Gujarat, Gujarat Tour, Gujarat Travel

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About Gujarat

Gujarat is one of the most diverse states in India. Gujarat derives its name from the word 'Gujaratta'. Gujaratta means the land of gurjars. The gurjars were a sub-tribe of the Huns who ruled the area during the 8th and 9th centuries AD. They passed through the Punjab and settled in some parts of western India, which came to be known as Gujarat. The state of Gujarat is an industrially advanced state. The state of Gujarat is not a popular tourist destination among foreign and Indian tourists, but still holds an important place in India. This state can also be visited during your trip to Bombay or Rajasthan. It is situated on the North end of the west coast of India and covers an area of 196,024 square km. Gandhinagar is the state capital of Gujarat. The people of Gujarat are also known to be a successful business community. The state of Gujarat is known all over the world for its holy temples, historic capitals, wildlife sanctuaries, beaches, hill resorts, fascinating handicrafts, mouth watering cuisine and colourful lifestyle of the people of Gujarat.

History of Gujarat

The history of Gujarat that dates back to 3500 years, the Harappa and Mohenjodaro civilization can be known from the archaeological findings at Lothal near Dhandauka in Ahmedabad district and Razdi in Saurashtra. The history of Gujarat flows through the dynamic kingdoms and principal states of Saurashtra. According to the legends, the Somnath shore temple was built by Soma, the moon god himself to mark the creation of the Universe. The Lord Krishna’s kingdom was also built at Dwaraka in Gujarat. Gujarat was also present in the exploitation of the great Buddhist emperor Ashoka and his Rock Edicts can be seen near Junagarh. Later, Gujarat also suffered invasions from Mahmud of Ghazni who demolished the Somnath Temple and carried away the gold with him. Gujarat was also a battlefield at the time of the war between the Mughals and the Marathas. It was also the earliest contact point with the West at Surat where the British set up their first commercial outpost in the 16th century. Daman and Diu, the two small Portuguese enclaves survived within Gujarat for over 450 years till 1961 when these were liberated by the Indian Army. During the British Raj, Gujarat was part of the larger Bombay Presidency and was ruled from Mumbai, and became a separate state in 1960 when the Indian States were divided on the basis of language.

More information on the History of Gujarat

Geography of Gujarat

Geographically, the state of Gujarat is divided into three areas. The mainland region includes the major cities of Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara (Baroda). The Gulf of Mumbai divides the mainland from the flat and barren plains of the Kathiawar Peninsula also known as Saurashtra. Before independence, the Saurashtra region was ruled by about 200 rulers who continued to rule it as they had made peace with the British. Later, these tiny states were merged in the larger state of Bombay Presidency after independence and later merged in the new state of Gujarat. The Gulf of Kutch separates the Saurashtra from Kutch. Kutch is virtually an island cut off from the rest of Gujarat that is wedged between Pakistan in the east and the low-lying Rann of Kutch in the north.

Climate of Gujarat

The best time to visit Gujarat is in the mild winter months from November to March. During the monsoon season, most of the Gujaratis came back to home on leave. The monsoon period has its own charm when the air is cool and the sky is overcasted. The temperature in the Gujarat shows relatively little contrast, but there are great contrasts in the rainfall from South to North. In north, the temperature is about 42 to 43 degree Celsius in summers while in winters it is about 12 degree Celsius. In further south, the winter temeprature never fall very far and the summer temperatures are moderate. The rainfall is also scattered throughout the state. The Kutch receives minimum rainfall while Ahmedabad receives moderate rainfall.

People of Gujarat

The people of Gujarat or the Gujaratis are known as a successful business community. Some of the famous businessmen and industrialists can be seen operating hotels and motels in California, running stores in Australia and New Zealand and newspaper kiosks in England. Mahatma Gandhi, the father of nation also belongs to Gujarat. He worked for the independence of India through non violence. One of the biggest billionaires of the world, Dhirubhai Ambani was also a Gujarati, who built his empire in three decades. Parsis also belong to this state where they had landed at a place called Sajjan in 745 AD. Many of the Parsis still live here, but some of them have now migrated to Bombay. The Jains are also a very important community in Gujarat. These families own textile and chemical mills and spend lavishly on building new temple and on charities like schools and religious trusts.

Gujarat People

Languages in Gujarat

The majority of the people of Gujarat speak Gujarati which belongs to the Indo-Aryan family. This language is derived from Sanskrit and other ancient languages. It was also highly influenced by Apabrahmsa, which was widely spoken in the north west India from the 10th to 14th centuries. The maritime contact with Persia, Arabia, Portugal and England further led to the introduction of many words from these languages. The great majority of the people are of Indo-Aryan origin. Nearly 20% of the people are tribal and the Bhils, Kolis, Dhubla, Naikda and Macchi-Kharwa are some of the tribes which can be still found in Gujarat.

Cuisine of Gujarat
Gujarat Cuisine, Gujarati Food

The Gujarati food is mostly vegetarian although non-vegetarian, Chinese and Continental cuisine are also available in major hotels. The dishes of Gujarat are not very spicy and sweet than those of the neighboring states. Some of the popular dishes of Gujarat are Kadhi, Undhyoo and Paunk. The diet of the Gujarati's consists of the rice, chapatis, wide variety of beans and pulses, coconut, pickles and sweetened yoghurt. You can experience all these constituents of the vegetarian Gujarati 

meal  by having a Thali at Vishala,about 5 km. from Ahmedabad.It is a restaurant and part of a complex is described as a Gujarati village with a small museum, local crafts and performing arts. In the village complex, you can also see the craftsmen weaving and making earthen pots, the puppet show, and dances. The food is served on platters of leaves stitched together that includes various vegetables, pulses, salads, chutneys, yoghurt, rice and wide variety of breads made of millet and other flours. In the end the buttermilk and rich homemade ice-creams are served. Besides Vishala, there are various other good restaurants in Ahmedabad which offers the Gujarati food.

Fairs & Festivals of Gujarat

Various fairs and festivals are celebrated in every month in Gujarat. Some of the main festivals which are celebrated in Gujarat are the Kite Flying Festival or Makar Sankranti, Navaratri Festival, Sarkhej Fair and Tarnetar Fair. The Navratri festival is celebrated during September-October and devoted to the three goddesses of the Hindu mythology. The Kite Flying Festival is celebrated on 14th January. On this day, the people of every age fly kites of various shapes and sizes.

More Information on the Fairs & Festivals of Gujarat

Gujarat Festival

Handicrafts of Gujarat
Gujarat Handicraft

The handicrafts of the Gujarat are also unique like the Gujarati cuisine. These handicrafts have been given a fillip by the government and some private individuals. Craftsmen and women who left their villages to work as stone crushers for the living have been brought back to practise their traditional arts. Their products can be seen and purchased in Gujarat emporiums in Ahmedabad, Delhi and Mumbai. Gujarat also has a rich tradition of high quality weaving and hand-block printing, the most common are the tie-and-dye fabrics. These fabrics are known all over the world for their variety and excellent colors. 

Apart from these fabrics, the hand-painted cloth is also available in traditional black, red, maroon and ochre colors and is also inexpensive. Besides these, you can also buy various items like nut-crackers, silver, wood, brass and other items. The Patola silk saris are another famous item of Gujarat that are extremely fine and quite expensive and made by very small master craftsmen at Patan. The zari or gold thread embroidery work comes from Surat. Surat is also a centre for silk saris. Jamnagar in Saurashtra is known for its woolen shawls, blankets, rugs, wooden chest and traditional furniture. Gujarat is also known for the famous and unique Kutch embroidery.

Cities in Gujarat

Some of the famous cities in Gujarat are Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar, Gandhinagar, Gondal, Junagadh, Lothal, Palitana, Saputara, Somnath, Surat, Dwarka, Porbandar and Vadodara. In Ahmedabad there are many fine examples of Muslim architecture. Baroda was the capital of the princely state of Gaekwad. The first British factory was established in Surat in 1612. Junagadh is known for its fort and temples and also a suitable base for visiting the Gir national park.

More Information on Cities in Gujarat

Gandhi Ashram, Gujarat

Wildlife Sanctuaries in Gujarat

There are about four national parks and twenty one wildlife sanctuaries in Gujarat. Some of the wildlife sanctuaries and national parks are the Marine National Park, Gir National Park, Indian Wild Ass Wildlife sanctuary, Velavadar National Park. Nalsarovar, Khijadia Bird Sanctuary and the Porbandar Bird sanctuary are the other bird sanctuaries in Gujarat.

More Information on Wildlife Sanctuaries in Gujarat

How to reach Gujarat

Gujarat is very well connected with all parts of India. Indian Airlines and other private airlines link Ahmedabad daily with many cities of India like Mumbai and Delhi. Ahmedabad is also located on the main rail network. The roads in Gujarat are in excellent condition and travel by car can be fun.

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