The history of Gujarat is an illustrious one. The history of Gujarat state comprises an important part of Indian historical texts.
Gujarat finds mention in ancient historical artifacts. The history of Gujarat encompasses the Indus Valley civilization. The history of Gujarat is replete with the mementos and associated artifacts of the ancient civilization. About 50 Harappan settlement ruins were discovered in Gujarat.
The Dravidian tribes were the original inhabitants of the region. The ancient history of Gujarat was enriched by their commercial activities. There is a clear historical evidence of trade and commerce ties with Sumer in the Persian Gulf during the time period of 1000 to 750 BC.
The history of Gujarat saw an Aryan invasion followed by a brief period of Greek rule. There were a succession of Hindu kingdoms including the era of the Guptas and culminating in the reign of the Solankis.
The 9th century history of Gujarat saw the emergence of the Muslims in the political arena of the state. The first Muslim conqueror was Mohammad of Ghazni whose conquer of Somnath effectively ended the rule of the Solankis. The Mughals established and consolidated their rule from Delhi The rule of the Mughals lasted for two centuries before it was ended by the Marathas in the 18th century.
Ancient Gujarat marks one of the glorious chapters in Indian history. It started from the beginning of the Indus civilization and culminated with the conquest by the Muslim rulers from central Asia.
The earliest archaeological traces of ancient Gujarat can be found in the historical relics of the Indus Valley civilization. The Indus Valley civilization is also known as the Harappan civilization. The Harappan civilization existed during the historical time-period from 3300 to 1700 BC.
Gujarat was always an important trading post from times immemorial. Bharuch-a port in ancient Gujarat had strategic importance during the Maurya and Gupta periods. Bharuch was also an important naval trading port. After the decline of the Gupta empire in the 6th century,ancient Gujarat was ruled by successive Hindu kings.
Ancient Gujarat is full of the imperial grandeur of Chandragupta Maurya. Emperor Ashoka, the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya ordered the engraving of his famous edicts on a rock at present day Junagadh. Emperor Ashoka also commissioned the task of an irrigation network in ancient Gujarat.
Ancient Gujarat also saw its first foreign conquest-a Greek incursion led by Demetrius.
The decline of the Gupta empire saw Senapati Bhatarka- a Gupta general splitting away Gujarat from the Gupta empire and establish his own kingdom in 470 AD. The resulting administration came to be known in ancient Gujarat history as the Maitrak kingdom. It was during the rule of Dhruvasena Maitrak that the great Chinese traveler and philosopher Huien Tsang visited India in 640AD.
The Pratihara dynasty succeeded the Maitrak kingdom. They in turn was succeeded by the Chavada kings.
The last Hindu rulers of ancient Gujarat was the Solanki clan of Rajputs from 960 AD to 1243 AD.
In 1026 the first of the many Muslim conquests of Gujarat-and India has begun.
Medieval Gujarat saw the entry of the Muslim conquerors into India. The first of the Muslim conquerors were Mohammad of Ghazni.
Before the conquest,medieval Gujarat had a smattering of Muslims. They were mostly scattered along the Gujarat coastline. There were two small Muslim settlements in Cambay and Broach. The present name of Cambay and Broach is Khambhat and Bharuch respectively. Medieval Gujarat also saw Abdulla-a missionary from Egypt establish the formation of the Bohra community among the native Muslims.
After the defeat of Karandev Vaghela against the military force of Allauddin Khilji,medieval Gujarat saw Muslim rule continuing for 400 years. The Muslim rule finally ended when the Mughal Viceroy Momin Khan was defeated by the Marathas in 1758. The Marathas established their supremacy by snatching Ahmedabad from the Mughals in the same year.
The Muslim period in medieval Gujarat is an interesting slice of history. Zafar Shah established the first Muslim sultanate in Gujarat. He took advantage of the prevailing weak rulers of Delhi- Zafar Shah declared independence and became the first Sultan. Zafar Shah assumed the title of Muzaffar Shah. His successor Ahmed Shah founded Ahmedabad city on the banks of the Sabarmati river.
Mahmud Shah succeeded Ahmed Shah. Mahmud Shah was an able administrator. He successfully repulsed a Portuguese naval attack and constructed a port on Diu.
The Muslim rule in medieval Gujarat was ended by Chhatrapati Shivaji-the great Maratha ruler who conquered Gujarat with his military skill.
The Maratha rule was ended by the European colonial powers who made their contact with India at that time. The Portuguese were the first European power to arrive in medieval Gujarat.
The history of modern Gujarat started with the advent of the Europeans in 1614 AD.
The era of modern Gujarat first started when the Portuguese established several enclaves along the Gujarat coastline. The Portuguese built naval ports in present day Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
The British East India company founded their first base in India at Surat in 1614. This seemingly small commercial event eventually led the company to a dominant presence in India. Many of the local Maratha rulers of Gujarat acknowledged British sovereignty in return for retaining local independent rule. The rule of the British officials paved one of the first of many paths to modern Gujarat.
The Indian independence movement was very active in Gujarat during the administration of the British Raj. The greatest of all Gujarati Indian freedom fighters was great Mahatma Gandhi. He was joined in his noble task by other Gujarati Indian freedom fighters like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Morarji Desai, KM Munshi, Narhari Parikh, Mahadev Desai, Mohanlal Pandya and Ravi Shankar Vyas.
Mahatma Gandhi led the salt satyagraha in Gujarat. It was one of the most visible images of Gujarat during pre-independence days. Modern Gujarat still shows the grit of such single minded dedication which has helped contemporary Gujarat to grow into an industrial powerhouse.
Gujarat saw large post independence turmoil. After independence, Gujarat was included under the old Bombay state. Bombay state had a Gujarati speaking north and a Marathi speaking south. Bombay state was finally demarcated into Gujarat and Maharashtra states. Modern Gujarat was thus formed with Ahmedabad as its capital.
The capital was shifted from Ahmedabad to Gandhinagar. Gandhinagar is the present capital of modern Gujarat.