Bareilly, or Bareli, a city and district of British India in the Bareilly or Rohilkhand division of the United Provinces. The city is situated on the Ramganga river, 812 m. N.W. from Calcutta by rail. Pop. (1901) 131,208. The principal buildings are two mosques built in the 17th century; a modern fort overlooking the cantonments; the railway station, which is an important junction on the Oudh and Rohilkhand line; the palace of the nawab of Rampur, and the government college. Bareilly is the headquarters of a brigade in the 7th division of the eastern army corps. The chief manufactures are furniture and upholstery. Bareilly college is a seat of upper class learning for the surrounding districts. It is conducted by an English staff, and its course includes the subjects for degrees in the Calcutta University.
The district of Bareilly has an area of 1580 sq. m. It is a level country, watered by many streams, the general slope being towards the south. The soil is fertile and highly cultivated, groves of noble trees abound, and the villages have a neat, prosperous look. A tract of forest jungle, called the tarai, stretches along the extreme north of the district, and teems with large game, such as tigers, bears, deer, wild pigs, etc. The river Sarda or Gogra forms the eastern boundary of the district and is the principal stream. Next in importance is the Ramganga, which receives as its tributaries most of the hill torrents of the Kumaon mountains. The Deoha is another great drainage artery and receives many minor streams. The Gomati or Gumti also passes through the district. The population in 1901 was 1,090,117. The Mahommedans are chiefly the descendants of Yusafzai Afghans, called the Rohilla Pathans, who settled in the country about the year 1720. The Rohillas were formerly the ruling race of the tract of country called Rohilkhand, and are men of a taller stature, a fairer complexion and a more arrogant air than the general inhabitants of the district.
Bishop Heber described them as follows: - "The country is burdened with a crowd of lazy, profligate, self-called sawars (cavaliers), who, though many of them are not worth a rupee, conceive it derogatory to their gentility and Pathan blood to apply themselves to any honest industry, and obtain for the most part a precarious livelihood by sponging on the industrious tradesmen and farmers, on whom they levy a sort of blackmail, or as hangers-on to the wealthy and noble families yet remaining in the province. These men have no visible means of maintenance, and no visible occupation except that of lounging up and down with their swords and shields, like the ancient Highlanders, whom in many respects they much resemble." The Rohillas, after fifty years' precarious independence, were subjugated in 1774 by the confederacy of British troops with the nawab of Oudh's army, which formed so serious a charge against Warren Hastings. Their territory was in that year annexed to Oudh. In 1801 the nawab of Oudh ceded it to the Company in commutation of the subsidy money. During the Mutiny of 1857 the Rohillas took a very active part against the English, but since then they have been disarmed.
Both before and after that year, however, the Bareilly Mahommedans have distinguished themselves by fanatical tumults against the Hindus. The district is irrigated from the Rohilkhand system of government canals. There are no manufactures except for domestic use and little external trade. Several lines of the Oudh and Rohilkhand railway pass through the district.