Saharanpur district is the northernmost of the districts of Uttar Pradesh state, India. Bordering the states of Haryana and Uttarakhand, and close to the foothills of Shivalik range, it lies in the northern part of the Doab region. It is primarily an agricultural area.
The district headquarters are Saharanpur city and it belongs to Saharanpur Division. Other principal towns are Behat, Deoband, Gangoh and Rampur Maniharan.
The entire Saharanpur district is a part the Yamuna-Ganges Doab region. Its physical features have been most conducive to human habitation. Archaeological surveys have provided evidence of the existence of many settlements over the ages. Excavations have been carried out in different parts of the district, such as Ambakheri, Bargaon, Hulas and Naseerpur and in Bahadrabad of Haridwar district. On the basis of artifacts discovered during these excavations, human habitation can be traced as far back as 2000 B.C. Traces of the Indus Valley civilization, and even of earlier cultures, have been found. Archaeologically, Ambakheri, Bargaon, Naseerpur and Hulas were centres of Harappan civilisation. It has witnessed the mighty war of Mahabharata in the region of present Muzaffarnagar district; when both were a part of the Kuru (East) Mahajanapada territory and Usinara and Panchala Mahajanapadas were their eastern neighbours. Though the history of the region can be traced to some extent from the days of the Vedic period, a more exact history, the system of administration of the local kings, and the lifestyle of the people will become known only with further exploration.
During the reign of Shamsu’d-Din Iltutmish (1211–36), the region became a part of the Delhi Sultanate. At that time, most of the area remained covered with forests and marshlands, through which the Paondhoi, Dhamola, and Ganda Nala rivers flowed. The climate was humid and malaria outbreaks were common. Muhammad bin Tughluq, the Sultan of Delhi (1325–1351), undertook a campaign in the northern doab to crush the rebellion of the Shivalik kings in 1340, when according to local tradition he learned of the presence of a sufi saint on the banks of the Paondhoi River. After visiting the sage, he ordered that henceforth this region would be known as ‘Shah-Haroonpur’, after the Sufi Saint Shah Haroon Chishti. The simple but well-preserved tomb of this saint is situated in the oldest quarter of Saharanpur city, between the Mali Gate/Bazar Dinanath and Halwai Hatta. By the end of 14th century, the power of the Sultanate had declined and it was attacked by Emperor Timur (1336–1405) of Central Asia. Timur had marched through Saharanpur region in 1399 to sack Delhi and people of the region fought his army unsuccessfully. A weakened Sultanate was later conquered by the Central Asian Mogul king Babur (1483–1531).
In the 16th century, Babur, a Timurid descendant of Timur and Genghis Khan from Fergana Valley (modern-day Uzbekistan), swept across the Khyber Pass and founded the Mughal Empire, covering India, along with modern-day Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh The Mughals were descended from Persianised Central Asian Turks (with significant Mongol admixture).
During the Mughal period, Akbar (1542–1605), Saharanpur became an administrative unit under the Province of Delhi. Akbar bestowed the feudal jagir of Saharanpur to the Mughal treasurer, Sah Ranveer Singh, an Agarwal who laid the foundations of the present day city on the site of an army cantonment. The nearest settlements at that time were Shekhpura and Malhipur. Saharanpur was a walled city, with four gates: the Sarai Gate, the Mali Gate, the Buria Gate and the Lakhi Gate. The city was divided into the neighbourhoods named Nakhasa Bazar, Shah Behlol, Rani Bazar and Lakhi Gate. The ruins of Shah Ran Veer Singh’s old fort can still be seen in the Chaudharian locality of Saharanpur, not far from the better known ‘Bada-Imam-bada’. He also built a large Jain temple in Muhallah/Toli Chaundhariyan, it is now known as the ‘Digamber-Jain Punchayati Mandir’.
The Sayyids and Rohillas
Mughal emperors Akbar and later Shah Jehan (1592–1666) bestowed the administrative pargana of Sarwat on Muslim Sayyid families. In 1633 one of them founded a city and named it and the surrounding region Muzaffarnagar, in honour of his father, Sayyid Muzaffar Ali Khan. The Sayyids ruled the area until the 1739 invasion by Nadir Shah. After his departure, anarchy prevailed across the entire doab with the region ruled or ravaged in succession by Rajputs, Tyagis, Brahmins, and Jats. Taking advantage of this anarchy, the Rohillas took control of the entire trans-Gangetic region.
Ahmad Shah Durrani, the Afghan ruler who invaded Northwestern and Northern India in 1750’s, conferred the territory of Saharanpur as Jagir on Rohilla chief Najaf Khan, who assumed the title of Nawab Najeeb-ud-Daula and took up residence in Saharanpur in 1754,. He made Gaunsgarh his capital and tried to strengthen his position against Maratha Empire attacks by entering an alliance with the Hindu Gurjar chieftain Manohar Singh. In 1759, Najeeb-ud-Daula issued a Deed of Agreement handing over 550 villages to Manohar Singh, who became the Raja of Landaura. Thus the Rohillas and the Gurjars now controlled Saharanpur.
In 1757, the Maratha army invaded the Saharanpur region, which resulted in Najeeb-ud-Daula losing control of Saharanpur to the Maratha rulers Raghunath Rao and Malharao Holkar. The conflict between Rohillas and Marathas came to an end on 18 December 1788 with the arrest of Ghulam Qadir, the grandson of Najeeb-ud-Daula, who was defeated by the Maratha general Mahadaji Scindia. The most significant contribution of Nawab Ghulam Qadir to Saharanpur city is the Nawab Ganj area and the Ahmedabadi fortress therein, which still stands. The death of Ghulam Qadir put an end to the Rohilla administration in Saharanpur and it became the northernmost district of the Maratha Empire. Ghani Bahadur Banda was appointed its first Maratha governor. The Maratha Regime saw the construction of the Bhuteshwar Temple and Bagheshwar Temple in Saharanpur city. In 1803, following the Second Anglo-Maratha War, when the British East India Company defeated the Maratha Empire, Saharanpur came under British suzerainty.
The last of the invaders were the British East India Company who marched into Saharanpur from the east in 1803. It became a very large district under the British, reaching its maximum size when the then Greater Nepal’s Dehradun region was added after the British-Gurkha War of 1816. The present independent districts of Muzaffarnagar, Haridwar and Dehradun at that time formed a part of Saharanpur district.
In 1845 Choudhary Rao Wazir-ud-din Khan, the descendant of Raja Ram Singh was the great Zaminder of Shaikpura Qadeem (Saharanpur). Choudhary Rao Wazir-ud-din Khan became a member and voter of the Mughal Court at the Red Fort in Delhi. He was the richest person in the Saharanpur District with 27 thousand bigha of land or lord of 57 villages of the district of Saharanpur. The British governor had good relations with Rao Wazir-ud-Din and he bestowed the princely title on him. He died in 1895 at Saharanpur. He had two sons Choudhary Rao Mashooq Ali Khan and Choudhary Rao Ghafoor Muhammad Ali Khan.
Rao Ghafoor Muhammad Ali Khan had seven children out of which his eldest, Rao Maqsood Ali Khan, was noteworthy as a highly educated and spiritual person. He was the one and only one royal man of Saharanpur. He was decorated by the Indian Viceroy Lord Irwin at Dehradun . He died in 1973 at Sheikhpura Qadeem and left behind his four sons: Rao Ghulam Muhi-ud-Din Khan, Rao Zamier Haider Khan, Rao Yaqoob Khan and Rao Ghulam Hafiz.
Saharanpur is located at 29.97°N 77.55°E,about 130 kilometres (81 mi) south-southeast from Chandigarh and 170 kilometres (110 mi) north-northeast from Delhi. It has an average elevation of 284 metres (932 ft)