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Surat

December 1907. Sri Aurobindo at the session of Indian National Congress at Surat. 21 December, The trip to Surat for a session through Khipagpore (fires, crowds, speeches). Trip without pomp there were few who knew him by sight. 24-25 December, two meetings chaired by Sri Aurobindo. 31 December, Sri Aurobindo left Surat.

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Surat, city, southeastern Gujarat state, west-central India, 2115' N, 7252' E, near the mouth of the Tapti River and the Gulf of Cambay. Surat is at a distance of 230 km from Ahmedabad, 256 km from Mumbai, and 129 km from Vadodara.Population (1991 prelim.) city, 1,496,943; metropolitan area, 1,517,076. Main languages: Gujarati, Hindi, and English

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. Persians first settled in Surat in the 12th century; they had earlier been centred l00km south in Sanjan, where they had fled from Persia five centuries before. Surat is believed to have been founded by a Brahman named Gopi, who built the Gopi Tank (water reservoir) in 1516 and named the area Surajpur, or Suryapur; Surat became the name of the city in 1520. It was plundered by Muslims in the 12th and 15th centuries; in 1514 the Portuguese traveler Duarte Barbosa described Surat as a leading port. It was burned by the Portuguese (1512 and 1530) and conquered by the Mughals (1573) and was twice sacked by the Maratha king Shivaji (17th century). Surat thereafter became the emporium of India, exporting cloth and gold. Its major industries were textile manufacture and shipbuilding. The British established their first Indian factory (trading post) at Surat (1612). The city gradually declined throughout the 18th century. The British and Dutch both claimed control, but in 1800 its administration passed to the British. By the mid-19th century Surat was a stagnant city of 80,000 inhabitants. It prospered again with the opening of India's railways.

The ancient art of manufacturing fine muslin was revived, and Surat's cottons, silks, brocades, and objects of gold and silver have become famous. The city houses other industries and has several educational institutions. It is served by highways and the Western Railway. The surrounding area is intensively cultivated; chief crops include cotton, millet, pulses, and rice. Textile manufacturing is concentrated in Surat city.

In 1546, the Sultan of Gujarat built a castle in Surat on the banks of the Tapi. Nowadays, this place houses several government offices. The Old Fort, textile market, Dumas, Hajira, Ubharat, Tithal, Bardoli, Dutch Garden, Sardar Patel Museum (1898, over 10,000 exhibits of arts and crafts), Rangupavan and Bulsar are the significant places of interest. The climate of Surat is mild due to its nearness to the Arabian Sea. There is not much change in the winter and summer temperature, which ranges between 10C to 38C. Although one can visit Surat in any season, the best time to do so would be between October and March.

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