Study Material and Notes of Ch 6 Colonialism and the City Class 8th History

What Happened to Cities Under Colonial Rule?

• The changes in the Indian cities differ under colonial rule as per their nature.

• Unlike Western Europe, Indian cities did not expand as rapidly in the nineteenth century.

• In the late eighteenth century, Calcutta, Bombay and Madras rose in importance as Presidency cities.
→ They became the centres of British power in the different regions of India.

• At the same time, smaller cities declined.
→ Old trading centres and ports could not survive when the flow of trade moved to new centres.
→ Cities such as Machlipatnam, Surat and Seringapatam were de-urbanised during the nineteenth century.

• By the early twentieth century, only 11 per cent of Indians were living in cities.

How many ‘Delhis’ before New Delhi?

• Delhi as a capital had varied area under different rulers.

• As many as 14 capital cities were founded in a small area of about 60 square miles on the left bank of the river Jamuna.

• The building of capital of Shah Jahan known as Shahjahanabad was begun in 1639 and consisted
of a fort-palace complex and the city adjoining it. 
→ Lal Qila or the Red Fort, made of red sandstone, contained the palace complex. 
→ To its west lay the Walled City with 14 gates. 
→ The main streets of Chandni Chowk and Faiz Bazaar were broad enough for royal processions to pass.
→ A canal ran down the centre of Chandni Chowk.
→ It had several dargahs, khanqahs and idgahs and open squares, winding lanes, quiet cul-de-sacs and water channels.

The Making of New Delhi

• After defeating the Marathas in 1803, the British gained control of Delhi.

• The city developed only when Delhi became the capital of British India in 1911.

Demolishing a past

• In Delhi, especially in the first half of the nineteenth century, the British lived along with the wealthier Indians in the Walled City.

• The establishment of the Delhi College in 1792 helped in the intellectual development of sciences as well as the humanities largely in the Urdu language.
→ Many refer to the period from 1830 to 1857 as a period of the Delhi renaissance (rebirth of art and

• During the Revolt of 1857, Delhi remained under rebel control for four months.
→ After 1857, everything in Delhi changed.

• The British wanted Delhi to forget its Mughal past therefore area around the Fort was completely cleared of gardens, pavilions and mosques.

• In the 1870s, the western walls of Shahjahanabad were broken to establish the railway and to allow the city to expand beyond the walls.
→ The British shifted to the sprawling Civil Lines area away from the Indians in the Walled City.

• The Delhi College was turned into a school, and shut down in 1877.

Planning a new capital

• In 1877, Viceroy Lytton organised a Durbar to acknowledge Queen Victoria as the Empress of India.

• To reduce the importance of Mughals in the minds of people, the British decided to celebrate British power with pomp and show in the city of Delhi.

• In 1911, when King George V was crowned in England, a Durbar was held in Delhi to celebrate the occasion.
→ The decision to shift the capital of India from Calcutta to Delhi was announced at this Durbar.

• Two architects, Edward Lutyens and Herbert Baker, were called on to design New Delhi and its buildings.

• New Delhi took nearly 20 years to build. 

• The idea was to build a city that was a stark contrast to Shahjahanabad where to be no crowded mohallas, no mazes of narrow bylanes. 
→ The new city also had to be a clean and healthy space.

Life in the time of Partition

• The Partition of India in 1947 led to a massive transfer of populations on both sides of the new border.

• A large number of Muslims left Delhi for Pakistan, their place was taken by equally large numbers of Sikh and Hindu refugees from Pakistan.

• Many of the Muslims who went to Pakistan were artisans, petty traders and labourers.
→ The new migrants coming to Delhi were rural landlords, lawyers, teachers, traders and small shopkeepers.
→ They had to take up new jobs as hawkers, vendors, carpenters and ironsmiths.

• The large migration from Punjab changed the social background of Delhi.

Inside the Old City

• At the end of the nineteenth century, the Shahjahani drains were closed and a new system of
open surface drains was introduced.

The decline of havelis

• The Mughal aristocracy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries lived in grand mansions called

• A haveli housed many families which had open courtyard, surrounded by public rooms meant for
visitors and business, used exclusively by males.

• Many of the Mughal amirs were unable to maintain these large establishments under conditions of British rule. 
→ Havelis, therefore, began to be subdivided and sold.

• The street front of the havelis became shops or warehouses.

• The colonial bungalow was quite different from the haveli which meant for one nuclear family
→ It was a large single-storeyed structure with a pitched roof, and usually set in one or two acres of open ground. 
→ It had separate living and dining rooms and bedrooms, and a wide veranda.
→ Kitchens, stables and servants’ quarters were in a separate space from the main house.

The Municipality begins to plan

• The walled city was horribly crowded with as many as 90 persons per acre, while New Delhi had only about 3 persons per acre.

• In 1888 an extension scheme called the Lahore Gate Improvement Scheme was planned by Robert Clarke for the Walled City residents. 
→ The idea was to draw residents away from the Old City to a new type of market square, around which shops would be built.

• The Delhi Improvement Trust was set up 1936, and it built areas like Daryaganj South for wealthy Indians.
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