With an urban population of 377 million, which will increase to 800 million in 2050, India today has the greatest potential for urban growth on the Planet even if the official rate of urbanization remains particularly low (31% in 2011) compared to China (52%) or Brazil (84%). One of the most publicized aspects of this growth is the emergence of the three megacities Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkatta which exceed 16 million inhabitants each. Add to that 30% of urban dwellers living in nearly 500 secondary cities and about 40% of the population in small towns more or less urbanized less than 100,000 inhabitants.
Urban civilization in South Asia and India has a long history. Towns of Harappa and Monhenjo Daro in the Indus Valley were founded around 2500 years BC. Without being able to trace urban history due to lack of written sources, we can note in 4th century BC, the emergence of important urban centres such as Pataliputra (current Patna in Bihar). In the South, the Tamil country experienced the rise of temple cities such as Kanchipuram or Madurai, under the Chola dynasty from the 3rd century, which were built on sacred geometry around the main temple according to the castes. Then, with the arrival of Muslims, the Sultanate of Delhi was founded in 1193 and under the Mughal Empire (16th -- 18th century), some famous fortified cities will develop like Hyderabad or Agra.
In the 19th century, the old English maritime trading posts of the East India Company (Bombay, Calcutta and Madras) became real colonial cities. These were marked by a duality between the "white city" and the "native city" and by Victorian architecture. Lovers of nature, the Mughals and British have left their mark through the countless parks present in city centres, such as in Bangalore and New Delhi. Mountain resorts like Darjeeling, Simla, Nainital, Kodaikanal, Ooty were developed during the British Empire.
With the Independence of India in 1947, political and territorial reorganization of the Indian Union into different states will be at the origin of new regional metropolises and a hundred new cities including Chandigarh, capital of Punjab and Haryana, designed by Le Corbusier. The partition of this subcontinent will lead to a massive influx of Hindu refugees fleeing from West Pakistan to Punjab, Haryana and especially to Delhi. The strong industrialization policy implemented by new rulers, will produce "cities of steel" such as Rourkela, Dhanbad or Durgapur.
The idea that the "traditional" Indian city was organized according to a sacred geometry and that the "modern" city was an import of Europeans, has led to the fact that urban history of India remained a neglected field of research at the expense of an Orientalism history steeped. However, according to Christophe Jaffrelot, India specialist, "since the 1990s, the rise of urban studies in India confirms the city place in the Indian economy, politics and society, and in the idea that India makes itself".
In India, urban challenges of the future are therefore both significant and crucial. The École nationale supérieure d'architecture de Strasbourg and the Opéra national du Rhin invite you to come and meet architects and urban planners during an afternoon. It is an opportunity to discover work carried out over the past few months by ENSAS students under the direction of architect and urban planner Emmanuelle Rombach in the cities of Bombay, Chandigarh and Bhubaneswar, and to listen to Kamala Marius, geographer, who has conducted numerous studies on the major ecological and urban challenges of India today.