Past Cities

Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, India

Aligarh, situated in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India, is a city steeped in history and brimming with a rich cultural heritage. It is located in the northern part of the state, approximately 140 kilometers southeast of the capital, Delhi. The city's strategic location and political significance have shaped its history and influenced its growth over the centuries.

Aligarh's recorded history dates back to ancient times, with evidence of human habitation in the region as early as the prehistoric period. However, it was during the medieval era that Aligarh witnessed significant growth and prominence. The city has been an amalgamation of various cultural influences due to its proximity to different regions. According to the 2021 census, the population of Aligarh was estimated to be around 1.6 million inhabitants.

During the medieval period, Aligarh experienced the dominance of the Mughal Empire, which significantly impacted the city's growth and cultural landscape. The Mughals established a strong presence in the region, constructing numerous architectural marvels and fortifications. The emperor Akbar built the colossal Aligarh Fort in the late 16th century, showcasing the empire's military might and acting as a symbol of power in the region. The Mughals also patronized art, literature, and education, contributing to Aligarh's intellectual growth.

The arrival of the British in the 18th century brought about transformative changes in Aligarh's political and social fabric. The East India Company gradually extended its control over the region, leading to the establishment of British rule in the 19th century. During this time, Aligarh witnessed an educational renaissance, driven by the efforts of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, a visionary reformer and educationist, founded the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College (later known as Aligarh Muslim University) in 1875. His aim was to empower the Muslim community through education and bridge the cultural divide between the British and the Indian population. Aligarh became the epicenter of intellectual and educational progress in North India, attracting scholars, thinkers, and students from various backgrounds.

The early 20th century was marked by a surge in political awareness and the emergence of nationalistic movements across India. Aligarh, too, became a hotbed of political activity and played a pivotal role in the struggle for independence. The Khilafat Movement, initiated by Mahatma Gandhi and supported by prominent Aligarh leaders, aimed to protect the Ottoman Caliphate and garner support for the Indian freedom movement.

Aligarh remained politically active during the subsequent years, witnessing protests, strikes, and demonstrations against British colonial rule. The city's residents actively participated in the Quit India Movement in 1942, demanding the end of British occupation. The spirit of nationalism and the pursuit of freedom shaped the city's identity and instilled a sense of unity among its inhabitants.

With the attainment of independence in 1947, Aligarh, like the rest of the country, embarked on a new journey. The city experienced significant growth and development in various sectors, including industry, education, and infrastructure. The establishment of Aligarh Industrial Estate, with a focus on manufacturing and small-scale industries, bolstered the city's economic prospects.