Saturday, January 26, 2013


Aligarh Jama Masjid
Jama Masjid of Aligarh
Aligarh is a city in Aligarh District in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The city is located about 90 miles south-east of New Delhi. It is the administrative headquarters of Aligarh District, and has a population of half a million. It is mostly known as a university town where the famous Aligarh Muslim University is located.

This city is divided into two areas known as Old Aligarh (City) & New Aligarh (Civil Lines). New Aligarh consists of Avantika colony, Ramghat road, Jamalpur, Sir Syed Nagar, Badar bagh, Zohrabagh, Surendra Nagar, Janakpuri, Professor colony, gyan sarover, maan sarover, Shyam Nagar, Medical Colony and Zakaria Market while Delhi Gate, Sasni Gate, Mahavir Ganj, Railway Road, Jaiganj, Uparkote, Gambhir pura, Mahendra Nagar, Saray Sultani, Janak Puri and Vikram Colony are some of the residential areas in old Aligarh.

History of Aligarh:
It is known till the 18th century by the earlier name of Koil. After the British occupation of Aligarh in September 1803, the present Aligarh district was formed in 1804.

Both Akbar and Jahangir visited Koil on hunting expeditions. Jahangir clearly mentions the forest of Koil, where he killed wolves. From the study of the place-names of the district, it appears that the district was once fairly well covered by forest, thickets and grooves. The early history of the district, indeed down the 12th century AD is obscure.

Kol or Koil, was the earliest name of the city and Aligarh was the name of the fort nearby. Koil covered not only the city but the entire district, though its geographical limits kept changing from time to time. The origin of the name of Koil is obscure. In some ancient texts, Koil has been referred to in the sense of a tribe or Caste, name of a place or mountain and name of a sage or demon. During the time of Ibrahim Lodhi, when Muhammad, son of Umar was the governor of Kol, he built a fort at Kol and named the city after his own name as Muhammadgarh in 1524-25; and Sabit khan who was the governor of this region during the time of Farrukh Siyar and Muhammad Shah, rebuilt the fort and named the town after his own name Sabitgarh. After the occupation of Kol by the Jats in 1775, it was re-named Ramgarh and finally, when a Shia commander, Najaf khan, captures Kol, he gave it its present name of Aligarh. Aligarh Fort (also called Aligarh Qila), as it stands today, was built by French engineers under the control of French officers BenoƮt de Boigne and Perron.

Jama Masjid of Aligarh:
Sabit khan's real name was Jafar Beg and the title of Sabit Khan Bahadur Jang was conferred upon him by Farrukh Siyar. He was reputedly very liberal towards the poor. Sabit Khan took an active interest in the construction of buildings at Kol. The fort of Sabitgarh, the tomb of Allah Bakhsh (1717), reconstruction of the present Jama Masjid of the city (1724), the funding of the Harduaganj market, repairs of Jama Masjid at Jalali (1724) and of the old fortress of Kol, the extension of the shrine of Shah Faiyaz of Atrauli and the construction of a tank which was linked with the JamaAligarh Masjid of the Aligarh city through an underground channel may be cited as some of the important works to his credit. The Jama Masjid itself is a monument of great architectural merit. The mosque stands at the summit of the Balai Qila, the highest point of the city, so that it is visible from all the sides. It is an impressive and elegant monument of the district Aligarh. According to the author of Akbar-ul-Jmal, Raje Muhammad (1740), the mosque was originally constructed by Qutubuddin Aibek, following his conquest of Kol. It was restored or renovated by Iltimush, Nasiruddin Muhammad, Muhammad bin Tughlaq and finally reconstructed by Sabit Khan. But truly speaking, barring its site, there is hardly anything now in the mosque suggestive of its association with earlier periods.

British Occupation of Aligarh Fort:
By the end of June 1803, it was decided to strike a decisive blow to the native powers of India and General Lake was assigned the affairs of North India. The Governor General in his letter dated, July 27, 1803, Instructed General Lake to march against the military eastablishment of General Perron. General Lake left Kanpur on August 2 and reached Sikandrarao on 25th. At Sikandrarao, Lake was joined by Major General Ware with a detachment from Fatehgarh. From Sikandrarao instead of following the G.T.Road for Aligarh, Lake marched to Bijaigarh. The composition of the British army had the appearance of a moving town. Money changers, marchants, goldsmiths, jewelers, jugglers, dancing girls and convoy of banjaras, for the supply of grains, were included in this "moving mass" of the army. On August 28, the British army marched towards Nanau. In the early morning of August 29, at 4'O clock, the British army reached in the vicinity of Kol near Sasni Gate, where Maratha force, under the personal command of Perron, were strongly posted. Heavy canons were fired on the advance guard of the British army. After a trifling skirmish, the town of Kol was captured by the General Lake and the Maratha forces retreated to the Aligarh fort. After the first round of skirmish, Parron surprisingly retired Aligarhto Mendu and from there to Agra. Lake, later on established his temporary military headquarters at Sahib Bagh, the residential garden house of Perron. From August 29 onwards, General lake, with the support of Governal General, kept himself busy in encouraging defections in the rank and file of Perron's forces. In his letter, dated September 2, General Lake informed the Governor General that he had not yet moved from Kol and, "my object is to get the troops out of the fort by bribery which I flatter myself will be done. The Governor General fully endorsed Lake's proposals. Lake left no stones unturned in his efforts to seduce the British as well as the French officers, but, except for the defection of the British officers or soldiers, who were serving under the Maratha forces, the hopes of the Governer General and General Lake proved illusory. They could not sow the seeds of dissension in the rank and file of the Indian troops, stationed at this time at Aligarh fort. Colonel Pedron was inclined to surrender, the fort, "with relief", but the troops refused to submit and rallied round Bajee Rao, a Bhadauria Rajput, and confined Pedron. General Perron who had already fled from Aligarh also disapproved the idea of capitulation on the part of Colonel Pedron and reproached him severely. Pester informs us that a French man made his escape this morning from the garrison, from whom we learnt that the troops had determined never to quit the place, but with their lives. Skinner also says that, "These men resolved to defend the place to the end."

How to Reach Aligarh?

By Air: The nearest airport is New Delhi that is 130 odd kilometers from downtown Aligarh. New Delhi has bothAligarh international as well as domestic airport that is well connected to a range of cities in India and world. Several public as well as private carriers offer their service to and from Delhi. From Delhi, one can either hire a cab or take any train to Aligarh.

By Train: Aligarh falls on the busy Delhi-Kolkata Grand Chord line and is therefore well connected to most of the destinations in Uttar Pradesh and India. The main railway station in Aligarh is Aligarh Junction. The junction is well connected to cities like New Delhi, Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow, Benaras, Jaipur, Kolkata and Mumbai through a cluster of super fast and express trains.

By Road: Aligarh is well connected to cities in Uttar Pradesh and around through a network of National and State Highways. The city has regular buses to destinations like Jaipur, Agra, Mathura, Ghaziabad, New Delhi, Lucknow and Varanasi. Both Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation as well as private parties plies buses to and from the city.

Shopping in Aligarh:

Aligarh is one of the most famous commercial centers in North India. Although the city has become synonymous to locks, Aligarh has much more to offer to its visitors. Nevertheless, locks manufacturing and export remains the lifeline of the city.

The lock industry of Aligarh is very old and traces its history to the era of Moguls. The industry got a major boost in the times of British rule. It were British who streamlined the lock industry that was once very unorganized. The city produces numerous types, kinds and size of locks that can be bought. The major market places in Aligarh are Railway Road Market and Center Point Market.

Aligarh Another famous products that can be bought in Aligarh are Brasses. Brass Sculptures are hot among the tourists visiting Aligarh. These sculptures are finely cast and come in all kind of shape and size. Do buy a few suiting your luggage. Aligarh is also famous for its 'Aligarh Pajamas'. These dress materials are of fine qualities and have no parallels in India at all.

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