The second largest city of Gujarat, Surat is mostly known for being a commercial and industrial hub of the state. Being a port city, Surat has acquired a lot of importance in the arena of business and industrialization. This is also the major reason that people here are quite well-off. Situated on the banks of Tapi River, Surat is the city where over 90% of the diamonds in the world are cut and polished.
The business quotient of the city is not restricted to diamonds only. It is also equally well-known for textile mills of cotton, silk, muslin, brocade fabrics as well a majority of Indian spices. Not only from the angle of commerce, but from historical point of view as well, the city of Surat possesses a great vitality. The place has been ruled by several rulers belonging to the Shah, Mughal, Tughlaq and Ghori dynasties who has given Surat a rich cultural legacy. A unique fact about the city is that it has been hot by plague and riots in the past, but every time it has managed to revive itself up and get even better than before.
Major tourist Attractions
Though Surat actually is more of a trade and commerce hub, but still it has a few places that are of interest for tourists. These are:-
- Beaches – Since Surat lies along the Indian coastline, there are a number of beaches close to the city. The most popular among the locals of this place is the Dumas beach which is at a distance of about 20km from the city. People can also relish the popular snacks of the region such as Gathiya, Bhajiya and Pav Bhaji etc. on the beachside. This beach is surely worth a visit while one a trip to Surat. Other known beaches are Suvali and Ubhrat.
- Surat Castle – Popularly known as Old Fort, Surat Castle is also a tourist’s delight. It was built up to protect the area against the Portuguese attacks which has now gained a lot of importance as a historical monument. An Albanian Christian who embraced Islam and came to be known as Khudawan Khan got this castle built up in 16th Century.
- Dutch Garden – Another historical destination of the city, the Garden contains many unique tombs relating to the officers who settled in the city for commercial purposes. Some of these are George Oxenden, Baron Adrian Van Reede, Christopher Oxenden etc.
- Bardoli– Another historically important spot, not only for Gujarat but for the entire nation, Bardoli is the place from where the famous Salt March was started by Gandhiji. This movement also came to be known as Bardoli Satyagrah. At a distance of 34km from Surat, Bardoli is also a very ravishing sea beach.
- Chintamani Jain Temple – Since a major part of Surat’s population comprises of Jain, this temple holds an immense religious significance and reverence in the hearts of people. Built about 400 years ago, Chintamani Jain Temple is a delight to the eyes and souls of its visitors.
Other places of interest for the travelers to Surat are –
- ISKCON Temple
- Science Center
- Jagdish Chandra Bose Aquarium
- Sarthana Nature Park
- Sneh Rashmi Botanical Garden
- Blues Adventures
- Sardar Patel Museum
- Tapi River Front
- Jawaharlal Nehru Garden
- Gavier Lake
- Wilson Hills
- British Factory
- Mirza Sami Mosque
- Nau Saiyid Mosque etc.
Besides sightseeing, tourists can also find a lot of stuff in the markets of Surat to satisfy their shopping buds. Some of the most stunning diamond jewellery and finest fabrics such as silk and brocades can be found in the markets of Surat.
Festivals and Fairs
Surat is a city of culture and traditions. People here love festivities and this is the reason many festivals and fairs are celebrated and organized here all through the year. Below are some important fairs and festivals of Surat.
- International Kite Flying Festival – Surat hosts International Kite Flying Festival every year on 14th January which is the occasion of Makar Sankranti. National as well as international participants visit Surat during this colorful and lively festival.
- Navratri – Celebrated twice in a year during the months of March/April and September/October, Navratri is the most loved festival of Surat. People dress themselves in colorful attire and attend garbha and dandiya events organized all through the city.
- Janmashtami – which marks the birth of Lord Krishna is also celebrated with much devotion and emotion in Surat.
- Modhera Dance Festival is celebrated in many parts of Gujarat including Surat. The festival aims at showcasing various classical dance forms of our country.
- Food Festivals – Gujarati’s are foodie people. They just love cooking and eating. To pamper their love for food, several food festivals are arranged in the city during different parts of the year. These festivals feature mouth-watering food and snacks of Gujarat.
- Dand Darbar – This festival is an annual affair and is organized a few days before the festival of Holi. Different tribals from various parts of Surat gather at the Darbar which aims at showcasing the culture of Kings and Royals of Surat.
- Textile Expo – This is the major allurement of Surat since this city is renowned for its business value especially for textiles and garments. This exhibition is of massive importance for traders and businessmen, both at the buying as well as selling end.
Best time to visit
Summers in Surat become very hot. Monsoon arrives here almost towards the end of June which makes the city even steamier. So the best time to be around here is between the months of October and February. The day temperature during these months stays around 20 degrees making sightseeing and outdoor excursions enjoyable. The nights get a bit cold so it is advisable to carry your woolen clothes along.
How to reach
By Air – Surat has an airport of its own which has daily flights to and from Delhi and Mumbai. If you wish to travel to/from any other city then a stop-over flight can be opted for.
By Rail – Surat railway station caters a good connectivity to all the towns and cities of the country via Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
By Road – The quality of roads in and around Surat is just excellent. Driving your own vehicle can be enjoyable provided that you be careful of the rush on roads. Alternatively, private and state transport bus services are also available to and from all the major cities in and around Gujarat.