Standing on the banks of the River Tapti, Surat in the state of Gujarat was once the west coast’s principal port before the stunning rise and development of Bombay.
Parsis first settled in Surat as early as the 12th century. In 1573, Surat fell to the Mughal emperor Akhbar after a prolonged siege. It then became an important Mughal trading port and also the point of departure for Muslim pilgrims seeking to visit Mecca. Surat’s fortunes transformed the city. In 1612, the British arrived, followed by the Dutch in 1616. This represented the East India Company’s first foothold in India. Surat might eventually have gone on to achieve the outstanding fortunes reserved for Bombay. However, fire and floods destroyed the town in 1837, forcing the town’s Jain and Parsi merchants south to Bombay.
Today, it remains an important textile-manufacturing centre. More than 90% of the world’s diamonds are also processed and finished here, a legacy of the Old Dutch trade links. As such, Surat is known as the ‘Diamond capital of the world.
Surat’s two main attractions are the views of the many colonial buildings from the castle built in 1546 by the Sultan of Gujarat and the weed-choked English cemetery which contain the remains of colonial dignitaries including Francis Breton, at the time of his death in 1649 the East India Company’s most senior representative in India.
SEE ALSO: Nearby site of interest - Dandi
To get you started with planning your holiday to Surat, we have showcased below some popular itineraries requested by our clients which we hope will inspire your visit to India
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