Origin of Name of Azamgarh :
The district is named after its headquarters town, Azamgarh, which was founded in 1665 by Azam, son of Vikramajit. Vikramajit a descendant of Gautam Rajputs of Mehnagar in pargana Nizamabad, like some of his predecessors, had embraced the faith of Islam. He had a Muhammadan wife who bore him two sons Azam and Azmat. While Azam gave his name to the town of Azamgarh, and the fort, Azmat constructed the fort and settled the bazar of Azmatgarh in pargana Sagri.
Azamgarh, one of the easternmost districts of the State, once formed a part of the ancient Kosala kingdom, except the north-eastern part of it which was included in the kingdom of Malla. Kosala figured prominently among the four powerful monarchies of northern India during the time of the Buddha when its
prosperity reached its zenith. The kingdom of Kosala was bounded on the east by the the Ganga and the kingdom of Magadha, on the north-east by the territories of Vriji-Lichchhavis and those of Mallas on the north by the territories of the Sakyas, on the west by Surasena and on the south and south-west by the kingdom of Vatsa with Kausambi as its capital. The district of Azamgarh possesses hardly any remains of much antiquarian value, and of the few that exist neither the origin nor the history are for the most part known. There are some deserted sites, forts and tanks to be seen in every tehsil of this district and they carry vague legends regarding their builders. The early history of the district can be traced only from the extant antiquities.
That the region including this district was inhabited in ancient times is testified by the presence of old indigenous people like Bhars or Rajbhars, Soeris and Cherus who possibly represent the descendants of the aborigines of this area. Vestiges of numerous embankmerts, tanks, caverns and stone forts are found in this district which still bear out their energy and skill. According to a local tradition, the country of the Bhars, which was included in the kingdom of Ayodhya in Rama's time, was occupied by Rajbhars and Asuras. The Bhars have left behind them large mud forts of which specimens may be seen at Harbanspur
and Unchagaon near the town of Azamgarh. The largest of the forts in the district of Azamgarh is that of Ghosi which was built by Raja Ghosh but there is a legend that the fort was erected by Asuras or demons,
who are also stated to have constructed a tunnel between Narja Tal and the fort of Chaubhaipur and Vrindavan over a mile (1.6 km.) distant. None of the architectural remains of any importance are found here but the well preserved ruins of a large mud fort which was discovered in 1838 A.D. lend interest and antiquity to Ghosi.
According to H.Elliot, Soeris and Cherus belonged to one family. Probably the Bhars, Soeirs and Cherus together with other aboriginal tribes which have not been so successful in maintaining their identity were in remote period of antiquity were only one race. A Rajbhar chief named Asildeo is said to have lived at Dihaduar in pargana Mahul of tehsil Phulpur of the district ; and the old tanks and mounds at that place are said to be signs of his power; but the Bachgoti Rajputs of Arara in tappa Nandaon of tehsil Azamgarh claim him as their ancestor, repudiate him for the title of Rajbhar, and according to their opinion he was an officer of a local government.
Near the village of Araon Jahanianpur and Anwank in paragana Kauria there are the ruins of two large mud forts, the first is ascribed to Ayodhya Raj, Rajbhar and the second is pointed out to belong to raja Parikshit, it is suppose that Ayodya Raj resided in the kot of Araon-Jahanianpur, but like Asildeo he is claimed as an ancestor by the Palwar Rajputs; and a smiler claim is made in the case of one raja Garakdeo who lived in Sagari, a tahsil headquarters town, of the district of Azamgarh. According to another tradition , Parikhit, the elaest sun of Kuru, once occupied tract, now called Nizamabad and old kot (at Anwank) near which the battle was fought between him and the Muhammadans, it is supposed that the headquartes of the Bhars may have been in pargana Bhadaor, which is said to have been called Bharaon originally and were called after them ; and the Bhar power may have extended over the parts of Sikandarpur, both this pargana and Bhadaon having been formally pargaras of Azamgarh. The farmer inhabitants of Pawai of this district are said to have been Rajbhar or Bhars and to the Bhars is attributed a large mud fort, the remains of which still exist, tradition of the series to be found only in pargana Deogaon, in tehsil lalganj, to the north of the Gangi river; and those relating to Sengarias in the same paragana to the south of that stream.
The second battle Tarain in 1192 A.D. established the Islamic power in India, But the region including the district of Azamgarh does not appear to have gone under the immediate sovereignty of the Muslims. In 1193 A.D. after the death of Jayachandra the region from Varanasi to Gaya including the district of Azamgarh passed into the hands of the Muslims by Shihab-ud-din-Muhammad Ghuri . From the establishment of the Jaunpur kingdom to its extinction, most of the tract now included in this district fell under its rule; but no important place in this district of Azamgarh can be mentioned as having been the seat of administration for the surrounding parganas.
Azamgarh the headquarters of this district derives its name for Azam Khan who founded it on the ruins of the village Ailwal and Phulwaria about 1665 A.D. Azamat Khan the brother of Azam Khan built a fort and settled a bajar of Azmatgarh in pargana Sagari about the same time as that of Azamgarh. At this time Azamgarh possesses only the ruins of the fort, constructed by Azmat. Adjoining Azmatgarh there is the great 'Salona' , Azamgarh Tal, which was named after Azam Khan.
Azam Khan was died in Kannauj in 1675 A.D. Azmat Khan after the attack of Chabile Ram, fled northwards followed by the interior forces. He attempted to cross the Ghaghra into Gorakhpur but the people on the other side opposed his landing and he was either shot in mid stream or was drowned in attempting to escape by swimming in 1688 A.D. During Azamt's lifetime his eldest son Ekram has taken part in the management of the state and after Azam's death he was perhaps left in possession together with Mohhabat, another son. The remaing two sons were taken away and for a time detained as hostes for their brothers 'Good Behaviour' . The successor of Ikram finally confirmed the title of his family to the Jamidari. Ikram left no heirs and was succeeded by Iradat, son of Mohhabat, But the real ruler all along had been Mohhabat and after Ikram's death he continued to rule in his son's name.
At the beginning of 18th century, the bulk of the area covered by the present district of Azamgarh was included in the sirkars of Jaunpur and Ghazipur in the subah of Allahabd and was held by the Mohhabat Khan, popularly known as the Raja of Azamgarh. In his time the prosperity of Azamgarh was at its zenith .
On September 18,1832 Azamgarh district was formed. The military garrison at Azamgarh in, May 1857 consisted of the 17th Native Infantry, some 500 strong. They were brigaded with the 19th and 34th Regiments at Lucknow. After the struggle of 1957-58 no major events except the Gaurakshini or the anti-cow slaughter movemnet of 1893 occured in the district till the close of the 19th century.
The Khilafat movement started in 1920 by the Indian Muslims to bring pressure upon Britain to change its policy towards turkey, also spread in this district. In August 1920, Mahatma Gandhi launched his famous non-coopeartion movement, and the people of the district took part in it under the leadership of Suryanath Singh. In 1928 when the Simon Commission visited India, demonstrations against it wherealso organized in the district as elsewhere. Black flags were waved and banners with words "GO back Simon" were displayed.
Mahatma Gandhi visited Azamgarh on October 3, 1929, where he received a tumultuous ovation and addressed a meeting of about 75,000 persons at Srikrishna Pathsala High School. He was also presented with a purse of about Rs.5000/-. Mahatmagandhi spoke on the uplift of Harijans, prohibition and use of swadeshi (Indian made goods). Nextday he inaugurated the Khadi Vidyalya at Azmatgarh. The visit filled the people of the district with strong national feelings.
January 26,1930 , was declared the Independence day by the Indian National Congress and thousands in Azamgarh, as everywhere else in India, repeated the solemn and inspiring pledge, "We believe that it is the inalienable right of the Indian people to have freedom ...........................We believe, therefore, that India must sever the British connection and attained Purana Swaraj (complete independence)".
In March 1930 salt satyagrah was started by Mahatmagandhi and his arrest caused a great resentment among the people of the district. The students of the local Wesely High School observed strike and about 50 students of this school were expelled. Other Institutions also closed down and a huge procession were jointly taken out by the students and the people. The response of the people of the Azamgarh to the Civil Disobedience Movement was enthusiastic and wide spread. British goods were boycotted and bonfires were made for foreign clothes and western style clothes. On July 4 1930 Gandhi Day was observed in the district condemning Mahatma Gandhi's arrest by oraganising hartal (closure) and protest meetings.
In 1931, no-rent campaign was started in the district. The peasants of the tehsil of Sagari and Ghosi withheld payment of rent to government and distributed anti-government leaflats.
The news of arrest of Mahatama Gandhi and Ballabhbhai Patel on January 4,1932 reached Azamgarh the nest day. There was widespread resentment in Azamgarh where hartals were observed and processions taken out. The Government retaliated by imposing section 144 Cr. P.C., issuing the press ordinance, the prevention of Intimidation ordinance, and the unlawful Instigation Ordinance and declared the Congress unlawful.
When the Mahatam Gandhi launched the programme of individual satyagrah in 1940 the response of the people was once again enthusiastic and all Congress leaders of any consequence in the district were sent to jail.
Azamgarh was in the vanguard of the Quit India Movement. which was started on August 9, 1942. On that day, the district Congress office at Azamgarh, was seized; and several arrest were made, the principal one being that of Sita Ram Ashthana. All this naturally created excitement in the town. During the night between the 11th and 12th August, a twenty foot track of rail was removed from a point near Sarai Mir railway station.
The incidence of Tarwa thana (police out-post) had its own importance.On the 14th August a large procession proceeded towards the thana for hoisting the tri-colour flag. The processionists stopped in front of the Tarwa thana. Their leader went to the thanedar and advised him to surrender to the people. Hardly did he arrive at any decision when the people caught hold of the policemen and snached their guns. The thanedar had, therefore, no alternative but to surrender. The people assumed the control of thana but agreed to handover to him the personal pistol of the thanedar at his expressed request, because destruction of personal property was not their aim. In this way the thana came under the possession of the freedom fighters.More than 380 persons of the district were detained in connection with the Quit India Movement and 231 were convicted and awarded various terms of imprisonment. The collective fines imposed and released from the people of the district amounted to Rs.1,03,645.
At last, on August 15,1947 the country and with it the district shook of the foreign yoke and achieved the long awaited independence. The district celebrated the independence day in a befitting glee and there was rejoieing in every home. National flag was hosted on the Collectorate building, on almost all private and government buildings and even on residential houses and commercial establishment. Every year the day is celebrated with the same enthusiasm.
The nation always venerated those who had participated in the struggle. In 1973 on the occasion of celebration of silver jubilee year of Independence, 472 persons of the district who have taken part in India's freedom struggle or their dependence were favoured with tamra patras(copper plate). Placing on record the services rendered by them or their forbears.