Urban settlements are generally compact and larger in size and engaged in a variety of non-agricultural, economic and administrative functions. As mentioned earlier, cities are functionally linked to rural areas around them. Thus, exchange of goods and services is performed sometimes directly and sometimes through a series of market towns and cities. Thus, cities are connected directly as well as indirectly with the villages and also with each other.
Evolution of Towns in India
Since prehistoric times, towns flourished in India. During the time of Indus valley civilisation, towns like Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were in existed. The following period has witnessed evolution of towns. It continued with periodic ups and downs until the arrival of Europeans in India in the eighteenth century. On the basis of their evolution in different periods, Indian towns may be classified as:
• Ancient Towns: There are number of towns in India having historical background spanning over 2000 years. Most of them developed as religious and cultural centres. Varanasi is one of the important towns among these. Prayag (Allahabad), Pataliputra (Patna), Madurai are some other examples of ancient towns in the country.
• Medieval Towns: About 100 of the existing towns have their roots in the medieval period. Most of them developed as headquarters of principalities and kingdoms. These are fort towns which came up on the ruins of ancient towns. Important among them are Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Agra and Nagpur.
• Modern Towns: The British and other Europeans have developed a number of towns in India. Starting their foothold on coastal locations, they first developed some trading ports such as Surat, Daman, Goa, Pondicherry, etc. The British later consolidated their hold around three principal nodes – Mumbai (Bombay), Chennai (Madras), and Kolkata (Calcutta) – and built them in the British style. Rapidly extending their domination either directly or through control over the princely states, they established their administrative centres, hill towns as summer resorts, and added new civil administrative and military areas to them. Towns based on modern industries also evolved after 1850. Jamshedpur can be cited as an example.
After independence, a large number of towns have been developed as administrative headquarters, e.g. Chandigarh, Bhubaneswar, Gandhinagar, Dispur, etc. and industrial centres such as Durgapur, Bhilai, Sindri, Barauni. Some old towns also developed as satellite towns around metropolitan cities such as Ghaziabad, Rohtak, Gurgaon around Delhi. With increasing investment in rural areas, a large number of medium and small towns have developed all over the country. Hence, changes are never ending process.