Thursday, 6 August 2015

Zero Miles: Centre of India

Picture Courtesy: Google Images
Nestled in a tiny corner southeast of the Vidhan Bhavan and the RBI Square of Nagpur, is literally located the centre of India. The Zero Milestone is a sandstone pillar and has four horses beside it. The four horses denote the four cardinal directions. The passion for surveying and cartography by the British led to many cities having zero stones. However, the zero milestone of Nagpur is unique because it marks the geographical centre of India. Erected by the British as the central point to measure distances to all major cities, the zero milestone is a significant but often overlooked part of Nagpur. 

When India was divided into provinces, Nagpur was the erstwhile capital of the Central Provinces and Berar Provinces. The Central Provinces and Berar was together made up of 22 districts, which were grouped in five divisions. The divisions of the Central Provinces were classified as Jabalpur, Narmada, Nagpur, Chhattisgarh and the Berar division. The Jabalpur division comprised of areas such as Jabalpur, Sagar, Damoh, Seoni and Mandla. The Narmada division included areas such as Narsinghpur, Hoshangabad, Nimar, Betul and Chhindwara. The Nagpur division incorporated areas such as Wardha, Chandrapur, Bhandara, Balaghat and Nagpur. With 1905 districts within the Chhattisgarh division, the most prominent cities in this division were Bilaspur, Raipur and Durg. The Berar Division comprised of areas such as Amravati, Akola, Ellichpur, Buldhana and Bashim. 

When the states were reorganised on the basis of linguistic boundaries in 1956, most of the areas comprising the erstwhile Central Provinces formed the new state of Madhya Pradesh. Three of the five divisions became a part of the new state while Nagpur and Berar became a part of Maharashtra. The reorganisation of states in 1956 witnessed Nagpur being stripped of its title of being the capital of the Central and Berar Provinces and saw it being geographically shifted to Maharashtra. The reorganisation of states led to Nagpur becoming the only city in Independent India to lose its state capital status, despite being the capital of the erstwhile Central Provinces. Despite this minor setback, Nagpur still retains its importance as an administrative city and is today the second capital of Maharashtra.

The Zero Milestone is quite literally the centre of India. The major National Highways (NH7 from Varanasi to Kanyakumari along with NH6 from Mumbai--Sambalpur--Calcutta traverse through the city. In addition to these, the Grand Trunk Route from Mumbai--Howrah, Howrah--Chennai, Chennai--Delhi railway lines pass through the city. Though the milestone has a historical value to it and is an important monument, there is not much importance accorded to it. Nonetheless, it is still an amazing landmark which certainly deserves a visit, especially to boast about while clicking selfies. :)

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