Surat Travel Guide
places of interest
Places of interest
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 15 century and houses some extremely rare paintings of the Jain monk Acharya Hemachandra, and of the Solanki King Kumarpal. Any visit to the city would be incomplete without a visit here especially for Jains.
Dutch Garden — The ancient Dutch gardens, the Dutch cemetery and Makaipul, the ancient original port from where the ships sailed to other parts of the world are other attractions.
The Old Fort — The Old Fort was built by Muhammad bin Tughluq in the 1546 to fortify the defence against the Bhils. It is now used for municipal offices.
The Sardar Patel Museum — Established in 1898, and origially called the Winchester Museum;, this museum has a collection of over 10,000 specimens of arts and crafts.
Rangupavan — It is an open air theater with a 18 meters by 10.5 meters stage and a capacity of around 4000 spectators. This is one of the biggest theaters in the country. Rangupavan was recently closed.
Gaurav Path — A well planned and well-built major road in New Surat area of the city. Home of multiplexes, shopping malls, show-rooms, restaurants and much more. This expressway connects Surat with its airport and Port of Magdalla sea port. SVNIT is also located on it as well as the beautiful 'Lake View Garden'. A plan to stretch this expressway to Dumas.
Choppati — This is also a very popular place in the city. It has a large garden and provides Indian fastfood like Paav Bhajee and Pani puri.
Udhana - An large Industrial town only 7kms south of Surat hosts more than 3000 industrial units and corporates. Also known as industrial hub of Surat. Also Gateway of South Surat.
Saputara is a hill station in the Sahyadri Hills only 150 km from Surat at an altitude of 1500 metres above sea level.The nearest Hill-Station of Surat. Lying at a higher altitude Saputara has a cool climate and dense forest. Also known as the Nilgiris of Gujarat.
Vansda National Park — It is situated in the Navsari district and is home to leopards, tigers, panthers,pythons and wild boars. The best time to visit is between July and January.
Beaches — There are a number of beaches near Surat. Only 16 km away, Dumas is a popular resort with locals. Suvali is 28 km from the city and Ubhrat is 42 km out, while Tithal is 108 km away and only five km from Valsad on the Mumbai to Vadodara railway line. Suvali has two wells with water rich in iron and sulphur. Suvali beach is fringed by feathery casurina trees.
Thirty-nine kilometres south of Surat, Navsari- The Twin City of Surat has been a headquarters for the Parsi community since the earliest days of their settlement in India. Udvada, only 10 km north of Vapi, the station for Daman, has the oldest Parsi sacred fire in India. It is said that the fire was brought from Persia to Diu, on the opposite coast of the Gulf of Cambay, in AD 700. Sanjan, in the extreme south of the state, is the small port where the Parsis first landed; a pillar marks the spot.
The Dutch Cemetery — Located near Kataragam Gate, this impressive mausoleum is that of Baron Hendrik Adriaan Van Rheede tot Drakenstein, who died in 1691. A massive Dome, beautiful pillars and the huge gallery make it a very outstanding monument.
Science City — It is being developed by the Surat Municipal Corporation in City Light area and will be one of the most attractive places in the city in the near future.
Culture and Festivals
Culture and Festivals
Surat is known for its Surti cuisine, which includes perennial favorites such as Ghari (a type of mithai), Locho, Undhiyu, Rasaawala Khaman, and Surti Chinese. Surti cuisine is not as sweet as other Gujarati food, and is quite spicy. Roadside kiosks, called "laaris" or "rekdis", are popular. In the cooler winter months, Suratis converge at river Tapi's banks to eat Ponk, a roasted cereal that is available only in this part of the world.
All major Indian festivals are celebrated in Surat. Navratri, Diwali and Ganesh Chaturthi are celebrated with great enthusiasm. The kite-flying festival of Utraan which falls on Makar Sankranti — 14 January — is very popular in the city. It is also well known for the celebration of Chandi Padvo which usually occurs around October and is a holiday unique to Surat. This day comes after one of the two biggest full moon days of the Hindu calendar year, "Sharad Purnima". On this day, Surtis buy almost 100 tons of Ghari and other Surti delicacies, then head to the city's seaside beach area, Dumas where they have dinner and a late night snack under the full moonlit sky.
Surat formerly known as Suryapur, is the eighth largest city in India. The city proper is the seventh most populous city in India and 49th in the world. Surat is the administrative capital of Surat district.
The city is situated on the left bank of the Tapti River, 14 miles from its mouth. The Population of Surat with its Twin City Navsari is above 6.3 million as of 2009. A moat divides the older parts of the city, with its narrow streets and handsome houses, and the newer suburbs. The city is largely recognized for its textile and diamond businesses. It is also known as the diamond capital of the world and the textile capital of India. 92% of the world's diamonds are cut and polished in Surat. Surat is also the third cleanest city in India after Chandigarh and Gandhinagar. Surat was once the largest city in India. It has one of the highest GDP growth rates in India at 11.5% as of 2008. Surat was the primary port of India during the Mughal period, a distinction it lost to Bombay during the British Raj.
In the early centuries during the reign of the Mughal emperor Jahangir, the port of Surat was used as the gateway to Makkah for pilgrims of the hajj from India's interior regions. Both the Makkai Pool and the Mughal Sarai guest house for hajjis (pilgrims) are indicators of this historical significance.
Surat is mentioned in the Sanskrit epic, the Mahābhārata when Lord Krishna stopped there en route from Mathura to Dwarka. According to other later Sanskrit records, the area was ruled by the Western Chālukyas in 610 CE, and continued to be ruled by Hindu kings until one of Quṭbuddīn Aibak's generals captured it. The Parsis started to settle there in the 12th century, and added greatly to its prosperity. Local traditions state that the city was founded in the last years of the fifteenth century by a Brahman named Gopi, who called it Suryapūr, or 'City of the Sun'. In 1512 and 1530 Surat was burned and ravaged by the Portuguese who were trying to maintain influence in the area. In 1513 the Portuguese traveler, Duarte Barbosa, described Surat as an important seaport, frequented by many ships from Malabar and various parts of the world. By 1520 the name of the city was Surat.
Surat eclipsed Khambhat as the major port of western India, when Khambhat's harbour began to silt up by the end of fifteenth century. During the reigns of the Mughal emperors Akbar, Jahāngīr and Shāh Jahān, Surat rose to become a chief commercial city of India and an imperial mint was established there. As the major port on the west coast of India, Surat also served as the port for the Hajj to Mecca. At the end of the 16th century, the Portuguese were undisputed masters of the Surat sea trade. There still is a picturesque fortress on the banks of the river built in 1540.
In 1608, ships from the British East India Company started docking in Surat, using it as a trade and transit point. In 1613, the British Captain Best, followed by Captain Downton, overcame Portuguese naval supremacy and obtained an imperial firman establishing a British factory at Surat following the Battle of Swally. The city was made the seat of a presidency under the British East India Company after the success of the embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the court of emperor Jehangir. The Dutch also founded a factory.
Surat Panoromic View
At its zenith, Surat was popularly viewed as the city of Kubera, the God of Wealth. In 1664 the Maratha King Shivaji attacked Surat, a key Mughal power centre, and a wealthy port town which generated a million rupees in taxes. (see- Battle of Surat). When Shivaji arrived in Surat, he demanded tribute from the Mughal commander of the army stationed for port security. The tribute was refused and instead of battling the Marathas, the Mughal commander(Stationed at the the Surat fort) sent an emissary to assassinate Shivaji, but in vain. Shivaji conquered the city and forces under his command exacted their revenge. Shivaji's army sacked Surat for nearly 3 weeks, looting both the Mughal and Portuguese trading centers. Men's were killed and women were molested or taken as slaves as was the Maratha practise. The poor were spared.
The prosperity of Surat received a fatal blow when Bombay was ceded to the British as part of the dowry for Catherine of Braganza's wedding to Charles II in 1662. Shortly afterwards, in 1668, the British East India company established a factory in Bombay (Mumbai) and Surat began its relative decline concurrent with the rise of British interests in Bombay.
Surat was sacked again by Shivaji in 1670. By 1689, the British East India Company had moved the presidency to Bombay. At its height, Surat's population reached an estimated 800,000, but by the middle of the 19th century the number had fallen to 80,000. The British took control of Surat again in 1759, and assumed all government powers of the city in 1800.
The city and the surrounding district remained comparatively tranquil during British rule. Even during the Revolt of 1857 (also known as the first struggle for India's independence), peace was not disturbed, owing to the largely mercantile interests of the local population.In the 19th century the Bawamia family was the wealthiest and most powerful family in the city of Surat, they were also heavily involved in the development of the city by focusing on maximizing exports to increase revenue and hence increase savings which led to investment in the diamond industry.
A fire and a flood in 1837 destroyed many of buildings of Surat. Among the interesting monuments that survive that destruction are the tombs of English and Dutch merchants and their families, dating to the 17th century, including those of the Oxenden brothers.
By the early 20th century, the population had slowly climbed to 119,306 and Surat was a center of trade and manufacturing, although some of its former industries, such as shipbuilding, were extinct. There were cotton mills, factories for ginning and pressing cotton, rice-cleaning mills and paper mills. Fine cotton goods were woven on hand-looms, and there were special manufactures of silk brocade and gold embroidery (known as Jari). The chief trades were organized in guilds. Manufacturing and trading brought an eclectic mix of ethnicity to the city, making Surat's culture unique.
In 1992, violent riots took place between Hindus and Muslims, the first and worst of their kind in the modern history of Surat. In 1994, a combination of heavy rains and blocked drains led to flooding of the city. A number of dead street animals and public waste were not removed in time and a plague epidemic spread through the city, which caused a number of countries to impose travel and trade sanctions. The municipal commissioner during that time, S. R. Rao and the people of Surat worked hard in the late 1990s to clean the city up, after which it was recognized in many circles as the 'second-cleanest city in India'. (See 1994 plague epidemic in Surat.)
get there and around
get there and around
The developing city Surat's infrastructure is improving rapidly. Surat has excellent roads according to Business Today Magazine. SMC tries to improve road infrastructure like Gandhinagar. Recently four Ring-Roads were introduced by CEPT from Ahmedabad IIM which are; 1.Old Ring Road, 2.Inner Ring Road, 3.Middle Ring Road, 4.Outer Ring Road which will definitely improve the traffic problems of Surat. The Outer Ring Road which starts near Palsana forms ring and leaving routes to the city of Surat from various points and connects Surat smoothly with its Suburbs. The city has recently seen the completion of a large number of road projects, particularly elevated roads, or flyovers, in the diamond and textile zones of the city. This has significantly cut down the commuting time for many people traveling to the diamond and textile districts. One of the very few "Multi-Layer Flyovers" in India is now in Surat over Majura Gate. The Varachcha flyover of Surat is India's longest flyover under city municipal limits in the four lane category.
The Golden Quadrilateral highway system passes through Surat. The city is connected to the National Highway 8 through a 16 km connector highway. National highway 6, also known as Surat - Kolkata Highway, starts from Hazira and passes through surat city and connects the city to Dhule, Nagpur, Sambalpur, Kharagpur and Kolkata.National highway 228, also known as Dandi Heritage highway, starts from Sabarmati in Ahmedabad and passes through Anand, Kheda, Ankleshwar and passes through Surat city to Navsari and ends up in Dandi.
Surat is connected to the national railway system through the Western Railways. It is connected to Mumbai and beyond to south India. There are also links to New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Indore, Jabalpur, Satna, Patna, Bhopal and other cities to the north. The Surat Railway Station is in the eastern-central part of the city near major hotels and business houses. There is also a connection to the Central Railways through Udhana Railway Junction and the Tapti line which connects Surat with central India and cities like Jalgaon,Amravati. There are numerous daily trains that travel to the north, south and east throughout the day. Passenger trains range from local trains that stop at all stations on the way to express trains like the August Kranti Rajdhani Express. In addition, there are goods trains that move the goods produced by the city to the rest of the country and beyond, and bring supplies into the city.
Till May 2006 Surat was the only city in the world with a population of over 4.9 million people without a functioning airport. Construction of Surat Airport was suspended due to technical reasons in 2004. The new airport finally became functional with Surat-Delhi IA flight on 6 May 2007. Currently daily flights are also operated to Ahmedabad and Jaipur. By June 2012,Surat will get a Fully fledged International Airport which is under construction at Magdalla-Dumas near Surat. The current plan proposed by Air India is to serve the Jeddah flight from Surat which will decrease pressure on Ahmedabad Airport in Peak season of Hajj. This would be first International flight service from Surat Airport which will be available from 2010.
On 22nd August 2008, the SMSS bus service was opened by the city Mayor Dr. Kanubhai Mavani. It is considered the best city bus services in India. These buses are CNG-fueled and have an LCD screen in the front giving details about the journey. The conductor uses an electronic machine to print out the tickets. The bus stops are modern and comfortable. The bus service in general is relatively hi-tech and modern.
Surat has successfully started BRTS project and is expected to get BRTS, Bus Rapid Transit System, by 2010. Surat is expected to get a Metro by 2015 in its 1ST phase Surat will be connected by Navsari which is 40 km. In the 2nd phase Udhana and Hazira will be connected which is 35 km. The project is under construction as TWIN CITY project. It has been passed and signed by the State Government of Gujarat. Surat has its own port which is used for shipping freight. A plan to connect Surat with Mumbai, Goa, Dubai, Bhavnagar through ferry services is moving forward.
The Surat-Bhavnagar sea highway is under consideration of State Government of Gujarat and will be starting from Hansot in Bharuch and end up in Bhavnagar city. Once the highway is completed Surat will be directly connected by Saurastra region of Gujarat. The sea highway will be the longest sea highway in World which is estimated to be 70 km long. The Surat-Bhavnagar ferry service is a much awaited service by the citizens. This would help Surat connect with the Saurashtra region of Gujarat state reducing commuting time by at least 6 hours