History of Cities

History of Indian Cities

The Indian sub-continent has been home to urbanization since 3000 B.C and has seen uninterrupted growth and development of cities in all its parts, from the high Himalayas to arid deserts to flat plains to rough plateau to the coastal regions

The left panel here shows the various resources on Urban History for students and researchers. They include Comparative Urbanism, City Tile Project, Himalayan Cities


An Interview with Pratyush Shankar on his research on History of Indian Cities as a Humboldt Fellow, Universtät Bonn, Germany

History of Cities FAQ?


Why study Cities at all?

Cities  define the culture of a place and has been the sites of innovation, competition and identity for the nations in the region. They represent the best of civilized values that we all wish to cherish, such as diversity, tolerance and democracy

Is there something unique about cities of the Indian sub-continent?

The particular geography of the Indian sub-continent and the play of politics in South Asia exhibits certain peculiarities. These regional uniqueness also reflects in the form and structure of the city. Like many other region of the world is it also has its own narrative

Does politics and economics play the most important role in the  development of cities?

Yes, surely political currents along with resources is always a big reason for formation and growth of cities. But much more important and rather ignored is the historic interaction of humans with their environment (immediate landscape) that shape a particular economic model.

So are we talking about Environmental determinism for Urban History?

Yes, one can say that I am more curious about the landscape interaction of cities and I feel the politics of the land in historic times has also emerged from the nature of landscape setting or the kind of environmental resource available to us

 How can comparing historic cities help in Urban research and practice?

The imagination of the future form of  cities in terms of urban planning and design is most urgent. However such discussions suffer from lack of empirical evidences from the past or present that can form an armature to mount new ideas. There is an urgent need to theorize the past so as to make it more relevant for the present, otherwise a country like India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh might just move to a future that is without any moorings

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