Gujarat Biodiversity

Belief of Gujarat Gujarati Hindus are divided into a large number of religious sects. There are two broad categories: those who worship one or a combination of some of the great Vedic deities or of the Puranic accretions to the orthodox pantheon; and those who deny the regular deities and prohibit idol worship. The former are the Shaivites, Shaktas or Devi Bhaktas, Vaishnavites, and the followers of minor deities. The latter belong to the Arya Samaj, Kabir Panthi, and other such fairly modern sects. These sects are not mutually exclusive. Religious Beliefs.

A Gujarati Hindu attaches the greatest importance to bathing. He or she observes fasts once a week and every eleventh day in a fortnight. A Gujarati Hindu believes in Heaven, Hell, and the transmigration of the soul. One hopes to better one’s position in this and the life to come by one’s devotion to God, by dan (charity), and by daya (mercy toward fellow human beings and cows, etc. ). Gujarati Jains, though few in number, occupy an important place in Gujarati society and the economy. Jainism rejects the authority of the Vedas and the spiritual supremacy of the Brahmans.

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The highest goal of Jainism is nirvana or moksha, the setting free of the individual from the sanskara, the cycle of birth and death. The Jains are divided into two sects, Digambaris and Svetambaris. The cow is worshiped and considered sacred by Hindus. Besides worshiping various idols, an average Hindu worships animals, trees, fire, etc. and believes in bhuts (possessing spirits). Belief in omens is also common. Hindus believe that the result of every undertaking is foreshadowed by certain signs and hints. Religious Practitioners. The life-cycle ceremonies are performed by Brahmans.

Wandering holy men, however, are revered irrespective of their caste, religion, or origin. Gujaratis also patronize men who have a reputation for being able to rid the individual of bhuts. Ceremonies. Ceremonies are performed at birth, Marriage, and death when relatives are invited for feasts. Among the important festivals are: Diwali, the festival of lamps; Hindu new year’s day, which is the next day after Diwali; Utran or Sankrant, a festival of the harvest; and Navratra, a festival of the “nine nights” involving a folk dance called Garba. Arts.

Ras and Garba are important folk dances performed by both males and females. Melas , fairs either at pilgrimage places or on the bank of a river during certain festivals, attract a large crowd where people dance, sing, and watch bullfights or cockfights. Bhavai is a popular folk drama, generally performed in open spaces in villages and towns. Wood and stone sculptures decorating temples, palaces, and private buildings are well known. Paintings called sathia and rangoli, done by using powdered chalk, are made by women at the threshold of their houses for festivals and other ceremonies.

The calico printing of Gujarat is famous. Tattooing is common among certain castes in Saurashtra and north Gujarat. Medicine. Traditionally, disease was believed to be caused by an imbalance of elements in the body, as well as by several supernatural causes such as the displeasure of a god or goddess or spirit possession. Although home remedies and concoctions of local herbs are still used, modern medicine has been increasingly accepted and used. Death and Afterlife. Normally a corpse is not kept more than twelve hours.

It is taken in a procession mainly of males to the cremation ground. There the body is laid upon the pyre with its head to the north. The chief mourner lights the pyre. The period of mourning varies from a fortnight to a year according to the age of the deceased and the closeness of the relationship. A caste dinner is given on the twelfth and thirteenth days afterward as a part of the death rites. Certain religious rituals are performed and Brahmans are given gifts according to what the mourners can afford. Culture of Gujarat Gujarat was a part of the Harappan civilization.

Gujarat is home to Hindu saints of all castes. Sant Dhudhalinath and Sant Girnari Velnathji were Adivasis, Sant Bhojo Nachabkha and Madhavagar were Shudras, Mahatma Gandhi and Lala Bhagat were Vaish, Sant Kilha was a Kshatriya,[34] and Lakulisa and Chakradhara were Brahmins. Many Hindu religious traditions developed in Gujarat. For example, Pasupata Saivism was established in Gujarat. Gujarat is the birth-place of Lord Shiva’s Avatar, Lakulisa (Staff-God). He established the Pasupata Shaivite tradition (one of the six major schools of Shaivism) in 2 or 3 AD.

According to some traditions, he was born in Kayarohana or Kayavatara in Saurashtra while other traditions hold that it was Karavana, in the modern-day town of Dabhoi Taluka near Baroda,[35] another that it was Ulkapuri (modern Avakhal)[36] and another that it was in Braoch or Bharuch. [37] From Gujarat it spread north to Kashmir,[38] South to Tamil Nadu,[39] East to Nepal[40] (where the Pashupatinath Temple stills exists popularly. ) Bhakti movement The Bhakti movement was very popular in Gujarat where devotees of both Islam and Hinduism focused worship of God, trying to rid any separations based on faith in God.

Swami Chakradhara was a major figure in the Bhakti movement, born in Gujarat in 1194,[41] and he is believed to be the avatar of Vishnu. Chakradhara Maharaja established the Manhubhava Vaishnavite sect, which spread to Maharashtra as well. The sect still exists today in Gujarat and Maharashtra. Sant Kilha was another Vaishnavite saint of Gujarat born to a Subedar (army man) father. [34] He was the disciple of Krishnasdas (of Jaipur) and became his successor at the seat of Galta — Kilha’s branch became known as the “Tapasa branch. [42] Besides Ram Bhakti (devotion to Lord Rama), he was also inclined towards yog-saghana and this is why he was made acharya of the Galta Gaddi. [43] He is said to be the founder of the Khati sect. [44] Jalaram, a devotee of Lord Rama is another popular figure. Jalaram’s birthday is still celebrated by Gujarati people (in Gujarat and abroad) as Jalaram Jayanti. [edit]Jainism Gujarat is a stronghold for the Jain community. Jainism preaches non-violence to all living creatures and vegetarianism. There are a large number of beautiful Jain temples in Gujarat. The Palitana temple (near Bhavnagar) is the biggest temple of Jain people.

Some of the Jains have heavily influenced the cuisine of Gujarat with the famous Gujarati thali containing small vegetarian dishes. Morality in business is an important feature of Jain culture. The bania (traders) caste, predominant in Gujarat, comprises followers from both the Jain and Vaishnavatraditions. [edit]Islam Gujarat, with a shoreline on the Arabian Sea, was one of the first regions in India where the Muslims migrated to after the founding of Islam. King Arjun of Gujarat permitted Muslim traders from Ormuz to build a mosque within his realm. The Sufi saints are very popular in Gujarat.

Shaykh Makhu was a Sufi saint of the Shattari lineage. [45] “Since Gujarat is situated on the western border of India, there was a direct interaction with people of Arabia and Persia. Many Gujarati Saints and Sufis became famous. Among them names of Sheikh Ganjul Lim (1381), Syed Burhanuddin (1411) and Sheikh Wajihuddin Gujarati are well known. “[46] The ‘Khojas’, Muslims of the Shi’a Nizari Ismaili Satpanth tradition are historically rooted in Gujarat since the 14th century, though the first Ismaili Muslim community in Gujarat dates back to the missionaries of the Fatimid Empire in 1067. [edit]Zoroastrianism

Following the fall of the Sassanid Empire in 651, many Zoroastrians migrated, including several groups who settled in Gujarat. The descendants of those refugees are today known as the Parsis and Irani. The year of arrival on the subcontinent cannot be precisely established, and Parsi legend and tradition assigns various dates to the event. They originally settled along coastal Gujarat in villages like Sanjan in Valsad district, along the Gujarat-Maharashtra border. The Qissa-i Sanjan is a poem discussing the Zoroastrians’ landing in Sanjan through the generosity of Rana Jada and being allowed to practice their customs.

Parsis are generally more affluent than other Indians and are stereotypically viewed as among the most Anglicised and “Westernised” of the various minority groups. [47] They have also played an instrumental role in economic development with several of the best-known business conglomerates of India run by Parsi-Zoroastrians, including the Tata, Godrej, and Wadia families. Similarities with Hinduism is seen in Zoroastrianism in beliefs that the cow is very sacred. In the 9th chapter of the Vendidad of the Avesta, the purificatory power of cow urine is dilated upon. [48] It is declared to be a panacea for all bodily and moral evils.

It is drunk as well as applied externally. [48] Urine of the bull, called “nirang” is brought to the house of an orthodox Parsi every morning and is (like cow milk) applied to the face, hands, and feet. [48] There were several Zoroastrian organizations formed to educate the Parsis on their heritage. Rahnumai Maznayasnam Sabha was established in 1851 by English-educated Parsis like Naoroji Furdunji with funds supplied by K. N. Kama. Much attention focused on the improved of women in society; the purdah was abolished, the age of marriage raised, and education promoted. [47] [edit]Religious traditions

In Gujarat, there have been several great religious figures. Sant Dadu Dayal (1554–1603), a saint-poet and a major Bhakti figure from Ahmedabad treated equally both Rama and Allah as names of God and became popular in Northern India. He wrote, “The illusion of Allah and Rama has been dispelled by my mind; since I see Thee in all”[49] Gujarat is also the home of Mahatma Gandhi, who preached the unity between all religions and became a worldwide figure for peaceful struggle against tyranny. [pic] [edit]Religious sites Dwarakadheesh temple in Dwarka is one of the important temples dedicated to Krishna.

On the tip of the Arabian Sea, it was home to Krishna. The Rann of Kutchch covers a large portion of western Gujarat, and is world-famous for its rare ecosystem, fossils, wildlife and terrain. Palitana Temples are a complex of Jain temples situated 51 km south west of Bhavnagar. There are 863 temples from the base to the peak of the Shatrunjaya hill, where the Palitana temples are located. Somnath Temple located in the Prabhas Kshetra near Veraval in Saurashtra, on the western coast of Gujarat, India, is one of the twelve Jyotirlings (golden lingas) or symbols of the God Shiva. It is mentioned in the Rig Veda.

Somnath means “The Protector of Moon God”. The Somnath Temple is known as ‘the Shrine Eternal’, as the temple has been destroyed six times, but was rebuilt on each occasion. Modhera Sun Temple is famous for its rare position as specifically and uniquely designed for the worship of the Sun, Lord Surya. While the main temple is beautifully and intricately designed with complex architecture, painting, and sculptures, there is a central pond. Surrounding it stand 108 small temples for each of the Sun God’s 108 names. Shankheshwar Jain Temples are dedicated to the 23rd Tirthankar, Lord Parshvanath.

It is believed that this idol was revealed by Lord Krishna himself, by the teachings of Neminath the 22nd Tirthankar. It is near Ahmedabad. Patan houses 84 magnificent Jain Temples built by Samrat Kumarpal, who was a staunch disciple of Acharya Hemachandra, a Jain monk and scholar. Girnar is an epitome of communal harmony & amicable relations among Jains and Hindus. This high-rising steep hill houses shrines of both major religions. One dedicated to Neminathor Arisht Nemi, the 22nd tirthankara, where he is believed to attain nirvana, and another dedicated to Guru Dattatreya, a Hindu deity.

Ambaji: This temple is dedicated to goddess Ambaji. It is situated on the Arasur Hill and can be approached by road from Abu Road in Rajasthan, as well as from all other important places in Gujarat. A folk drama called ‘Bhavai’ is performed in the courtyards of the temple. It is connected by bus services from all other major cities of Gujarat state. Dakor: This temple town dedicated to Lord Krishna is situated about 90 km from Ahmedabad. The temple of Ranchodrai has the idol of Lord Krishna, which is believed to have been brought from Dwarka by a devotee named Bodana.

Becharaji Temple: This temple is another important seat of Mother Goddess at Becharaji in Mehsana district. This temple is thronged by Hindu devotees, especially childless women. Chotila : This place is in Surendranagar district where there is a famous temple of Goddess Chamunda situated. Sidi Saiyyed Mosque: The Sidi Sayed Mosque in Ahmedabad is a famous and ancient mosque of the city. The mosque was built in the year 1411. The elegant mosque was built by Sidi Sayed, a slave of Sultan Ahmed Shah. The mosque is famous all over the country because of its fantastic architecture and exquisite jali work (perforated stone lattices).

Rani Rupmati’s Mosque: Rani Rupmati was the Hindu wife of Sultan Mehmed Beghara. Rani Rupmati mosque was built between 1430 to 1440, having three domes supported by pillars, with the central dome slightly elevated. It is located at Ahmedabad. The mosque has richly carved minarets, balcony windows, and jali. Its three domes are linked together by a flat roof. Muuk-Khana is a special attraction of this mosque. Kutbi Mazar: A colossal monument raised in the memory of Syedna Qutubuddin Shaheed, the high priest of the Dawoodi Bohra community. Shah Alam Roza: Shah Alam Roza is the mosque and tomb of Saint Shah Alam.

Here the brass doors are set in carved marble frames. The floor is tiled of black and white marble. Its dome and minars shows great architectural work of the sultanate era. Pavagadh : Pavagadh is the place of worship for goddess Kalika. It is located on Pavagadh hills, near by Baroda. There is a rope way facility available for the visitors of the temple. Shamlaji : This temple is situated in Sabarkantha district. It is dedicated to Lord Krishna. Virpur : Virpur is devoted to Jalaram bapa. Followers and even non-followers of Jalaram bapa visit this place often in Gujarat state. DIVERSITY IN NATURE

Biodiversity of Gujarat Gujarat is home to nearly 7,000 species of plants and animals. Its geographic location is characterized by the mountain ranges of the Aravalies, the Vindhayns, the Satpuras, the Sahayadris and the longest coast line among 3Indian states. It is famous for its unique saline desert, called Rann, which is seasonally inundated with seawater. Gujarat also has several distinct biogeographic zones 1 reflecting a wide range of ecological diversity. It is also remarkable that each of its four biogeographic zone and five biotic provinces 2 have at least one Protected Area (PA).

Natural ecosystems of Gujarat range from wetlands (19,841 sq. km), grasslands (8,483 sq. km) and deciduous forests (18,868 sq. km) to deserts (23,000 sq. km). Its coastline (1,650 km) with two gulf is the longest among the Indian states and shelters diverse coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, coral reefs, estuaries and mudflats. The coral reefs in the Gulf of Kachchh are widely admired for their amazing beauty and spectacular diversity. Many, of the ecosystems have been represented in the PAs comprising of Wildlife Sanctuaries (WLS) and National Parks (NP), A where in-situ conservation of species is being attempted.

Gujarat has 25 PAs (effectively 23 only since Gir WLS and NP, and Marine WLS and NP are considered administratively and ecologically as single entity). These 25 PAs cover an area of 16,902. 41 sq. km, which accounts for 8. 6% of the State’s geographical area. Species diversity is high in Gujarat as seen in the documented-4,228 species of plants and 2,728 species of animals. These are remarkably adapted to a wide range of habitats including on- land, and in fresh and marine water. The State harbours 14% of fish, 9% amphibians, 19% of reptiles, 37% of birds and 25% of the mammals recorded in the country.

Gujarat: Some Unique Ecological Features 4Gujarat is rich in diversity of species, habitats and ecosystems. Many of these ecosystems are unique and shelter some of the world’s only remaining populations of threatened species of plants and animals. Despite its largely semi-arid and arid climate, the state also has many rich ecosystems where floristic and faunal components of biodiversity are abundant. These are also frequented by a large diversity of migratory birds. Some of these unique and rich areas have been protected for conservation, mostly under Protected Areas (PAs).

Some Unique Ecosystems Flamingo city: This area, between Khadir and Pachham islands in the Great Rann of Kachchh, is the largest breeding ground of flamingos, a migratory species. The Ranns: The Great Rann of Kaclichli (GRK) and the Little Rann of Kachchh are the world’s only saline desert spread in 25,000 sq. km. Seasonal inundation of the entire area by rain water and diurnal inundation of western half of the _GRK by sea water, coupled with a high residual salinity level provide a rare and unique type of ecosystem.

Wild Ass Sanctuary: The Wild Ass Sanctuary, a protected area in LRK, is a unique habitat and the only abode of Indian Wild Ass, the remnant gene pool in the world of one of the six surviving geographical varieties of this species, Banni Grasslands: One among the largest arid grasslands of Asia, these are unique grasslands on saline soils, Spread in an area of about 3,000 sq. km. , this area is heavily (50%) encroached by the alien invasive species Prosopis juliflora. 5The Bhal region: The arid and saline area north of Gulf of Khambhat that covers an area of 1,420 sq. km. nder the talukas of Dholka, Dhandhuka, Vallabhipur is the ’Bhal’ region. Bhal in Gujarati means forehead, denoting barren soil where nothing grows. It is also known for its indigenous varieties of ‘Bhalia’ and ‘Rata’ wheat. Some Biodiversity Rich Ecosystems Vansda National Park, Valsad District: It is situated at the northernmost end of Western Chats and is home to species of rain forests, many of which such as Painted Frog are rare and endangered. Vijaynagar forests, Sabarkantha District: This forest in the Aravali mountains represents an confluence of rich plant diversity, with some components of Vindhyan range.

Many medicinal plants and minor forest produce are collected from these forests. Maximum collection of Safed Musli in Gujarat is from this place. Velavedar Blackbuck National Park, Bhavnagar District: T he PA has dense population of Blackbucks. In addition many species of grasses and grassland birds, including birds of prey can be seen here. Girnar Forests, Junagadh District: Girnar hill is the highest one in Saurashtra and harbours rich diversity of plants. Moreover, it is also a home to many wildlife including small population of Asiatic Lion.

Narayan Sarovar Chinkara Sanctuary, Kachchh District: This PA is a rich ecosystem in arid region of Gujarat and is abode of many rare and endangered species such as Guggal among plants and Chinkara, Lesser- Florican, Spiny 6Tailed Lizard among animals. This PA has attracted much attention in resisting denotification of already shrinking area. Ratanmahals Sloth Bear Sanctuary, Panchmahals District This PAs is important habitat for sloth bear. This area has the second highest hill after Pavagadh in Panchmahals. Some Unique and Biodiversity Rich Ecosystems

Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary: This PA, located in the newly formed Narmada district, is known for the only population of giant flying squirrel in addition to other rich plant and animal diversity. Purna Wildlife Sanctuary: The PA, situate in the Dangs district, is located at the confluence of the northernmost edge of the Western Ghats and the Satpuras, and contains elements of biodiversity, many of which are unique. Gir Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park : Gir PA in Junagadh district is not only the last adobe of wild population of Asiatic Lion, but also contains a rich diversity of plants and animals.

Marine Wildlife Sanctuary and national Park : It was the first PA in the country focusing on coastal and marine ecosystem. It is famous for its rich coral, marine algae and mangrove diversity. Nalsaroval Bird Sanctuary : This is unique habitat, being a relic sea and a seasonal wetland of lacustrine type, in Ahmedabad district. This PA is also visited by a large number of bird species since it is on their major migratory routes. Biological Diversity in Gujarat 7The recorded floristic and faunal species in Gujarat are add up to 7048, including 4320 species of plants and 2728 species of animals.

These represent terrestrial, freshwater and marine habitats. IN comparison to the entire country, the State harbours 14% of the fish, 9% amphibians, 19% of reptiles, 37% of birds and 25% of the mammals. There are 2198 species of higher plants belonging to 902 genera and 155 families, representing nearly 13% of the floristic diversity of the country. About 310 plants and 60 animals have been recorded as the threatened species. These include only the higher species and the status of most of the lower organisms is yet to be assessed. (INSERT TABLE) Ecosystem diversity

Gujarat Contains four out of the ten biogeographic zones in India and covers six major ecosystems (Figure 1), namely forests, desert, wetlands, coastal & marine, grasslands and agricultural lands. Forest area of Gujarat, spread over 18,868 km2 comprises only 9. 9% of the geographical area of the State. At broad levels the forests of the State are divided into four categories- Tropical Moist Deciduous Forest, Tropical Dry deciduous forests, Tropical Thorn Forests and the littoral Forests. The Tropical Moist Deciduous Forests, with area of 1,930 km2 , are distributed in Valsad, Navsari and Dangs districts.

The major trees occurring in these forests are Tectona, Terminalia, Madhuca, Bamboo etc. Some of the important rare species, viz. , Petaurista phillipenesis (flying squirrel), Pantlrera pardrzsfpanther), Lygosoma lineata (lined, supple skink), Tetracerus quadricornis (four-horned antelope), and others are found in these forests. The Tropical Dry deciduous forests are distributed in Narmada, Vadodara, Panchmahal, Dahod, Sabarkantha, Banaskantha, Junagadh and Amreli districts. Some of the common plant species in these forests are Boswellia 9serrata, Acacia spp. , Anogeissus spp. , Wrightia tinctoria, Euphorbia nerrifolia, Capparis spp. tc. The major animal species found here are Panthera leo persica (Asiatic Lion), Panthera padus (Panther), Melursus ursinus (sloth bear), Tetracerus quadricornis (four-horned antelope),, Manis crassicaudata (Indian pangolin) etc. The Tropical Thorn Forests are distributed in Mehasana, Ahmedabad, Western Banaskantha, Western Sabarkantha, Surendranagar, Bhavnagar, Amreli, Jamnagar, Rajkot, Kachchh, Kheda districts. Major species in these forests include Acacia nilotica, A. senegal, A. catechu, A. leucophiila, Zizyphus spp. etc. The animals inhabiting these forests are wild ass, chinkara, chital, etc.

Littoral or mangrove Forests are found in the coastal areas of Valsad, Nasari, Surat, Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar, Amreli, Junagadh, Jamnagar, Rajkot Kachchh districts. • The desert ecosystems in Gujarat comprise of the Great Rann of Kachchh (GRK) and Little Rann of Kachchh (LRK). The dominant species of the region are acacia nilotica, A. Senegal, salvadora persica, S. oleoides, Commiphora wightii, Suaeda fruticosa etc. Wild Ass, Felis caracal (Caracal), Gazella gazelle (Indian Gazelle), Hemiechinus auritus (Hedgehog), Felis libyca (Desert Cat), Ardeotis nigriceps (Indian Bustard), etc. Gujarat has a diverse range of wetlands including both coastal and inland systems and are characterized with varying salinity regimes of all the major wetlands in Gujarat, Nal Sarovar (120. 82 km2 ), Khijadia Bird Sanctuary (49. 54 km2 ), Marine National Park & Sanctuary (457. 93 km2 ( and Little Rann of Kachchh are the only wetlands that are protected. 10• The costal and marine ecosystems of Gujarat are spread along the 1663 km long coast line which is indented by two major gulfs viz. , Gulf of Khambhat Gulf of Kachchh.

The costal ecosystems are diversified in nature, having intertidal mudflats, coral reefs, estuaries, mangroves, sandy and rocky beaches offering diverse habitat in tehis region. Of the 991 km2 area under mangroves in the State, most 96% is in the Gulf of Kachchh region. Althoug both of these district have the maximum mangrove cover in the State, it displays the least diversity – with only one dominanting species Avicennia marina (Cher) and others include A. officinalis, Rhizopora mucronata and Ceriops tagal. The species associated with mangroves are Salvadora persica, Salicornia brachiata, Suaeda spp and Alueropus grass.

A total of 37 species of corals have been recorded in Gujarat including species of Acropora, montipora and Gorgonians in association with Perch Fish, Sabella sp. And sea weeds like Caulerpa,Coralline algae, Enteromorpha and Gracilaria. Gujarat has 8,483 km2 of grasslands categorized under permanent pasture and grazing land. Most of these grassland occur in eight districts of Saurashtra and Kachcha, where these are called vidis and rakhals, respectively. Moreover, there are some grasslands in the saline regions of Kachcha and are locally called as Kharo and Kharbo.

The reserved vidis are better protected and the grass is harvested by the Forest Department. Some of the dominant grass species in these grasslands are Apluda mutica, Heteropogon controotus, Sehima neroosum, Themeda quadivalvis, Cenchrus ciliaris, Panicum antidotale, Cloris gyna, dicanthium annulatum, Erogrostis spp. , Sporobolus spp. , Aristida adscensionis, Ischemum molle and Fimbristylis spp. Antelope cervicapra (Blackbuck), Gazella gazella (chinkara), Uromastix hardwickii (Spiny tailed 11lizard), Grus antigone (Sarus crane), etc. are some of key species of the grasslands. Agro-ecosystems, being man made systems, are the ones subjected to heavy human interventions and manipulations. Almost 50% (96,087) km2 of the total geographical area of the State is under agriculture. Sorghum, cotton, sugarcane, pearl millet, groundnut, tobacco, maize, paddy, banana etc. constitute the major crops in the state. ACCOUNTS OF DIFFERENT CULTURES AND SOCIETIES Gujarat History – Milestones: • 2500 BC. Harappans appeared from Northern India to settle down, and established over a hundred towns and cities. • 100 to 500 BC. Yadavas, Krishna’s clan, held power over much of Gujarat, with their capital at Dwarka. 200 BC. Political history began with the powerful Mauryan empire, established by Chandragupta with its capital at Junagadh, and reached its peak under Ashoka. • 100 AD. Satraps, members of the Saka tribes, gained control over Saurashtra. • 388 AD. Guptas, and then Maitrakas, established their their capital at Valabhi. • 1100 AD. Saurashtra came under sway of the Solanki (Chauhan) dynasty. • 1299 AD. Khalji conquested and the Muslim rule was established. • 1307 AD. Muzaffar Shah’s declaration of independence from Delhi marked the foundation of the Sultanate of Gujarat. • 1500 AD. Moghul emperor Akbar conquested. 1531 AD. The Portuguese, already settled in Goa, captured Daman and Diu. • 1613 AD. The British East India Company set up original Indian headquarters in Surat. • 1818 AD. British sovereignty was established. • 1960 AD. Bombay state was split and Gujarat state was created. • Today. Gujarat’s textile industry is still the largest in India, with the trading of the business-minded community helping to mantain its wealth. Indus Valley Civilization(2500-1700 BC), was the earliest known civilization of South Asia, corresponding to the Bronze Age cultures of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Crete.

Harappa and Mohenjo Daro belonged to this civilization. Before the Mauryan empire took hold in the fourth century BC, the Indus Valley was the largest, well-planned and sophisticated civilization in India. The cities Mohenjo Daro and Harappa were discovered in 1920s. This society spread from the present borders of Iran and Afghanistan to Kashmir, Delhi, and Gujarat, covering an area larger than the Egyptian and Syrian dominions put together. It lasted until the heavy floods swept away the towns and villages in Sind, Saurashtra, and South Gujarat.

Lothal, close to the Gulf of Cambay in South Gujarat, was a major port, and source of shells which the Harappans made into jewellery. The work of Indus Valley artisans shows a high degree of craft specialization. Characteristic artifacts include a distinctive black-on-red pottery, ceramic toys and figurines, etched carnelian beads, metal (bronze, silver, and gold) ornaments and tools, and stamp seals with an undeciphered script. The Indus Valley civilization was first defined by the British archaeologist Sir John Marshall’s diggings at Mohenjo-Daro and M. S. Vat’s excavations at Harappa in 1920s.

Religion: Hindu: Vedic Dharma was popular and from the remains found from the Indus valley Civilization, it is believed that worship of goddesses, Sun, Shiva, was followed. The temple of Somnath, in western coast, is one of the twelve jyotirllingas of Shiva. There is no definate record as of the origin of the temple (which is believed to have been built during  Mahabharat times) but the earliest record is of the dates of 10th century. In Norther Gujarat, there is an eleventh-century Sun-Temple, at Modhera. Near Mehsana, the town of Siddhpur is known for Rudramala Temple, built in  12th century.

Goddess-worship was followed in ancient times and popular amongst them are temples at Pavagarh, Kherhbrahma and Ambaji. The oldest temple of Dwarika has become a pilgrimage place to worship Krishna. Jain: The Jainism is widely followed in Gujarat since years. The oldest temple is believed to be of Shankheshwar Parshwanath in North Gujarat. Taranga temples were built during the Solanki period and they are better preserved than the temples of Mount Abu, Girnar and Shatrunjay. Palitana, is India’s principal Jain pilgrimage site, the temples dated 5th century.

Muslim: Through the sea-route which was open for trade, the people from Iran and Arabic countries started coming in Gujarat. The trade system was established and the Indo-Islamic culture got flourished. This is a marked feature of many Gujarati cities. The famous mosques are built during Mughul times. These include Sidi Sayyid’s mosque, Jami Masjid, of Ahmedabad,, Alif Khan’s mosque in Dholka, Jama Masjid of Bharuch,etc. Buddha: About the same time as Jainism, Buddhism also got popular. There were Buddhist temples also and the remains of the same are found from all over Gujarat.

Ashokan Buddhist edicts engraved on a rock are near Junagadh. These remains are of 3rd century BC. Parsi: In 10th century, Iranian Jarthost followers came to Gujarat and got settled here first at Diu, and then at Sanjan, Udvada -in South of Gujarat. Sanjan and Udvada are today main pilgrimage places of Parsi followers. Festivals: Sports: Desi Games: These games are largely played in Gujaratis since years. A lot of them are family games, and played by group or groups. There are minor games and major games -played according to rules.

Amongst the minor games are – Jhula, Ball games, Long and High Jump, Saat-taali (catch someone), KhoKho , Langadi (played with one leg), Hutututu (Kabaddi), Santa-kukkadi (hide and seek), marbles, tops, kite-flying, Gilli-dada (ball and sticks), Ambali-pipli (played on trees), skipping, swimming, wrestling, gymnastics, trekking, playing cards, chess, Antakshari, Races, etc. The major games are those, which have strictly observed rules. The popular ones played are Cricket, Table-Tennis, Tennis, Volleyball, Basketball, Badminton, Carrom, Chess, Boxing, Hockey, Football, Billiards, Snookers,etc.

Mountaineering: Basically soft-natured Gujaratis donot go further in for Olympic games. But it was remarkable when Guajartis joined in the Adventurous Mountaineering and succeeded in the sixties. In past 20 years, 20 more Himalayan peaks were successfully covered. IMPORTANCE OF CONSERVING BIODIVERSITY Status survey of threatened Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarious)around Ranns of Kachchh. The project sponsored by Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB), UK for the survey of the areas where this critically endangered and migratory species.

In 2007 this birds was located by GES at three places in the Gujarat and its habitat, threats and associated floral – faunal species were also studied. Biodiversity Conservation Action Plan: The World Bank sponsored project aimed to develop strategies and action plan based on the problems related tobiodiversity conservation in Gujarat. Biodiversity and the related issues were comprehensively studied for species, ecosystems, protected areas, human-wildlife conflicts, indigenous knowledge and institutional strengths. While analysing each problems on spatial and temporal scale, emphasis was laid on the factual picture of the State.

Strategies were developed based on discussion with various stakeholders and included suggestions for policy change, strengthening institutions and effective actions. Conservation of Rare and Endangered Biodiversity of Gujarat: This four-year project was taken up with the support of Gujarat Ecology Commission for conservation of rare and endangered species to save them from extinction. Assessing the current status, preparation of conservation and management strategies and demonstrative implementation of some of the conservation strategies evolved, are the significant milestones of the project.

Information inter aila on distribution, habitat, status and threats were collected and more than 80% of the threatened species were sighted/located. The major findings of the study are presented in the form of abaseline information, a pictorial booklet and a comprehensive report. Regulating bio-invasion in Banni grasslands in Kachchh: Funded by the Small Grants Programme of Global Environment Facility, this study aimed at quantifying the impact of invasion by Prosopis juliflora (Gando Bawal), a thorny shrub, on the habitat as well as the species and suggested mechanisms to control it.

Working with the local people and NGOs, was an integral part of the study. Society has taken up a project to find out occurrence, distribution and status of certain rare species of small mammals in the central Gujaratregion. The main objectives is to find occurrence, distribution and status of certain, rare mammalian species including Flying squirrel, rusty spotted cat, pangolin, Desert fox, Ratel, Civet Cat and Desert Cat. Find habitat preferences and suggest management strategies for them.

Evaluation and Analysis of Experiments taken up on Eucalyptus and Teak in Godhra and Dangs ranges as well as to study gregarious flowering of Bamboo in Dangs:  Seed plots in Dangs and Godhra ranges were visited to analyse morphological characters of the plants, seed production  and Candidate Plus teak (CPT). Suggestions were given for the better seed production. Vansda National Park, Waghai Botanical Garden and Mahal area of the Dangs were surveyed for best  Candidate Plus Clumps (CPC) of Bamboos. 100% bamboo flowering was observed in the Dangs forest range.

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