India, a country in South Asia, the seventh largest and the second most populated, guarded by the Himalayas on the North and large water bodies on the other three sides, has a rich cultural heritage. It is known for its fastest growing economy and large purchasing power. It is a federal republic that is divided into twenty-nine states and seven Union Territories. The states are further divided into districts, which form the basic units of the nation's administration. Let us look at some major cities of this multifaceted country, India.
New Delhi, the second largest metropolis of India, is its national capital. Located on the banks of the Yamuna River, it is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. The archaeological remains in Delhi stand testimony to rich history of this city. It has been the capital of many Indian empires of the medieval period. It is the proud home of many important government offices, most importantly the Parliament of India. In the recent years, it has attracted many immigrants, thus emerging as a cosmopolitan city. Today, it is a prominent political and commercial center of India.
Historically, the residence of the Mughal Emperor for about 200 years before 1857, the Red Fort is situated in the center of Delhi. Built by Emperor Shah Jahan, it is known for its walls made of red sandstone and architectural elements, and considered as a representation of Mughal creativity under Shah Jahan. On the Indian Independence Day, the Prime Minister hoists the tricolor at the main gate of this fort.
The Delhi-Agra highway joins Delhi to the beautiful city of Agra, which is a major tourist attraction. The world-famous Taj Mahal and many other great historical monuments like the Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, and Sikandara are located in Agra. In the epic Mahabharata, Agra has been mentioned as "border of the forest". This city, with Delhi and Jaipur forms the Golden Triangle tourist circuit.
Founded by Emperor Akbar in 1569, Fatehpur Sikri is a city in the Agra District. It was built as a planned walled city with many royal palaces, courts, a mosque, and utility buildings, and it is said that Emperor Akbar took keen interest in its construction and architecture. It stands as an example of the Indian Mughal architecture and is best known for Akbar and his nine jewels (Navaratnas).
Located on the south bank of River Yamuna, it is an ivory-white marble mausoleum commissioned by Shah Jahan in 1632, to house the tomb of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Its construction is said to have completed in 1653 costing around 32 million rupees (52.8 billion rupees today). It was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a winner of the New 7 Wonders of the World initiative. It exemplifies Mughal architecture and represents the rich history of India, and is a major tourist attraction.
The capital city of the state of Maharashtra, Mumbai is the financial capital of India and its richest city. It is home to the world-famous Hindi film and television industry, Bollywood. Important financial institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India and the National Stock Exchange of India are located in Mumbai. It houses the headquarters of several multinational companies and has thus become an important commercial and entertainment center of India.
This cable-stayed bridge, also called Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link, connects Bandra in west Mumbai to Worli in south Mumbai. It reduces the travel time between these two suburbs to a great extent. It was India's first cable-stayed bridge constructed in open seas and Mumbai's first infrastructure project to use seismic arresters (meant to provide resistance to earthquakes).
Pune, the second largest city of Maharashtra houses some of India's famous historical landmarks like the Shaniwar Wada and Aga Khan Palace. It is renowned for its educational facilities and career opportunities in information technology. Proud of a rich past and known as one of the fastest growing cities in the Asia-Pacific region, Pune finds a place in the list of the major cities of India.
Built in 1732, it was the center of Peshwa rulers of the Maratha Empire till 1818. Originally built as Bajirao Peshwa's residence, it received additions such as fortification walls and court halls by the Peshwas. It was a seven-storeyed building made using stone, teak, and lime. During a fire in 1828, many of its parts were destroyed. It is an important historical landmark in Maharashtra and a tourist attraction of Pune.
Built in 1892, by Sultan Muhammed Shah Aga Khan III with the purpose of helping those struck by famine, this palace is one of the most magnificent structures in India. It gained national importance when it came to be linked with the Indian freedom struggle as Mahatma Gandhi, his wife Kasturba and secretary Mahadev Desai and Sarojini Naidu had to serve imprisonment here, after launching the Quit India Movement.
Located on the Coromandel Coast of Bay of Bengal, it is the capital of Tamil Nadu. It was established in the 17th century by the British and formerly known as Madras. Its economy is based on the automobile, hardware manufacturing, healthcare, and IT industry. Chennai hosts an international airport, two major ports, and five national highways stretching to other parts of the India. Its contribution to India's exports of automotive products has conferred upon Chennai the title, 'Detroit of India'.
It houses the Municipal Corporation of Chennai since 1913 and is located near the Chennai Central railway station. It is white in color and stands as an example of the Neoclassical architectural style. It is rectangular with a central tower that has a clock. The Westminister Quarter chiming clock, as it is called is the building's main attraction.
Till 1948 when it became a part of the Indian Union, it was the capital of Hyderabad State. After the States Reorganization Act, 1956, it became the capital of Andhra Pradesh. From 2014, when Telangana was declared as a separate state, Hyderabad is the joint capital of the two states. Much of the city is located on hilly terrain. It has been a cultural center due to artists from different parts of the country migrating to Hyderabad after the decline of the Mughal Empire. Famous as a center for pearl and diamond trading, it is known as the City of Pearls. Today, it is India's second-largest producer of motion pictures thanks to the Telugu film industry.
Constructed in 1591 CE, it is an archaeological and architectural landmark of India. It is believed that it was built at the city's center to commemorate the eradication of plague, as Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah had prayed for the eradication and vowed that he would have a monument built at the place he prayed, should his prayers be answered.
Kolkata is the capital of West Bengal and one of the very important cities in India. It has been a center of education, industry, and culture. However, it underwent economic stagnation in the years after India's independence. It was after 2000 that the city saw economic growth. It is home to the Salt Lake Stadium which is the largest in Asia and the second largest in the world. The Indian Institute of Management, one of India's most prestigious management schools is also located in Kolkata.
Officially known as Bengaluru, it is the capital city of Karnataka state and the third most populous city of India. It houses some of the most recognized educational and research institutes in India. Numerous public sector industries, software, telecommunication and aerospace industries are located in this city. Its remarkable contribution to the Indian IT sector has made it the Silicon Valley of India.
Commissioned by Hyder Ali and completed by his son Tipu Sultan, it is a famous botanical garden in southern Bangalore and among the city's prominent tourist attractions. Spread over an area of 240 acres, it has more than 1,000 species of flora, a few species of birds, and trees more than 100 years old. It has a glass house that hosts two flower shows every year.
Founded in 1727, Jaipur is the largest city in Rajasthan and its capital. It was planned based on the Indian Vastu Shastra by Vidyadhar Bhattacharya. Known as the Pink City of India, it is one of the major tourist attractions of the country and an important center for arts and crafts.
Built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh and designed by Lal Chand Ustad, in the shape of Lord Krishna's crown, this palace has been built in red and pink sandstone. It is five-storeyed, pyramidal in shape, and stands 50 feet tall. It had a high screen wall so that women from the royal families could see the street festivals without being seen to the public.
Also called Amdavad, located on the banks of River Sabarmati, it is the former capital of Gujarat and its largest city. Its stock exchange is the second oldest in the country. It has been chosen as the best city to live in India by the Times of India and has been on the Forbes' list of fastest growing cities. It is a major economic and industrial center in India.
Known for being the most revered roza in Gujarat, it is a mosque and tomb complex in the village of Makaraba. It has been an important center of Sufi culture in India. The 20th century architect Le Corbusier compared its design with the Acropolis of Athens, after which it came to be called Ahmedabad's Acropolis.
Situated in the south-western part of India, Goa is the country's smallest state by area, and also its richest state. It is known for its infrastructure and quality of life. Once a Portuguese province, it became a part of India in 1961. It is a major tourist attraction of India and known for its architecture, places of worship, and beaches. The capital of Goa is Panaji, Margao is its commercial and cultural capital, and Vasco Da Gama is its largest city.
Located in the South Goa region close to Margao, Palolem beach is about 1 mile long and crescent-shaped. It is known for being clean. Tourists and local fishermen live in shacks along the shores or in the Palolem beach village. On the island near this beach is the Money Stone, a sculpture by the American artist Jacek Tylicki. Also called "Give if you can - Take if you have to", it has become a pilgrimage site where people can choose to leave or take money.
Indian cities like these, each with a different history and culture, make the Indians proud of their nation's cultural heritage and diversity.