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“Just over one hundred years ago, a rural revenue official made an important visual distinction between the village lands that were used for habitation and those used for agriculture. He took a red pencil; on a map he simply drew the lines that delineated the boundaries between the two; this was the Lal Dora.


We now know them as the Urban Villages of India– The peculiar outcome of a swiftly evolving urban environment, with the lingering remnants of rustic or historical origins. ‘A mosaic of sub cultures’, as architect Christopher Alexander described them, these urban villages are the backdrop of parallel lives which are portraits of contrast. Cramped narrow lanes leading to upmarket restaurants, Mom’n’Pop shops next to high-end boutiques, urban street art overlooking old architecture, and close quartered buildings brimming with migrant populations; in short, a motley of metamorphoses.


As various as these urban villages may be within their own confines, they also differ from colony to colony, city to city. On one hand, for example, there’s Hauz Khas Village and Khirkee Extension of Delhi, that were defined as ‘Lal Dora’ regions in the 1900s as village lands to be used for habitation purposes only, legally outside the purview of local municipalities. A century later, these ‘non-agricultural’ lands have transformed into fast emerging entertainment and art hubs. On the other hand there’s Mumbai’s Chuim or Pali that have still managed to retain some of the old world charm while being engulfed in the urban frenzy of a typical metropolitan city.


These melting pots of cultures have blurred the boundaries of ‘urban’ and ‘rural’ through an amalgamation of social networks, commercial utility and constantly evolving architecture. At the rate at which this transformation has happened, one might wonder what their future has in store.''

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Syed Adnan Ahmed

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Lokesh Dang

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Amruta Dhavale

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Siddharth Behl

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Arindam Thokdar

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Surabi Janardhanan

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