Know Your Smart City: Madhya Pradesh

In the eighth part of the ‘Know Your Smart City’ web series on the 98 cities that have been shortlisted to be equipped with modern facilities and innovative solutions over time, we look at the seven cities Madhya Pradesh.



The capital of Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal gets its name from the 11th century city of Bhojpal, which was founded by Parmar king Raja Bhoj. During his reign from 1005-1055 AD, Bhoj is believed to have constructed, among other things, ‘Upper Lake’ or Bada Talab, one of the largest man-made lakes, in Bhopal. Later, one Chhote Khan, a minister of Nawab Hayat Muhammad Khan Bahadur, built ‘Lower Lake’ or Chhota Talab in 1794, to beautify the city. Bhopal also has a bridge called ‘Pul Pukhta’, which separates the Lower Lake and the Upper Lake. Both lakes have witnessed growth of the city at their shores.

It is said that Raja Bhoj had established the city of Bhojpal to protect the eastern frontier of his kingdom. The present city was set up by an Afghan soldier, Dost Mohammed (1707-1740).

Bhopal boasts diversity in its culture and religions. The old city has a large Muslim population. India’s largest mosque (Tajul Masjid) and the smallest one (Masjid Dhai Seedhi) are present here. Also, there are several palaces bearing aristocratic imprints of the city’s former rulers.

Bhopal has seven Assembly constituencies. It houses Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology and Rajiv Gandhi Technical University. It also has Makhan Lal Chaturvedi University of Journalism, Pt Khushilal Sharma Government (Autonomous) Ayurveda College and Institute.


One of the ‘19-gun salute princely states’ during the British rule, Indore was the capital of Madhya Bharat (Central province) during 1950-56. It was ruled by the Maratha Holkar dynasty until being acceded to the Indian Union. This 500-year-old city, also known as the trade and finance capital of Madhya Pradesh, had direct trade links with Delhi and Deccan states during the 16th century.

The city has two parts — Juni Indore (old city) and New Indore. The new city was developed by feudal landlords (zamindars), who controlled Kampel pargana. These zamindars received the title ‘Chaudhari’ and controlled most of the land. A local zamindar Rao Nandlal Chaudhari, who had a platoon of 2000 soldiers, initiated modern settlements. It is said Nandlal constructed the fort Sansthan Bada Rawala to avoid harassment from the Marathas and Nizams, and this marked the establishment of the present-day Indore city.

However, he later accepted suzerainty of the Marathas by 1720, when the headquarters of the local pargana was transferred from Kampel to Indore. On 29 July 1732, Bajirao Peshwa-I granted Holkar State to Malhar Rao Holkar, the founder ruler of the Holkar dynasty. His daughter-in-law Ahilyabai Holkar moved the state’s capital to Maheshwar in 1767, but Indore remained an important commercial and military centre.

Modernisation started when the Railways touched the city in 1875. In 1918 noted architect and town planner, Patrick Geddes floated first master-plan of the city.

After independence, with the formation of Madhya Bharat in 1948, Indore became the summer capital of the state. On November 1, 1956, when Madhya Bharat was merged into Madhya Pradesh, the state capital was shifted to Bhopal.

This is the only city in India that has an Indian Institute of Technology and an Indian Institute of Management. The Daly College, one of the oldest co-educational institutes of the world, was founded in 1882. The Holkar Science College, officially known as Government Model Autonomous Holkar Science College, was established in 1891. India’s first medical institution, King Edward Medical School, came up in 1848. Later, the college hospital was named after Yashwantrao Holkar, the last Holkar king to rule Indore. In 1955, it was Asia's largest government hospital, with 1,200 beds.

Pithampur, near Indore, known for its auto component manufacturing, is often referred to as Detroit of Asia and houses 1,500 large, medium and small industrial units.

Pharma majors like Ipca Laboratories Cipla, Lupin, Glenmark, Unichem and auto companies like Force Motors, Volvo Eicher Commercial, Avtec, Mahindra Two-wheelers Ltd have their units in Pithampur.

Indore also houses the first special economic zone for information technology (the Crystal IT Park, across 550,000 square feets). Besides, two prominent SEZs are being developed in the city by TCS and Infosys. Also, a diamond park and jewellery park, food park, apparel park and two clusters for Namkeen (Indian snacks) and Pharmaceuticals are being set up.


Known as Scindia state in the second half of the 18th century, Gwalior figured prominently in the three Anglo Maratha wars. During 1857, the city was briefly held by mutiny forces, until they were defeated by the British. However, the Scindia family ruled Gwalior till 1947, when King Jivajirao Scindia acceded to the Indian Union. Gwalior was merged with a number of other princely states. Jivajirao Scindia was the state’s governor from May 28, 1948, till October 31, 1956, when Madhya Bharat was merged into Madhya Pradesh.

After independence, Vijayraje Scindia, widow of Jivajirao became a Lok Sabha member in 1962. Her son, Madhavrao was also elected a member of the Lok Sabha in 1971 on a Congress Party ticket and served until his death in 2001. His son, Jyotiraditya is a sitting Congress member of the Lok Sabha.

With some of the prominent government institutes like The Accountant-General (AG) of Madhya-Pradesh, Commissioner-Land Records & Settlements Madhya-Pradesh and State Excise Commissioner, Gwalior is an important city of Madhya Pradesh. It also has Defence Research & Development Establishment (DRDE), Border Security Force (BSF) Academy, National Cadet Corps (NCC) Officer's Training Academy (OTA), Indian Air Force (IAF) Station (Maharajpura Airbase), Office of The Narcotics Commissioner of India (Central Bureau of Narcotics) and Central Potato Research Institute. Gwalior also has one of the best cricket stadiums, Captain Roop Singh Stadium.

Also, Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia Krishi Vishwavidyalaya, Raja Mansingh Tomar Music & Arts University and Lakshmibai National University of Physical Education and Indian Tourism Management University are situated here.



An ancient city, Ujjain or Ujjayini is also known as Avantika. Situated on the eastern bank of the river Kshipra, it is a city in the Malwa region. According to historians, it was the earliest outpost of India and showed signs of initial urbanisation as early as 700 BC. Ujjayini is believed to have been an important kingdom after the Mahabharata period.

One of the 12 jyotirlingas in India, the lingam at the Mahakal, is believed to be swayambhu (born of itself).

Around 600 BC, an earthen rampart was built around Ujjain, enclosing a city of considerable size.

Vikramaditya was a legendary first-century BCE King of Ujjain. During mid-4th Century, Maurya king Ashoka was governor of Ujjain. During the 6th and 7th centuries, the city became a hub for mathematical and astronomical research, with some of the renowned mathematicians from the city broadening the application of zero and negative numbers.

Varahamihira, a famous mathematician, was able to determine various trigonometric identities, while Lilavati and Bijaganita, a manuscript of Bhaskaracharya (popularly known as Bhaskara II), busted novel position in several areas.

Famous poet Kalidasa, mathematician Aryabhata and Varahamihira were all based out of Ujjain, which emerged as a major centre of learning, especially in astronomy and mathematics.

According to an unknown Greek merchant who made a voyage to the India city of Ozane (Ujjain), commodities like onyx, porcelain, fine muslin and ordinary cotton were traded here.

Ujjain is known for its small-scale units of Poha or rice flakes manufacturing, packaging and plastic units.



Historically a city of the Kalchuri and Gond dynasties, Jabalpur is believed to have been named after the legendary sage Jabali, mentioned in the epic Ramayana.

Rani Durgavati, daughter-in-law of Gond king Sangramsahi, ruled from Singaurgarh fort in Sangrampur near Garha (Jabalpur). Later, it was ruled by Marathas and Beohars. Like dukes, the Beohar dynasty reigned and safeguarded their interest and reigns in Jabalpur since the Kalchuri period.

In modern history, Mahatma Gandhi had a long and important stay in Jabalpur during 1933, at the Beohar Palace at Sathia Kua near Hanumantal Jabalpur.

An important educational centre, Jabalpur has Jawahar Lal Nehru Agriculture  University , Madhya Pradesh Veterinary University, The Indian Institute of Information Technology , Design & Manufacturing and Maharshi Mahesh Yogi Vedic University. Jabalpur is also known for its famous marble rocks at a nearby village Bhedaghat, on the banks of the river Narmada.

The city is known for defence product manufacturing units like mortars, grenades, shells, trucks, mine-protected vehicles, bulletproof vehicles, rockets, bombs and even howitzers. It has government-owned establishments like Vehicle Factory, Grey Iron Foundry, Gun Carriage Factory and the Ordnance Factory. It also has Directorate General of Quality Assurance, responsible for quality inspection of equipment manufactured by the Indian Ordnance Factories; and Army Base Workshop, which overhauls and repairs equipment of the Armed Forces. These organisations, according to an estimate, employ 100,000 people. Jabalpur also has a few prominent brands of the bidi  industry.

The city is also known for its small-scale garment units, electrical goods, limestone products, building materials, glassware, steel structures, cement and clay industry, industrial safety products, etc.


A prominent town of the Baghelkhand region, Satna owes its name to the river Satna, which flows in the vicinity. A town Raghurajnagar, which had a railway station Satna, was later renamed Satna. According to the epic Ramayana, Rama had a stay in the region of Chitrakoot, which has common area in sharing with Satna. The British established Satna as a regional station for their political agent in 1872. It is said that Col DWK Barr prepared a plan for Satna town in 1882-88 and Sir Donald Robertson constructed roads in the town in 1888-94. A nearby place called Bharhut has a second-century Buddha Stupa, discovered by archaeologist Alexander Cunningham in 1873.

India’s first rural university in Chitrakoot, Mahatma Gandhi Chitrakoot Gramodaya Vishwavidyalaya, was established here in 1991. The city has a number of government and private colleges. Also, healthcare facilities are appropriate in the city. It has nearly 30 private hospitals and nursing homes, including Birla Medical Research Centre and Priyamvada Birla Cancer Research Institute.

Satna is also a limestone hub. It contributes significantly (more than 10 per cent to India’s total cement production). It has seven cement manufacturers.



It is believed that Sagar was the capital of the Chhedi kingdom, though the history of the district before 1022 AD is not known. The city was under the rule of Ahir kings. Later, in 1660, Udenshah founded the present Sagar city. A descendant of ruler Nihal Shah, he built a fort in Sagar. In 1735, Maratha governor Govind Pant Bundele made Sagar his capital. But after the Anglo-Maratha treaty, the town was handed over to the British during 1818, and the town became the capital of the Saugor and Nerbudda Territories, when Bajirao Peshwa-II ceded the district to the British government.

Later, both Saugor and Nerbudda territories became part of the Central Provinces (afterwards Central Provinces and Berar), and Sagar district was added to the Jabalpur division.

In educational sphere, Sagar has the famous Sagar University, established by noted educationist Dr Hari Singh Gaur.

The city has Bina Refinery, also known as Bharat Oman Oil Refinary, a joint venture between Oman Oil Corporation and Bharat Petroleum Corp. Sagar also has a large number of small-scale industries that manufacture steel utensils, plastic goods, detergent cake powder, agriculture equipment, alum, caustic soda, granite tiles, acrylic sheet, acrylic Products, PVC cable and pipes.


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