Thursday, November 12, 2009

Surat – Khoobsurat.

Surat Panoromic View
Surat (Gujarati: સુરત) formerly known as Suryapur or Khubsoorat, 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 andGandhinagar. 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 Jehangir, the port of Surat was used as the gateway to Makkah (Mecca) 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 ofQuṭbuddīn 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 theBritish 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.

At its zenith, Surat was popularly viewed as the city of Kubera, the God of Wealth. In 1664 the Maratha King Shivaji sacked and looted the city(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(hiding himself in 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. Hoewever, no men or 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.)


Traffic Circle Near Ichchhanath: Kargil Shahid Chok
Surat is a port city situated on the banks of the Tapti river (damming of the Tapti caused the original port facilities to close, the nearest port is now in the Hazira area of Surat). The city is located at 21°10′N 72°50′E. It has an average elevation of 13 meters. The Surat district is surrounded by Bharuch, Narmada (North), Navsari and Dang (South) districts. To the west is the Gulf of Cambay. The climate is tropical and monsoon rainfall is abundant (about 2,500 mm a year).
Surat has grown in area since the early 1700s. The oldest part of the city developed in the area between the train station and the area known as Athwalines. Since the 1970s most of the new development including the most desirable location for the city's burgeoning middle and upper class is the area between Athwalines and the coast at Dumas.


Surat has a Tropical monsoon climate, moderated strongly by the Arabian Sea. The summer begins in early March and lasts till June. April and May are the hottest months, the average temperature being 30 °C. Monsoon begins in late June and the city receives about 800 mm of rain by the end of September, with the average temperature being around 28 °C during those months. October and November see the retreat of the monsoon and a return of high temperatures till late November. Winter starts in December and ends in late February, with average temperatures of around 22 °C, and little rain.
Very often heavy monsoon rain brings floods in the Tapi basin area. In last two decades, the city has witnessed major floods every four years, the worst being the flood of August 2006, perhaps the costliest in the city's history. In the second week of August 2006, a massive flood caused severe damage to the city of Surat. According to a report released by Indian Institute of Management - Ahmedabad (IIM-A), massive flood after release of water from Ukai Dam had caused major human tragedy and property damage estimated at Rs 22,000 cr on that day. In less than three days, at least 150 people died directly due to flood and many other due to water-borne diseases that followed. More than 1500 animal carcasses were later hauled out of the mud.


Diamond Polishing
Surat is economic capital of Gujarat and also one of the economic hub of India.Surat is famous for its diamond industry and textile industry, along with silk and chemicals. It is at the heart of India's thriving diamond-polishing industry, which in 2005 cut 92% of the world's diamond pieces and earned India $15 billion in exports. Gujarati diamond cutters emigrating from East Africa established the industry in 1901 and by the 1970s Surat-based diamond cutters began exporting stones to the US for the first time. Though much of the polishing work takes place on small weight stones, Surat's workshops have set their eyes on the lucrative market for finishing larger, pricier stones in the future. It is a major production centre for synthetic textiles in India.

Surat is known for producing world-class synthetic textiles. Surat has excellent roads according to Business Today Magazine[5]. The November 18, 2008 issue of the Wall Street Journal had an article about the diamond industry in Surat. It claims that 80% of the world's finished diamonds are cut and polished in this city. However the wages of the industry's workers remained flat for years and 250,000 workers, or one-third of the city's diamond industry workforce, has left between 2005–2008, leaving about 500,000. Only after a July 2008 strike did the workers obtain a 20% salary raise, their first in a decade.

Surti households have been declared the most prosperous in the country by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and Future Capital Research's Roopa Purushothaman in their latest study. The average annual household income (AHI) in the diamond city is Rs 4.57 lakh - the highest in the country.The Patel from the saurashtra region of Gujarat are the main bussinessman in the city and also in the outcountry.[6] The study says that Surat's AHI is almost equal to China's per capita income of 2007 and double the national per capita income. Even its GDP growth of 11.5 per cent for the many consecutive years is the fastest in the country.[7] Recently Surat's diamond and textile industry faced the recession due to slowdown in US economy but the picture has changed and today Surat is the only city in world not facing recession. The textile industry is boosted compared to past times and the diamond industry is also in a better condition than in previous times. The oldest business of Surat JARI has made Surat the world embroidery capital. There are approximately 80,000 embroidery units in Surat which makes Surat the embroidery capital too.
Surat also has many large industrial units such as Reliance petrochemical plant, Essar's 10 million tonne steel plant, KRIBHCO fertilizer plant, L&T Engineering unit, gas processing plant of ONGC, NTPC gas power plant. All at Hazira and ABG Shipyard (Shipbuilding Yard) and Ambuja Cement (grinding Unit)at magdalla port where as Torrent mega power plant and GIPCL are located at Kamrej

Government and Politics

Surat Municipal Corporation
The Surat Mahanagar Sewa Sadan, is responsible for the city's civic infrastructure as well as carrying out associated administrative duties. BJP is at present having majority and is the ruling party. Surat Mahanagar Sewa Sadan is one of the wealthiest municipal corporation in India which really works hard for Surat and providing necessary amenities. The Surat city also has maximum numbers of FLY-OVERS in India which also makes it as fly-over capital of India.


The developing Mega city Surat's infrastructure is improving rapidly. Surat has excellent roads according to Business Today Magazine[8]. 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, Raipur, 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.
Railway Station
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 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.


Surat has a computerized water distribution system and while computerized drainage system is under implementation. It has one of the best water treatment plants in India. Every part of Surat has drainage and street lights.


The population of Surat according to new city limits is 53,74,429. Males constitute 56% of the population and females 44%. Surat has an average literacy rate of 83%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 81%, and female literacy is 70%. In Surat, 13% of the population is under 6 years of age. Around 5% of the total population is oriya,over 0.6 million people or about 11% hail from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Surat also has sizeable Parsee, Jews and Bohra Muslims.
Because of unauthorized residential buildings and slums, which cause difficulties in counting the residents of these areas, combined with the explosive growth in population (mostly through migration), it is generally believed that as of 2009 about 5.4 million people live within the Surat City Corporation.

Culture and Festivals

Ponk Market
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 ofChandi 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.


Schools in Surat are either "municipal schools" (run by the SMC) or private schools (run by trusts or individuals), which in some cases receive financial aid from the government. The schools are affiliated either with the Gujarat State Board or the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE). Gujarati or English are the usual languages of instruction. The government-run public schools lack many facilities, but are the only option for poorer residents who cannot afford the more expensive private schools. A majority of residents prefer private schools because of better infrastructure and the use of English as a medium of instruction.
The city holds the prestige of providing Medical Education to students.It has two medical colleges namely "Govt. Medical College and New civil hospital" and "SMIMER", both giving the degrees of MBBS and MD,MS.
Under the 10+2+3 format, students attend primary and secondary schooling during the first ten years and then may complete two years of higher secondary education, followed by three years at college for commerce, arts or science degrees. Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology, one of the NITs, is a premier engineering college, is also located here.It is among the top five of all 20 NIT's in India and top most in Gujarat for technical education. For more details log onto [] .Generally, engineering degree courses take four years, while medicine takes about five and half years or more. Most colleges in the city are affiliated with the Veer Narmad South Gujarat University.
A Parsi Theatre Academy is being opened in the Muglisara area of Surat, by Yezdi Karanjia, who has a long experience in staging Parsi plays. It is hoped that it will generate some interest among schoolgoers, and breath new cultural life into the dwindling community.


Gujarat Mitra, one of the oldest and most respected dailies of the country, is the most popular daily newspaper of Surat and South Gujarat. Besides Gujarat Mitra, other dailies includeGujarat Samachar, Sandesh, Divyabhaskar and Commodity World. Local editions of these newspapers are published in Gujarati. Loktej was the first Hindi daily published in Surat.Rajasthan Patrika and Savera are now the top Hindi daily newspapers in Surat. The national English dailies such as The Times of India, Indian Express and Mid Day are the most popular English-language newspapers. DNA-Daily News and Analysis is a new addition to the list of English dailies available in Surat.
Since the city has the largest synthetic textile manufacturing center in India, there is an exclusive textile newspaper called Textile Graph. It is published in Surat, since 1994, in Gujarati and Hindi versions. The 'Textile Directory of Surat' (5th. edition) comprising business information of textile traders and industry in and around Surat is also published by Textile Graph.
Most cable service providers have local television channels. Satellite TV DTH services are provided by DISH TV, TATA SKY and BIG TV. Broadband internet connections are also available in the city. Broadband service providers include BSNL, TATA Indicom, Reliance Communication, YOU Broadband and VSNL(ANAR COMMUNICATIONS). Wi-Fi connectivity is available at many cafes. Currently, Surat has four FM Radio stations - Radio City 91.1, Radio Mirchi 98.3, My FM 94.3, Big FM 92.7 along with the national radio Vividh Bharati.


Indoor Stadium
Surat has many sports facilities, the majority of them are dedicated to cricket. The Lalbhai Contractor Stadium and the Pithawala Cricket stadiums have facilities for hosting cricket matches. In addition, Surat has an indoor stadium, used to host events like badminton and table tennis, with modern facilities and seating capacity for 7000. In August 2006, the 3rd Asian gymnastics championship was held in Surat. There are a few sports clubs which provide many types of indoor and outdoor games, including the Surat Tennis Club, Surat City Gymkhana and Rander Islam Gymkhana (RIG). Recently one of the biggest swimming pools in the city has been opened near Palanpur Patiya area. The Rander area also hosts the Royal Cricket Ground.

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.
Surat Fort
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.
Clock Tower
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.

Tapi River                                               Dutch Cemetery

Masjid in Rander (Ek thamb - This build on one pillar only)
Beautiful Gaurav Path at piplod                   Mahadev Temple

Mahadev Temple
Chauta Bazar                                                      Textile Market

Textile Market Flyover
Athwalines flyover                            Eiffel Tower Replica  
Thanks and Regards,
Navneet Singh Chauhan.

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