Atiq Khan

U.P. plan to hardsell Sardhana during Christmas

The focus is on 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi

LUCKNOW: Sardhana in Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh and the legend of Begum Sumroo, who, according to a modern author, “presided over one of the most fascinatingly hybrid courts in India”, are inseparable. The legend lives on, with the Mayawati Government, in the 150th year of 1857 War of Independence, planning to hardsell Sardhana as the winter tourist destination during Christmas.

“The Government is aiming at 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi when lots of young people will converge in the national Capital, Sardhana provides the perfect setting for a youthful and fun filled experience”, said Rohit Nandan, Principal Secretary, Tourism. Situated at a distance of 18 kilometres from Meerut and about 80 kilometres from Delhi, the sleepy old hamlet of Sardhana is unique in the sense that it has the Northern Basilica (church built by the Begum after she became a Catholic) and about 99 Christian families, who reside there. “It is an opportunity for Uttar Pradesh to develop Sardhana as the next best happening place close to Delhi”, Mr. Nandan told The Hindu.

The first step in this direction has already been made. Following a presentation on Monday last for developing Sardhana as the next tourist destination in the State, the District Magistrate of Meerut, Anil Sagar, was named coordinator. Mr. Sagar will head the committee, which has been asked to formulate general guidelines and submit its report to the Government within a week.

For targetting the youth and capturing the imagination of the tourists, a 120-hour non-stop music festival has been proposed, along with the Vintage car rally from Delhi to Sardhana. A beer festival was also proposed but the proposal was shot down as a strict no-no, although some representatives from the sleepy village were reportedly all too excited at the idea. A mobike race was also suggested. The tourists would be provided with caravan and camping sites, as well as accommodation in dormitory and separate suites. Born as Farzana Zebunisa in 1751, Begum Sumroo rose to fame and fortune after she married a German mercenary, Walter Reinhardt, who was known as “ Sombre” ( “Sumroo” in the local dialect).

Sardhana village was part of the estate in the Doab (land between the Ganga and the Yamuna) which was given to Reinhardt by the Mughal Emperor.