Towns, Traders, Craftspersons
Short Answer Questions
Question 1: What caused the decline of Surat?
Answer: The following factors were responsible for the decline of Surat:
- Loss of markets and productivity because of the decline of the Mughal Empire.
- Control of the sea routes by the Portuguese.
- Competition from Bombay (Mumbai of the present times) where the East India Company shifted its headquarters in 1668.
Question 2: On whom did the Qutb Shahi rulers of Golconda impose royal monopolies? Why did they do so?
Answer: Royal monopolies were imposed by the Qutb Shahi rulers of Golconda on the sale of textiles, spices and other items. This was done to prevent the trade from passing completely into the hands of the various East India Companies.
Question 3: What was the role of zamindars/samantas?
Answer: Fortified palaces were built by a samanta or a zamindar in or near the small towns. They also levied taxes on traders, artisans and articles of trade. They sometimes delegated the right to collect taxes (claimed by them as ‘donation of right to temples’) to local temples which were built by them or rich merchants.
Question 4: Briefly describe the distinctive architecture of Hampi.
Answer: The construction of walls in the well-fortified city was done using a technique in which they were wedged together by interlocking. No mortar or cementing agent was used in this construction. The buildings in the royal complex had splendid arches and domes. They had pillared halls with niches for holding sculptures. The orchards and pleasure gardens were well-planned with sculptural motifs like the lotus and corbels.
Long Answer Type Questions
Question 1: What caused the decline of Masulipatnam?
Answer: The Mughal occupation of Masulipatnam forced the European Companies to look for alternatives. A new policy of the East India Company said that it was not enough if a port had connections with the production centres of the hinterland. It was felt that the new Company trade centres should combine political, administrative and commercial roles. Masulipatnam lost both its merchants and prosperity and declined in the course of the 18th century as the Company traders moved to Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. Today it is nothing more than a dilapidated little town.
Question 2: Describe Thanjavur as an administrative centre.
Answer: Thanjavur was the capital of the Cholas. It was an administrative town. This is situated on the banks of Kaveri. Rajarajeshvara temple (built by Rajaraja Chola) is in this town. Kunjaramallam Rajaraja was the architect of this temple. Apart from the temple; palaces with mandapas (pavilions) are present in this town. The kings held court in these mandapas. Barracks for the army were also present in the town.
Important Aspects of the town:
- There were bustling markets; selling grain, spices, cloth and jewellery.
- Wells and tanks provided water supply to the town.
- The Saliya weavers of Thanjavur and Uraiyur made clothes. Fine cottons were made for the king and nobility and coarse cottons were made for the masses. These clothes were also used for making flags to be used in temple festivals.
- The sculptors or sthapatis at Svamimalai used to make exquisite bronze idols and tall, ornamental bell lamps.
Question 3: Describe temple towns.
Answer: Temples used to be the hub of economy and society.
Sources of money for temples: Rulers used to build temples to demonstrate their devotion. Additionally, they also endowed the temples with grants of land and money for rituals, feeding pilgrims and priests, and festivities. Donations were also made by pilgrims.
Use of money for temples: Temples used their money to finance trade and banking. Gradually many priests, artisans, workers, traders, Etc. settled near the temple to cater to the needs of the temple as well as pilgrims. This is how temple towns grew. Some of the important temple towns which developed in this period are; Bhillasvamin (Bhisla or Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh), Somnath (Gujarat), Kanchipuram and Madurai (Tamil Nadu) and Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh). Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu and Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh are examples of pilgrimage centres which developed as a town.