A port city, Surat is one of the most important places in the state of Gujarat. Surat, previously known as Suryapur. It is the administrative capital of the Surat district. The city is located on the south of Tapi River. Surat was awarded “Best City” by the Annual Survey of Indian’s City Systems (ASICS) in 2013. Surat is selected as the first smart IT city in India which is being constituted by the Microsoft City Next initiative tied up with IT services majors Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro.A major industrial hub, it is a city with a high standard of living.
The history of Surat dates back to the time of Mahabharata. The city has its mention in the epic as well as in other ancient books. During the 13th Century, it was also referred to as “Suryapur” by the Brahmin. The prosperity of the modern Surat increased during the 16th century when European traders started coming in. The port of Surat became an extremely important and significant route for traders. The Portuguese and the British fought with each other to establish their dominance on the port. The great emperor Shivaji attacked the city several times, which eventually went into the hands of the British in 1613 and become the first English settlement in India. Surat also turned out as an important port and transit point for Mecca. Surat also took active participation in India’s freedom movement and went through severe socio-political turmoil for many years before the Indian Independence.
Finance and Economy of Surat
- Diamond Polishing: The importance of the city grows with the fact that the flourishing diamond cutting and polishing industry in Surat is the best in the world.
- Textiles: Since it is known for producing textiles, including silk, Surat is known as the textile hub of the nation or the Silk City of India. It is very famous for its cotton mills too. Surat is the biggest centre of MMF (Man – Made Fibre) in India. It has a total 381 dyeing and printing mills and 41,000 powerloom units. Surat produce 9 million meters of fabric annually, which accounts for 60% of the total polyester cloth production in India. Now the city is focusing on increasing the exports of its textile.
- Information Technology:There are many SME Domestic IT Companies present in Surat. MNC IT companies like IBM, TCS, HCL, and Wipro are having satellite or virtual branch in Surat. Surat city administration will demand for setting up of an Information Technology (IT) hub and an Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIT) on the outskirts of the city.
- Air: Surat Airport has direct air connectivity with Delhi. Airlines companies such as Air India operate daily flight except Thursday from Surat. Ventura air operates daily flight from Surat to Bhavnagar and Rajkot.
- Rail: Surat Railway Station is under the administrative control of the Mumbai Division, Western Railway zone of the Indian Railways. The erection of Surat Railway Station began in 1860.
- Transport:The major highways passing through Surat are the Udhana-Mumbai Highway also known as Udhana-Navsari Highway, Surat-Ahmedabad Highway also known as Varachha Main Road. The Golden Quadrilateral Highway System passes through Surat. The city is connected to the National Highway 8 through a 16 km connector highway.
- Local Transport: Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), CNG-fulled bus system, Auto, Cab Service. The twin cities of Surat and Navsari will be connected by Metro Railway under this project. Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) is confident of making the metro rail project a reality in the city by 2017-18.
Culture and Festivals
Surat is known for its cuisine, which includes perennial favourites such as “Ghari”, Locho, Petis, Undhiyu, RasaawalaKhaman, SuratiKhaman (Spicy), SarasiyaKhaja and Surati Chinese. Unlike cuisines in other parts of Gujarat, Surti Cuisine is quite spicy. Roadside kiosks, called “laaris” or “rekdis”, are quite popular in Surat. Ponk is a roasted cereal that is available only in this part of the world. An old sating in Gujarati “Surat nu JamananeKashi nu Maran”, means “Eat in Surat and Die in Kashi” to have the best for one’s soul.
The major hindu festivals are celebrated in Surat. Navratri, Diwali and Ganesh Chaturthi are celebrated with great enthusiasm. The kite-flying festival of Uttarayan, which falls on Makar-SanKranti – 14 or 15 January.
SardarVallabhbhai National Institute of Technology, Surat one of 30 National Institute of Technology in India that are recognized as Institute of National Importance by Government of India, is situated on Athwa-Dumas road. Most of the regional colleges are affiliated to Veer Narmad South Gujarat University. Apart from that colleges are also affiliated to SNDT, Gujarat Technological University and other universities. UkaTarsadia University is providing Engineering, Pharmacy, Education, and Medical in satellite town Bardoli.
Places to visit in Surat
- The Chintamani Jain Temple: The exquisite wooden carvings and paintings are the major attractions of the temple. The temple, actively maintained and visited by the city’s Jains, is situated in the Shahpor area and dates back to the 15th century. It houses some extremely rare paintings of the Jain monk Acharya Hemchandra, and of the Solanki king Kumarpal.
- Dutch Garden: The ancient Dutch gardens, the Dutch gardens, the Dutch cemetery and makaipul, the ancient original port from where the ships sailed to other parts of the world are other attraction.
- The Surat Fort:The old Fort was built by Britishers in the 1616. It is now used for municipal offices.
- The Sardar Patel Museum: Established in 1998, and originally called the Winchester Museum; this museum has a collection of over 10000 specimens of arts and crafts, now in the new Science Centre Campus on Citylight road.
- Jawaharlal Nehru Garden:Colloquially known as Chowpaty, this is the largest and one of the oldest gardens in the city. It houses a musical fountain as well.
- Dumas Beach: Dumas Beach is a beach located along the Arabian Sea around 21 km South West of the City Centre.
- The Dutch Cemetery: Located near Kataragam Gate, this impressive mausoleum is that of Baron Hendrik Adriaan Van Rheede tot Drakenstein, who died in 1961. A massive dome, beautiful pillars and the huge gallery make it an outstanding monument.
- Gavier Lake: A wetland conserved by Nature Club Surat is located near airport. It attracts various migratory birds. It is place worth visiting for the nature lovers visiting Surat.
- Science Centre:Developed by the Surat Municipal Corporation in Citylight area, Science Centre currently comprises a dedicated section for science exhibits, planetarium, art gallery and a museum dedicated to the history of Surat. It also has an auditorium with a seating capacity of 240 and an amphitheatre with seating capacity of 200.