1.    Mumbai


The history of Mumbai recounts the growth of a collection of seven islands on the west coast of India, becoming the commercial capital of the nation, and one of the most populous cities in the world. Although human habitation existed since the Stone Age, the Kolis, a Marathi fishing community, were the earliest known settlers of the islands.

The present day city was built on what was originally an archipelago of seven islands of Bombay Island, Parel, Mazagaon, Mahim, Colaba, Worli, and Old Woman’s Island (also known as Little Colaba)

The Maurya Empire gained control of the islands during the 3rd century BCE, and transformed it into a centre of Hindu and Buddhist culture and religion.

The city became a strong base for the Indian independence movement during the early 20th century and was the epicentre of the Rowlatt Satyagraha of 1919 and Royal Indian Navy Mutiny of 1946.

After India’s independence in 1947, the territory of Mumbai Presidency retained by India was restructured into Mumbai State.
The city’s secular fabric was torn apart in the communal riots of 1992–93, while the bombings of 1993 caused extensive loss of life and property.

The city was renamed from Bombay to Mumbai in 6 March 1996.


2.    Delhi

Old DelhiOld Delhi City

The Indian capital city of Delhi has a long history, including a history as the capital of several empires. The earliest architectural relics date back to the Maurya Period (c. 300 BC); since then, the site has seen continuous settlement.

Two sandstone pillars inscribed with the edicts of Ashoka were brought to by Firuz Shah Tughluq in the 14th century.

The famous Iron pillar near the Qutub Minar was commissioned by the emperor Kumara Gupta I of the Gupta dynasty (320-540) and transplant Delhi during the 10th century.

Eight major cities have been situated in the Delhi area. The first five cities were in the southern part of present-day Delhi.

According to Indian folklore, Delhi was the site of the magnificent and opulent Indraprastha, capital of the Pandavas in the Indian epic Mahabharata, founded around 3500 BC. It was, one of the five prasthas or `plains’, which included Sonepat, Panipat, Tilpat (near Faridabad), and Baghpat. 16th-century, Persian historian, Firishta, recorded a tradition that Delhi or Dilli was founded by a Raja Dhilu before the Yavana (Greek) invasions. However, it should be noted that the kings then referred to the initial Muslim invaders as Yavanas


3.    Bangalore


Bangalore, or Bengaluru, as it is known today, was founded by Kempe Gowda of the Vijayanagara Empire, who built a mud fort at the site in 1537. It has developed over the years into an industrial and technological hub in India. Kempe Gowda also referred to the new town as his “gandu bhoomi” or “Land of Heroes”.

After Indian independence in August 1947, Bangalore remained in the Mysore State of which the Maharaja of Mysore was the Rajapramukh. Bangalore continued to be the capital of the unified and linguistically homogeneous Kannada-speaking new Mysore state that was created in 1956, and renamed to Karnataka in 1973.


4.    Kolkata

Old Calcutta. The photo has been taken approx at 1942


Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta in English, is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal and is located in eastern India on the east bank of the River Hooghly. Kolkata was the capital of the British Indian empire until 1911 when the capital was relocated to Delhi.

Kolkata has been home to prominent people such as Thakur Shri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, Maa Sarada Devi, Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Subhas Chandra Bose, Kazi Nazrul Islam, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar, Mother Teresa and Satyajit Ray.

There are many discussions about the origin of the city’s name. The most accepted view is that it comes from the Hindu goddess Kali and the original name was KaliKshetra, “the place of Kali”. Other theory is that the name came into being when Job Charnock asked a farmer the name of the area around Hooghly River. The farmer misunderstood due to language problems and thought that he was referring as to when he harvested his paddy. He proudly replied “Kal Kaata hoe chhilo” meaning “I cut it yesterday.” Job Charnock thought that the name of the place is Calcutta.


5.    Chennai


Chennai formerly known as Madras, is the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu and is India’s fourth largest city. Chennai, originally known as “Madraspatnam” was located in the province of Tondaimandalam, an area lying between Pennar river of Nellore and the Pennar river of Cuddalore.

The modern city of “Chennai” arose from the British settlement of Fort St. George and its subsequent expansion through merging numerous native villages and European settlements around Fort St. George into the city of Madras.

Chennai  was then a part of Vijayanagara Empire, then headquartered at Chandragiri in present day Andhra Pradesh. The Vijayanagar rulers who controlled the area, appointed chieftains known as Nayaks who ruled over the different regions of the province almost independently. Damarla the Telugu king gave the East India Company in 1639 a grant of a piece of land lying between the river Cooum almost at the point it enters the sea and another river known as the Egmore river.


6.    Hyderabad


Hyderabad is a historic city noted for its many monuments, temples, churches, masjids, and bazaars. A multitude of influences has shaped the character of the city in the last 400 years.
The area around Hyderabad was ruled by the Mauryan Empire in the third century B.C during the reign of Ashoka the Great.

After the death of Ashoka (232 BCE), as the Maurya Empire began to weaken and decline, the Sātavāhanas who started out as feudatories to the Mauryan dynasty, declared independence and established their empire in this region.

The Sātavāhana Empire or Andhra Empire, was a royal Indian dynasty based from Dharanikota and Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh.

In 1463, Sultan Mohammad Shah Bahmani dispatched Sultan Quli Qutb-ul-Mulk to the Telangana region to quell disturbances.

Sultan Quli quelled the disturbance and was rewarded as the administrator of the region.  Sultan Quli declared independence from the Bahmani Sultanate and established the Golconda Sultanate. Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah of the Qutub Shahi dynasty built the city of Hyderabad on the Musi River five miles (8 km) east of Golconda in 1589.


7.    Port Blair

andaman jailSource – Andaman Jail

In 1789 the government of Bengal established a penal colony on Chatham Island in the southeast bay of Great Andaman, named Port Blair to honor Lieutenant Archibald Blair of the British East India Company.

After two years, the colony moved to the northeast part of Great Andaman and was named Port Cornwallis after Admiral William Cornwallis. However, there was much disease and death in the penal colony, and the government ceased operating it in May 1796.

As the Indian freedom movement continued to grow in the late 19th Century, an enormous Cellular Jail was constructed between 1896 and 1906 to house Indian convicts, mostly political prisoners, in solitary confinement. The Cellular Jail is also known as Kala Pani (translated as “Black Waters”), a name given to it due to the torture and general ill-treatment towards its Indian convicts.

From 1943-1944 during World War II, Port Blair was the headquarters of the Azad Hind government under Subhas Chandra Bose.
Although affected by the Tsunami and 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, Port Blair survived sufficiently to act as a base for relief efforts in the islands.


8.    Panaji

Old photos archive at Central LibrarySource

Panaji was annexed by India with the rest of Goa and the former Portuguese territories in the invasion of 1961. Panaji became a state-capital on Goa’s elevation to statehood in 1987. Between 1961 and 1987, it was the capital of the Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu.

The word Panaji is derived from the words panjani and khali, which mean a boat and a small creek respectively, in Sanskrit. Thus the modern word Panaji is a corrupt form of the old word Panjakhali as inscribed on the copper-plates found, belonging to the rule of Kadamba king Tribhuvanamalla

The city’s official name is Panaji. The Portuguese name was Pangim. The city is called Panjim in English. It has been spelt Panaji since the 1960s. The city is called Ponnjé in Konkani.
Earlier a small village on the river front, in 1843 the city had been renamed Nova Goa (Portuguese for New Goa) when it officially replaced the city of Goa (now Old Goa) as the administrative seat of Portuguese India, though the Viceroy had already moved there in 1759.


9.    Lucknow

View in the Qaisar Bagh Palace - Lucknow 1860'sSource

From 1350 CE onwards, Lucknow and parts of the Awadh region were ruled by the Delhi Sultanate, Sharqi Sultanate, Mughal Empire, Nawabs of Awadh, the British East India Company (EIC) and the British Raj.

Lucknow was one of the major centres of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and participated actively in India’s independence movement, emerging as a strategically important North Indian city. Until 1719, the subah of Awadh was a province of the Mughal Empire administered by a Governor appointed by the Emperor.

For about eighty-four years (from 1394 to 1478), Awadh was part of the Sharqi Sultanate of Jaunpur. Emperor Humayun made it a part of the Mughal Empire around 1555.

The Khilafat Movement had an active base of support in Lucknow, creating united opposition to British rule. In 1920 the provincial seat of government moved from Allahabad to Lucknow. Upon Indian independence in 1947, the United Provinces were reorganized into the state of Uttar Pradesh, and Lucknow remained its capital.


10.    Varanasi


Varanasi also known Banaras is an Indian city on the banks of the Ganga in Uttar Pradesh. It is the holiest of the seven sacred cities (Sapta Puri) in Hinduism, and Jainism, and played an important role in the development of Buddhism.

Some Hindus believe that death at Varanasi brings salvation. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Varanasi is also known as the favorite city of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva as it has been mentioned in the Rigveda that this city in older times was known as Kashi or “Shiv ki Nagri”.

According to legend, Varanasi was founded by the God Shiva. The Pandavas, the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabharata are also stated to have visited the city in search of Shiva to atone for their sins of fratricide and Brāhmanahatya that they had committed during the climactic Kurukshetra war.

The Atharvaveda (the oldest known text referencing the city), which dates to approximately the same period, suggests that the area was populated by indigenous tribes. It is possible that archaeological evidence of these previous inhabitants has yet to be discovered.


Content Source: Wikipedia

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