Spread over an area of a staggering 11,815 Sq.km, this city is relatively lesser known but is definitely and silently scripting its own progress story. Naturally, landscaped hills and forests engulf the region. The city has a rich history and to date still has a lot of villages yet undiscovered. The political dynamics have certainly changed the face of the city, with every new leader wanting to prove their point by improving the urban development model.
It is said to have got its name from date-palm trees due to their massive presence over the entire city. Multiple rulers and dynasties have come, ruled, and perished and left behind their traces and are today present to the folks as Chhindwara, an eminent city, present in the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is unique in its way and harbors significant stories of its inception from the freedom movements.
The population is nearing 21 lakhs and with an increase in the literacy rate, of approximately 72%, the government is gradually constructing schools and colleges for higher studies with detailed programs. The number of skilled laborers has been growing too. With this, the government has allowed major companies to set up their plants which, directly and indirectly, provide job opportunities. Rural and urban development are simultaneously running on the same tracks with immense and swift industrialization. There has been a remarkable shift from traditional working strategies to mechanized methods.
Chhindwara has been given its development plan model, by the then minister Mr. Kamal Nath, to get at par with the other cities in India, and probably the world. The model hinted at developing from the roots of urbanism to instill new confidence. The way of living, working and even means of communication are idiosyncratic, giving rise to languages and festivals that are being followed and performed to date.
Quite a few government schemes, revolving around the development of services for the public, have changed the silhouette of Chhindwara. On account of these, many public buildings are being constructed, making the work of the government more noticeable, tangibly by these edifices. These are becoming the confluence points for growth and foundations for the next political team to build on.
Apart from it, architecturally speaking, Chhindwara is a poetic expression of God. Lush green forests with a few non-perennial waterfalls that come to life only in the monsoons, the city has beautiful topography with exuberant flora and fauna. The city is acclaimed for producing oranges and corn in humongous quantities, which are probably the highest in the country, sold to other states and even countries. This has proved to be an opportunity for the city, to get in the bigger picture, to connect with industries that use these plants, directly or indirectly, to set up industries on the outskirts or within the city limits, and connect the agrarian to the suburban.
Chhindwara is popularly known for owning Patalkot, a valley shaped like a horse-shoe between two mountains, which consists of tribal communities, in the form of villages, that are tucked inside and almost alien from the city view. The city is rich with culture and many tribal villages exist to date that have their own identity and some are still in obscurity. The valley is much talked about and is a prominent eco-tourism spot. The diverse presence of herbs makes it stand out and it’s believed to have mythological tales attached to it. During monsoons, one will be astonished by the greenery at sight and how every species springs back to life. One can very easily notice the kind of rocks and stones that constitute the mountain and their use as the building materials of the past and still today in a few parts.
The architectural style of the villages takes one back in time, highlighting the tools used and the kind of climate-responsive houses that still stand today. Keeping the rich tribal history in mind, the government initiated a museum in 1954, Shri Badal Bhoi State Tribal Museum, to collect and preserve the items used by the tribes of this city and its districts since their birth, to keep the people of modern era aware of the way lifestyles were led back in the days. Instruments, ornaments, vessels, agricultural equipment, and anything and everything about them are on display. The museum might date back seven decades but it is value-rich and keeps the cultures and beliefs alive.
Hindu places of worship, masjids, mosques, ancient forts, caverns, etc. are almost all made up of stone and adorn Brahmic and Islamic styles. The styles record the history and how each ruler added to their power and furthered their legacy, architecturally. The use of stone in the structural systems and foundations surprises one with the kind of engineering feat achieved, to withstand heavy loads.
With the ascent of modernization and globalization, the standard of living and working has undoubtedly upgraded. Road, rail, and air connectivity have broadened the network and made it possible to open the gates of knowledge to pour in. Annually, the corn festival is celebrated to respect the corn-producing farmers and to promote Chhindwara as the highest producer of the crop. It’s the very crop that has become an economical vantage point to pull bigger names from various sectors like food, textile, pharmaceutical, etc. to come and invest in the city, and stimulate the use and efficiency of corn and also other crops. And it’s not possible without involving the big names from the political world to do so.
Chhindwara is one of the few cities in India that is nonchalantly sitting on a prosperous architectural history and biodiversity. With the demographics getting better, demand for more community spaces is springing up to hold the present while rethinking the future. The city is full of open spaces that can be capitalized to transform into an amalgamated metropolis that supports cultural, civil, ministerial, and economic parameters. The narratives seemed to have changed drastically after the introduction of the ‘Chhindwara model’ by the government, with an acute focus on shaping the urban dynamics and concurrently preserving and reviving the rural profile of the city.
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