Indore is the largest city of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and the most populous metropolitan area in central India. It serves the headquarters of both Indore District and Indore Division. A central power city, Indore exerts a significant impact upon commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and entertainment and has been described as the commercial capital of the state.
Located on the southern edge of Malwa Plateau, the city is located 190 km west of the state capital of Bhopal. With a Census-estimated 2011 population of 1,960,631 distributed over a land area of just (526 km2), Indore is the most densely populated major city in the central province. With more than 13 languages spoken there, Indore is the most linguistically diverse city in central India . The Indore Metropolitan Area's population is the state's largest, with 2.2 million people living there. It is the 14th largest city in India and 147th largest city in the world.
Indore traces its roots to its 16th century founding as a trading hub between the Deccan and Delhi. The city and its surroundings came under Maratha Empire on 18 May 1724 after Maratha Peshwa assumed the full control of Malwa. During the days of the British Raj it was a 19 Gun Salute (21 locally) princely state (a rare high rank) ruled by the Maratha Holkar dynasty, until they acceded to the Union of India. Indore served as the capital of the Madhya Bharat from 1950 until 1956.
Indore's financial district, anchored by central Indore, functions as the financial capital of the Madhya Pradesh and is home to the Madhya Pradesh Stock Exchange, India's third oldest stock exchange. Indore's real estate market is among the most expensive in the state and its Lokmanya Nagar incorporates the highest concentration of Marathi People in the Western part of the city. . Numerous colleges and universities are located in Indore, including IIM Indore and IIT Indore.
Indore owes its early growth to trade and commerce, which is still a dominant feature of the city. The present city is about 400 year’s old settlement. Till the end of 15th century its original nucleus was a riverside village, which occupied the bank of river Saraswati. This area is now known as Juni Indore.
The area of the modern Indore city was a part of the Kampel pargana (administrative unit) during the Mughal Empire. Kampel was administered by the Ujjain sarkar (government) of Malwa Subah (province). The area was controlled by the local zamindars (feudal landlords), who accepted the suzerainty of the Mughal empire. The zamindars received the title of Chaudhari, which established their claim to the land.
The modern settlement was developed by Rao Nandlal Chaudhary (also known as Nandlal Mandloi,a ShriGaud Brahmin), the chief local zamindar. Nandlal, who had an army of 2000 soldiers. Under the Mughal rule, his family enjoyed great influence and was accorded confirmatory sanads by the Emperors Aurangzeb and Farrukhsiyar, confirming their jagir (land ownership) rights. When Nandlal visited the Mughal court at Delhi, he received a special place in the emperor's court along with two jewel studded swords (now on display in the Royal British Museum under the family's name) and confirmatory sanads. Raja Savai Jai singh of Jaipur, a personal friend of his, gifted him with a special "Gold Langar" which guaranteed a special place to him in all the courts of India.
In the mid-1710s, Nandlal was caught in the struggle between the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad (who had been appointed as the governor of the Deccan region by the Mughal emperor). Once, while visiting the Indreshwar Temple near the banks of river Saraswati, Nandlal found the location to be safe and strategically located, being surrounded by rivers on all sides. He started moving his people in, and constructed the fort of Shree Sansthan Bada Rawala to protect them from harassment by the warring forces. This marked the establishent of the present-day Indore city, which became an important trade center on the Delhi-Deccan route.
By 1720, the headquarters of the local pargana were transferred from Kampel to Indore, due to the increasing commercial activity in the city. On 18 May 1724, the Nizam accepted the rights of the Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao I to collect chauth (taxes) from the area. In 1733, the Peshwa assumed the full control of Malwa, and appointed his commander Malhar Rao Holkar as the Subhedar (Governor) of the province. Nandlal Chaudhary accepted the suzerainty of the Marathas. During the Maratha rule, the Chaudharis came to be known as "Mandloi"s (derived from Mandals meaning districts). The Holkars conferred the title of Rao Raja upon Nandlal's family. The family retained its possessions of royalty, in addition to the right of performing the first puja of Dushera (Shami Pujan) before the Holkar rulers. The respectability and influence of Nandlal's family in the region was instrumental in the ascent of the Peshwas and Holkars to rulership of this region.
On 29 July 1732, Bajirao Peshwa-I granted Holkar State by merging 28 and half parganas to Malhar Rao Holkar, the founder ruler of 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.
During the period of Maharaja Tukoji Rao Holkar II (1852–86) efforts were made for the planned development and industrial development of Indore. With the introduction of Railways in 1875, the business in Indore flourished till the reign of Maharaja Shivaji Rao Holkar, Maharaja Tukoji Rao Holkar III and Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Holkar.
In 1818, the Holkars and Scindias were defeated by the British during the Third Anglo-Maratha War, in the Battle of Mahidpur by virtue of which the capital was again moved from Maheshwar to Indore A residency with British resident was established at Indore, but Holkars continued to rule mainly due to efforts of their Dewan Tatya Jog. During that time, Indore was established the headquarters of British Central Agency. In 1906 electric supply was started in the city, fire brigade was established in 1909 and in 1918, first master-plan of city was made by noted architect and town planner, Patrick Geddes.
After India's independence in 1947, Holkar State, along with a number of neighbouring princely states acceded to Indian Union. In 1948 with the formation of Madhya Bharat, Indore became the summer capital of state. On 1 November 1956, when Madhya Bharat was merged into Madhya Pradesh, the state capital was shifted to Bhopal. Indore a nearly 2.1 million city today has transformed from a traditional commercial urban center into a modern dynamic commercial capital of the state.