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Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 23, p. 165.


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SURAT CITY r65
westward towards its mouth. In the centre of its river-front rises the
castle, a mass of irregular fortifications, flanked at each corner by large
round towers, and presenting a picturesque appear- Situation.
ante when viewed from the water. Planned and
built in r54o by I~hudwand Khn, a Turkish soldier in the service
of the Gujart kings, it remained a military fortress under both 1Vlughal
and British rule till 86z, when the troops were withdrawn and the
buildings utilized as public offices. With the castle as its centre,
the city stretches in the arc of a circle for about a mile and a quarter
along the river bank. Southward, the public park with its tall trees
hides the houses in its rear ; while on the opposite bank, about a mile
up the river on the right shore, lies the ancient town of RANV~;i;,
now almost a suburb of Surat. 'Two lines of fortification, the inner and
the outer, once enclosed Surat ; and though the interior wall has nearly
disappeared, the moat which marks :its former course still preserves
distinct the city and the suburbs. V~ithin th city proper the space
is on the whole thickly peopled ; and the narrow but caean and well-
watered streets wind between rows of handsome houses, the residences
of high-caste Ilindus and wealthy l'rss. The suburb;;, on the other
hand, lie scattered among wide open spaces, once villa gardens, but
now cultivated as fields. The unmetalled lanes, hollowed many feet
deep, form watercourses in the rainy season, and stand thick in dust
during the rest of the year. The dwellings consist of huts of low-
caste Hindus or weavers' cottages. West of the city, the site of the
old military cantonment is now occupied by the police;, whose parade
ground stretches along the river bank. Suburban villas, the property
of wealthy residents of the city, are springing up aloaag the Dumas
and Varchha roads.
The annals of Surat city, under native rule, have been briefly given
in the article on Sunni DISTRICT. During the seventeenth and eigh
teenth centuries Surat ranked as the chief export History.
and import centre of India. After the assumption of
the entire government by the British in r 800, prosperity, which hid
deserted the city towards the close of the eighteenth century, for
a time reappeared. But the steady transfer of trade to Bombay, com-
bined with the famine of r 8 r 3 in S~Torthern Gujart, continued to
undermine its commercial importance; and by 8z5 the trade had
sunk to the export of a little raw cotton to the rising capital of the
Presidency. In r83q two calamities occurred in close succession,
which destroyed the greater part of the city and reduced almost all
its inhabitants to a state of poverty. For three days in the month
of April a fire raged through the very heart of Surat, laying 9,373
houses in ruins, and extending over nearly ro miles of thoroughfare,
in both the city and the suburbs. No estimate can toe given of the
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