Kanpur is located on the bank of river Ganges and has been an important place in the history of modern India. Kanpur was one of the main centers of the industrial revolution in India. Towards the end of 19th century, Sir John Burney Allens established a group of companies such as Kanpur Textiles, Cawnpore Woollen Mills (Lal Imli), Flex Shoes Company, Elgin Mills and North Tannery under the banner of British India Corporation having headquarters at Kanpur. In the beginning of 20th century, Lala
Kamlapat founded a group of companies such as; J.K. Cotton Mills and J.K. Iron etc. under the banner of J.K. During the same period, Sir J. P. Srivastava established New Victoria Mills.The Jaipuria family bought Swadeshi Cotton Mills from the Horsman family and in 1928 Sardar Inder Singh founded India’s First steel re-rolling mill at Singh Engineering, which later became one of India’s biggest steel rolling mills. British Government also found a number of factories; Ordnance Factory and Parachute Factory in 1886 to supplement their defense requirements.
Kanpur’s development is not very clear until the 13th century. No reference to Kanpur is found in written documents before this time, but the history of two of its suburbs, Jajmau and Bithoor, can be traced back. Bithoor is located about 20 km upstream from the city and is approximately 10 km from the IIT Kanpur campus. Jajmau is about 8 km east of the city and is nearly 20 km downstream from the IIT Campus. According to Hindu mythology, just after creating the universe, Lord Brahma performed the Ashvamedha at Bithoor and established a lingam there. Another legendary site at Bithoor is the Valmiki Ashram, where the famous sage Valmiki is supposed to have written the Sanskrit epic, the Ramayana. According to this epic, Queen Seeta, on being exiled by King Ramachandra of Ayodhya, spent her days in seclusion at the ashram bringing up her twin sons, Lava and Kush.
At Jajmau, there are remains of an ancient fort, now as a huge mound. Recent excavations on this mound indicate that the site is very old, perhaps dating back to the Vedic age. Some believe that the fort belonged to Yayati, a king of the ancient Chandravanshi race.
At Shivrajpur, 20 km from the Kanpur Central railway station, there is an ancient temple built by Chandel Raja Sati Prasad in memory of his queen. This temple is supposed to have been built in a night and is located on the banks of the Ganges. This temple is famous for its architectural work and carving designs.
Parihar rulers of Kannauj may have ruled this place for a significant part of history long before the beginning of Mughal era. Some historical accounts suggest Pratihara emperor, Mihir Bhoja, has ruled in Kanpur since nearby Kannuaj was the capital of Parihar.
Founding of the Settlement
In 1207 AD, Raja Kanti Deo of Prayag (connected to the throne of Kannauj) established the village Kohna, which later came to be known as Kanpur. Kanpur continued its association with Kannauj during the reigns of Harsha Vardhan, Mihir Bhoja, Jai Chand and early Muslim rulers through the Sur Dynasty. The first mention of Kanpur was made in 1579 during Sher Shah’s regime. Up to the first half of the 18th century, Kanpur was an insignificant village.
In May 1765, Shuja-ud-daula, the Nawab of Awadh, was defeated by the British near Jajmau. From 1773 to 1801, it was part of the Oudh kingdom and then came into the hands of the British. At this time, the British realized the strategic importance of the site of Kanpur. European businessmen had, by this time, started establishing themselves in Kanpur. Kanpur passed into British hands under the treaty of 1801 with Nawab Saadat Ali Khan of Awadh.