Gujarat - Encyclopedia

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GUJARAT or Guzerat, a region of India, in the Bombay Presidency. In the widest sense of the name it includes the whole of the country where the Gujarati language is spoken, i.e. the northern districts and states of the Presidency from Palanpur to Damaun, with Kathiawar and Cutch. But it is more properly confined to the country north of the Nerbudda and east of the Rann of Cutch and Kathiawar. In this sense it has an area of 29,071 sq. m., with a population in 1901 of 4,798,504. It includes the states distributed among the agencies of Palanpur, Mahi Kantha, Rewa Kantha and Cambay, with most of Baroda and the British districts of Ahmedabad, Kaira, Panch Mahals and Broach. Less than one-fourth is British territory. The region takes its name from the Gujars, a tribe who passed into India from the north-west, established a kingdom in Rajputana, and spread south in A.D. 400-600. The ancient Hindu capital was Anhilvada; the Mahommedan dynasty, which ruled from 1396 to 1572, founded Ahmedabad, which is still the largest city; but Gujarat owed much of its historical importance to the seaports of Broach, Cambay and Surat. Its fertile plain, with a regular rainfall and numerous rivers, has caused it to be styled the "garden of India." It suffered, however, severely from the famine of 1899-1901. For an account of the history, geography, &c., of Gujarat see the articles on the various states and districts. Gujarat gives its name to the vernacular of northern Bombay, viz. Gujarati, one of the three great languages of that Presidency, spoken by more than 9 millions. It has an ancient literature and a peculiar character. As the language of the Parsis it is prominent in the Bombay press; and it is also the commercial language of Bombay city, which lies outside the territorial area of Gujarat. See J. Campbell, History of Gujarat (Bombay, 1896); Sir E. C.

Bayley, The Muhammedan Kingdom of Gujarat (1886); A. K. Forbes, Ras Mala (1856).

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