Morphology of Indian cities

No cities including Indian cities will perfectly mirror the traditional, conventional model of urban morphology. Every city will have features of concentric zonation, sectoral and multiple nuclei model.

Indian cities are not typical type of modern urban centres like those in developed world. Most of Indian cities are actually overgrown villages and continue to retain some of the rural characteristics like underdeveloped roads, park-agri function, inadequate residential houses and other civic amenities.

Most of the urban centres are highly congested and lack element of civic infrastructure planning- layout of roads, open spaces, differentiating commercials and residential landuse.

Urban centres of India are of 4 types:
1. Those that have grown from ancient town and villages e.g. Varansi, Madurai, Patna

2. Those that have grown from medieval towns such as Lucknow, Delhi, Jaipur. These towns have lot of features of medieval Islamic architecture with palaces, minarates, walled city with Meena bazaars.

Both the type of cities retains some element of social differentiation. Ancient one have caste based differentiation whereas the Medieval one has class and nobility based differentiation.

3. Cities that have grown from the British administrative centres. Most of them were medieval towns or cantonment areas which retain lot of features of European Victorial architecture.

The European influence is visible in the form of wide roads, landscaping, civil lines, railway colonies, cantonment area etc.

4. During the post independence period a number of planned cities have been developed. Chandigarh, Bhuvneshwar, Gandhinagar, Dispur and Bokaro are some of the typical examples of planned cities.

In recent times India has also seen the growth of modern urban centres with high rises, malls, modern airports but these co-exist with the other traditional ancient and medieval urban centres.

Some of the models which depict morphology of urban centres in the developing world and the poorer Latin American countries are:
1. Bazaar based model
2. Port based model

Bazaar based model: The bazaar is a typical traditional CBD in the typical ancient and medieval cities & towns in India. 

The bazaar is unlike CBD given by Burgess model. The bazaar is the old ancient market centre with mixed land use and lack of highrises. Most of the building structures are 1 or 2 storeys with commercial function on the ground floor and residential function on 1st or 2nd floor.

These bazaars now specialize in traditional products like textile, handicraft, and grocery store unlike modern commercial complexes like malls.

The bazaar co-exists with the high class residential areas which are old traditional families with the history in nobility and affluence.

The bazaar centres over the years have become congested. The British had a history in neglecting in old bazaar centres. These areas continue to lag many modern amenities including sanitation and connectivity.

Farther away from bazaars where the low class dwellings, occupation based segregation and the modern extensions planned during the colonial history.


Port based model: These are features of typical colonial centres with the advent of the British and Europeans.

The port cities like Calcutta, Chennai, Mumbai, Pondichery which were important for trade for British developed on different lines unlike the other traditional towns and cities. These ports which served as gateways for British exports which eventually planned alongwith a fort and fort extension. (the forts were first constructed as factories and where later armed with ammunition, dumps, barrack with security provision).

Beyond the fort and port extension was a wide open space called ‘the maidan’ which was to ensure better visibility in the event of attack on the fort.

The European CBD would be distinct and apart from the native bazaar.

The European residential quarters would be again distinct from the native settlement. (European quarters were planned with paved roads, landscaping, railway colonies, street lighting whereas the native area haphazards, congested, polluted and filthy.)

There was an strong element of racial segregation from the Europeans.

Some Appreciation Please!




  Posted on Tuesday, September 8th, 2015 at 10:54 AM under   Geography