One of India’s richest industrial regions, Gujarat has much to offer, in part because it sees fewer travelers than its neighbors Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Originally settled by the Indus Valley people in 2500 BC, Gujarat prospered under several empires including the Solanki dynasty in the 11th and 12th centuries AD, which left its culture a blend of Jain and Hindu influences. In 1299 the area was conquered by Muslims, who formed the Sultanate of Gujarat in 1407. For centuries now, these three religions have coexisted and influenced one another. In the 16th century, the Portuguese stormed onto the scene in Gujarat with capture of the ports of Diu and Daman. At India’s Independence Gujarat gained acclaim as the birthplace and operational base of Mahatma Gandhi. But Gujarat was also home to M.A. Jinnah, architect of Pakistan, and the state’s proximity to Pakistan has resulted in conflict within its boarder.
Gujarat can be geographically divided into three vastly different regions. The eastern region, containing the capital Gandhinagar, the metropolis Ahmedabad, and the commercial cities of the mainland strip, is characterized by its modern industrialization. The northwestern quasi-island of Kutch, a dry, isolated area, sits peacefully content with its traditional village lifestyle. The Kathiawad Peninsula, also known as Saurashtra, is known for lush land, rich temples, forts, palaces, and all things Gandhi.