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Meerut

MEERUT, a city, district and division of India, in the United Provinces. The city is half-way between the Ganges and the Jumna, and has two stations on the NorthWestern railway, 37 m. N.E. from Delhi. Pop. (1901), 118,129. The city proper lies south of the cantonments, and although dating back to the days of the Buddhist emperor Asoka (c. 250 B.C.) Meerut owes its modern importance to its selection by the British government as the site of a great military station. In 1805 it is mentioned as " a ruined, depopulated town." The cantonment was established in 1806, and the population rose to 29,014 in 1847, and 82,035 in 1853. The town is an important centre of the cotton-trade. It is the headquarters of the 7th division of the northern army, with accommodation for horse and field artillery, British and native cavalry and infantry. It was here that the first outbreak of the Mutiny of 1857 took place. (See INDIAN MUTINY.)

The DISTRICT OF MEERUT forms part of the upper Doab, or tract between the Ganges and the Jumna, extending from river to river. Area, 2354 sq. m. Though well wooded in places and abundantly supplied with mango groves, it has but few patches of jungle or waste land. Sandy ridges run along the low watersheds which separate the minor channels, but with this exception the whole district is one continuous expanse of careful and prosperous tillage. Its fertility is largely due to the system of irrigation canals. The Eastern Jumna canal runs through the whole length of the district, and supplies the rich tract between the Jumna and the Hindan with a network of distributary streams. The main branch of the Ganges canal passes .across the centre of the plateau in a sweeping curve and waters the midland tract. The Anupshahr branch supplies irrigation to the Ganges slope, and the Agra canal passes through the southern corner of Loni pargana from the Hindan to the Jumna. Besides these natural and artificial channels, the country is everywhere cut up by small water-courses. The Burh Ganga, or ancient bed of the Ganges, lies at some distance from the modern stream; and on its bank stood the abandoned city of Hastinapur, the legendary capital of the Pandavas at the period of the Mahdbltdrata, said to have been deserted many centuries before the Christian era, owing to the encroachments of the river.

The comparatively high latitude and elevated position of Meerut make it one of the healthiest districts in the plains of India. The average temperature varies from 57 F. in January to 87 in June. The rainfall is small, less than 30 in. annually. The only endemic disease in the district is malarial fever; but small-pox and cholera occasionally visit it as epidemics. The population in 1901 was 1,540,175, showing an increase of 10-6% in the decade. The principal crops .are wheat, pulse, millet, sugar-cane, cotton and indigo, but this last crop has declined of late years almost to extinction. The district is traversed by the North-Western railway, and also contains Ghaziabad, the terminus of the East Indian system, whence a branch runs to Delhi, while a branch of the Oudh & Rohilkhand railway from Moradabad to Ghaziabad was opened in 1900.

The authentic history of the district begins with the Moslem invasions. The first undoubted Mahommedan invasion was that of Kutbeddin in 1191, when Meerut town was taken and all the Hindu temples turned into mosques. In 1398 Timur captured the fort of Loni after a desperate resistance, and put all his Hindu prisoners to death. He then proceeded to Delhi, and after his memorable sack of that city returned to Meerut, captured the town, razed all the fortifications and houses of the Hindus, and put the male inhabitants to the sword. The establishment of the great Mogul dynasty in the 16th century, under Baber and his successors, gave Meerut a period of internal tranquillity and royal favour. After the death of Aurangzeb, however, it was exposed to alternate Sikh and Mahratta invasions. From 1707 till 1775 the country was the scene of perpetual strife, and was only rescued from anarchy by the exertions of the military adventurer Walter Reinhardt, afterwards the husband of the celebrated Begum Samru, who established himself at Sardhana in the north, and ruled a large estate. The southern tract, however, remained in its anarchic condition under Mahratta exactions until the fall of Delhi in 1803, when the whole of the country between the Jumna and the Ganges was ceded by Sindhia to the British. It was formed into a separate district in 1818. In the British period it has become memorable for its connexion with the Mutiny of 1857.

The DIVISION OF MEERUT comprises the northern portion of the Doab. It consists of the six districts of Dehra Dun, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Bulandshahr and Aligarh. Area, 11,302 sq. m.; pop. (1901), 5,979,711, showing an increase of 1 2 -3% in the decade.

See Meerut District Gazetteer (Allahabad, 1904).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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