NCERT Solutions for Class 12 History Chapter 12: Colonial Cities

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Chapter12. Colonial Cities Urbanisation, Planning and Architecture
TextbookThemes in Indian History-III
CategoryNCERT Solutions for Class 12

It is important to use NCERT Solutions for Class 12 History as they can give students a clear understanding of the syllabus. Class 12 History has fifteen chapters, and our NCERT Solutions are a detailed guide that covers each of them. It provides step-by-step solutions to all the questions in the textbook. On this page, we have provided you with complete Solution of Chapter 12 – Colonial Cities.

NCERT Solutions for Class 12 History Chapter 12

Colonial Cities Solutions

Q1) To what extent are census data useful in reconstructing patterns of urbanisation in the colonial context?

Answer) A careful study of the data collected through the census provides us a lot of information in understanding the trend of urbanisation. It can be examined as under:

  • The process of urbanisation was sluggish in India after 1800.
  • In the nineteenth century and in first two decades of the twentieth century the proportion of the urban population was very low and stagnant.
  • Which recorded between 1900 and 1940, A 13% increase in the urban population which recorded between whereas during the same period, these was a overall 10% increase in the population of the whole country.
  • The data, thus, collected helps us in the enumeration of people according to their age, sex, caste, religion, occupation, etc.

Q2) What do the terms “White” and “Black” Town signify?

Answer) The White Town was the area where Europeans lived. These areas were separate. They had broad streets, bungalows set amidst large gardens, barracks, parade ground and church. They were safe heaven for the Europeans. For example in Madras Fort St. George was the nucleus of the White Town where most of the Europeans lived. Walls and bastions made this a distinct enclave.

The Black Town on the other hand, were meant for Indians – the Indian agents, middlemen, weavers, artisans and interpreters. In Madras, the Black Town was developed outside the Fort. A Black Town generally resembled traditional Indian town, with living quarters built around its own temple and bazaar. There were narrow lanes and distinct caste-specific neighbourhoods.

Q3) How did prominent Indian merchants establish themselves in the colonial city?

Answer) The prominent Indian merchants established themselves in the colonial city in the following ways:

  • With the expansion of railways, the countryside from where raw materials and labour were obtained was linked to the cities like Bombay, Madras and Calcutta. This gave an opportunity to the Indian merchants to set up modern factories. Thus, after the 1850s, cotton mills were set up by Indian merchants and entrepreneurs in Bombay.
  • Kanpur specialised in leather, woollen, cotton textiles and Jamshedpur where steel factory was established by J. Tata, specialised in steel.
  • The American Civil War started in 1861 gave another opportunity to the Indian merchants for earning huge profits. Bombay was the most important city of India. By the late nineteenth century, Indian merchants in Bombay established cotton mills.

Q4) Examine how concerns of defence and health gave shape to Calcutta.

Answer) Defence:

In 1756, Sirajudaula had attacked Calcutta and sacked the small fort of British traders. Subsequently, when in 1757 Nawab was defeated in the Battle of Plassey, the British decided to build a new fort that could not be attacked easily. So, when the new Fort William was built, they left a vast open space known as the Maidan or garer-math. This was done from the defence point of view to ensure that there would be no obstructions to a straight line of fire from the Fort against an advancing army.


Health too played an important role in giving shape to Calcutta. When Lord Wellesley became the Governor General, he found that the condition of the Indian part of the city was bad. There was overcrowding, the excessive vegetation, the dirty tanks, the smells and the poor drainage. The British worried that such conditions were the cause of most diseases. The tropical climate itself was seen as unhealthy. They thought that there should be open spaces in the city. Lord Wellesley felt the need for town planning and set up various committees for the purpose. Many bazaars, ghats, burial grounds, and tanneries were cleared or removed. From then on the notion of‘public health’ became an important factor in shaping the development of Calcutta.

Q5) What are the different colonial architectural styles which can be seen in Bombay city?

Answer) The different colonial architectural styles which can be seen in Bombay city are as mentioned below:

  • European style: In mid nineteenth century, the buildings were constructed in the European style to create a familiar landscape in an alien country and to symbolise their superiority.
  • Indian style: As the Indians used European architecture, the British adopted Indian style that can be seen in the construction of bungalows in Bombay and all over India.
  • Neo-classical or new classical style: Its characteristics are construction of geometrical structures fronted with lofty pillars. Town Hall is an example of this style.
  • Neo-Gothic style: Its characteristics are high-pitched roofs, pointed arches and detailed decoration: Secretariat, University of Bombay and High Court were made in this style. The most spectacular example of the neo-Gothic style is the Victoria Terminus.
  • Indo-saracenic style: It was a hybrid architectural style that combined the Indian with the European. It was inspired by the medieval buildings in India with their domes, chhatris, jalis and arches. The Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal Hotel that was built by Jamsetji Tata belong to this style

Q6) How were urban centres transformed during the eighteenth century?

Answer) Urban centres were transformed during the eighteenth century in the following ways:

  • With the decline of Mughal power, Delhi and Agra lost their importance. With the rise of regional powers, importance of regional capitals : Lucknow, Hyderabad, Seringapatam, Poona, Nagpur, Baroda and Tanjore increased.
  • The changes in the networks of trade also affected the transformation of urban centres. The European companies had set up trading centres at Panaji (Portuguese), Masulipatnam (Dutch), Madras (British) and Pandicherry (French). As the trading activities increased, towns grew around these trading centres. By the end of the eighteenth century, the land-based empires in Asia were replaced by the powerful sea based European empires.
  • Commercial centres such as Surat, Masulipatnam and Dhaka declined because due to expansion of trade of the East India Company, colonial port cities Madras, Calcutta and Bombay — emerged as the new economic capitals. They also became centres of colonial administration and political power. These cities became the biggest cities in India in terms of population.
  • Some local officials associated with Mughal rule in India created new urban settlements such as the qasbah and ganj.

Q7) What were the new kinds of public places that emerged in the colonial city? What functions did they serve?

Answer) New kinds of public places that emerged in the colonial city were as given below:

  • Fort St. George (Madras), Fort William (Calcutta), the Fort George (Bombay). These were the fortified areas of British settlement.
  • The Writers’ Building in Calcutta : It was the building where the servants of the East India Company in India stayed on arrival in the country. Later this building became a government office.
  • Clubs, racecourses and theatres were built for the ruling elites exclusively on racial grounds.
  • Cantonment places were developed. Here Indian troops under European command were stationed. These were considered safe enclaves for Europeans.
  • Simla, founded during the course of Gurkha war, and Darjeeling were hill stations that became strategic places for billeting troops, guarding frontiers and launching campaigns against enemy rulers.
  • Public places such as public parks, theatres, and cinema halls came into existence for providing new forms of entertainment and social interaction.
  • Government House Calcutta : It was built by Lord Wellesley for himself in Calcutta.

Q8) What were the concerns that influenced town planning in the nineteenth century?

Answer) The concerns that influenced town planning in the nineteenth century were as given below:

  • Security : The security of the Britishers was an important factor due to the memory of 1857. The vast open space, which is known as the Maidan or garer-math, around the Fort in Calcutta was left so that there would be no obstructions to a straight line of fire from the Fort against the enemy. The purpose of the Civil Lines was too the security of the Britishers.
  • Health : In Calcutta, the crowding, the dirty tanks and poor drainage and tropical climate were seen a unhealthy. This led to creating open spaces in the city to make it healthier. Many bazaars, ghats, burial grounds and tanneries were removed. Public health became an object of town planning. Bustis were removed.
  • To reflect the authority of the imperial power : With the growth of their empire, the object of town planning was to represent rational ordering, meticulous execution, and Western aesthetic ideals. For example, in Bombay neo-classical or the new classical style was used to express the glory of imperial India. The examples are Town Hall, Victoria Terminus and other buildings.
  • Separation from the Indians on the basis of race : Black Town and White Town came into existence on the basis of race i.e., Black Towns for the Indians and the White Town for the Europeans. Similarly, later on, the bungalows in the civil lines became a racial exclusive enclave in which the ruling classes could live self-sufficient lives without daily social contact with Indians.

Q9) To what extent were social relations transformed in the new cities?

Answer)The social relations were transformed in the new cities in the following ways:

  • New transport facilities as horse-drawn carriages, trams and buses meant that people could live at a distance from the city centre. This led to separation of the place of work from the place of residence. People travelled from home to office or factory.
  • The sense of coherence and familiarity of the old towns disappeared. The public places such as parks, theatres and cinema halls provided new forms of entertainment and social interaction.
  • New social groups came into existence. The “middle classes” increased due to the coming of all types of people i.e., clerks, doctors, teachers, lawyers and others. With the spread of education, people could put forward their views in newspapers and journals. People started questioning old customs and practices.
  • Women entered new professions as factory workers, teachers, theatres and film actresses. However, their entry into public spaces remained the objects of social censure.
  • There was a dramatic contrast between extreme wealth and poverty. The new cities were bewildering places where life seemed always in a flux. Paupers from the villages came to cities in search of employment. The male migrants left their families in the villages because jobs were uncertain and food was expensive. But yet the villagers participated in religious festivals, tamashas and swangs which mocked the pretensions of their masters, Indian and European.

Q10) On an outline map of India, trace the major rivers and hill ranges. Plot ten cities mentioned in the chapter, including Bombay, Calcutta and Madras, and prepare a brief note on why the importance of any two cities that you have marked (one colonial and one pre-colonial) changed in the nineteenth century.

Answer) Rivers are Ravi, Satluj, Ganga, Yamuna, Beas, Kosi, Narmada, Godavari, Krishana, and Kaveri.

That’s it. These were the solutions of NCERT Class 12 History Chapter 12 – Colonial Cities. Our team hopes that you have found these solutions helpful for you. If you have any doubt related to this chapter then feel free to comment your doubts below. Our team will try their best to help you with your doubts.

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