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History of Gujarat
History of Gujarat

The history of Gujarat that dates back to 3500 years can be known from the archaeological findings at Lothal near Dhandauka in Ahmedabad district and Razdi in Saurashtra. The earliest stone age settlements in Gujarat are situated on the margins of the South Asian zone. Some of these settlements are located at Rojadi near Rajkot and Adamgarh, near the Gujarat-Madhya Pradesh border, Sabarmati and Mahi rivers in the south. The Indus Valley and Harappa civilization has been discovered at Lothal, Rangpur, Amri, Lakhabaval and Rozdi. In 1954, these sites were discovered as one of the most remarkable Indus Valley sites in India. It seemed probably that they came by sea, occupying a settlement that was already well-established before they colonized it. The main Harappan occupation lasted from 2450 BC to 1900 BC, followed by a 300 year period of decline. In 1988, an exciting new Harappa civilization was discovered at Kuntasi, the head of the Gulf of Kutch, 30 km from Morvi in Rajkot district. Kuntasi was a port, and had a “factory” associated with it. It seems that this site hold more clues to the Harappan religious beliefs and practice. A copper ring and a spiral motif was discovered at Kuntasi, which describes about the importance of the site as a port for trade. The unusual double fortification belongs to two separate periods, the first from 2200 BC and the second from between 1900 and 1700 BC. The Rock edicts in the Girnar Hills also indicated that the Mauryan emperor Ashoka extended his domain into Gujarat. The Sakas or Scynthias (130-390 AD) controlled it after the fall of the Mauryan Empire and under Rudradaman, their empire contained Malwa, Saurashtra, Kutch and Rajasthan. During the 4th and 5th centuries it formed part of the Gupta Empire which was succeeded by the Maitraka dynasty. The Gurjara-Pratiharas ruled during the 8th and 9th centuries and were replaced by the Solanki dynasty, under whom Gujarat extended its territorial area. This was later ruled by the Vaghela dynasty before defeated by the Ala-ud-din Khalji, and the Muslim rule followed after this. Ahmad I, the first independent Muslim ruler of Gujarat founded Ahmedabad in 1411.

Gujarati Provincial Architecture

The period from 1300 to 1550 saw a remarkable flowering of Gujarati provincial architecture. The new Muslim rulers made full use of the skills of Hindu and Jain builders and craftsmen. The mosques and tombs that were newly built obey strict Islamic principles and also reflect the combination of Muslim political power and Hindu and Jain architecture. The Mughal emperor Humayun took Malwa and Gujarat in 1534-5 but soon lost both. His son, Akbar, reclaimed both the regions in a military operation and secured the region of the Mughals for two centuries, terminated by the Marathas in the mid 18th century.

Colonial Power

The Dutch, English, French and Portuguese established base along the coast in the 17th century for trading purposes. The British East India Company established his first headquarters in India at Surat and Bombay. The British maritime supremacy was established at all the places but the Portuguese withdraw from Daman and Diu. The state came under the control of the East India Company in 1818 and after the 1857 Mutiny. It was then divided into Gujarat province, which had an area of 25,900 square km and later comprising of numerous princely states. Until independence, Kathiawar was one of the most highly fragmented regions of India, that had 86 distinct political units in just over 55,000 sq km. Junagadh, covered an area of less than 9000 square km. and a population of under three quarters of million in 1947.

Recent Political History

In 1947 after independence, Gujarat was incorporated into Bombay state. In 1956 Saurashtra and Kutch were added. On 1 May 1960, the state of Bombay was split into present day Maharashtra and Gujarat states and in 1961 India forcibly annexed Daman and Diu. After Partition, the possession of the Rann of Kutch was disputed by India and Pakistan. In 1965 they fought over it, and following the ceasefire on 1 July, division of the area was referred to as an international tribunal. In 1968 the tribunal recommended that 90% should remain with India and 10% pass the Pakistan.

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