Surat, previously known as Suryapur, is a city in the Indian state of Gujarat. It is the administrative capital of the Surat district. The city is located 284 kilometres (176 mi) south of the state capital, Gandhinagar; 265 kilometres (165 mi) south of Ahmedabad; and 289 kilometres (180 mi) north of Mumbai. The city centre is located 22 km (14 mi) south of the Tapti River. A moat divides the older parts of the city, with their narrow streets and historical houses, from the newer suburbs.
Surat had a population of 4.5 million at the 2011 census, making it the second largest city in the state of Gujarat, after Ahmedabad. It is the eighth largest city and ninth largest urban agglomeration of India. Surat is the 34th-largest city by area and 4th-fastest developing cities in a study conducted by the City Mayors Foundation, an international think tank on urban affairs. The city registered an annualised GDP growth rate of 11.5 per cent over the seven fiscal years between 2001 and 2008. Surat was awarded “best city” by the Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems (ASICS) in 2013. Surat is selected as the first smart IT city in India which is being constituted by the Microsoft City Next Initiative tied up with IT services majors Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro. The city has 2.97 million internet users which is about 65% of total population. Surat has been selected as one of twenty Indian cities to be developed as a smart city under PM Narendra Modi’s flagship Smart Cities Mission
Surat is mentioned in Sanskrit epic, the Mahābhārata, when Lord Krishna stopped there on his way from Mathura to Dwarka. The Parsis began to settle there in the 8th century.
Local Hindu traditions state that the city was founded in the last years of the fifteenth century A.C.E. by a Brahman named Gopi, who called it Suryapūr (City of the Sun).In 1512 and again in 1530 Surat was ravaged by the Portuguese Empire. In 1513, the Portuguese traveller Duarte Barbosa described Surat as an important seaport, frequented by many ships from Malabar and various parts of the world. By 1520, the name of the city was Surat.
When the harbour in Cambay began to silt up toward the end of fifteenth century, Surat eclipsed Cambay as the major port of western India. At the end of the 16th century, the Portuguese were undisputed masters of the Surat sea trade. On the banks of the Tapti River, there is still a picturesque fortress that was built in 1540.
In 1608, ships from the English East India Company started docking in Surat, using it as a trade and transit point. In 1615, following the Battle of Swally, Captain Best, followed by Captain Downton, overcame Portuguese naval supremacy and obtained an imperial firman establishing an English factory at Surat. The city was made the seat of a presidency of the East India Company after the success of the embassy God of Wealth. “Port cities like Surat were dominated by Indian merchant princes, who were held in high esteem in international trading circles. The most prominent Surat merchant in the mid-seventeenth century was Virji Vohra, who was reputed to be the richest merchant in the world in his time, and could deploy as much as eight million rupees in trade.”
The prosperity of Surat received a blow when Bombay was ceded to the English as part of the dowry for Catherine of Braganza’s wedding to Charles II in 1662. Shortly afterwards, in 1668, the East India Company established a factory in Bombay (Mumbai) and Surat began its decline.
Surat has a tropical savanna climate (Köppen: Aw), moderated strongly by the Sea to the Gulf of Cambay. The summer begins in early March and lasts till June. April and May are the hottest months, the average maximum temperature being 37 °C (99 °F). Monsoon begins in late June and the city receives about 1,200 millimetres (47 in) of rain by the end of September, with the average maximum being 32 °C (90 °F) during those months. October and November see the retreat of the monsoon and a return of high temperatures till late November. Winter starts in December and ends in late February, with average mean temperatures of around 23 °C (73 °F), and negligible rain.
Surat Airport has direct air connectivity with Delhi and Mumbai. Airlines companies such as Air India operate daily 2 flights per day from Surat to Delhi and one flight from Surat to Mumbai. Ventura air operates daily flight from Surat to Bhavnagar,Rajkot and Bhuj
Surat railway station is under the administrative control of the Mumbai Division, Western Railway zone of the Indian Railways. The erection of Surat Railway Station began in 1860. It was selected as the Cleanest Railway station by the Indian Railways in 2016.
Surat has a port near Magdalla with good facilities for industrial purposes.
Owing to heavy traffic congestion on major highways passing through Surat city, the BRTS system work has been completed in most of the area. Surat Municipal Corporation tries to improve road infrastructure of the city. The major highways passing through Surat are the Udhana-Mumbai Highway also known as Udhana-Navsari Highway, Surat-Ahmedabad Highway also known as Varachha Main Road. Due to rapid urbanisation and to reduce fatal accidents Surat Municipal Corporation and Surat Urban Development Authority has planned to develop an Outer Ring Road and Middle Ring Road which are under construction to decongest the traffic from the major highways passing through the city.
Surat has a computerised water distribution system and a computerised drainage system with a sewage treatment plant to transform waste into energy. It has one of the best water treatment plants in India Every part of Surat has underground drainage and street lights. PNG (Pipelined Natural Gas) entered Surat in the early ’90s and most of the areas are covered under PNG. CNG entered Surat in the early ’90s, and as of the end of 2005 more than 95% of auto rickshaws and public buses run on CNG as an efficient and less polluting fuel. There are several government- and private-run hospitals in Surat to provide medical assistance to citizens and visitors. The authority has stressed eGovernance to bring speed to the overall administration efforts.
Surat is known for its relaxed lifestyle and its cuisine. An old saying in Gujarati, “Surat nu Jaman ane Kashi nu Maran”, means “Eat in Surat and Die in Kashi” to have the best for one’s soul.Popular dishes include Locho( a favourties of the local, steamed snack made of gram flour and lenties, steamed to be eaten immediately. Locho is only available in Surat.)
Other are perennial favourites such as “ghari” (a type of sweet), petis, undhiyu, rasaawala khaman, Surati Khaman(Spicy), Sarasiya Khaja and surati Chinese. Unlike cuisines in other parts of Gujarat, Surti cuisine is quite spicy. Roadside kiosks, called “laaris” or “rekdis”, are quite popular in Surat. Ponk is a roasted cereal that is available only in this part of the world
The major Hindu festivals are celebrated in Surat. Navratri, Diwali and Ganesh Chaturthi are celebrated with great enthusiasm. The kite-flying festival of Uttarayan, which falls on Makar Sankranti – 14 or 15 January, or ‘Vaasi Uttarayan’, celebrated with great enthusiasm by flying kites and shouting ‘Kai Po Che’ (I have cut) – is very popular in the city. It is also well known for the celebration of Chandi Padvo which usually occurs in October and is a holiday unique to Surat. This day[clarification needed] comes after one of the two biggest full moon days of the Hindu calendar year, Sharad Purnima, when residents of Surat have ‘Ghari’ and ‘Bhusu’ (Surti snacks) .