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Saurashtra (Gujarati: સૌરાષ્ટ્ર, Hindi: सौराष्ट्र) is a region of western India, located on the Arabian Sea coast of Gujarat state. It consists of 7 districts of Gujarat, including Rajkot District. It is a peninsula also called Kathiawar after the Kathi Darbar who ruled part of the region once. The peninsula is shared with the Kachchh region which occupies the north, Saurashtra or Sorath forming the southern portion. The Saurastra or Kathiwar region comprises the south western part of Gujarat state and the districts included in this region are Rajkot, Junagadh, Bhavnagar, Porbandar, Jamnagar, Amreli, Surendranagar, and some portions of Ahmedabad District also fall under this area.
Referred to as Surashtra and as some other names as well over a period of time, since the Mahabharata and Vedic period, this region is mentioned again as Surastrene, or Saraostus in the 1st century CE Periplus of the Erythraean Sea:
|“||"Beyond the gulf of Baraca is that of Barygaza and the coast of the country of Ariaca, which is the beginning of the Kingdom of Nambanus and of all India. That part of it lying inland and adjoining Scythia is called Abiria, but the coast is called Syrastrene. It is a fertile country, yielding wheat and rice and sesame oil and clarified butter, cotton and the Indian cloths made therefrom, of the coarser sorts. Very many cattle are pastured there, and the men are of great stature and black in colour. The metropolis of this country is Minnagara, from which much cotton cloth is brought down to Barygaza.||”|
—Periplus, Chap. 41, Source
For a long span of time, the name Sorath remained limited to the region when Chudasama Rajput ruled from 9th centuary up to 15th century from 875 up to 1473 and then Muslim-ruled Princely State of Junagadh ("Junagarh" or the "Old City"). During British rule, Junagadh and its neighboring princely states were supervised by the Western India States Agency (WISA). In 1947, Junagadh's Muslim ruler desired to accede his territory to Pakistan, but the predominantly Hindu population rebelled. He fled to Pakistan, and a plebiscite was conducted, as a result of which the kingdom was merged into the Indian Union.
Sorath/Saurashtra has a great spiritual heritage and has produced many Saints and divine souls. For a brief list of some notable figures of Saurashtra / Kathiawar, please refer to Notable characters and figures.))
After India's independence in 1947, 217 princely states of Kathiawar, including the former kingdom of Junagadh, were merged to form the state of Saurashtra on 15 February 1948. Initially, it was named United State of Kathiawar which was renamed to Saurashtra State in November 1948. The exercise took up a lot of Shri Vallabhbhai Patel's time to convince the local princes and petty subas (totalling 222 in Saurashtra alone). However, Maharaja Krishnakumar Sinhji of Bhavnagar State readily extended to offer his large and royal empire of Bhavnagar / Gohilwar to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Bhavnagar became first in the country to get merged into the union of India.
The capital of Saurashtra was Rajkot. Uchharangray Navalshankar Dhebar (1905–1977), who later went on to become President of the Indian National Congress between 1955 and '59, became Saurashtra's first Chief Minister. He was succeeded by Rasiklal Umedchand Parikh (b. 1910) on 19 December 1954.
On November 1, 1956, Saurashtra was merged into Bombay state. In 1960 Bombay state was divided along linguistic lines into the new states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. The territory of Saurashtra, including that of the former kingdom of Sorath or Junagadh, is now part of the state of Gujarat.
Saurashtra (alternate names and spellings: Sourashtra, Sowrashtra, pattunulkaarar, Palkar, Saurashtri) is also the name of an Indo-Aryan language of Kathiawar-Saurashtra. Though Saurashtra Language is not spoken in the region now, people of this region who migrated to Southern India- especially Tamil Nadu (Ambur, Madurai, Paramakudi, Salem, Tanjore, Trichy, Namakkal, Kanya kumari, Kanchipuram, walajapet, Arani, chennai,palayamkottai, Kumbakonam, Thirubuvanam and Andhra Pradesh- still preserve and speak the language. The script of this language is derived from the Devanagari Script and shares similarities with modern day Gujarati.[unreliable source?]
The first postage stamps of the state were issued for Princely State of Junagadh in 1864. They consisted of three lines of Hindi script in colourless letters on black, and were produced by hand-stamping with watercolor ink. A second issue, in 1868 used coloured letters, printed in black or red on several colours of paper.
The issue of 1877 was the first to include Latin letters; the circular design included the inscription "SORUTH POSTAGE" at the top, and "ONE ANNA OF A RUPEE" (or "FOUR ANNAS...") at the bottom. Some of these were surcharged in 1913-14, followed by redesigned stamps in 1914.
The next issue came in 1923, and featured a portrait of Nawab Mahabat Khan III, along with the inscription "SAURASHTRA POSTAGE". A set of eight stamps in 1929 including pictures of Junagadh, the Gir Lion, and the Kathi Horse in addition to the Nawab. In 1937 the one anna value was reissued reading "POSTAGE AND REVENUE".
The Indian province of Saurashtra did not design any of its own stamps, but before adopting the stamps of India, Saurashtra issued a court fee stamp overprinted for postal use, then created more one anna stamps by surcharging three stamps of the 1929 issue.
Saurashtra has been a flourishing region and rich in natural resources since ancient times, while having gone through several droughts especially during 20th century, water resources and its related dynamics have influenced the region and its agro-economy to certain extent. It is found that water was easily available in the region 10–15 years ago. Ashvin A Shah, a US -based engineering consultant who conducted a survey in 1998 on water availability in the region, says, “The presence of 700,000 dugwells in Saurashtra region indicates the presence of extensive groundwater aquifers throughout the region. This means there is one well for fewer than 20 people or one well every 300 metres"
Amri Saurashtra went through severe droughts over the years to the extent that people could no longer grow crops, nor did they have drinking water available. There has been in recent times a campaign to take up rain water harvesting. Significantly, the Check dam campaign, that went along from late '90s brought almost a drastic change resulting in raising water tables in Saurashtra.
- List of earthquakes in India
- Maher caste
- State Bank of Saurashtra
- Bardai Brahmins
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Further information regarding the culture and people of Saurashtra can be found in the works of authors like Jhaverchand Meghani, Harilal Upadhyay, Gunvantray Acharya, Maharaja Bhagvatsingh Sahib of Gondal, Dr. Virbhadrasinghji Gohil, Maharajkumar Shri Shivbhadrasinhji Gohil, Joravarsinh Jadav, and many great Gujarati authors and historians. Please see Kathiawar also.
- Ron Wood, Soruth (Handbook of Indian Philately, Series 2, Hampshire, UK: The India Study Circle for Philately, 1999)
- Sapovadia, Vrajlal K., Saurashtra: A Language, Region, Culture & Community (April 3, 2012). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2033685