Friday, 11 April 2014

Meerut a short write-up

Meerut is situated about 70 km north-east of Delhi & is well connected with roads & rail. Meerut district was created in 1818 under British rule comprising of Meerut , Ghaziabad, Mawana, Sardhana, Hapur & Baghpat. Ghaziabad & Baghpat are now separate districts. ( Update - I understand Hapur is also a separate district now.)

Meerut cantonment is spread in 3500 hectare & was established in 1803 by British East India Company. Meerut district has an area over 2500 sq km (Delhi is nearly 1500 sq km) & population of approx 35 lacs as per 2011 census.

Being close to Hastinapur, Indraprastha & situated in Doab region between Ganga & Yamuna several legends are associated with Meerut.

Having shifted to Meerut I was keen to know the history of the city. Following information has been gathered from internet, history books etc. Your comments are welcome.

* This area was under the rule of King Maya (or Mayasura) & hence the name Mayarashtra or Maya-Dant-Ka-Khera which over a period of time became Meerut. The King Maya had a daughter Mandodari who got married to Ravna. It is believed that Mandodari used to worship Goddess Chandi in Chandi Devi temple in Nauchandi ground.

* Another story is that Shravan Kumar carried his parents on his shoulder behngi for pilgrimage & stopped here for rest. While he was taking water in a pitcher, the sound so made was mistook by King Dashrath as that of a deer drinking water. He shot an arrow towards the source of sound & killed Shravan Kumar instead of dear. Parents of Shravan Kumar cursed the King that he would also suffer & die due to separation from his son.

* Another version is that King Yudhishter awarded the area to Mahi an architect who built a palace in Indraprastha & hence the name Mahirashtra or Meerut.

* The name is also attributed to King Mahipala of Indraprastha as this area fell under his rule.

* Alamgir, Meerut had a settlement which is considered to be the eastern most part of Indus Valley Civilisation.

* During the reign of Emperor Ashok (273 - 232 BC) it had been a Budhist centre . One of the Ashoka pillars was found here. Pillar was ordered by Firoz Shah Tughlaq (1351 - 1388) to be carried to Delhi & installed at Ridge near present day Bara Hindu Rao Hospital / Delhi University.

* In eleventh century part of Meerut was ruled by King Har Datt of Bulandshahr which is mentioned in Ain-i-Akbari. He built a strong fort He was defeated by Mahmud Ghazani in 1018. It was regained by local Hindu Raja shortly thereafter.

* In 1192 Qutbudin Aibak a general of Mohammad Ghori attacked & looted the city

* In 1398 came the devastating invasion of Timur (also called The Lame due to hip injury) despite tough resistance by Jats & Rajputs at Loni fort. From there & from Delhi Timur took & massacred 100,000 prisoners as per his own write ups in Tuzk-e-Taimuri.

* In 1788 Marathas took over from Ghulam Kadir despite stiff resistance. In 1803 Marathas ceded the area to British as soon as they captured Delhi.

* In 1857 began the Great Indian Rebellion against British East India Company in Meerut. The cartridges for use in new Enfield rifle were pre-greased with beef tallow & pork lard. To load the rifle cartridges had to be opened by mouth which proved offensive to both Hindu & Muslim sepoys & sowars. Over 2000 Britishers & about 2500 sepoys of 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry were stationed in Meerut at that time.

On 24-04-1857 Lt Col of 3rd Cavalry ordered 90 of his men to perform firing drill with new cartridges. 85 of them refused & were court marshalled . 74 were punished with 10 years imprisonment & 11 younger ones five years with hard labour. The condemned prisoners were stripped of uniforms, shackled & marched to jail as all other troops at the station watched them.

Next day Sunday 10-05-1857 as the news spread, Indian troops revolted & there was general unrest in the city & Britishers were attacked. Kotwal Dhan Singh Gurjar opened the gates of jail & 85 sepoys & 800 other prisoners were freed. Lot many Britishers were killed. 'Delhi Chalo' movement started towards Delhi next day. Thus began the first attempt to be free of Britishers.

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