The East India Company established its first warehouses in Surat in 1612. And it was at Surat that Sir Thomas Roe landed when he came as King James' ambassador to the court of Emperor Jehangir. In Mughal times, Surat was the main port from which pilgrims sailed to Mecca. Surat is known for silks and exquisite brocades and its trade in spices. Surat has been one of the most prosperous of India's cities in the 17th and 18th century. Surat, the city of commerce was an important port that first attracted the Europeans to the riches of India.
Even today, Surat is a premier industrial city of India. It is a city of riches, of gems and diamonds. Times may have changed but Surat remains and continues to grow. Surat was founded by Parsi refugees in the 12th century, and it emerged as a minor trading post during the 1500s when it was plundered and razed numerous times by the Portuguese. In 1592, after a protracted siege, the town fell to Akbar, under whose patronage, it became one of India's most prosperous mercantile capitals, as well as a key transit point for Muslims heading to Mecca.