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Notes on the Geography of Northern India: Meerut

Forty miles northeast of Delhi, Meerut's a big town these days--several million people.  The only visitors it gets, however, are foreigners interested in the history of the Indian Mutiny, which began in the large cantonment north of town.  We'll look at the famous church there, but first we'll look at what's going on in Meerut today.

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Northern India: Meerut picture 1

Not what you expected?

Northern India: Meerut picture 2

Wait 10 years and this picture will seem quaint, because the big international retailers--Carrefour, Wal-Mart--will by then probably operate in India. For now, they're excluded, which is why the mall has only the international fast-food operators, along with stores selling international brands. That's bound to change.

Northern India: Meerut picture 3

And here's the mall itself, still in the last stages of construction.

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From another angle.

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Office buildings.

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Condos.

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We've come into the old core of the city to see the clocktower that is the town icon. Surely, there must be a dedicatory plaque somewhere, don't you think?

Northern India: Meerut picture 8

Hah! James Rae Pearson, Collector and Magistrate, 1913. Maybe buried under the posters there's some information about the donor who paid for it--almost surely an Indian.

Northern India: Meerut picture 9

A block away, there's a building with a long portico now used as a police barracks. It wasn't always so! Want proof?

Northern India: Meerut picture 10

The bedizened Duke of Connaught was here in 1888.

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And here's where he was: the town hall.

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Across the street, a Sikh gurdwara.

Northern India: Meerut picture 13

Military bases, or cantonments, are, by India's urban standards, infinitely spacious. Meerut's, on the north side of town, is no exception. Here, a bank that formerly was... well, who knows? Military headquarters?

Northern India: Meerut picture 14

And nearby, St. John's Church, completed in 1822, or 38 years before the disaster of '57. The church was dedicated in 1824 by the famous Bishop Heber, who in the space of three years wore himself out travelling around India. He died down south but is commemorated in his own church, in Calcutta.

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St. John's is unusual because the nave is flanked by such wide aisles that the floorplan is nearly square.

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The nave.

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One of the upstairs balconies.

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Looking across from one balcony to the other. Notice the black beams running from capital to capital.

Northern India: Meerut picture 19

Here's a closeup. What's the material? Wrought iron?

Northern India: Meerut picture 20

A prolix monument, but we'll get a closer look.

Northern India: Meerut picture 21

Victims of the battle for Bharatpur, 1826.

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The base of the monument.

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A victim of the Afghans, 1842.

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Cholera, 1867.

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Outside, a quiet benchmark for the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India.

Northern India: Meerut picture 26

A few blocks away is the cemetery. Who's under the column?

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Here's your answer: a very young lieutenant who died in 1814.

Northern India: Meerut picture 28

Here?

Northern India: Meerut picture 29

The schoolteacher's very young wife.


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