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MHI-10: Urbanization in India

MHI-10: Urbanization in India

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2022-23

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Assignment Code: MHI-10/AST/TMA. 2022-23

Course Code: MHI-10

Assignment Name: Urbanisation in India

Year: 2022-2023

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


Attempt any five questions. The assignment is divided into two Sections 'A' and 'B'. You have to attempt at least two questions from each section in about 500 words each. All questions carry equal marks.




Q1) Examine the emergence of new forms of knowledge and their relationship to the city that has set the modern city distinct from their pre-modern predecessors.

Ans) The emergence of new forms of knowledge and their relationship to the city is another aspect that has set the modern city apart from its pre-modern predecessor. The urban plan has been a particularly significant object of study in modern cities. Modern urban plans were associated with new forms of knowledge which claimed to be based on objective truth. Modern plans are all encompassing, in trying to structure urban space as a whole, ranging from large public thoroughfares to individual houses.


Older city plans, which were envisaged in order to build an ideal society, were never completely abandoned, but were integrated in the forms taken by planning. The planning of the modern city is often epitomised by the transformations of Paris after the 1850s, and the efforts of Baron Georges Haussmann. Appointed by Napoleon III in 1853, he famously demolished large parts of the old city in order to create a new Paris of wide boulevards and underground sewers. There is some dispute about whether his efforts should unequivocally be considered as either new, or as a distinct way of reconfiguring the ‘modern’ city.


Part of the rationale for the demolition of parts of Paris under Haussmann was that narrow streets were particularly conducive to urban insurrections, as had happened in Paris in 1830 and 1848. Insurgents could easily build barricades across narrow streets and fight through winding alleys. In contrast, armies coming to put down rebellion could not move through these spaces easily. The new Paris boulevards simultaneously solved the problem of the mobility of the troops as well as the problem of the invisibility of the poor. They also ensured a smoother flow of people and goods within Paris, lubricating the circuits of capital that were beginning to dominate the city.


Public health was a form of knowledge that emerged out of the experiences of overcrowding and disease in the mid-19th century European city. Early urban planning in Europe was partly prompted by the alarm felt by middle class reformers about slums in cities like London and Northern England. The earliest statistics collected revealed the impact of overcrowding in these slums on the life expectancy of its residents. Different kinds of theories of health came to shape planning in cities. Thus, miasmic theories of disease the idea that disease spread through putrid vapours advocated aggressive cleansing of cities and the areas in which the poor lived.


Planning, through these variegated concerns and sites of expertise, was coming to embrace all parts of the city. The French philosopher Michel Foucault has tried to outline the operations of two modes of modern power through a discussion about discipline and governmentality. Discipline, he argued, involved the operation of power upon the body inducing new ways of behaving and conduct through the diffusion of sites of surveillance. Governmentality, for Foucault operated through a more long-range mechanism, operating upon populations to subtly coax broader transformations into existence. His understanding has been very influential in framing urban studies generally and history in particular.


Urban institutions like the city hall, libraries, schools, workhouses, and prisons were also, however, sites for the operation of disciplinary power. Here particular kinds of bodily habits and a structuring of time could be brought into being through surveillance and intimate control. In these and other respects, planning was based on the idea that the material environment could have ‘beneficial’ effects beyond the purely physical. William Glover has discussed the ways in which this premise could operate in ways that were not exactly ‘disciplinary’ in the Foucauldian sense. He points out that urban layouts were often understood by colonial authorities as being able to generate new sentiments and tastes through persuasion rather than surveillance. Nor should we discount the elements of civic pride and celebration of the burgeoning wealth of industrial ‘city fathers’ that was sought to be diffused through the architectural grandeur of many of these urban institutions.


Q2) Discuss the layout and chief characteristics of Mohenjodaro.

Ans) The old town was divided into two sections: the Lower Town, which was larger but situated lower down, and the Citadel, which was smaller but elevated. The best example of this two-fold split can be found at Mohenjodaro, despite the fact that it is known as a classic Harappan pattern. John Marshall oversaw the early excavations, which were conducted in several locations across the historic settlement. The names of the archaeologists who were in charge of the excavations in those specific portions came to be associated with the excavated sites. On the Indus River's right bank, in Sind, is the site of Mohenjodaro. In the distant past, the river was close enough for the community to occasionally suffer damage from the yearly floods. Due of this, the prehistoric occupants raised their settlement artificially by creating sizable mudbrick platforms on which the structures were built. The western lesser mound, known as the Citadel, was elevated above the plain, making the platforms easy to identify. A portion of the Lower Town was also built on comparable platforms.


Early excavation photographs and building drawings depict a settlement that was tightly packed, with houses leaning against one another and many of them sharing walls. This was due to the fact that it was common practise to build one new house next to another while utilising some of the former's walls for their own framework. It can often be challenging to distinguish between one house and another. It can be useful to check whether doors open onto what appears to be an addition to the property. Sometimes a house can be distinguished from another by its wall thickness. The Lower Town was split into blocks by the excavators, which were defined by the streets and alleyways and had distinct homes. These Blocks were separated from one another by a network of curving, small alleyways. Since Mohenjo-Daro has a high level of architectural preservation, photos of these lanes and streets depict what it was like to live in the historic city. In contrast to the small lanes, which were evidently designed for pedestrian traffic, the main roadways would have easily allowed vehicles to pass each other. Even though Mohenjodaro's street layout is frequently referred to as having a grid-plan, in reality, many of the pathways wound through the town to provide access to various areas. The titles given to specific lanes, such as Crooked Lane, demonstrate this.


The drainage system built by the Harappans, which is still clearly visible at Mohenjodaro, is one of the most important public utilities for a city. Long stretches of public drains can be seen in streets and lanes; they occasionally curve around corners and are typically bricked over. These incredibly well-built drains serve as a constant reminder of the settlement's urban nature. Through chutes which could be a hole in the wall or a specifically designed, sloping clay one household waste was sent into these communal sewers. It is a popular misconception that households built their own wells, frequently inside their homes, because access to clean drinking water was a domestic matter. While this is true in the sense that people wouldn't have had to trek to the river for water, there is more information available regarding how wells were distributed across the city. Only 31 of the Lower Town's 69 wells are located in purely residential neighbourhoods. More than 55% of the wells really supply structures with dual uses or official or public services. Even when a well is located inside a home, it is frequently placed near the front portion of the building so that onlookers may approach it from the street. This shows that well use was not always exclusive to or restricted to a dwelling's occupants.


Q3) Compare Bhir Mound with Sirkap and Sirsukh cities of the Taxila valley.

Ans) The first city, which emerged at Bhir Mound approximately 500 BCE and persisted until 200 BCE, was there. This city would have been a member of the Mauryan empire between 300 and 200 BCE, while it may have emerged under the Achaemenians a little before 500 BCE. The Mauryans did not construct a new city at Bhir Mound, in contrast to the Bactrian Greeks, Shakas, Parthians, and Kushans. To the north of it, on the Hathial ridge, the Bactrian Greeks erected the new city of Sirkap around 200 BCE. Subsequent towns were erected above the Bactrian Greek metropolis, first by the Shakas and subsequently by the Parthians. The location of the following city, Sirsukh, once more relocated further north across the Lundi stream at the end of the year 100 CE. The Kushans erected this city, which may have been inhabited up to 500 CE. Cities' sizes also grew when they changed positions; Bhir Mound was about 70 hectares in size, Sirkap was close to 78 hectares, and Sirsukh was about 137 hectares.


Bhir Mound

Similar to many Early Historic cities in North India, Bhir Mound's urban core was fortified with mud bricks and wood. What appears to be the situation with this first city is that, in contrast to other cities, it was not planned and slowly expanded haphazardly, leading to the appearance of an irregular layout. The majority of the streets and lanes were rather narrow, with the exception of the main street, which was quite wide. At times, only one person could have passed through these narrower streets and lanes. There were sporadic small open areas to allow pack animals to pass one another among the dense urban houses separated by narrow streets and lanes.


The Parthian City at Sirkap

The Bactrian Greeks made the decision to establish a new city northeast of the Bhir Mound, across the Tamra stream, during the start of the second century BCE. We don't know much about this city because it was never excavated, just like we know almost little about the Shakas city that was erected atop the Bactrian Greek city in the year 100 BCE. Marshall spent a lot of time digging up the Parthian city of Sirkap, which was constructed in the first century CE. Marshall also made the decision to concentrate his excavation in the region delineated by the main roadway and the homes that lined it on each side.


The Kushan City at Sirsukh

At the end of the first century CE, a second city was established, this time by the Kushans over the Lundi stream. Its size, 138 acres, was almost double that of the Parthian city and it was located roughly 1.6 kilometres north-northeast of Sirkap's northern wall. It was surrounded by a fortification wall that had an amorphous rectangle shape. Due to the use of massive "diaper" brickwork, the fortress was significantly more powerful than that at Sirkap. Vima Kadphises, one of the earliest Kushan kings, may have constructed it.


A very little amount of Sirsukh was excavated, and the most of the building's rooms and courts were found to be intact. The wall's above-ground portions were faced with semi-ashlar masonry, which first came into use in the second century CE, as opposed to its limestone rubble foundations. This type of brickwork was made up of lines of stones and horizontal courses of squared ashlar. Marshall has proposed that this structure was built perhaps in the late second or early third century CE and was in use until about the fifth century CE based on the masonry style and other artefacts discovered.




Q1) Critically examine the characteristics of the temple towns in the peninsular India.

Ans) The coastal/external trade was the primary driver of urbanism in the early historical phase; as the trade declined, urban centres also declined; this was followed by a so-called crisis period in the Post-Sangam period, which is attributed in the Brahmanic records as the onslaught of the evil kings and the dominance of heterodoxy. It was the time when the three traditional vendar began to deteriorate. Beginning with the introduction of Puranic religion in the area and the ascent of the Pallavas and Pandayas, urban centres start to appear in the early mediaeval period.


Under their leadership, the region's agrarian expansion was facilitated by the brahmadeya and devadana grants processes. the time between Sangam and the establishment of the later Cholas, which was followed by a significant increase of agriculture under the Pallavas and Pandayas and the development of urban centres. The post-nineteenth century saw an upsurge in commercial activity as a result of this agrarian growth. Kudumukku's hinterland was the Kaveri's fertile region. Although not all nagarams developed into urban centres, the merchant guilds and nagarams continued to facilitate the movement of goods through itinerary guilds and merchants and served as hubs for the exchange of both domestic and foreign goods, connecting them to higher marketing centres like Erivirappatinam and Managaram.


Particularly the deltaic region formed as nuclei with temples at their centres during the Cholas. A variety of managarams evolved, many of them were products of state support. Such a managaram existed in the pre-Chola period of Kachchi. Mamallapuram served as the Pallavas' managaram. According to Kenneth Hall, the settlements were linked through a network to the market, nagaram, and then managaram. Another essential link in the development of the region's urban centres was the guilds of itinerant merchants. Champakalakshmi contends that it starts to proliferate in the eleventh century; the Manigramam was the only such guild known to exist under the Pallavas in the ninth century.


Trade was conducted by the Ayyavole guild in the Puddukkottai district. In the eleventh century, the Chola region saw the activity of the militant itinerant guild known as the Valanjiyar. The Andhra region was included in guild operations in the eleventh century. Between the twelfth and thirteenth century, endowments to the temples of Sivapuri, Tirunelveli, and Aruppukkottai are said to have been made by the Sri Lankan commercial organisation of the Five Hundred and the Valanjiyar. Even craft organisations relied on merchant organisations occasionally. At the eleventh century, Nanandeshi founded a "refugee centre" in Erode.


Chitrameli Periyanadu started operating at the same time in the eleventh century in the territories of Andhra and Karnataka. All of these groups took part in the gift-making and temple festivities. The fact that agricultural excess was mobilised and transported from rural to urban regions via nagaram beginning in the eleventh century, according to Champakalakshmi, would indicate that mobilisation of agricultural surplus made possible the expansion of urban activity. In the Tiruvidaimarudur Shiva temple, the Tigai Ayirattainnurruvur, a group of wandering merchants, built a mandapa. The nagaratttar gathered at the kavanam area of the Tiruvidaimarudur temple.


Q2) Analyse the characteristics of Mughal cities. What was Bernier’s idea of ‘camp-cities’?

Ans) The distinctive characteristics of Mughal cities:

  1. Except for Aurangzeb, all of the Mughal emperors were immensely interested in architecture, but Shah Jahan is the best architect ever. One of the best Mughal structures was the Taj Mahal.

  2. The Mughal emperors built magnificent fortifications, walls, mosques, palaces, public structures, tombs, and more. The architectural collections created during the Mughals' reign represent the traditional legacy of both Muslims and Hindus. Hindu and Muslim design elements are thoughtfully combined.


Modern-day Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan all feature instances of Mughal architecture, which is characterised by big bulbous domes, thin minarets at the corners, massive halls, large, vaulted doorways, and exquisite ornamentation.


Camp Cities

Francois Bernier, a traveller in the 17th century, said that Indian cities were essentially military outposts. Mughal courts undoubtedly had exceptional mobility and modelled the imperial palace after a mobile metropolis. With all of his retinues, ministers, and attendants, Father Monserrate notes that Akbar's camp was almost 2.5 kilometres in length while he was on the move. Karl Marx also reiterates, based on Bernier's assessment, that the primary cause of the Indian cities' slow urbanisation was their use as military bases.


There is no doubting the fact that the camp's neighbourhood used to be charged commercially. The capital cities, including Shahjahanabad, Fathepur Sikri, and Agra, were thriving commercial hubs. Faiz Bazaar, Urdu Bazaar, and Fatehpuri Bazaar were the two series of main bazaars of Shahjahanabad. Chandni Chowk was surrounded by stores. Bernier has nothing but admiration for the goods available in Delhi's markets.


At Sikri, the homes of the professional and merchant classes were a significant part of the city enclosure, indicating "a rather strong tie between the governmental authority and the commercial elite." While Fathepur Sikri was still the capital city, Hakim Abul Fath Gilani and Ralph Fitch described it as a thriving commercial centre in 1581 and 1584, respectively. Later, William Finch, writing nearly thirty years later, mentioned Fathepur as an important indigo production hub despite mentioning the palace's and its buildings' desolate state.


It appears that the growth of actual cities was more of a contemporary phenomenon than something that occurred in the past. Pelsaert makes it very obvious that Agra and Sikri are brimming with artisans. These cities are famous for their carpet manufacturing, but the city contains all sorts of artists in huge numbers, according to Pelsaert. The presence of wealthy businessmen in Delhi is also vividly described by Bernier: "Amid these streets are spread the habitations of Mansabdars, or minor Omrahs, officers of justice, wealthy businessmen, and others." There was undoubtedly a significant commercial class in the city that had permanent homes and warehouses and was not required to travel with the camp's movements.


The royal tent homes were a significant aspect of Islamic towns. Even Babur never built a palace complex; instead, he lived in the open. Babur often remained at his Bagh-i Hasht Bihisht in Agra, where he established the garden complexes. The designs of Akbar's capital city Sikri were based on nomadic mobile tent cities rather than the royal encampment that served as the inspiration for Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. The Mughal rulers employed these mobile tents as their portable palaces since they had to be constantly on the road to strengthen their position, put down internal uprisings, and deal with exterior threats.

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