Gujarat is situated on the Western Indian coast having a 1,600kms long Arabian Sea coastline that encloses Gujarat from three sides like a girdle. It stretches from Kutch in the West to Daman in the South and the hilly tract from Aravalli in the East to the Western hills with lush green forests, rivers as well as plains. It lies to the north east of the Gulf of Cambay. On its western and southwestern boundaries lies the Arabian Sea. To the northwest lies the country of Pakistan. Northeast lies the State of Rajasthan, east lies the State of Madhya Pradesh and to the southeast lies the State of Maharashtra.
Geographically, the State is made up of three main areas. The Eastern (mainland) region includes the major cities of Ahmedabad, Surat, and Vadodara (Baroda). The Kathiawar peninsula, also known as Saurashtra, is the coastal plain that is divided from the mainland by the Gulf of Cambay. The Kutch area, separated from Saurashtra by the Gulf of Kutch is virtually an island, cut off from the rest of Gujarat to the east and Pakistan to the north by the low lying Ranns (deserts). Gujarat derives its name 'Gujaratta' meaning the land of Gurjars. The Gurjars passed through the Punjab and settled in some parts of Western India, which came to be known as Gujarat.
The State has a long historical and cultural tradition. Legend as it that the temple of Somnath in the Saurashtra region was actually there to witness the creation of the universe. Along the south coast are sites associated with Lord Krishna's life, like Dwaraka where Krishna established his dynasty after evacuating from Mathura. On firmer historic footing, the recently excavated ancient port of Lothal, an important site of the Indus Valley civilization, near Ahmedabad, bears testimony to Gujarat's more than 4,000 years of history. It was an important trade centre having links with the ancient civilizations of Sumer, Babylon and Egypt.
The Parsis when they fled from Iran in the 8th century first landed at Sanjan on the shores of Gujarat with the holy flame, which still burns in Udwada in Valsad. The Muslim influence left its lasting imprints on the local art and architecture and it came to be known as the Indo-Saracenic style. Gujarat's ports have been important centres of trade and embarkation points for Muslim pilgrims bound for Mecca, while European colonial nations established factories and trading bases around the coast from the late 15th century onwards. Gujarat was a part of the erstwhile Mumbai State during the British Rule. But in 1960, the 'Gujarati' population decided to secede from that union, which resulted in the formation of two new states, namely Gujarat and Maharashtra. Gujarat was also the birthplace of many leaders who played an important role in shaping modern India. Prominent among them were Dadabhai Naroji, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi. It has also always been a major centre for the Jains
Gujarat has thus been exposed to a succession of alien races and in the process it has imbibed elements of a variety of cultures, and yet retained its cultural individuality. The state is renowned for its holy temples, historic capitals replete with immense architectural wealth, wildlife sanctuaries, beaches and hill resorts. The fascinating handicrafts, mouth watering cuisine and colourful lifestyle of the people of Gujarat, are renowned all over the country.