Bareilly History

The district of Bareilly lying between Lat.28 degree 1′ and Long. 78 degree 58’k and 79 degree 47’E was once the part of ancient Panchala, which was bound by the river Gomati in the east, Yamuna in the west, Chambal in the south and on the north it approaches the Himalayan foot hills. During the later Vedic period Panchala acquired considerable significance – in fact it became the matrix of Later Vedic Civilization. According to the Shatapatha Brahamana (XIII 5.4.7-8)the Brahmins who had settled in different parts of Panchala and were being patronised by its Kings were to be counted not by hundreds but by many thousands. At another place’ the same text records, “speech sounds higher among the Kuru-Panchalas” – the speech denoting the rectification of Vedic texts. The scholars of Panchala were famous throughout India. It was from Panchala region that the sage Yajnavalkya was invited in the kingdom of Mithila to enlighten king Janaka on various philosophical problems. In the development of Upanisadic philosophy Prayahana Jaivali, Pratardana, Gargayayana and Uddalaka of Panchala had made significant contributions. In fact it was in this region that during the later Vedic period the Indian life and thought had assumed the form which had followed ever since. There is a story in the Kathakasmhita which reports a debate between Vaka Dalbbhya from Panchala and Dhratarastra Vaichitravirya from Kuru. This contest between the two indicates that whereas the Panchalas had soon realised the futility of sacrifices and were engaged in philosophical discussions, their neighbour Kurus were continuing their faith in rituals and sacrifices. The love for reason in the region of Panchala did not confine to philosophy only. They were ploneers in the domain of Natural Science also.

Uddalaka Aruni of Panchala who could not presumably be later than the 8th or 7th B.C. took the step from the magicomythological view of the scriptures to a naturalistic understanding of nature. He postulated the original cause of the universe the primeval being (Sat), ignoring thereby the word Brahman (identified with spirit) – which was greatly in vogue in the general intellectual climate to which he belonged. He proceeded to sketch a view of the evolution or development of everything in nature ultimately from the primeval being or Sat with a dynamism or motion inherent in it. What strikes us as most remarkable about his procedure is that practically at every step of this sketch, he drew upon empirical data or facts of direct observation, already censored by the priest class.

From archaeological point of view the district of Bareilly is very rich. The extensive remains of Ahichhatra, the Capital town of Northern Panchala have been discovered near Ramnagar Village of Aonla Tehsil in the district. It was during the first excavations at Ahichhatra (1940-44) that the painted grey ware, associated with the advent of the Aryans in Ganga Yamuna Valley, was recognised for the first time in the earliest levels of the site. Nearly five thousand coins belonging to periods earlier than that of Guptas have been yielded from Ahichhatra. It has also been one of the richest sites in India from the point of view of the total yield of terrocotas. Some of the masterpieces of Indian terrocotta art are from Ahichhatra. In fact the classification made of the terracotta human figurines from Ahichhatra on grounds of style and to some extent stratigraphy became a model for determining the stratigraphy of subsequent excavations at other sites in the Ganga Valley. On the basis of the existing material, the archaeology of the region helps us to get an idea of the cultural sequence from the beginning of the 2nd millenium BC upto 11th C.A.D. Some ancient mounds in the district have also been discovered by the Deptt. of Ancient History and culture, Rohilkhand University, at Tihar-Khera (Fatehganj West), Pachaumi, Rahtuia, Kadarganj and Sainthal.

In the 6th Cent. BC, the Panchala was among one of the sixteen mehajanapadas of India. The experiment in non-monarchical form of Government in Panchala was soon engulfed in the growing Magadhen imperialism – first under the Nandas and then under the Mauryas.

The fall of the Mauryan empire saw the emergence of numerous small and independent states in the whole Ganga Valley. It saw a remarkable revival in the fortunes of Panchala which once again came to occupy a very significant position in the history of north India. Panchala emerges at this time as one of the strongest powers in India. About 25 kings who have ruled during this period have left behind thousands of coins. During the period between the fall of the Mauryas and the rise of the Guptas, the Panchalas had two phases of power – first the pre Kushana phase i.e. from C-150 BC to AD 125 and secondly a short period of fifty years after the fall of the Kushanas, which ended in CAD 350 when Panchala was assimilated in the Gupta empire by Samudragupta.

Under the Guptas Ahichhatra was one of the provinces into which the Gupta empire was divided. The material evidence during the Gupta period at Ahichhatra does not give the impression that it was a large and prosperous centre like the preceding phase. The monuments under the Guptas are mainly religious indicating that Ahichhatra had then become mainly a religious centre.

The amalgamation of several religious and popular beliefs may be observed through out the history of Panchala in ancient India. In addition to being associated with the activities of pravahana Jaivali, Gargayayana, Uddalaka etc. responsible for giving a distinctive touch to the later vedic thought, the region was also a prominent centre of popular beliefs such as the cult of Nagas, Yaksas and Vetalas. The Jain tirthamkara Parshvanath is said to have attained Kaivalya at Ahichhatra. The city was also influenced by Buddha and his followers. The remains of Buddhist monastries at Ahichhatra are quite extensive. The echoes of the Bhagavates and the Saivas at Ahichhatrra can still be seen in the towering monuments of a massive temples, which is the most imposing structure of the site.

After the fall of the Guptas in the latter half of the 6th century the district of Bareilly came under the domination of the Maukharis. Under the emperor Harsha ( 606-47 AD ) the district was the part of the Ahichhatra Bhukti. During Harsha’s reign the chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang also visited Ahichhatra about 635 AD.

After the death of Harsha this region falls under anarchy and confusion. In the second quarter of eighth century the district was included in the kingdom of Yashavarman (725-52 AD) of Kannauj and after him the Ayudha kings also Kannauj became the masters of the district for several decades. With the rise of the power of the Gurjara Pratiharas in the 9th century, Bareilly came under their sway. It continued under their subordination till the end of the tenth century.

Mahmud of Ghazni gave a death blow to the already decaying Gurjara Pretihara power. After the fall of the Gurjara Pretiharas Ahichhetra ceases to remain a flourishing cultural centre of the region. The seat of the royal power was shifttes from Ahichhatra to Vodamayuta or modern Badaun as the irrefutable evidence of Rashtrakuta Chief Lakhanpalas inscription would have as believe.

About the middle of the twelfth century the Katehriyas seem to have established themselves firmly in the Bareilly region with Kabar and Aonla as their chief centres. They appear to have started as vassals of the Rashtrakutas of Vodamayuta (Badaun) but on the latter’s downfall (1195 AD) they declared independence. The Katehriyas are to be noted for their conspicuous role in persistently resisting the onslaught of the Delhi rulers till as late as the time of Akbar. The origin and the rise of the Katehar Rajputs in the region is a mystery and a matter of controversy.

According to the tradition the foundation of the town of Bareilly may be dated some time in the first half of the sixteenth century. It is said that one Jagat Singh katehriya founded a village called Jagtpur about the year 1500. In 1537 his two sons Bas Deo and Barel Deo were responsible for founding Bareilly. The place was named after the two brothers as Bans Bareilly. The name Jagatpur is still retained by one of the mohallas of the old city. During the region of Akbar the Katehriyas rose in revolt but it was crushed by the Mughal general Almas Ali Khan. Bas Deo of Bareilly who was then ruling over a considerable extent of territory was killed and Bareilly was annexed in the Mughal empire. However the Mughal authority did not become effective here till the afghan nobles who were entrenched in these parts were overthrown.

The development of the city was accelerated in 1657. When the faujdar of Bareilly was Mukrand Rai. He is credited to have built the new city of Bareilly by clearing out the sal forest. The mohalla makrandpur sarkar was named after him and that of AlamgiriGanj after AurangZeb Alamgir. The Mohallas of Beharipur,Malookpur and Kazitola were also founded by him. He also built the Jama Masjid and a large fort were the Qila Police Station is situated.

The proprietary settlements of the district during the period between 1191 to 1701 is difficult to ascertain as most of them were uprooted by the Rohillas but prominent among those clans which were able to retain their power in the district were the Katehriya, Janghara and Chauhan. Some castes Kanrawas, Jatasths and Kodars also had proprietary rights in the district.

It was with the immigration of Daud Khan, an Afghan slave(who originally hails from Roh in Afghanistan) in the region that the Afghan Rohillas had come into prominence. His adopted son Ali Muhammad Khan succeeded in carving out an estate for himself in the district with his headquarter at Aonla. He was ultimately made the lawful governor of Kateher by the Mughal emperor, and the region was henceforth called “the land of the Ruhelas”.

When the Marathas invaded Rohilkhand in November 1772, they were repulsed by the Rohillas with the help of the nawabs of Avadh. After the war when Shuja-Ud-daula demanded the indemnity from the Rohilla Chief Hafiz Rahmat Khan for the help given to him, the demand was rejected. The annoyed nawab then with the help of Warren Hastings invaded Rohilkhand. In ensuing battle of Mirranpur Katra in 1774, Hafiz Rahmat Khan was killed and the authority of the Avadh was established over the entire territory of the Rohillas. The Avadh supermacy did not continue for long for the mounting debt on account of the maintenance of British forces in the region led to the surrender of the whole of Rohilkhand(including Bareilly) to the East India Company by the treaty of November 10, 1801.

The news of the outbreak of the struggle of independence which started at Meerut reached Bareilly on May 14,1857. The people rose in revolt, occupied treasury and burnt the records of Kotwali,Khan Bahadur khan, the grandson of Hafiz Rahmat Khan was able to form his own government by appointing Sobha Ram Diwan, Madar Ali Khan and Niyaz Muhammed Khan generals and Hori Lal as paymaster. With the failure of this first war of the Indian independence everywhere, Bareilly too was completely subjugated by the British on 7th May 1858. Khan was sentenced to death and was hanged in the Kotwali on February 24, 1860.

The Indian National Congress came in to prominence in Bareilly during the khilafat movement when Gandhiji visited this town twice and many Hindus and Muslims were arrested. In response to the call given by Gandhiji, the Civil Disobedience Movement in the district was launched on Jan 26,1930. In 1936, a conference of the Congress was held in Bareilly under the presidentship of Acharya Narendra Deo. It was addressed by Jawaharlal Nehru, M.N.Roy, Purushottam Das Tandon and Rafi Ahmad Kidwai. In 1942 when the ‘Quit India’ movement was launched, many processions and meetings were organised and nearly 200 persons were arrested. More prominent among them were Damodar Swaroop Seth, Brijmohan Lal Shastri, P.C.Azad, Rammurti, Naurang Lal, Chiranjivi Lal, Udho Narain D.D. Vaidya and Darbari Lal Sharma. In the Bareilly central Jail at that time were confined such prominent leaders as Jawahar Lal Nehru. Rafi Ahmad Kidwai, Mahavir Tyagi, Manzar Ali Sokhata and Maulana Hifazul Rahman.

Published in: on July 19, 2007 at 1:19 PM  Comments (62)  
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