Meerut Knowledge Guide
In Ramayana, It was known as 'Maydant Ka Kheda', capital of May danav. It was hometown of Mandodari.After the archaeological excavations at Vidura-ka-tila, a collection of several mounds named after Vidura, in 1950–52, a site 37 km (23 miles) north-east of Meerut, it was concluded to be remains of the ancient city of Hastinapur City, the capital of Kauravas and Pandavas of Mahabharata, which was washed away by Ganges floods. Meerut also contained a Harappan settlement known as Alamgirpur. It was also the eastern-most settlement of the Indus valley civilisation. Meerut had been a centre of Buddhism in the period of Mauryan Emperor Ashoka (r. 273 BC to 232 BC.), and remains of Buddhist structures were found near the Jama Masjid in the present day city. The Ashoka Pillar, at Delhi ridge, next to the ‘Bara Hindu Rao Hospital’, near Delhi University, was carried to Delhi from Meerut, by Firuz Shah Tughluq (r. 1351–1388); it was later damaged in a 1713 explosion, and restored in 1867.
Muslim conquests and rule
In the eleventh century AD, the region to the south-west of the city was ruled by Har Dat, the Dor Rajput Raja of Bulandshahr who built a fort, which was long known for its strength and finds mention in Ain-i-Akbari. He was later defeated by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1018, surrendering along with his forces to Mahmud. The prominent local landmark known as the Jama Masjid, dates from this period and is said to have been built by Mahmud's vizir. Shortly after its capture the city was regained by the local Hindu Raja and part of his fortifications, built for the city's defence, survived until recent times. Muhammad of Ghor's mamluk general Qutb-ud-din Aybak who went on to establish the Delhi Sultanate in 1206, attacked and captured Meerut in 1193.After capturing and sacking Delhi where thousands of inhabitants were killed after a general massacre was ordered after a civilian uprising, Timur in 1399 attacked and sacked Meerut. It was held by Ilyas Afghan and his son Maula Muhammad Thaneswari who was assisted by non-Muslims led by Safi. Timur tried to negotiate a surrender, to which the inhabitants of the fort replied by stating that Tarmashirin had tried to capture it in the past but failed. Incensed, he set forth with 10,000 cavalry. The forces scaled the walls and Safi was killed in the battle. The inhabitants were killed and their wives and children enslaved. The fortifications and houses were razed to the ground with prisoners ordered to be flayed alive.The city then came under the rule of the Mughal Empire and saw a period of relative tranquility. During the rule of Mughal Emperor, Akbar the Great (r. 1556–1605), there was a mint for copper coins here. During the decline of the Mughal Empire, after the death of Aurangzeb, the city came effectively under the control of local chieftains, the Saiyids of Muzaffarnagar in the north, the Jats in the south-east, and the Gujars along the Ganges and in the south-west. The city saw Sikh and Maratha invasions in the 18th century, with interruptions by Jats and Rohillas. Walter Reinhardt, an English soldier, established himself at Sardhana and some parts of the district came under his rule. Upon his death, they came into the hands of Begum Samru. During this time, the southern part of the district had remained under Maratha rule.
In 1803, with the fall of Delhi, Daulat Rao Scindia of the Marathas ceded the territory to the British. The city was made headquarters of the eponymous district in 1818. Meerut is famously associated with the Indian Rebellion of 1857 against the British East India Company. The famous slogan "Dilli Chalo" ("Let's march to Delhi!") was first raised here. Meerut cantonment is the place where the rebellion started.The revolt, which catapulted Meerut into international prominence, started in March 1857 at Barrackpore, Bengal. Sepoy Mangal Pandey shot and missed two Europeans, failed to kill himself, and was hanged. By April, the fire of Pandey's Uprising scorched north India and reached Meerut, the second-largest East India Company garrison. Here, Europeans and native sepoys were evenly balanced, with a little more than 2,000 on each side. The European cantonment was separated from the ‘native lines.’ Close by were Sadar Bazar and Lal Kurti Bazar, the latter named after the red uniforms worn by Company soldiers. On 24 April 1857, Meerut's commander, Colonel CarmichaelSmyth, paraded 90 Indian sepoys of the Bengal Cavalry, hired mostly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. He ordered them to fire the new Enfield cartridges: 85 refused. The cartridges were covered with paper that had to be torn off: Muslims believed the paper was greased with pig fat and Hindus, with cow fat.All 85 were stripped of their uniforms, imprisoned for ten years and shackled - this was a major humiliation. The rebels were from the 3rd cavalry: they owned their horses and were the upper-caste elite. If they could be shackled, what could others expect from the Company? On Sunday, 10 May 1857, Kotwal Dhan Singh Gurjar opened the gates of the prison. These soldiers, along with the other imprisoned soldiers, escaped prison and declared themselves free, revolted, attacked and killed several of the British authorities to take the city under their control. This marked the beginning of a widespread revolt across northern India as these soldiers marched towards Delhi. 10 May is still celebrated as a local holiday in Meerut. Meerut was also the venue of the controversial Meerut Conspiracy Case in March 1929, in which several trade unionists, including three Englishmen, were arrested for organising Indian-rail strike. This immediately caught attention back in England, inspired the 1932 play titled Meerut Prisoners, by Manchester street theatre group, the 'Red Megaphones', highlighting the detrimental effects of colonisation and industrialisation Electricity was brought to Meerut in 1931. In the 1940s, Meerut cinemas had a "Don't Move" policy during playing of the British national anthem. The last session of the Indian National Congress before Indian independence was held at Victoria Park in Meerut on 26 November 1946. It was in this session that the Constitution-making committee was constituted.
The city and district also suffered from communal (Hindu-Sikh) riots in 1984 and (Hindu-Muslim) riots in 1982 and in 1987, during which the Hashimpura massacre took place, in May 1987, when personnel of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) shot dead 42 Muslims, the trial of the case is still pending. In 2006, a fire at a consumer electronics "Brand India" fair in Victoria Park Stadium killed at least 100 people, with authorities already confirming 45 fatalities, although a specific figure on a toll was difficult to put and was predicted to be much higher.
The Great Upsurge of 1857
The British formally touched base in Meerut in 1803, through an arrangement with the Marathas. The cantonment of Meerut was set up in 1806 with particular key interests including its closeness to Delhi and its area inside the rich Ganges – Yamuna doab. With time Meerut advanced into one of the biggest and most vital military stations of India.
Nauchandi Mela (Fair)
The Nauchandi Mela is an annual fair held at Nauchandi Ground in Meerut. The fair stretches for about a month and is organized by the Municipal Corporation of Meerut. It generally starts from the second Sunday after Holi. The main exhibits are the artistic and religious rituals followed in rustic Uttar Pradesh. The fair witness more than 50,000 visitors every year. The Indian Railways' Nauchandi Express train is named after this fair. The fair has a prominent history dating back several hundreds of years. It started in the year 1672 AD as a one-day cattle trading fair. The fair has been held every year, excluding 1858, the year after 1857 revolt, which started from Meerut.Since then cattle trading has been replaced by a number of other activities. The fair feature shops for Lucknow's Chikan work, Moradabad's brassware, Varanasi's carpets, rugs and silk sarees, Agra's footwear, Meerut's leather items, etc. Meerut's own products like sports goods, scissors, gajaks, nan-khatai are also sold. Giant rides, wheels, circus and various other recreational arenas where artists perform stunts, remains a big attraction of the fair.
Film and television
Meerut is home to a film industry, which has a following in Western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. The films are usually folklore stories or comedies or localised versions of Bollywood hits. The films Tanu Weds Manu, Raanjhanaa, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, and Zero primarily take place in Meerut. The film Rajma Chawal shows Meerut. Notable people from Meerut in the film and television industry include Bharat Bhushan, Aziz Mian, Mandakini, Achint Kaur, Kailash Kher, Chitrangada Singh, Vishal Bhardwaj, Deepti Bhatnagar and Pravesh Rana.