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Gujrati Peoples, Culture and Gujarat Tourists AttractionsThe Gujarat is made up broadly of three regions. The mainland plains on the East, where the major cities Ahmedabad, Vadodara (Baroda) and Surat are located; the remote, largely arid, yet picturesque, Rann of Kachchh (Kutch), in the North; and the mango-shaped hilly peninsula, Saurashtra, which was made up of some 200 princely States till India's independence, and which holds many of the cultural festivals and historical treasures of the Gujarat.

So courteous are the Gujaratis that while talking they add the suffix 'Bhai' (brother) or 'Ben' (sister) to the name of the person addressed - hence 'Vallabh-bhai' or 'Meera-ben'. They are mostly vegetarians. The language they speak is also called Gujarati.

Renowned for their business acumen, honed through centuries of sea-borne trade, the Gujaratis have spread to many parts of the world - notably East and South Africa, UK and USA, and many have made a mark in the business world. This spirit of entrepreneurship has made Gujarat one of the most industrial state in India - the important industries being textiles, electronics, petrochemicals and fertilisers.

Gujarat is not industries and business alone. The State is also home to people of diverse races and religions, the last Asiatic lions (in Sasan Gir National Park), 4000-year old archaeological places (Lothal, Dholavira), rock edicts from the region of the Buddhist emperor Ashoka (3rd century BC) near Junagarh, important Hindu and Jain pilgrim centres, beautiful mosques, the oldest sacred fire of the Parsi community in India (at Udvada), excellent textiles & handicrafts and some immaculate famous beaches. The incredible diversity highlighted in around 1500 Fairs and 2000 Festivals held each year in the State! Over two hundred of these are major festival occasions, rooted in religion, attracting thousands of people, mostly rural folk dressed and rich cultural heritage are in their traditional finery.

Ahmedabad - Founded in 1411 by Ahmed Shah 1st on the banks of the Sabarmati, Ahmedabad is the principal city of Gujarat. With a population of around 3.5 million, it is an industrial city with a large number of textile mills - and so known as 'Manchester of the East'. Mahatma Gandhi set up his Sabarmati Ashram here in 1915, which became the nodal centre for India's independence movement. It is from here that in 1930, he launched his famous march to the small seaside village Dandi, to protest against the salt tax. Not co-incidentally, Gujarat produces 60% of the country's salt today.

Ahmedabad has many monuments where Hindu and Islamic architecture are blended, known as the Indo-Saracenic style. The Jamma Masjid (mosque) has 15 domes resting on over 250 columns at various heights. Due to its superb proportions and excellent workmanship, it is considered to be one of the most beautiful mosques in western India. The Sidi Sayyad Mosque has some lace-like, delicately carved stone windows, one of them depicting the intricately entwined branches of a tree. The Sidi Bashir mosque is famous for its 'Jhulta Minars' (shaking minarets). When one is shaken the other sways in sympathy. The Rani Sipri Masjid, a small, exquisitely designed mosque and the Rani Rupmati Mosque, named after the Sultan's Hindu wife, are other notable monuments in the city.

The Calico Museum of Textiles in Ahmedabad has one of the world's finest collections of textiles, displaying antique tapestries, wall hangings, costumes and antique looms. There are also the Museum of Miniatures, Shreyas Folk Museum, Utensils Museum and even a Kites Museum ! The last one reflects the city's fascination with kites. On 'Makar Sankranti' (14 January) every year, the city is at its colourful best when thousands and thousands of kites of every shape, size and colour soar into the sky as it celebrates the International Kite Festival. Visitors from several countries around the world participate in the festival making it a truly memorable event. And the festivities carry on into the night with the sky being lit up by a myriad tiny lamps (illuminated box kites), often sent up in a series strung on a single line!

Tourists Attractions - The intricately carved, white marble Hatheesing Jain Temple, the triple arched gateway Teen Darwaja, Sarkhej Roza, Kankaria Lake, and the Dada Hari Vav (Step Well) are some of the other places of interest in the city.

Indian States:

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