Surat is popular as the commercial capital of Gujarat. It was also referred as Suryapur. The city is known for its cleanliness and is one of the rapidly growing cities of the state. Surat has had a rich historical past. This is the place that saw Lord Krishna pass through the land on his way to Dwarka from Mathura. This place has been ruled by Mughal emperors such as Shah Jahan, Akbar, and Jahangir. The city mainly focused on trade and commerce post Indian independence. Traces of its rich historical past still remain in form of monuments in Surat. The long lost history is revived through these structures, which take you back to the ancient days of prosperity during the kingships. Some even remind of annexations and struggles faced by the city.
Surat and its monuments
Surat is a well structured city. It was founded during the 16th century. The oldest fort in the city however, was built in 1373. It was formed by Firoz Shah Tuglaq III. The city went through lots in the past. It was burnt by the Portuguese to establish dominion. It later went into the hands of Mughal rulers who rebuilt Surat with monuments and excellent architecture. Dutch entered this city with an aim to set up factories. They did so in 1616. This was followed by French who set up factories during 1668. The city was later under Chhatrapati Shivaji's rule. The year 1837 however, proved unlucky for the city. It was partly destroyed by fire and partly by river burst. Several ancient monuments in Surat could not survive this wrath of time though many still survived and continue to attract travelers from all over the globe.
Top Monuments in Surat
Through the various monuments, Surat has successfully preserved its rich historical heritage. Guests can plan a visit to all of these and hear the tales that talk about Surat's past. Some of the best monuments to explore are-
Surat Castle: Surat Castle is one of the top monuments to check out in the city. It lies close to the Tapti Bridge. The castle is an ancient attraction still surviving the tests of time. It came up in the year 1546 and was built by Khudawan Khan. He was an Albanian Christian. The site chosen for this fort is the same as the fort, which was built by Firoz Shah Tughlaq. The Surat Castle is known its thick four meter wall with a height of 12 meters. The walls have lead fillings and iron strips to make them stronger and durable. This also ensures that the castle is strong and impenetrable. The gateway on the Eastern side is worth checking out. The castle also has the Anglican Church by Bishop Hebenn and the well known Victoria Garden.
Old Fort: Old Fort in Surat was constructed under the rule of Muhammad Bin Tuglaq. It belongs to the 14th century. The castle was built with an aim to protect the city as a fortification during the Bhil tribe uprising. The Old Fort is an impressive monument with strong walls built in lead and iron. The overall structure of the fort is attractive and has high walls protecting the structure. It is one of the important monuments still preserved with its glory.
Sardar Vallabhai Patel Museum: This is one of the oldest museums in the city. It came up in the year 1890. The museum is significant for its collection of remains from the Mughal as well as British period. It is a beauty on its own. The museum also flaunts an open air theatre. The place can accommodate a maximum of 4000 people at a time. It is popularly known as Rangupavan. The museum is a must-visit monumental attraction in the city. It has ancient collection, which contains- miniatures, oil paintings, antiques of sandalwood, terracotta, wooden, metal and manuscripts. Many of the remains from the past can be found stored at the Sardar Vallabhai Patel Museum.
Chintanamani Jain Temple: This is one of the oldest monuments that the land of Surat can flaunt of. The temple is as old as 400 years. It is known for its vegetable dye paintings. These paintings are of preachers from the Jain sect namely- King Kumarpala, Acharya Hemchandra and King Solanki. A replica of this ancient monumental attraction can be found in the famous London Museum. The replica too is as old as 90 years.
Swaminarayan Temple: Swaminarayan Temple is a well known pilgrim site in Surat. It is an artistic temple dedicated to Swaminarayan Sect of the Vaishnavs. Lord Swaminarayan is said to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The temple is located on the banks of River Tapti. The temple is a true beauty and one of the most visited monumental attraction in the city. It has three shrines, which are colored in bright shades and have external walls with wood carvings. The shrines are dedicated to different gods' namely- Radha-Krishna Dev and Harikrishna Maharaja, Ghanshyam Maharaj, Gunatitanand Swami, Gopalanand Swami and Lord Swaminarayan.
Swaraj Ashram at Bardoli: Bardoli is a well known tourist spot near Surat. It is located at about 34 kilometers from the city. This place has the famous Swaraj Ashram, which saw a lot of action for Indian independence in the past.Bardoli; the place itself has lots to narrate. This place was chosen for the 'Bardoli Satyagarh' movement under the leadership of Sardar Vallabhai Patel in 1921-1922.
Other ancient monuments to explore when in Surat are the ancient factories, remains and ruins of which gives a glimpse of the ancient settlements. You can check out the English Factory near the Mission High School and the Kataranga Gate. During the visit also check out the Portuguese Factory and the French Factory. You can also explore other nearby monumental attractions such as The Clocktower and the Persian Factory during the Surat visit.