Information on Surat :
Surat formerly known as Suryapur, is the eighth largest city in India. The city proper is the one of the populous cities in the world. The city is situated on the left bank of the Tapti River, 14 miles from its mouth. This city has many historical buildings which are quite captivating.
Surat is a major industrial city with many textile mills. Textiles for ceremonial and utility purposes, wood lacquer and ivory handicrafts, embroidery and jewellery had great demand in the world market. Fine silver and gold jewellery crafted in Surat is srill a rage here, but this southern most city of the state is today more known for diamond cutting and polishing industry besides the jari and art silk produced there. Some famous places are Chintamani Jain Temple, Diamond Industry, Sardar V Patel Museum and Planetarium etc.
History of Surat :
The Parsis driven from Persia, first arrived in India in the 8th century and many moved from their first settlement on the West coast of the peninsula to Surat in the 12th century. It later became a vital Mughal port and transit point for Mecca and in 1613 was the first English settlement in India. The Mughals, under Akbar, took the town and during their reign, the Portuguese, British, Dutch and French in turn established trading outposts here. The British were first to establish a factory in their first settlement in India, having arrived in 1608 and Surat remained their headquarters until it moved to Bombay in 1674. During the 17th and 18th centuries, trade flourished and made Surat the mercantile capital of West India. The first dock was built in 1720 and by 1723 there were 2 shipyards. The tide turned, however in the next century, when a fire destroyed the city centre to be followed by floods when the river Tapti burst its banks. This led many Persias to move to Bombay to make their fortune.
Shopping in Surat :
Today Surat is a busy textile town with several cotton mills. The production of gold and silver thread and kinkhab brocades and wood and ivory inlay work are also important in Surat. Silk weaving is a cottage industry producing the famous Tanchoi and Ganjee Sarees. Diamond cutting is also a speciality of Surat.
Tourist Attractions in Surat :
The main tourist attractions in Surat are the castle, tombs, mosques and temples.
Nau Saiyid Mosque :
The Nau Saiyid Mosque (mosque of Nine Saiyids) is situated on the west banks of the Gopi Lake.
Mirza Sami Mosque :
The Mirza Sami Mosque was built by the Khudawanad Khan who was also responsible for the castle.
Colonial Tombs :
The colonial tombs here dates from the 15th to the 18th centuries. The most magnificent is the 17th century memorial to Baron Adrian Van Reed, a local Dutch company Director.
British Factory :
The British Factory House, combined English and Hindu styles and had stained glass windows with carved wooden supports. It is located near the Mission High School, but not much remains.
This is also a very popular place in the city. It has a large garden and provides Indian fastfood like Paav Bhajee and Pani puri.
Chintamani Jain Temple :
The exquisite wooden carvings and paintings are the major attractions of the temple. The temple actively maintained and visited by the citys Jains is situated in the Shahpor area and dates back to 15 century and houses some extremely rare paintings of the Jain monk Acharya Hemachandra, and of the Solanki King Kumarpal. Any visit to the city would be incomplete without a visit here especially for Jains.
Diamond Industry :
Around the world, 8 out of 10 diamonds on the market were cut and polished in Surat. This industry earns India about 10 billion USD in annual exports. A legacy of Old Dutch trade links, it began after a Surti entrepreneur returned from East Africa bringing diamond cutters. The rough diamonds themselves, however, come to Surat as rough crystals ripped out mainly from deep under the earth of South Africa and other regions of the continent, and go from here as smooth gems to Antwerp, Belgium where the international diamond trade is run mainly by Hasidic Jews and Jains from Palanpur in North Gujarat.
Dutch Cemetery :
Located near Kataragam Gate, this impressive mausoleum is that of Baron Hendrik Adriaan Van Rheede tot Drakenstein, who died in 1691. A massive Dome, beautiful pillars and the huge gallery make it a very outstanding monument.
Dutch Garden :
Dutch Garden is a major attraction of Surat city. Other noted attractions of the Surat city include the Dutch cemetery and Makaipul, the ancient original sea port from where large shilps sailed to various parts of the world.
European Tombs :
It is said that the competition between the Dutch and the British followed them even past death. They erected grand mausoleums instead of the normal tombstones in Europe, heavily influenced, ironically, by Hindu and Islamic elements belonging to the very natives to whom they were each trying to prove their superiority as colonizers. Next door to the British and Dutch cemeteries is the churchyard of the Armenians, another important trading community from the 16th century, whose tombstones are heavily inscribed, but forgo the superstructures of the other two communities.
The cemeteries have been declared as protected monuments, but they still show signs of deterioration, both from natural weathering and from human visitors. Photography is prohibited at the sites. They may be hard to locate, but you can ask the locals to guide you.
Jama Mosque :
One of the oldest cities in South Gujarat, and the main city of the area before the center shifted to Surat. The 4-storey Jama Masjid, or Friday Mosque here was built in the 16th century reusing parts from the Jain temple that was on the site previously.
Kantareshwer Mahadev Temple :
It is very old temple since samudra manthan with three pats in shiv ling of brahma , vishnu and mahesh, previously there was the end of tapi river, now it was diverted to dumas after a so many kalp.
Marjan Shami Roza :
This mausoleum for Khwaja Safar Sulemanim, the Governor of Surat, was built by his son in 1540, with signs of Persian influence in the architecture.
This sarai, or guest house, was constructed in mid 17th century under Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for pilgrims en route to Mecca, and briefly served as a jail in 1857. The finely crafted archways and dome now stand over the Surat Municipal Corporation offices.
Sardar V Patel Museum and Planetarium :
Also known as the Sardar Sangralaya, this museum was established in 1889, and the collection represents the rich history and eclectic ethnic mix of Surat. It also provides maps for travelers. The Planetarium runs a show on the universe, in Gujarati.
Surat Castle :
In 1540, Sultan Mahmud III had this castle built with extra strength for protection against Portugese raids. It is now filled with government offices, but you can go up to the top for a marvelous view of the city and Tapi River.
Tapti River :
The Tapti River, ancient original name Tapi River, is a river in Gujarat passing from Surat and Songadh. It is one of the major rivers of India with a length of around 724 km. The river rises in the eastern Satpura Range. The Tapi River in Thailand, was named after Indias Tapti River in August 1915.
Textile Markets :
South of the Sahara Gate which opens on to Bardoli Road, the textile markets are packed with saris, salwar kameez, dress pieces, and a range of other polyester, silk, printed, and embroidered materials that Surat, once renowned for silk weaving and brocade, and is still famous for even after a history of setbacks in the textile industry.
Vir Narmad Saraswati Temple :
Poet Vir Narmad (1833-86), author of Jai Jai Garvi Gujarat and some other famous Gujarati poems, lived in this quaint house built in 1866, now restored as a memorial. Narmad actively advocated a single national language, self-governance and created literary works that sparked off an era of social reform. During the freedom struggle, freedom fighters and artists used to gather here. The Narmad library, further down in the south-west part of the city, has a large collection of books, including a sizable section for the blind.
Regarded exceedingly sacred by the Parsi and Zoroastrian community, Udvada is a coastal town near the city of Surat in the district of Valsad. It is renowned for the Zoroastrian Atash Bahram fire temple. Udvava literally stands for `grazing ground of camels`, which was actually the town`s condition, prior to becoming a fishing village. The Udvada Beach and the Iranshah or the Atash Bahram fire temple are the chief attractions. Udvada is famous for Parsi food. You can try some great Parsi food in any local restaurant. You can especially treat yourself on Fried Boi (Mullet Fish), vin-daloo fish curry, sali margi or ghosht, Rava Sheera, Dhanshak, Macaroons and nankhatai.
Dandi is situated about 13 kms. from Navsari. Here you reach the ocean, and the historic landmark where the Namak Satyagraha, also known as the Dandi March ended and Indias independence began when Mahatma Gandhi picked up a pinch of salt in protest of the British rule. Dandi is accessible by ST (State Transport) buses. Dandi also has seashore area which is known as Dandi Beach.
Dumas Sea Beach :
Dumas Sea Beach is an ideal picnic spot located about 15 km from Surat, in Gujarat. The best time to visit the beach is on tidal days.
Water Fun Park :
Water Fun Park is located 16 kms away from Surat city on Hazira road. During the summers large number of people visit the park, mostly on weekend.
Another well known health resort is Hajira, south west of Surat on the creek of the Arabian sea. Hajira has two wells with water rich in iron and sulphur. The pleasant Hajira beach is fringed by feathery casurina trees. Hajira is situated 28 kms from Surat. The pleasant Hajira Beach is fringed by feathery Casurina trees and has a comfortable holiday home for visitors.
It is situated 34 kms. from Surat. This town saw the birth of the No-Tax movement, led by Sardar Patel, in protest of the British rule under which farmers barely had enough to feed their families, let alone to pay the exorbitant taxes. It was a precursor to the Namak Satyagraha, the Salt March. The Swaraj Ashram, garden, museum, and khadi workshops, are well worth a visit, as well as the Aitihasik Ambo, a mango tree under which Gandhiji famously declared that he would settle for nothing less than independent home-rule for India. Bardoli is accessible by ST (State Transport) buses.
About 42 kms. from Surat, Ubharat is a beautiful sandy beach having a backdrop of shady palm groves. When you visit this beach dont forget to carry your swimming suits because the current of the water is very high. You cant enter in deep water of Ubharat as it is strictly prohibited.
Ukai Dam :
It is situated 94 kms from Surat. A major multipurpose irrigation project of Gujarat, the storage of water at the dam site is quite large.