‘“Every city thrives on its uniqueness, if it thrives at all”, as said by the famous Nobel laureate, Steve Weinberg, is true in every sense. Cities, chiefly Indian cities, have always ‘thrived’ on the basis of their unique identity and distinctiveness. And because of these cities’ uniqueness and peculiarity, they have earned for themselves their own labels, or nicknames. Nicknames have a way of identifying the city, and making it more appealing for tourists as well as the natives. So citing now, are some of the very popular examples of (nick)names that Indian cities have proudly declared over the years.
Jaipur, the capital and the largest city in Rajasthan, was founded by the Maharaja of Amber, Sawai Jai Singh – after whom the city is named. Jaipur procured the name “Pink City” when in 1876, the entire city was painted a vivid pink to welcome and commemorate the then Prince of Wales, Edward. Reasons for choosing the colour pink, over all others, remains unknown. Maybe, the Maharaja wanted to tickle the Prince ‘pink’! Interestingly, Jaipur is also called the White City because of the numerous palaces and monuments in the city are all constructed in white marble.
Bangalore is the capital of the state of Karnataka as well as being the IT (Information Technology) hub of the country. Bangalore is popularly called the “Garden City” for several reasons. Because of its location, this city receives two monsoons a year and therefore highly ideal for maintaining gardens. Hyder Ali, the ruler of Bangalore, started the first ever garden in the city and named it after his sister, Lal Bee. This garden was further expanded by the British as well, and is now the called the Lalbaugh Botanical Garden and is the largest in the city. Lalbaugh, which is 120 acres, along with Cubbon park, which is 80 acres, along with the fact that most of the street avenues are lined with trees, is the reason for “Garden City” that is Bangalore.
Since ages past, Lucknow is greatly renowned for its rich culture which brought together the Persian- Mughal Islamic traditions and the Hindu cultures of Benaras. Lucknow is also noted for its opulent ways – the Urdu language (which every Lucknow-dweller is fluent in), the fine cuisine, splendid monuments, poetry and music. And who has permeated this culture in the very soul of Lucknow? The Nawabs of Lucknow. And Lucknow was thus endowed with the name “City of Nawabs”. This would have certainly made the Nawabs feel very smug…
Udaipur is also a Rajasthani city. It was the historic capital of the kingdom of Mewar in the erstwhile Rajputana region. What sets Udaipur apart and makes it one of the most popular tourist destinations in recent times, is the presence of the most beautiful lakes in the country. This city has no less than five, huge lakes inside its walls, along with several smaller lakes. Residents of Udaipur take distinct pride and pleasure in the city’s magnificent palaces and monuments, but the crown jewels of the city, are definitely the lakes. Udaipur is undoubtedly the “City of Lakes”.
Bhubaneshwar is located, and is the capital of the eastern state of Odisha. This city, which is the largest in the state and is the economic and religious centre of eastern India, is seeped deeply in the past and has a history of over 3000 years. Every generation of rulers have built numerous grand and impressive temples, all over the city. Bhubaneshwar, along with Puri and Konark forms the Swarna Tribhuja (Golden Triangle), which is one of the most visited pilgrimage centres and the religious hub of India. But what sets Bhubaneshwar apart is the sheer number of temples- more than 600- and earns the city the alias of the “Temple City”.
So, there you go! Indian cities and their many names…but there’s more. In part two.