About Gujarat

Gujarat is one of the larger states in India with a glorious history. The history of Gujarat dates back to almost 2500 BC and to make things comprehensible, we have 3 distinct periods in the history of this state. The Ancient period, the Medieval and the Modern period more or less consists of the entire history which has shaped the present of Gujarat.

The Ancient Period of Gujarat deals with the derivation of its name. The name Gujarat came from Gujaratta which means a land protected by Gujars. The term came to be used during the Chalukya reign from 942 – 1299 AD. Prior to this the land was divided into parts known as Anarta, Lata and Surastra.

The Prehistoric Period of Gujarat witnessed the landing of the first man on the banks of Sabarmati, Narmada, Mahi, Thebi etc. Evidence revealed that during the Old Stone Age this land was inhabited by men who sustained themselves by hunting animals and collecting fruits.

Proto-History is the link between Pre-History and History. The time between 2500BC and 500BC is considered to be the Proto-Historic period of Gujarat during which the Harappan civilization ruled the land subsequently making way for the Yadavs. This race is believed to have arrived in Lothal by sea and settled down in the area. Excavation of various sites in modern Gujarat has revealed that the Harappans were one of the most civilized, developed and organized races in history of mankind. Then according to the Vedas, Puranas, Buddha and Jain literature, Lord Krishna laid the origin of the Yadav dynasty making Dwarka his capital. The first documented history of Gujarat is found in this period.

Post the fall of Lord Krishna nothing substantial is available for the next 3000 years in the history of Gujarat in documented form. Then came Chandragupta Maurya, the emperor ruling Magadh in 319BC. The advent of Chandragupta Maurya marks the political history of Gujarat.

During the reign of Mauryas Demetrious invaded Gujarat and set up an Indo-Greek rule for a brief period.

The Sakas ruled Junagadh for around 400 years in the 1st century and the most famous ruler was Rudradaman. This dynasty made way for the Kashatraps which was replaced by the Gupta rule in India.

Gujarat was conquered by Chandragupta Vikramaditya. Vikramaditya’s successor, Skandagupta’s contributions can be found on the rock inscriptions of Junagadh from 4500AD.

The golden rule of the Guptas declined during the 5th century when Senapathi Bhatarka betrayed the Guptas and set up his kingdom which came to be known as the Maitrak kingdom of Gujarat. It was during the reign of Dhruvsena Maitrak that Huien Tsang, the Chinese philosopher traveled to India in 640AD. Three different communities ruled Gujarat during those times- The Gujars ruled north, Maitraks ruled Saurashtra and Chalukyas ruled south. This dynasty was succeeded by the Pratiharas.

An independent ruler Chavadas ruled Gujarat for a century post the fall of Vallabhi and he was overthrown by his son Mulraj who established the Solanki dynasty. Mulraj Solanki was instrumental in shaping Gujarat’s language, art, culture and architecture and was the most dynamic ruler in the history of Gujarat. Solanki was unfortunately defeated by Mahmud of Ghazni. The Vaghelas ruled the land for a brief period before Alauddin Khilji laid siege on Gujarat in 1297.

The Medieval Period of Gujarat begins from 1298AD with the Muslim rulers. Their reign continued for the next 400 years which began with Zaffar Shah, the viceroy of Delhi for Gujarat. He became powerful and declared himself an independent ruler. His son Ahmed Khan named a new city called Ahmadabad which was the capital of Gujarat for almost 600 years. The Sultanate declined when Akbar took over Gujarat and ruled for the next couple of centuries.

The Modern Period marked the fall of the Mughal rule during 17th century when the brave Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji conquered Surat. However, the Europeans had already made their presence felt during that time. The British took advantage of the rift between the Peshawas and Gaekwads. They established the policy of Subsidiary Alliance at that time when Madhavrao Gaekwad allied with the British in 1802. By 1819 Gujarat was taken over by the English people.

The Pre-Independence era in the history of Gujarat is marked by the presence of Mahatma Gandhi. Also leaders like Sardar Vallabbhai Patel, Dadabhai Naoroji, Badruddin Tayabji played major roles in the freedom struggle of India.

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