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History of Roorkee

Roorkee is one of the developing cities of Uttarakhand with many initiatives taken to promote the city at its best in fields of education, research and industrial development. Such is the involvement of the city in educational excellence that it is often called as Shiksha Nagari by eminent people. However, the background of the city is quite different from the one seen at present.

British History of Roorkee

According to the history of the city the name of Roorkee was previously said as “Rurki” which according to the popular belief was derived from the name of the wife of the Rajput tribal Chief, called as RURI.

The first reference of the city was found in Ain-e Akbari by Abul Fazal where during the Mughal times, the city served as a Pargana looking after administrative works at the time of King Akbar. However, the position of the place was reduced during the time of Zabita Khan with the commencement of the rule of Skaruda, the estate of Rao Qutb-ud-Din. During the eighteenth century the place was annexed with Landhaura which was then ruled by the Gurjars. From then till the death of their King Raja Ramdaval in 1813, the place does not record any major change or shift in rule. Later it became a part of the British East India Company.

It was during this period of the British that Roorkee was nothing but a small village with some mud built huts providing shelter to fellow Indians. It was in the year 1840 when building up Ganges Canal got initiated along with the journey of the small village towards forming a developed and planned township. The most aggressive officer who took the initiative of constructing this canal was Col P.T Cautley, a British army officer. The canal was constructed with the best engineering practices in 1853. However, the operation of the Canal and the flow of water started from 8th April 1954, where it irrigated over 7,67,000 acres and providing water to over 5000 villages.

Initially, to look after the work of the canal, two special offices, Iron Foundry and Canal workshop were established which as on today is referred as Irrigation Workshop. It is that irrigation workshop where in the tunnel several families of various religions along with some British officers took shelter during the Revolt of 1857. Roorkee is also famous for having a railway engine pass through the tracks of the town for the first time in the country. It was a locomotive engine which traveled from Roorkee to Piran Kaliyar, almost 10km in 1851 and the same prototype is kept outside the railway station for reference. It was almost two years before the first passenger train traveled from Bombay to Thane.

It was closely after the Great Ganges Canal was built, a civil engineering school got started in the area in 1845, so that it enables the local youth to get trained on different jobs in this genre and help in the work of the Upper Ganges Canal. This was informally the first engineering college which was formally established after the proposal initiated by Sir James Thomason who was the Lt. Governor of the North West Province. However, in 1953 after Sir Thomason died the college was named after him as Thomason College of Civil Engineering which was upgraded to the University of Roorkee and later by an act of parliament was transformed in to one of the branches of Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee.

Apart from this Roorkee has been honored several times with modern facilities for the first time among many places across the country. For example it is one of the few towns which had a post office and it also owned the first telegraphic office in the country. It was also the first among several towns to have the benefit of Hydroelectricity. Even the first aqueduct of the country was constructed over Solani River in Roorkee only.

The Bengal sappers and Miners have been based here since 1853 and today it is an honor for the city to announce that it serves as one of the prominent army base. Roorkee also serves as an abode of the holy Sufi saint Alauddin Sabir Kaliyari in a village named as Piran Kaliyar. The holy shrine is also named as Sarkar Sabir Pak. It is here only a fifteen day celebration and festivity is organized to celebrate the holiness of the place.

However Roorkee today, has grown in terms of social, economical and industrial development in a huge way. It is one of the progressive towns of the country and one of the promising cities of Uttarakhand.

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