The early history of the region now covered by the present district of Farrukhabad goes back to remote antiquity. During the Bronze age numerous pre historical weapons and tools were find here. Large numbers of stone statues are found at Sankisa & Kampil. Farrukhabad can claim great antiquity in sculpture. The Aryans settled in this region who were close allies of Kurus. The traditional history of the district from the earliest times till the end of The Mahabharata war is gleaned from the Puranas Mahabharata.
‘Amavasu’ founded a kingdom, the capital of which later was Kanyakubja (Kannauj). Jahnu was a powerful king since the river Ganga is said to have been named after him as Jahnaui. This region rose into great prominence during the Mahabharata period. Kampilya was the capital of South Panchala and it was here that the famous Svayamvara of Draupadi. The name Panchala being used for the entire region, of which Kampilya (Kampil) was the chief city which has till then been the capital of South Panchala.
Panchala figures as the tenth in the list of the sixteen premier states (Mahajanpada) in the time of Mahavira and Buddha and is said to have comprised the region covered by the present districts of Bareily , Badaun and Farrukhabad. About the middle of the fourth century B.C., probably in the reign of Mahapadma, this territory was annexed to the Nanda empire of Magadha. Ashoka also built a monolithic pillar at Sankisa, which was noticed by the Chinese traveller, Fa-hien. A large number of coins were found at places like Mathura and Kannauj and in Panchala region which are supposed to be associated with the Mitra rulers. The basis of the coins are generally believed to have flourished between C.100 B.C. and C.200 A.D.
Kannauj was a famous and important city in the second century is also attested to by its mention under the name of Kangora or Kanogiza by the geographer, Ptolemy (C.140 A.D.). The present district of Farrukhabad shared the fruits of the golden age of the Guptas and contributed much towards its peace and prosperity.
Fa-hien, the Chinese pilgrim visited Kannauj between 399 and 414 A.D., during the reign of Chandragupta II. Fa-hien spent his retreat at the Dragon-Shrine and when it was over he travelled seven yojanas to the south-east, which brought him to Kannauj. Sankisa was one of the greatest Buddhist pilgrims centre at the time of Fa-hien’s visit. Fa-hien remarks “This country is very productive and the people are flourishing and happy beyond compare. When man of other nations come, care is taken of all of them and they are provided with what they require”. There was a renewed invasion of the Hunas with far greater success. After this, Harivarman appears to have been the founder of the Maukhari house of Kannauj. Harsha also advanced towards Kannauj. The Chinese pilgrim, Hiuen Tsang, visited Kannauj in 643 A.D.. There were 100 Buddhist Monasteries with more than 10000 priests. A religious assembly was also held here by Harsha. Hiuen Tsang mentions Kah-Pi-Ta (Kapitha, identified with Sankisa) as the other important place of the district.
The close of the 10th century was marked by the Muslim invasion of India. Rajyapala was the ruler of Kannauj when Mahmud of Ghazni attacked India. After sacking Mathura, Mahmud proceeded towards Kannauj in 1018 A.D. He saw “a city which raised its head to the skies and which in strength and beauty might boast of being unrivalled.” Mahmud captured all the seven forts of Kannauj in 1019 A.D.
An inscription of the Chalukya dynasty of Lata, dated 1050 A.D. associates the Rashtrakuta dynasty with Kannauj. During 1089-90 A.D. Chandradeva the first Gahadavala king of Kannauj ruled and have protected the sacred places of Kushika (Kannauj). Kannauj once more recovered a large measure of its old importance during 1114 A.D. to 1154 . During the reign of Chauhans (1170-1194 A.D.) Kannauj became powerful and annexed to Delhi. Kannauj (Jaichandra’s capital) was the scene of Svayamvara of his daughter Samyogita, who was carried off by Prithviraj III. Mohammad Ghauri invaded India and killed Jaichandra in 1193 A.D.
Jaichand’s son, Harichandra continued to occupy Kannauj even after 1193 A.D. The Muslim supremacy over the kingdom was perplexing or abhorrent to him and so he discreetly omitted any specific reference to Harichandra or his Muslims overlord. In 1233-34 Iltutmish ordered the Kannauj Garrison to join the imperial forces in an expedition against Kalinjar. In 1244, The district of Kannauj was conferred by the dissolute Alauddin Masaud on his uncle Jalaluddin for his maintenance. The royal forces reached Kannauj and besieged the fort of Balsandah. This fortress was very strong and the royal forces returned with immense booty.
Ghiasuddin Balban, who then possessed the Delhi throne, (1268-87) marched towards this region and divided the whole area into a number of military commands. At each of these place he erected forts,garrisoned with seasoned Afghan troops. Balban himself remained in the vicinity for many months. Ziauddin Barani writes “Sixty years have passed since these events, but the roads have ever since been free from robbers.” In 1290 Jalaluddin Firoz Khalji visited the fort of Bhojapur and is believed to have built bridge across the Ganga near the fort. In 1346-47 Muhammad Tughlaq went on another expedition on to this region and reach Sargdaori. In 1392, after a gap of about forty five years, this region was once again up in arms against the imperial authority of this area. In collusion with the Chauhans and Solankhis of the surrounding tracts, the Rajputs of this area broke out in open rebellion. In 1394, the suspected outbreak of another rebellion in this region, the sultan conferred on Khwaja Jahan the title of Malik-ul-Sharq “and appointed him governor of Hindustan from Kannauj to Bihar devolving upon him full power.” Malik-ul-Sharq died in 1399 and his adopted son, Mubarak Shah became the virtual ruler at Delhi and reached Kannauj.
In 1414, Khizr Khan (whom Timur had left in charge of his possessions in India) occupied the throne of Delhi and inaugurated the rule of Saiyid dynasty. Immediately after his accession in 1423, Mubarak Shah Saiyid marched to Kampil to suppress the Rajputs of the place.
On Sikandar Lodhi’s death in 1517, his son, Ibrahim, became emperor. He reached Kannauj where he was greeted by Azam Humayun Sarvani, the governor of Kannauj. The result was that several Afghan chiefs willingly joined and Kannauj became a fief under the sovereignty of the Mughals. Kannauj appears to have been recovered by Afghans. In 1527 Babar mobilised his forces against the rebel chief of Chanderi. Babar now captured Chanderi but lost Kannauj and Shamsabad to the Afghans. Kannauj became a dependency of the rebels who found themselves at the head of Muslims and Rajputs. Humayan’s continued occupation in the north and gave the ambitious Sher Shah Suri a free hand to prosecute his designs in the east. In July 1537, he entrusted the government of Kannauj to his brother-in-law Nur-ud-din Mohammad. Sher Shah Suri now cut off Humayun’s communication with Delhi while the desertion of Hindal and Nur-ud-din (governor of Kannauj) completely blocked Humayun from all sides. Humayun fled across the river to Mainpuri and later in 1543 left India for Kandahar.
It appears that immediately after the capture of Kannauj Sher Shah destroyed the old city and built a fort of burnt brick there “and on the spot of gaining victory he built a city Sher Sur.” In 1555 the Afghans were over thrown and the power of the Mughals was once again established by Humayun, who returned India after 12 years but he died soon in January 1556 and he was succeeded by his son Akbar. Kannauj was the headquarter of a Sirkar containing 30 Mahals. Kampil, Saurikh, Sakrawa, Sakatpur and Kannauj of Akbar’s time have also retained their old names except Kannauj. In 1592 Kannauj was given to Muzaffar Hussain Mirza, but he proved to be a drunkard and was soon deprived.
In 1610, Jahangir (1605-27) granted the government of Kannauj to Abdurrahim, the son of great Bairam.
After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, the references to the district become more frequent. The decay of the Mughal empire led to the establishment of several independent principalities in north India of which was the territory of Farrukhabad which played an important part in the subsequent history of the district.
In 1665 was born at Mau-Rashidabad (a suburb of Kaimganj) Pathan child, who was named Mohammad Khan. When he was 20, Mohammad Khan joined the bands of Pathan freebooters. At the emperor Farruksiyar’s invitation to join forces with him to suppress his cousin Jahandar Shah, he joined him. when Jahandar Shah was defeated Mohammad Khan was rewarded and received the title of Nawab. After having successfully commanded he obtained leave to return home where he founded the towns of Kaimganj and Mohammadabad. The first name after his eldest son, is not far from Mau-Rashidabad. Mohammadabad (about 23 km. from Farrukhabad) which he named after himself. On a high mound called Kal-ka-khera, he built a fort, of which only the ruins now remain. It is said that Farrukhsiyar became angry when he heard that Mohammad Khan had founded a town in his own name. To abate his benefactor’s wrath, the nawab announced his intention of founding another town which he would name after the emperor. Mohammad Khan asked for and obtained a grant of fifty two Bamtela villages as the site of the new city which he named FARRUKHABAD after Farrukhsiyar, the foundations which were laid in 1714.
Ahmad Khan, Mohammad Khan’s second son was chosen leader of the revolt. Ahmad Khan was made Amir-ul-umra and imperial pay-master, served the emperor well at the battle of Panipat. In 1769 the Marathas again made their appearance under Mahdaji Sindhia and Holkar and attacked Farrukhabad. Hafiz Rahmat whose territory in Etawah was also threatened, joined hands with Ahmed Khan and encamped between Fatehgarh and Farrukhabad. Ahmad Khan died in July 1771. Shah Alam was then at Kannauj and decided to resume the Farrukhabad territory. In 1773 Shuja-ud-daula succeeded in expelling the Marathas, the south parganas of the district included all Farrukhabad south of Kali Nadi except Chibramau. From 1780 to 1785 a British resident was appointed in the district, probably at Fatehgarh. Warren Hastings has also promised to withdraw the resident of Farrukhabad, but did not do so. From the early part of 1857, there had been great excitement in the district as rumours that the government was issuing leather rupees coated with silver in order to depreciate the currency and to destroy casts. The freedom struggle started in Meerut on May 10 and the news reached Fatehgarh on the 14th. At Fatehgarh (a few km. from Farrukhabad) was posted the 10th Indian Infantry, Commanded by (Colonel) Smith.
On June 1, the officer of Aligarh Police Station rode into Fatehgarh with the information that there was uprising in the trans gangetic parganas under the freedom struggle. The two regiments marched up the Grand Trunk Road through Gursahaiganj and Chibramau, sacking the police stations at these places. On 18th the Avadh freedom fighters entered the Fatehgarh regiments lines. By Sept. 1857, Delhi was back in British hands which completely changed the fate. Niyaz Mohammad evaded capture for many years by taking to a life of wandering in the course of which he visited Mecca many times. The close of the 19th century saw the rise of the activities of the Arya Samaj in Farrukhabad and other towns. The 20th century saw the down of nationalism in the country. During the anti partition of Bengal agitation of 1905, public meeting, strikes and protests were held. Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi the great nationalist leader’s movement for boycotting foreign goods also went ahead.
The non-co-operation movement started by Mahatma Gandhi in August,1920 also had its impact in the district. Meeting and Hartals were held at Farrukhabad, Fatehgarh, Kampil, Shamsabad, Kannauj, Indergarh and other towns. In 1928 a complete Hartal was held, large number of people staged demonstrations by marching in procession, waving black flags and carrying banners with the words “GO BACK SIMON.” In 1930, the civil disobedience movement was started in Farrukhabad. Salt was also manufactured at Sikandarpur, Bholepur, Chibramau and Kannauj. En route from Kanpur on Nov.30, 1931 Jawahar Lal Nehru was met at each station in the district by large crowds. Subhash Chandra Bose visited Farrukhabad on Jan.25,1940. He made a violent speech. On Aug.15,1947 the country was liberated from alien rule. The district also remembers those of its people who participated in the struggle for freedom.