Gujarat draws its name from the Gurjara (supposedly a subtribe of the Huns), who ruled the area during the 8th and 9th centuries ce.Gujarat is a land of great contrasts, stretching from the seasonal salt deserts of the Kachchh (Kutch) district in the northwest, across the generally arid and semiarid scrublands of the Kathiawar Peninsula, to the wet, fertile, coastal plains of the southeastern part of the state, north of Mumbai.
The Rann of Kachchh—including both the Great Rann and its eastern appendage, the Little Rann—are best described as vast salt marshes. The Rann constitutes the Kachchh district on the west, north, and east, while the Gulf of Kachchh forms the district’s southern boundary. During the rainy season—slight though the rains may be—the Rann floods, and the Kachchh district is converted into an island; in the dry season it is a sandy, salty plain plagued by dust storms.
To the southeast of Kachchh, lying between the Gulf of Kachchh and the Gulf of Khambhat (Cambay), is the large Kathiawar Peninsula. It is generally arid and rises from the coasts to a low, rolling area of hill land in the centre, where the state reaches its highest elevation, at 3,665 feet (1,117 metres), in the Girnar Hills. Soils in the peninsula are mostly poor, having been derived from a variety of old crystalline rocks. Rivers, except for seasonal streams, are absent from the area.To the east of the Kathiawar Peninsula, small plains and low hills in the north merge with fertile farmlands in the south. Southeastern Gujarat is crossed from east to west by the Narmada and Tapti (Tapi) rivers, both of which empty into the Gulf of Khambhat.