Town History

Roorkee is a small township in India with a rich history. It owes its development to the construction of the Ganga Canal in the 19th century. The town is also home to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and the Roorkee Cantonment, one of the oldest cantonments in the country. It has witnessed significant events in India's freedom movement.


Roorkee got its name from Ruri, the wife of a Rajput tribal chief. This information is attested to by the fact that Roorkee was once spelled as Rurki.
During Akbar’s reign, Roorkee was the headquarters 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.
In the eighteenth century, it was merged into the estate of Landhaura, ruled by Gurjars. It remained with them until 1813 their king, Raja Ramdaval, died.
It was a small village until work on the Ganga Canal was not undertaken. This canal's construction started this small village's journey 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 the Department of Hydrology, the canal, still considered 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 honor goes to a locomotive engine that ran in 1846, the model of which can still be seen outside Roorkee station.
Roorkee also witnessed the upheavals of the freedom movement. There are still trees around Roorkee where freedom fighters were hanged in full public view. One can still spot such trees, especially in the village of Sunehra, beside the K.L. Polytechnic hostel.
One can also witness the famous government irrigation workshop in the tunnel where British officers, civilians, and their families took shelter when the 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.
This institute was later rechristened Thomason College of Civil Engineering in 1854. In 1946, electrical and Mechanical Engineering were included in the curriculum, and the name was changed to Thomason College of Engineering.
In 1949, the institute was elevated to the status of Independent India’s first engineering university. On September 21, 2001, the government of India elevated this institute to the level of IIT.
Another significant landmark of Roorkee is the Roorkee Cantonment. One of the oldest cantonments in the country, it is the headquarters of the Indian Army’s Bengal Engineering Group and Centre, also popularly known as the Bengal Sappers.
Bengal Sappers' genesis is Bengal Pioneers, raised in Kanpur by Capt. Tom Wood in 1803. Bengal Sappers was founded in 1819. Later, both these organizations were merged and headquartered in Ludhiana.
1853 saw the headquarters being shifted to Roorkee, where it is currently situated. For more info, click: http://www.bsoaroorkee.org/ 

About the website

Born in 2001, this website is a personal project to bring people of this town together, not affiliated to government / corporation.


This page was generated at Apr 21, 2024