Information on Surat
Surat is associated with the name Saurashtra, 'The Good Land', the regions covering the peninsula of Gujarat. It is situated on the banks of the Tapti river and owes its development to its early and sustained importance as a trading centre. It was large in 1600 and even after a decline in its fortunes the population in 1796 was estimated to be as much as 800,000. Surat is a busy commercial centre for textiles and diamonds. This city is mainly visited by the tourists who are interested in the colonial history of Surat.
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.
Dandi is situated about 13 kms. from Navsari. Dandi is the main place for the Gandhi's Salt March in 1930. It is reached along a pleasant rural road and by the strikingly empty beach are several monuments to Gandhi, including a small museum.
The castle was built in 1546 alongside the Tapti Bridge and now full of offices. The castle provides good views of the city and surrounding countryside from its bastions.
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.
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.
Navsari is situated 29 kms. south of Surat. Navsari has been a headquarters for the Parsi community since 1142.
Udvada is situated about 10 kms. north of Vapi, the station for Daman. Udvada has India's oldest Parsi sacred fire. It is said to have been brought from Persia to Diu, on the opposite coast of the Gulf of Cambay, in 700 AD.
Sanjan, in the extreme south of the state, is the small port where the Parsis first landed. A pillar marks the spot.