GUJARAT: THE LAND OF GUJJARS
Area: 196,024 sq km
Language: Gujarati, Hindi, English,
Best time to visit: September to March
Capital City: Gandhinagar
>Airports: Ahemedabad, Bhavnagar, Vadodra, Gandhinagar
Gujarat, the western most state of the Indian subcontinent, has a fertile plain land in the south cut by several rivers, low hills in the west, and broad mudflats in the north that adjoin the Thar (Great Indian) Desert. It shares its geographical boundaries with Maharashtra in the South, Madhya Pradesh in the East, Rajasthan in the North and international boundary with Pakistan in the North West. On West lies the great Arabian Sea providing the state probably the biggest coastline.
The climate of Gujarat is varied. The northwestern part of the state is dry, with less than 500 mm of annual rainfall, while the southern part of Gujarat experiences average of 2000 mm rainfall. The summers can be hot and the winters cold. In fact temperatures below the freezing point have been recorded in some parts of the state.
Gujarat means Gujjar Rashtra, the land of the Gujjars, the name Gujarat is derived from Gujaratta or Gujartra that is the land protected by or ruled by Gujjars, a migrant tribe which came to India in 5th century A.D. A vast coast line, beautiful architectural structures standing testimony to the various cultures of Gujarat, jungle full of wild life, the amazingly real Rann of Kutch, the handicrafts and the folk dances, the recent industrialization and the delicious savouries of the Gujarati meal; Gujarat is much more than all of this. It is a 4000 year old history! A visit to Gujarat unveils the mysteries of history.
The references of Gujarat and Saurashtra are to be found in the Mahabharata, the Arthashastra of Chanakya, Deval Smriti and Buddhist stories written during the 1st century A.D. It is believed that Lord Krishna left Mathura and resettled building a town called Dwarka on the west coast of Saurashtra. But the sign of civilization in this part dates back to the pre historic or rather the Stone Age man. Fossils of Dinosaurs have been excavated in some parts while the others have a full laid up town build by the Harrapans. The region was part of the Mauryan Empire in the 3rd century BC under King Ashoka. The state saw various kingdoms like Yadav, Maurya, Gupta and Pratihara. But Gujarat came into prominence and rose to prosperity and fame only under the regime of Chalukya (Solanki). After this glorious period, Gujarat went under the Muslim rule from the 13th century which continued for nearly 400 years either under gujarat's viceroyalty or under Muslim Sultanate. The Marathas could hardly leave any impact on Gujarat as by that time the Europeans had already entered Gujarat with Portuguese leading them followed by the Dutch and English.
Gujarat has also been an entry point for the Zoroastrians, Parsis into India, who fled Persia to escape victimization by the Muslims.
In more recent times Gujarat produced the man of the century in the world, Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation who held the mantle of Indian freedom movement. The iron man post independence, who is supposed to be the architect of modern India, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel also comes from Gujarat.
With the independence of India in 1947, Gujarat became part of the state of Bombay. In 1960 Bombay state was split up, and Gujarat was formed from the northern and western portions, which were predominantly Gujarati-speaking areas.
Gujarat is perhaps the only state in India where various religions have played an equal important role in development of the state. Apart from the prominent Hindu and Muslim religions, the Parsis, Buddhists and the Jains have left a great impact and most followers of Jainism and Zoroastrian are found here. This mixture of various cultures has produced innumerable beautiful structures in Gujarat that leave you mesmerized.
The whole of Gujarat comes alive during the nine days of Navaratri in the month of October, dancing to the folk tunes of Garba and Dandiya. The Bandhani and the Patola textiles are world famous. The Gujarati farsans and the pickles are hard to resist. A visit to Gujarat not only gives you the glimpses of the past but also offers you more, from beaches to wild life and textile to food!!