Every 1M City in India - Explained! (Part 4)
Last updated: Friday August 13th, 2021
India has 55 Urban Areas with at least 1 Million people. In this series, I will tell you a bit about all of them. This is part 4, so.. uh.. yeah let's start
• Population: 1.94 Million
• Local Language: Odia
• Subdivision: Odisha (State)
• Pronunciation: BHUB-uh-NAY-shwer
• Etymology: From Tribhubaneshwara, a name for Shiva, meaning Ruler of the 3 Worlds.
Odisha (at least from my experience) is sometimes forgotten or not talked about enough when it comes to states of India. However, it is very interesting and Bhubaneshwar especially is a fascinating city. Bhubaneshwar and its twin city Cuttack are the largest cities in Odisha, and are grouped together in this figure.
Anyways, Bhubaneshwar is known as the Temple City and is part of a Golden Triangle (a different one) with the nearby towns of Puri and Konark. (Also it's more like a golden line than a golden triangle but whatever) These towns are also known for their temples but I'll focus on Bhubaneshwar.
Bhubaneshwar is close to the Bay of Bengal but doesn't touch it, and it is also close to the Mahanadi river which Cuttack borders.
Many of Bhubaneshwar's temples showcase Kalinga architecture, and some of the temples include the centuries-old Lingaraja, Baitala, Ananta Basudev, and Bramheswara just to name a few. Other monuments are the Udaygiri and Khandagiri caves, Sisupalgarh fort, and Odisha state museum.
Also, while part of Bhubaneshwar including the old city (known as Ekamra Kshetra, or Mango Grove Area) and many of the temples are very old, much of modern Bhubaneshwar was actually a planned city designed in 1946 by German Architect Otto Königsberger.
• Population: 1.85 Million
• Local Language: Marathi
• Subdivision: Maharashtra (State)
• Pronunciation: ow-RUNG-ah-bahd
• Etymology: Named after Mughal Conqueror Aurangzeb.
Aurangabad is located in central Maharashtra in the Marathwada region that was historically ruled by Hyderabad. They were also important to the Mughal Empire, and Emperor Aurangzeb's tomb is here. However, they are also famous for their caves, like the Ajanta, Ellora and Aurangabad caves.
But first of all, they are known as the City of Gates, and was founded by Malik Ambar in the 1600s, and was renamed Aurangabad by Aurangzeb in honor of his favorite person, Aurangzeb.
Anyways, back to monuments, I mentioned the Ajanta and Ellora caves which Aurangabad is the closest major city to but they are actually relatively far from the city, so I'll talk more about it in a later blog series *foreshadowing*
What is in Aurangabad is the Aurangabad caves which aren't as well known but also fascinating. They are a series of Buddhist carved shrines, similar to the Ajanta.
Another iconic monument is Bibi ka Maqbara tomb which isn't Taj Mahal though it's very similar and modeled after it. The Daulatabad fort was originally of the Yadava dynasty before the region was annexed by the Delhi Sultanate.
Aurangabad is famous for the Himroo fabric made from silk and cotton that is produced there.
Finally, a famous temple from here would be the Ghrishneshwar temple mentioned in the Shiva Purana.
• Population: 1.82 Million
• Local Language: Tamil
• Subdivision: Tamil Nadu (State)
• Pronunciation: MA-dhu-rye
• Etymology: A few different theories, such as from Matiray, meaning walled city in old Tamil, or Madhura, meaning sweet, or after the North Indian city of Mathura.
Madurai is like the capital of South Indian culture, even more than Chennai and Coimbatore, and I say this mostly because it is home to the famous Meenakshi Amman Temple, one of the largest temples in the world.
But before we get to that, Madurai is located in central Tamil Nadu on the Vaigai River, and I just realized it's the southernmost 1 Million Population city in India, just a bit more south than Kochi.
Madurai is a very historic city, as it was maybe mentioned by the Greek Ambassador Megasthenes during the Maurya Empire in the 3rd century BCE (though this is disputed). The Tamil Sangam, a meeting of Tamil scholars, was also held here twice, the first time being in the 3rd century (CE). Due to this long history and the many monuments, Madurai is known as the Athens of the East. The most famous of these monuments is of course the Meenakshi Amman Temple, in the top 25 largest temples in the world, but it is probably the most iconic temple in the world. It is incredibly colorful and intricate, and it is dedicated to the goddess Meenakshi. It is a cultural symbol for Tamil Nadu and the whole of India, being on Tamil Nadu's state seal.
Other than this, there are many other interesting monuments, however, many of which are temples, such as the Maariamman Kovil Teppakulam, but some other ones include the Gandhi Memorial Museum (yes, I know, every other city has a Gandhi Museum, he was important okay), the Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal, St. Mary's Cathedral, and many statues.
• Population: 1.78 Million
• Local Language: Hindi
• Subdivision: Uttar Pradesh (State)
• Pronunciation: MEE-ruht
• Etymology: Might have come from Mayarashtra, meaning capital of Mayasura, or some variation of that story.
Meerut is in western Uttar Pradesh, relatively close to Delhi, being in the National Capital Region (a region encompassing Delhi's Metro Area, and even bigger than that). It isn't on any major river but is close to both the Yamuna on the west side and the Ganga on the east. Meerut is also a very old city, with settlement in its region dating back to the Indus Valley civilization times. In fact, Hastinapura, which is often referred to as the old name for Delhi, was actually a separate city in Meerut, famous for being the Kaurava capital in the Mahabharata. Meerut become especially important in the Middle Ages, as it was a strong resistance against Islamic invaders. They are known as the Sports City of India due to their large sports industry, but they also have a sugar and electronic industry. Also, Meerut was an important city in the 1857 uprising, and yes, I know I'm saying that about every city in UP, but Meerut was especially important as it was the city where the whole Rebellion began.
Finally, some monuments include the Mustafa castle, Meerut clock tower, Tank square, the Government Freedom Square Museum, and Kot fort.
• Population: 1.7 Million
• Local Language: Hindi
• Subdivision: Jharkhand (State)
• Pronunciation: JUHM-shuhd-poor
• Etymology: Named after the founder, Jamsetji Tata
Jamshedpur is the largest city in Jharkhand, in the Southeast in the little bit which sticks out into West Bengal. Both the Subarnarekha and Kharkai rivers flow through and merge in Jamshedpur. This location inspired the founding of a large city there, starting with a steel plant. Jamshedji Tata was the most prominent figure in the founding of the city, and it would be named after him in 1919 (Tatanagar is also an alternate name for the city after his last name). The steel plant was the Tata Steel Plant, and Tata is now one of India's biggest companies making things such as cars. This means that Jamshedpur was a planned city.
Jamshedpur is one of the cleanest cities in India, ranking in the top 15, and has the second highest quality of life in India. It's known as one of India's industrial center, and isn't really known for any monuments, but it is home to the large Jubilee Park including the Tata Zoological park and a lake. North of the city is the Dimna lake in the Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary, also home to a waterfall.
Final random fact is that there is a part of the city called Mango (also spelled Maango).
• Population: 1.64 Million
• Local Language: Bengali
• Subdivision: West Bengal (State)
• Pronunciation: ah-SAHN-soul
• Etymology: Asan is a tree that grows here and Sol means land.
As opposed to Jamshedpur, a Jharkhand city near the West Bengal border, Asansol is a Bengali city near the Jharkhand border. Asansol is located next to the Damodar river in the West of West Bengal, and the smaller Nunia River also flows through it. It is known as the city of Black Diamond, and the city of Brotherhood. Asansol, is known as an industrial city, like Jamshedpur, mainly producing steel, coal, iron, and textiles. Asansol is also a fast-growing city, and a railway hub. Let's move on to monuments. Asansol's most famous temple is the Ghagar Buri Chandi Maya Temple. Asansol is also home to a 70-foot statue of Mahatma Gandhi. There are also many parks of course, and just south of the city is the riverside Nehru Park which is probably the most popular. Although not in the city, another nearby famous temple is the Biharinath Shiva Temple on Biharinath hill.
Finally, another interesting place in Asansol is the wax museum, with wax statues.
• Population: 1.64 Million
• Local Language: Kashmiri
• Subdivision: Jammu and Kashmir (Union Territory)
• Pronunciation: SHREE-nuh-gar
• Etymology: Shri is a name for the goddess Lakshmi, and Nagar is city.
*confused political screaming* Okay, just to be clear, the reason I am covering Srinagar is because India controls it and it is generally recognized as Indian. The other major city in Kashmir, Muzaffarabad, is under Pakistani control so it will not be covered. Okay? Okay.
Srinagar is located in the Kashmir region, on the Jhelum river, one of the 5 rivers of Punjab. I struggled to find monuments for the last 2 cities, but luckily, Srinagar is a popular tourist destination with tons of Natural and Cultural sites.
The majority of the city is Muslim, and there are many mosques in the city, such as Hazaratbal and Jamia Masjids, but there are also some Hindu temples, including the ancient (like, 2,000 years old) Shankaracharya Temple. Some other historic monuments are the Pari Mahal, the Shalimar Bagh Mughal garden, and Shankaracharya hill where the temple I mentioned is. The city is filled with all kinds of interesting places, but let's move on to the nature.
Srinagar is in a unique mountainous environment, at an altitude of with many lakes, rivers, and beautiful landscapes around the city. The most popular, and the largest one which is within the city, is Dal Lake. Many of Srinagar's tourist sites, including some of the ones I mentioned earlier, are around the lake. I could talk a lot about the lake, known as Srinagar's Jewel, and it's attractions, like the Char Chinar island, the unique houseboats which are popular with tourists, and it's flowers, but there are some other interesting sites in Srinagar. In the west of the city you can also find the large Anchar lake, and the Zero Bridge on the Jhelum River. There are also of course many parks and gardens, including the Chashma Shahi garden. Just outside of the city you can see the Zabarwan Mountains, part and the mountains in Dachigam National Park.
I can understand why both India and Pakistan want this city so badly
• Population: 1.61 Million
• Local Language: Malayalam
• Subdivision: Kerala
• Pronunciation: KOCH-chi
• Etymology: From Kochu Azhi, meaning small lagoon in Malayalam.
Kochi is our first city in Kerala, and it is also very interesting and popular. It has so many influences from the Portuguese to the Chinese to the Arabs in its history, not to mention its nature and beaches, so no wonder it is known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea.
First of all, Kochi, formerly known as Cochin, is on the Malabar coast of Kerala, (we haven't done a coastal city in a while) or as I like to call it, the Chile of India. The city encompasses a cluster of towns/neighborhoods is on the main coast, as well as surrounding peninsulas, islands, lakes and bays around the city. Basically it's a very water-oriented place. Kochi has an interesting history, so I'll start with that. Kochi became an important port in the 14th century, which led to it becoming the first Portuguese settlement in India in 1500. It became a Portuguese possession before it became Dutch in 1663. Under the Dutch, they were a hub for trading pepper, cardamom, and more. In 1795, the city became British, when many developments and connections were made in the city. Although these countries actually controlled Kochi, they were also influenced by China because of trade, as well as the Arabs. In fact, Kochi isn't a Hindu-majority city, although they have a plurality at 44%; 38% are Christian, and 18% are Muslim. Kochi is a very diverse city, even having a Jewish community, dating back to the 11th century, and they also have multiple synagogues in the city, including the Paradesi and Mattancherry, some of the oldest, the former being the oldest in India.
That brings us to monuments, and Kochi has many natural sites as well. As a coastal city, they are of course known for beaches, such as Cherai and Munambam Beaches in the north, and Puthenthodu in the south. As I mentioned, there are many islands in the city, with interesting sites and views. As for cultural/historical sites, I'll just quickly mention some, Fort Kochi, Hill Palace, Cochin Shipyard, Vasco da Gama square, Queen's Way and many more BUT WE NEED TO MOVE ON
• Population: 1.52 Million
• Local Language: Marwari
• Subdivision: Rajasthan (State)
• Pronunciation: JODH-poor
• Etymology: The Rajput Founder, Rao Jodha of Mandore
Jodhpur is yet another popular city in Rajasthan. Rajasthan is India's largest state, and Jodhpur is on the other side of the state, in the region of Maru Pradesh, or Marwar/Marwad, (un-fun fact, Marwar means land of death) in the Thar Desert. Jodhpur is close to the Luni River, and it is known as the Blue City, and the Sun City. Jodhpur was founded by the Rajput rulers of the region, from the Rathore clan, in the 15th century, and became an important trade center in the region.
As a large city in the desert, Jodhpur is a popular tourist destination for its historic monuments and the landscape of the Thar desert. One of the most popular is the large Rajput Mehrangarh fort which you can visit inside, as it is now a museum. Another popular area is the old blue city, where the houses are a cool shade of blue, a striking contrast against the brown desert. A bit outside of the city, right in the desert, is the Thar Desert Museum which shows the culture of the region along with the desert itself. Back in the city, there are many popular luxury hotels, including the Umaid Bhavan palace which is now partially transformed into a hotel, along with a museum. In the north of Jodhpur is the Mandore garden, full of intricate monuments. By the way, Jodhpur is quite a large city by area, as it is 20 Kilometers from north to south. There are so many monuments so here is a rapid-fire round, the Rao Jodha Desert Rock Park, Bal Samand Lake, Jaswant Thada, and the Ghanta Ghar clock tower.
Thanks for reading, and sorry for taking 3 million years to post this...
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