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Thoughts on a sojourn : Cities in India – Part I

I have been travelling in the past week – from Mumbai, to Baroda to Delhi, to Dehradoon and Mussourie and back. It has been a great experience, but even more it has been a thought provoking travel through the metros, small and smaller cities and via towns as well.

It is wonderful to explore India because there is so much hidden beneath the quotidian activities in Indian cities - most Indian cities, however small or big have centuries old history behind them. They have grown, destroyed and rebuilt so many times and yet some element of past is still visible in them even today.

While travelling to and through these cities some thoughts emerged in my mind about the way these cities have come into the current state – I am detailing them below.

Long before the British or the Mughals marched into India, the region had developed mature political and administrative systems. More so, irrespective of whether there was one national ruler (ex. Ashoka or Akbar) or the rule was shared by regional satraps – cities had a mature form of local administration and governance.

These cities were a result of natural emergence - as central places of trade for the villages surrounding them. However, the high concentration of population in cities made them ideal for their development, amenities such as running water and sewage disposal and later thriving of cultural and political systems. Local governments later gave rise to ancient city states and in medieval times to city states like Delhi (Indraprastha), Ujjain, Lucknow, Mysore, Hyderabad, Indore and so on.

The city states continued to thrive irrespective of who ruled the nation until; the British came!

(Part II)

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