The Largest Cities in India

Mumbai skyline from Malabar Hill, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, Asia
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India is one of the largest countries in the world with an estimated population of 1,372,236,549. Researchers predict that this population will rise to higher than 1.5 billion in the next 50 years. Of course, most of these numbers are based on estimates as an official census has not been conducted in India since 2011, but another is scheduled for 2021. Find out why India is growing and which of its cities are largest.

About India

The country of India, formally called the Republic of India, occupies much of the Indian subcontinent that is located in the southern portion of Asia. India is second only to China in population, though it is expected to surpass China's population before long. In addition to being one of the world's largest democracies, India is one of the world's fastest-growing countries in terms of both population and economy.

Why Is India Growing?

There are a few key reasons that India's population continues to soar. The first reason is its fertility rate of about 2.33. For reference, the average replacement fertility rate, which sustains a country's population exactly because there is no net change in the number of people between generations, is 2.1. In other words, a woman must have 2.1 babies (the 0.1 allows for barriers to a woman's reproduction or child's maturation such as death, infertility, etc.) in her lifetime in order to ensure that she and her partner are "replaced" when they die.

India's fertility rate being over 0.2 above this replacement rate means there are more births than deaths. The majority of India's growth, however, is attributed to urbanization and increasing levels of literacy, though it is still considered a developing nation. India's economy is boosted by huge quantities of agricultural and industrial exports.

Largest Cities in India

India covers an area of 1,269,219 square miles (3,287,263 sq km) and is divided into 28 different states and seven union territories. Several of India's capital cities are some of the largest cities in the world. The following is a list of the top 20 largest metropolitan areas in India as of a 2011 census. 

Largest Cities in India
  City State/Territory Metropolitan Population City Proper Population
1. Mumbai Maharashtra 18,414,288 12,442,373
2. Delhi   Delhi 16,314,838 11,034,555
3. Kolkata  West Bengal 14,112,536  4,496,694
4. Chennai   Tamil Nadu 8,696,010 4,646,732
5. Bangalore Karnataka 8,499,399  8,443,675
6. Hyderabad Andhra Pradesh 7,749,334 6,731,790
7. Ahmedabad Gujarat 6,352,254 5,577,940
8. Pune Maharashtra 5,049,968 3,124,458
9. Surat  Gujarat 4,585,367 4,467,797
10. Jaipur Rajasthan 3,046,163 3,046,163
11. Kanpur Uttar Pradesh 2,920,067 2,765,348
12. Lucknow Uttar Pradesh 2,901,474 2,817,105
13. Nagpur Maharashtra 2,497,777 2,405,665
14. Indore Madhya Pradesh 2,167,447 1,964,086
15. Patna Bihar 2,046,652 1,684,222
16. Bhopal Madhya Pradesh 1,883,381 1,798,218
17. Thane Maharashtra 1,841,488 1,841,488
18. Vadodara Gujarat 1,817,191 1,670,806
19. Visakhapatnam Andhra Pradesh 1,728,128 1,728,128


Maharashtra 1,727,692 1,727,692
Cities and Metropolitan Areas

Metropolitan Area Vs. City Proper

The largest cities in India are the largest cities in India no matter how you slice it, but their rankings shift a little when you consider entire metropolitan areas, the suburbs surrounding cities, rather than only cities proper. Some Indian cities are much smaller than their metropolitan areas—it all just depends on how many people are living in a city's center.

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Briney, Amanda. "The Largest Cities in India." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Briney, Amanda. (2020, August 27). The Largest Cities in India. Retrieved from Briney, Amanda. "The Largest Cities in India." ThoughtCo. (accessed April 19, 2021).