Surat is one of the fastest growing cities of Asia. It seems as Surat, is gaining popularity in the recent past in areas of city development, cleanliness, business and trade. However, the history of Surat is richer than it is known for. Surat flourished in the 16th century, equally as it is in today’s time. Surat Fort (Quilla) is one of many heritage sites in the city, which whisper the story of the past silently. You must need good ears and some peaceful time to know and feel the richness of the history of Surat.
The Surat castle is one of the ancient monuments of 16th century existing in the city and bears a significant relevance to its history. However, such a great fortification built to provide the citizens of Surat with an adequate defence against the attacks of the invaders seems to have been forgotten from the minds of the present generation. The Ahmedabad king Sultan Mahmood-III (1538-1554), who was very much annoyed by these frequent destructions of Surat, ordered for building a very strong castle and entrusted the work to Safi Agha, a Turkish soldier who had been ennobled with the title of Khudawand Khan. The work of building the castle was completed in 1546. (source SMC)
A Portuguese traveller named Barbosa during his visit to Gujarat in 1514 has described Surat as a city of great trade in all classes of merchandise, a very important seaport yielding a large revenue to the king, and frequented by many ships from Malabar and many other ports.
The height of the Fort wall was 20 yards and 15 meters wide at each corner there is a large round bastion having 12. 2 meter height and the thickness of the wall was 4.1 meter
Restoration work carried out by Surat Municipal Corporation is going on in full force. Currently the Castle is open for public, with it’s new redefined look and most of the Castle work is completed.
Various Galleries in the Fort
- Most stunning find during the restoration process was secret vaults descovered inside the fort. It has a ventilation system through which cold air enters from the bottom and hot air evacuates from the top of the room. It is designed in such a way that these tunnels are not visible from outside.
- Gallery of Surat Archives
- In this gallery, historical maps of Surat, timeline of history of Surat and Surat Fort, alteration made in Surat Fort at various time is depicted by various maps, maritime history and various other process of conservation and restoration is narrated by various penal in this gallery. Throne of last Nawab of Surat, Nawab Afzaluddin Khan along with other accessories, model of proposed Heritage Precinct and write-up on various personalities of Surat are represented in various penal in these galleries.
- British Life Style Room and Travellers to Surat Gallery
- This gallery has been arranged in such a way that visitors can visit and feel the life style of British people of 17th to 19th century through arrangement of replica of furniture and crockery of that time. Apart from that penals have been exhibited on various visitors visited Surat from 15th century, details on them, their lifetime and what they have wrote about Surat.
- In this part of Fort, one side of the wall was built during Sultanate period and other side of the wall was built during the British period. Here in all the windows and doors are giving effect of stained glass which was used in the bygone time.
- This bastion has been restored extensively as its dome was long ago destroyed, it was severely affected by the vegetation and roots of trees penetrated deep into the flooring. The bastion also had water channel to flow hot water inside the hammam and drain cold water outside, all these water channels have been restored and is visible to visitors. The fallen off dome has been restored following the same construction technique of Sultanate style, and painted fresco in abstract style depicted Surat city, Tapi river, fortified wall and its gates.
- Dutch Life Style Room
- During the Restoration process while removing various layers of plasters from walls and removing falls ceiling, the construction pattern was found in Dutch style, to showcase the Dutch life-style, this portion of the building has been converted into the Dutch Life-style Room, so that visitors can feel the life-style of Dutch people from 18th-19th Century. Replica of various furniture, ceramic-ware and specially designed floor tiles adds charm to the section.
- Court Room
- While restoration process was going on, the structure revealed that this place may have been used as court of justice. After restoration the section has been converted as Court-room, with judge table and chair, accused and witness boxes, writer’s chairs and table as well as benches for visitors to get the actual feeling of active court-room.
- Trade Gallery and Jail
- Trade gallery and Jail portions were restored by maintain jack-arch roof, wooden roof along with wooden and specially made floor tiles. These portions are now having display of Surat minted coins, trade commodities, trade jars, British ceramic wares etc.
- Mughal Gallery
- On the ground floor during the restoration process while strengthening the foundation of building some excavation work was carried out. During the excavation few stone cannon balls in different sizes were discovered, along with it some cast iron cannon balls were also found, out of which some were solid, some with holes and some with ram road were discovered which are displayed here. Apart from these finds, few terracotta pots were found too, which are displayed here, too. There after a carved marble seating area is developed by replicating famous Mughal style, few replica of wooden rum barrels, chest are also carved from wood an displayed in this section. At last in the Armenian Gallery, tomb stones inscribed in marble are displayed.
Ticket Rates and Timings of Visit
- Timing for Visit
- Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 am to 06:00 pm
- Ticket Selling Timing
- Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 am to 04:50 pm
- 3 Years to 16 Years Rs.20/-
- 17 Years to 60 Years Rs.40/-
- Above 60 Years Rs.20/-
- Photography Rs.20/-
- Videography Rs.100/-
The Fort remains closed on every Monday and few National holidays and major holidays like Dhuleti, Diwali, Uttarayan, Anand Chaudas etc.
- Frequent buses from Surat Railway Station run on this route to Chowk Bazaar. Bus No. 106, 107, 108, 127, 137 run on this route.
- You have to get down at Chowk or Chowk Bazaar. It will cost you around 15-20 Rs in a shared auto (3km).
Heritage Sites near by :
Please share your experience in the comment section below. If you know about other heritage sites in Surat and want to share with the world, visit our Contributors section. Surat Castle Information Source : SMC Website