|Facts and Figures|
|Languages||Gujarati, Hindi, and English|
|Best time to visit||October to March|
The city of Surat is situated on the bank of river Tapi in the West Indian state of Gujarat. The city extends from latitude 21°15' in the North to longitude 72°52' in the East. It occupies a pivotal position on the Ahmedabad-Mumbai corridor and is well connected by railway. Surat is at a distance of 230 km from Ahmedabad, 256 km from Mumbai, and 129 km from Vadodara.
The climate of Surat is mild due to its nearness to the Arabian Sea. There is not much change in the winter and summer temperature, which ranges between 10°C to 38°C. Although one can visit Surat in any season, the best time to do so would be between October and March.
Surat finds mention in the Mahabharata when Lord Krishna stopped here during his journey from Mathura to Dwarka with his cows. According to the Sanskrit scriptures, this area was under the control of the western Chalukyas in AD 610 and remained under Hindu kings till 12th century when a general of Qutub-ud-din Aibak captured the city. The wealth and prosperity of the city started in the 12th century when Parsis first settled here. Akbar captured the city in 1573 after a long siege and it became an important Mughal trading point. Arabian traders started calling this place Bunder-E-Khubsoorat (the beautiful port), which later shortened to Surat.In 1612, the British established their trading factory here, soon to be followed by the Dutch and French. Due to political and climatic problems and growing importance of Mumbai, Surat lost its prominence. In 1852, Surat became the first municipality of Gujarat and gradually it became a major business city famous for its textile industry.
SITES TO VISIT
In 1546, the Sultan of Gujarat built a castle in Surat on the banks of the Tapi. Nowadays, this place houses several government offices.
There are English, Dutch, and Armenian cemeteries around the Kataragama Gate. There is a massive mausoleum of Baron Adrian Van Reede, who died here in 1691.
Sardar Patel Museum was established in 1898 and originally named as Winchester Museum. It displays over 10,000 exhibits of arts and crafts. The museum is open from 11.45 am to 13.45 pm on Tuesday to Saturday and 14.45 pm to 17.45 pm on Sunday. The museum remains closed on Monday and public holidays.
Surat is home to many Hindu, Jain, and Parsi temples and mosques.
Duma is around 16 km off Surat and a popular health resort on the Arabian Sea. Accommodation facilities are available in various cottages around the place.
Hajira (28 km) is a seaside resort and famous as a picnic spot.
Ubharat is an upcoming beach resort around 42 km off Surat.
Navsari is around 29 km south of Surat and known as the headquarters of Parsis since their settlement in Surat.
Udvada, near Surat, has the distinction of having the oldest sacred fire of Parsis in India. It is said that the fire was brought from Persia.
FAIRS AND FESTIVALS
In the month of January/February, a week preceding Holi, the local tribes have a major festival in the forested region. The festival is known as Dang Durbar.
WHERE TO STAYBeing a major business center, there are good accommodation options available in the city. Majority of the hotels are in the budget category but some standard options also exist. Some of the hotels provide restaurant, conference hall, swimming pool, travel desk, and credit card acceptance facility.
WHAT TO EATDining at Surat and dying at Varanasi, so the saying goes, is the way to heaven. A peculiar thing about Gujarati cuisine is that sugar is added to every preparation. The traditional (thali) meal carries four vegetables (two green vegetable preparations, one of potato and one kathod), dal (pulses), curry, roti (wheat flour bread), rotla (sorghum bread), rice, khichari, a pudding, and accompaniments (butter milk, papad, kachumbver, athana, etc.).
The food, whether at home or in a restaurant, is not overly laced in oil and despite the rich ingredients is healthy and satisfying. Something one can enjoy again and again.
HOW TO REACHSurat does not have an airport. Baroda, situated around 140 km from Surat, is the nearest airport.
Surat is an important railway station on Western Railway’s network and is connected to all parts of the country.
The National Highway 8 connects Surat to all parts of Gujarat. The distances to some important centers from Surat are Ahmedabad, 267 km; Baroda, 140 km; Mumbai, 326 km; Bhavnagar, 422 km; Okhla, 706 km; Junagarh, 550 km; Jamnagar, 531 km; Bhuj, 619 km; and Palanpur, 434 km.
There are regular state transport and private buses from Surat to the important centers of the region and Gujarat. Tourist taxis, auto-rickshaws, and city bus service are available from the main bus stand.
For local transport, tourist taxis, auto-rickshaws, and city buses are available.
INFORMATIONFor further information on Surat, tourists may contact the tourist office at 1/847 Athugar Street, Nanpura (Phone: 426586).
Internet and STD/ISD facilities are available throughout the city. Many of the banks in the city exchanges money and traveler’s cheques.
|Indian Culture History|