Surat, in South Gujarat, is an ancient port city that was ruled at various times by the Marathas, the Mughals, the Portuguese, Dutch, French and the British. This quaint city is also known as the textile city or diamond city of India and sits on the banks of river Tapi. This city of solitaires welcomes travellers from all corners of the world to catch a glimpse of Gujarati traditions, whether you’re contemplating over Mahatma Gandhi’s triumphs in Dandi or strolling past European remains in the diamond city.
The city is moving fast towards urbanisation and life in the city is quite fast paced but one can still find roots of culture in it.
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Here is a list of the top 10 tourist attractions in Surat which will surely leave you mesmerized.
1. Dumas Beach
Located 21 kilometers south-west of Surat, this traditional picnic spot is much more than just a sandy beach. Dumas is meant to be one of the most haunted sites in Gujarat, being a known burial ground that is believed to have witnessed strange activities.
The beach is an exotic semi-urban expansion that flows into the Arabian Sea. Despite the stories, people frequently visit the beach in order to revel in nature’s beauty. Thanks to commercialization in the area one can indulge in roadside eateries while enjoying the nature and view.
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2. Jagdish Chandra Bose Aquarium
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This underwater aquarium is the first of its kind in India where more than hundred species of fish find their abode. While the first phase of the center is said to include a jellyfish pool and a shark tank, the third phase will house a dolphin tunnel pool.
There are almost 50 tanks, created to suit the need of different varieties of fish, mainly brackish, fresh water or marines. The aquarium is a great entertainment spot for outsiders who love catching a glimpse of aquatic ecosystems.
3. Surat Fort
Surat Castle is an old 16th-century monument that served as a defensive fortification, built by Khudawand Khan. With large round towers occupying its corners, the Old Fort is Surat’s most prominent landmark, constructed to secure the port city against Portuguese invasion.
The fort sits alongside the Tapti Bridge and it is currently used as a commercial building for offices, quietly standing as proof of the long forgotten era. One can climb to the top and enjoy a scenic view of the city.
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4. Dutch Gardens
The Dutch Gardens are located at a distance of 4 km from the city next to the Katargam Gate. The garden is a well designed enclosure of historical significance, encompassing ancient mausoleums, massive Domes and awe inspiring galleries.
The gardens house the tombs of the dead Dutch officials which are ironically a marvel to watch, with each tomb speaking its own unique story. The gardens are awfully well maintained and enable one to walk in awe among the shrubs and bushes.
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5. Gavier Lake
The exotic wetlands of Gavier lake are protected by the Surat Municipal Corporation and are a heaven for bird watchers as a lot of migratory birds can be sighted here. Some of them are endemic bird species like the Indian Peafowl, Purple Sunbird, Small Blue Kingfisher, Yellow fronted pied Woodpecker and others.
The wetlands, which were once facing habitat destruction, were actually saved by a bunch of village kids. Early mornings, especially during the monsoon season are perfect to catch site of the birds.
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Located near the coast of the Arabian Sea, Dandi is a historical setting reminding of the times of the British Raj and India’s struggle for freedom. We all remember how Gandhiji called on the thousands of people to work for self-rule and this led to nation-wide civil disobedience movement that laid the foundation for the independence movement.
Dandi today is a beautiful beach with a scenic view that you can enjoy or you can just plunge into the waves and cavort in the waters. Dandi is perfect for a day’s peace and quiet by the Arabian Sea.
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About 8 km away from the Arabian Sea shore is the metropolitan township called Hazira, also one of the most famous ports of the country. Away from the hustle and bustle of the busy city one will find tranquillity reigns supreme here. The place is known as an industrial hub and has many well known companies around.
One can laze around on the beach which is a popular picnic spot or even take a dip in the sulphur infused hot water springs here. Hazira has become a health resort due to these hot water springs.
8. Science Centre
The Science centre is something that will amuse and enlighten not only kids but adults alike and is one of the most massive projects of Surat. The Centre was specifically created to promote interest in science. One will find the museum, the planetarium and the art gallery of interest and may spend quite some time exploring all that is on view.
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While the science galleries are the main attraction, the diamond gallery, the textile gallery and the cosmos gallery are also upcoming projects.
9. Chintamani Jain Temple
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Located in the Rani Talav area of Surat, the Chintamani temple is more than 400 years old with unique wood carved pillars and ornately painted walls as its chief attractions. The temple is said to be built in the reign of Aurangzeb and contains some rare works of Jain Acharya Hemachandra.
The temple is a true teasure of art and a beautiful architectural marvel, quite simplistic on the exteriors while flaunting exclusive craftsmanship on the inside.
10. Local Bazaars
Surat, which is a textile jackpot, is home to a line of emporiums and handicraft centers bustling with tourists and locals. The streets of Rander will help one discover gold souks along the way. The Ratnasagar Jewelers on Ghoddod Road adorn their customers with beautiful gem stones and colourful beads.
The authentic zari work in the New Textile Market will lead you to pick out exquisitely designed saris and other traditional wear. Local farmers on Ghoddod Road spread out in numerous stalls, each selling a unique collection of farm grown food.
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These were the top 10 places we feel are a must visit in Surat, however there are umpteen places which one can visit if they have the time for it. But first, pack your bags and plan a trip to be awed by the beauty of Gujarat.