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Part-III: Chapter 3 COLONIAL CITIES: Urbanisation, Planning, and Architecture
Key concepts in nutshell
- Records of the East India company.
- Census reports
- Municipal reports.
- The urban population increased from about 10 per cent to 13 per cent during the period 1900-1940.
- During the end of the eighteenth century Madras, Bombay and Calcutta had developed into important ports.
- The ruling elite built racially exclusive clubs, race courses, and theaters.
- The development of new modes of transportation such as horse-drawn carriages, trams, buses etc. facilitated people to live at a distant place from the places of their work.
- The rulers everywhere tried to express their power through buildings. Many Indians adopted European styles of architecture as symbols of modernity and civilization.
- The settlement of the local people were named “Black Town”. A fortification was built around the “ White Town” to separate it from the “ Black Town”.
- Difficulties in collecting data:-
- People were unwilling to give correct information.
- The figure of mortality and diseases were difficult to collect.
Ports:- Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta.
Forts:- St. George in Madras and Fort William in Calcutta.
- TOWNS AND CITIES IN PRE-COLONIAL TIMES
What gave towns their character?
- Towns were defined in opposition to rural areas.
- Towns represented specific forms of economic activities and cultures.
- The people lived 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.
- Towns and cities were often fortified by walls which symbolised their separation from the countryside.
- When towns were attacked, people often sought shelter in the countryside.
- Traders and peddlers took goods from the towns to sell in the villages.
- There was a revenue flow of humans and goods from towns to villages.
- 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 centers of imperial administration and control.
- Artisans produced exclusive handicrafts for the households of nobles.
- Grains from the countryside was brought into the urban markets for the town-dwellers and the army.
- The treasury was also located in the imperial capital.
- 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.
- Towns in south India
- In the towns of south India such as Madurai and Kanchipuram, the principal focus was the temple.
- These temples were the important commercial centers.
- Religious festivals often coincided with fairs, linking pilgrimage with the trade.
- The ruler was the highest authority and the principal patron of religious institutions.
- The relationship that he had with other group and classes determined their place in society and in the town.
- Changes in the Eighteenth century
- The old towns went to decline and new towns developed in the eighteenth century.
- The growth of new regional powers was reflected in the increasing importance of regional capitals – Lucknow, Hyderabad, Seringapatam, Poona, Nagpur, Baroda and Tanjore.
- Trade, administrators, artisans, and others migrated from the old Mughal centers to these new capitals in search of work and patronage.
- In some places there was renewed economic activity, in other places war, plunder and political uncertainty led to economic decline.
- 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 Masulipatam in 1605, the British in Madras in 1639 and the French in Pondicherry in 1873.
- By the end of eighteenth century, the land-based empire in Asia was replaced by the powerful sea-based European empires.
- Forces of international trade, mercantilism and capitalism now came to decline the nature of society.
- The commercial centers such as Surat, Masulipatam, and Dhaka which had grown in the seventeenth century had declined when trade shifted to other places.
- Madras, Bombay and Calcutta rapidly emerged as new economic capitals and centers of colonial administration and political power.
- New buildings, occupations, institutions developed.
- FINDING OUT ABOUT COLONIAL CITIES
Colonial record and urban history
- Colonial rule was based on the production of enormous amount of data
- The British kept a detailed record of their trading activities in order to regulate their commercial affairs.
- They carried out the regular survey, gathered statistical data, and published various official report.
- The town map gives information regarding the location of hill, river and vegetation – all important for planning structure for defence purpose.
- These maps also show the location of ghats, density, and quality of house and alignment of roads, abd are used to gauge commercial possibilities and plan strategies of taxation.
- The municipal corporation with some popular representative was meant to administer essential services such as water supply, sewerage, road buildings and public health.
- Problem faced while collecting the Census
- The first all-India census was attempted in 1872. From 1881 decennial (conducted every ten years) censuses became a regular feature.
- The people often refused to cooperate or gave evasive answers to the census officials.
- The people were suspicious of census operation and believed that inquiries were being conducted to impose new taxes.
- Upper caste people were also unwilling to give any information regarding the women of their household.
- Women were supposed to remain secluded within the interior of the household and not subjected to public gaze or public inquiry.
- Census officials also found that the people were claiming identities that they associated with higher status.
- The figures of mortality and disease were difficult to collect for all deaths were not registered and illness was not always reported, nor treated by licensed doctors.
- Historians have to use sources like census with great caution, keeping in mind their possible biases, recalculating figures and understanding what the figures do not tell.
- Trends of change
- The smaller towns had little opportunity to grow economically.
- Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras, on the other hand, grew rapidly and soon became sprawling cities.
- The introduction of railways in 1853 meant a change in the fortunes of towns.
- Economic activities gradually shifted away from traditional towns which were located along old routes and rivers.
- Every railway station became a collection depot for raw materials and distribution point for imported goods.
- Railway towns like Jamalpur, Waltair, and Bareilly developed as a trading centres.
- What were the new towns like?
Ports, forts and centers for services
- Madras, Calcutta, and Bombay had become important ports.
- The English East India Company built its factories because of competition among the Europeans companies, fortified the settlement for protection.
- In Madras, Fort St George, in Calcutta Fort William and in Bombay the Fort marked out the areas of British settlement.
- There were separate quarters for Europeans and Indians, which came to be labelled in contemporary writings as the “White Town” and “Black Town “.
- Two Industrial cities also developed – Kanpur specializing in leather, woolen and cotton textiles and Jamshedpur, specialize in steel.
- India never became a modern industrialised country as discriminatory colonial policies limited the levels of Industrial development.
- Madras, Calcutta Bombay grew into a large city but did not signify any dramatic economic growth.
- A new urban milieu
- Colonial cities reflected the mercantile culture of the new rule.
- Political power and patronage shifted from Indian rulers to the merchants of the East India Company.
- Indians who worked as interpreters, middlemen, traders, and suppliers of goods also had an important place in these new cities.
- Economic activities near the river or the sea led to the development of docks and ghats.
- Around the periphery of the fort, Europeans merchants and agents built garden houses, racially exclusive clubs, racecourse and theatres for the ruling elites.
- The first hill stations
- The hill stations were a distinctive feature of colonial urban development.
- The hill stations were initially connected with the needs of the British army.
- Hill station became strategic places for billeting troops, guarding frontiers and launching campaigns against enemy rulers.
- The temperate and cool climate of the Indian hills was seen as an advantage.
- British associated hot weather with epidemics, Cholera and malaria and attempts were made to protect the army from these diseases.
- Hill stations were also developed as sanitariums i.e. places where soldiers could be sent for rest and recover from illness.
- Settlement and segregation in Madras
- In 1639, the British constructed a trading post in Madraspatam and the settlement known as Chenapattanam.
- The company had purchased the right of settlement from the local Telugu lords, the Nayaks of Kalahasti.
- Rivalry with French East India Company led the British to fortify Madras.
- Chintadripet area meant for weavers, the Washermanpet colony of dyers, Royapuram was a settlement for Christian boatmen.
- The dubashes were Indians who could speak two languages the local language and English.
- Paraiyars and Vanniyars formed the labouring poor.
- The Nawab of Arcot settled in nearby Triplicane which became the nucleus of a substantial Muslim settlement.
- Mylapore and Triplicane were earlier Hindu religious centres that supported a large group of Brahmins.
- San Thome with its cathedral was the centre Roman Catholics.
- White Town Fort St. George
- Fort St. George became the nucleus of the White Town where most of the Europeans lived.
- Colour and religion determined who was allowed to live within the fort.
- The Company did not permit any marriages with Indians.
- Other than the English, the Dutch and the Portuguese were allowed to stay because they were European and Christian.
- Black Town
- The Black Town developed outside the Fort.
- It was laid out in straight lines, and housed weavers, artisans, etc.
- Middlemen and interpreters were the person who played a vital role in the company trade.
- City Architecture in Calcutta
- The vast open space around the Fort (which still exists) became a landmark (the building of Fort William and the Maidan), Calcutta’s first significant town planning measure.
- In 1798, Lord Wellesley became the Governor General. He built a massive palace – Government House.
- The existing racial divide of the “White Town” and “Black Town” was reinforced by the new divide of “healthy” and “unhealthy”.
- It was as if the grandeur of the cities had to reflect the authority of imperial power
- City Architecture in Bombay
- Towards the beginning of the twentieth century a new hybrid architectural style developed which combined the Indian with the European.
- This was called Indo-Saracenic. “Indo” was shorthand for Hindu and “Saracen” was a term Europeans used to designate Muslim.
- Jamsetji Tata built the Taj Mahal Hotelof Bombay in a Indo-Saracenic style.
- Another style that was extensively used was the neo-Gothic, characterised by high-pitched roofs, pointed arches and detailed decoration.
- What Buildings and Architectural Styles Tell Us
- Architecture reflects the aesthetic ideals prevalent at a time, and variations within those ideals.
- These buildings also express the vision of those who build them. Rulers everywhere seek to express their power through buildings.
- Architectural style not only represents and reflects the prevalent taste, they mould tastes, popularise styles and shape the contours of culture.
|1500-1700||European trading companies establish bases in India; the Portuguese in Panaji in 1510; the dutch in Masulipatnam, 1605; the British in Madras in 1639, In Bombay in 1661, and in Calcutta in 1690; the French in Pondicherry in 1673|
|1757||Decisive victory of the British in the Battle of Plassey; the British becomes rulers of Bengal|
|1773||Supreme court set up in Calcutta by the East India Company|
|1803||Lord Wellesly’s Minute on Calcutta town improvement|
|1818||British takeover of the Deccan; Bombay becomes the capital of the new province|
|1853||Railway from Bombay of Thane|
|1857||First Spinning and weaving mill in Bombay|
|1857||Universities in Bombay, Madras and Calcutta|
|1870s||Beginning of elected representatives in municipalities|
|1881||Madras harbor completed|
|1896||First screening of a film at Watson’s Hotel, Bombay|
|1896||Plague starts spreading to major cities|
|1911||Transfer of capital from Calcutta to Delhi|