'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

MP - Bits And Pieces

Wrapping up the series of posts on Madhya Pradesh...

Indore: I had heard this is a boom town of sorts, Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar apart, the only place in India with *both* an IIT and an IIM. Some swanky malls and stuff have indeed sprung up indicating metropolis-ness. But the fact of the matter, infrastructurally speaking, is that much of this bustling city is a major pain - terrible, conjested roads (many of which seem perpetually under construction), poor public transport dominated by awful auto-rickshaws, severe air pollution ...

In the 'Rajwada' palace, we saw a museum with modern (and undistinguished) copies of classic Chola bronzes, including one of the famous 'Vrishabhavahana'. Indeed, for a fairly long while (18th-19th centuries), Marathas were in power here as well as in Tanjavur and there even seems to have been considerable cultural give-and-take. Cricketer Rahul Dravid's family is said to have migrated from down south and settled down in Indore (several generations ago) and even adopted Marathi as their 'home language'- although the surname still references their Southern roots.

Bhopal: There is much in Bhopal that reminds me of Hyderabad - a crowded old city and a considerably more spacious new city, large Muslim population, undulating, rocky terrain, a huge lake,... Some of the areas (MP Nagar for example) have very wide roads and a neat new railway station has come up at Habibgunj; but these planned features notwithstanding, the city is quite a haphazard affair - and some parts are godawful (for instance, the 4 kilometer stretch from the Station onto the highway to Sanchi, where one needs to negotiate two level railway crossings in succession). The urban area has expanded very irregularly, thinning out into empty country in less than half a dozen kilometers from the main Station towards the North and straggling well over 20 kilometers up to and beyond the industrial areas of Mandidip to the South. The city bus service is pathetic and the main bus stand (from where buses run as far away as Nagpur and Kanpur) is one of the worst I have seen. And to top it all, at least some of Bhopal's autowallahs can give even their notorious Chennai counterparts a run for their money.

Overall, Indore and Bhopal are now at a stage where Bangalore and Hyderabad found themselves a generation ago - and growing just as explosively. One hopes (although present indications are not too propitious) that these new up-and-coming cities handle growth better than the southern metropolises.

Landscapes: I did not 'feel' much difference between the vast plateau that makes up most of Madhya Pradesh and Deccan proper - the Narmada valley cutting right between apart, the two could perhaps be seen as parts of the same geological formation, although most basic textbooks treat them as separate entities... Throughout the rural MP that I got to see, agriculture is dominant although (apart from the vicinity of Narmada) not very intensive - maybe due to poor irragation. I don't remember seeing a single coconut tree anywhere in the state - in Maharashtra they are at least sporadically visible.

One big surprise of this journey has been the 'ghat section' on the railway between between Hoshangabad and Bhopal. The train crosses the Narmada and works its way up the edge of the Vindhyas, past some sheer cliffs, impressive sandstone formations and lush vegetation - I would love to walk the stretch sometime, preferably during the monsoon. Similar, though less rugged, is the shorter stretch on the Jabalpur-Itarsi section between Sontalai and Gagra Tawa, cutting across the Satpuras - somewhere near there, I saw from the train a blackbuck fawn, blithely bouncing over a patch of cultivation.

Developmentally speaking: MP seems to be an improvement over UP but is several steps behind Maharashtra/Gujarat. Indeed, this trip threw up a most poignant rural image - a State-sponsored sign written prominently all over: "Show your love and respect for your wife, daughter and daughter-in-law; build a toilet at home"


  • At 2:25 AM, Blogger Kittu said…

    Thoroughly enjoying reading your blogs. It seems that you travelling alot these days. What's cooking up? BTW we visited Kerala a few weeks back. Covered Kochi, Munnar, kumarakom, Thekkady, Thripunithra. Very very much impressed by the Thripunithra hill palace museum.

    ~Krishna Mohan Duvvuri

  • At 11:29 PM, Blogger R.Nandakumar said…

    thanks krishna mohan. you are always welcome here.

    although i wrote about it at some length, the m.p trip was actually rather brief - 1 week. about other things, i can point to the latest post at 'Tech Musings' :)

    nice to know that you visited kerala and liked it. i have written a bit about hill palace here, long back. hope you got to see the crown there.

  • At 11:25 PM, Blogger Iceman said…

    did u see raniganj?
    and ofcourse BHEL?

    long time!

  • At 7:06 AM, Blogger R.Nandakumar said…

    thanks for revisiting iceman.
    i see some major changes happening around/within you. best!

    yes, BHEL is something hyd and bhopal have in common.

    no, i did/could not see ranigunj.

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