Emergence of towns in medieval India

Emergence of towns in medieval India

Discuss the emergence of towns in medieval India.

Medieval period witnessed an upheaval in most parts of the country. This was a transitional time and unstable political conditions could not give place to planned and systematic urban growth. Fortress towns ruled by petty rulers only could grow.

Delhi Sultanate:

- The Delhi Sultanate brought with it an urban revolution which was possible due to political and economic stability, centralization of power.
One prime reason for emergence of towns was trade, however, towns in turn also stimulated trade by acting as greater markets for merchants.

- There existed some cities that gained importance due them being centers of administration or of some manufacturing product.

- Rulers had a significant role in setting and developing towns. To site a few examples, Feroze Shah Tughlaq built the town of Ferozabad, Jaunpur and Hissar Feroza.

Mughal Period:

- The growth of towns happened at a faster pace in 16th, 17th century which continued upto the middle of 18th century.

- The basic feature of a town was the presence of a market. The qasba is defined as the village with a market. There was a hierarchy of towns from the qasba to the district headquarter, to the provincial towns like Agra, Delhi etc.

- In Mughal India, towns were centers of manufacturing, banking, marketing etc. Fatehpur Sikri built by Akbar while Shahajanabad by Shah Jahan were a couple of important towns.

- Geographical location too played an important role in the development of towns. Places nearer to rivers or centrally located developed faster due to the trade activities that could be easily carried on through rivers and placed which were located in close proximity with that of other places.

- The beginning stage of a medieval town often was a walled fortress, the internal roads connecting the market place which was near the gate of the castle.

- Cities are believed to have their roots in the villages however, they are not simply villages that have been extended. Cities in the earlier period grew along fertile river valleys which was an entirely different kind of setup.

- Domestication of animals and farming in course of time gradually led to the growth of urban centers.

- Some of the major towns during medieval period were Delhi, Multan, Patan, Kara etc.

Thus the emergence of towns seen in the medieval period and the factors contributing to their growth continued till right until the British occupation of the country.
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