Surat - Sona Ni Murat'

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  Ahmedabad - 273 KM
 Surat - Sona Ni Murat'  Surat - Sona Ni Murat'
 Surat - Sona Ni Murat'  Surat - Sona Ni Murat'
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SURAT was once upon a time the first grade city for all of India. It is the best port on the western coast. It is said that once upon a time the ships here flew flags from 84 ports round the world. Surat was rich. Many travelers of foreign countries too have praised its pomp, glory and wealth. But these praises of its grandeur only attracted Shivaji and others to invade and loot it. Later even Nature turned against it and due to terrible fire and flood the city was nearly destroyed. This happened many times. But even then the city regained its former dignity and wealth as well.

Surat is the city of dreamers, tourists, reformers and lovers of culture. A hundred years before the Dandi Yatra passed through Surat, its famous poet Narmad had declared the poem praising Gujarat:

"Jay Jay Garvi Gujarat; Dipe Arunu Prabhat"

That brave social reformer had revolted against superstition, blind faith traditionalism and orthodoxy - not just by writing articles, journalism or lectures, but also by his personal examples and behaviour. Today Surat continues to revere this great son of its soil. His home is turned into a cultural center as Narmad Sahitya Sabha, literary research activity and publishing the series of all his revised works.

Surat is a historical city. The name of Malek Gopi can be recalled as an area is named after him today as Gopipara. The Gopi Talav is no longer in existent, as it is filled with deposits a long time ago. It is said that in the days of poet Premanand, the ruined stones of that lake were used in the repairs of the fort. Even the forts named 'Sharpanah' and 'Alampanah' are no longer existing, except in a few ruins. The oldest building of Surat is probably the fort at Chok Bazar. Nazim Khwaja Safar Salmani of Surat had this built in 1540-41 AD.

Those were the days of real glory for Surat. The ships waiting on River Tapi had flags of 84 different countries. The moneylenders and jewelers of Surat had made the city exceptionally wealthy

The Andrews Library here is an important landmark of the English association. On June 18 of 1850 the Surat Literary Society was set up, and on 1st July this library began to operate in memory of one of the retired Judges named Andrews. We can find today many rare books of 150-200 years ago. Besides this Surat has Lady Kikabai Premchand Library with a rich collection of reading material too.

A museum stands in Chok Bazar and is now called Sardar Sangrahalaya. Established on 1st February 1890, it preserves a number of excellent artistic pieces and historical material. Next to it now stands a Planetarium and among the notable modern constructions is the Surat Textile Market.

It is a well known saying in Gujarat, "Surat nu jaman ane Kashi nu maran." The people of Surat are thus known for their spicy cuisine. The special attraction is the 'Ponk Nagar' that comes up in season near the Shital Cinema. During November and December months, thousands of people gather here to taste the still green raw wheat, along with highly spiced 'sev' etc. Another famous and delicious dish popular all over Gujarat is 'undhiyun' that originated at Surat.

The religious places of Surat are also worth looking at. The Chintamani Parshvanath Derasar, the J ain temple is indeed very old. As Narmad notes in 'Gujarat Sarvasangraha', it was built in 15th century. We can see the intricate sculpture on wood, paintings and we must especially note here the paintings of the Solanki ruler Kumarpal and Acharya Hemchandra Suri. Besides, the Adishvar temple at Athwa Lines, Chandra Prabhu Jinalay at Nanpura, Atmoddharak Jain temple at Gopipura, Nandishvardeep Derasar at Sayyedpura, temples of Dadasaheb at Haripura and of Adishvar Bhagavan at Katargam are also beautiful. The well known Ambaji temple and Balaji temple are popular. The Shiv temple of Ramnath Ghela at Upari Jakatnaka, Vishnu temple and Mahaprabhuji ni Baithak have great religious importance to the devotees, besides their historical significance. The funeral site is at Asvinikumar Ghat of River Tapi.

The people of Surat are known for their happy go lucky attitude in life. They are called 'Surti Lala' or 'Surti Sahelani' because of this light-heartedness. They love to dress, eat and enjoy touring too. Their clothes are always showy and glittering, and this attitude is easily seen in the various processions they take out, religious and for even weddings. A large variety of sweetmeats, like 'Ghari', 'barfi' etc. are connected with the city. The salty and fried dishes are also in great variety and highly tasty. The juicy and beautiful fruits and vegetables that come from the fertile mud of riverbank land has nourished this attitude of the people of Surat. They take every opportunity to enjoy life collectively. Their Kite Festival is indeed unique. From the small toddlers to doddery old men, no one wants to be left out from enjoying this fine and crazy game of flying the kites, or 'Kanakvo', on the festival of Uttarayan.


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