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Surat (Gujarati: સુરત) is a port city in the Indian state of Gujarat and administrative headquarters of the Surat District. As of 2007, Surat and its metropolitan area had a population of approximately 4 million. It is the second largest city in Gujarat and ninth largest in India. The city is situated on the left bank of the Tapti River, 14 miles from its mouth. A moat indicates the dividing-line between the old city, with its narrow streets and handsome houses, and the newer suburbs, but the city wall has almost disappeared. The city is largely recognized for its textile and diamond businesses. 92% of the world's diamonds are cut and polished in Surat. Surat is also considered a relatively clean city in India. It has one of the highest GDP growth rates in India at 11.5% as of 2008. Surat was the primary port of India during the Mughal era, a distinction it lost to Bombay during the British Raj.

History

Local traditions fix the establishment of the modern city in the last years of the fifteenth century, and in 1514 the Portuguese traveller Duarte Barbosa described it as an important seaport, frequented by many ships from Malabar and various parts of the world. There still is a picturesque fortress on the banks of the river built in 1540. One particular village in the suburbs of Surat is Barbodhan Village, possibly named after the explorer Duarte Barbosa (it derives from "Bab-ul-Aden"—Doorway to Aden, Yemen—where it has strong cultural and trading links).
Surat eclipsed Cambay as the major port of western India, as Cambay's harbour had begun to silt up by the end of fifteenth century. Subsequently during the reigns of Mughal emperors Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan it rose to become the chief commercial city of India. An Imperial mint was established at Surat during that time. As the major port on the west coast of India, Surat also served as the port for the Hajj to Mecca. At the end of the 16th century the Portuguese were undisputed masters of the Surat sea trade. In 1608, ships from the British East India Company started docking in Surat, since ir was a trade and transit point. In 1612, the British Captain Best, and after him Captain Downton, overcame Portuguese naval supremacy and obtained an imperial firman establishing a British factory at Surat following the Battle of Swally. The city was made the seat of a presidency under the British East India Company after the great success of the embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the court of emperor Jehangir. The Dutch also founded a factory.
During its zenith Surat was popularly viewed as the city of Kubera, the God of Wealth. In 1664 the Maratha leader Shivaji sacked and looted Surat. When Shivaji arrived at Surat, he demanded tribute from the Mughal commander for the small army stationed with him for port security. The tribute was refused and so after Shivaji conquered the city, forces under his command exacted their revenge. Surat was under sack for nearly 3 weeks, in which the army looted wealth from the Mughal & Portuguese trading centers. The plundered wealth was successfully transported south to the rising Maratha Empire before the Mughal Empire at Delhi was alerted. This wealth was used for development & strengthening the Maratha Empire, and, concurrently the decline and fall of the Mughal Empire.
The only exception to the looting was the British factory, a fortified warehouse-counting house-hostel, which was successfully defended by Sir George Oxenden. But the prosperity of the factory at Surat received a fatal blow when Bombay was ceded to the British as part of the dowry for Catherine of Braganza's wedding to Charles II in 1662. Shortly afterwards in 1668 another factory was established in Bombay(Mumbai) by the British East India Company. From that date Surat began its relative decline with the rise of British interests in Bombay.
The city was sacked again by Shivaji in 1670. By 1689 the seat of presidency was moved to Bombay by the British East India Company. Surat's population reached an estimated 800,000 but by the middle of the 19th century the number had fallen to 80,000. Surat was again taken by the British in 1759, and the conquerors assumed the undivided government of the city in 1800.
Since the introduction of British rule, the city and the surrounding district remained comparatively tranquil; and even during the Revolt of 1857 (also known as the first struggle for India's independence) peace was not disturbed, owing in great measure to the loyalty of the leading Muslim families to the British and to the largely mercantile interests of the local population.
A fire and a flood in 1837 destroyed a great number of buildings. Among the interesting monuments still surviving are the tombs of the English and Dutch merchants and their families, dating to the 17th century, especially those of the Oxenden brothers.
By the early 20th century, the population had slowly climbed to 119,306 and Surat remained a center of trade and manufacturing, although some of its former industries, such as shipbuilding, were extinct. There were cotton mills, factories for ginning and pressing cotton, rice-cleaning mills and paper mills. Fine cotton goods were woven on hand-looms, and there were special manufactures of silk brocade and gold embroidery (known as zari). The chief trades were organized in guilds. The manufacturing and trading brought an eclectic mix of ethnicities to the city, making Surat's culture unique even in modern times.
In 1992, violent riots took place between Hindus and Muslims, the first and worst of their kind in the modern history of Surat. In 1994, a combination of heavy rains and blocked drains led to water logging in the city. A number of dead street animals and public waste were not removed in time and a plague epidemic spread through the city. This brought the world's attention to the city as evinced by the sanctions on travel and goods exchange put up by a number of countries. The municipal commissioner during that time, S. R. Rao and the people of Surat worked hard in the late 1990s to clean the city up after which it was recognized in many circles as the 'second-cleanest city in India'.
In the second week of August, 2006, a massive flood caused severe damage to the city of Surat. In less than three days, at least 120 people died. More than 4,000 animal carcasses were later hauled out of the mud. Two weeks after the floods, Surat’s diamond-polishing factories were practically empty of workers, who had fled fearing disease. An industry group estimated the losses at $60 million.
On April 29, 2007 Surat's first domestic airport opened for business and it started scheduled flights on May 6, 2007.

Geography

Surat is a port city situated on the banks of the Tapti river (though the port has disappeared because of the damming of the river Tapti, the nearest port is now in Hazira which falls in the metropolitan area of Surat). The city is located at . It has an average elevation of 13 meters. The Surat district is surrounded by Bharuch, Narmada (North), Navsari and Dang (South) districts. To the west is the Gulf of Cambay. The climate is tropical and the monsoon is abundant (about 2500 mm a year).
  • Area: 327km²

Climate

  • Winter Temperature: Max 31 °C, Min 12 °C
  • Summer Temperature: Max 42 °C, Min 24 °C
  • Rainfall (mid-June to mid-September): 931.9 mm
  • Lowest Recorded Temperature: 6.5 °C
  • Highest Recorded Temperature: 48 °C

Economy

Surat is famous for its diamond industry and textile industry, along with silk and chemicals. It is at the heart of India's thriving diamond-polishing industry, which in 2005 cut 92% of the world's diamond pieces and earned India $15 billion in exports. Gujarati diamond cutters emigrating from East Africa established the industry in 1901 and by the 70s Surat-based diamond cutters began exporting stones to the US for the first time. Though much of the polishing work takes place on small weight stones, Surat's workshops have set their eyes on the lucrative market for finishing larger, pricier stones in the future. It is a major production centre for synthetic textiles in India.

Government and Politics

The Surat Municipal Corporation is responsible for the city's civic infrastructure as well as carrying out associated administrative duties. SMC has highest budget-money in India.

Transportation

Surat's infrastructure is improving steadily. The city has recently seen the completion of a large number of road projects, particularly the elevated roads, or flyovers in the diamond and textile zones of the city. This has significantly cut down the commuting time for many people traveling to the diamond and textile districts. One of the very few "Multi-Layer Flyovers in India is nearing completion in Surat. The Varachcha Flyover of Surat is India's longest flyover under city municipal limits in the four lane category.
The Golden Quadrilateral highway system pases through Surat. The city is connected to the National Highway 8 through a 16 k.m. connector highway. The National Highway 8 corridor is one of the most industrially developed areas in the country and Surat is one of the most industrially active cities that connects to it. National highway 6, also known as Surat - Kolkata Highway, starts from Hazira and connects the city to Dhule, Nagpur, Raipur, Sambalpur, Kharagpur and Kolkata.
Surat is connected to the national railway system through the Western Railways. It is connected to Mumbai and beyond to south India. There are also links to New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Vadodara and other cities to the north. The Surat Railway Station is in the eastern-central part of the city near major hotels and business houses. There is also a connection to the Central Railways through Udhana Junction and the Tapti line. There are numerous daily trains that travel to the north, south and east throughout the day. Passenger trains range from local trains that stop at all stations on the way to express trains like the August Kranti Rajdhani Express. In addition, there are plenty of goods trains that move the goods produced by the city to the rest of the country and beyond, and bring supplies into the city.
Till May 2006 Surat was the only city in the world with a population of over 4 million people without a functioning airport. Construction of Surat Airport was suspended due to technical reasons in 2004. The new airport finally became functional with Surat-Delhi IA flight on 6th May 2007. Currently daily flights are also operated to Ahmedabad and Jaipur. Future flights will connect Surat with other major cities in India like Kandla, Kolkata, Mumbai and Bangalore.
On the 22nd of August, SMSS bus service was opened by the city Mayor Dr. Kanubhai Mavani. It is considered one of the best city bus services in India. These buses have an LCD screen in the front giving details about the journey. The conductor uses an electronic machine to print out the tickets. The bus stops are relatively modern and comfortable. The bus service is general is relatively hi-tech and modern, which is rare in Indian cities.
Surat is expected to get BRTS, Bus Rapid Transit System, by 2010.
Surat has its own port which is used for shipping freight. A plan to connect Surat with Mumbai, Goa, Dubai, Bhavnagar through ferry services is moving forward.
Surat-Bhavnagar ferry service is a much awaited service by the citizens. This would help Surat connect with the Saurashtra region of Gujarat state reducing commuting time by at least 6 hours.

Demographics

The population of Surat according to new city limits is 4,539,358. Males constitute 56% of the population and females 44%. Surat has an average literacy rate of 77%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 81%, and female literacy is 70%. In Surat, 13% of the population is under 6 years of age. Besides Gujurati another big comminity is Oriya. Around 30% of the total population are Oriya. Many people come from Orissa in search of jobs. Surat also has a small number of Parsis, Armenians and Jews. Because of presence of unauthorized residential buildings and shanty towns which bring difficulties in counting the residents of these areas, combined with the explosive growth in population (mostly through migration) it is generally believed that as of 2007 about 4.8 million people live within the Surat Urban Development Authority(SUDA) area. However, SUDA also covers a 5k.m. radius in addition to the official city limits and thus covers villages and towns that lie outside the Municipal area.

Culture and festivals

Surat is known throughout India for its unique Surti cuisine. Some unique dishes of Surat include Surti Ghari, Locho, Surti Undhiyu, Rasawala Khaman, Cold coco, Surti Chinese. Many of the popular dishes of Gujarat originated in this region. Contrary to popular belief, Surti cuisine is not as sweet as the stereotypical Gujarati food, and is quite spicy.
The most popular eating spots are roadside kiosks, called "laaris" or "rekdis". In the cooler winter months, Suratis converge at river Tapi's banks to eat Ponk; it is a roasted cereal that is available only in this part of the world.
Major Indian festivals are celebrated in Surat. Diwali and Ganesh Chaturthi are celebrated with great enthusiasm. The kite-flying festival of Makar Sankranti is especially popular in the city. It is also well known for the celebration of Chandi Padvo which usually occurs around October and is celebrated in Surat alone. This day comes after one of the two biggest full moon days of the Hindu calendar year, "Sharad Purnima". On this day, Surtis buy almost 100 tons of Ghari and other Surati delicacies, then head to Dumas where they have dinner and a late night snack under the full moon-lit sky.

Education

Schools in Surat are either "municipal schools" (run by the SMC) or private schools (run by trusts or individuals), which in some cases receive financial aid from the government. The schools are affiliated either with the Gujarat State Board or the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) boards. Gujarati or English is the usual language of instruction. The government run public schools lack many facilities, but are the only option for poorer residents who cannot afford the more expensive private schools. A majority of residents prefer private schools because of better infrastructure and the use of English as a medium of instruction.
Under 10+2+3 format, student go through primary and secondary schooling in the first ten years and then two years of higher secondary education. That is followed by a three years college typically for commerce, arts and science degrees. Generally engineering degree course takes four years while medicine takes about five and half years or more. Most colleges in the city are affiliated with the Veer Narmad South Gujarat University.
There is a medical college and four engineering colleges, including the prestigious Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology, Surat(SVNIT formerly svrcet or svr, among the 17 NIT's of India). Other notable institutions are Sarvajanik College of Engineering and Technology(SCET), C K Pithawala College of Engineering and Technology (CKPCET), Government Engineering College, Sir K.P. College of Commerce, MTB Arts and PT Science colleges, V.T. Choksi Sarvajanik College of Education, SMIMER (Surat Municipal Institute of Medical Education & Research), Dr.S & S.S. Gandhi College of Polytechnic Engineering, Majuragate Surat, and, Ramkrishna Vidhyalay Surat.

Media

Gujaratmitra, one of the oldest and most respected dailies of the country, is the most popular daily newspaper of Surat & South Gujarat. Besides Gujaratmitra, Gujarat Samachar, Sandesh, Divyabhaskar and Commodity World are the other Surat dailies. Local editions of these newspapers are published in Gujarati. Loktej was the first Hindi daily published from Surat. Rajasthan Patrika and Savera are now the top Hindi daily newspaper from Surat. The national dailies Indian Express, The Times of India and Mid Day are the most popular English-language newspapers.DNA is a new addition to the list of English dailies available in Surat.
Since the city has the largest synthetic textile manufacturing center in India, there is an exclusive textile newspaper called Textile Graph. It is published, since 1994, in Gujarati and Hindi languages from Surat. The Textile Directory of Surat (5th. edition) comprising business information of textile traders and industry in & around Surat is also published by Textile Graph.
Most cable service providers have local television channels as well. Satellite TV DTH services are provided by DISH TV and TATA SKY.
Surat has its very own, exclusive website MyCitySurat which gives everyone a platform to express their views on current events, views, grivences. It serves as a real time city directory which gets updated by the users directly. The best part about it is that users/visitors can interact directly on that and all activities are being monitored to avoid entry of fake/false information. The objective of this is to add little Comfort and Profit in routine life of MyCitySurat.
Broadband Internet connection is also available in the city.Key broadband service providers in MyCitySurat are BSNL, TATA INDICOM, RELIANCE COMMUNICATIONS, YOU BROADBAND. Wi-Fi connectivity is available at many cafes around town.

Radio

In the year of 2007, Surat has four FM Radio stations. They play Hindi as well as English music.
[a] Radio City 91.1
[b] Radio Mirchi 98.3
[c] My FM 94.3
[d] Big FM 92.7
and National Radio "Vividh Bharti" has been there since long long time.

Sports

Surat has many sports facilities, the majority of them dedicated to cricket. The Lalbhai Contractor Stadium and the Pithawala Cricket stadiums have facilities for hosting cricket matches. In addition, Surat has an Indoor Stadium, used to host events like badminton & table tennis. This stadium is one of the best indoor stadiums in the country. It has modern facilities and the capacity of 7000 seats. In Aug 2006 the 3rd Asian gymnastics championship was held in Surat. There are few sports clubs also which provide many types of indoor and outdoor games. There is the Surat Tennis Club near Athwalines, and the Surat City Gymkhana.

Places of Interest

Dutch Garden- The ancient Dutch gardens, the Dutch cemetery and Makaipul, the ancient original port from where the ships sailed to other parts of the world are other attractions.
Old Fort- The Old Fort was built by Muhammed Tughlak in the 14th century to fortify the defence against the Bhils. It is now used for Municipal Offices. Sardar Patel Museum- About a hundred years old this museum has a collection of over 10,000 specimens of arts and crafts.
Rangupavan- It is an open air theater with a 18 meters by 10.5 meters stage and a capacity of around 4000 spectators. This is one of the biggest theaters in the country. Rangupavan has been lately closed down by the owners. Dumas & Hajira- Dumas 16 km from Surat and Hajira 28 km from Surat are well known health resorts on a creek of the Arabian Sea. Hajira has two wells with water rich in iron and sulphur. The pleasant Hazira beach is fringed by feathery casurina trees.
Gaurav Path- One of the most happening places of Surat. It was built by Surat Municipal Corporation.
Choppati- It's also a very popular place in the city. It has a large garden and provides Indian fastfood like Paav Bhajee and Paani puri. Vansada National Park- It is situated in Valsad district and is a home to leopards, tigers, panthers and wild boars. The best time to visit is between October and March.
JOY n JOY- It is situated around 30km Away from Surat, on the Ahemadabad highway. It have different types of rides.
Water Fun Park- It is situated in Hazira Road 16 km away from Surat City, is popular during summer weekends. It is also called છબ છબા છબ. *
Beaches- There are a number of beaches near Surat. Only 16 km away, Dumas is a popular resort with locals. Hajira is 28 km from the city and Ubhrat is 42 km out, while Tithal is 108kn away and only five km from Valsad on the Mumbai to Vadodara train line. Twenty-nine km south of Surat, Navsari has been a headquarters for the Parsi community since the earliest days of their settlement in India. Udvada, only 10 km north of Vapi, the station for Daman, has the oldest Parsi sacred fire in India. It is said that the fire was brought from Persia to Diu, on the opposite coast of the Gulf of Cambay, in 700 AD. Sanjan, in the extreme south of the state, is the small port where the Parsis first landed. A pillar marks the spot.
Dutch Cemetry- Located near Kataragam Gate, this impressive mausoleum is that of Baron Adrian Van Reede who passed away in 1691. A massive Dome, beautiful pillars and the huge gallery make it a very outstanding monument.
Science City- Located near to Citylight area. It is developing by SMC and it will be most attractive place for tourist in near future.

Administrative Legends

References

External links

surat in Bulgarian: Сурат
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surat in French: Surat (Gujarat)
surat in Gujarati: સુરત
surat in Bishnupriya: সুরাত
surat in Indonesian: Surat (kota)
surat in Lithuanian: Suratas
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