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History of Surat and Surtis.

History of Maskati Hospital 1864 Cholera Outbreak

Surat is in lockdown from 25th March 2020 due to the global pandemic COVID19 caused by novel-corona virus SARS-CoV-2. As we all stay at home and take care of our family and dear ones, it is good to visit some episodes in the history of this city, that has always risen after challenging situations be it floods, plague or epidemics.


As we adopt to new way of living with the rise of corona cases across the world, we can learn some valuable lessons from the chapters in history. Here is one such story of an hospital in Surat, which was constructed during the 1864 Cholera outbreak with the help of donations. Such stories create a sense of motivation for us to know, we as human kind have always learn to thrive and survive even some of the dangerous situations. With hopes to curb the current issue in hands, we bring to you this inspiring story from Surat.

In 1864, there was an outbreak of Cholera in Surat, due to which many people were killed. The Collector of that time could convince the donors of Surat to open a new dispensary to serve the poor and needy people of Surat. With generous donations from a Parsi gentleman named Mr. Khursedji Pardumi Parekh, a dispensary called C.F. Parekh dispensary was born. It was laid open by the then Collector of Surat, over period of years, it has developed into a 330 bedded well equipped hospital.

Similarly in 1955, Vohra Maskati family of Surat donated generously to this institute, Then after it became MASKATI CHARITABLE HOSPITAL & C. F. PAREKH DISPENSARY.

At present it is working as non teaching 120 bedded Hospital.


  • 1864 : Established as C.F. Parekh Dispensary.

  • 1865 : Completed construction.
  • 1896 : Saved lives during plague epidemic.
  • 1966 : Recognised for under graduate Medical Student and internship training.
  • 1984 : Blood bank started.
  • 1986 : A.C. I.C.C.U. with all modern Instrument and telematry monitoring system.
  • 1996 : Latest A.C. Burns unit started with 16 separate cabin (A.C.)
  • 2003 : New building of SMIMER Hospital is available, so Maskati Hospital is now non teaching hospital of 120 beds.

    Blood bank shifted to SMIMER Hospital.

SMC is distributing over 9 lakh food packets daily to the needy citizens of Surat, with the help of over 400 NGOs & Akshayapatra.

Bardoli Satyagraha, 1928

Bardoli taluka in Surat District went through a Satyagraha movement, under the leadership of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in 1928. Bardoli Satyagraha was fought by the farmers and villagers of Bardoli, to oppose the tax imposed on them even after severe floods and famine in earlier years.

Famine in Bardoli, 1925

In 1925, the taluka of Bardoli in Gujarat suffered from floods and famine, causing crop production to suffer and leaving farmers facing great financial troubles. However, the government of the Bombay Presidency had raised the tax rate by 30% that year, and despite petitions from civic groups, refused to cancel the rise in the face of the calamities. The situation for the farmers was grave enough that they barely had enough property and crops to pay off the tax, let alone for feeding themselves afterwards.


Vallabhbhai Patel was prominent face as freedom fighter in Gujarat during those times. Various Gujarati activists, along with village heads and farmers brought this issue under the notice of Patel and asked for his guidance and help. Patel made sure that the villagers and farmers understand the criticality of going against the government and they could face serious implecations of this revolt. They might have to give up on their lands and other atrocities which may lead during this fight.

Once everyone was clear and committed to this step, Patel distributed the activists and volunteers across the taluka and carried out an all out no-tax paying movement. Slowly this movement caught attention of the government, as all farmers had refused to pay taxes and even after various means and methods employed by government, there was no let go of this situation. After series of discussions, events and troubles, government had finally agreed to let go off the tax with intervention from Parsi member from Bombay government.

It was ensured by Patel, that all the lands of farmers be provided back to each one. Along with the help from wealthy men from Bombay and his tactics, he was able to accomplish that.

Vallabhbhai Patel was conferred the title “Sardar” by the women of Bardoli, after the success of Bardoli Satyagraha.

Bardoli Satyagraha, a success

Bardoli Satyagraha was a successful movement by the farmers of Bardoli, which ignited a sense of confidence and power in the leaders and people of the country who were fighting for freedom. Various other small such movements and satyagraha, led to a overall major movements like Civil Disobedience, Non-cooperatin movement and many other such.

Sardar, the Title

Vallabhbhai Patel was confered the title “Sardar” by the women of Bardoli, after the success of this Satyagraha. Sardar here locally and many parts of the country means Chief or Leader. Since then Patel has been called as Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who later went on to become the Iron Man of India. He was monumental in the integrating the nation after Independence. Status of Unity, worlds tallest statue, is built near Narmada Sarovar Dam, in the memory of his contribution to the nation during Independence Struggle and Post Independence national integration efforts.

British first come to Surat in India

Vasco da Gama came to India from Portugal in 1498. His fleet landed in Calicut (present day Kozhikode) in North Kerala. Portuguese then went to set up there trade centre in India to carry out import-export of goods like spices, cotton, silk and other valuables to Europe. Portuguese expand there reach on the west coast and slowly establish their rule via Portuguese East India Company. Over the span of next 100 years they rise to become rulers in many parts of the west coast, majorly in Goa, Daman, Kerala and others.

Other troops from Europe continue their expeditions to India. French majorly occupying the east coast of India in Pondicherry, Kolkata and other places in Tamil Nadu. Dutch slowly reach the fate of demise. Other troops stop any further expeditions as Portuguese and French rise their power in India.

For over 100 years, during the 16th century Portuguese have their monopoly on the West Coast of India,while the French seem to enjoy the control on East Coast of India. Britishers were trying hard to find a spot.

For several years in the late 1500s, British carry out multiple tours to India so that they can find a breakthrough via any means, unfortunately this doesn’t happen until the early 1600s when after several trips they seem to find a place they can call home.

In 1612, under the command of Thomas Beast, British were able to win over Portuguese in the Battle of Suvali, a small beach located near Surat, Gujarat on the shores of the Gulf of Khambhat. Red Dragon was the ship used by British. Details of the war don’t seem to be available in concrete details, however it has been established that once the British were able to successfully win the battle, they gained good rapport in the court of Mughal Empire.

Emperor Jahangir who was then ruling in the centre, gave British the permission to set up a trading company, which later came to be known as British East India Company. They slowly rose in trading and commerce in Surat in the next couple years. They happen to have a spot in the Surat Fort for running their court hearings. Eventually The company established trading posts in Surat (1619), Madras (1639), Bombay (1668), and Calcutta (1690).

With the rise of Bombay (present day Mumbai) and favorable conditions for large ships, British make Mumbai as their base in the years to come.

Birthplace of Indian Navy – Suvali, Surat

Suvali, also known as Swally located near Surat, is considered to be the birthplace of Indian Navy.

The naval Battle of Swally, also known as Battle of Suvali, took place on 29–30 November 1612 off the coast of Suvali (anglicised to Swally) a village near the Surat city and was a victory for four English East India Company galleons over four Portuguese galleons and 26 barks (rowing vessels with no armament).

This relatively small naval battle is historically important as it marked the beginning of the end of Portugal’s commercial monopoly over India, and the beginning of the ascent of the English East India Company’s presence in India.

This battle also convinced the English East India Company to establish a small navy to safeguard their commercial interests from other European powers and also from pirates. This small beginning is regarded as the root of the modern Indian Navy.

The history of the Indian Navy can be traced back to 1612 when Captain Best encountered and defeated the Portuguese. This encounter, as also the trouble caused by the pirates, forced the British East India Company to maintain a small fleet at Swally, near Surat (Gujarat). The First Squadron of fighting ships arrived on 5 September 1612, forming what was then called the Honourable East India Company’s Marine. It was responsible for the protection of the East India Company’s trade in the Gulf of Cambay and the river mouths of the Tapti and Narmada. The officers and the men of this force went on to play an important role in surveying the Arabian, Persian and Indian coastlines.

Read Full Story at Indian Navy Website.

Featured Image Source : Wikipedia