Gujarat, Capital city Ghandinagar
Area : 196024 kms
Gujarat lies to the north east of the Gulf of Cambay. On its western and southwestern boundaries lies the Arabian Sea. To the northwest lies the country of Pakistan. Northeast of the state borders with Rajasthan, east of the state borders with the state of Madhya Pradesh. To the southeast is the state of Maharashtra.
Gujarat’s history dates back to the period from 3000 to 1500 BC. The region was part of the Mauryan Empire in the 3rd century BC under King Ashoka. In 1818 the English East India Company took control of 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. Most of the remainder of Bombay state became Maharashtra state, with a small portion going to Karnataka state.
Gujarat is situated on the Western Indian coast having a 1,600 kms long Arabian Sea coastline. It stretches from Kutch in the West to Daman in the South and the hilly tract from Aravalli in the East to the Western hills with lush green forests, rivers as well as plains. The State of Gujarat comprises of 25 districts
Places of Interest
Baroda is known as the garden city of Gujarat. It is a graceful city of palaces, temples, parks and museums. It is also often called as the cultural capital of Gujarat. It is a city of powerful dynastic rulers.
Set up on the quiet peaceful stretch of Sabarmati River, 7 kms north of the city Ahmedabad, this was the Hriday Kunj of Mahatma Gandhi and for many years it was the nerve centre of India's freedom movement. It was from here, in 1930, that Mahatma began his famous Dandi March to the sea to protest against the salt tax imposed by the British.
Surat, a city in Gujarat stands on the banks of the River Tapti and was once one of western India's major ports and trading towns during Mughal Period. For centuries, it has been known as a center of trade and textiles. The ancient port of Surat was famous for its fine silks and exquisite brocades and trade in spices and also for pilgrims to sail for Mecca. It is also an important diamond-cutting centre too.
Flora & Fauna
Gujarat is a unique state that has many kinds of habitats. These varied landforms include dry deciduous forests, majestic grasslands, wetlands, marine ecosystems and rich moist deciduous forests. These habitats are home to some extremely rare wildlife. Out of recorded groups of animals in India, Gujarat has 14% of fishes, 18% of reptiles, 37% of birds, and 25% of mammals. The Asiatic Lion is found only in Gir. The Wild Ass in the Rann of Kutch, the rare great Indian bustard in the bird reserves, the world's only four-horned antelope and the Black Buck are some other valued species protected in Gujarat. The dugong and the rare boralia species also find a safe haven here.
Gujarat has the longest coastline stretching around 1666 km in India and it has many a splendid beach. The beaches of Gujarat are a treat for the senses. Most of them are ideal for swimming, snorkeling and so many other water sports. Some of the famous beaches are : Chowrad beach, dwarka beach and Somnath beach.
Rivers and Lakes
The major rivers of Gujarat are Mahi, Narmada and the Tapti
The leading crops are rice, durra, maize (corn), peanuts, cotton, and tobacco.
Weather and Climate
The temperature varies from 27º C to 42º C in summer, 14º C to 29º C in winter; monsoon is from June to Sept. The climate of the state is tropical, however, the same is considerably moderated due to the long coastline. The rainfall received in the state varies from region to region.
Gujarat comprises several different ethnic groups, including the Bhil and the Kol. The majority of the population lives in small, rural villages
More than 70 percent of the population is Hindu; there are also significant minorities of Muslims and Jains in Gujarat.
International Kite festival
International Kite festival is held at Ahmedabad on January 14 every year, to coincide with the festival of Uttarayan or Makar Sankranti.. A tremendous variety of kites are seen with friends, neighbours and total strangers indulging in kite fights. The nights see the arrival of the illuminated box kites, often in a series strung on one line, to be launched into the sky. Known as Tukkals, these kites add a touch of splendour to the dark sky.
The festival draws expert kite-makers and flyers not only from cities of India but also from around the world.
The full moon of Bhadrapad is one of the four most important festival days of the year, when farmers and agriculturists come to Ambaji, a place that derives its name from Goddess Ambaji whose shrine is located here. On this occasion, a large fair is organized on full moon days. In the evening, performances of Bhavai, the folk drama of the state is held and Garba programmes are organized. The devout attend readings of the Saptashati, the seven hundred verses in praise of the goddess and visit the temple for a darshan (worship) of her.
The Kutch Mahotsav aptly called the 'Mahotsav' (great festival) is a guided tour of the life and times of Kutch. Kutch Mahotsav is usually organized during February and March each year. The tour includes a visit to Bhuj at the heart of Kutch, Mata no Madh, an old temple dedicated to the mother goddess believed to be 1200 years old. The Mahotsav also takes you to Narayan Sarovar, one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites for orthodox Hindus, Koteshwar and Bhadreshwar, also important pilgrimage centres along the Mahotsav circuit.
It is said in the Bhagvath Purana that Kansa had sent Akrur to Gokul for bringing Sri Krishna to Mathura as Krishna had left with his brother Balram by a chariot leaving behind the Gopis and Gopals weeping, the day is celebrated in remembrance of this most touching separation and farewell.
The mammoth procession of Rath Yatra at Ahmedabad is the biggest in Gujarat. There are three separate chariots for the idols of Krishna, Balram and their sister Subhadra. The chariots resemble those at Jagannath Puri and are adorned with garlands. Music bands and Bhajan Mandlis lead the procession. Decorated elephants also move with the procession and gymnasts and acrobats perform astonishing feats. Numerous sadhus of all Vaishnavite sects and devotees join in this procession headed by the Mahant of Jagannath Temple.
The day after Holi is Dhuleti or Dhuli Padvo. Literally it means throwing of mud, the practice that has given way to throwing of vermilion. At times the merrymaking lapses into unrestricted revelry as youngsters indulge into throwing paste colours, not only on their friends but also on strangers taking advantage of the tolerance granted on the occasion. In the villages of Panchmahals Adivasi men play a martial game known as Gol-Gadheda in which the women after snatching a shoulder scarf from a man, ties it on a tree top with a lump of molasses. It is the job of the man to retrieve it from there not an easy task as women vigorously guard the tree. The game goes on till one of the men succeed in securing the bundle.
Gujarat has two official languages: Gujarati, which is derived from Sanskrit, and Hindi.
Gujarat has successfully preserved its rich tradition of song, dance and drama. Most of the art traditions trace back their origin to the ancient period of Lord Krishna.
It is believed that Lord Krishna spent his boyhood days at Gokul and charmed its people with his ability to dance and play the flute. Later when he became the ruler of Dwarka, he not only distinguished himself as a great statesman and philosopher but also ensured that folk dance and music thrived in his kingdom. Since then, the people of Gujarat have maintained their strong tradition in folk dances and have preserved them in all their majestic glory. The most popular amongst these are the Ras and Garba. Other popular forms of folk dances in Gujarat are Tippani Nritya, Siddi dance, Padhar Nritya, Dangi Nritya and other local tribal dances.
It is a circular dance performed by women around an earthenware pot called a garbo, filled with water. A betel nut and a silver coin are placed within the pot, called a kumbh, on top of which a coconut is placed. As the dancers whirl around the pot, a singer and a drummer provide the musical accompaniment. The participants clap in a steady rhythm.
Almost strictly vegetarian, the cuisine consists of rice and a variety of wheat breads. Crisp spicy fried farsans, which can be bought in wayside stalls. The famous Gujarati thali served at weddings consists of farsans, sweetmeats and a variety of sweet and sour chutneys and pickles.