Known by myriad names like – Silk City, Green City and Diamond City, Surat is fast emerging as a big player in the global diamond industry. It is said that around the world, 8 out of 10 diamonds on the market are cut and polished in Surat. This industry help India earn about 10 billion dollar in annual exports. A legacy of old Dutch trade links, it began after a Surti entrepreneur returned from East Africa bringing diamond cutters. Since then, the rough diamonds come to Surat as rough crystals ripped out mainly from deep under the earth of South Africa and other regions of the continent, and go from here as smooth gems to Antwerp, Belgium where the international diamond trade is run mainly by Hasidic jews and jains from palanpur in north Gujarat.
As I was passing through the lanes of this quite city, I was often reminded of Surat’s legacy through the rich remnants. The Dutch and the Portuguese apart from the British had established there business centres in Surat. In past, the city was a glorious port with ships of more then 84 countries anchored at its harbour at all time. Fast becoming a travelers paradise, Surat has a lot to offer in terms of food, sight-seeing and shopping. The tempting Surati cuisine can makeyour taste buds tingle with delight pushing you to explore the city’s streets and comers and try mouth-watering delicacies like ‘Ghari’, ’Khaman’, ’Locho’, ’Rotlo’ and ‘Undiyo’. A visit to Tapi river banks for a unique dish called ‘Ponk’ is an experience to rejoice.
Non-vegetarians can visit a few good restaurants in the old city area which serve traditional fish and other non-vegetarian dishes. Indeed a food lover’s paradise! Surat is a year-round destination, with moderate summers and pleasant winters. However, the best time to visit is between October and March.
Glimpses from the past:
Surat finds a significant mention in the annals of history starting from Mahabharata. Today however, the city is well frequented by traders and tourists alike. The major tourist attraction of the city is Surat Castle, which was built in the 16th century by Muhammad Tughlak. Another famous castle is River Side Castle, built by the Sultan of Gujarat in 1546 and is located on the shores of river Tapi. Apart from forts, there are other places of interest like the ancient Dutch gardens, the Dutch cemetery and Makaipul. One must visit the centuries old original Surat port from where the ships sailed to other parts of the world in the days of yore. The Sardar Patel Museum, originally the Winchester Museum established in 1898, has on display a wide range of artifacts and relics narrating the rich cultural past of Surat. Even as I was visiting one place after the other in my short trip to Surat, the history strewn city awed me to the fullest.
From the British era to India’s Independence, Surat has always been a part of history. Places like Dandi and Bardoli famously known as the venues for the Salt Satyagraha and the farmers Movement during the Indian Independence all fall under the Surat region. The city also houses the ancient Chintamani Jain Temple, which was constructed during the rule of the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb, in 1699 A.D. and is known for its wooden craftsmanship, murals and drawings done with vegetable dyes.
The tour of the city remains incomplete without a visit to this temple which is very popular among the locals. In addition, the Ambika Niketan Temple and Swaminarayan Temple are some of the other popular religious attractions of Surat. Another popular picnic spots not to be given a miss is Choppati or the Jawaharlal Nehru Gardens. Surat also has a long coastline of 45 kilometres with a number of beaches to explore. Dumas beach is a popular spot among locals while Tithal beach is 108 km away. Suvali, just 28 kms away, has two wells with water rich in iron and sulphur and the beach here is fringed by feathery Casurina trees.
Shopping: Other then gold and diamond Jewellery, sarees and textile malls dedicated to just textiles. Apart from these, you can also buy traditional Gujarati fabrics, artifacts and souvenirs.
Delicates: Ghari, Khaman, Locho. Rotlo and Undiyo are few of the mouth watering offering of Surat. A unique fish dish called ponk is a must try.
Excursions: Tourists can also visit Saputara, a hill station in the Sahyadri hills at an altitude of 1,140 meters above sea level and just 170 km from Surat. One can also plan a day’s visit to Navsari, which takes one hour travel from Surat to witness the headquarters of the Parsi community.
Air India Express, Jet Airways, Etihad Airways, Air Arabia, Air India and Emirates has daily flight from many metro politan cities to India.
Embassy hotel, Best Western yuvraj and the Gateway Hotel these are hotel at central location and variety of accommodation options. Use the search window to Book your accommodation.
For More information visit the Web site