Gujarat has always been a field for conquering colonizing races. Ethnic and linguistic movements from the northern plains and the western ocean brought with them their own languages, arts and crafts, poetry, thought forms, social practices, historical traditions, religious practices, historical traditions. religious practices and philosophy. Gujarat therefore has the greatest number of sub-division of communities in India. Proximity to the sea and the Gujarati's consequent flair for maritime and mercantile pursuits developed a strong spirit of enterprise, practical wisdom and catholicity of taste among them. Continuous seafaring activities produced a well-to-do rniddle-class which wielded considerable influence.
Traders and artisans formed powerful guilds and made business, trade and the acquisition of wealth a strong tradition in Gujarat. Gujarat spreads itself into the regions of Kaccha (Kutch), Saurashtra and the verdant territories between the rivers Banas and Damanganga. These are fertile lands of wheat, Cotton, groundnut and banana plantations kept green by the Banas, Sabarmati, Mail, Tapi and Narmada Rivers on the coastal plains and the Bhadar, Setrunji and Bhogavo on the peninsular plains.
A large part of the southern border of Gujarat is covered with hills which are extension of the Western Ghats lying outside the state. In Gujarat the tourist can still see some of the pomp and glory that was princely India until recently. The greatest son of Gujarat and of India in modern times was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who led India to freedom through the practice of non-violence and gave the world his message of peace, love and truth. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who welded the country into a single political entity soon after India became free in 1947, also belonged to Gujarat. .
Tourist Places to visit in Gujarat
On the banks of the rivers Sabarmati, is the formsr capital ef Gujarat and the second largest industrial centre in Western lndia. It has been called the "Manchester of East". For its textile Industries. Ahmadabad founded by Sultan Ahmed Shah I over 500 years ago, is famous for its lovely buildings in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture. The Indo-Islamic style of architecture is the creation of Hindus working for Muslim kings. Ahmadabad's architecture belongs to the second period ofthe Gujarat style, which came into being in the 15th century under the inspiration of the founder of Ahrnadabad, Ahrned Shah I. There is much to see in Ahmadabad. One of the many textile mills has an attached textile museum. An interesting institution is the Gujarat Vidyapeeth founded by Mahatma Gandhi.
Although Ahmadabad initially became the capital of Gujarat when the old state of Bombay was split into Maharashtra and Gujarat, a nsw capital was planned on the west bank of the Sabarmati named Gandhinagar.
About 18 km South of Ahmadabad lies the Garden city of Baroda which has boulevards lined by ilaming gulmohurs. Baroda, once the capital of the princely state of Baroda, is 393 km from Bombay on the rail-route to Delhi. It is a graceful city of gardens, palaces and shady avenues.
Surat, on the banks of Tapti, is 262 km. to the north of Bombay city on the Western Railway. It is known as the "Gate of Mecca" and an emporium for trade. Most of its population is engaged in three professions diamond cutting and polishing, gold and silver work called zari and synthetic textiles. Surat is equally known for its distinctive cuisine. A castle was built in 1546 which is no longer of great interest but there is a good view of the city and river from its bastions.
Bhavnagar, founded in 1723, and formerly a princely State, is a port on the Gulf of Cambay a busy trade centre for the export of cotton. The Barton Museum ( 1895) contains a collection of arms, armour and coins. T'he Takhleswar temple here sits on the highest hillock. The views over the city and out into the Gulf of Cambay are excellent.
A mile to tha south of Palitana is the hill of Satrunjaya, the most sacred of the five hills of the Jains (the others being Girnar, Abu, Taringa and Samet Sikhar), Palitana is 29 km. by rail from Sihor, which itself is 1 1l2 hours journey by train from Bhavnagar. Satrunjaya originally had two distinct peaks. There are steps leading to the summit and it takes 1 1/2 hours for the ascent and an hour for the descent. On the surnmit there are 863 temple. It is literally a city packed with temples. It is the ambition of every Jain to visit Satrunjaya at least once in the life-time and to build a temple there if it is within his means. The temples of Adinath, Kumar Pal, Vimal Shah, Sampriti Raja and Chaumukh are the most famous. The most sacred site is occupied by the temple of Sri Adisvara. Chaumukh, its architecture is more ornate. The temple jewels, which can be seen by special request, are of fabulous value. On top, one should not miss the wonderful view of the surrounding hills and valleys, especially of the river Satrunj aya.
Only a few km from Somnath, it was a major seaport for Mecca Pilgrims before the rise of Surat. It still has some importance as one of India's major fishing ports.
Somnath Patan, also known as Prabhas Patan and Deva Patan, is the "Somenat" of Marco Polo. About 5 km to the south-east of Veraval. The old Somnath Temple (said to have been built first of gold, then of silver, next of wood and then of stone) was destroyed by the invader Mahmud of Ghazni in 1024. A new temple on the exact site of the original has now been built. The confluence of three rivers to the east of the town provides a sacred spot for pilgrirns.
Sasangir Lion Sanctuary :- The only home of the Asian lion, the Gir Forest covers an area of about 1334 sq. km. (515 sq. miles). About 300 Lions and cubs roam the forest reserve where they enjoy protection from molestation. The best season for a visit to the Gir Forest is from March to May when the lions can be watched with ease at the watering places. The forest remains open to the public from December to June till the first shower). The best time to see the lions is in the evening. A fine guest house in the heart of the forest can accommodate a party of 20 persons. The shooting of Lions is strictly forbidden, but there is other game, such as , the Nilgai, spotted deer, Sambar, panther wild boar, four-horned Antelope and Chinkara as well as smaller game Shooting seasons should he observed.
This well-laid-out port, another former capital of a princely state. lts charm lies in a combination of the old and the new. The palace, which can visited only by special permission, has a collection of Victorian paintings. Right in the heart of the town, in the middle of a lake and approached by a stone bridge are two magnificent old buildings-the Kotha Bastion and lakhota. One of the curiosities of the former is an ancient well, water from which as obtained by blowing into a small hole in the flooring of the building. Lalthota is of special interest to the visitor as it is also the local museum. The more modern among institutions are the Solarium and the Ayurvedic College where the Indian systern of medicine, known as `Ayurveda, is taught. For a picnic, Sursagar Lake is within easy motoring distance. Jamnagar's markets are famous for their bandhni (tie-anddye) textiles, silk and gold embroidery and metal ware.
Situated on the extreme western tip of the Saurashtra peninsula, Dwaraka is one of the seven most important places of Hindu pilgrimage. The present temple at Dwaraka is ascribed to Vajranabh, the grandsan of Krishna, wha is believed to have built it in one night. The temple of Dwarakanath (Lord of Dwaraka) consists of the sanctum. a spacious hall of audience (the roof is supported by 60 columns) and conical spire , about mt 52 m in height. The main part of the temple in five storeys reaches a height of 30 m. The sanctum elaborate ornamentation, and over the entrance is the sculptured figure of Lord Ganpati ( son of Shiva, recognised by his elephant-head), who is also known as Ganesh.
Porbunder is famous as the birth-place of Mahatma Gandhi, who led India to freedom and is a picturesque little sea side resort. It is identified with Sudampauri of the epic times and visitors can still see the old temple of Sudama, a friend of Lord Krishna. It has several large cement and chemical factories and a textile mill. A massive break water was recently constructed to shelter a deep water wharf and fishing harbour.
The tourist would do well to make Rajkot the starting-point of his tour of Saurashtra region. Rajkot has spacious houses , gardens and government offices-some of them housed in princely buildings, sisace this was formerly the capital of a princely state. The Library, the Museum and the Public Hall, all situated in the Jubilee Gardens, serve as a good introduction to Saurashtra's cultural tradition. The other sights are two lakes a park and race course, which is not used for racing nowadays but provides a venue for a pleasant evening walk. Mahatma Gandhi spent the earlier part of his life in Rajkot where his father was the Diwan (chief minister) of the state.
Against the shimmering water of the Arabian Sea, the Kandla port has ail the potentialities of becoming the main gateway for the trade of north-west India. As a result of careful planning and concentrated effort, this port with its township, Gandhidham, has in a few years become a symbol of modern India. The plan of township was prepared by a team of distinguished American town planning consultants and provides for future expansion.