
Sport
Tree

The name of the state is derived from anshua (ansus Rāshtra), which means anshua nation. Anshuas were an old clan that was present even during the Mahabharata period, according to another theory, they are one of the Central Asian tribes, called the Gurjs or modern day country of Georgia (anciently referred to as Gurjistan). These Gurjs migrated to India beginning from around the first century BC. From around 35-405AD it was settled and ruled by the Iranian Sakas. Gujarat was part of the Indo-greek kingdoms. 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 the ninth century it was ruled by the Solanki dynasty and saw many invasions by Muslim rulers from Central Asia. Solanki rule continued until Gujarat was incorporated by the Muslim rulers of Delhi in the late thirteenth century. History of the Gujarat state of India is very ancient. Evidence comes from the prehistoric trading centre - Lothal in Gujarat; situated at head of the Gulf of Cambay; which marks the south-western site of the old Indus Civilization, radiocarbon dated to c. 2500–1900 BCE by the archaeologists (Cited in John R. Hinnells (Ed.) In "A Handbook of Ancient Religions", Cambridge University Press, NY,USA, 2007).

1297 CE – 1850 CE

In 1297 to 1298 Allauddin 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. 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. The port of Surat become the prominent and main port of India during Mughal rule. Gujarat remained a province of the Mughal empire until the Marathas sacked eastern and central Gujarat in the eighteenth century; Western Gujarat (Kathiawar and Kutch) were divided among numerous local rulers.

1614 CE - 1947 CE

Portugal was the first European power to arrive in Gujarat, acquiring several enclaves along the Gujarati coast, including Daman and Diu as well as 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 the 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. As well, Mohammed Ali Jinnah's, Pakistan's first Governor-General, father was from an area which 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.

See also: Freedom fighters from Gujarat

Post independence

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 Kathiawad 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 08:46, which claimed more than 12,000 lives, injured another 55,000 people and severely affected the lives of forty million people in the region.

2002 Gujarat Violence

In February 2002, violence broke out across the state claiming around a thousand lives. An official estimate stated that 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed, 223 people were reported missing and 2,500 were injured. Independent estimates by rights groups and NGOs place the figure higher, nearer to 2000. More than one hundred and fifty thousand people were displaced. Organisations such as Human Rights Watch criticised the Indian government for failure to address the resulting humanitarian condition of people, "overwhelming majority of them Muslim," who fled their homes for refugee camps in the aftermath of the riots. The riots followed the Godhra Train Burning incident, where 58 Hindu Kar Sevak pilgrims were burned alive on a train that caught fire, allegedly set by a Muslim mob.

2006 Gujarat earthquake

On 6 April 2006, an earthquake was reported at 11:29:16 p.m. IST in Gujarat, India's Kutch and Saurashtra region. Intensity of the earthquake was measured at 5.5 on the Richter Scale.

2008 Bomb Blasts

On 26 July 2008, there were 21 serial bomb blasts in Ahmedabad at various places including Civil Hospital (one of major government hospital). As of 1 August 2008, the death toll from the blasts was 55. The bombs were low-intensity and equipped with precised timing circuits. Soon after the Ahmedabad blasts, around 24 live bombs (explosive devices) were found in Surat which is currently one of the fastest growing cities of India. Most of the bombs were found in the area of Varacha, which is mainly dominated by the Hindu community. Unlike the events following the Godhra Train Burning in 2002, the bombings were not followed by inter-community rioting.

Geography

Gujarat is the westernmost state of India. It is bounded by the Arabian Sea to the west and southwest, and Pakistan to the northwest. 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 83 °F(29 °C) and nights around 53 °F(12 °C) with 100 percent sunny days and clear nights. The summers are extremely hot and dry with daytime temperatures around 105 °F(41 °C) and at night no lower than 85 °F(29 °C). The time just before the monsoon the temperatures are similar to above but with 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 95 °F(35 °C) but humidity is very high and nights are around 80 °F(27 °C). 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.

Beaches

Ahmedpur Mandvi Beach - Ahmedpur Mandvi Beach is situated on the coastline of the state of Gujarat and is one of the finest beaches in India. It is located in Ahemdpur Mandvi, which is the historic port town of Maharao of Kutch.

Chorwad Beach - Chorwad Beach of Gujarat is another splendid beach situated on the west coast of India. It is situated at a distance of 66 km from Junagadh. Chorwad has a high potential of attracting both domestic as well as international tourists. The beach constitutes of rocky hills and presents opportunity for thrilling boat rides. Diu Beach - Diu beach is situated off the Saurashtra coast and is connected to the state of Gujarat via a causeway. Diu is a secluded island and does not have much population. This makes it the place ideal for a serene vacation, away from the worries of daily life.

Gopnath Beach - Gopnath Beach is situated in the Bhavnagar district of Gujarat. It is located on the coast of the Gulf of Kambhat, at a distance of 75 km from the city of Bhavnagar. Gopnath is a pristine beach known for its natural beauty.

Kutch Mandvi Beach - Kutch Mandvi is an important beach in Gujarat, situated at Mandvi. Mandvi is the historic port town of Maharao of Kutch, located at a distance of 75 km from Bhuj. Kutch Mandvi was once inhabited by the Maharao of Kutch and was an important seaport.

Umbergam Beach - Umargam is about 6 km from Umargam Road railway station on Mumbai-Surat rail section . This region was part of Thane district prior to creation of Gujarat in 1960.

Umargam is situated on the southern bank of Nargol creek. It was a small village about two centuries ago, serving as a transit point for exporting marine products from the fishing port Nargol on the Northern Bank of the creek.

TITHAL Beach (Valsad) tithal beach 5 km from Valsad.

Demographics

The population of the Gujarat State was 50,671,017 as per the 2001 census data. The density of population is only 258 persons per km². and compares favourably with the other states of the country.

Its official and primary language is Gujarati. About 89.1% of the population of Gujarat are Hindu. Muslims account for 9.1%, Jain 1.0% and Sikh 0.1% of the population. Most of the Gujarati Hindus are strict vegetarians. Amongst Hindus the deity of Krishna is famously worshipped in His form of Shrinathji throughout Gujarat. Gujarat is the birthplace of Gandhi. Gujarat is also the birthplace of the Swaminarayan sect of Hinduism.

91% of Hindus in Gujarat speak Gujarati while the rest speak Hindi, Marathi and other languages. Almost 88% of the Muslims speak Gujarati while the rest speak Urdu. Almost all of the Jains speak Gujarati (a few speak Marwari as well). Parsi Zoroastrians also speak Gujarati as their native language.

Besides Gujarati the Kutchi language is widely spoken in the Kutch District.

Gujarat as a heavily industrialized state of India, attracts lots of outsiders from various parts of India.

Regions

District # of Talukas # of villages Area (Square kilometers) Population (As of 2001)
Ahmedabad 11 551 8,707 5,808,378 (58,08,378)
Amreli 11 613 6,760 1,393,295 (13,93,295)
Anand 8 354 3,250 1,856,712 (18,56,712)
Banaskantha 13 1,246 12,703 2,502,843 (25,02,843)
Bharuch 8 717 6,527 1,370,104 (13,70,104)
Bhavnagar 11 784 9,940 2,469,264 (24,69,264)
Dahod 7 1,102 5,292.5 1,635,374 (16,35,374)
Dang 1 312 1,764 186,712 (1,86,712)
Gandhinagar 4 216 649 1,234,731 (12,34,731)
Jamnagar 10 701 14,125 1,816,029 (18,16,029)
Junagadh 14 969 10,607 2,448,427 (24,48,427)
Kheda 10 614 3,943 2,023,354 (20,23,354)
Kutch 10 905 45,652 1,526,331 (15,26,331)
Mehsana 9 622 4,501 1,837,696 (18,37,696)
Narmada 4 558 2,755 514,083 (5,14,083)
Navsari 5 370 2,209 1,229,250 (12,29,250)
Panchmahal 11 804 3,563 2,024,883 (20,24,883
Patan 7 599 6,484 1,181,941 (11,81,941)
Porbandar 3 184 2,272 536,854 (5,36,854)
Rajkot 14 855 11,203 2,571,931 (25,71,931)
Sabarkantha 13 1,386 7,390 2,083,416 (20,83,416)
Surat 15 1,280 4,742 5,136,391 (51,36,391)
Surendranagar 10 661 10,489 1,515,147 (15,15,147)
Tapi 0 not available 3,435 719,630 (7,19,630)
Vadodara 12 1,548 7,549.5 3,639,775 (36,39,775)
Valsad 5 241 2,947 1,410,680 (14,10,680)

Economy

Gujarat controls some of the largest businesses in India. Major Agricultural produce of the state include cotton, groundnuts, peanuts, dates, sugar cane, milk & milk products. Industrial products include cement, and petrol.

  • 19% of India's Industrial Output
  • 10% of its Mineral Production
  • 20% of its exports
  • 25% of its textile production
  • 40% of India's pharmaceutical products
  • 47% petrochemical production
  • Largest Sea shore, 1670 km.

The worlds largest ship breaking yard is in Gujarat near Bhavnagar at Alang. Reliance Petroleum Limited, one of the group companies of Reliance Industries Limited founded by Dhirubhai Ambani operates the oil refinery at Jamnagar which is the world's largest grass-roots refineries. The company has also planned another SEZ(special economic zone), in Jamnagar.

Gujarat ranks first nationwide in gas-based thermal electricity generation with national market share of over 8% and second nationwide in nuclear electricity generation with national market share of over 1%.

Over 20% of the S&P CNX 500 conglomerates have corporate offices in Gujarat.

As per RBI report, in year 2006-07, 26% out of total bank finance in India was in Gujarat.

Industrial growth

One of India's first most industrialized states, Gujarat maintains a variety of industries, the principal ones being general and electrical engineering and the manufacture of textiles, vegetable oils, chemicals, soda ash, and cement. New industries include the production of fertilizers and petrochemicals. Gujarat alone pays 27% tax of india. In growth rate, Gujarat at first rank in india according Indian industrial resource (IIR).Major resources produced by the state include cotton, peanuts, dates, sugarcane, and petrol. The state is rich in calcite, gypsum, manganese, lignite, bauxite, limestone, agate, feldspar and quartz sand and successful mining of these minerals is done in their specified areas. Gujarat produces about 90% of India’s required amount of Soda Ash and gives the country about 66% of its national requirement of salt. It is one of India's most prosperous states, having a per-capita GDP significantly above India's average. Kalol Khambat and Ankaleshwar are today known for their oil and natural gas production. ‘Dhuvaran’ has a thermal power station, which uses coal, oil and gas. The Tarapur nuclear station in Maharashtra supplies the remaining power. Also on the Gulf of Khambat, 50 kilometers southeast of Bhavnagar , is the Alang Ship Recycling Yard (the world's largest). General Motors produces the ‘Astra’ car at Halol near Vadodara. Jalalpur is a large town of Gujarat, where several small and large textile industrial units have been established. Surat, a city by the Gulf of Khambat, is a hub of the global diamond trade.

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. Post-liberalization period saw Gujarat's State Domestic Product (SDP) rising at an average growth rate of 14% per annum in real terms (from 1994 -2002). Gujarat achieved as much as 35% of augmentation in its power generation capacity during the period 1995-96 and 2000-01. The producers (IPPs) have contributed significantly in this addition. As a matter of fact Gujarat is one of the first few states in India to have encouraged private sector investment and are already in operation. In addition the liquid cargo (Chemicals) handling port at Dahej is also set up in joint sector and made operational. At an investor's summit entitled Vibrant Gujarat arranged between January 10, 2007 to January 13, 2007, at Science City, Ahmedabad, the state government signed 104 Memoranda of Understandings for Special Economic Zones totalling worth Rs 2.5 lakh crore.. However, most of the investment was from domestic industry.

Agriculture

Gujarat is the main producer of tobacco, cotton, and groundnuts in India. Other major food crops produced are rice, wheat, jowar, bajra, maize, Tur, and gram. Gujarat has an agricultural economy; the total crop area amounts to more than one-half of the total land area.

Animal husbandry and dairying have played a vital role in the rural economy of Gujarat. Dairy farming, primarily concerned with milk production, functions on a cooperative basis and has more than a million members. Gujarat is the largest producer of milk in India. Amul milk co-operative federation products are well known all over India and is Asia's biggest dairy. Among livestock raised are buffalo and other cattle, sheep, and goats. As per the results of livestock census 1997, there were 209.70 lakh livestock in Gujarat State. As per the estimates of the survey of major livestock products, during the year 2002-03 the Gujarat produced 6.09 million tonnes of milk, 385 million eggs and 2.71 million kg of wool. Gujarat also contributes inputs to industries like textiles, oil and soap.

Government and politics

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 26 administrative districts in the state (as of 2007).

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 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 majority party or coalition in the legislature (Chief Minister) or his or her designee acts as the Leader of the Legislative Assembly. The administration of the state is led by the Chief Minister.

After gaining independence in 1947, the Indian National Congress party (INC) ruled the Bombay state (which included present-day Gujarat and Maharashtra). Congress continued to govern Gujarat after the state's creation in 1960. During and after India's State of Emergency of 1975-1977, public support for the Congress Party eroded, but it continued to hold government until 1995. In the 1995 Assembly Polls, the Congress lost to the BJP and Keshubhai Patel came to power. His Government lasted only 2 years. The fall of that government was provoked by a split in the BJP led by Shankersinh Vaghela and has won most of the subsequent polls. In 2001, following the loss of 2 assembly seats in by-elections, Keshubhai Patel resigned and yielded power to Narendra Modi. The BJP retained a majority in the 2002 election, and Narendra Modi has since served as Chief Minister of the state. On 1 June 2007, Narendra Modi became the longest serving Chief Minister of Gujarat. On Dec 23rd 2007, the BJP won the state elections in Gujarat and Narendra Modi became the chief minister for the third time in a row.

Revenues of government

This is a chart of trend of own tax revenues (excluding the shares from Union tax pool) of the Government of Gujarat assessed by the Finance Commissions from time to time with figures in millions of Indian Rupees.
Year Own tax revenues
2000 104,818
2005 138,964

This is a chart of trend of own non-tax revenues (excluding the shares from Union tax pool) of the Government of Gujarat assessed by the Finance Commissions from time to time with figures in millions of Indian Rupees.

Education

Gujarat has 13 universities and 4 agricultural universities. Gujarat also has an Indian Institute of Management, at Ahmedabad, National Institute of Design, at Ahmedabad and a National Institute of Technology at Surat. Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay is going to start a new campus in Gujarat in the near future.

Universities

Ahmedabad

Gandhinagar

Surat

Other areas

Engineering institutes

  1. L.D. College of Engineering
  2. Atmiya Institute of Technology & Science
  3. A.D.Patel Institute of Technology, New Vallabh vidhyanagar, Gujarat
  4. Vishwakarma Government Engineering College, Chandkheda (Formerly GEC, Gandhinagar)
  5. Government Engineering College, Modasa
  6. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Institute of Technology SVIT
  7. V. V. P. Engineering College (VVP)
  8. Dharmsinh Desai Institute of Technology (DDIT)
  9. Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology
  10. Charotar Institute Of Technology (Changa)
  11. Sarvajanik College of Engineering and Technology, Surat
  12. M.S university, Vadodara
  13. Vallabh Vidyanagar are among the premier engineering institutes of west India.
  14. National Institute of Technology in Surat
  15. Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda
  16. Birla Vishwakarma Mahavidyalaya from S.P University at Vallabh Vidyanagar near Anand.
  17. G H Patel College Of Engineering & Technology at Vallabh Vidyanagar near Anand.

  1. The Institute for Plasma Research is an autonomous Physics research institute located in the capital city Gandhinagar and is involved in the research of various aspects of plasma science including basic plasma physics, research on magnetically confined hot plasmas and plasma technologies for industrial applications. As a unit of the Department of Space, Government of India, PRL carries out fundamental research in select areas of physics, space, and atmospheric sciences.
  2. Ahmedabad Textile and Industries’ Research Association is also located in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
  3. Pandit Deen Dayal University, which is started by GSPC is offering undergraduate and management courses in petroleum fields.
  4. IPTG (Institute of Petroleum Technology, Gandhinagar)

Other institutes

Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute has been established under Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Govt. of India at Bhavnagar. It was inaugurated by Late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the First Prime Minister of India on 10 April, 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 Ahmedabad, one of the internationally reputed management research institute is located in Gujarat's commercial capital Ahmadabad and is the top ranked management institutes in the country B.K. School of Business Management is ranked 6th in terms of financial Management The National Institute of Design (NID) is internationally acclaimed as one of the foremost multi-disciplinary institutions in the field of design education and research. Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology, Surat is one of the best engineering colleges in India. It is one of the 20 NITs created by the central govt. and is a deemed university. It has students from all over India and some foreign students as well.

Apart from that Mudra Institute of Communication Ahmedabad (MICA) is one of the famous institute for Mass communication and well renowned across India. In terms of professional development & job-readyness the pioneer institute is Careerguruindia.in which is a social service initative of Benchmark Hr Solutions (India) Private Limited (founded by national award winner & All India Best Cadet Jagdish Chaudhari ).They are much sought after for job-readyness and career enhancement training & have a social linkage also.

Gujarat Science City

Gujarat Science City , is a government initiative to draw more students towards education in science, which hosts India's first IMAX 3D theatre, an energy park, a hall of science, an amphitheatre, and dancing musical fountains among others.

Religion

Numerous important religious sites are located in Gujarat.

Dwarkanath Temple in Dwarka is one of the important temples dedicated to Krishna. On the tip of the Arabian Sea it was home to Krishna. 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.

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.

Shankheshwar Jain Temples are dedicated to the 23rd Tirthankar, Lord Parshvanath. It is believed that this idol was revealed by Lord Krishna himself, by the teachings of Arisht Nemi the 22nd Tirthanakra. It is near Ahmedabad.

Patan houses 84 magnificent Jain Temples built by Samrat Kumarpal, who was a staunch disciple of Hemchandracharya, a Jain monk.

Girnar is an epitome of communal harmony & amicable relations among Jains & Hindus. This high-rising steep hill houses shrines of both major religions. One dedicated to Neminath or Arisht Nemi, the 22nd tirthankara, where he is believed to attain nirvana, and another dedicated to Guru Dattatreya,a Hindu deity.

Ambaji This temple is dedicated to goddess Ambaji. It is situated on the Arasur Hill and can be approached by road from Abu Road in Rajasthan, as well as from all other important places in Gujarat. A folk drama called 'Bhavai' is performed in the courtyards of the temple.

Dakor This temple town dedicated to Lord Krishna is situated about 90 km from Ahmedabad. The temple of Ranchodrai has the idol of Lord Krishna which is believed to have been brought from Dwarka by a devotee.

Becharaji This temple is another important seat of Mother Goddess in Mehsana district. This temple is thronged by Hindu devotees, especially childless women.

Religious Traditions

In Gujarat, there have been several great religious figures. Sant Dadu Dayal (1554-1603), a saint-poet and a major Bhakti figure from Ahmedabad treated equally both Rama and Allah as names of God and became popular in Northern India. He wrote, "The illusion of Allah and Rama hath been dispelled by my mind ; since I see Thee in all.

Gujarat is also the home of Gandhi who preached the unity between all religions and became a world-wide figure for peaceful struggle against tyranny.

Hinduism

Gujarat is a part of the Harappan Civilization.

Many Hindu religious traditions developed in Gujarat. Gujarat is the birth-place of Lord Shiva's avatar Lakulisa (Staff-God). He established the Pasupata Shaivite tradition (one of the six major schools of Shaivism) in 2 A.D. or 3 A.D. According to some traditions he was born in Kayarohana or Kayavatara in Saurashtra while other traditions hold that it was Karavana, in the modern-day town of Dabhoi Taluka near Baroda, another that it was Ulkapuri (modern Avakhal) and another that it was in Braoch or Bharuch. From Gujarat it spread north to Kashmir, South to Tamil Nadu, East to Nepal (where the Pashupatinath Temple stills exists popularly.)

Gujarat is home to Hindu saints of all castes. Sant Dhudhalinath and Sant Girnari Velnathji were Adivasis, Sant Bhojo Nachabkha and Madhavagar were Shudras, Mahatma Gandhi and Lala Bhagat were Vaish, Sant Kilha was a Kshatriya and Lakulisa and Chakradhara were Brahmins.

Bhakti movement
The Bhakti movement was very popular in Gujarat where devotees of both Islam and Hinduism focused worship of God, trying to rid any separations based on faith in God.

Swami Chakradhara was another major figure of the Bhakti movement, born in Gujarat in 1194 A.D. and he is believed to be the avatar of Vishnu. Chakradhara Maharaja established the Manhubhava Vaishnavite sect which spread to Maharashtra as well. The sect still exists today in Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Sant Kilha was another Vaishnavite saint of Gujarat born to a Subedar (army man) father. He was the disciple of Krishnasdas (of Jaipur) and became his successor at the seat of Galta - Kilha's branch became known as the "Tapasa branch. Besides Ram Bhakti (devotion to Lord Rama), he was also inclined towards yog-saghana and this is why he was made acharya of the Galta Gaddi. He is said to be the founder of the Khati sect. Jalarama, a devotee of Lord Rama is another popular figure. Jalarama's birthday is still celebrated by Gujarati (in Gujarat and abroad) as Jalaram Jayanti.

Jainism

Gujarat is a stronghold for the Jain community . Jainism preaches non-violence to all living creatures and vegetarianism. The Jains have heavily influenced the cuisine of Gujarat were the famous Gujarati thali containg small vegetarian dishes along with roti and chaas. The Jains are trusted businessmen with a high moral. The bania (traders ) caste which is big in Gujarat have followers from both the Jaina and Vaishnava traditions. Intermarriages are common.

Islam

Gujarat was one of the first places the Muslims came to India. King Arjun of Gujarat permitted the Muslim trader from Ormuz to build a mosque in Gujarat and even paid for the expenses of a certain Shiite festival.

The Sufi saints are very popular in Gujarat. Shaykh Makhu was a Sufi saint of the Shattari lineage. "Since Gujarat is situated on the western border of India, there was a direct interaction with people of Arabia and Persia. Many Gujarati Saints and Sufis became famous. Among them names of Sheikh Ganjul lim (1381), Syed Burhanuddin (1411) and Sheikj Wajihuddin Gujarati are well known.

Zoroastrianism

Following the fall of the Sassanid Empire in 651 many Zoroastrians migrated, including several groups who settled in Gujarat. The descendants of those refugees are today known as the Parsis and Irani. The year of arrival on the subcontinent cannot be precisely established and Parsi legend and tradition assigns various dates to the event.

They originally settled along coastal Gujarat in villages like Sanjan in Valsad district, along Gujarat-Maharashtra border. The Qissa-i Sanjan is a poem discussing the Zoroastrians landing in Sanjan by generosity of Rana Jada, and being allowed to practice their customs.

Parsis are generally more affluent than other Indians and are stereotypically viewed as among the most Anglicised and "Westernised" of the various minority groups. They have also played an instrumental role in economic development with several of the best-known business conglomerates of India run by Parsi-Zoroastrians, including the Tata, Godrej, and Wadia families.

Similarities with Hinduism is seen in Zoroastrianism in beliefs that the cow is very sacred. In the 9th chapter of the of the Vendidad of the Avesta, the purificatory power of cow urine is dilated upon. It is declared to be a panacea for all bodily and moral evils. It is drunk as well as applied externally . Urine of the bull, called "nirang" is brought to the house of an orthodox Parsi every morning and is (like cow milk) applied to the face, hands and feet.

There were several Zoroastrian organizations formed to educate the Parsis on their heritage. Rahnumai Maznayasnam Sabha, established in 1851 by English-educated Parsis like Naoroji Furdunji, and funds supplied by K.N.Kama. Much attention focused on the improved of women in society; the purdah was abolished, age of marriage raised, and education promoted.

Fairs, festivals and holidays

Around 3500 festivals are celebrated in Gujarat. - the state is known as the land of fairs and festivals. Some of these fairs and festivals are :

Bhavnath Mahadev Mela (February)

The Bhavnath Mahadev Temple, situated at the foot of Mount Girnar in the city of Junagadh is the site of the Bhavnath Mahadev fair held for five days in February, during the festival of Mahashivratri. The Mahapuja of Lord Shiva takes place at midnight in this temple on the 14th day of the dark half of the month of Magh. When the puja (prayer ceremony) starts, Naga Bavas (naked sages) living nearby, move towards the fair seated on elephants, holding flags and blowing conch shells. It is firmly believed that Lord Shiva himself visits the shrine on this occasion. Visitors are served free meals by the organizers. Special stalls sell idols, rosaries or holy beads brought by vendors from Ayodhya and Mathura, utensils of brass and copper, sweets and fruits. The Bhavnath Mahadev Temple is surrounded by many equally ancient and holy places.

Dangs Darbar (March)

Dangs Darbar is the name of the annual fair held every year in Ahwa, the most important town in the Dangs a few days before Holi. The Dangs is one of the most delightful districts of Gujarat and is located high in the Saputara hills, the original home of the adivasis, the tribal population of Gujarat. The name 'Darbar' dates back to the time of the British, when a darbar of Rajas and Naiks of neighbouring area used to assemble there. Today it is called Jamabandi Darbar and the District Collector officiates at it. Thousands of tribal people flock to Ahwa from all over the district, dressed in bright colours sounding the Shehnai and beating their drums. Folk dances, dramas and songs enliven the air during the festival.

Chitra - Vichitra Mela (March)

This fair, one of the largest, purely Adivasi (tribal) fairs attended by around 60,000 to 70,000 tribal people. It takes place every year in the village of Gunbhakhari in Sabarkantha district, very near the borders of Rajasthan. It is held a fortnight after Holi, the festival of colours. The site of the fair is attractive as the temple overlooks the rivers Sabarmati, Akul and Vyakul. The name of the fair is derived from Chitravirya and Vichitraviraya, the sons of King Shantanu, who are believed to have lived here and been cured of diseases which afflicted them. The fair attracts large numbers of Bhils (tribals) who come from all the surrounding districts using every imaginable form of transport. The Garasis and Bhil tribals dress in their customary colourful costumes. The costume of the men generally consists of a blue shirt, dhoti and a red or saffron turban. Women don ghaghras (embroidered skirts) which have a circumference of as much as , and are covered from head to foot with ornate and heavy silver jewellery. They use liquid kumkum (vermilion) to colour their cheeks and lips a brilliant red, while their eyes are outlined with kajal (kohl). Every group that comes to the fair carries its own drum making the atmosphere come alive with the incessant beat of numerous drums. The women sing folk songs, and everyone dances. The dancing and drumming continue for hours until everyone is exhausted. Over a hundred stalls hold food and drink, and sweets of various kinds. Silver ornaments can be bought and household articles as well. Here, as in other fairs, there is a giant wheel, and a merry-go-round which never cease to spin.

Dhrang Fair (April)

Around 40 km from Bhuj, it is known for the samadhi of the famous saint Menkan Dada who served the community with great love and dedication and won their devotion. He was supposed to be the incarnation of Lakshmanji. A large fair is held on Magh Vad when a large number of Dada's followers from different parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan come to the Samadhi and participate in religious rituals.

Trinetreshwar Mahadev Fair (September-October)

The 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 fair is primarily a 'marriage mart' or 'Swayamvar' for the tribal youth of today who still visit Tarnetar, to find them a suitable bride. The tribal youth elegantly dressed in colourful dhotis, waistcoats and eye-catching turbans come to be chosen by village belles dressed in colourful finery. Like all-important tribal fairs, it is attended by tribes from the adjoining who indulge in dancing, competitive sports and other such forms of entertainment. There are over 300 stalls selling food, refreshments, exhibiting embroidery and cattle shows. The bachelors are usually identified by their large colourful embroidered umbrellas and their distinctive hairstyles. These umbrellas, which have become emblems of the fair, are embroidered by the tribal youth for over a year. The fair is held around the Trinetreshwar Temple dedicated to the three-eyed Lord Shiva, built at the beginning of the century. There is a kund (reservoir) here and it is popularly believed that a dip in its waters is as holy as a dip in the sacred River Ganges. The reservoir is also known as papanshu (the destroyer of sins).

Vautha Mela (November)

This fair is held every year at Vautha, where two rivers, the Sabarmati and the Vatrak meet. Like most fair sites in India, this also has both mythological and current religious associations. The Vautha Mela site is in area. Legends hold that Kartik Swami or Kartikeya, the son of Lord Shiva, visited the site. This is why the fair is held during Kartika Purnima, the full moon night of the month of Kartik, corresponding to November. The site, also known as Saptasangam, is at the confluence of seven rivers. The most important Shiva temple here is the temple of Siddhanath.

What is most significant about this fair is that it is the only major animal trading fair in Gujarat and is on par with the famous camel fair at Pushkar, Rajasthan. However the only animals traded here are donkeys. About 4,000 donkeys are brought every year for sale, usually by Vanjara (gypsy) traders. The pilgrims who visit Vautha during the fair are from several communities and include farmers, labourers and people belonging to several castes.

Shamlaji Melo (November)

The Shamlaji Melo, also called the Kartik Purnima fair is held in the month of November every year and lasts for about two weeks. It is attended by almost two hundred thousand people from adjoining districts and even from Rajasthan. Devotees belonging to various castes and communities including the Garasias and Bhils throng this festival. These pilgrims come in groups, singing devotional songs and carry religious banners to have a darshan (worship)of the deity at the Shamlaji Temple. The Shamlaji Temple is a renowned Vaishnav Shrine and the deity housed here is known by various names included Gadadhar (bearer of the mace) and Shaksi Gopal. The fair is also popular with the tribal people of the area, particularly the Bhils, who revere Shamlaji, the deity they refer to as 'Kalio Bavji', the dark divinity. The temple is of great archaeological significance as it was built in the 11th century. Apart from a darshan of the deity in the temple, the pilgrims consider a bath in the river Meshwo essential.

Festivals

Other than those festivals observed throughout India, there are festivities specific to Gujarat.

Makar Sankranti and Kite Flying Festival (January)

The Kite Flying Festival takes place in mid January and marks the time when the Sun’s direct rays reach the Tropic of Capricorn, after the winter solstice. It is celebrated with lots of folk music and dance as well as kite flying. People of Ahmedabad gather on terraces to fly kites of various colours to celebrate Makar Sanskranti or Uttrayana, the welcome to the sun after the cold winter months. Glass strengthened threads of the Indian fighter kites are matched against each other in the air - the kite fighter who cuts the other thread is the victor. At night, kites with Chinese lanterns are flown and held aloft. Food such as Undiya, sugar cane juice and local sweets is typically served to celebrate the day.

Dance Festival - Modhera (January)

Resting on a knoll in the village of Modhera are the ruins of the 11th century Sun Temple. The outer walls of the temple are covered with sculptures in which the figures of Surya, the sun god are prominent. The Sun Temple is the site of an annual festival of Indian classical dances organized by the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat. The idea is to present classical dance forms in an atmosphere they were originally presented in.

The Kutch Mahotsav (Feb-March)

The ‘Kutch Festival’ or the ‘Rann festival’ is celebrated at the time of the Shiv Ratri in February/ March. The centre of the festival is Bhuj in Kutch. It has crafts, fairs and folk dances and music and cultural shows, all organized by the Gujarat Tourism. Tours are also conducted, out to the ruins of Dhola Vera, a city that was once a part of the Indus Valley civilization.

Bhadra Purnima (September)

The full moon of Bhadrapad is one of the four most important festival days of the year, when farmers and agriculturists come to Ambaji, a place that derives its name from Goddess Ambaji whose shrine is located here. On this occasion, a large fair is organized on full moon days. In the evening, performances of Bhavai, the folk drama of the state is held and Garba programmes are organized. The devout attend readings of the Saptashati, the seven hundred verses in praise of the goddess and visit the temple for a darshan (worship) of her. The Ambaji shrine is the principal shrine of the goddess in Gujarat and its origins are still unknown. The Temple of Ambaji is recognized as one of the original Shakti Pithas (religious texts) where, according to the ancient Scriptures, the heart of the goddess Ambaji fell to earth when her body was dismembered. A triangular Vishwa Yantra, inscribed with figures and the syllable 'Shree' in the centre, represents the deity. There is no idol, which in fact testifies the temple's antiquity. Idol worship became popular much later.

Fairs

Tarnetar Fair

The Tarnetar Fair is one of the most happening events in Gujarat and is held at the Temple of Shiva or Trinetreshwar (three-eyed god), popularly known as Tarnetar. Popular belief associates the village with the Swayamwar (marriage) of Draupadi after Arjun performed the Mastsyavedh, an unparalleled feat of archery. Villagers from all over the state, dressed in their brilliant traditional costumes and exquisite jewellery, flock to Tarnetar. A veritable feast for the eyes is the Rasada, the captivating folk dance performed by hundreds of women moving gracefully in a single circle, dancing gaily to the accompaniment of four drums and jodja pava (double flutes).

Kutch Utsav The Kutch Mahotsava, is usually organised during the end of February month and beginning of March. The Kutch region in Gujarat abounds with splendid beaches, fascinating wildlife and beautiful palaces and monuments. The TCGL i.e. Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd., organises the Tour of Kutch which is a six day Tour and the tour covers the Kutch Museum, Mata no Madh, Lakhpat, Narayan Sarovar,

Shamlaji Fair

The Shamlaji shrine and the site boast of an ancient and glorious heritage. Thousands of tribal people flock to the Shamlaji fair. Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd. offers a package tour including cultural events and catering services.

Chitra Vichitra Fair

Chitra- Vichitra means "Different" and this Fair it is held near the Border of Rajasthan, in Sabarkantha District, in the village named as Gunbhakhari. There is an interesting story behind the name of this fair. Folklore says that the two sons of Shantanu, Chitraveer and Vichitraveer, wished to repent for the sins they had committed. They were advised by a meditating saint to locate the confluence of three rivers where a Shiva shrine was located. During their quest the two came to this ancient spot, which is now known as Chitra Vichitra and immolated themselves. Since then the tribal folk celebrate the fair every year at the place where the Aakar, Vakar and Sabarmati rivers meet.

Vautha No Melo

Situated at the confluence of two rivers near Ahmedabad, the site attracts people of all communities. Animals, particularly donkeys and camels are sold in large numbers during this fair.

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 present natural habitat of lions. Gir Forest 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.

Historic sites

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.

Gola Dhoro, dating from 2500-2000 BCE, was recently discovered near the village of Bagasra. Shell bangles, copper and beads were found there.

Museums

Gujarat has the largest number of museums of any state in India. These are all run by the state's own Department of Museums, located at the Principal State museum, the Museum and Picture Gallery, Vadodara. Other museums include:

  • The Vadodara Museum and Maharaja Fatehsingh Museum in Vadodara
  • The Watson Museum in Rajkot
  • The Gandhi Museum in Bhavnagar
  • The Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya, Kite Museum, and Calico Museum of Textiles in Ahmedabad
  • The Lady Wilson Museums - Dharampur, Valsad

Gujarati Culture

Transportation

Airports

Gujarat is the state having maximum number of airports, currently ten airports. All are domestic airports except Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad which is offering international flights.

International Airport

Domestic Airports

  • Bhavnagar Airport - Bhavnagar Airport, 9 km from the city of Bhavnagar.
  • Bhuj Airport - In the Bhuj city of Gujarat. This airport has been recently been named Shyamji Krishna Verma, Bhuj Airport.
  • Jamnagar Airport - 10 km from the City of Jamnagar.
  • Kandla Airport (Gandhidham) - situated at Kandla, near Gandhidham, in Kutch district.
  • Keshod Airport (Junagadh) - Keshod Airport is found 3 km from Keshod city in Junagadh District.
  • Porbandar Airport - is situated 5 km from the city of Porbandar.
  • Rajkot Airport - 4 km from the city of Rajkot.
  • Surat Airport - This domestic airport of Gujarat was recently inaugurated in Surat, on Magdalla Road.
  • Vadodara Airport - Another domestic airport can be found near Vadodara city in Gujarat.

Local Transportation

Bus
One of the most popular public transports in Gujarat is the City Bus. The only problem that can surface with the city buses is that the bus numbers and the route information is given in Gujarati. Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) is the primary body responsible for providing these services. It is a public transport corporation providing bus services and public transit within Gujarat and to the other states in India. Apart from this, there are a number of services provided by GSRTC.

  • Mofussil Services - It connects major cities, smaller towns and villages within Gujarat.
  • Intercity Bus Services - It also connects major cities - Ahmedabad, Vadodara (Baroda) and Rajkot.
  • Interstate Bus Services - It connects various cities of Gujarat with the neighboring states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
  • City Services - GSRTC also provides city bus services at Surat, Baroda, Rajkot, Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad, within the state of Gujarat.
  • Parcel Services - This service is used for transporting goods.

Apart from this, the GSRTC provides special bus services for festivals, industrial zones, schools, colleges and pilgrim places.

Auto Rickshaws
Auto rickshaw is an important and frequently used mode of transport in Gujarat.

See also

References

External links

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