About Nauchandi Mela
Nauchandi Mela started in 1672 AD as a one-day affair mainly for cattle traders. A multitude of activities religious rituals, commercial, artistic and rustic merriment form part of the fair.The fair figured during the First War of Indian Independence in 1857 when one of the prominent figures of the revolt, Nana Saheb, came here to motivate the locals to raise arms against the British. Except in 1858, a year after the revolt against the East India Company, the fair has been held here regularly.
Nauchandi Mela is a rare symbol of communal harmony with visitors paying obeisance to both the Hindu and Muslim shrines - the Nauchandi Temple and the Dargah of Bala Mian - irrespective of the religion they belong to.The Mela is a delight for the food connoisseur as well. Stalls selling a wide variety of food items from across India are present.
History of Nauchandi Mela
The fair has its own history and numerous legends and stories are woven around it. It started in AD 1672 as a one-day affair mainly for cattle traders but has since undergone many changes. Cattle trading has been replaced by a multitude of activities-religious rituals, commercial activity, artistic creativity and rustic merriment.
The mela also figured during the First War of Indian Independence in 1857 when one of the prominent figures of the revolt, Nana Saheb, came here to motivate the locals to raise arms against the British. When the British regained control, they put up posters of Nana Saheb and his warriors at the Nauchandi mela to gain favor of the local populace.According to another story, the East India Company used to put up the fair as a revenue collection center around 1800. And in 1884, F.N.Wright, the then collector of Meerut district started a horse exhibition where thoroughbred stallions were sold. Of course, other activities commensurate with the mela used to be organized to attract prospective buyers. The period of the mela stretches for over a month now. Except in 1858, a year after the revolt against the East India Company rule started from Meerut, the fair has been held here regularly.
Legend and Rituas of Nauchandi Mela
According to one belief, Mandodari, Ravan’s (demon king of Lanka in the epic Ramayana) wife, was born in a devil’s house in Meerut. She was, however, a great devotee of goddess Chandi and she had a temple erected in her honour. A religious festival was held to celebrate this occasion. Since then the fair has been held every year.
As the legend of the dargah goes, Syed Salar Masood Ghazi was a commander in the army of Mahmood of Ghazni who invaded India in AD 1017 and proved his mettle in the fight against the local king. During the course of a battle, he lost one of his fingers. Syed Salar subsequently denounced violence, became an ascetic, and took the name Bala Mian. The present dargah was built in his memory in AD 1194 by Qutub-ud-din Aibak, at the spot where his cut finger had fallen during the battle.
The cultural aspect of the Nauchandi Mela is also as important. Every evening some cultural program or the other is held, which goes on till the early hours of the morning. The mela has had the honor of playing host to artistes like the internationally renowned Pandit Ravi Shankar. Besides, the mela committee has started a few new events like beauty contests, honoring the aged, organizing women's conferences, fireworks and music competitions. Plans are also afoot to set up an art gallery and museum to preserve the historic, cultural and artistic aspects of the mela.
While nautankis (melodramas performed by professional theatre companies) are still staged, the real crowd puller are the musical program with modern orchestra.
How to Reach Nauchandi Mela
By Air : Meerut is situated very close to New Delhi, the seat of Indian Government. Delhi Airport is 60 odd Kilometers from Meerut. Delhi is in turn well connected to rest of India and world through a range of flights operated by various private and public carriers. From Delhi, one can hire a cab and reach Meerut in an hour and half via National Highways 24 and then NH 58.
By Road : Meerut is well connected to the cities like Mathura, Delhi, Chandigarh, Kanpur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Jhansi and Agra etc. Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation plies several buses to these cities. Various privately run luxury buses are also available.
By Rail: The nearest railway station is Meerut Cantonment Station that falls on the busy Delhi-Dehradun line of North Central Railways. Several Passenger as well as super fast trains connect Meerut to other popular towns and cities in Uttar Pradesh and rest of India. It has direct connectivity to cities like Delhi, Ghaziabad, Agra, Jaipur and Lucknow.