Gujarat - The “Land of the Legends” located at the westernmost corner of the country concocts a distinctive Indian flavor with its religious, cultural, historical and architectural panorama. The state owes its name to the Gujjars who ruled the area during the 700’s and 800’s. Fringed by the Arabian Sea on the west and the south west, the state stands bordered by Pakistan and Rajasthan in the north and north east, Madhya Pradesh in the southeast, and Maharashtra and the Union territories of Diu, Daman, Dadra and Nagar Haveli in the south.
With Gandhinagar as its capital, the state stretches through a total area of 1,96,077 sq. km. that inundates with varied geological and topographical landscapes in the form of beaches, wildlife sanctuaries, natural and man made caverns, and hill resorts. It also brims with major agriculture and industrial products like cotton, groundnuts, dates, sugar cane, milk, milk products, cement and petrol, enjoys a thriving economy, and is considered one of the most prosperous states of India.
Gujarat mirrors the history of India to a great extent in the form of archaeological remnants of the Indus Valley civilization and Harappan sites that were discovered here. As per historical evidence, the Dravidian tribes are believed to be the original inhabitants of the region. They were commercially active and engaged in trade contracts with Sumer, the Persian Gulf in about 1000-750BC, which lends an enriching dimension to the ancient history of the state.
|Gujarat Diu Fort - Notice the church inside the fort|
Ancient Gujarat was initially under the sway of the Aryans, which was followed by a brief period of Greek incursion. A succession of Hindu dynasties then ruled Gujarat. The last Hindu rulers were the Solanki clan of Rajputs who controlled Gujarat from 960 AD to 1243 AD, until they were dethroned by Muslims. The Muslim rule lasted for 400 years and constitute the medieval history of Gujarat. With the attack of the Marathas in the mid 18th century, Muslim Sultanate in Gujarat came to an end.
The British Raj got a stronghold in the region from 1803 – 1827, and established its first Indian head quarters at Surat, which was later moved to Bombay. In May1,1960, the state of Gujarat came into being from the 17 northern districts of the former state of Bombay, with the remaining part being declared the state of Maharashtra.
Geography & Climate of Guajrat
|Ahmedabad - the financial hub of India|
Situated on the western coast of the Indian Peninsula, Gujarat is bound by the Arabian Sea on the west, Pakistan and Rajasthan in the north and northeast, Madhya Pradesh in the southeast and Maharashtra and the Union territories of Diu, Daman, Dadra and Nagar Haveli in the south.
The entire state can be divided into distinct regions such as Kutch, Saurashtra, Kathiawad, and Northeast Gujarat based on topographical differences. Kutch lies on the northwestern periphery of Gujarat with a maximum altitude of 300 m and is characterized by arid and desert-like topography. In its northern side is Rann of Kutch, and in its southern side lies Little Rann of Kutch. Kathiawad region formed out of Deccan lavas is at a maximum altitude of 180m and falls between Saurashtra and Khambhat. Northeast Gujarat is a combination of valleys and small plains, whereas Southeast Gujarat is an extension of the Western Ghats and enjoys the maximum amount of rainfall in the entire state.
As the Tropic of Cancer passes through the northern border of Gujarat, the state has harsh climatic conditions. However, the Arabian sea, the Gulf of Cambay, and the hill-flanked eastern side of the state alleviate climatic extremes and makes the climate balmy and pleasant. The southern regions of Gujarat enjoy a moist climate whereas the northern regions have a comparatively dry climate. Winters in Gujarat are mild with average daytime temperature at around 29 °C and night temperature at around 12 °C. The summers are hot and dry with a maximum temperature of 41 °C and a minimum temperature of 29 °C. The average rainfall in Gujarat varies from 33 to152 cms.
Gujarat has a total population of 50,596,992 (2001 Census), with majority of people belonging to the Hindu religion. Significant percentages of the population also follow Islam, Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity. The number of literates stands at 29,050,019 with 17,349,179 males and 11,700,840 females. Gujarati, which is the 26th most widely spoken language in the world is the official language of the state.
Culture & Heritage of Gujarat
Fairs & Festivals
|Art and Crafts of Gujarat|
Festivals celebrated by diverse ethnic groups in Gujarat dovetail with each other to lend Gujarati fairs and festivals its distinct cultural trademark. Gujarati people who are known for their exuberance celebrate a number of fairs and festivals throughout the year, the most popular festival being Navratri. Some other important fairs and festivals of the state include Dussehra, Uttarayan, Bhavnath Fair, Chitra Vichitra Fair, Shamlaji Fair, Rann Utsav, Dangs Darbar, etc.
Gujarat is blessed with an enviable tradition of song, dance and drama. Ras, Garba, and Bhavai are famous Gujarati folk dance forms that traces their origin to the ancient period of Lord Krishna. Dandia Ras performed during the Navratri Festival is the most popular form of raas where men and women wear colorful costumes and dance with decorated sticks (dandia) in their hands.
Art & Craft
|Tribal woman in Kutch|
Gujarat spellbinds visitors with its large variety of art and craft that are the legacy of its glorious past. Traditional Jewelry, metalwork items, embroidered garments, wooden utensils, colorful linen, mirror work, leather items and terracotta work are some of the attractive handicraft items that the state has to offer. Of special mention are the exquisite variety of patola silk sarees that can be worn either ways and are available in a wide range of colors and patterns.