Aligarh is a city in the Northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and the administrative headquarters of the Aligarh district. It lies 126 miles (203 km)) northwest of Kanpur and is approximately 90 miles (140 km) southeast of the capital, New Delhi. Notable as the seat of Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh is one of the largest cities in Uttar Pradesh as well as the 55th largest city in India.
Before the 18th century, Aligarh was known as Kol or Koil:caste, the name of a place or mountain and the name of a sage or demon. Study of the place-name indicates that the district was once fairly well covered by forests and groves. The history of the district up until the 12th century is obscure.
According to an 1875 gazetteer written by Edwin T. Atkinson, the name Kol was given to the city by Balarama, who slew the great Asura (demon) Kol there 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 the Dor tribe of Rajputs in 372. This is further confirmed by an old fort, the ruined Dor fortress, which lies at the city centre.
Some time before the Muslim invasion, Kol was held by the Dor Rajputs. At the time of Mahmud of Ghazni, the chief of the Dors was Hardatta of Baran.Statues of Buddha and other Buddhist remains have been found in excavations where the citadel of Koil stood, indicating a Buddhist
influence. Hindu remains indicate that the citadel probably had a Hindu temple after the Buddhist temple.
In 1194, Qutb-ud-din Aibak marched from Delhi to Kol, “one of the most celebrated fortresses of Hind”.Qutb-ud-din Aibak appointed Hisam-ud-din Ulbak as the first Muslim governor of Koil.
Koil is mentioned in Ibn Battuta’s Rihla, when Ibn Battuta along with 15 ambassadors representing Ukhaantu Khan, emperor of the Mongol Chinese Yuan dynasty, travelled to Kol city en route to the coast at Cambay (in Gujarat) in 1341.According to 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 an officer in the fight. Ibn Batuta calls Kol “a fine town surrounded by mango groves”. From these same groves the environs of Kol would appear to have
acquired the name Sabzabad or “the green country”.
In the reign of Akbar, Kol was made a Sirkar and included the dasturs of Marahra, Kol ba Haveli, Thana Farida and Akbarabad.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. He built a fort at Kol and named the city Muhammadgarh, after himself, in 1524–25. Sabit Khan, who was then the governor of this region, of Farrukh Siyar and Muhammad Shah, rebuilt the old Lodhi fort and named the town after himself: Sabitgarh.
The Jat ruler, Surajmal, with help from Jai Singh of Jaipur and the Muslim army, occupied the fort of Koil. Koil was renamed Ramgarh and finally, when a Shia commander, Najaf Khan, captured it, 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 command of French officers Benoît de Boigne and Perron.
Battle of Aligarh (1803)
The Battle of Aligarh was fought on 1 September 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 besieged the fort, which was under the control of the French officer Perron, and established
British rule. In 1804, the Aligarh district was formed by the union of the second, third and fourth British divisions with the addition of Anupshahr from Muradabad and Sikandra Rao from Etawa. On 1 August 1804, Claude Russell was appointed the first Collector of the new district.