Gujarat is a nice place to visit, but few foreign tourists make it here. Gujaratis are among the friendliest, most religious, and helpful people in India. Gujaratis often have the familiar surname, Patel. Mahatma Gandhi was born in Gujarat. A large percentage of emigrants to America and the UK come from Gujarat.
Gujarat is divided into three areas: the Eastern section contains the city of Ahmedabad and the commercial cities of Vadodara (Baroda) and Surat. The northwest section is called Kutch, which is a dry, secluded area, which maintains much of the traditional village life. The southwest area, the Saurashtra or Kathiawar Peninsula, has several interesting places to visit, such as the important holy city of Dwarka, the nice beaches of Diu, Junagadh, and Sasan Gir National Park where the last Asiatic lions living in the wild are located.
Gujarat has a few important holy places and temples. Dwarka on the coast is where Lord Krishna lived after leaving Mathura. Many of the Gujaratis are devotees of Krishna. Somnath is where Krishna left the material world. Also in Somnath is an important Siva temple containing one of the important Siva Jyotilingas. There is an interesting Krishna temple in Dakor called the Ranchorji Temple.
The best time to visit Gujarat is from October to February when it is warm and dry. The rest of the year, temperatures soar. During the winter, Gujarat has some of the best weather in India. It has a high of 28ºC (82ºF) and a low of 11ºC (51ºF). The summers are hot, with temperatures rising to 49ºC (120ºF).
The Solanki dynasty ruled Gujarat in the 11th and 12th centuries. The Muslims conquered Gujarat in 1299 and the Sultanate of Gujarat was formed in 1407. The Portuguese took over the ports of Diu and Daman in the 16th century. The British East India Company established their first headquarters in Surat. The British took control of the state in 1818, but the Saurashtra area never came under the direct control of the British. Rather, it was divided into over one hundred princely states right up to Independence. In 1956, the states were combined and became part of the state of Bombay. In 1960, Bombay State was divided into the state of Maharashtra and the state of Gujarat on the basis of the language spoken in each state.