Roorkee got its name from Ruri, wife of a Rajput tribal chief. This information gets attested from the fact that Roorkee at one point of time was spelled as Rurki.

During Akbar’s reign, Roorkee was the headquarter of Mahal or Pargana. Its position, however, was reduced with the inception of Skaruda, the estate of Rao Qutb-ud-Din in Zabita Khan’s time.

Eighteenth-century saw it being merged in the estate of Landhaura ruled by Gurjars. It remained with them till 1813, when their king Raja Ramdaval died.

It was a small village till the time work on Ganga Canal was not undertaken. It was the construction of this canal that started the journey of this small village into a planned and developed township.

Col. P.T. Cautley, an officer in the British Army, was most instrumental in constructing the canal. According to Dept. of Hydrology the canal, which is still considered as a marvel of engineering, was built in 1853. However, water was released in the canal on 8th April 1854.

Roorkee also holds the distinction of being the place where a railway engine ran for the first time in the country. The honour goes to a locomotive engine that ran in 1846 and the model of which can still be seen outside Roorkee station.

Roorkee is also witness to the upheavals of freedom movement. There are still such trees around Roorkee where freedom fighters were hanged in full public glare. Especially in the village of Sunehra, beside K.L. Polytechnic hostel, one can still spot such trees.

One can also witness the famous government irrigation workshop, in the tunnel of which British officers, civilians and their families took shelter when the famous revolt of 1857 broke out.

It would be worth mentioning that the famous IIT has its genesis in Roorkee College. Constituted in 1847, it was the only engineering college in the country at that time.

This institute was later rechristened as Thomason College of Civil Engineering in 1854. 1946 saw the inclusion of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering in its curriculum and the change of name to Thomason College of Engineering.

The institute was elevated to the status of Independent India’s first engineering university in 1949. And on September 21, 2001 Government of India elevated this institute to the level of IIT.

Another significant landmark of Roorkee is Roorkee Cantonment . One of the oldest cantonments in the country, it is headquarter of Indian Army’s Bengal Engineering Group and Centre, also popular as Bengal Sappers.

Bengal Sappers has its genesis in Bengal Pioneers which was raised in Kanpur by Capt. Tom Wood in 1803. Bengal Sappers was founded in 1819. Later both these organisations were merged and headquartered at Ludhiana.

1853 saw the headquarter being shifted to Roorkee where it is currently situated. For more info click: http://www.bsoaroorkee.org/