Liveable Cities

A SPECTACULAR FLOWER SHOW BLOSSOMS IN AHMEDABAD

THE New Year in Ahmedabad began with a spectacular flower show, an annual occurrence over the last four years, at the Sabarmati Riverfront. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) takes pride in this unique event which it organises with great gusto and planning.

We visited the event to get you some authentic details and inside facts. Here are excerpts from the rendezvous with Jignesh Patel, director, Parks & Gardens, AMC.

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This is the 5th annual Flower Show at Ahmedabad. How did you get the idea to organise this kind of a unique show?
Earlier, this kind of a flower show was arranged in Bengaluru and Ooty annually. We thought why not try and organise a similar show in Ahmedabad. Since the last four years, we were organising the show outdoors where we just arranged plants brought from nurseries in different landscapes.
What kind of preparation is needed to set up something like this? How long did you plan?
Our major planning goes into seasonal sapling preparation. We started sowing the seeds last September. This was followed by seedling preparations. As soon as they sprouted, we put them into nursery bags. These little saplings took around four months to mature and flower.
Special buses have been organised for people to access this show easily. What other such facilities have been provided?

Yes, special buses are plying from areas that have lower connectivity to this part of the city. We want to make sure everyone can enjoy this show. Visitor entry and parking is free. We have covered the entire premise with CCTV cameras and security guards to ensure safety.
What are the footfalls?

Everyday more than 1.5 million people visit the show. Last year, within a week, almost 12-16 million people had come to see the show. This year we expect at least 20 million.
Every year there is something unique in the show. What is the centre of attraction this time?
This year’s most unique attraction are the moss sculptures. In India, this is the first-time moss sculptures of this magnitude are on display.

We have tried to take inspiration from the sculptures in the Montreal garden in Canada, and created different pieces. The biggest sculpture is 20 ft high (clock tower) and the widest is the Teen Darwaja sculpture which is 50 ft long.

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How many types of flowers, plants and saplings are on display?
About 750 different varieties of flowers are on display, both exotic as well as Indian.
What is the main reason behind organising this kind of a show?

Last year plants worth more than `30 million were sold. It shows that people who are away from greenery are coming towards it. We also aim at creating environmental awareness. People can purchase world-class plants from the show too.

Considering the extreme climate of our city, can a round-the-year option be worked out for display?
It is very difficult because there are some limitations. Every season and every time of the year there are different varieties of flowers and plants that thrive.
Winter flowers do not survive in summer and vice versa. During monsoons, most of the plants don’t flower.

Do you consider organising workshops for children where they can learn more about flora and fauna?
We have created a bonsai park at Parimal Garden where everyone, regardless of their age, can learn about everything about nurturing and maintaining bonsai.
In the future, do you also plan include medicinal plants?
This is basically a flower garden so medicinal plants don’t go with the theme. But if we decide to create a garden with that theme we definitely shall.

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THE JEWELS OF SURAT

The historic city of Surat has over the centuries bounced back with renewed vigour every time after it faced a massive setback

By: Revati Rajwade

The city of Surat in Gujarat is flanked by the Arabian Sea on its west and is divided horizontally by the meandering Tapi river. Thus, geographically it is a city that lies in proximity to water and owing to this its evolution has been largely governed by these water bodies.

In olden times, it was a very important seaport and thus vital for trade. Since its origin, Surat has had numerous rulers from various dynasties and religions. Control over the city was of paramount importance owing to it being a base for trading operations.

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Flags of over 80 countries were seen flying on their ships indicating the vast range of trading partners that Surat could boast of. It was only when the East India Company established its factory at Bombay that Surat’s decline as a port began.

However, history speaks proudly of this city that bounced back with renewed vigour every time it faced a massive setback. It is known as a city that was scorched and ravaged, a city that has seen its prosperities turn into adversaries, but which finally revived and renewed itself.

By the early 20th century, the city’s population had escalated to over a lakh, and Surat was a centre of trade and manufacturing although some of its former industries, such as shipbuilding, no longer existed. There were cotton mills, factories for pressing cotton, rice-cleaning mills and paper mills.

Fine cotton goods were woven on handlooms and there were manufacturers of silk brocade and gold embroidery (known as Jari). However, in 1994, a combination of heavy rains and blocked drains led to flooding in the city. Dead street animals and public waste were not removed in time and thus a plague epidemic spread through the city.

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The situation was so severe that a number of countries imposed travel restrictions on people travelling from India. Post this dreadful epidemic, the municipal commissioner of that time, S. R. Rao, and the people of Surat worked in tandem to clean up the city. The result of these systematic efforts led to Surat being one of the cleanest cities of India.

It has been selected as one of the 100 Indian cities to be developed as a smart city under Prime Minister NarendraModi’s flagship Smart Cities Mission.

Over the years Surat has shown rapid progress and has been the epicentre of the inception of several businesses. One of these industries has grown to such an extent that it has now become the identity of the city.

Surat is now known for diamonds and diamond-studded gold jewellery manufacturing. It accounts for the world’s highest rough diamond cutting and polishing business and the maximum number of the nation’s diamond exports.

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Alongside these achievements, the Urban Development Authority of Surat is taking measures to counter the menaces of rapid urbanisation. An Outer Ring Road and Middle Ring Road have been planned to decongest the traffic from the major highways passing through the city.

Like other Indian cities, the urbanscape of Surat is a fine blend of rustic heritage and towering modernity. The public monuments like the SardarVallabhai Patel Museum is an aesthetically built structure with a relevance to the city’s inherent building style.

The collection in the museum represents the rich history and eclectic ethnic mix of Surat. The eclectic mix is apparent even in the built form with structures like the Science Centre and Planetarium flaunting its glass facades. The amphitheatre of this institution doubles up as a multipurpose zone and enriches the public spaces quota of the city.

The Swaminarayan Temple is a reminder of the belief in Swaminarayan which is shared by most inhabitants of the city.

An extract from the study called ‘ At the Core’ beautifully elaborates and celebrates the architecture of Surat. The notes say that some of the streets are a portrayal of the links that the city has with the past.

It is truly mesmerising to delve right into the depths of the intriguing past through the detailed facades, elements which make them their motifs. Surat’s settlement pattern and morphology is an example of medieval urbanisation. A study has shown that the port city’s morphological evolution and urban development lay in money mechanisms, the mercantile population and trading communities settling in the city.

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There are a host of notable architectural structures of various religions which creates a unique architectural vocabulary. The famous monuments include the Surat Fort constructed by Khudawand Khan, Mughal Sarai constructed during the period of Emperor Shah Jahan, the Fire Temple of the Parsi community, the cemeteries of the English and the Dutch, the NavSaiyed Mosque, SaiyedIdris Mosque, Mirza Sami Mausoleum, Chintamani Jain Temple, and a host of other religious and cultural buildings.

European architecture is represented by the Tower, the Andrews Library and the Sir J J Training College. In addition to these, there are a large number of lesser known but equally significant buildings in terms of heritage and architectural value.

Apart from their architectural style and facade, they also demonstrate the building and construction technology that was used in the 19th and early part of 20th century in Surat before the advent of the RCC (Reinforce Cement Concrete) age.

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The layout and interiors of these buildings reveal glimpses of the lifestyle enjoyed by families belonging to different communities in Surat, and throw light on various aspects such as culture, beliefs, social norms, status and role of women, trading practices, etc.

The authors, ManvitaBaradi and MeghnaMalhotra say: “The relevance of our built heritage is fully revealed only when it is positioned within the context of the historic understanding of the cultural heritage of the region. The layers it comprises, the processes of change it has faced, accommodated and rejected, with the resultant manifestations are a testimony to the continuing relevance of the built heritage.

“Being the most visible aspect of the cultural heritage, its significance as a vital engine of appropriate growth, incorporating both continuity and change, cannot be undermined. Such settlements, irrespective of their sizes, age or complexities, are characterised by the coming together of a combination of natural elements of heritage, and rooted in them, the manmade elements of heritage.

“Together they give the settlement its heritage fabric, which is its unique identity. It is the heritage fabric which differentiates one settlement from another. Consequently, the identity of Surat is different from that of Rajkot, or of Jamnagar from that of Bhavnagar, and of Ahmedabad from that of Hyderabad.”

The Wonders Of Bhopal

The ‘city of lakes’ is a myriad urban environment of people of various religions, architectural influences and topography.

Travel being an intrinsic part of my life, a rendezvous with numerous places is something that I eagerly look forward to. After the enchanting experiences from northern and southern India, it was now time to explore the land in between. The itinerary was pre-planned meticulously.

Words: Revati Rajwade
Photos : Sneha Chaddva

Much as I strove to acquire a flavour of Bhopal through maps, pictures and blogs, it was nothing compared to the live experience of being in the place. Every city has an aorta which transfuses positive energy into the heart of the city which is its people. As a tourist, it was rather difficult to decipher this feature of Bhopal during my short sojourn.

It is a myriad urban environment of people of various religions, architectural influences, topography, spaces etc. Being a group of architects, we had common ‘uncommon’ interests and were eager to explore the paths less travelled. We were eager to uncover the layers of grief and despair which has been the only identity of Bhopal after the gas tragedy which brought terrible devastation. The city has travelled a long way and combated the destruction.

Most of Bhopal is on a contoured land and this gives the built form a unique character. However, it is not the quaint little hill station with tiny cottages dotting the landscape – a picture largely associated with settlements on contoured lands. Bhopal is geographically divided by the massive Upper Lake which is undoubtedly the most pleasant sight the city has to offer and thus, it forms the central core.

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In the evenings the sign ‘City of Lakes’ shines proudly from a strategic corner of the lake which is visible as one enters the city from the airport. Bhopal is famously known by that name owing to the presence of numerous lakes. There are various modes of recreation in this area and citizens can choose from a wide variety of amenities. The area is populated during the evenings since it proves to be a public place catering to all age groups.

When one delves into the history of the city, the importance of the statue of Raja Bhoj in the Upper Lake comes to light. The statue stands on a pedestal with the king guarding his city, long after his demise. Raja Bhoj ruled a vast kingdom in central India in the 11th century. It is said that he founded the city of Bhopal. His aura is such that the airport is named after him. Bhoj constructed several spectacular temples, one of the most dramatic of which is seen in the form of the great temple of Shiva termed Bhojeshvara at Bhojpur about 30 km from Bhopal. The construction methods used to build this temple from huge stones is marvelous.

This part of the city around the Upper Lake has clean wide roads and is a result of systematic urban planning. Creative street art in the form of murals and wall paintings have given the particular roads a character of their own. Apart from wall paintings, the profuse usage of various materials has created a vibrant atmosphere.

The space tends to become a public space for art and expression instead of being a mere utility. However, the contrast is stark when one travels away from this zone. The large clean roads give way to narrow overcrowded lanes, the glitzy malls are replaced by tiny shops crunching for space and the modern architecture is transformed into poorly maintained ones from the olden ages.
This part of Bhopal boasts of famous masjids. The Moti masjid no longer lives up to its name and stands partially ripped off its beauty amidst the chaotic and haphazard surroundings. The main grand entrance to the masjid is shut for general public and hence there is no appreciation of space for such a beautiful monument. However, there is a sense of serenity once a person enters the premises of the holy place.

The other masjid, which stands tall and can be viewed even from the other side of the lake is the Taj ul masjid. Its majestic proportions reduce a human to a quarter of his size. It has a large courtyard in front of it, allowing a person to patiently take in the magnitude.

Monuments such as the Sadar Manzil and Gohar Mahal lie in the heart of the city but are in shambles owing to being neglected for ages. Heritage conservation is an aspect which has come to the forefront recently in many Indian cities but unfortunately much has been lost till that time. A citizen who has spent many years of her life in Bhopal says: “This is a city which has been rejuvenated owing to the spirit of the people. Also, the facilities provided since the last decade makes the city more livable. There is a dedicated lane (BRTS) for buses. The traffic congestion is better managed than many other places.”

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Apart from gauging the pulse of the city we visited a few of its jewels. One is the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalay, which spreads across several acres. The museum weaves the story of mankind, tracing it right from prehistoric times. It displays objects which played a pivotal role in man’s progress, his shelter and art forms.

On exhibit are rural houses from all parts of India, built to actual scale with traditional building materials. They sit on the undulating land imparting a wealth of knowledge about various tribes of India and their ways of living.

Along with the open air exhibits, panels and other exhibits are housed in an articulately designed built form. The structure derives light from its roof, thus reducing the need for artificial lighting. The museum is classified into various zones and the systematic internal planning with proper signage makes vehicular and pedestrian circulation effortless.

Another noteworthy destination is a Jain temple, Mahaveer Giri, locatede atop a hill that offers a panoramic view of the city. I always wonder what is it about a bird’s eye view that fills the heart with extraordinary elation. The expanse of the city beneath, slowly merging into the picturesque sky is a treat to the eye and mind. The cluster of buildings seem overbearing at the eye level but from the top, the same sight reminds you that it is housing thousands of people and you suddenly feel ecstatic about it.

The other notable place in Bhopal is Bharat Bhavan, the late architect Charles Correa’s gift to the city. It is an institute built to celebrate all forms of art and is thus a piece of art in itself. The intermingling of open and closed areas, the play of shadows and the serene courtyards holistically creates an atmosphere that reveres art. The play of levels takes the visitor to the depths of the structure and then gradually brings one to the ground level to spaces overlooking the Upper Lake.

Says a visitor: “The paintings and artwork display the enormous talent present in society. We also often attend programmes in the auditorium or the scenic amphitheatre at this place, where numerous artists and connoisseurs of art converge and share their ideas.”

An amalgamation of all these places and unique features of public spaces and city planning makes Bhopal one of the best cities for a tourist to explore and a citizen to live. A single visit is inadequate to fully understand the city and leaves one asking for more.

BEST DEALS THAT BHOPAL OFFERS

Boating in the Upper Lake gives a beautiful view of the city and being in the tranquil waters is an experience to cherish.

Bhopal is a gourmet’s haven with an extensive variety of street food as well as fine dining areas. A restaurant in a railway coach is one of its highlights.

Ajmer – historical chaos

Ajmer is a bustling, unplanned and chaotic city. The kind of city an ambitious urban planner would take up as a challenge to show what proper planning could achieve if implemented.Yet we are not going to discuss the flaws, but rather its charms. Yes, despite the chaos, Ajmer has its own special charm.

The Dargah Ajmer Sharif holds everyone’s attention in this historic city, but there are some more gems hidden here
By Nishka Rathi

Yet we are not going to discuss the flaws, but rather its charms. Yes, despite the chaos, Ajmer has its own special charm.

For many travellers the chaos holds a certain charm like the couple I met once when I travelled to Agra they loved Agra’s unplanned hustle. It was very different from their place. Where were they from, I enquired and got ‘Bruges’ as a reply. I was dumbstruck. Bruges in Belgium is distinguished by its canals,cobbled streets and medieval buildings, it was a far cry from the heat and dust of Agra and they had fallen in love with it.

Ajmer holds a special place in the heart of everyone who has ever visited it. Be it for the Dargah, the tranquil lake of Ana Sagar, the history or the high voltage chaos that exists due to its old heritage and new manufacturing centre status – Ajmer will always stand out in your memory.

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The Dargah is the reason most of us have heard of Ajmer. After all this is the place almost every filmstar worth his opening collection has visited before the launch of a new movie.

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The Dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti is one of India’s most important Muslim pilgrimage centres. The Khwaja founded India’s prime Sufi order; plus the Dargah is also a superb example of early Muslim architecture. He was also known as Gharib Nawaz, or ‘benefactor of the poor’.

For ardent worshippers and believers the Khwaja’s saintly spirit still resides in the Dargah. As a friend who recently visited the Dargah said: “You feel his blessings and love there.”

Every story behind the Dargah is just as steeped in belief. Like the one about the great Mughal Emperor Akbar; he had every earthly desire, yet his heart desired only one thing – an heir to his throne. Looking for hope he offered prayers for an heir and his prayers were answered.

It’s this belief that has transcended ages and even now brings everyone from the common man to stars to pay homage to the great saint.

Tip: My friend visited during the holy month of Ramzan and said it was quite deserted but during the Urs, which is held in honour of the death anniversary of the saint, this mosque swarms with lakhs of pilgrims from all over the world.

History untamed

The history of Ajmer seems unending and doesn’t stop at the Dargah. Ajmer was also the capital of Prithviraj Chauhan. He had twin capitals in Ajmer and Delhi during the latter half of the 12th century.

Ajmer is also a significant centre for Jains and possesses an amazing golden Jain temple. The Nasiyan temple is dedicated to Lord Rishabhdev, first of the 24 Tirthankars. It is revered by the Digambar sect of Jains. The construction of this architectural gem started in 1864.

It is also known as ‘Red Temple’ as it is built of red sand stone. The most amazing part of this temple is the Svarna Nagri or City of Gold. Usually, in many Jain temples one sees painted or figurative representations of the ‘five auspicious events’ (Pancha-Kalyanak) in the life of every

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Tirthankara: conception, birth, renunciation, enlightenment and salvation (moksha or nirvana). The one here is special as it shows the Kalyanakas of Lord Rishabhdev as models. The whole model is covered with gold leaf and is contained in a specially designed golden hall. Only when you see it do you realise the hidden gems in Ajmer are more spectacular than any you have ever seen.

For history lovers and seekers of ‘something different’ Ajmer has a lot to offer. There is another find, the city fort-cum-museum. It was once the residence of Prince Salīm, the son of emperor Akbar, and presently houses a collection of Mughal and Rajput armour and sculpture.

The building is dilapidated, but a magnificent example of Mughal architecture. India’s long story of bondage under the British started here, as this is the place from where Salim, as emperor Jahangir, read out the ‘firman’ permitting the British East India Company to trade with India.

A city with a heart

Ajmer as a city has lots to offer history seekers and urban travellers in search of a different experience, but living here is another matter. It is a manufacturing centre and so is prone to many of the problems faced by such hubs – there is chaos, congestion and many cheek by jowl houses. It’s a small town with a big heart.

A recent newspaper article stated that Ajmer presents a perfect example of harmonious living of Sunni and Shia sects in the Indian subcontinent. It quoted Muslim clerics saying that the city has never witnessed any violence between members of the two sects and that it is the oldest colony of Shia and Sunni Muslims living for the past 800 years.

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Ajmer has many things to offer to people: hope, blessings, a sense of history and a feeling of harmony.

Bengaluru – Maintains its charms in the midst of chaotic change.

“When I shifted to Bengaluru in 2012 it was beautiful, and the Mercer rankings came out that year too. They put Bangalore as India’s no 1 city to live in (of course even then it was 141 out of 221 cities worldwide) but now it is 146th and Hyderabad has come on top! Does that mean its become bad. Don’t think so (sic). I love the way this city lives especially love its weather,” enthuses Shruti who moved in and now refuses to even think of moving away from the warm hug of Bengaluru.

The city has also always been known for its weather. It is mild and pleasant for most parts of the year and that alone makes a huge difference in how you judge a city. Rushing to work on a hot humid day with the sun blazing on your face or when it’s so cold that your toes freeze inside woolen socks makes smiling difficult.

By Nishka Rathi

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Modern Living Modern Problems

Bengaluru, the seeming new but actual old name holds a modern spirit. Actually the name has never really mattered for Bengaluru, for it has been known by different names at different times. It has been called Pensioners’ Paradise and the Garden City of India. Now it is also known as Silicon Valley of India, The Pub Capital of India and also Air Conditioned City! And with all these myriad, modern names it also faces the modern problems of traffic, chaos and space crunch; yet despite it all Bengaluru still holds a welcoming face and a loving spirit.

The population has really surged in the past decade or so and now Bengaluru is the third most populous city of India. The IT revolution made it the technology hub of India and even the bio-technology industry grew here. They are the major employers now and attract talent from all over India and even abroad. Between years 2001 and 2011 its population has grown from just 5.1 million to 8.4 million.

The positive thing is all that population growth indicates economic growth in the last decade because people flock where they get jobs and growing jobs mean growing industries. The city has always had a welcoming way and though the influx of a huge non-ethnic population might have stretched its hospitality a bit and created some mutterings in the deep corners yet the overall feeling is warm.

But on the flip side the infrastructure has not grown at the same pace as the burgeoning population; and all those teeming millions have been fitted into the same claustrophobic space.

Traffic can get your anger blazing in this city. It seems to be rivaling Mumbai in this too. Especially in the last few years there has been a heavy upsurge of traffic and of course traffic jams. Earlier people only complained of heavy traffic during the holiday season; now people are stuck for two hours on normal working days too.

Friends in Bangalore often complain about the traffic. “Do you know it takes me a good hour or so to get to the mall even if it is in a five km radius, thanks to the traffic chaos. Now add more time for getting a parking space, watching a movie or shopping, and finally going back home. The whole trip sounds tiring before I turn on the car key. Prefer watching a movie at home,” rues Arun K. a businessman in this thriving city.

City Verve

There is a different energy in Bengaluru. Recently a city artist Baadal Nanjundaswamy filled a 12-foot-long pothole on the busy Sultan Palya Main Road in RT Nagar, with a life-size crocodile and painted the surrounding area in green and yellow. It surely got the municipal corporation quickly moving to clear the problem caused by a burst pipe a month back. Facets like these liven a city up and people like Nanjundaswamy add character. For a city is more than just the architecture, planning and administration-the people make it throb.

Namma Metro

That’s what the metro is known as in Bengaluru. It has been a work in progress since a decade and even now there are many parts still left unmade. Phase I of Namma Metro will ultimately cover a total of 42.3 km and should be completed by the end of 2015. Phase II (spanning a length of 72.1 km) has an approximate completion date of December 2019. But some issues still exist even in the operational route.

“Yes there are some problems that could have been solved with more attention to detail like certain stations have few bus connections if you want to go further on,” says Revathi B, a frequent metro traveller. “Then I have to get off a station or two earlier to get the bus. But on the whole I love the Metro experience especially the clean stations and AC coaches.”

Bengaluru’s vitality and charm lies in its warm, multi-cultural outlook. Modern industries have made it rise from its slumbering image but its real test is in working its charm and finding its own solutions to city problems.

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Tender SURE Roads

Do you really know what’s under your road? It is a maze of electricity wires, water and sewer pipes and gas lines that overlap underground. And when one department digs to sort out some problem, more often than not it ends up creating a problem for another. The fact is all those line problems, potholes and melting roads cause major bottlenecks plus are expensive to repair. According to the National Transport Development Committee’s 2011 report, the cost of replacing poor roads came to a whopping Rs.9 trillion.

Now, imagine roads that last and don’t melt away at the first drop of rain; roads that are crater-free and smooth. Yes, it is happening in Bengaluru.

‘Tender SURE’s” goal is to ensure that the roads once completed will actually last. It is the brainchild of non-profit Janaagrah Centre for Citizenship and Democracy, is financed by the Karnataka government and adopted by Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, the civic body. It stipulates minimum quality indicators for contractors along with a mandatory five-year maintenance clause and aims to simultaneously sort out the unplanned maze of electricity, water, sewer and gas lines that overlap underground. If this project succeeds it will mean a major re-think over roads in India.

Historical sites

Bangalore has many charms none the least is its majestic history.

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Bangalore Palace:

Its construction was started by Rev. J. Garrett in 1862. He was the first principal of what is now known as Central College. The palace changed hands since and is now owned by the Mysore royal family. A part of the palace is open for the public and the other portion is still a vacation home for the royal family.

Tipu Sultan’s Palace:

It was the summer palace of Tipu Sulatan and stands out as a beautiful example of Indo-Islamic architecture. Built entirely of teak and airy with many balconies, pillars, arches, rooms and walls the palace abounds in beautiful floral motifs paintings of battle scenes.

Indore – the charms of a small city

The charms of a small city

The commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh, Indore is also attracting a lot of automobile and IT players and educational institutions.Indore is a tier 2 city, the largest city of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh by population.

By Nishka Rathi

Indore is known as the business and trading capital of Madhya Pradesh. It balances the hustle and bustle of a trading centre along with the charms of a small city. It is also one of India’s rapidly growing cities and has a lot to offer from trade and commerce to technology and education.

Indore has always been a commercial city especially due to its location. It’s situated at the cross roads of western and central India. It is still one of the major textile centres of India and also services many small, mid and large cap industries.In recent times Indore grew because of large automobile

manufacturing units, and the development of its Pithampur industrial belt.

Now IT is slowly gaining ground with Infosys and TCS setting up centres here.And it is attracting talented people from across the country.

Indore is also an important financial centre and houses the headquarters of the Madhya Pradesh Stock Exchange. This heavy emphasis on trade and industry makes many of its residents refer to Indore as mini Mumbai.

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As most cities in India, Indore has grown without much planning. The narrow roads and traffic going everywhere at once doesn’t aid matters either. It has grown around the starting point with myriad roads and crossings and even has an old town.

As Samriti Goel Saran, a resident points out: “Traffic congestion is a big problem. Roads are not wide enough, especially since the construction of a BRTS corridor. The corridor was supposed to encourage public mass transport, which has not really happened. And the vehicle load on the remaining road area has substantially increased.” Of course, this is coupled with almost zero traffic sense.

In 2013, there was a demand that cars should be allowed to ply on BRTS lanes. The matter went to a court, and it was decided that cars be allowed to use the bus lanes, as a temporary measure until the case was resolved. The result: traffic speed declined from 20 km/h to 13 km/h and accidents became common. Earlier this year, the Madhya Pradesh high court decided to reinstate the ban on cars on bus lanes.

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The BRTS is there to stay in Indore and commuters need to adapt to it but they really add to the congestion on roads especially in a city that lacks wide roads and flyovers.

Where Indore really scores with is on the educational front, as it has good institutions. They include an IIT and an IIM plus some really good schools and colleges like Daly College.

Places to visit

If food is their love then faith and tradition are what the local Indoris adore. Most of the places to visit are temples and Chhatris (they mark the cremation place of royal Maratha rulers).

Khajrana Ganesh Mandir: This is an old Ganesh temple that holds a special place in the hearts of the citizens. It was built by AhilyabaiHolkar, the brave Maratha queen.

The KanchMandir: It is also known as the glass temple and is exquisitely crafted in glass. It is a Jain temple and was built in the early 20th century. Its doors, pillars, ceilings and walls are entirely inlaid with glass and abound with minute detailing. The temple paintings depict stories from the Jain scriptures.

BadaGanpati temple: Another Ganesh temple, it was built in 1875 and the idol is 25 feet high.

Rajwada Palace: This seven-storeyed palace was built by the Holkars of the Maratha Empire and is about two centuries old. It is located in the heart of city right next to a bustling market.The structure was damaged due to a fire in 1984. Most of it is now restored.

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Looking forward

Due to its trading roots, money was never one of Indore’s problems. But all this new money and new industries has also meant change, which has come about slowly but surely. Indore might not be as visible as the metros but it’s never been forgotten.

Indore is also a hub for entrepreneurial activities due to its cost effectiveness for a first-time entrepreneur. There is also a proposed Data Centre Park (DCP), which will provide data centres to companies that till now had to look outside the country to places like Singapore for data storage. Maybe over the coming years IT will shape it the way it shaped cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Rapid urbanisation is taking its toll on its culture and look. There is a skewed spatial distribution of population in certain areas and slums coexisting with sparsely populated areas

mostly near the fringe. Despite all the advances in other spheres Indore has still not tackled the issue of water sourcing and for many residents water is not available 24×7.

One of the most critical problems faced by the city is environmental pollution. The large number of factories (including small, medium and large) are responsible for high atmospheric and water pollution. Indore also lacks green and recreational spaces. The city has a development plan, but its implementation is not satisfactory.

Despite its warts, Indore is a welcoming city so outsiders have rarely faced a problem here. As V Sen a new resident puts it: “Indore is such a warm city. It doesn’t take long to make friends here and you are met with such warmth that you start identifying yourself as an Indorian.” This might work in its favour as it attracts new industries and new talents and may push it towards developing its amenities further.

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