Bhubaneswar is the capital city of the state of Orissa, which is situated in the east of India. The city lies within the district of Khurda, which features the highest degree of urbanization in Orissa, the highest population density and a population growth rate of nearly 25 % between 2001 and 2011 (according to provisional 2011 Census data). Bhubaneswar is the economic as well as the educational centre of the state. Until the Indian independence in 1948 the city was only of religious importance. The rapid development since then gives evidence of how political will can affect regional and urban development.
The city’s history can be divided in two parts: first, the ancient temple town, that has already been there when emperor Ashoka conquered the kingdom of Kalinga in the 3rd century BC (a war after which the emperor abandoned his violent way of governing and adopted Buddhism) and that still has a certain status as a spiritual centre in the region; second, the modern administrative city that only came into being after 1948, now capital to around 37 million Orissans. This history is reflected in the present-day appearance of the city, with the old city centre in the vicinity of the Lingaraj temple (marked blue in the map), and the far bigger new part of the city, the core of which was planned by German architect Otto Königsberger in the late 1940s. The layout of the new streets is very spacious, as are the parcels of the government buildings, with many trees and green areas along and inside them, respectively.
Bhubaneswar witnessed rapid development during the past two decades. Analysis of remote sensing data of the years 1990, 2000 and 2009 showed a doubling of built-up land in the area of interest. The map shows that this seems to be due to two effects: firstly, the building up of formerly unbuilt areas within the city limits; secondly, suburbanization tendencies that lead to the growth of settlements along the bigger roads that lead out of/into town. These are common trends of Indian urbanization. However, what makes Bhubaneswar a special case is the fact that there are wide areas inside the city limits that can be developed into modern urban, densely populated quarters rather than allowing the city to sprawl excessively. This is one of the issues that the urban development planning in Bhubaneswar needs to address.