Amreli was believed to be called Anumanji during the 534 AD. The name underwent changes over time - to Amlik and then to Amravati and finally to Amerli. The Sanskrit name of the city was Amravalli. It was earlier ruled by the Gaikwad dynasty. The Maratha leader, Damajirao Gaikwad, established military camps at Amreli and Lati in 1742-43 AD. Before his arrival, the land was owned in parts by the Kathis, a few Sayids holding land for the king of Delhi and by the Fozdars of Junagarh. The Kathi rulers of Amreli were well renowned for bringing about progressive changes to the city and imbibing vibrant culture.
Maharaja Sayajirao III ruled Amreli during 1875-1939. His emphatic rule is said have brought great progress to the region. The mandatory and free education policy was adopted in Amreli for the first time during his reign. The city soon came under the British administrative control until 1881 AD. In 1948, post independence; the city became a part of Bombay state.
The district has 30,898 Hectares of forest area comprising a wide variety of animal and plant species. Amreli also has a part of Gir Lion Sanctuary, the only abode to Asiatic Lions in the world. Rivers like Shetrunji, Gagdio, Thebi, Dhatarvadi, Shanti, Vadi and Rayadi flow through the district. The region has hot and dry climatic conditions. The topography of the region consists of undulating hills and forests.
The district is geographically divided into five regions:
Coastal: Jafrabad and Rajula
Salt land: Villages of Liliya, Lathi, Amreli, Dhari, Bagasara and Savarkundla talukas.
Gir forest: Khambha, Dhari
Flat and fertile: Amreli, Dhari, Kunkavav, Babra, Lathi, Rajula, Savarkundla.
By Air: Rajkot Airport is the nearest airport to reach Amreli, which is at a distance of 89 kms from the city.
By Rail: The nearest railway station is the Khijadiya Junction Railway Station, which is located at a distance of 22 kms from Amreli.
By Road: Regular bus services from GSRTC are available from Ahmedabad. The distance between Amreli and Ahmedabad is 254 kms. Bus services are also available from neighbouring cities like Gandhinagar and Vadodara of Gujarat and from Jaipur and Udaipur of Rajasthan.
Amreli has a tropical wet and dry climate. The summers span the months of March to June, with temperatures peaking to 38 Degrees Celsius. July to October bring relief in the form of monsoons with an average rainfall of 550 mm. The winters are from November to February and night temperatures fall to about 7 Degrees Celsius.
The rivers which flow through the Amreli district are Shetrunji, Thebi, Dhatarwadi, Gagdio, Shantli, Vadi, Rayadi. Canals, bore wells and tanks help in irrigation. Amreli has a mix of red and black soils and also coastal alluvial soil. Major crops grown in this region are groundnut, cotton, sesame, jowar and bajra. Saag (teak), Sadad, Kher, Baheda and Coconut form the commonly seen vegetation.
The city of Amreli has the district headquarters. The city has all the major facilities such as major banks, post office, railway station, bus station, colleges, schools and universities.
Amreli has excellent port connectivity due to the Pipavav port, which makes it a strong hub for port and shipbuilding industry. Amreli is also a base for cement, metallurgy and electrical equipment machinery industries. Agro-based industries are also well developed in the district.
It has basic health facilities such as a general hospital, community health centers and primary health centers. The district also has primary and higher secondary schools as well as colleges. A few 'Anganwadi' centers also operate.
The city has modern concrete buildings along with some old construction from the time of Kathiawar kingdom. As the majority of population in the district belongs to semi-nomadic clans, their houses are built with stones and hay ceiling.
Amreli is deeply embedded in the Saurashtrian culture, which is of a strong and discerning trader-like sensibilities, velour and joviality. Navratri is a 9 day festival celebrated with much gaiety, food and dancing especially Garba and Dandiya Ras. All the other major festivals celebrated here are: Diwali, Holi, Eid etc.
Due to the dominance of pastoral and semi nomadic communities, the distinct region follows the traditions deeply rooted in agriculture and cattle rearing. The communities have distinct forms of embroidery, jewelry, embellishments and other indigenous crafts.
The people of Amreli speak Gujarati, other than Hindi. Jainism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and Islam are the major religions followed here. The common attire of the men of Amreli are Chorno (pyjama with tight bottom and loose top), Kediyan (frilled top), Khes (sheet), Pagadi (turban). The women are mostly seen wearing petticoat, blouse with large sleeves, Odhani or head covering. The following are the major communities in this region:
Kathis: The 'Kathis' belonged to the royal clans who migrated from Kutch to Saurashtra in the 14th century. They were of three 'Shakhats' or royal clans - 'Wala', 'Khuman' and 'Khachar'. The 'Kathi' chivalry is a prominent subject in their 'Bardic' literature. They are concentrated in 'Jetput', 'Bilkha', Wadia', 'Bagasura', 'Chadia', 'Ingola', 'Chalala', 'Babra', 'Chavand' and a number of villages in the 'Amreli' district.
Mochis: They are the members of the traditional shoemaker community and the principal craftsmen of the 'Aari' embroidery. It is believed that they learnt their craft from the Muslim craftsmen who in turn learnt it from the craftsmen of the Mughal era. They were employed by 'Kathi' royalty to prepare embroidered articles for the Kathi brides.
Kanbis: The 'Kanbis' are native to Saurashtra and they are mostly involved in farming and cattle herding. Kanbis of Gujarat are non-vegetarians and consumers of alcoholic drinks such as 'Mahua'.
Ahirs: The 'Ahirs' or 'Ayars' are one of the most ancient peasant communities of Saurashtra. They are divided into eleven sub-groups and are pastoral tribes of cowherds, milk men and cattle breeders. They believe themselves to be the children of Lord Krishna and lived as shepherds in Gokul, Mathura about a thousand years ago. They spread throughout northern and northwestern India. There are four types of 'Ahir' tribes namely 'Prantharia', 'Machhoya', 'Boureecha', & 'Sorathia'. The 'Ahirs' were apparently one of the immigrant tribes from central Asia, who entered India during the early Christian era. They have been for centuries a purely occupational caste, mainly recruited from the indigenous tribes.
Charans: The 'Charan' community was patronized by the 'Kathi' landlords. Their sub-groups are distributed all over Saurashtra - 'Nesai' in 'Gir', 'Parajiya' in 'Halar' and 'Jhalawad', 'Tumbel' in 'Baroda', 'Avarkachcha' in 'Okhamandal'. They are known for their valor, stories of sacrifice and their high literary prowess.
Rabaris: The people of this tribe are found mostly in the coastal area of Surat and the Gir region in Saurashtra. The Rabaris are believed to have come from Afghanistan through Baluchistan. But, some people still believe that they came from Sindh. Rabaris are expert camel breeders, cattle herders and shepherds. They are normally Hindus. A Rabari man commonly appears in the white dress with a white turban on his head or handkerchief of Kathi Ajrakh, a white full Abho, Chorni like charsa, Ajrakh kerchief on shoulders, golden ear-rings and a big stick in one hand and Rabari women normally wear backless blouses with Odhnis. Their reason for wearing mainly black attire is that they are still mourning the death of Lord Krishna.
Satwara: The Satwara women embroider their personal garments like the Ghagra and the Gadahari or head covering. There is no particular method for the composition. The designs contain an attractive array of motifs. The Buttis are very realistic with the foliage looking close to being hand-painted. The color contrasts of a circle within a circle, are reminiscent of peacock feathers. The Buttis are interspersed with animal and bird motifs of elephants with riders, peacocks and parakeets. A lot of Kutchi influence is seen.
Amreli houses many pre-colonial monuments, temples and garden. A person visiting the city should visit Gir Santctuary, Tower of Amreli and Palace of Durbar of Amreli, Gandhi garden, Shri Girdharilal Sangrahalaya Children Museum, Kamnath dam and Mahadev temple.
Gir Wildlife Sanctuary: This region is famous for its lions and lies to the southwest of Gujarat. It was established in 1965 and is a 116 square mile sanctuary, which was created to protect the Asiatic lion species. The forests and the lions have been declared as being 'protected' since the early 1900s by the then Nawab of the princely state of Junagadh.
Port Pipavav: The Pipavav port is located near Amreli. The port has three dry cargo berths and one LPG / liquid cargo berth. It is India's first private sector port and the world's third largest container terminal operating port.
Khodiyar Dam: The dam has been constructed across River Shetrunji. With a height of 75 ft, the Khodiyar dam is the biggest in the Saurashtra region.
Bhurikhiya Hanuman Mandir: It was built to revere Saint Damodardasji who was said to have been given a Darshan by Lord Hanuman during a Chaitra Poornima. He is held in high esteem and known for his excellent oratory skills of Tulsikrit Ramayan. The temple is visited daily by the locals and is a very famous spot in Amreli. During Chaitra Poornima, the temple is thronged by devotees.