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Mugal Sarai | Heritage Site Surat

INTRODUCTION

Mugal Sarai ~ Mughal Sarai, the Building which is used at present as an office complex by Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) is one of the ancient monuments of Surat city and was built originally as a ‘Sarai’ or Musafarkhana (travellers’ inn). It was built during the period of Mugal Emperor Shah Jahan in the year 1644 A.D. and was popularly known as ‘Mugal Sarai’. During 18th century the same building was used as jail. Since 1867 the building was occupied by the present corporation.

This building with its considerable architectural qualities as disposed by the skilful composition of its various parts combined with harmonious combination of arches, cornices, decorated parapets, sculptured patterns on the exterior facade etc. each being disposed in an artistic and effective manner upon a sound foundation with coherent strength is still intact and is in a very good state of preservation. Yes.

However, some changes are made lately in the original building but due care is taken so as not to harm the overall harmony of the structure. The central courtyard which at present is used for parking vehicles of the employees of the corporation still have huge trees in it hosting a wide variety of birds, giving it still the same touch of nature which it would have once enjoyed.

HISTORY

The Building which is used at present as an office complex by Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) is one of the ancient monuments of Surat city and was built originally as a ‘Sarai’ or Musafarkhana (travelers’ inn). It was built during the period of Mugal Emperor Shah Jahan in the year 1644 A.D. and was popularly known as ‘Mugal Sarai’.

The detail description about the sarai was inscribed on two marble stones each 3.65 m long which were being placed at its entrance gateway itself till middle of the 19th century. But later on they were negligently dumped in one of the rooms of this sarai and were left unattended for quite long time. Thanks to the efforts of Mr. A.D. Banerjee; an officer of Archaeological Survey of India, that these inscriptions were transferred to the Prince of Wales Museum of Bombay in 1929 and history of Mugal Sarai could thus be preserved there.

The description was inscribed in the Arabian script by Mohammed Amin of Mashahad, the translation of which was published in 1925-26. According to these inscriptions it was stated that though this building was built as sarai during the rule of Emperor Shahjahan in the name of Almighty Allah it was in fact believed to be a heaven during those days. In the last line of the script the year of construction of the sarai was also mentioned.

The instructions regarding the usage of this sarai were inscribed in small sized letters in the margin space of the article. It was mentioned that no rent shall be levied from persons like learned scholars, and pilgrims going to Macca and Madina and any other sacred or religious individuals intending to halt in the sarai, and the allotment of rooms to the soldiers in this sarai shall be strictly prohibited.

It was also instructed that the income from rent charged to the travellers other than those specified above shall be used for maintenance and repair of the building; wages of watermen and sweepers; purchasing fodders for animals, and rest of the income should be donated to the pilgrims going to Macca-Madina.

This sarai was built by Eshak Beg Yazdi who was initially a chief guard for the family of Begum Mumtaz Mahal and was later on appointed as a leader of the fleet of about 1000 horse-riders. He was honoured as Hakikat-Khan in 1673 and was since then popularly known by that name only.

The Emperor Shah Jahan used to give the entire revenue earned from the Surat port to his daughter Jahan Ara in order to meet her daily expenses. The management of this income was being done by Hakikat Khan who also became the chief officer of the Surat city from 1640 and during that tenure itself he built this sarai (1644). It is said that he had built it on the basis of same planning principles as that for sarais of Esfahan.

During the period when this building was in the charge of Britishers it was utilised for storage of military weapons and also as a prison at later stage.

On 23rd April 1852 Collector Rozers incepted the Surat Municipality with its office in the building of Head Post Office, Nanpura.

Later on the Mugal Sarai was handed over by the government for using as a Municipal Office complex in the year 1864 at the instance of the then President of Surat Municipality Mr. T.C, Hope and it was then renovated at a substantial cost. The clock tower at its entrance was added after this only.

The offices of Surat Municipality were shifted to this monumental building in the year 1867. Since then it is used for the same purpose by SMC and the area in which this building is located is still known as ‘Mugalisara’.

HERITAGE SITES

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Introduction and History sections of this article are reproduce from Surat Municipal Corporation website.

Heritage Sites Circuit in Surat | Travel Guide

HERITAGE SITES IN SURAT

HISTORY

History of Surat, dates back to around 16th century during those times it was known as Suryapur. The historic monuments like Surat Fort and Gopi Talav, tell the story of Surat along with the notes by some of the travellers like Barbosa, who noted the proceedings of Sultan of Gujarat in his travel notes. However difficult it may be to trace the exact details of the history back then, this monuments definitely speak to us in the language only a traveller can understand.

CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER

AttractionYearSynopsis
Gopi Talav1510Gopi Talav was built in around 1510 by Malik Gopi, who was an affluent merchant and governor of Surat
during the Mughal Empire.
Surat Castle1546The construction of the castle was completed
in 1546 by Safi Agha, under the ruling of
Ahmedabad king Sultan Mahmood III
Mughal Sarai1644It was built during the period of
Mugal Emperor Shah Jahan
in the year 1644 A.D. and was popularly
known as ‘Mugal Sarai’ (Travellers Inn).
Andrew’s Library1850Andrew’s Library was opened on 1st July 1850
Narmad House1866Saraswati Mandir was built by Narmad in 1866,
renamed as Narmad House after the restoration
work by SMC
Gandhi Bagh1870Rani Baug, presently Gandhi Baug
inaugurated by Municipality in 1870
Clock Tower1870Clock Tower was erected in 1870
Hope Bridge1877Inauguration of Hope Bridge – 1877

HERITAGE CIRCUIT MAP

Heritage Circuit Route Map

MONUMENTS

Clock Tower

  • Clock Tower is on the Station-Chowk main road and will be one of the first things you will be noticing when you go around on this route.
    • It was constructed in 1871 by Khan Bahadoor Burjorjee Merwanjee Fraser at the cost of Rs 14000 in the memory of his father Merwanjee Hormusjee Fraser and for the convenience of the inhabitants of Surat. Know More
    • Timings
      • Clock Tower is on the main road, opened to be viewed from the outside, anytime.
    • Fees
      • It’s Free.
    • Notes
      • Insides of the Tower is currently not opened for public.

Narmad House

  • Narmad Dave was a poet, philosopher, writer, social reformer in Surat. He composed, Jai Jai Garvi Gujarat, which is the state song of Gujarat.
  • He built Saraswati Mandir in 1866.
  • It got lost in the time, later renovated by SMC. Know More
  • Timings
    • 8 am to 8 pm on regular days.
    • On Mondays and public holidays – 8 am to 2 pm
  • Fees
    • Free.
  • Notes
    • It is a heritage site as well as library, maintain decorum of the place.

Mughal Sarai

  • The Building which is used at present as an office complex by Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) is one of the ancient monuments of Surat city and was built originally as a ‘Sarai’ or Musafarkhana (travellers’ inn). Know More
    • It was built during the period of Mugal Emperor Shah Jahan in the year 1644 A.D. and was popularly known as ‘Mugal Sarai’.
    • Since 1867 the building was occupied by the present corporation.
    • Timings
      • Suggested timings : 10 am to 6 pm
    • Fees
      • Free. This is not just another tourist attraction. So please follow the norms of place.
    • Notes
      • It is administrative office of SMC. It is not open for public exploration. You can walk around and look at the beauty of this place.

Andrew’s Library

  • Library was established on 1st July 1850 and named after Andrew.
    • This library got destroyed during the floods in 2005. Know More.
    • Timings
      • Tuesday to Saturday  9am to 1pm & 3pm to 7pm
      • Sunday 9am to 1pm. Library is closed on Monday.
    • Fees
      • Free
    • Notes
      • It is only open to see from outside. Insides not open for public exploration, yet you can enjoy the mesmerizing architecture from the outside.

Surat Castle

  • Surat Fortwas built in 1546 by Safi Agha, who was appointed by Ahmedabad king Sultan Mahmood-III. This fort was built for protection against the attack of constant invaders. Know More.
    • The fort is now restorted by SMC and the new makeover look is called as Surat Castle. The beauty of this place is mesmerizing.
    • Timings
      • Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 am to 06:00 pm
      • Fort remains closed on Monday and major holidays.
    • Ticket Fees
      • 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/-
    • Notes
      • Ticket selling is open only till 4:30 pm

Hope Bridge – Heritage Walkway

  • Hope Bridge was built on Tapi river by Sir Theodre Hope, when he was district collector and magistrate.
    • The bridge’s foundation was laid in 1874 and it was completed in 1877.
    • The bridge was dismantled in 2015 and replaced by new bridge keeping the old design of Hope Bridge intact. Know More
    • Timings
      • Suggested Timings : Sunrise – Sunset.
    • Fees
      • Free.
    • Notes
      • It is a public place. Do not litter. Enjoy the view of Tapi River and birds.

Gandhi Baug (Gandhi Garden)

  • This is a public garden built in the year 1870.
    • Currently it is managed by SMC. Just beside this garden, you can enjoy shopping in Sunday Fair, which is open only on Sundays.
    • Timings
      • Suggested Timings : 6am to 9pm.
    • Fees
      • Free.
    • Notes
      • It is a public place. Do not litter.

Gopi Talav

  • Gopi Talav, the water reservoir was constructed around 1510 A.D. by Malik Gopi, who was a leading merchant of surat and cheif vazir of Gujarat Sultanate. Know More.
    • Gopi Talav was a source of water supply for the population till 1673 A.D. Later lost it’s place in time. In 2015, it was renovated by Surat Municipal Corporation as “Lake Garden”.
    • Timings
      • 10:00 am to 10:00 pm. Suggested to visit in evenings.
    • Ticket Fees
      • Kids        Rs.10/-
      • Adults Rs.20/-
      • Parking Rs 10 for 2 wheelers, 20 for 4 wheelers.
    • Notes
      • It is crowded on weekends and festive seasons.

HERITAGE CIRCUIT ON GOOGLE MAPS

Andrew’s Library | Heritage Site Surat

Andrew’s Library is one of the many libraries in Surat, but it dates back to 1850 when it was constructed, which makes it unique piece of history, architecture and knowledge. It is named after Andrew, a retired magistrate during that period. Rao Bahadur Naginchand Jhaveri, a wealthy pearl dealer who often contributed to the development of the city, helped in co-establishment of Andrew’s Library.

IMAGE GALLERY

Andrew’s Library is situated in Chowk area, Surat. It is near the edge of Tapi river and opposite to the entrance of Surat Castle. Library was established on 1st July 1850. The first president of this library was Mr. Alexander Kinlock Farbers.

During the 2005 floods, entire Surat City was submerged in water. Places surrounding Tapi river, were severely impacted. One of such impact was seen on Andrew’s Library. As per the records, it is said around 25000 artifacts were lost or destroyed due to floods. It was such a huge loss.

Currently it is run by a group, who are working on restoring the premise as well as working to digitize the artifacts. We asked for a walk through the premise or a talk over the history, but currently they are not available for public demonstration. They asked us until the restoration work is completed. However you can look at the mesmerizing beauty and detailed craftsmanship of those time from the outside.

LIBRARY TIMINGS

  • Tuesday to Saturday
    • 9am to 1pm & 3pm to 7pm
  • Sunday
    • 9am to 1pm
  • Library is closed on Monday.

HERITAGE SITES

LOCATION


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Hope Bridge | Heritage Walkway in Surat, India

Surat is surrounded by Tapi river as the warm hug of mother nature. Sometimes it has shown anger to it’s kid and many times enormous love and care. Part of Surat City lies on the other side of river and hence the need for having a bridge keeps coming up frequently. Today we have more than double digits bridge across Tapi River, but one of the earlier bridges “The Hope Bridge” was build during the 1870s in British era.

Hope Bridge was built on Tapi river by Sir Theodre Hope, when he was district collector and magistrate. The bridge’s foundation was laid in 1874 and it was completed in 1877. The bridge was dismantled in 2015 and replaced by new bridge keeping the old design of Hope Bridge intact.

IMAGE GALLERY

Hope Bridge connects Adajan & Rander areas to Chowk area. This bridge was heavily used back then. Since a decade or so, the bridge got damaged to an extent it was unviable for public use. Hence, Surat Municipal Corporation took over the restoration and rebuilding of new bridge similar in look to the old one with more design elements. The new Heritage Walkway bridge was open to public on 3rd April, 2015. Since then this bridge has become a favorite spot for nature lovers and people are often seen enjoying the beauty of Tapi River, birds and sunset during the evenings.

Attached to this bridge, there is a fully functional Nehru bridge, which currently connects Rander-Chowk route. Surat Castle and Andrew’s Library are just few 100m away from this bridge.

HERITAGE SITES


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.

Gopi Talav | Attractions in Surat

Gopi Talav, historical heritage site of Surat , which had lost it’s glory and grandeur, is now redeveloped into a ‘Lake Garden’ with theme zones by Surat Munical Corporation.

History :

Gopi Talav, the water reservoir was constructed around 1510 A.D. by Malik Gopi, who was a leading merchant of surat and cheif vazir of Gujarat Sultanate. It was constructed after the Chalukya style of architecture which flourised during the Solanki Period.

Having a circumference of about one mile (1.5 km) with sixteen sides and sixteen angles. It had steps on each side leading to the surface of water. In the middle of the lake was a small island known as Sakasthala. Gopi Talav was a source of water supply for the population till 1673 A.D. It had a device known as Nagadhara and three Culverts to collect fresh water during monsoon. However with passage of time, the reservoir got totally silted with mud that from 18th century onwards it went out of use.

In 2012, the lake was renovated by Surat Municipal Corporation and the area surrounding it was redeveloped as a recreational facility.

It has various adventures like Zip-line, Boating, Bumper Car, Paintball, Bull rides, Mini Train and Play-area for kids.

There is a step well which is called as chatusmukhi vav, as the step has entrance from 4 sides and is symmetrical from all sides.

The park is open from 10am to 10pm, but the best time to visit would be during the evening after 4pm.

The entry fee is 20 Rs for adults and 10 Rs for kids. There is a dedicated parking facility available near the entrance, which costs 10 Rs for 2 wheelers and 20 Rs for 4 wheelers.


A source of water supply in 16th century, now a prominent tourist attraction.

There are some submersible platforms in the premises which seems to be of a interesting experience during the monsoon.

Outside food is strictly not allowed. There is a canteen within which serves snacks, Chinese items and some sandwiches, which are economical.

There are small seating areas and little shades of greenery alongwith a large amphitheater which would be good gathering place in the evening.

It is a must visit if you are in Surat for a day or two. It’s a good hangout in the evening on a festival season, however you can expect some crowd.

If you are coming by Bus or Auto, then you need to come to Navsari Bazar. The entrance gate is on Kotsafil main road. Following buses run on this route – 116, 126, 153


Visit our page about Attractions in Surat, to know about other such places.