Bharuch, also known as Broach, is a City at the mouth of the river Narmada in Gujarat (Central-West India). Bharuch is the administrative headquarters of Bharuch District and is a municipality of about 370,000 inhabitants.
The city of Bharuch and its surroundings have been settled since times of antiquity. It was a ship building center and sea port in the pre-compass coastal trading routes to points West, perhaps as far back as the days of the Pharaohs. The route made use of the regular and predictable monsoon winds or galleys. Many goods from the Far East (the famed Spice and Silk trade) were shipped there during the annual monsoon winds, making it a terminus for several key land-sea trade routes. Bharuch was known to the Greeks, the various Persian Empires, in the Roman Republic and Empire, and in other Western centres of civilisation through the end of the European Middle Ages.
In the 3rd century, Bharuch port was mentioned as Barugaza. Arab traders entered Gujarat via Bharuch to do business. The British and the Dutch (Valandas) noted Bharuch’s importance and established their business centers here.
At the end of the 17th century, it was plundered twice, but resurged quickly. Afterwards, a proverb was composed about it, “Bhangyu Bhangyu Toye Bharuch”. As a trading depot, the limitations of coastal shipping made it a regular terminus via several mixed trade routes of the fabled spice and silk trading between East and West. During the British Raj it was officially known as Broach.
According to the Skanda Purana, the sage Bhrigu came to Bharuch sitting on a tortoise. The tortoise is known as Kachchha in Sanskrit. Hence the place was named ‘Bhrigukachchha’.
Another theory states that the city derived its name from “Bhr̥igukachchha”, the residence of the great saint Bhrigu Rishi. The city then became known as ‘Bharukachch’, which was later abridged to Bharuch.
It is believed Bhrigukachchha later developed into Bharuch in the local medieval vernacular – which seems quite possible according to linguistic developments in Prakrit, Apabharamsa and neo-Indian-Aryan.
In ancient India, Bharuch was an important trading port with merchants from the Arabian peninsula using this port for trading with the lucrative Indian market. In popular etymology, Broach is derived from Bar and Oach Bar means “hill” and Oach means “located” – so, allegedly without any reference to historical etymology, Broach is taken to mean “located on a hill”. According to this popular derivation, Broach was later transformed into Bharuch.
Bharuch is mentioned in various Buddhist Jatakas. Bharuch was an important Buddhist center in the 7th century and considered to be sacred among sages.
There are many religions being followed by the people of this city. Usually there is a sense of harmony and co-existence without incident. However, there have been situations in the past in which this delicate social fabric has broken down. Today the city is considered to be a great example of communal equality.
As Bharuch is a renowned tirtha, also known as Bhrigu Tirtha, in many of the Hindu Puranas, it is a host of huge number of temples along the river side.
Bharuch has remained on top in the matters of education and culture. Bharuch is renowned since years back because of the internationally famous Pt. Omkarnath Thakur in the field of music. In the field of literature, the literature Gurus like Dr. Kanaiyalal Munshi, Balwantray Thakore and Sundaram has bestowed Bharuch unique pride.
Raichand Deepchand Library was established in 1858. It is one of the oldest library in Western India. It has a collection of about 200,000 books including some rare manuscripts.
Ganpatram Desai of the Bhargav Brahmin caste of Bharuch wrote the famous book “Bharuch Shaher No Itihaas” in 1900. This classic piece of history is an excellent reference even today. He wrote another historical novel called “Alexander Na Samay Nu Hind” or ” India at the Time of Alexander”
Bharuch is well connected to the rest of India by Indian National Highway 8 (Mumbai to New Delhi) and by the Western Railway Division of Indian Railways.
The 132-year-old Golden Bridge connects Bharuch to Ankleshwar across the Narmada. A new bridge connects to the national highway.
Local transport is provided mainly by auto rickshaws (3-wheeled passenger taxis running on petrol or diesel). Intra-district and Inter-state buses also serve Bharuch frequently, and services are available to most nearby cities within and outside Gujarat. Private bus operators also offer local services in and around Bharuch.
The nearest airports to Bharuch are Vadodara & Surat, at a distance of about 72 kilometres (45 mi) respectively.
Indian Airlines and other private airlines connect Surat and Vadodara to Delhi and Mumbai, with onward connections to major cities throughout India and abroad.
National Highway 8 passes through Bharuch and has a good road network. The bus station in the heart of the city is one the busiest in Western India. State transport buses and private luxury coaches connect Bharuch with various centres of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan.
There are a number of schools and colleges in Bharuch which provide education in English and Gujarati mediums. Schools here are either affiliated to Gujarat Board, CBSE Board or the ICSE Board.
Several colleges provide education in various under-graduate and post-graduate streams including commerce and science.
There are also several engineering colleges affiliated to the Gujarat Technical University including SVM Institute of Technology which offers Post Graduate courses.
There are also several Pharmacy colleges and a Medical college.
Shree Narmada Sanskrit Ved Pathashala is a 115-year-old institute that imparts education in Sanskrit at school, graduate and post-graduate levels. It imparts education in the fields of vedas, jyotisha, vyakrana, nyaya, mimansa, etc.
Cricket is the most popular sport in the city. Munaf Patel and Rashid patel both played for Indian cricket team. However, other sports are also played.
Shri Batuknath Vyayam Shala was established in 1913 by Chhotubhai Purani and Ambubhai Purani (propagators of Indian gymnastics/vyayam in Gujarat).
GNFC Sports Complex has a number of modern sport facilities, which includes Cricket Stadium (Ranji Trophy matches are also held here), Golf Course, Tennis, Table Tennis, Badminton, Scatting, Swmming Pool, etc.
Rotary Club also has facilities for sports like Table Tennis, Swmming Pool, etc.