NCERT Textbook - Colonial Cities Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

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Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Colonial Cities Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 316
In this chapter we will discuss the process of urbanisation in
colonial India, explore the distinguishing characteristics of
colonial cities and track social changes within them. We will
look closely at developments in three big cities – Madras
(Chennai), Calcutta (Kolkata) and Bombay (Mumbai).
All three were originally fishing and weaving villages. They
became important centres of trade due to the economic
activities of the English East India Company. Company agents
settled in Madras in 1639 and in Calcutta in 1690. Bombay
was given to the Company in 1661 by the English king, who
had got it as part of his wife’s dowry from the king of Portugal.
The Company established trading and administrative offices
in each of these settlements.
Colonial Cities
Urbanisation, Planning Urbanisation, Planning Urbanisation, Planning Urbanisation, Planning Urbanisation, Planning
and Ar and Ar and Ar and Ar and Arc c c c chit hit hit hit hitectur ectur ectur ectur ecture e e e e
THEME
TWEL VE
Fig. 12.1
South-east view of Fort St George, Madras, by Thomas and William Daniell,
based on a drawing by Daniell published in Oriental Scenery, 1798
European ships carrying cargo dot the horizon. Country boats can be seen in the foreground.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 2


 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 316
In this chapter we will discuss the process of urbanisation in
colonial India, explore the distinguishing characteristics of
colonial cities and track social changes within them. We will
look closely at developments in three big cities – Madras
(Chennai), Calcutta (Kolkata) and Bombay (Mumbai).
All three were originally fishing and weaving villages. They
became important centres of trade due to the economic
activities of the English East India Company. Company agents
settled in Madras in 1639 and in Calcutta in 1690. Bombay
was given to the Company in 1661 by the English king, who
had got it as part of his wife’s dowry from the king of Portugal.
The Company established trading and administrative offices
in each of these settlements.
Colonial Cities
Urbanisation, Planning Urbanisation, Planning Urbanisation, Planning Urbanisation, Planning Urbanisation, Planning
and Ar and Ar and Ar and Ar and Arc c c c chit hit hit hit hitectur ectur ectur ectur ecture e e e e
THEME
TWEL VE
Fig. 12.1
South-east view of Fort St George, Madras, by Thomas and William Daniell,
based on a drawing by Daniell published in Oriental Scenery, 1798
European ships carrying cargo dot the horizon. Country boats can be seen in the foreground.
© NCERT
not to be republished
317
By the middle of the nineteenth century these
seltlements had become big cities from where the
new rulers controlled the country. Institutions were
set up to regulate economic activity and demonstrate
the authority of the new rulers. Indians experienced
political domination in new ways in these cities. The
layouts of Madras, Bombay and Calcutta were quite
different from older Indian towns, and the buildings
that were built in these cities bore the marks of their
colonial origin. What do buildings express and what
can architecture convey? This is a question that
students of history need to ask.
Remember that architecture helps in giving ideas
a shape in stone, brick, wood or plaster. From the
bungalow of the government officer, the palatial
house of the rich merchant to the humble hut of the
labourer, buildings reflect social relations and
identities in many ways.
1. Towns and Cities in Pre-colonial
Times
Before we explore the growth of cities in the colonial
period, let us look at urban centres during the centuries
preceding British rule.
1.1 What gave towns their character?
Towns were often defined in opposition to rural areas.
They came to represent specific forms of economic
activities and cultures. In the countryside people
subsisted by cultivating land, foraging in the forest, or
rearing animals. Towns by contrast were peopled
with artisans, traders, administrators and rulers. Towns
dominated over the rural population, thriving on the
surplus and taxes derived from agriculture. Towns and
cities were often fortified by walls which symbolised their
separation from the countryside.
However, the separation between town and country
was fluid. Peasants travelled long distances on
pilgrimage, passing through towns; they also flocked
to towns during times of famine. Besides, there was a
reverse flow of humans and goods from towns to villages.
When towns were attacked, people often sought shelter
in the countryside. Traders and pedlars took goods from
the towns to sell in the villages, extending markets
and creating new patterns of consumption.
Source 1
Escaping to the
countryside
This is how the famous poet
Mirza Ghalib described
what the people of Delhi did
when the British forces
occupied the city in 1857:
Smiting the enemy and
driving him before them,
the victors (i.e., the
British) overran the city
in all directions. All
whom they found in the
street they cut down …
For two to three days
every road in the city,
from the Kashmiri Gate
to Chandni Chowk, was
a battlefield. Three
gates – the Ajmeri, the
Turcoman and the
Delhi – were still held by
the rebels … At the
naked spectacle of this
vengeful wrath and
malevolent hatred the
colour fled from
men’s faces, and a vast
concourse of men
and women … took
to precipitate flight
through these three
gates. Seeking the little
villages and shrines
outside the city, they
drew breath to wait until
such time as might
favour their return.
COLONIAL CITIES
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 3


 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 316
In this chapter we will discuss the process of urbanisation in
colonial India, explore the distinguishing characteristics of
colonial cities and track social changes within them. We will
look closely at developments in three big cities – Madras
(Chennai), Calcutta (Kolkata) and Bombay (Mumbai).
All three were originally fishing and weaving villages. They
became important centres of trade due to the economic
activities of the English East India Company. Company agents
settled in Madras in 1639 and in Calcutta in 1690. Bombay
was given to the Company in 1661 by the English king, who
had got it as part of his wife’s dowry from the king of Portugal.
The Company established trading and administrative offices
in each of these settlements.
Colonial Cities
Urbanisation, Planning Urbanisation, Planning Urbanisation, Planning Urbanisation, Planning Urbanisation, Planning
and Ar and Ar and Ar and Ar and Arc c c c chit hit hit hit hitectur ectur ectur ectur ecture e e e e
THEME
TWEL VE
Fig. 12.1
South-east view of Fort St George, Madras, by Thomas and William Daniell,
based on a drawing by Daniell published in Oriental Scenery, 1798
European ships carrying cargo dot the horizon. Country boats can be seen in the foreground.
© NCERT
not to be republished
317
By the middle of the nineteenth century these
seltlements had become big cities from where the
new rulers controlled the country. Institutions were
set up to regulate economic activity and demonstrate
the authority of the new rulers. Indians experienced
political domination in new ways in these cities. The
layouts of Madras, Bombay and Calcutta were quite
different from older Indian towns, and the buildings
that were built in these cities bore the marks of their
colonial origin. What do buildings express and what
can architecture convey? This is a question that
students of history need to ask.
Remember that architecture helps in giving ideas
a shape in stone, brick, wood or plaster. From the
bungalow of the government officer, the palatial
house of the rich merchant to the humble hut of the
labourer, buildings reflect social relations and
identities in many ways.
1. Towns and Cities in Pre-colonial
Times
Before we explore the growth of cities in the colonial
period, let us look at urban centres during the centuries
preceding British rule.
1.1 What gave towns their character?
Towns were often defined in opposition to rural areas.
They came to represent specific forms of economic
activities and cultures. In the countryside people
subsisted by cultivating land, foraging in the forest, or
rearing animals. Towns by contrast were peopled
with artisans, traders, administrators and rulers. Towns
dominated over the rural population, thriving on the
surplus and taxes derived from agriculture. Towns and
cities were often fortified by walls which symbolised their
separation from the countryside.
However, the separation between town and country
was fluid. Peasants travelled long distances on
pilgrimage, passing through towns; they also flocked
to towns during times of famine. Besides, there was a
reverse flow of humans and goods from towns to villages.
When towns were attacked, people often sought shelter
in the countryside. Traders and pedlars took goods from
the towns to sell in the villages, extending markets
and creating new patterns of consumption.
Source 1
Escaping to the
countryside
This is how the famous poet
Mirza Ghalib described
what the people of Delhi did
when the British forces
occupied the city in 1857:
Smiting the enemy and
driving him before them,
the victors (i.e., the
British) overran the city
in all directions. All
whom they found in the
street they cut down …
For two to three days
every road in the city,
from the Kashmiri Gate
to Chandni Chowk, was
a battlefield. Three
gates – the Ajmeri, the
Turcoman and the
Delhi – were still held by
the rebels … At the
naked spectacle of this
vengeful wrath and
malevolent hatred the
colour fled from
men’s faces, and a vast
concourse of men
and women … took
to precipitate flight
through these three
gates. Seeking the little
villages and shrines
outside the city, they
drew breath to wait until
such time as might
favour their return.
COLONIAL CITIES
© NCERT
not to be republished
 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 318
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the towns
built by the Mughals were famous for their concentration
of populations, their monumental buildings and their
imperial grandeur and wealth. Agra, Delhi and Lahore were
important centres of imperial administration and control.
Mansabdars and jagirdars who were assigned territories in
different parts of the empire usually maintained houses in
these cities: residence in these centres of power was
symbolic of the status and prestige of a noble.
The presence of the emperor and noblemen in these
centres meant that a wide variety of services had to be
provided. Artisans produced exclusive handicrafts for the
households of nobles. Grain from the countryside was
brought into urban markets for the town dwellers and the
army. The treasury was also located in the imperial capital.
Thus the revenues of the kingdom flowed into the capital
regularly. The emperor lived in a fortified palace and the
town was enclosed by a wall, with entry and exit being
regulated by different gates. Within these towns were
gardens, mosques, temples, tombs, colleges, bazaars and
caravanserais. The focus of the town was oriented towards
the palace and the principal mosque.
In the towns of South India such as Madurai and
Kanchipuram the principal focus was the temple. These
towns  were also important commercial centres. Religious
festivals often coincided with fairs, linking pilgrimage
with trade. Generally, the ruler was the highest authority
and the principal patron of religious institutions. The
relationship that he had with other groups and classes
determined their place in society and in the town.
Fig. 12.2
Shahjahanabad in 1857
The walls that surrounded
the city were demolished
after 1857. The Red Fort
is on the river side.
At a distance on the ridge
to the right, you can see
the British settlements
and the cantonment.
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 4


 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 316
In this chapter we will discuss the process of urbanisation in
colonial India, explore the distinguishing characteristics of
colonial cities and track social changes within them. We will
look closely at developments in three big cities – Madras
(Chennai), Calcutta (Kolkata) and Bombay (Mumbai).
All three were originally fishing and weaving villages. They
became important centres of trade due to the economic
activities of the English East India Company. Company agents
settled in Madras in 1639 and in Calcutta in 1690. Bombay
was given to the Company in 1661 by the English king, who
had got it as part of his wife’s dowry from the king of Portugal.
The Company established trading and administrative offices
in each of these settlements.
Colonial Cities
Urbanisation, Planning Urbanisation, Planning Urbanisation, Planning Urbanisation, Planning Urbanisation, Planning
and Ar and Ar and Ar and Ar and Arc c c c chit hit hit hit hitectur ectur ectur ectur ecture e e e e
THEME
TWEL VE
Fig. 12.1
South-east view of Fort St George, Madras, by Thomas and William Daniell,
based on a drawing by Daniell published in Oriental Scenery, 1798
European ships carrying cargo dot the horizon. Country boats can be seen in the foreground.
© NCERT
not to be republished
317
By the middle of the nineteenth century these
seltlements had become big cities from where the
new rulers controlled the country. Institutions were
set up to regulate economic activity and demonstrate
the authority of the new rulers. Indians experienced
political domination in new ways in these cities. The
layouts of Madras, Bombay and Calcutta were quite
different from older Indian towns, and the buildings
that were built in these cities bore the marks of their
colonial origin. What do buildings express and what
can architecture convey? This is a question that
students of history need to ask.
Remember that architecture helps in giving ideas
a shape in stone, brick, wood or plaster. From the
bungalow of the government officer, the palatial
house of the rich merchant to the humble hut of the
labourer, buildings reflect social relations and
identities in many ways.
1. Towns and Cities in Pre-colonial
Times
Before we explore the growth of cities in the colonial
period, let us look at urban centres during the centuries
preceding British rule.
1.1 What gave towns their character?
Towns were often defined in opposition to rural areas.
They came to represent specific forms of economic
activities and cultures. In the countryside people
subsisted by cultivating land, foraging in the forest, or
rearing animals. Towns by contrast were peopled
with artisans, traders, administrators and rulers. Towns
dominated over the rural population, thriving on the
surplus and taxes derived from agriculture. Towns and
cities were often fortified by walls which symbolised their
separation from the countryside.
However, the separation between town and country
was fluid. Peasants travelled long distances on
pilgrimage, passing through towns; they also flocked
to towns during times of famine. Besides, there was a
reverse flow of humans and goods from towns to villages.
When towns were attacked, people often sought shelter
in the countryside. Traders and pedlars took goods from
the towns to sell in the villages, extending markets
and creating new patterns of consumption.
Source 1
Escaping to the
countryside
This is how the famous poet
Mirza Ghalib described
what the people of Delhi did
when the British forces
occupied the city in 1857:
Smiting the enemy and
driving him before them,
the victors (i.e., the
British) overran the city
in all directions. All
whom they found in the
street they cut down …
For two to three days
every road in the city,
from the Kashmiri Gate
to Chandni Chowk, was
a battlefield. Three
gates – the Ajmeri, the
Turcoman and the
Delhi – were still held by
the rebels … At the
naked spectacle of this
vengeful wrath and
malevolent hatred the
colour fled from
men’s faces, and a vast
concourse of men
and women … took
to precipitate flight
through these three
gates. Seeking the little
villages and shrines
outside the city, they
drew breath to wait until
such time as might
favour their return.
COLONIAL CITIES
© NCERT
not to be republished
 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY – PART III 318
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the towns
built by the Mughals were famous for their concentration
of populations, their monumental buildings and their
imperial grandeur and wealth. Agra, Delhi and Lahore were
important centres of imperial administration and control.
Mansabdars and jagirdars who were assigned territories in
different parts of the empire usually maintained houses in
these cities: residence in these centres of power was
symbolic of the status and prestige of a noble.
The presence of the emperor and noblemen in these
centres meant that a wide variety of services had to be
provided. Artisans produced exclusive handicrafts for the
households of nobles. Grain from the countryside was
brought into urban markets for the town dwellers and the
army. The treasury was also located in the imperial capital.
Thus the revenues of the kingdom flowed into the capital
regularly. The emperor lived in a fortified palace and the
town was enclosed by a wall, with entry and exit being
regulated by different gates. Within these towns were
gardens, mosques, temples, tombs, colleges, bazaars and
caravanserais. The focus of the town was oriented towards
the palace and the principal mosque.
In the towns of South India such as Madurai and
Kanchipuram the principal focus was the temple. These
towns  were also important commercial centres. Religious
festivals often coincided with fairs, linking pilgrimage
with trade. Generally, the ruler was the highest authority
and the principal patron of religious institutions. The
relationship that he had with other groups and classes
determined their place in society and in the town.
Fig. 12.2
Shahjahanabad in 1857
The walls that surrounded
the city were demolished
after 1857. The Red Fort
is on the river side.
At a distance on the ridge
to the right, you can see
the British settlements
and the cantonment.
© NCERT
not to be republished
319
Medieval towns were places where everybody was
expected to know their position in the social order
dominated by the ruling elite. In North India,
maintaining this order was the work of the imperial
officer called the kotwal who oversaw the internal
affairs and policing of the town.
1.2 Changes in the eighteenth century
All this started changing in the eighteenth century.
With political and commercial realignments, old
towns went into decline and new towns developed.
The gradual erosion of Mughal power led to the
demise of towns associated with their rule. The
Mughal capitals, Delhi and Agra, lost their political
authority. The growth of new regional powers was
reflected in the increasing importance of regional
capitals – Lucknow, Hyderabad, Seringapatam,
Poona (present-day Pune), Nagpur, Baroda (present-
day Vadodara) and Tanjore (present-day Thanjavur).
Traders, administrators, artisans and others
migrated from the old Mughal centres to these
new capitals in search of work and patronage.
Continuous warfare between the new kingdoms
meant that mercenaries too found ready employment
there. Some local notables and officials associated
with Mughal rule in North India also used this
opportunity to create new urban settlements such
as the qasbah and ganj. However, the effects of
political decentralisation were uneven. In some
places there was renewed economic activity, in
other places war, plunder and political uncertainty
led to economic decline.
Changes in the networks of trade were reflected in
the history of urban centres. The European commercial
Companies had set up base in different places early
during the Mughal era: the
Portuguese in Panaji in 1510, the
Dutch in Masulipatnam in 1605,
the British in Madras in 1639
and the French in Pondicherry
(present-day Puducherry) in
1673. With the expansion of
commercial activity, towns grew
around these trading centres. By
the end of the eighteenth century
the land-based empires in Asia
were replaced by the powerful
Qasbah is a small town in the
countryside, often the seat of
a local notable.
Ganj refers to a small fixed
market.
Both qasbah and ganj dealt in
cloth, fruit, vegetables and milk
products. They provided for
noble families and the army.
The kotwal of Delhi
Did you know that the first Prime
Minister of India, Jawaharlal
Nehru’s grandfather, Ganga
Dhar Nehru, was  the kotwal of
Delhi before  the Revolt of 1857?
Read Jawaharlal Nehru,
Autobiography,  for more details.
COLONIAL CITIES
Fig. 12.3
A view of the city of Goa from
the river, by J. Greig, 1812
© NCERT
not to be republished
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