A walk down memory lane: The many changes Gurgaon has seen

  • Sanjeev K Ahuja, Gurgaon
  • Updated: Apr 13, 2016 17:59 IST
Photo of Unitech cyber park building in Gurgaon. (Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)

Gurgaon, which has earned the nickname of Cyber City for hosting companies from across the world, has a history of changing names, political boundaries and demographics.

The Haryana government has decided to change the name of Gurgaon district to Gurugram, an ancient description for a place identified with swanky malls, luxury apartments and state-of-the-art offices.

According to popular culture, Gurgaon got its name from Guru Dronacharya, the teacher of the Pandavas in the epic Mahabharata. It is said the Pandavas gifted a village to Drona as gurudakshina, and hence, the area came to be known as Gurugram (master’s village), which in the course of time was distorted to Gurgaon.

KC Yadav, a noted historian who taught at the Kurukshetra University for three decades, said the city was known as Gurgaon Masani in the pre-Independence era.

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“As per the 1883 Gazetteer, the town was named as Gurgaon Masani. It primarily consisted of Gurgaon Gaon which had a well-known temple of Sheetla Mata. The temple originally was known as Masani temple that would host the Masani Mela (Fair). The area thus used to be known as Gurgaon Masani then. At that time too the temple had had a footfall of around 20,000 devotees,” Yadav, who has written about the history of Haryana, said.

According to the 80-year-old historian, the word Gurugram is not mentioned in the Mahabharata.

SP Gupta, the director general of Haryana Institute of Public Administration, said the word Gurugram is apt given its association with the Mahabharata. The city also has a government degree college named after Guru Dronacharya, he added.

“Even in modern age, the city has emerged as a hub of world-class education. Therefore, the name gels well with the character of the city and ideally suits Gurugram,” Gupta, who is also the director of Haryana Academy of History and Culture, said.

The geographical boundaries of the city have also seen various changes in the past.

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According to the official website of Gurgaon administration, the district fell within the subas of Delhi and Agra, and comprised, wholly or partly, the sikars of Delhi, Rewari, Suhar Pahari and Tijara during Akbar’s reign.

“With the decay of the Mughal Empire, it remained in a disturbed state as a consequence of fighting between the neighbouring chiefs till 1803 AD when most of it came under the British rule through the Treaty of Surji Arjungaon with the Scindhias. The town was first occupied by the cavalry unit posted to watch the army of Begum Samru of Sirdhana, whose principal cantonment was in the village Jharsa, 1.5 km to the south-east of the town. The civil offices were removed from Bharawas (tehsil Rewari) in 1821 AD, when the British frontier advanced through the acquisition of the Ajmer territory,” the website says.

The district was divided into parganas by the British; various parganas were given to petty chiefs and granted as jagirs in lieu of military services rendered by them. These jagirs were gradually resumed and came under the direct management of the British; the last of the important changes took place in 1836 AD.

The district remained unchanged until the 1857 uprising and a year after it was transferred from the North Western Provinces to Punjab. In 1861, the district was rearranged into five tehsils of Gurgaon, FP Jhirka, Nuh, Palwal and Rewari.

The composition of the district kept changing in the 20th century as well. Ballabgarh was one of the three tehsils comprising the then Delhi district and a part of this tehsil was transferred to the Gurgaon district in 1912. This was formed into the new sixth tehsil of the district with the same name viz. Ballabhgarh.

During 1931-41, minor changes occurred between Gurgaon district and Uttar Pradesh due to riverine action.

In the next decade, under the Provinces and States Order 1950, nine villages of the district, including Shahjahanpur, were transferred to Rajasthan, whereas the district gained with merger of Pataudi State and the transfer of it of two villages from Rajasthan and 78 villages from Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU).

In 1966, Gurgaon was the southern district of Haryana that came into existence after Haryana was carved out of Punjab as independent state. Further changes came in 1972 when Rewari tehsil was excluded from the Gurgaon district and included in the Mahendergarh district.

Gurgaon district was further divided in 1979 to form a new district of Faridabad in which tehsils of Ballabgarh and Palwal were merged. The last rearragement of the area came in 2004 when neighbouring district of Mewat was carved out of Gurgaon.

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