Indore, the central city of India, is the heart of Madhya Pradesh. This largest city of Madhya Pradesh speaks grandeur with the stories of the past, and hope for the future. Indore which was once a trading hub between Delhi and Deccan region is currently the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh. Known as the cleanest city for the sixth time in a row, Indore also backs up the title of being the educational hub.

Indore, located on the southern edge of the Malwa Plateau, is renowned for its multi-ethnic culture. It has become what it is today mainly because of its rich culture. However, cultures always reflect the history and geography of places as well.

An architectural review of location: Indore - Sheet1
Old City Indore_©https://www.reckontalk.com/52-rare-vintage-pics-of-indore-never-seen-before-collection/

Geography of Indore 

Geographically, Indore is situated on the Malwa plateau with the Vindhya Mountain range on the fringes. The town is centrally located in India and experiences a subtropical and humid climate. With the undulating terrain and linearity of the plateau, the city has soothing winters and monsoons. Although the summer brings scorching heat, the abundance of flora and fauna balances it out. The city is blessed with the intersection of two rivers, Saraswati and Khan.  The vernacular architecture of the local area has a few excellent examples of recessed verandas and carved corbels and columns. Verandas, courtyards, and other open spaces provide relief from Indore’s harsh summers. 

History of Indore

In 1715, The local landowners discovered Indore as a trade market on the Narmada River valley route. They constructed Indreshwar Temple in 1741 from which the name of the city ‘Indore’ was derived. The history after that of the city is intertwined because of the influence of the Marathas, Mughals, and British rule. The zamindar, also known as the landlord system was very prominent in this region. 

An architectural review of location: Indore - Sheet2
Indreshwar Temple_©https://www.laveenadiaries.com/2020/08/indore.html

Holkar’s Indore 

Before British rule, in 1743, Baji Rao Peshwa established his rule in this area and appointed Malhar Rao Holkar as a ruler. Indore came under the Holkar dynasty and flourished economically, socially, and culturally. Ahilya Bai Holkar governed Indore from the historically and architecturally prominent landmark, the Palace fort of Maheshwar. The imperial legacy left by the Holkar dynasty, this city’s heritage is notable for its keen interest in education and planning. Indore’s Royal character was enhanced by Jewellery, cars, and palaces, all of which were celebrated by the Holkars. They brought palaces, chattris, and Kanch mahal to the architectural map of Indore. 

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Maheshwar Fort_©https://www.freepik.com/

With its lofty, seven-story gateway with canted bays on either side of the central arch, the Juna Rajwada, or Old Palace was built by Maharaja Malhar Rao Holkar II. The Gopal temple has an elaborately decorated roof supported by granite pillars to the right. Near the Khajuri Bazaar, the palace is in the older part of the city.

British Indore 

In 1817, Holkars were defeated by the Britishers. During this time, Indore was transitioning from Mughal and Maratha styles to a composite Anglo-Indian style.  In the southeast part of the city, educational institutes laid the foundation for institutional development. Business in Indore thrived after the Railways were introduced in 1875. During this time, the Manikbag Palace, Maharani Saraya, Gandhi Hall, Old High Court Building, Yashwant Niwas, and Tukoji Rao Hospital were built. 

An architectural review of location: Indore - Sheet4
Gandhi Hall_©https://in.worldorgs.com/catalog/indore/amusement-center/gandhi-hall
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Daly College_©httpwww.dalycollege.org

Contemporary Indore  

The development of railway links connecting the Pilgrimage route made the city the commercial capital of the central province in the pre-independence era. After independence, the first-ever planning intervention was the Indore Development Plan (1974-91). An industrial plan was developed along Sanver Road in the 1930s and implemented in the 1940s. 

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Smart city Proposal for Indore_©https://government.economictimes.indiatimes.com/

In today’s Indore, the city is a business, industrial, educational, and recently a health facility centre. Indore has been selected as one of the 100 Indian cities to be developed as a smart city under the Smart Cities proposal. The city qualified for the first round and has been selected as one of the first twenty smart cities in India. Many urban design-level inserts are taking shape in the city to make it more people-friendly. Aside from its development dynamic, which mimics Mumbai, the city also boasts skyscrapers and big shopping malls.

Indore City_©https://starofmysore.com/

Culture and People of Indore 

It is impossible to separate Indore’s culinary heritage from its city. Indore is one of the cities that offers the most variety, tastes, and use of spices when it comes to street food in India. Indian preparations can be found in abundance in the city, which is like heaven for foodies.  In addition to food, there are innumerable temples in the city, including the Annapurna Temple, the Bara Ganapati Temple, and the Crystal Temple. Kanch Mandir, Sai Baba Mandir etc. Each of these temples represents a different aspect of the city’s religious-cultural aspect. The religious heritage of the city is older than the city itself.

Indore is a unique assembly of natural abundance, architecture, craft, and culture. The diversity of the city spans from culture to politics where history beautifully coexists with the present.

      Reference List 

  1. Indore Travel Blog: Indore travel guide: Places & attractions (2022) FabHotels Travel Blog. Available at: https://www.fabhotels.com/blog/destinations/indore/ 
  2.  Solutions, M. (no date) Indore city information, Moving Solutions. Available at: https://www.movingsolutions.in/indore.html  
  3. Mumbai Mirror (2010) Indore: An architectural marvel, Mumbai Mirror. Mumbai Mirror. Available at: https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/indore-an-architectural-marvel/articleshow/16055503.cms  
  4. Monuments of Indore, monuments of Madhya Pradesh (no date) IndiaNetzone.com. Available at: https://www.indianetzone.com/44/monuments_indore.htm 
  5. Smart City Indore: History & Heritage (no date) Smart City Indore | History & Heritage. Available at: https://www.smartcityindore.org/history-heritage/ (Accessed: October 23, 2022). 
  6. Indore directory (no date) https://www.indoreonline.in/. Available at: https://www.indoreonline.in/city-guide/culture-of-indore (Accessed: October 23, 2022). 
Author

Radhika is a storyteller first and an architect second. She believes that architecture is a powerful tool to address society. It is one of the easiest forms of art which is directly used and understood by every person, for ages. She is a writing enthusiast, who loves to capture the world and her ideas with pen, paper and lens.

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