Small town India in pictures
Small town India has been in the news lately, whether its because of increasing computer users, galloping cell phone users, improved physical infrastructure, or simply because some winners of reality shows hail from small towns. And let’s not forget our celebrity cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni who is from Ranchi.
The rapid growth of small towns is what the buzz is about today and it is the changing face of India. This post is about a place smaller than most, the booming small town of Aurangabad in Maharashtra.
Aurangabad was not covered in the survey on the emerging growth centres in India probably because it is not as big as the cities covered. As many as 15 Indian cities were surveyed by Knight Frank for determining the emerging growth centres in India and these were Ludhiana, Lucknow, Guwahati, Bhubaneswar, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Surat, Nagpur, Indore, Goa, Vishakapatnam, Mysore, Coimbatore and Kochi. I guess these places can be called small towns when compared to metros like Delhi or Mumbai but to my mind these places are not small. It’s the city of Aurangabad that fits the bill! And the prosperity I saw there was impressive. There were hardly any beggars (no, not even at the tourist places) and I saw few slums (and they can’t really be called slums if one compares the living conditions to Mumbai) although we drove around in the bylanes of the city hunting for cheap places to eat.
What I saw instead were brand new houses, shiny motorcycles and busy people. Not surprising considering that Aurangabad is now an industrial hub. Companies like , Varroc Engineering, Skoda Auto, Wockhardt, Shreya Life Science, Orchid, Lupin, Atra, Videocon, Nirlep, Siemens, Colgate Palmolive and Good Year are here. Aurangabad is also a ‘beer hub’ and caters to 50 percent of India’s demand for beer!
Infrastructure has developed rapidly, not bad at all for a small town, and I guess Aurangabad being a tourist centre has helped (Ajanta and Ellora caves). No dearth of good hotels either, and ofcourse there are good rail and air connections.
Here is the first photograph. The city was surprisingly clean though not at all places. But the dirty spots were nowhere as dirty as Mumbai’s
This particular picture is of a poor part of Aurangabad.
This is one of my favorite photographs as it shows the youth doing what their forefathers did. Tend to cattle. In jeans, not in dhotis or pyjama kurtas.
We came across many such brightly painted houses, a sign of prosperity.
And look at this. A sign that promises to teach you English. It says: Pay only when you learn English, not before. The small print on the other side of the building says (not in pic) says: Learn English in one month!
People were scurrying, almost like they do in big cities. And almost every shop had a bright red public phone.
We wondered at the scene below (the cops will put you behind bars in Mumbai) and our cab driver explained that everyone was in a hurry these days. So unlike ten years ago (he said). People didn’t want to wait for the next cab, no not even for a minute. These jeeps were shared cabs and their frequency had increased ten-fold but people were still in a rush …
The well dressed people of Aurangabad
Motorcycles were a common sight (they are in fact they quite common in most small towns). There were women riding scooters too (unfortunately couldn’t get a picture) and that took me by surprise. Again it was our cab driver Ramesh who enlightened us. Aurangabad girls (he said) have become very ‘bold’ and ‘free’ and according to him it was partly because of the new companies which have come to town. New companies have brought in outsiders and an influx of a new culture. He made it a point to tell me that the Shiv Sena had made sure that more Hindus settled in Aurangabad as it was originally a Muslim dominated town. But now he said the Muslims just own the shops… (!)
Well, Shiv Sena may be playing politics here but people don’t speak Marathi. Almost everywhere we went people spoke Hindi, and sadly the Hindi they spoke was a broken slang version of the real Hindi spoken in the north. When we asked them why they spoke Hindi, even at times with each other, they just shrugged and smiled.
There was one sight that was very common all over Aurangabad and I am sure it is so in all small towns. Child labour.
I saw kids working everywhere, in shops, in hotels, on the streets, in markets, in rubbish dumps. There were many I didn’t see…the ones who worked in sweat-shops. This is not something you will see so openly in big cities.
Overall though I was impressed with Aurangabad. This wasn’t the small dusty town I expected, but a thriving throbbing city bursting with life.
Related Seeing/Reading: Ajanta caves photo feature
The cave temples of Ellora
Aurangabad caves, Bibi-ka-maqbara and the Daulatabad Fort – photo feature
Aurangabad in pictures
Other travel articles with photos