Surat in Gujarat was the emporium of western trade during the Mughal period along with Cambay (now Khambat) and somewhat later, Ahmedabad. Surat was the gateway for trade with West Asia via the Gulf of Ormuz. Surat has also been called the gate to Mecca because many pilgrim ships set sail from here.
Surat was a cosmopolitan city inhabited by people of all castes and creeds. In the 17th century the Portuguese, Dutch and English had their factories and warehouses at Surat. Several retail and wholesale shops could be found in Surat. These shops sold cotton textiles. Here, it is worth mentioning that the textiles of Surat were famous for their gold lace borders, le. zari and had a market in West Asia, African and Europe.
The state provided all the facilities to the people who came to the city from all over the world. The Kathiawad seths or mahqjaxvs had huge banking houses at Surat. The Surat hundis were honoured in far-off markets of Cairo in Egypt, Basra in Iraq and Antwerp in Belgium.