Colonialism and the City

The Story of an Imperial Capital
Before the Arrival of British
 Before the British arrived in India, there were different types of
cities in India.
 Some were temple towns like Madurai, port cities like Surat
and manufacturing towns like Dacca.
 In most parts of the Western world modern cities emerged
with industrialisation. In Britain, industrial cities like Leeds
and Manchester grew rapidly in the nineteenth and twentieth
centuries, as more and more people sought jobs, housing and
other facilities in these places.
What happened to cities under
colonial rule
 Process of Deurbanisation in India
 In late 18th century Calcutta ,Madras and Bombay rose
in importance as presidency cities or centers of British
 But at the same time many smaller towns and citites
were disappearing due to the decrase in the demand of
what they produced.
 Some cities lost their commercial value like Surat,
Seringapatnam and even Delhi.
What do you mean by
 De-urbanisation is term used for the cities which
become less important as they loose the status which
they might have enjoyed in the past.
How many ‘Delhis’ before New
 It is the capital of modern India and it has been the
capital for more than a thousand years, but with some
As many as 14 capital cities were made in the small
area of about 60 square miles on the left bank of river
The most splendid was Shahjahanbad made by Shah
 Shahjahanbad- The most beautiful and historic capital
made by Shah Jahan.
 Historic places of Delhi like Red Fort, Jama Masjid
and Chandni Chowk were made during that time.
 Packed Mohallas, Bazars, Dargahs and Idgahs were
other features of the city.
Sad Story of Delhi
 It was not an ideal city. Luxuries and delights were
enjoyed only by riches.
 If in one side of the city Huge mansions were there ,the
other corner was crowded by mud houses of the poor.
 Even gender differences also existed e.g The colorful
world of poetry and dance was usually enjoyed by men.
The Making of New Delhi
 In 1803 British got control of Delhi but continued with
Calcutta as the capital as The Mughal emperor was
living there (Bahadur Shah Jafar).The modern city as
we know it today developed only after 1911 when Delhi
became the capital of British India.
 Unlike the other colonial cities like Madras, Bombay
and Calcutta where the British lived in separate areas
from the Indians, In Delhi they lived with Indian
Period of Delhi
 The establishment of the Delhi College in 1792 led to a
great intellectual development in the field of Science
and Humanities, largely in Urdu language. Period
from 1830-1857 is referred to as the ‘period of Delhi
 Find the meaning of ‘Renaissance.’
Delhi after 1857
 During the revolt that year rebels entered the city and
persuaded Bahadur Shah to become the leader of
uprising. Hence Delhi became an important centre for
1857 revolt. Bahadur Shah was sent to Burma, his
courts were dismantled, gardens were closed and
common people were thrown out of the city.
 One third of the city was demolished and canals were
filled up. Prayers did not happen in Jama Masjid for
five years.
Delhi, the capital of British India
To destroy the symbolic image of Delhi British
organized spectacular events in Delhi e.g. Viceroy
Lytton organized a Durbar to acknowledge Queen
Victoria as the empress of India.
 In 1911, decision was taken to make Delhi capital of
British India
 Two architects, Edward Lutyens and Herbert Baker
were called on to design New Delhi and its buildings.
New Delhi after 20 years of making
 In New Delhi no crowded Mohallas were there. A well
planned network of roads was laid out.
Delhi at the time of partition
 During partition a massive transfer of populations
happened on both sides of new border.
 Number of Muslims left the city. Sikhs and Hindu
refugees from Pakistan came here.
 Hence, population of city increased and culture
 Large migration from Punjab changed the social
milieu of Delhi.
Inside the Old City
 Excellent system of water supply was broken down and
drainage was neglected in 19th century.
 The system of wells(or baolis) also broke down, and
channels to remove household waste (called effluents)
were damaged , this was the time when pollution
accelerated in the cities.
 As the broken down channels couldn’t serve the needs
of this rapidly increasing population , finally , at the
end of the 19th century Shahjahani drains were closed
and a new system of open drains was introduced.
 When this system was overburdened , wealthier
inhabitance complained about the stench from
roadside privies and overflowing of open drains.
 But the Delhi municipal committee was unwilling to
spend money on good drainage systems.
 At the same time, millions of rupees were being spent
on the drainage systems in the New Delhi.
The Decline Of Havelis…
 The Mughal aristocracy in the 17th and 18th century
lived in grand mansions known as HAVELIS.
 In the middle of the 19th century a map showed
hundreds of havelis with large walled compounds with
mansions , courtyards and fountains.
 Havelis had pavilions and rooms which were meant for
women of household. It also had public rooms which
were meant for visitors and business , exclusively by
 Havelis began to be subdivided and sold because
Mughal amirs were unable to maintain these large
establishments under conditions of the British rule.
 Hence, Havelis were subdivided and sold. Many fell
into decay and disuse.
 The colonial bunglows were meant for one nuclear
family , it was a large single storeyed structure with
pitched roof .
The Municipality begins to plan
 Census of 1931 revealed the shocking facts that the
walled city area was horribly crowded . In the walled
area density of population was 90 people per acre
while in New Delhi it was hardly 3 persons per acre.
 To improve the living conditions, Lahore Gate Scheme
was planned by Herbert Baker.
 The idea was to draw residents away from the old city
to a new type of market square.
 But construction remained incomplete and did not
help the city to decongest, drainage was also poor till
 Delhi improvement trust was set up in 1936, and it
built areas like Daryaganj South (place with same
name still exists t0day) for wealthy Indians.
Houses were grouped around parks, where privacy of
each and every family member was taken care.
Hence we can say, Delhi is unique in Indian History.
It has its own story of ‘Rise and Fall.’
Today, it is the National Capital Territory of India.
Chandichowk , Delhi
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