Gujarat State Information
Capital : Gandhinagar
Languages: Gujarati, Hindi, English
Introduction to Gujarat
Gujarat has seen a succession of races, settlers as well as conquerors, and amalgamated their cultures into its own. The result has been a wonderful fusion of new ideas and old world traditions. Rich in crafts, history and natural beauty, this home state of Mahatma Gandhi continues to attract artists, scholars, intellectuals and businessmen from the world over.
Geography of Gujarat
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.
Brief History of Gujarat
The name of the Gujarat state is derived from Gujjaratta, which means the land of the Gujjars. It is believed that a tribe of Gujjars migrated to India around the 5th century AD. The real cultural history of these people, however, is believed to have begun much earlier. Many Indus Valley and Harappan centers have been discovered in the state like Lothal, Dholavira, Rangpur, Lakhabaval, Amri, and Rozdi and established the earliest known history of Gujarat to around 3000 BC to 2200 BC. At that point of time, Lothal was the main port of this civilization. With the advent of the Yadava tribe led by Lord Krishna, some 3,500 years ago, came the glorious days for Gujarat. It was followed by 100 years of Lord Krishna's rule. It is believed that Ashoka, the Mauryan king extended his kingdom to Gujarat. The fall of the Maurya Empire led the small kingdoms to establish their power in this state from time to time.
The state achieved a high level of prosperity during the time of Solankis from the 9th century. In the 12th century AD, Allauddin Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi defeated the Waghela king of Gujarat and a long era of Muslim rule over Gujarat started. The Marathas ended the Muslim rule in the 18th century only to be handed over to the British in the early 19th century. Surat was the center of the first factory of the East India Company in India and after the First War of Independence in 1857, the region came under the British monarchy along with the rest of the country. Gujarat was a part of the erstwhile Mumbai state till 1960, when the people of Gujarat decided to have their own state on the basis of their distinct language and culture. This led to formation of the two new states of Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Districts of Gujarat
Gujrat has 25 districts: Ahmedabad, Amelia, Banskantha, Bharuch, Narmada, Bhavnagar, Gandhinagar, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Porbandar, Kuchchh, Kheda, Anand, Mehsana, Patan, Panchmahal, Dahod, Rajkot, Sabarkantha, Surat, Surendranagar, Valsad, Navsari, Vadodara and Dang
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.
Gujarat Travel Information
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.
Rivers of Gujarat
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.
Education in Gujarat
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.
The status of higher education in the state is very good. Gujrat is home to many premier educational institutes such as Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, Nirma Institue of Technology and Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology. The total number of universities in the state including the deemed universities and institutes of national importance is 15. The premier research institutes in the state include Institute for Plasma Research, Physical Research Laboratory (PRL).
Gujarati food is a vegetarian gourmand's dream come true. It is a vegetarian wonder with complete nutrition derived from leafy vegetables prepared in innumerable variations and subtly flavored with spices. Simple, practical, down-to-earth and wholesome, Gujarati food truly reflects the heart of the state. Gujarati food is primarily vegetarian, the main reason for which is the Jain and Buddhist influences. However, the goodness of millet, yogurt, buttermilk, coconut, groundnut, sesame seeds and jaggery makes sure that this non-meat food is not lacking in proteins.
Arts & Culture of Gujarat
There are four groups of people who came to inhabit this land at different points of time and now form the majority here. Jats came from a place in Iran called Half (to be known latter as Jat) and they were herders by occupation. Around five hundred years ago they came to Kutch and Sind in search of new grazing pastures and settled there. Those who joined agriculture called themselves Garasia Jats and those who continued their ancestral occupation were known as Dhanetah Jats, and those who chose to study the Koran became Fakirani Jats.
The Harijan is the name given by Mahatma Gandhi to the Meghwals, who originally came from Marwar in Rajasthan. They are the masters of weaving cotton and wool as also embroidery and appliqué work. The Ahirs came with Lord Krishna from Gokul in Uttar Pradesh.
Most of the communities of Ahirs began with selling ghee and milk and are now spread all over the state.
Crafts in Gujarat are a way of life, a process that transforms even the most mundane object of daily use into a thing of beauty. The skill of the Gujarati craftsperson-be it a weaver or a metalworker, a woman who embroiders for herself or a potter who creates pieces of art out of clay-is bound to leave one spellbound.
Wood carving is another important craft in Gujarat, evident in the many elaborately carved temples, havelis (mansions) and palaces as well as objects of daily and ritual use. Utensils are another area where the craftspersons of Gujarat have excelled.
Gujarat is also famous for its terracotta work, especially votive terra-cotta figurines which one can find by the hundreds at small shrines built in forests, along roads, outside villages, on lonely hill-tops and under large trees, especially in south Gujarat.
Jewelry is yet another fascinating craft in Gujarat. Each tribe or clan has different types of ornaments and each of them has retained the uniqueness of these ornaments.
Dance & Music of Gujarat
Gujarat has a rich tradition of song, dance and drama. Ras, Garba, and Bhavai that are popular Gujarati folk dance forms, have their origin to the ancient period of Lord Krishna. The Ras dance is actually a form of Ras Leela in which different childhood antics of Krishna at Gokul and Vrindavan are enacted. Dandia Ras is performed during the Navratri Festival and men and women both join in a dance circle with small sticks known as dandia. Usha, the granddaughter of Lord Krishna, is considered as the first dancer of the form called Lasya or Garba. This dance is performed by women around a pot called Garbo, filled with water.
Festivals of Gujarat
Navratri is celebrated for the 10 days preceding the festival of Dussehra usually in October. The most eagerly awaited festival of the year, which celebrates harvest time, Navratri is an occasion when both rural and urban Gujarat worship the nine incarnations of the Mother Goddess, Shakti, denoting cosmic energy.
Closely following Dussehra is the famous festival of lights, Diwali, which also has its genesis from the same epic-Ramayana. Interestingly, it is the only Hindu celebration which falls on Amavasya, a moon-less night in the lunar calendar.
Other festivals of Gujarat include the Bhavnath fair, Dang Darbar, Saputara Summer Festival, Madhavrai fair, and Desert Festival.
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