The city of Surat is situated on the bank of river Tapi in the West Indian state of Gujarat. The city extends from latitude 21°15' in the North to longitude 72°52' in the East. It occupies a pivotal position on the Ahmedabad-Mumbai corridor and is well connected by railway. Surat is at a distance of 230 km from Ahmedabad, 256 km from Mumbai, and 129 km from Vadodara.
Surat finds mention in the Mahabharata when Lord Krishna stopped here during his journey from Mathura to Dwarka with his cows. According to the Sanskrit scriptures, this area was under the control of the western Chalukyas in AD 610 and remained under Hindu kings till 12th century when a general of Qutub-ud-din Aibak captured the city. The wealth and prosperity of the city started in the 12th century when Parsis first settled here. Akbar captured the city in 1573 after a long siege and it became an important Mughal trading point. Arabian traders started calling this place Bunder-E-Khubsoorat (the beautiful port), which later shortened to Surat.
In 1612, the British established their trading factory here, soon to be followed by the Dutch and French. Due to political and climatic problems and growing importance of Mumbai, Surat lost its prominence. In 1852, Surat became the first municipality of Gujarat and gradually it became a major business city famous for its textile industry.
In the month of January/February, a week preceding Holi, the local tribes have a major festival in the forested region. The festival is known as Dang Durbar.
The best time to visit Surat is the winter months, from October to March. The temperature ranges between 15°C and 29°C, making it an ideal for sightseeing and other outdoor activities. The winter season is very pleasant in Surat. Also generally October is the month Surat gets all high during Navratri. People of all ages come out of their houses to let lose themselves in Garba and Dandiya. The energy is simply infectious at this time. The summers in Surat start in April and continue till June. The temperature may rise up to 40°C, and the air is quite dry and hot, making sightseeing a bad idea. Come July and monsoon knocks the door of Surat, bringing down the temperatures. Since it is wet all around, sightseeing might be a challenge.
In 1546, the Sultan of Gujarat built a castle in Surat on the banks of the Tapi. Nowadays, this place houses several government offices.
There are English, Dutch, and Armenian cemeteries around the Kataragama Gate. There is a massive mausoleum of Baron Adrian Van Reede, who died here in 1691.
Sardar Patel Museum was established in 1898 and originally named as Winchester Museum. It displays over 10,000 exhibits of arts and crafts. The museum is open from 11.45 am to 13.45 pm on Tuesday to Saturday and 14.45 pm to 17.45 pm on Sunday. The museum remains closed on Monday and public holidays.
Surat is home to many Hindu, Jain, and Parsi temples and mosques.
Duma is around 16 km off Surat and a popular health resort on the Arabian Sea. Accommodation facilities are available in various cottages around the place.
Hajira (28 km) is a seaside resort and famous as a picnic spot.
Ubharat is an upcoming beach resort around 42 km off Surat.
Navsari is around 29 km south of Surat and known as the headquarters of Parsis since their settlement in Surat.
Udvada, near Surat, has the distinction of having the oldest sacred fire of Parsis in India. It is said that the fire was brought from Persia.