BACKGROUND INFORMATION ABOUT THE STATE OF GUJARAT

INTRODUCTION

There was a tribe named Gurjaras who came in Gujarat around the 5th century AD. The name Gujarat comes from these Gurjaras.This was the time when the Huns came marauding up north. A large number of Gurjaras settled up north, but a majority moved towards the western coast where they settled for a Gurjara Rashtra. These lands were ruled over by Hindu regents for several years. This was also the entry point for the Zoroastrians into India, who fled Persia to escape victimisation from Muslims who had by then, virtually overrun the middleeast. Parsis were welcomed into the Indian community by the local Rajas, in turn they adoped Gujarati as their language.

Gujarat had long been prized property, especially because of its coast. The Rajputs managed to ward off the Muslim invaders for a while, but their superior armies soon took over the entire region, and the Sultans of Gujarat ruled these lands from the 11th century right through to the 17th century, when they finally lost their lands to the Europeans. After Independence, British-ruled Gujarat and the several princely states were clubbed together to form the state of Bombay, subsequently split into Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Gujarat is one of the most prosperous states in the country, with Gujaratis counting among the most financially secure communities. In India and abroad, Gujaratis with their indomitable spirit have emerged among the world's premier business communities.

HISTORY

Gujarat forms an area that housed the regions of the Indus Valley civilization and Harappan sites. Around 50 Harappan sites are found in Gujarat. Lothal, Rangpur, Amri, Lakhabaval, Rozdi etc. are some of these sites. This makes it an important territory that reveals the history of India. The Dravidian tribes were said to be the original inhabitants of this region. Even before the Aryan occupation of Gujarat it is said to have had trade contracts with Sumer, the Persian Gulf in about 1000-750BC. Rock edicts in the Girnar hills indicate that Ashoka extended his domain into Gujarat. It was during the Mauryan rule that this region witnessed the influence of Buddhism. The Mauryans also promoted trade and helped in spread of its culture. In about 150BC the Bactarian Greeks under Meander is said to have instilled their rule. Till 40AD they are said to have had trade contracts with Rome. From  about AD130-390 the Scythians ruled it. After 300AD the Guptas established their reign, which lasted till 460AD. The Vallabhi established their sway in between (500-700AD). After the death of Harshvardhana, the Gujjars controlled it till 746AD.

The Solankis ruled over Gujarat till 1143. Gujarat attained its greatest territorial extend under the Solanki dynasty, from the 9th century. Muhammud of Ghazni attacked Somnath in Gujarat leading to the downfall of the Solankis. The conquest of Ala-ud-din Khilji king of Delhi in 1288 also influenced the conditions in Gujarat. The Sultans of Delhi had their sway over Gujarat from 1298-1392AD. Ahmad Shah I, the first independent Muslim ruler of Gujarat founded Ahmadabad in 1411. Then the Mughals ruled for about 2 centuries till the Marathas terminated their rule in the mid 18th century. It was during the18th century that Gujarat was divided among number of chiefs. From 1803-1827 the British set up their administration.

The British East India companies first head quarters in India was at Surat. It was later moved to Bombay. Finally in May1,1960, the state of Gujarat was formed from the north and west portions of Bombay state, the remainder being renamed the state of Maharashtra.

MOUNTAINS

Gujarat's mountains are rich in scenic beauty and have been closely associated with religious and historical currents of Gujarat's life. The northern and the eastern borders are made up of mountains which are themselves either the tails or offshoots of outside ranges like the Aravallis, the Vindhyas, the Satpuras and the Sahyadris. Saurashtra contains two parallel ranges, one stretching from east to west and the other from north-east to south-west. The tracts of saline land of Kutch have three mountain ranges.

 

The Aravalli which is the most ancient mountain range in Gujarat lies largely in Rajasthan and enters Gujarat at Abu and zigzagging up to the Pavagadh merges into the Vindhyas. The Taranga lies on the line from Mehsana to Visnagar. The Arasur branch of the Aravalli goes in the direction of Danta, Khedbrahma, Idar and Shamlaji and joins the Vindhyas. The Satpura tail lies between the Narmada and the Tapi with Rajpipla hills. The ranges of the Sahyadri lie across the Tapi with the highest rainfall and the densest forest in the state. The Saler Muler and the Parner form part of the Sahyadri range.

 

The rocky region of Saurashtra has only two regular mountain ranges, the northern one having about a 357 metre peak in the Panchal region. The Bardo with the 625metre Venu peak is about 29km from Porbandar.

 

The Girnar which is the highest mountain in the state (1,145metres) forms a part of the range south of the Bardo and is about 160km in length. The highest peak is named after Guru Dattatreya. Garakhnath, Amba Mata, Kalika Mata etc are the names of the other peaks of Girnar. The small hill beside the Girnar, called the Jamial Shah Pir is a Muslim holy place.

 

The Shetrunjaya hill near Palitana is one of the five sacred hills of Jains. The hills of Talaja, Lor and Sana are known for their Buddhist caves.

 

Kutch is a saline tract with three mountain ranges. The hills of Kutch are devoid of plant life. Among the three main ranges in Kutch, the northern one goes by Pachham, Khadir and Pranjal. The Kala Parvat forming a part of the ranges lies between Kutch and Sind. The southern range begins at Madh and goes up to Roha.

RIVERS

The Banas in the north, originating in the Siranva hill in Sirohi in Rajasthan, flows by the foot hills of Abu and disappears in the desert. The Saraswati takes its birth at Koteshvar near Ambaji, flows by Siddhpur and Patan and merges into the desert.

 

The Sabarmati, one of the biggest rivers of north Gujarat, originates from the Dhebar lake in Rajasthan and flows towards the Gulf of Cambay. The Hathmati, the Vatrak, the Mazam, the Meshvo, the Shedhi, the Khari and the other rivulets join it. The three "virgin" rivers of the north and the Sabarmati with its tributaries are the daughters of the Aravalli ranges, while the Mahi and the Narmada with their families originate from Madhya Pradesh, the former in the big lake near Amzara and the latter in the Amarkantak. The Mahi is joined by the Bhadar, the Anas, the Panam and the Meshri. The Narmada one of the biggest and holiest river along with the only tributary, the Karjan, meets the sea, about 16km from Broach.

 

The Tapi takes its birth in the Satpura ranges near Betwa and enters Gujarat at Kakarapar. It flows around Surat and Rander and falls into the sea.

 

The Mindhola, the Purna, the Ambika, the Vanki, the Auranga, the Vapi, the Par, the Kolak and the Damanganga are the rivers of south Gujarat, which originate in the Sahyadri.

 

Most of the rivers of Saurashtra and Kutch dry up in the summer. The river which originate in the central Saurashtra in the Chotila range flow to the south into the desert of Kutch. Only the Aji, the Machhu and the Brahmani are northward flowing rivers. The rivers originating in the Girnar and the Gir namely the Ojhat, the Kamb, the Surekh, the Somal, the Sangwada, the Hirani, the Kpila and the Saraswati flow into the sea. The Saraswati near the Somnath and the Vastu are sacred rivers.

 

Though Kutch has many rivers, they are small and do not have much water. Those flowing in the north disappear in the desert, while those flowing in other directions join the sea. The Khari flowing by Bhuj meets the desert and the Magh and the Tara empty their waters in the Gulf of Cambay. The Rudramata has been bunded for irrigation, providing the only irrigation project in Kutch.

 


GUJARAT STATE INFO   

 

            Area:196,000 sq km

Population: 41 million

            Capital city: Gandhinagar

Main languages: Gujarati, Hindi, English

Gujarat has always been a popular tourist destination, mainly due to the wildlife sanctuaries, ‘The Ranns of Kutch’. The Sasan Gir National Park is yet another popular pastime where one can come across lions. Most cities in this state also give the visitor a good chance to visit India in her rustic flavour.

It’s not one of India’s most visited regions, but has long been an important enter for Jains. It is one of India’s wealthiest states, supporting modern industrial complexes as well as thriving village handicrafts. The last Asiatic lions are here, and the pleasant beaches make for a good evening. The state has also seen many a rulers seize the throne in the past. However, to this day Gujaratis have reached different corners of the world and in most continents have a sizable Gujarati population with its own “Gujarat Association”. ‘Patel Motels’ in the USA are owned by the Patel community from Gujarat which seems to have a monopoly on both American motels and British supermarkets.

Two hundred years of Muslim rule from the 13th century was initially marred by destructive impulses but later led to a fruitful amalgamation of Muslim, Jain and Hindu architecture, giving rise to the unique building styles still apparent in the area today. Surprisingly, the British were the least successful interlopers, the eastern portion of Gujarat surviving British rule as a collection of princely states right up to Independence. In 1960 the current borders of Gujarat were established, creating today’s linguistically unified state.

People are divided into three major groups in terms of religion – the Hindus, Jains and the Muslims, with the size of the communities divided in that order. Besides the pure Gujaratis, there are also those from Saurashtra and the people from Kutch, who have distinct cultures and speak in different dialects. There are two distinct dialects of Gujarati, in Saurashtra and Kutch.

SHOPPING

Gujarat is especially known for its Saris. Many of these are intricately designed with inlaid Zari work. The Patola Silk from Patan is famous and one of the biggest selling fabrics in some of the larger cities. It is famous for Bandhnis, traditional Gagra- Cholis are known to be excellent craftsmen, and there is a rich arsenal of arts and crafts at the government handicraft centres. Jamnagar is famous for its tie-and-dye fabrics and brightly coloured embroidery work.

CLIMATE

The climate of Gujarat is moist in the southern districts and dry in the northern region. The Arabian sea and the Gulf of Cambay reduce the temperature and render the climate more pleasant and healthy. The year can be divided into: the winter season from November to February, the hot season from March to May, the south-west monsoon season from June to September and the intervening month of October.

 

The average rainfall in Gujarat varies from 33 to152cms. The southern region of the state has an average rainfall ranging from 76 to 152cms, Dangs district having the highest average of about 190cms. The northern districts have a rainfall varying from 51 to 102cms. The rainfall in the southern highlands of Saurashtra and the Gulf of Cambay is approximately 63cms while the other parts of Saurashtra have a rainfall less than 63cms.

 

The semi-desert area of Kutch has a very low average rainfall. Certain areas in Ahmedabad, Mehsana, Banaskantha, Panchmahals, Surendranagar, Jamnagar and Kutch districts face chronic scarcity conditions for want of adequate rains.

As the Tropic of Cancer passes through the northern border of Gujarat, the state has an intensely hot or cold climate. But the Arabian sea and the Gulf of Cambay in the west and the forest covered hills in the east soften the rigors of climatic extremes

AGRICULTURE

Agriculture in Gujarat forms a vital sector of the state's economy. It has to provide the required food grains for the state's population and raw materials for most of the agro-based industries. Unsuitable climatic conditions in some parts and rocky terrain with thin or no soils in others, have limited the area suitable for cultivation. The difficulty of drainage in coastal areas and in the two Ranns has made a large part of the state agriculturally unproductive.

 

The state's agricultural productivity is low. The yields are poor and in most cases do not even approach the low level of average yield for the country. Low yields result from poor soils, inadequate rainfall, frequent droughts and floods, bad drainage and undeveloped irrigation facilities. A characteristic feature of the state's agriculture is its cropping pattern un-proportionately dominated by cash crops. The high yield of cotton in fact the highest in the country, reflects the overall emphasis on cash crops, which have claimed the best agricultural land.

 

A higher percentage of the land is used for cultivation in central Gujarat. Kaira, Baroda, Broach and Surat districts are the main contributors to the agricultural production of the state. Valsad has become India's first integrated horticulture district.

 

The state produces a large variety of crops and its cropping pattern reflects the spatial variations in climate and topography. Groundnut (highest production in the country), cotton, Tobacco (second highest production in the country), isabgul, cumin sugarcane, Jawar, Bajra, Rice, Wheat, Pulses, Tur and Gram are the important crops of Gujarat. Another cash crop which has recently entered the field though in a few selected localities is banana. Plenty of mangoes for export as well as home consumption are part of cash crops. Honey, wax and bamboo are produced in fair quantities in different forests and medicinal herbs and fruits like Jamun and guava are produced in plenty. Forests also yield considerable quantities of teak, Khair, sadad, hadariyo, manual bamboos and such good quality of wood.

MUSIC 

In the field of music, Gujarat has made its own contribution. A number of Ragas bear the territorial names of Gujarat such as Gujaqri Todi, Bilaval (from Veraval), Sorathi, (from Sorath), Khambavati (from Khambhat, Cambay), Ahiri and Lati. These are invaluable gifts of Gujarat to the classical music of India. Jesingbhai, the creator of the Vichitra Veena, a musical string instrument, was from Ahmedabad.

 

Gujarat  has preserved folk music in its pure and pristine form by Charans and Gadhavis, a community whose hereditary profession is folk music and folk arts. Lullaby, Nupital songs, festive songs, Rannade songs are the different types of folk songs in Gujarat. Marsias is a peculiar form of singing at the time of death. The Vaishnava cult in Gujarat has produced a special variety of music, which can be classified as temple-music.

 

Besides its contribution to classical and folk music, Gujarat has produced its own folk instruments. Wind type instruments like Turi, Bungal, Pava, String type Ravan Hattho, Ektaro, and Jantar, percussion type like Manjira, Zanz pot drun etc.

STAGE ART

A typical folk drama of Gujarat called Bhavai is performed in village and temple grounds by professional communities of north Gujarat, the Taragalas, Bhojakas, etc. The word Bhavai is derived from the Sanskrit word "Bhava" meaning expression of emotion. The Bhavai drama is a continuous performance lasting the whole night in which many "veshas" are performed in the open without any stage equipment. These Veshas depict episodes from the social life of the community in the countryside, focusing in satirical or farcical way the characteristics of certain sections- Banias, Bohras, wandering tribes, etc.

 

Continuous playing on the Bhungal, a very long wind brass instrument, before and during the performance calls the rural patrons to the scene of the Bhavai. Women are strictly tabooed from taking part in the Bhavai. Their role is performed by the male artists which makes the entire drama more ridiculous. The repertoire of the Bhavai is limited to about three dozen veshas, the authorship of which is attributed to Asait.

 

ORNAMENTS

With the changing times, the ornaments of the women are also changing. They have become simpler and meager. They generally wear rings, ear-rings, bangles and slender chains. Bangles made of ivory and dyed in red, with a gold chip, are presented to the bride by her maternal uncle on the occasion of her marriage.

LANGUAGE

The three important languages of Gujarat are Gujarati, Urdu and Sindhi. There are eleven variants or dialects of Gujarati. Kachchi as a mother tongue is important in Kutch.

RELIGION

The total population of the state consists of Hindus, Muslims and Jains. Zorastrians or Parsis can also be seen in Gujarat. The caste system is strictly followed by the Hindus of Gujarat. Besides the 'Brahmins' and the 'Banias' whose functions and occupations are fairly well determined, the community of 'Patidars' owning land is the strongest force in the economic and political life of the state. Patidars, also called Patels, are the best agriculturists of Gujarat. They are grouped into four categories namely Levas, Kadawas, Anjana and Uda. The Levas are most shrewd and are concentrated in central Gujarat. The Kadawas are most numerous in Mehsana district.

The fourth regional group which may have been a native of Gujarat is the community of aboriginals, locally known as 'Bhils', inhabit the hilly tracts of Gujarat that border the plains from Abu in the north to Dangs in the south. The Bhils may be regarded as a hybrid group in Gujarat, on the one hand absorbing Rajput blood and on the other representing a tribal sub-stratum. The Bhils regard themselves as belonging to the Kshatriya caste who had to take shelter in the hills of the Vindhyas and the Satpuras, along the lower Narmada, to save themselves from the wrath of the Brahmin hero, Parashuram.

The Bhils of Gujarat thus do not possess any racial basis distinct from the other inhabitants of the region.

The tribals of Gujarat are found concentrated in the south-eastern part of Gujarat particularly in the district of Panchmahals, Surat, Baroda, and Broach. The main tribal groups are the Bhils, the Dublas, the Naika-Narkdas, the Gamits and the Dhankas.

PROFESSION

The infertile soil in the hilly areas of the tribal settlements has left no choice except that of subsistence farming to the tribal people. Rice, jowar, bajra, and groundnut are the main crops grown by them. The tribals engage themselves in wood-cutting with which they descend to the small towns for getting the daily necessaries of life. Many have been engaged in organised forest industry, some collect lac and toddy. Tied down to their ancestral and social traditions, living in a microcosm of their own where they are governed by their own social laws, the tribals of Gujarat have yet to develop an awareness of the fast-changing social and economic conditions of life in the outer world.

FAIRS

The fairs in Gujarat are generally associated with some religious festival. Most of the fairs in Gujarat are held on riversides (River Narmada in Baroda and Broach districts) or near confluences of rivers, sacred ponds and reservoirs or on hillsides, sea shores or in pilgrim centres, either in Chaitra ( March/ April) or Kartika months on full moon days.

 

Fairs on the full moon days in the month of Chaitra are held at Chandod and at Karnali in Baroda district  and at  Shuklatirth in Broach district in month of  Kartika. The fair held on the full moon day of the Kartika at the confluence of seven rivers near the village Vautha, in the Ahmedabad district is the most colourful one when people from far and near collect and have a holy dip in the confluence.

 

The fair at Shamlaji in the Sabarkantha district is a great occasion of mirth where Adivasis in thousands gather.

 

The Tarnatar fair in the village of Tarnetar in Surendranagar district celebrated in the honour of Lord Shiva on the 4th, 5th and 6th days of the bright half of the month of Bhadrapada ( August/ September) is also a similar joyous occasion. Muslims have also their fairs, held at their sacred places.

 

Madhavrai Fair at Madhavpur near Porbandar is held to celebrate the marriage by elopement of Lord Krishna and Rukmini, on the 9th day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra ( March/ April ). 

 

Ambaji Fair dedicated to Amba, Mother goddess is held in Banaskantha district. A big annual fair during Janmashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna is celebrated at Dwaraka and Dakor with great enthusiasm.

 

The Urs at Shah Alam Roza in Ahmedabad and at Miran Datar  in the Mehsana district are most important  fairs  for them. 

FESTIVALS

Festivals in Gujarat symbolise people's cultural, social and religious aspirations. They help the people to live a fuller and a better life, remove monotony and provide healthy recreation. They promote unity, fellow-feeling, self-discipline and austerity.

 

Navaratri

 

The festival of nine nights, proceeding the Dussera is a special feature of Gujarat  when both males and females congregate in village squares and temple compounds and sing and dance. The festival ends on the Dussera day, when artisans worship their instruments, agriculturists their ploughs, warriors their weapons and students their books. The Navaratri festival is closely followed by the Sharad Purnima, the full moon night in the Asvina month, when under the moon light people partake of prasad rice and milk. The people of Surat make merry on the Tapi bank.

 

Gujarat has two temples dedicated to two most popular mother goddesses of Gujarat, Amba Mata and Becharji Mata. On Kartika and Chaitra Purnima  days and during the Navaratri days, people visit  these temples and  enjoy Gujarati's typical folk drama, the Bhavai.

 

DIWALI

 

Asvina is a month which marks the end of the harvesting season. This month ends with Diwali which is a four-day festival. The first day of the festival starts with the Laxmi Puja. The second day is considered as the day of the casting off evils. The third day is the main Diwali day. On this day every home is illuminated and decorated. The fourth and the last day is the New year day for the Gujarati's when people visit temples in colourful costumes and greet each other. The day following the new year day is called the Bhai bij day when brothers are invited by their sisters to partake of sweets with them.

 

The full moon day of the Kartika month, with its preceding eleventh (ekadashi) day is called the Dev-Diwali. On these days the marriage of the Tulsi plant with the Shaligram, symbolising Lord Vishnu, is celebrated in every Hindu home in Gujarat. It also marks the termination of the Chaturmans(fast), observance of four months of rainy season, during which Hindus, mostly ladies, miss a meal on every Ekadashi day and the ascetics do not move about.

 

KITE FESTIVAL

 

Kite Festival, another festival in Gujarat is observed on the 14th of January, the day when the sun enters the tropic of cancer. On this day young boys and girls and even the old people, are on their house tops flying kites. This is really a national festival for Gujarat.

 

HOLI

 

Like the Diwali, the spring festival of Holi on the full moon day in the month of Phalguna has a universal appeal. While Diwali marks the end of the monsoon and therefore the agricultural season of the Kharif  crop, the Holi festival marks the agricultural season of the Rabi crop.

 

During the entire period between June and October, when most of the countryside is engaged in agriculture, the festivals are mostly days of austerity, Penance and fasting. The period includes the Gauri Puja, the Janmashtami, the Nag Panchami the Paryushan and the Ganesha Chaturthi. Women mostly celebrate many of Gujarat’s festivals. No festival except the Balev, when Brahmins change their sacred threads, is exclusive to any particular community or section. Even on the Balev, sisters tie Rakhi on their brother's wrist wishing them happy life. Gujarat also celebrates festivals like the Ramnavami, the Sivaratri and the Mahavir Jayanyti. Young observe Gauri puja, unmarried girls, who fast and pray for getting 'suitable husbands'. Married women observe the Savitri Vrata. They worship the banyan tree and offer their thanks giving for their happy married life.

 

Muslims in Gujarat have their festivals, such as the Moharrum, the prophet's day and the Id days. Similarly Parsis celebrate their New Year day Pateti. The Christmas, the New Year day and Easter are observed by the Christians.

FAUNA

Gujarat is very rich in animal life. The localised forest areas of the Gir in Saurashtra, Panchmahals and Dangs are having hordes of gazelles and antelopes. The Asiatic lion is now localised in the Gir forest, which has also smaller mammals including languor's and blue bulls.    

 

Gujarat having an extensive coastline, perennial rivers and lakes and ponds are rich in a variety of fish.

 

Besides Asiatic lion, tiger, panther and cheetah, the wolf, jackal and fox are also found in the forest areas of the state. Civets, the grayish languor, rabbits and porcupines are some other animals found there. The wild ass is a distinctive species found only in Gujarat, in the Rann of Kutch. The black buck in herds and the spotted deer are among the antelopes found in Gujarat. 

 

The thick forests of Dangs, receiving maximum rains and having abundant greenery, are the home of beautiful birds such as Trogon, hornbills, barbets, babblers, racket-tailed drongos and minivets. The sarus, pea-fowls, red-wattled lapwings, parakeets, babblers and mynas are mostly found in the plains. The extensive coastal regions of the state give shelter to a number of birds such as plovers, stints, sandi pipers, curlews, lesser flamingoes, terns and gulls. During the winter, flocks of migratory birds come down to Gujarat from faraway countries, some of which have their habitat in Siberia. The great and the little Rann of Kutch, when filled with water during favourable monsoon, serve as breeding ground for flamingoes, pelicans and avocets.

 

While drier areas of Kutch and north Gujarat serve as haunts to gray partridges, larks, white-eared bulbuls, finch larks and sand-grouses. The pied-crested cuckoo, migrating from East Africa comes to Gujarat a little ahead of monsoon. Among the birds coming to Gujarat in winter from the north can be included the rosy pelicans, white storks, brahmany duck, which breed in Tibet, demoiselle, common cranes, other varieties of ducks, coots, snipes, moorhens, curlews and stints.

 

The Nal Sarovar about 65km from Ahmedabad is a veritable sanctuary of winter birds. Gujarat is also rich in song birds including shama, whistling thrush, dhayal, a variety of larks, yellow-cheeks tit, golden oriole and bulbuls.

FOREST

The natural vegetation of the state is restricted to areas which receive adequate rainfall and are at the same time agriculturally unproductive. Ruggedness of terrain and rocky thin soils have made some parts of the state unsuitable for cultivation. Such areas, when occurring in the zone of heavy rainfall support the growth of forests in which the plants like crops do not have to reach maturity and bear fruits in less than a year.

 

The essential criteria for the growth of forests are suitable conditions of temperature and a heavy rainfall but their distribution is governed by the human selection of cultivated land. In Gujarat, where orographic features have essentially guided the rainfall, high rugged areas receive a higher rainfall than the plains. The rainfall in the state increases from the plains to the mountains and from north to south. The forests are therefore concentrated in the hilly parts of the state in the south-east and in the hills of Saurashtra. The hills of Kutch are bare because of low rainfall ascribed to their northern most location and the absence of any orographic features that could come in the way of the monsoon and cause precipitation. South, south-east and east Gujarat are the only areas which have a considerable forest cover.

 

Gujarat has about 19.66 lakh hectares of land under forest. A large part of the forest cover, which is economically exploitable, is distributed in the districts of Dangs, Panchmahals, Broach, Surat, Bulsar, Junagadh, Sabarkantha and Banaskantha. Dangs, Surat and Broach, which are the three southern districts of the state have a sizable area under forest. The districts of Panchmahals and Sabarkantha in north-east Gujarat and Junagadh in Saurashtra are other important areas of forest cover. The south and south-eastern parts of the state support the growth of a tropical deciduous forest typified by teak, shorea robusta for which the district of Bulsar is well known. The forest of the state can be divided into the following broad categories, depending upon their environmental adjustments and the general morphological character of the representative species.

 

MOIST DECIDUOUS FORESTS

 

Moist Deciduous Forests occur in Dangs and parts of Vyara in Surat division. These forests are not evergreen and shed their leaves during March and April, through the under-wood and shrub cover are fairly green. Teak is an important species, which drops its leaves only in the cold weather in localities, which are relatively dry or cold, but is almost evergreen in the moistest parts of its distribution. Teak needs a moderately good rainfall and a well-drained terrain. The associates of teak in the moist deciduous forests are Terminalia tomestosa and Anogeissus latifolia.

 

DRY DECIDUOUS FORESTS

 

There are mixed growths of trees, which are deciduous during the dry season. The lower canopy in these forests is also deciduous with occasional evergreen or sub greens being present in the moister area. There is undergrowth of shrubs, but the light reaches the surface allowing the growth of grass which,  occasionally develops into a savanna-type grass field. Bamboos are not luxuriant. Other trees of the dry deciduous forests are teak, Boswellia serrata, Anogeissus latifolia and Diospyros malanoxylon. Dry deciduous forests with teak occur in north-east Gujarat, particularly in Sabarkantha district. The forests of Junagadh are valuable for their yield of timber and of grass growing on their outer margin.

 

THORNY FORESTS

 

With the decreasing rainfall in the drier north the forests turn thorny and tend to assume a xerophytic character. Such forests occurring either in Kutch or north Saurashtra and Banaskantha district are characterised by Acacia arabica, Acacia leucophloea, Capparis ophylla, Zizyphus mauratiana etc. The thorny forests of north Gujarat are sparse and provide sites for cattle-grazing. There are bamboo plantations but there are virtually no trees that can yield timber.

 

The most common variety of Bamboo is Dendorocalamus. The most luxuriant bamboo occur in the interior of the Dangs forests. The density is guided essentially by rainfall. There are larges stands of bamboo in South Gujarat than in the North.

HANDICRAFTS

Gujarat has a very rich heritage of  art crafts. The excavations at the Harappan sites in Gujarat at Lothal, Rangpur, Rozdi etc. have brought to light some of the very ancient handicraft articles.

 

The Patola of Patan is a unique fabric of Gujarat. This special variety of women's wear is strikingly attractive with its colourful geometrical patterns. This lovely silken fabric, which resembles a printed sari is not an apparel printed by blocks. Its tie and weave method resulting in identical patterns on both sides of the fabric, involving complicated calculations, is entirely based on the geometry of the design. The process consists of dyeing the warp and the weft threads in conformity with the proposed design on the fabric. Hand-woven and silk yarn is used for weaving. The process is both costly and time consuming and the market is limited with the result that the families doing this work are fast dwindling.  

 

The Jari industry of Surat is one of the oldest handicrafts whose origin can be traced to the Mughal period. Surat is one of the biggest and important Jari manufacturing  centres in India. The principal types of products are real gold and silver threads, imitation gold and silver threads, embroidery such as the Chalak, the Salama, the Kangari,  the Tiki, mainly the Ring and the Katori for motifying in the Kinkhab (cloth of gold) and the Jari border weaving, embroidery, laces, caps, turbans, saris, and blouse  pieces.

 

The Tanchoi or silk brocade is woven on silk cloth is decorated with the designs of birds, animals, leaves, fruits etc. The cloth is used for costly saris, blouses and tapestry. The Kinkhab or the Indian brocade is woven on the silk with gold and silver threads.

 

Dyeing is a hereditary art. In the past cloth was dyed in colours extracted from trees and flowers. The Sarkhei suburb of Ahmedabad was one of the indigo manufacturing and exporting centres.

 

The Bandhani, tie and dye variety of sari is a very popular women's wear. It involves an intricate process of tying knots on the fine white fabrics, which are dipped in colours. The hues of deeper shades are used over the previous ones to form the coloured back ground of the cloth.

 

Cloth printing is a complicated and specialised job. It is done with engraved wooden blocks and with screens. Certain craftsman are doing superbly the work of printing different varieties which are locally called Chundadi, Patola Plain Gala, Lehria, Bandhani, Pomcha, Nagaria and so on. House hold utility and decorative materials such as table-cloths, bed -covers, curtains, tapestries, handbags and carpets  are also prepared by this type of printing processes.

 

Temple curtains popularly known as Mat-no-Chandarvo is another type of printing work. The Vahari-Harijan families of Ahmedabad were engaged in this type of printing. It is prepared in the old madder process and depicts goddess Durga seated on the throne or on the back of a tiger and surrounded by her devotees.