Gujarat is a State in northwestern India, on the border with Pakistan and Rajasthan in the north east, Madhya Pradesh in the east, and Maharashtra and the Union territories of Diu, Daman, Dadra and Nagar Haveli in the south. The Arabian Sea borders the state both to the west and the south west.
Gujarat : The State took it’s name from the Gujara, the land of the Gujjars, who ruled the area during the 700’s and 800’s.
Gujarat has an ancient history and origin to boast of. It was earlier known as Gujarata (Gurjar Rashtra), which means Gurjar nation. Gurjars was on old clan, which inhabited the area during the Mahabharat period. Another opinion regarding Gurjars is that they belonged to Central Asia and came to India during the first century. Gujarat was also inhabited by the citizens of the Indus Valley and Harappan civilizations. This was fortified by the excavations at Lothal and Dholavira.
The strong historical background of Gujarat also owes to the fact that it was ruled over by a number of mighty kings, like the Mauryas, the Scythians, the Guptas, the Solankis and the Mughals. These rulers contributed to the culture of the state significantly, by building a number of monuments and popularizing other traditional practices. The state was later inhabited by other groups, like the Gurjars and the Parsis. These groups remained under the influence of Mughals as well as Marathas till the mid 18th century.
Around 1818 AD, British brought India under the colonial rule and ruled till 1947 AD. The British built the first headquarters of East India Company at Surat. It was later shifted to Bombay, now known as Mumbai. Gujarat was also the birth place of a number of freedom fighters, who served the country selflessly. The prominent leaders were Shri Dadabhai Nauroji – the grand old man of the freedom struggle, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel – the architect of a united India and Mahatma Gandhi – the Father of the Nation.
These great souls spearheaded the national struggle for freedom and helped in the construction of modern India. They preached the virtues like tolerance, brotherhood, non-violence and patriotism amongst Indians. Some other leaders who participated in the freedom fighting were K.M.Munshi, Narhari Parikh, Mahadev Desai and Ravi Shankar Vyas. After independence, Gujarat was a part of the former Mumbai state.
In the year 1960, the people of Gujarat decided to form a new state for themselves. This led to the partition and formation of two new states Gujarat and Maharashtra. On May 1, 1960 Gujarat was declared an independent state of the Indian Union. The first capital of the newly found state of Gujarat was Ahmedabad. But, in the year 1970, it was shifted to Gandhinagar. Today, Gujarat has transformed into one of the sought-after tourist destination of India.
Gujarat is situated on the western coast of the Indian Peninsula. The state is bound by the Arabian Sea on the west, Pakistan and Rajasthan in the north and northeast, Madhya Pradesh in the southeast and Maharashtra in the south. Based on physiology and culture, Gujarat can be divided into several regions like Kutch, Saurashtra, Kathiawad, and Northeast Gujarat.
Kutch is situated on the northwestern border of the state bordering Pakistan with a maximum altitude of 300 meters and almost desert-like topography. The ridge of Jurassic sandstone in the central part of the region breaks into the landscape at several places. In the north is Rann of Kutch, a salt marsh and in the south is Little Rann of Kutch. Between Saurashtra and Khambhat is Kathiawad with a maximum altitude of 180 meters and it is flanked by sandstones in the north. It is a region made up of Deccan lavas and cut across by the lava dykes. The Central Kutch region extends to Northeast Gujarat and the region has low hills and small plains. Southeast Gujarat is an extension of the Western Ghats and receives the highest rain in the state. The forest cover in Gujarat is relatively little with 9.61% area covered with forest, it still supports more than 40 species of animals including the rare Asiatic Lion, wild ass and blackbuck. An assortment of birds and reptiles completes the tally of wildlife this state supports.
Districts of Gujarat
Gujrat has 33 districts: Ahmedabad, Anand, Bharuch, Chhota Udaipur, Dahod, Kheda, Mahisagar, Narmada, Panchmahal, Vadodara, Aravalli, Banaskantha, Gandhinagar, Mehsana, Patan, Sabarkantha, Amreli, Bhavnagar, Botad, Devbhoomi Dwarka, Gir Somnath, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Kutch, Morbi, Porbandar, Rajkot, Surendranagar,Dang, Navsari, Surat, Tapi, Valsad.
Economy of Gujarat
Gujarat is the most industrialized states in India. It attracts the cream of domestic and multinational investment in the leading sectors of the economy. The important minerals produced into the state are agate, bauxite, dolomite, fireclay, fluorite, fuller’s earth, kaolin, lignite, limestone, chalk, calcareous sea sand, perlite, petroleum and natural gas, and silica sand.
The state is the main producer of tobacco, cotton, and groundnut in the country. Gujarat also contributes inputs to industries like textiles, oil and soap. Agriculture in Gujarat forms a vital sector of the state’s economy. It has to provide the required food grains for the state’s population and raw materials for most of the agro-based industries. Unsuitable climatic conditions in some parts and rocky terrain with thin or no soils in others, have limited the area suitable for cultivation. The difficulty of drainage in coastal areas and in the two Ranns has made a large part of the state agriculturally unproductive. The state produces a large variety of crops and its cropping pattern reflects the spatial variations in climate and topography. Groundnut (highest production in the country), cotton, Tobacco (second highest production in the country), isabgul, cumin sugarcane, Jawar, Bajra, Rice, Wheat, Pulses, Tur and Gram are the important crops of Gujarat. Another cash crop, which has recently entered the field though in a few selected localities, is banana. Plenty of mangoes for export as well as home consumption are part of cash crops.
How to Reach
Apart from an international airport at Ahmedabad, Gujarat has 10 domestic airports. Most of the domestic airlines connect it to rest of India operating out of Ahmedabad.
Gujarat has a good railway network. It is well connected, not only internally, but also to other places in India.
Gujarat has a better road network than most of the other Indian states. The total length of the road in the state is 68,900 kilometer out of which 1,572 kilometer belong to National Highway. This makes Gujarat easily accessible. From most of the larger cities, regular buses are operated by Gujarat State Transport Corporation and private operators to all the major destinations of the state.
The major rivers flowing through the state include Narmada, Sabarmati, and Mahi in central and northern Gujarat; Mithi, Khari, Bhadar, Shetrunji and Bhogavo in Saurashtra and Tapi, Purna, Ambika, Auranga and Damanganga in the southern part of the state.
Gujarat had an overall literacy rate of 69.97% as per census 2001. The male literacy rate is 80.50% while the female literacy rate is 58.60%. Gujarat government is very serious about improving the education level in the state and has started several programs to achieve full literacy such as universalisation of elementary education, District Primary Education Program and compulsory primary education. The state follows a uniform 10+2 system for school education. Most schools in the state are affiliated to Gujarat state secondary and higher secondary board, while there are also schools, which are affiliated with CBSE or ICSE.
With the longest coastline in the country, Gujarat is renowned for its beaches, holy temples, historic capitals replete with immense architectural assets, wildlife sanctuaries and hill resorts. Religious spots include Dwaraka, Somanath, Pawagadh, Ambaji, Bhadreswar, Shamlaji, the Jain temples at Taranga, Girnar and Palitana with around 800 temples spread on the sacred Shetrunjaya hill and the oldest fire temple of the Parsees at Udwada. The places of memorable monuments of architectural and archeological splendour include the Sun temple at Modhera, 5000 year old architectural finds at Lothal, and the monuments at Ahmedabad, Patan, Siddhpur Ghumli, Dabhoi, Vadnagar etc; beautiful beaches include the ones at Ahmadpur- Mandvi with its ethnic beach resort and at Chorwad, Ubharat and Tithal; Porbander, the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi and his national shrine at Sabarmathi, the hill station at Saputara and game sanctuary at Gir, the last retreat of the Asiatic Lions and the Wild ass sanctuary in the Kachch area are some of the major and varied attractions in the state.