Saturday, December 31, 2016

Ahmedabad - The First Indian World Heritage City Which Was Once Known As Karnavati

Pulakesin-I in 543 AD took over the control of the town of Vatapi, the modern day Badami in the Bijapur District of Indian Republic and founded a dynasty named as Chalukyas, the etymology of which has different narratives attached to it - one goes with the birth of the clan getting its birth from ‘chaluka’ (palm) of Lord Brahma. The Chalukyas were defeated by the RashtraKutas around two centuries later until Tailapa II, a Chalukyan scion restored the family of his ancestors to its former glory & laid the foundations for the Chalukyas with their capital at Kalyani generally termed to as the Western Chalukyas. In the 10th century, Chavda dynasty was ruling the region of present day Northern Gujarat, who were supplanted by MulaRaja, another Chalukyan scion, possibly due to his relations with Samanta Sinha, the ruler of AnahilaPataka which is now known as Patan (in the northern Gujarat) - some sources suggests that he had adopted MulaRaja. MulaRaja established his capital at Patan in 940-41 AD which was already a fortified town till than developed by the prominent Chavda king Vanraj Chavda.    
BhimaRaja succeeded MulaRaja who built the Sun Temple at Modhera which is now identified as the world heritage site. After his death, Rani ki Vav (a stepped well) was built by his wife & his son KarnaDeva who ascended the throne after him & defeated the Bhil chieftain of Ashavalli & established the city of KarnaVati - the city of Karna on the banks of river Sabarmati. His son Jayasimha later on added many architectural structures to the city as per a 12th century renowned writer Hemachandra who quoted about a lake built by his predecessor Durlabha which he renovated and named it Sahastralinga, literally meaning thousands of lingas (the symbol of Lord Shiva). Hemachandra says that it was not just a lake but also a great architectural beauty. He diverted the flow of the entire Saraswati River into the lake. Many artificial islands were created on which many temples, palaces, and gardens were built. Apart from these, there were 108 temples to Devi, Yagnashala and Matha for pupils. The son of Jayasimha's daughter, Someshvara (the father of Prithviraj Chauhan, who later sat on the central throne of Delhi) was brought up by Jayasimha at the Chaulukyan court.  

JaySimha ruled for around half of the century till 1142 AD and Solankis continued their rule over the region until the 13th century when the Vaghelas of Dwarka overpowered them whose rule ended soon in 1299 when Zafar Khan, the governor of the central Delhi Sultanate took the opportunity to establish himself as sultan of an independent Gujarat in times when the central throne was getting weakened due to the sacking of Taimur & established Muzaffarid dynasty. His son, Ahmed Shah developed his capital city at KarnaVati who destroyed many architectural structures as mentioned in the medieval literature & history, built and added new structures of a different school of architecture and renamed the city as Ahmedabad after his own name in 1487 AD. He built another city Ahmednagar which lies in the present day district of Saurashtra of the Indian state of Maharashtra. He fortified the city of Ahmedabad with an outer wall of 6 miles in circumference consisting of 12 gates, 189 bastions & over 6,000 battlements. 

Ahmedabad was ruled by the Muzaffarid dynasty until 1573 when Muzaffar II was the Sultan of Ahmedabad. Gujarat was then conquered by the Mughal emperor Akbar in 1573. During the Mughal reign, Ahmedabad became one of the Empire's thriving centres of trade, mainly in textiles, which were exported to as far as Europe. The Mughal ruler Shahjahan spent the prime of his life in the city, sponsoring the construction of the Moti Shahi Mahal in Shahibaug. A different layer of Mughal style was added to the city adding to its richness. The armies of the Maratha generals Raghunath Rao and Damaji Gaekwad captured the city and ended Mughal rule in Ahmedabad in the 17th century. The city was hence divided into two parts then - one each amongst the Peshwas and the Gaekwads. A famine in 1630 and the constant conflicts between the Peshwas and the Gaekwads virtually destroyed many parts of the city, causing its population to flee. 

The British East India Company took over the city in 1818 as a part of the conquest of India. A military cantonment was established in 1824 and a municipal government in 1858. The city took a major turn of its developmental story with the arrival of railways in 1864, when a railway link between Ahmedabad and Mumbai (then Bombay) was established by the Bombay, Baroda, and Central Indian Railways, making Ahmedabad an important junction in the traffic and trade between northern & southern India. The increased trade opportunities drove large number of people from rural areas to work in the city especially in the textile mills which eventually made it one of the most significant hubs of textile industry in India. 

The 19th century saw the rise of Mahatma Gandhi and he built Ahmedabad as one of his base stations to fight the struggle for the independence of the country. He established two Ashrams, the Kochrab Ashram near Paldi in 1915 and Satyagraha Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati in 1917. There are many instances of the city in the stories of freedom struggle thereafter including the famous Dandi March. With the arrival of independence in 1947, Ahmedabad became part of the Bombay state of Indian Republic and with the bifurcation of the state in 1960 into Gujarat and Maharashtra, the city became the capital of the former one. 

The city has since than seen a healthy rate of development and has developed into the largest city of Gujarat both in terms of population and its share in the state’s economy. Around 40% of the dyestuff factories in India are located in Ahmedabad and pharmaceutical giants like Cadila and Zydus have their base in the city providing employment to the city’s population. The city’s share in the state’s economy was around 17% in 1995 which has substantially increased from thereon. The population of the city increased to 2.15 million in 1981 in the municipal area while being 2.65 million in its agglomeration reach. As per the census of 2011, the city population increased to over double since 1981 to 5.57 million in the Ahmedabad Municipal Area and 6.35 million in its agglomeration. 

The Architecture of Ahmedabad is a retreat for the Art lovers especially those related with the field of Architecture and Planning with city providing an unique flavour of hybrid architecture ranging from the remains of the historic structures to the modern experiments of the 20th century by the Architects of the likes of Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn & BV Doshi engaging themselves in one of the most magnificent realisation of human creativity and application in relation with its shelter and natural relationship. The modern architecture has been developed and planned keeping in mind the local natural makeup of the city in general which has provided the city with its unique character especially in terms of its prevailing architecture. 

Organised water supply in Ahmedabad started off in 1891 when Dudheshwar water works was established on the eastern banks of Sabarmati a piped water supply was provided to the residential localities. With the rise in population, the city experienced enormous pressures especially after 1960’s & the city started depending on the groundwater potential of itself which led to the rise of private groundwater boring which eventually led to the decline in the groundwater levels at the rate of 2 to 3 meter annually.  

The waste generated in the city is around 2100 tonnes per day which is rising with every moment passing by and for it city led the initiative called of by the Indian Supreme Court and started daily door-to-door collection of solid waste in 700 thousand households which constitutes around 80% of the total households of the city. The city faces an intense issue of its ever increasing vehicular consumption - the city added nearly double the vehicles against the number of human beings added to the geographical boundaries of the city from 2001-2011. The total number of vehicles in the city were around 14 lakh in 2001 which doubled itself to around 28 lakh in 2011 making the vehicular rate of addition of 100% while the population growth for the same time frame was 58%. Every second person of the city holds a vehicle of his own making it one of the rank holders in terms of vehicular consumption per person amongst the Indian cities. A 60 km long Bus Rapid Transit system was developed to enhance the usage of public transportation system in 2008. 

The city is an example for depicting the significances of its history and its role in building its development story as can be seen in the case of Ahmedabad with its textile industry & climate responsive architecture - may it be the construction of the historic stepped wells or the establishment of modern buildings like IIM Ahmedabad and Institute of Indology which eventually has provided the inhabitants with a sense of belongingness and comfort both in their private shelter and the collective & shared one. The city blends harmoniously its historic heritage with its vibrant and dynamic present and for a similar reason it was inscribed in the list of World Heritage Sites of UNESCO under the title 'Historic City of Ahmedabad' in July 2017 becoming the first Indian city to get a name in it. Some other names in that list are that of Paris, Cairo, Damascus, etc,. The city presents an example that how a city can be built brick by brick while giving reverence to its locality & past & a vision for the future. The city faces many issues however which are in the directions of increasing over the period of time and their management shall be looked into through a more cohesive and inter-disciplinary perspective of human settlements in order to provide continuity and increase its life span while also increasing the quality of life of its citizens further. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Jaipur - The Planned Indian Heritage City Built on a Lake That Dried Once

In the early 10th century, the erstwhile ruler of Gwalior, Sodh Dev, a Kachchwaha king died leaving his son Dulha Rai behind whose throne was later usurped by his cousin Jai Singh forcing him to move out. He than started his search for a new territory to rule. During his search he met the chief of Lalsot (a small principality near Amer) who was a non-Badgujar Rajput - the Amer hills were than under the rulership of Badgujar clan of Meenas & Rajputs. The chief of Lalsot was looking for an opportunity to strengthen his position - he saw an opportunity in Dulha Rai and promptly gave his daughter’s hand to him along with a part of Dausa, a neighbouring territory, half of which was controlled by the Badgujars. He soon ousted the Badgujars in some parts of their kingship and declared Dausa as his ruling capital while giving birth to the Dhundara Kingdom which ruled for the next centuries to come over the region. 

This region was identified as part of Matsya Desh in the ancient literature as the shortest route between north India and the port cities of Gujarat and Malabar. After the death of Dulha Rai, his son Kakil Dev succeeded the throne and seized the hills of Amer from the Meenas and built the temple of Ambikeshwara Mahadev from where the etymology of Amber comes from. He built his capital city at Amber and the kingdom started flourishing. By the 17th century, the Kachchwahas strengthened their position by supporting the Mughal administration who was than ruling the central seat of Delhi of the Indian subcontinent. Raja Man Singh (who was the grandson of Raja Bharmal & made the commander in chief by Akbar of his army after his matrimonial alliance with Jodhabai, daughter of Raja Bharmal) in the 16th century and Mirza Raja Jai Singh in the 17th century contributed to the financial and cultural wealth of the kingdom through their political alliance with the Mughals.  

The death of Raja Bishan Singh on the last day of the 17th century left behind his 12 year old son Jai Singh who was declared as the ruler of Amber in 1700. He was than called during the same year by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb as part of the central throne legacy to support him in the Deccan war against the Marathas. He after uniting his army with the help of his ministerial counsels went to the war at Khelna & Panhala in the Deccan. The Emperor was impressed by this young boy-ruler and conferred him the title of ‘Sawai’ which literary means one and a quarter. The major shift came with the death of Aurangzeb in 1907 whose son fought with each other and Shah Alam declared himself the Emperor of Delhi as Bahadur Shah. He broke the alliance with the Kachchwahas and made Amber a part of the Mughal administration renaming Amber as Mominabad. Jai Singh with the help of the ruler of Jodhpur drove out the Mughals from Amber and recovered the terittory in 1710 and since then his power started gaining prominence. 

The town near the fort of Amber started getting congested in the 18th century and a need for shifting the capital city raised out also to improve the trading economy of the kingdom. He also wanted to make a strong political statement at par with the Mughal cities eyeing to make it a commercial hub of the region. The site selected for the same purpose was a valley located south of Amber and the plains beyond, a terrain that was the bed of a dried lake. The dense forest cover towards the north and the east also left him with limited options. The physical constraints of the city were determined by the location of the fort of Jaigarh towards the north and the sacred spot of Galtaji towards the east. Jaipur - the city of victory got its name from its founder Raja Sawai Jai Singh. 

Besides being a great builder, he was also a great scholar of Sanskrit as well as Persian and had a deep interest in the field of Astronomy; to fulfil this, he built five ‘Observatories’ at various places namely Varanasi, Mathura, Ujjain, Delhi and Jaipur using masonry instruments of his own design which were as accurate as the brass instruments used by Newton, Flamsteed and other European astronomers at the time and when it came to building a new city from scratch he decided to plan it formally. His vision was futuristic & it can be seen by the amount of vehicular traffic it can behold in, in this advanced world of todays around three centuries later. He consulted Vidyadhar Bhattacharya for planning the city who was a scholar of Mathematics and Science from Bengal. Vidyadhar referred to ancient Indian literature, books of Ptolemy and Euclid and applied them efficiently in the construction story of Jaipur. The city was divided into nine blocks, two of which consisted of the state buildings and the remaining were allotted to the general public to live in. To facilitate water supply to the new city, the Darbhavati river in the north was dammed to create the Jai Sagar and Man Sagar (that later housed the Jal Mahal) lakes. 

The city started expanding out of its walled boundaries in the 19th century with the arrival of Sawai Ram Singh II who adopted newer modes of technological development such as the railways. He introduced gaslights on the streets, modernised drainage system and piped water supply system. In 1876, when the then Prince of Wales was to arrive in the city, he decided to paint the city in pink (by virtue of which the city was later termed to as the Pink City of India) to offer a sense of welcome to him. The colour was chosen after several experiments to cut down the intense glare from the reflection of the blazing rays of the sun in an arid zone. The expansion continued in the first half of the 20th century with the addition of different colonies outside the planned old city which were developed organically.

With the arrival of freedom in India in 1947, the four largest Rajput states of Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer & Bikaner were combined together to form the Indian state of Rajasthan with its capital at Jaipur. The city has experienced an accelerated developmental story since then. In 1900, the city’s population has reached 1,60,000 which doubled itself in the next 60 odd years. The population of the city over the last five decades has increased over ten times which was around 3,50,000 in 1970’s raising to over 3.5 million in 2016. The city is expected to cross the mark of 4.2 million by 2025 and is predicted to shift to the 10th most populated city of India by then. 

According to the data released by NEERI, 70% of the city’s water supply receives water with a high concentration of TDS or contaminated by bacteria or both. The city whose water supply was dependent on the surface water has now turned to its groundwater potential with 90% of its total water demand being taken care by the water below the surface. As per the Centre for Science and Environment the city specifically faces problems of congestion in the old city areas, vehicular pollution, poor public transport, inadequate pedestrian and parking facilities and needs immediate solutions for these issues. 

The city has somehow tried to retain its symbolism & flavour and the future planning stints shall deeply understand the needs and aspirations of the city both on the platforms of its historicity and its future. The city beholds in a very distinct and rich language of urban sciences and efforts should be made more intensely towards integrating it with the modern mode of development. The local anthropology is a special character of the city and it should be given a worthy place in the planning exercise. The vision with which the foundations of the human settlement were laid shall also be considered and a cohesive layer of modern development shall be deciphered. The city provides a classic example of a human settlement imbibing in itself its rich cultural heritage in nearly every parts of its boundaries and it should be understood well by the fraternity concerned with human urban development. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Jamshedpur - The First Industrial Garden City of India

The birth of Jamshedpur predates the great urban planning experiments of the 20th century in the Indian subcontinent like New Delhi, Islamabad & Chandigarh. Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata was looking to build a steel plant in India in the early years of the 20th century after visiting & learning about the growth of industrial towns like Manchester, Pittsburgh & others especially in the western part of the world. While his visit to Pittsburgh he met a noted geologist Charles Page Perin and he asked him to find a worthy place for the same in the Indian subcontinent. The search began in 1904 and it continued for around three years when a small village of Sakchi was found blessed with rich mineral resources like iron, coal & limestone along with a scenic picturesque of the Dalma hills. The locational aspect was also very important while finalising the site - the quick means of transportation to Calcutta Port afforded by Kalimati Railway Station (later named as Tatanagar as a legacy towards the founders of the town & their company) lied on the Calcutta-Bombay railway line was only 3 miles away. 
The vision of the city was quite clear, comprehensive & holistic in nature. Jamsetji once wrote a letter to his son Dorabji Tata (who later continued with the development of the city after the demise of Jamsetji in 1904) in 1902 quoting ‘Be Sure to lay wide streets planted with shady trees, every other of a quick growing variety. Be sure that there is plenty of space for lawns and gardens; reserve large areas for football, hockey and parks; earmark areas for Hindu temples, Mohammedan mosques and Christian churches’. His vision wasn’t just to build  an industrial town, he rather was more focused on building a livable city especially in terms of the citizens’ relationship with green spaces while allowing people from all sections of the society to build one of the first modern cosmopolitan city of India allowing them to gel them by means of open spaces with a sense of belongingness. 

The city was given its present name of Jamshedpur in 1919 to pay homage to its founder and his vision by Lord Chelmsford of whose construction officially started of in 1908. The first lay-out of the town was prepared by Julin Kennedy Sahlin of Pittsburg of America in 1912. It was designed more or less on American lines with roads at right angles and as a small industrial town with alphabetically named east-west avenues and numerically named north-south roads. The city saw its first full fledged expansion into a big industrial town in 1920, when Frederick Charles Temple, who was then the Sanitary Engineer to the Government of Bihar & a Town Planner, was engaged as the Chief Town Engineer. Temple’s work was influenced by the lifestyle of the local tribal people and also by the garden city concept of Letchworth. His design principles were also influenced by the planning of the industrial village of New Earswick. 

Due to the expansion of the steel plant in 1930 the city started facing the shortage of housing more intensely than before & the city’s plan of action got shifted towards development of housing in 1936 when Major P.C Stokes, who was connected with Quetta Reconstruction after earth-quake, was invited by the Company to advise on town planning and development. His planning principles were influenced by the ideas of Earnest Burgess who suggested the outwards expansion of a city in 1925. In 1943, Dr. Keonigsberger was invited to advise on the planning of the town. His team prepared a master plan based on garden city principles and construction of neighbourhood units. 

It employed modern urban planning principles, ushering in modernity through new modes of spatiality & lifestyles associated with industrialisation. The planning ideals included open green spaces of the garden city as an antidote to industrialisation, urban infrastructure adapted to local site conditions, neighbourhood units self-sufficient in civic amenities, and street hierarchy as a means of traffic segregation. Regionalisation of global planning ideals as well as the tension between planned development and organic growth is evident in the narrative of Jamshedpur evolving from a company town to industrial city to the present day urban agglomeration. Unlike New Delhi (of whose development started off in 1911 with the shift of the British’s empires Indian colonial capital city to Delhi), an exercise in legitimating the empire in the eye of its colonial subject, Jamshedpur was an indigenous industrial development, initiated, financed and built by Indians, using local resources and labor albeit aided by foreign expertise. 

The population of the city was just over two lakh in 1951 which has increased to over 13 lakhs as per the Indian census of 2011. The urban agglomeration of Jamshedpur has now turned into the largest urban region in the Indian state of Jamshedpur and the city has experienced tremendous growth since its inception a century over now. The city presents an approach of urban planning of whose primary objective is to build a city which would increase the productivity and living standards of its citizens. Jamshedpur was awarded by the UN Global Compact city award in 2006. The city has been predicted as the 84th fastest growing city in the world for the timeframe 2006–2020. The city is one of the most greenest cities of the country with around 27% of its area under green cover.

The city is currently facing issues of availability of potable water, rising air pollution, worsening of waste management system, etc, and these shall be looked into through a more constructive lens that being viewed in present times. There are various steps being taken by the managing body of the city which is JUSCO (Jamshedpur Utilities and Services Company) which included plantation of 1.2 million tress over the first decade of the 21st century. The city was named as the seventh cleanest city of India in 2011 which was pulled down to the lower side of the list (to the bottom 10) released by the Government of India  under its Swachch Bharat Abhiyan in 2016. The city is rated as the fourth in terms of the per capita water consumption in the Indian cities and it is now eyeing on to become India's first zero sewerage discharge city. 

The vision of the city is worth to cherish for the planning fraternity but the accelerated increase in the urbanisation levels of the state has led to the rise of urban issues and problems - the time has come to rejuvenate the city's system once again like it has done over the course of its developmental history on the platforms of inter-disciplinary perspective of human urban settlements and present a model of integrated industrial & residential mode of human development while maintaining its living standards and quality of life. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Bengaluru - A Garden City Struggling to Manage Its Garbage

The Hoysala empire was a prominent Southern Indian Kannadiga empire that ruled most of the modern-day state of Karnataka between the 10th and the 14th century. One of the kings of the kingdom Ballala, once got lost in a jungle. In the absence of any communication with his kingdom’s administration, he wandered across the jungle to find his way out. He began tiring off while hunger was ruling him. He then came across a poor old woman who offered him some boiled beans. As an expression of gratitude towards the kind woman, the king quoted the place as ‘bende kaalu ooru’ which in Kannada means the city of boiled beans. The space was already a human settlement then and there are other versions of the stories as well related with the etymology of the city's name. 

The modern day construction of the city can be said to have began by a feudatory ruler under the Vijaynagar empire Cempe Gowda who once while on his hunting boults saw a hare chasing his dog and he termed the space as ‘gandu bhoomi’ which literally means a heroic place. He built a mud fort in ‘gandu bhoomi’ in 1537 & built the little towns of Balapet, Cottonpet and Chickpet inside the fort premises. His son later erected four watch towers to mark the boundaries of the then Benguluru which can be found till today in the heart of the present city's boundaries. 

Moving ahead in the historic course of the human settlement, in 1638, Shahajirao Bhosle of the Maratha empire captured the city which later went under control of Aurangzeb’s army by 1687 who sold the town to Wodeyars for a sum of Rupees 3 lakh. Wodeyars built the famous LalBagh then in 1759 which is one of the most prominently laid out gardens of the city which later contributed in idealising the city as a garden city in the times to come. Wodeyars then gifted the city to the army of Hyder Ali who converted the city into an army town and when Tipu Sultan died in the 4th Mysore war, the Britishers returned it to the Wodeyars. British citizens continued living in the city from then on and the city saw its first General Post office in the beginning of the 19th century and the Army Cantonment was established in 1809. British in 1831 took over the administration of the Mysore kingdom alleging misrule and the city began blooming with modern facilities like the railways, telegraph, postal services and police departments. The first train was flagged out of the city in 1859 and the city saw its first motorcar with the onset of the 20th century. Bengaluru was one of the very first Indian city to get its electricity from hydro power.  In 1881, the British returned the city to the Wodeyars and Dewans like Sir Mirza Ismail and Sir M Visvesvaraya helped the city to attain its modern outlook. 

The area of Bengaluru in 1941 was 69 sq. km. with a population of just over 4 lakh which expanded a little over three times in terms of area to 212 sq. km. in 1991 while the population increase  was over 10 times to over 40 lakh. The area of the city as per the census of 2011 was recorded to as 716 sq. km. with a population of around 90 lakh. In terms of the population growth of Indian cities for the decade of 2001-11 Bengaluru is way ahead from it’s nearest rival of Delhi with growth rate of Benguluru being over twice than that of the city of Delhi. It was around 47% for Benguluru, around 21% for Delhi and 4% for the city of Mumbai. Around 15% of the total population of the Indian state of Karnataka lives in its capital city of Bengaluru. 

Bengaluru has 500,000 technology workers, about 20 per cent of India's total, according to the government. They mainly work in Whitefield, once a settlement for Britons - the country's former colonial rulers. The city's low wages and temperate climate have helped make it the world's fourth-largest technology cluster after Silicon Valley in the US, Boston and London, according to a study by Ernst & Young. The elevation of the city is 920 m above sea level which imparts the city with its mild climate making it one of the favourites to work for the working professionals. 

Rising levels of traffic mobility has increased the pace to the city’s life but also has helped in degrading the air quality making it the second most polluted city in India after Delhi in terms of the air quality. The increasing environmental related problems like increasing waste consumption, water scarcity, noise pollution, etc. In a survey conducted within the city it was found that 25% of the children are exposed to environmental pollution decreasing their capability to utilise their capabilities to the maximum of their potential. 

One of the most important issues of the city is the ever increasing rate of consumption of waste per capita which was found around 500 grams per capita per day in 2014. The waste consumption of the city was around 650 tonnes per day in 1988 which increased to around 1450 tonnes per day in 2000. Bangalore generates around 4500 tonnes of garbage everyday in 2016 and the majority of it was being dumped in the landfills at the outskirts of the city at three prominent sites of Mayallipura, Mandur and Doddaballapur until when it was blockaded by the local communities of the periphery after suffering from the declining environmental quality for over 10 years. The garbage began coming on the streets then in the absence of a well functioning solid waste management system. Besides strengthening the waste management system, there is also a need to create awareness amongst the citizens to utilise commodities in such a manner that it decreases the waste production above everything else. The accelerated increase in the population growth rate of the city will only help in worsening the situation otherwise and as quoted in some articles the Indian version of Garden city may get turned into a ‘Garbage City’. 

Bangalore was idealised as a garden city which gives importance to its green spaces and natural system but it has found itself indulged in various environmental issues especially over the last decade. Various steps are being taken to sort out the rising issues but the adoption of the sectoral approaches hasn’t proved much beneficial since now. A city is a space where human aspirations are fulfilled in partial if not in full and not the basic needs and requirements of them are curbed in the lights of economic development. The city contributes a worthy portion to the nation’s economy and hence the city’s long term future is needed to be decided by the concerned authorities in a more clear manner based on the inter-dependent nature of the urban ecosystem. 

Images from sinalicdntheatlantic & apnacomple

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Delhi - The Capital of Medieval Era Which Also Became The National Capital of India

A village named as Inderpat was in existence since the beginning of the previous century which is identified with Indraprastha - the headquarters of Pandavas mentioned in the Hindu epic of Mahabharata explored by Cunningham and others in early 20th century. The transformation of this historic city since then has been phenomenal. In 1874, Swami Dayanand in his book Satyarth Prakash mentioned the etymology of Delhi for which he concluded that it was derived from the name of Raja Dhilu who he considered to be as the founder of Delhi in 800 BC. There are other versions of the story as well behind the adoption of the name but none can be substantiated with some concrete evidence. The history then moves to 736 AD when AnangPal Tomar laid the foundation stone for the Tomara Dynasty and built his capital city at SurajKund, the dynasty of whom ruled for over four centuries and also built Lal Kot when the Chauhans overpowered them and added another layer to Delhi as Rai Pithora from where the king ruled his region of supremacy.

The city has experienced different phases of different dynastic powers since then where several layers of human development were added supporting in making a city which can be said to be built by people assembled from all directions of its location. The Mamluks developed Mehrauli, the Khiljis built their fort at Siri, the Tughlaqs built their cities at Tughlaqabad and Jahanpahan & later also at Ferozabad, the Suris at Sher-Garh and the Mughals gave orders first from DinPanah (then Jahangir shifted his capital to Agra) and then later from Shanjahanabad during the reign of Shahjahan which is now called to as the Old City of Delhi after which the seat of British Indian Crown was shifted to Delhi in 1911 from Kolkata where they developed the  modern version of Delhi currently named as New Delhi or as Lutyens Delhi by some till 1947 since when it became the national capital of the Republic of India. The city has a long history and has been historically one of the most cosmopolitan cities of India both culturally & inter-nationally. 

The economy of the city has grown tremendously especially after the economic reforms of 1991 which opened the gateway for performance of more intrinsic economic activities. The GDP of Delhi is around 67 billion US Dollar which ranks itself 10th amongst all the Indian states and union territories in 2014-15 which is more than the individual GDP’s of the states of Bihar, Punjab and Kerala. The concentration of development and economic activities can be distinguished if areas of these three states is compared with that of Delhi - Bihar is around 65 times the area of Delhi, Punjab is over 30 times and Kerala is around 25 times. The per capita income of Delhi is around two and a half times than the national average. The population of Delhi was around 1.7 million in 1951 which rose to around 6 million in 1981 & to 16 million in 2011.

The city like any other has faced several urban issues over the period of its history. The central location of the city has allowed the expansion in all directions and the urban agglomeration has only increased over the last couple of decades with National Capital Region being the world’s second most populous urban agglomeration of the world only after Tokyo with over 25 million population. The city got its first master plan in 1962 and the planning process has become even more intense in present times due to several factors which are often left unseen during the vision development exercise. 

The increasing number of vehicles on road is increasingly adding to the existing situations of traffic congestion. Delhi has the highest number of registered vehicles amongst the Indian cities with around 88 lakh such machines (increasing over twice from around 35 lakhs in 2001) - on a comparative side, Mumbai has just 25 lakh registered vehicles in 2015. The pollution levels has increased and Delhi is amongst one of the most polluted cities on the planet despite being the greenest national capital of the Globe. Delhi’s air quality was found containing particulate matters around four times the national standards of Air quality and over 15 times the standard guidelines of WHO. Situations of seasonal smog are increasingly increasing. The noise levels of the city are also acceleratingly increasing - some of the nodes have been identified to be as stronger as to make a child deaf. The water logging of the city roads in the monsoon has also persisted which is also critical for maintaining the urban health of the city in a productive condition. The density of population of the city has increased from being 1176 persons per sq km in 1951 to 6352 persons per sq km to nearly doubling itself in the next 20 years to around 12000 persons per sq. km. 

No other mega city of India is as old as Delhi and it being the national administrative capital of India, its influence on the adoption of planning ideology by other Indian cities is huge. The adoption of metro train by other cities is one such example signifying the importance of the development approach carried out by the city of Delhi. Delhi metro started its functioning in 2002 and since then Chennai has become the sixth Indian city to have such kind of rapid rail transit system while cities like Chandigarh and Kochi are working towards it. Delhi however can not be set as an ideal example of development as the city structure and its functioning isn’t one of the best and neither two cities can have similar prototype approach. 

Delhi is a historic idealisation of rulers from different cultures and societies and this factor is rarely seen as part of the planning perspective making process in an era dominated by Recenticism. Delhi as a city has provided us with a tremendous story of physical development and in the lights of physicality the sense of belongingness and being ness can be found slowly diminishing from the life of the city. In a study conducted by Cosmos Institute of Mental Health and Biological Sciences in Delhi it was found that among the students between the ages of 18-25 years of age, 64.6 percent of students reported symptoms of depression and 51.6 percent of anxiety. 

The city development authority shall understand the significance and importance of integrating social planning along with physical planning which will eventually bring out a more streamlined development of natural system. The physical aspects are also needed to be checked and tested with an emphasis test by means of setting a hierarchy based on inter-dependent system of the urban ecosystem. The quality of life of the citizens shall be given a wider canvas to look beyond integration of information technology into their lives. Delhi presents a live example of a city with different stages of a city’s life and if the planning fraternity understands it well then the planning process for cities can be perceived through a much more magnified vision.