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Aligarh

About 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, Aligarh Police Range and Aligarh Division, and has a population of half a million. It is mostly known as a university town where the famous Aligarh Muslim University is located. The Aligarh division includes Aligarh, Etah, Hathras and Kanshi Ram Nagar districts.


History

Moat at the Aligarh FortAligarh was known by the earlier name of Kol or Koil before 18th century. Kol 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 Kol is obscure. In some ancient texts, Kol 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. 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[1]. According to Edwin T. Atkinson, Koil name was given to the city by Balarama, who slew here the great Asura (demon) Kol and with the assistance of the Ahirs subdued this part of the Doab In another account, Atkinson points out a "legend" that Kol was founded by Dor tribe of Rajputs in 372 A.D. This could be further confirmed by an old fort, the Dor fortress, now in ruins, which lies at the city's centre.

Some time before the Muslim invasion, Kol was held by the Dor Rajputs and that in the time of Mahmud of Ghazni the chief of the Dors was Hardatta of Baran . There is some reason to believe that Koil was once the seat of a Buddhist community as statues of Buddha and other Buddhist remains have been found in excavations made in the eminence on which the citadel of Koil stood. It also had Hindu remains indicating that in all probability the citadel contained in succession a Buddhist and a Hindu temple .

In the year 1194 A.D., Qutb-ud-din Aybak marched from Delhi to Koil which was "one of the most celebrated fortresses of Hind" . Qutb-ud-din Aybak appointed Hisam-ud-din Ulbak as the first muslim governor of Koil .

Koil is also mentioned in Ibn Battuta's Rihla, when Ibn Battuta along with 15 ambassadors representing Ukhaantu Khan, the Mongol Emperor of the Yuan dynasty in China, traveled to Koil city enroute to the coast at Cambay (in Gujarat) in 1341. . According to Ibn Battuta , it would appear that the district was then in a very disturbed state since the escort of the Emperor's embassy had to assist in relieving Jalali from an attacking body of Hindus and lost one of their officers in the fight. Ibn Batuta calls Koil "a fine town surrounded by mango groves". From these same groves the environs of Koil would appear to have acquired the name of Sabzabad or "the green country" .

In the reign of Akbar, Koil was made a Sirkar and included the dasturs of Marahra, Kol ba Haveli, Thana Farida and Akbarabad . Both Akbar and Jahangir visited Kol on hunting expeditions. Jahangir clearly mentions the forest of Kol, where he killed wolves .

During the time of Ibrahim Lodhi, Muhammad, son of Umar was the governor of Kol, 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 old Lodi fort and named the town after his own name Sabitgarh. After the occupation of Kol by the Jat ruler Surajmal in 1757, 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 Benoît de Boigne and Perron .


General Lord Gerard Lake who oversaw the Battle of Ally GhurThe Battle of Ally Ghur was fought on September 1, 1803 during the Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803-1805) at Aligarh Fort. The British 76th Regiment, now known as the Duke of Wellington's Regiment laid siege of the fort which was under first-rate French officer Perron and established British rule after overtaking the fort. In 1804, the Aligarh district was formed by the union of the second third and fourth British divisions with the addition of Anupshahr from Moradabad and Sikandra Rao from Etawa. On the 1st of August 1804, Mr Claude Russell was appointed the first Collector of the new district

Establishment of Aligarh Muslim University (1875)
Main article: Aligarh Muslim University
In 1875, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan founded the Muhammadan Anglo Oriental College in Aligarh and patterned the college after Oxford and Cambridge universities that he had visited on a trip to England. This later became Aligarh Muslim University in 1920.


Geography


Aligarh is located at 27.88° N 78.08° E[5]. It has an average elevation of 178 metres (587 feet). The city is situated in the middle portion of Doab, or the land between the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers. The Grand Trunk Road passes through the city.


Climate


Aligarh has a hot and dry climate. The mean temperature for December and January, the coldest months is 59°F (15°C) and 54°F (12.2°C), and for May and June, the extreme hot months, 90°F (32.2°C) and 93°F (33.8°C) in the shade .


Economics


The city is an agricultural trade centre . The processing of agricultural products and manufacturing are also important. It is particularly famous for locks and brass castings (sculptures). In 1870, Johnson & Co. was the first English locks firm to be set up in Aligarh. In 1890, the Johnson & Co. initiated the manual production of locks on a small scale here. There is a thermal power station 15 km away from the city. It is called Harduaganj Thermal Power Station (but referred as Kasimpur Power House). Flour milling, the processing of raw cotton, and the manufacture of butter and glass are the principal industries in the city.


Education

Aligarh is synonymous with the University that is spread across much of the city civil lines area. Aligarh Muslim University is a residential academic institution of international repute offering more than 250 courses in traditional and modern branches of education. It is a premier central university with several faculties and maintained institutions and draws students from all corners of the world, specially Africa, West Asia and South East Asia.

Mangalayatan University, founded by the renowned philanthropist, social worker and Journalist - Pawan Jain, is also set up in Aligarh .


Important places

A church in Naqvi Park, a lesser known part of Aligarh.There are 2 popular landmarks in Aligarh. One is Aligarh fort and another is Sir Syed Masjid in Aligarh Muslim University's campus. Another old fort, the Dor fortress (1524), now in ruins, lies at the city's centre; its site is located in the area now called Upper Kot and is occupied by an 18th-century mosque. The city also contains tombs of Muslim saints .

The city also has a few known markets - Railway Road market, Centre Point Market, Amir Nisha, Tasveer Mahal and Shamshad market. Amir Nisha market is a major shopping hub, a favorite for women as it has a variety of clothes, jewellery and cosmetics. Another popular market for students is Shamshad market and with many educational book shops.Tasveer Mahal is famous for Sherwani's shop. Center point market is known for its popular eating joints like Kwality, Mezbaan, Baskin Robbins and Wheelers and an ancient Lord Hanumaan temple named Tikaram Mandir. A huge rush can be seen in the temple on Tuesday and Saturday. And a Sai BaBa's Karuna Dham on Grand Trunk Road Sai Bhakts can be seen here throughout the week but specially on Thursday.

Aligarh has many movie theatres such as Grand Surjit,Vadra,Nandan,Lakshmi,Nishat and Tasveer Mahal. Grand Surjit is the latest Cineplex among them with the best facilities to offer.

Aligarh is also famous for its sweets and namkeens. Kunjilal , Khyaliram and Vikas sweets are among the well known sweets shops, while Babboo and Dabboo lead the namkeen segment. The Annual Cultural Exhibition, popularly known as numaish, held at Exhibition ground is a very famous event and a huge affair in the month of January and February. The Aligarh is also famous for Sherwanis, especially the legendary Mehdi Hasan's shop.


Important Residential Places


This city is divided into two areas known as Old Aligarh (City) & New Aligarh (Civil Lines).


New Aligarh


It consists of Azim Compound, Zakaria Market, Sir Syed Nagar, Badar bagh, Zohrabagh, Dodhpur, Jeevangarh, Janakpuri, Professor colony, Gyan sarover, Maan sarover, Shyam Nagar, Medical Colony and Ramghat road.

Old Aligarh

Rasalgunj or Russellganj (named after Mr Claude Russell, the first Collector of Aligarh district), Nai Basti, Avas Vikas Colony, Manik Chowk, Delhi Gate, Anona House, Pahasu House, Sasni Gate, Mahavir Ganj, Railway Road, Babri Mandi, Mitha Kuan, Jaiganj, Upper Kot, Gambhir pura, Mahendra Nagar, Bank Colony (Premier Nagar), Saray Sultani,Achal Talab,Khirni gate, Janak Puri and Vikram Colony are some of the residential areas in old Aligarh.