Gujarat (Gujarati: ગુજરાત Gujǎrāt, - [ɡudʒ(ə)ɾat]) is the westernmost state in India. It is home to the Gujarati speaking people of India. The state encompasses major sites of the Indus Valley Civilization such as Lothal and Dholavira. Gujarat played an important role in the economic history of India throughout the history of India. It is home to major ports in India's ancient and modern history, leading it to become one of the main trade and commerce center of India. Lothal one of the world's first ports is located in Gujarat. Also Mahatma Gandhi, India's father of the nation was born in Gujarat and led the Indian Independence Movement against British. Modern Gujarat has one of the fastest growing economies in India
Historically the present-day state of Gujarat has been one of the main centers of the Indus Valley Civilization. It contains major ancient metropolitan cities from the Indus Valley such as Lothal, Dholavira, and Gola Dhoro. The ancient city of Lothal is the site of the India's first port. Also Dholavira, the ancient city, is one of the largest and most prominent archaeological sites in India, belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization. The most recent discovery was Gola Dhoro. All together about 50 Indus Valley settlement ruins were discovered in Gujarat.
The ancient history of Gujarat was enriched by their commercial activities. There is a clear historical evidence of trade and commerce ties with Sumer in the Persian Gulf during the time period of 1000 to 750 BC. Later Gujarat was settled by the Aryans. Then there was a succession of Hindu kingdoms including the era of the Gupta dynasty and culminating in the reign of the Solankis. The 9th century history of Gujarat saw the emergence of the Muslims in the political arena of the state. The first Muslim conqueror was Mahmud of Ghazna whose conquest of Somnath effectively ended the rule of the Solankis.
Modern-day Gujarat is derived from Gujjar (Gujjar Rāshtra), which means Gujjar nation. The origins of the Gujjars are uncertain. The Gujjar clan appeared in northern India about the time of the Huna invasions of northern India. Some scholars, such as V. A. Smith, believed that the Gujjars were foreign immigrants, possibly a branch of Hephthalites ("White Huns"). The name of the tribe was Sanskritized to "Gurjara". In this state, gujjar or gurjar kings ruled.
Indian independence movement
Leaders like Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Morarji Desai, K.M. Munshi, Narhari Parikh, Mahadev Desai, Mohanlal Pandya, Bhulabhai Desai and Ravi Shankar Vyas all hailed from Gujarat. As well, Mohammed Ali Jinnah's, Pakistan's first Governor-General, father was from an area which later became Gujarat. Gujarat was also the site of some of the most popular revolts, including the Satyagrahas in Kheda, Bardoli, Borsad and the Salt Satyagraha.
Siddi Sayed Mosque The Sidi Sayed Mosque in Ahmedabad is one such famous and ancient mosque of the city. The Mosque in the year 1411 A.D. The elegant mosque was built by Sidi Sayed, a slave of Sultan Ahmed Shah.The mosque is famous all over the country because of its fantastic architecture and exquisite Jali work or stone
Rani Rupmati's Mosque Rani Rupmati was the Hindu wife of Sultan Mehmed Beghara. Rani Rupmati mosque was built between 1430 to 1440 A. D. having three domes supported by pillars with the central dome slightly elevated. It is located at Ahmedabad. Mosque has richly carved minarets balcony windows and perforated stone lattices. Its three domes are linked to gather by a flat roof. Muuk-Khana is a special attraction of this mosque.
Kutbi Mazar A colossal monument raised in the memory of Syedna Qutubuddin Shaheed, the high priest of the Bohra community.
Shah Alam Roza Shah Alam Roza is the mosque and tomb of Saint Shah Alam. Here the brass doors are set in carved marble frames. The floor is tiled of black and white marble. Its dome and minars shows Great architectural work of sultanate era. --zulfi 15:07, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Dwarkanath Temple in Dwarka is one of the important temples dedicated to Krishna. On the tip of the Arabian Sea it was home to Krishna. The Rann of Kutchch covers a large portion of western Gujarat, and is world-famous for its rare ecosystem, fossils, wildlife and terrain.
Palitana Temples are a complex of Jain temples situated 51 km south west of Bhavnagar. There are 863 temples from base to the peak of the Shatrunjaya hill, where the Palitana temples are located.
Somnath Temple located in the Prabhas Kshetra near Veraval in Saurashtra, on the western coast of Gujarat, India is one of the twelve Jyotirlings (golden lingas) or symbols of the God Shiva. It is mentioned in the Rig Veda. Somnath means "The Protector of Moon God". The Somnath Temple is known as 'the Shrine Eternal', as the temple has been destroyed six times, but was rebuilt on each occasion.
Modhera Sun Temple is famous for its rare position as specifically and uniquely designed for the worship of the Sun, Lord Surya. While the main temple is beautifully and intricately designed with complex architecture, painting and sculptures, there is a central pond and surrounding it stand 108 small temples for each of the Sun God's 108 names.
Shankheshwar Jain Temples are dedicated to the 23rd Tirthankar, Lord Parshvanath. It is believed that this idol was revealed by Lord Krishna himself, by the teachings of Neminath the 22nd Tirthankar. It is near Ahmedabad.
Patan houses 84 magnificent Jain Temples built by Samrat Kumarpal, who was a staunch disciple of Acharya Hemachandra, a Jain monk and scholar.
Girnar is an epitome of communal harmony & amicable relations among Jains & Hindus. This high-rising steep hill houses shrines of both major religions. One dedicated to Neminath or Arisht Nemi, the 22nd tirthankara, where he is believed to attain nirvana, and another dedicated to Guru Dattatreya, a Hindu deity.
Ambaji This temple is dedicated to goddess Ambaji. It is situated on the Arasur Hill and can be approached by road from Abu Road in Rajasthan, as well as from all other important places in Gujarat. A folk drama called 'Bhavai' is performed in the courtyards of the temple.
Dakor This temple town dedicated to Lord Krishna is situated about 90 km from Ahmedabad. The temple of Ranchodrai has the idol of Lord Krishna which is believed to have been brought from Dwarka by a devotee.
Becharaji This temple is another important seat of Mother Goddess in Mehsana district. This temple is thronged by Hindu devotees, especially childless women.
Fairs, festivals and holidays
Around 3500 festivals are celebrated in Gujarat. - the state is known as the land of fairs and festivals. Some of these fairs and festivals are :
Bhavnath Mahadev Mela (February)
The Bhavnath Mahadev Temple, situated at the foot of Mount Girnar in the city of Junagadh is the site of the Bhavnath Mahadev fair held for five days in February, during the festival of Mahashivratri. The Mahapuja of Lord Shiva takes place at midnight in this temple on the 14th day of the dark half of the month of Magh. When the puja (prayer ceremony) starts, Naga Bavas (naked sages) living nearby, move towards the fair seated on elephants, holding flags and blowing conch shells. It is firmly believed that Lord Shiva himself visits the shrine on this occasion. Visitors are served free meals by the organizers. Special stalls sell idols, rosaries or holy beads brought by vendors from Ayodhya and Mathura, utensils of brass and copper, sweets and fruits. The Bhavnath Mahadev Temple is surrounded by many equally ancient and holy places.
Dangs Darbar (March)
Dangs Darbar is the name of the annual fair held every year in Ahwa, the most important town in the Dangs a few days before Holi. The Dangs is one of the most delightful districts of Gujarat and is located high in the Saputara hills, the original home of the adivasis, the tribal population of Gujarat. The name 'Darbar' dates back to the time of the British, when a darbar of Rajas and Naiks of neighbouring area used to assemble there. Today it is called Jamabandi Darbar and the District Collector officiates at it. Thousands of tribal people flock to Ahwa from all over the district, dressed in bright colours sounding the Shehnai and beating their drums. Folk dances, dramas and songs enliven the air during the festival.
Chitra — Vichitra Mela (March)
This fair, one of the largest, purely Adivasi (tribal) fairs attended by around 60,000 to 70,000 tribal people. It takes place every year in the village of Gunbhakhari in Sabarkantha district, very near the borders of Rajasthan. It is held a fortnight after Holi, the festival of colours. The site of the fair is attractive as the temple overlooks the rivers Sabarmati, Akul and Vyakul. The name of the fair is derived from Chitravirya and Vichitraviraya, the sons of King Shantanu, who are believed to have lived here and been cured of diseases which afflicted them. The fair attracts large numbers of Bhils (tribals) who come from all the surrounding districts using every imaginable form of transport. The Garasis and Bhil tribals dress in their customary colourful costumes. The costume of the men generally consists of a blue shirt, dhoti and a red or saffron turban. Women don ghaghras (embroidered skirts) which have a circumference of as much as 20 yards (18 m), and are covered from head to foot with ornate and heavy silver jewellery. They use liquid kumkum (vermilion) to colour their cheeks and lips a brilliant red, while their eyes are outlined with kajal (kohl). Every group that comes to the fair carries its own drum making the atmosphere come alive with the incessant beat of numerous drums. The women sing folk songs, and everyone dances. The dancing and drumming continue for hours until everyone is exhausted. Over a hundred stalls hold food and drink, and sweets of various kinds. Silver ornaments can be bought and household articles as well. Here, as in other fairs, there is a giant wheel, and a merry-go-round which never cease to spin.
Dhrang Fair (April)
Around 40 km from Bhuj, it is known for the samadhi of the famous saint Menkan Dada who served the community with great love and dedication and won their devotion. He was supposed to be the incarnation of Lakshmanji. A large fair is held on Magh Vad when a large number of Dada's followers from different parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan come to the Samadhi and participate in religious rituals.
Trinetreshwar Mahadev Fair (September-October)
The small hamlet of Tarnetar, about 75 kilometers from Rajkot, is the site for one of Gujarat's most well known annual fairs, held here during the first week of Bhadrapad (September-October). This fair is primarily a 'marriage mart' or 'Swayamvar' for the tribal youth of today who still visit Tarnetar, to find them a suitable bride. The tribal youth elegantly dressed in colourful dhotis, waistcoats and eye-catching turbans come to be chosen by village belles dressed in colourful finery. Like all-important tribal fairs, it is attended by tribes from the adjoining who indulge in dancing, competitive sports and other such forms of entertainment. There are over 300 stalls selling food, refreshments, exhibiting embroidery and cattle shows. The bachelors are usually identified by their large colourful embroidered umbrellas and their distinctive hairstyles. These umbrellas, which have become emblems of the fair, are embroidered by the tribal youth for over a year. The fair is held around the Trinetreshwar Temple dedicated to the three-eyed Lord Shiva, built at the beginning of the century. There is a kund (reservoir) here and it is popularly believed that a dip in its waters is as holy as a dip in the sacred River Ganges. The reservoir is also known as papanshu (the destroyer of sins).
Vautha Mela (November)
This fair is held every year at Vautha, where two rivers, the Sabarmati and the Vatrak meet. Like most fair sites in India, this also has both mythological and current religious associations. The Vautha Mela site is 3 square miles (7.8 km2) in area. Legends hold that Kartik Swami or Kartikeya, the son of Lord Shiva, visited the site. This is why the fair is held during Kartika Purnima, the full moon night of the month of Kartik, corresponding to November. The site, also known as Saptasangam, is at the confluence of seven rivers. The most important Shiva temple here is the temple of Siddhanath.
What is most significant about this fair is that it is the only major animal trading fair in Gujarat and is on par with the famous camel fair at Pushkar, Rajasthan. However the only animals traded here are donkeys. About 4,000 donkeys are brought every year for sale, usually by Vanjara (gypsy) traders. The pilgrims who visit Vautha during the fair are from several communities and include farmers, labourers and people belonging to several castes.
Shamlaji Melo (November)
The Shamlaji Melo, also called the Kartik Purnima fair is held in the month of November every year and lasts for about two weeks. It is attended by almost two hundred thousand people from adjoining districts and even from Rajasthan. Devotees belonging to various castes and communities including the Garasias and Bhils throng this festival. These pilgrims come in groups, singing devotional songs and carry religious banners to have a darshan (worship)of the deity at the Shamlaji Temple. The Shamlaji Temple is a renowned Vaishnav Shrine and the deity housed here is known by various names included Gadadhar (bearer of the mace) and Shaksi Gopal. The fair is also popular with the tribal people of the area, particularly the Bhils, who revere Shamlaji, the deity they refer to as 'Kalio Bavji', the dark divinity. The temple is of great archaeological significance as it was built in the 11th century. Apart from a darshan of the deity in the temple, the pilgrims consider a bath in the river Meshwo essential.
Other than those festivals observed throughout India, there are festivities specific to Gujarat.
Makar Sankranti and Kite Flying Festival (14 January)
The Kite Flying Festival takes place in mid January and marks the time when the Sun’s direct rays reach the Tropic of Capricorn, after the winter solstice. It is celebrated with lots of folk music and dance as well as kite flying. People of Gujarat gather on terraces to fly kites of various colours to celebrate Makar Sanskranti or Uttrayana, the welcome to the sun after the cold winter months. Glass strengthened threads of the Indian fighter kites are matched against each other in the air — the kite fighter who cuts the other thread is the victor. At night, kites with Chinese lanterns are flown and held aloft. Food such as Undhiya, sugar cane juice and local sweets is typically served to celebrate the day.
Dance Festival — Modhera (January)
Resting on a knoll in the village of Modhera are the ruins of the 11th century Sun Temple. The outer walls of the temple are covered with sculptures in which the figures of Surya, the sun god are prominent. The Sun Temple is the site of an annual festival of Indian classical dances organized by the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat. The idea is to present classical dance forms in an atmosphere they were originally presented in.
The Kutch Mahotsav (Feb-March)
The ‘Kutch Festival’ or the ‘Rann festival’ is celebrated at the time of the Shiv Ratri in February/ March. The centre of the festival is Bhuj in Kutch. It has crafts, fairs and folk dances and music and cultural shows, all organized by the Gujarat Tourism. Tours are also conducted, out to the ruins of Dhola Vera, a city that was once a part of the Indus Valley civilization.
Bhadra Purnima (September)
The full moon of Bhadrapad is one of the four most important festival days of the year, when farmers and agriculturists come to Ambaji, a place that derives its name from Goddess Ambaji whose shrine is located here. On this occasion, a large fair is organized on full moon days. In the evening, performances of Bhavai, the folk drama of the state is held and Garba programmes are organized. The devout attend readings of the Saptashati, the seven hundred verses in praise of the goddess and visit the temple for a darshan (worship) of her. The Ambaji shrine is the principal shrine of the goddess in Gujarat and its origins are still unknown. The Temple of Ambaji is recognized as one of the original Shakti Pithas (religious texts) where, according to the ancient Scriptures, the heart of the goddess Ambaji fell to earth when her body was dismembered. A triangular Vishwa Yantra, inscribed with figures and the syllable 'Shree' in the centre, represents the deity. There is no idol, which in fact testifies the temple's antiquity. Idol worship became popular much later.
National parks and sanctuaries
Gujarat has 4 National parks and 21 sanctuaries which include: Nal Sarovar, Anjal, Balaram-Ambaji, Barda, Jambughoda, Jessore, Kachchh Desert, Khavda, Narayan Sarovar, Paniya, Purna, Rampura, Ratanmahal, and Surpaneshwar.
Gujarat is the only home of Asiatic Lions. Outside Africa, Gujarat is the only present natural habitat of lions. Gir Forest National Park in south-west part of the state covers only the part of lion's habitat. Besides lions, the other big cat can be found in the state are Leopards. Leopards are spread across large plains of Saurashtra and mountains of South Gujarat.
Lothal is the site of the ancient ruins of the first Indian port, dating from the time of the Indus Valley Civilization. Dholavira, the ancient city, locally known as Kotada Timba, is one of the largest and most prominent archaeological sites in India, belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization. It is located on the Khadir island in the Kutch district of Gujarat — the island is surrounded by water in the monsoon season. The site was occupied from about 2900 BC for about a millennium, declining slowly after about 2100, briefly abandoned and then reoccupied, finally by villagers among its ruins, until about 1450. Gola Dhoro, dating from 2500-2000 BCE, was recently discovered near the village of Bagasra. Shell bangles, copper and beads were found there.
Gujarat has the largest number of museums of any state in India. These are all run by the state's own Department of Museums, located at the Principal State museum, the Museum and Picture Gallery, Vadodara. Other museums include:
The Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya in Ahmedabad
The Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya is run by a public trust established in 1951. The museum's new premises were built in 1963. The museum's main objective was to house the personal memorabilia of Mahatma Gandhi. Consequently the exhibits on view depict the vivid and historic events of Gandhiji's life. There are books, manuscripts and photostat copies of his correspondence, photographs of Gandhiji with his wife Kasturba and other ashram associates, life size oil paintings and actual relics like his writing desk.
Kite Museum in Ahmedabad
Calico Museum of Textiles in Ahmedabad
The Calico Museum of Textiles at Ahmedabad, India, is the premier textile museum of the country, and one of the most celebrated institutions of its kind in the world for its distinguished and comprehensive collection of textiles and artefacts.
The Vadodara Museum in Vadodara
Located in the popular Sayaji Bagh, the museum houses a collection which belonged to the former maharaja Sayaji Rao Gaekwad. Indian rulers during the Raj often collected all kinds of European art and other knick knacks. Largely being the personal collection of the maharaja, the exhibits span across centuries and continents, as well as diverse art forms. There are Greek and Roman sculpture with European paintings of earlier periods. Asian section has items from Burma, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, China and Japan made of wood, ivory, bronze and pottery.
Maharaja Fatehsingh Museum in Vadodara
The impressive Laxmi Vilas Palace, in the Indo Saracenic style of architecture, was once the residence o) the Gaekwad family. The Maharaja Fateh Singh Museum, located in the sprawling grounds of the palace complex, is a multi purpose museum and houses the Gaekwad family's rich collection of an treasures.
The Watson Museum in Rajkot
The Gandhi Museum in Bhavnagar
A collection of rare photographs relating to the life of Mahatma Gandhi are on view at the Gandhi Museum. These recreate the significant events of Gandhiji's life. Also displayed are documents, letters and his personal relics. The collection of audio-visual material includes microfilms, a voice library, prayers and lecture records.
The Lady Wilson Museums — Dharampur, Valsad