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Saurashtra - Sorath - Kathiawad(Kathiawar)

Saurashtra (Gujarati: સૌરાષ્ટ્ર, Hindi: सौराष्ट्र), is a region of western India, located on the Arabian Sea coast of Gujarat state. It consists of 11 districts of Gujarat, including Rajkot District. The peninsula is sometimes referred to as Kathiawar after the Kathi Darbar who once ruled part of the region. Shared with the Kachchh region in the north, Saurashtra or Sorath forms the southern portion of the peninsula. 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, Devbhoomi Dwarka, Morbi, Gir Somnath and some portions of Ahmedabad and Botad Districts also fall under this area.

The region also historically encompassed the Diu district of the Daman and Diu union territory.


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.

Saurashtra in between Gulf of Kutch and Gulf of Khambat. Image NASA Earth Observatory

Surashtra and its Prakrit name Sorath, literally means "good country", the name finds mentions in the Junagadh Rock inscription dating 150 CE, attributed to Rudradaman I. Prior to it, during the rule of Ashoka (268–232 BCE), the region was under Yavana Tushaspa, and governed by Pushyagupta during Chandragupta Maurya's reign (322BC - 298BC).[2] Vrajlal Sapovadia noted from literature and Tamil Nadu Government record that around AD 1000, weaver community left Saurashtra region to South India and are known as Saurashtra people.[3]

For long period, the name Sorath referred only to the Chudasama region when Rajputs ruled Sorath with their capitals alternatively at Vanthali and Junagadh from the 9th century up to the 15th century (875–1473). The title adopted by these Chudasama kings was "Raa". Afterwards, the area came under the Muslim-ruled Princely State of Junagadh ("Junagarh" or the "Old Fort"). During British rule, Junagadh and its neighboring states were controlled 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 following a plebiscite the kingdom was merged into the Indian Union.

Kathiawar or Kathiawad (Gujarati: કાઠીયાવાડ [kaʈʰijaʋaɽ]) is a peninsula in western India, which is part of the Saurashtra region on the Arabian Sea coast by the Gulf of Kutch, on the west and south by the Arabian Sea, and on the southeast and east by the Gulf of Khambhat. Jigat Point is located at its western and Diu Head at its southern apex.

Sorath/Saurashtra has a great spiritual heritage and has produced many Saints and divine souls.

Saurashtra state

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 (born 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.

courtesy: wikipedia.org
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