Thursday, January 28, 2010
Gujarat is the westernmost state in India. It is home to the Gujarati speaking people of India. The state encompasses major sites of the Indus Valley Civilization such as Lothal and Dholavira. Gujarat played an important role in the economic history of India throughout the history of India. It is home to major ports in India's ancient and modern history, leading it to become one of the main trade and commerce center of India. Lothal, one of the world's first ports, is located in Gujarat. Also, Mahatma Gandhi, India's father of the nation, was Gujarati and led the Indian Independence Movement against the British, as was Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the father of Pakistan. Today, modern Gujarat has one of the fastest growing economies in India.
Modern-day Gujarat is derived from Gujjar (Gujjar Rāshtra), which means Gujjar nation. The origins of the Gujjars are uncertain. The Gujjar clan appeared in northern India about the time of the Huna invasions of northern India. Some scholars, such as V. A. Smith, believed that the Gujjars were foreign immigrants, possibly a branch of Hephthalites ("White Huns"), however others, such as K.M.Munshi, stated them as Indian. The name of the tribe was Sanskritized to "Gurjara" .
After Indian independence and the partition of India in 1947, the new Indian government grouped the former princely states of Gujarat into three larger units; Saurashtra, which included the former princely states on the Kathiawad peninsula, Kutch, and Bombay state, which included the former British districts of Bombay Presidency together with most of Baroda state and the other former princely states of eastern Gujarat. In 1956, Bombay state was enlarged to include Kutch, Saurashtra, and parts of Hyderabad state and Madhya Pradesh in central India. The new state had a mostly Gujarati-speaking north and a Marathi-speaking south. Agitation by both Gujarati and Marathi nationalists for their own states led to the split of Bombay state on linguistic lines; on 1 May 1960, it became the new states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. The first capital of Gujarat was Ahmedabad; the capital was moved to Gandhinagar in 1970.
Gujarat borders with Pakistan to the north-west, bounded by the Arabian Sea to the southwest, the state of Rajasthan to the northeast, Madhya Pradesh to the east, and by Maharashtra, Union territories of Diu, Daman, Dadra and Nagar Haveli to the south. Historically, the North was known as Anarta, the Kathiawad peninsula, "Saurastra", and the South as "Lata". Gujarat was also known as Pratichya and Varuna. The Arabian Sea makes up the state's western coast. The capital, Gandhinagar is a planned city. Gujarat has an area of 75,686 sq mi (196,077 km²).
Lothal is the site of the ancient ruins of the first Indian port, dating from the time of the Indus Valley Civilization. Dholavira, the ancient city, locally known as Kotada Timba, is one of the largest and most prominent archaeological sites in India belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization. It is located on the Khadir island in the Kutch district of Gujarat — the island is surrounded by water in the monsoon season. The site was occupied from about 3000 BC for about a millennium, declining slowly after about 2100, briefly abandoned and then reoccupied, finally, by villagers among its ruins, until about 1450. Gola Dhoro, dating from 2500-2000 BCE, was recently discovered near the village of Bagasra. Shell bangles, copper, and beads were found there.
Gujarat has 4 National parks and 21 sanctuaries which include: Nal Sarovar, Anjal, Balaram-Ambaji, Barda, Jambughoda, Jessore, Kachchh Desert, Khavda, Narayan Sarovar, Paniya, Purna, Rampura, Ratanmahal, and Surpaneshwar.
Gujarat is the only home of Asiatic Lions. Outside Africa, Gujarat is the only present natural habitat of lions. Gir Forest National Park in the south-west part of the state covers only part of the lions' habitat. Besides lions, the other big cat that can be found in the state is the leopard. Leopards are spread across large plains of Saurashtra and mountains of South Gujarat.