Located on the western end of Gujarat, Surat is a thriving city that has made waves in the manufacturing and trade space. It has bagged a banner of names for itself such as “The Silk City”, “The Diamond City”, “The Green City” and more. And if you’re looking for a place to start a business, then please do have Surat in mind.
But Surat is not only about working hard. The land is filled with a plethora of heritage sites, historic monuments, and green spaces, and is a perfect blend of a fast-paced lifestyle with a secluded one as well. If this city appeals to you for your next vacation, then read our Surat travel guide to know more about this bustling city.
Every city in India has its own historical backstory and Surat is not short of one. It is said that the city was founded by a Brahman named Gopi who constructed a reservoir in 1516 and then called the area Surajpur or Suryapur. It was only 5 years later after Gopi’s discovery the area was called Surat. It then had several conquerors ranging from the Portuguese, the Mughal Empire, and even the Marathas.
With such colonial diversity, Surat soon came to be known as India’s emporium since it began exporting bales of cloth and kilos of gold. Soon after, its industries diverged into textile manufacturing and shipbuilding. The British saw Surat’s economic potential and as a result, set up India’s first factory for trade in 1612 in this city. The Dutch also wanted a slice of Surat’s pie, but governance was passed entirely to the British in 1800.
Unfortunately, Surat had a dry patch in the mid-19th century. This is attributed to the epidemic the city saw between 1790-91 to which many Gujaratis succumbed and the great fire of 1837 that destroyed the livelihood of many households. But then, Surat came back to its former glory when the Indian railways opened. This made silk, cotton, gold, silver, and muslin from this city spread to other parts of the country and till today, Surat continues to be one of India’s growing economies.
The business opportunities in this city are immense and many individuals from different parts of the country have been moving to this city to make a good living in it. That’s why you will find a vast variety of cultures and traditions in this city, making it not only economically diverse but a land of cultural diversity as well.
The residents, called Surtis, speak a certain dialect of Gujarati called Surati. So if you’re able to learn a few words of it, you can instantly connect better with the locals. Plus, people over here are extremely warm and kind, and even if you don’t speak their dialect very well, they will help you to get around the city no matter what.
Festivals are a big deal in Surat. Their celebrations are done in great pomp and style and the festive spirit will always rub off on you. Most of the major Indian festivals such as Ganesh Chaturthi and Diwali are celebrated here, but the most notable ones are Makar Sankranti and Chand Padvo which hold the deepest resemblance to the people's hearts. Chand Padvo is a celebration where people eat sweets only that are white in color. Ghari, a sweet dish made of dry fruits and maida, is Surat's signature delicacy during this festival and if you happen to be during that time, don’t forget to have a piece of Ghari.
Getting to Surat is pretty convenient by air. The Surat International Airport is where you’ll get down from whichever city you’re coming from. Many commercial airlines fly to this airport from nearly all major Indian cities daily, so in terms of flight frequency, you’ll get a good choice of flights.
The other best way to travel to diamond city is by train. The Surat Railway Station is one of Gujarat's main railway stations and is well-connected to almost all of India’s major cities including Mumbai and New Delhi. Plus, its proximity to amenities such as hotels and restaurants is another added advantage of this railway station, in turn making the vacation in Surat even more convenient.
The Golden Highway Quadrilateral system connects Surat with major cities including Chennai, Delhi, and Bangalore, and is the most convenient option to take if you decide to drive. Mumbai is around 283 km from Surat, so with moderate traffic, it’ll take you approximately 5 hours to reach.
Winter (October to February) is a good time to travel to Surat since the climate is pleasant and welcoming. Temperatures lie between a comfortable 15°C and 30°C, and it makes exploring Surat’s tourist spots a fun and enjoyable activity. Also between October to November, Navratri is celebrated in full swing and pomp with dances like Garba and Dandiya, making the mood vibrant and giving you an extra reason why you should visit this city.
Getting around Surat is extremely convenient and you won’t have a problem navigating at all. For short to medium distances, you can use auto-rickshaws to get you to your destination quicker and cheaper. You can also use cabs, but they’re slightly on the expensive end. Use cabs if you’re spending the day sightseeing so that getting across locations becomes easier.
Surat has an efficient public bus transportation system known as Surat City Bus. They are another good way to explore the city thoroughly. If buses are not your thing, you can travel by local trains as well to get around the city. Many railway stations dot the area of Surat, so if you are covering large distances, catch a local train in any of Surat’s railway stations and have fun traveling.
'Surat is only known for its technological and industrial prowess'
The business and technology sector is indeed prominent in this city but it’s not only limited to that. Surat is home to a long range of historic sites, national parks, temples, and even beaches. There are many places you can explore to enjoy a fun week in Surat. So if someone hints at you that Surat is just a chaotic city that’s just bland, block them from all your social media accounts immediately!
If you want to visit a place that contains architectural finesse surrounded by a landscape of green, then check out Dutch Garden. Various tombs were built for the Dutch and English settlers in this area and that’s how the place got its name. One prominent structure is the enormous mausoleum built for Baron Adrian Van Reed, the man who built the first Dutch port for trading in Surat.
You’ll find the Dutch Garden in the Nanpura area of Surat which is easily recognizable among the bustle in the streets. It’s like an area of calm amidst the chaos! Many tourists flock to the Dutch Garden to marvel at its wondrous beauty. The place is embedded with areas of lush lawns, colorful flower beds, beautiful fountains, and well-kept gardens. Surat is a heavily urbanized region so you can take some rest from the concrete jungle and relax on the well-trimmed lawns of the Dutch Garden.
Named after freedom fighter Sardar V. Patel, the Sardar Patel Museum is known for preserving the cultural, historical, and traditional facets of Surat. Previously known as Winchester Museum, this complex covers around 21800 sq m of area and is home to a wide variety of other attractions.
The place has a planetarium, science gallery, amphitheater, auditorium, art gallery, and even a cafeteria. In addition, the museum is home to several artifacts and antiques made of wood, porcelain, bronze, etc, and ancient paintings, sculptures, and textiles. The auditorium screens various documentaries about the history of this city, so this will indeed be a real treat for all our history buffs.
Christened after renowned Bengali scientist Jagadish Chandra Bose, this establishment is known to be the home of many native fishes. It consists of two floors which have many small tanks and a larger one for display. Once you reach the main gate of this place, you can’t fail to notice the huge whale skeleton that surrounds the garden.
From goldfish to treacherous piranhas, the aquarium hosts a plethora of fishes. You will find sharks in the bigger tank whereas the smaller ones host smaller fishes such as alligator gars, lionfishes, stingrays, and more. Other marine species such as American lobsters, moray eels, snowflake eels, etc can be found. This is a one-stop destination for all our marine life enthusiasts or for those who’d like to get a bit fishy (pun intended)!
Also Read: Exploring the Adalaj Stepwell in Gujarat
Is Surat Worth Visiting?
Surat is definitely a place worth visiting. With its collection of historic monuments, museums, beaches, and green spaces, Surat is an ideal destination for anyone to vacay in. Additionally, it gives you the chance to experience what fast-paced city life is all about.
Is Surat Safe?
Surat’s crime level is below the crime index, meaning the city is an extremely safe place to be in. Only, you’ll have to be wise and take certain precautions to not lure any harm to yourself. For example, keep your wallet in your front pocket or purse strapped in front of you. Avoid roaming in shady gullies or dim-lit streets, or avoid restaurants that have a sketchy demeanor. Speak to your housekeeper first and ask them about the places and roads to avoid.
How Are The People In Surat?
In general, the people in Surat are among the sweetest and friendliest you’ll ever see. If you need any help with directions, or any extra information about a particular place, speak to them unhesitatingly. Learn a few words of Surati Gujarati to earn a few brownie points with them.
Which Sweet Of Surat Is Famous?
Ghari, a sweet made up of maida and dry fruits, is the star delicacy of Surat. They’re easily available in any local sweet mart so pop into any of them and bite into this savory sweet. Also, don’t forget to pack a box for your friends back home too.
What Gujarat is famous for?
Gujarat is famous for its pristine beaches, beautiful temples, wildlife sanctuaries, etc. Gujarat is also known for its sculptures, handicrafts, and vibrant festivals.
What is Gujarat famous food?
The Gujarati thali which typically comprises of steamed or fried snacks called farsans, kathol , kadhi , raita or sweet shrikhand, rice or khichdi, and sweets like halwas, basundi or shrikhand.
Which is safest city in Gujarat?
Gandhinagar is considered to be one of the safest city in Gujarat and even in India, especially for womenfolk.
Which is the cleanest city in Gujarat?
The beautiful port city of Surat is said to be the cleanest city in Gujarat.