Situated on the south bank of the Tapi River, about 14 km from the sea, Surat has always attracted traders and merchants from afar. Its finely carved mosques, Parsi agiaris, European tombs and colonial houses all testify to the eclectic mix of ethnic communities that continue to live in the city.
Surat is first major city en route to Gujarat from Mumbai, and makes a good base to explore Southern Gujarat. Surat was once renowned for its silk weaving and brocade. The city still thrives as a textile center, mainly for its polyster fabrics. As the Textile industries declined in Ahmedabad and Mumbai in the 1970s, Surat became one of Gujarat's fastest growing cities and gave rise to several small scale industries. The industrial estates surrounding the city offer sound base for various small and big companies with interest in petroleum products, shipbuilding, cement, fertilizers, etc.