Winding back to the times when the Indians first revolted against the British East India Company in 1857, it was at Meerut where the rebellion started. Now, this ancient town of Uttar Pradesh is the armoury of Hollywood period dramas.
Yes, situated about 70 km northeast of the national capital New Delhi, Meerut is a home to a battle gear and armoury industry which produces props for use in Hollywood films and television series. The weapons and armours used in the movies as Gladiator, 300 and the television series Spartacus: Blood and Sand actually showcase the skill and artistry of this ancient town. Certainly, much of the motivation seems to come from the Mahabharata and Ramayana, as the vendors in Meerut have expertise in weapons mentioned in these epics.
Coming to the mythological side of this city, Meerut is said to derive its name from ‘Mayarashtra’, the capital of the kingdom of Mayasura who was Mandodari’s father in the Ramayana. Thus, the city is also known as ‘Ravan Ka Sasural’ literally meaning Ravana’s wife’s home.
During the reign of Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, Meerut had also been an important centre of Buddhism. The ruins of Buddhist structures are still found near the Jama Masjid in the present day city.
Once the centre of a multi-million rupee Hindi pulp fiction industry, Meerut is today one of the most significant industrial towns of western U.P. It is traditionally known for its handloom works and scissors. It is also the largest manufacturer of musical instruments in the country. The city is a core of gold design in the entire nation as well.
Moreover, the place is one of the major manufacturing regions for sports goods in India. Celebrated for the production of the finest cricket bats and the thriving sports goods industry, Meerut has been adjudged as the ‘Sports city of India’.
Apart from being a busy merchandising centre of the state, very few know that Meerut is a gastronomic delight too. From the creamy Hariya Ki Lassi to the spicy papri chaat at Abu Lane, and the morning jalebis to the mouth-watering golgappas in the evening, locals and the tourists alike get smitten with Meerut’s street food. Standing apart in taste is a popular winter sweet called gajak that offers a complete melt-in-mouth experience. The region also follows the Mughlai and Awadhi style of cooking. With a wide array of Continental, Chinese, Italian and the North-Indian food, the city indeed offers varied choices that suit everybody’s palate.
Besides, the place would give you some fantastic lures to cherish- the impeccable amalgamation of traditional, ancient, and modern attractions to explore. The city is famous for voluminous ancient milestones such as Augharnath Temple– Also known as Kalipatan Mandir, the place was one of the centres where the mutineers planned their operations during the 1857 rebellion of India; Hastinapur wildlife sanctuary- Established in 1986, it is among the notable wildlife projects in the country. The sanctuary spreads over an area of 2073 km2 and attracts lots of visitors; Suraj Kund Park– Known as “Monkey Tank” during the British times, this lush green park houses diverse flora and fauna creating ample opportunities for amusement and recreation at the same time; Gandhi Bagh– Also known as Company Garden, it is famed for the musical fountain show, organised here every evening; St. Jhon’s Church– Located in the cantonment area, it was established by the East India Company in 1819. The church was built in a neo-colonial style of architecture and is considered as one of the oldest churches in Northern India; Shahi Eid Gah- Built by Delhi Sultanate’s eighth sultan and Iltumish’s youngest son, Nasir ud din Mahmud, it is about 600 years old with praying capacity of more than one lakh people. Besides, there is Mansa Devi Temple, Bale Miyan ki Dargah, Bhole Ki Jaal, Chandi Devi temple, to name a few, which lures thousands of visitors.
Indeed, Meerut is intense, historical, and fun all rolled into one. Even if you have no plans, no must-see list, Meerut is one spot for just a gregarious traveller with a beaming smile.