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Historical region of North India
Painting of Benares in 1890.
Varanasi attracts thousands of Hindu pilgrims every year.
Gorakhnath Mandir at Gorakhpur.
Location Purvanchal
Expected State establishment:
Language Hindi, Bhojpuri, Hindustani, Urdu
Historical capitals Varanasi
Split divisions Gorakhpur division,
Mirzapur division,
Varanasi division,
Basti division,
Azamgarh division
Regions of Uttar Pradesh

Purvanchal (Hindi: पूर्वांचल, Urdu: پُورواںچل) is a geographic region of northern India, which comprises the eastern end of Uttar Pradesh state and may also include the western districts of Bihar where Bhojpuri is the predominant language. It is bounded by Nepal to the north, Indian state Bihar to the east, Bagelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh state to the south, the Awadh region of Uttar Pradesh to the west and the end of Lower Doab (Kanpur-Fatehpur-Allahabad region) in Uttar Pradesh to its southwest.

There has been a political demand to create a separate state. The Purvanchal area is represented by 23 Members of Parliament to the Lok Sabha and 117 legislators in the 403 member Uttar Pradesh state assembly or Vidhan Sabha.

Purvanchal consists mainly of 4 divisions: the eastern-Awadhi region in the west, the western-Bhojpuri region in the east, the Baghelkhand region in the south, and the Nepal region in the north. It lies on the Indo-Gangetic plain, and together with western Bihar is the most densely populated area in the world. The rich quality of soil and the high earthworm density in the soil versus adjoining districts of Uttar Pradesh is favourable for agriculture. Most of the countryside is given to intensive agriculture. Bhojpuri is the predominant language or dialect in the region, in addition to Hindi, although Awadhi and Baghelkhandi are also spoken in the western and southern areas. Like Bihar state to the east, a large population, slow economic growth, agricultural mechanisation, and the closure of sugar mills have led to increased unemployment, social and political discontent, and some unrest in the region.

In 1991 the government of Uttar Pradesh established the Purvanchal Vikas Nidhi, to fund regional development projects that advance balanced development, meet local needs, and redress regional disparities. But due to corrupt distribution channels, the conditions have remained still the same. Political parties are playing the game of SC/ST/OBC/Muslim vote Bank Politics, which are the major factors behind the backwardness of the region.

Languages used in Purvanchal[edit]

In Purvanchal, a large number of people speak Bhojpuri, and many people (like in Gorakhpur and Sant Kabir Nagar) mainly speak Urdu and Awadhi with slight influence of Bhojpuri.[citation needed]

Regions of Awadh in Purvanchal[edit]

1777 Dury Wall Map of Delhi, Agra and Oudh

The Purvanchal region includes areas which were part of Awadh in empirical times, and in ancient times, these such regions are Sant Kabir Nagar, Gorakhpur, Basti and Siddhartnagar.

History of Purvanchal[edit]

Historically Purvanchal is the region ruled by the king of Kashi (Kashi Naresh), which reigons are Mirzapur, Ballia, Ghazipur, Sonbhadra, Deoria, Azamgarh, Jaunpur, some main parts of Gorakhpur and also Sant Kabir Nagar.[1] This territory was ruled by the Bhumihar Brahmin, which have their strong Brahmin army to support them.[1] The Kingdom of Kashi was founded by Khsetravridha, the son of Ayus, of the Somavansa dynasty of Pratishthana. It lost independence in 1194 and was eventually ceded by the Nawab of Oudh to the British Raj in 1775, who recognized Benares as a family dominion. Benares became a state in 1911[2]. It was given the privilege of 13-gun salute.

The governor of Benares gave most of the area currently known as Varanasi to Mansa Ram, a Gautam Bhumihar Brahmin zamindar of Utaria.[1] In 1737 AD Balwant Singh, ruler of Utaria, later received the territories of Jaunpur, Varanasi and Chunar in 1740 AD from the Mughal Emperor of Delhi.[1] The Kingdom of Benaras started in this way under the Mughal dynasty. Other places under the kingship of Kashi Naresh were Chandauli, Gyanpur, Chakia, Latifshah, Mirzapur, Nandeshwar, Mint House and Vindhyachal.[1]

With the decline of the Mughal Empire, the military or Bhumihar Brahmin strengthened their sway in the area south of Avadh and in the fertile rice growing areas of Benares, Gorakhpur, Deoria, Ghazipur, Ballia and Bihar and on the fringes of Bengal.[1] The strong clan organisation on which they rested, brought success to the lesser Hindu princes. There were as many as 100,000 Bhumihar Brahmin clansmen backing the power of the Benares rajyas in what later became the districts of Benares, Gorakhpur and Azamgarh.[1] This proved a decisive advantage when the dynasty faced a rival and the nominal suzerain, the Nawab of Awadh, in the 1750s and the 1760s.[1] An exhausting guerrilla war, waged by the Benares ruler against the Avadh camp, using his Brahmin clan troops, forced the Nawab to withdraw his main force.[1]

According to Orthodox Brahmin traditions, no one has seen Kashi Naresh eat food, and none of the kings have travelled abroad, in keeping with strict Brahmin rules.[2] Kashi Naresh has played host to a list of dignitaries which includes Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Indira Gandhi, Queen Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, President Kocheril Raman Narayanan and his Burmese wife.[2]

About Purvanchal[edit]

A carpet seller in Gopiganj, Sant Ravidas Nagar, Bhadohi, India

Purvanchal is one of the most ancient regions of India and enjoys a rich heritage and culture, particularly because of its association with cities like Varanasi, Gorakhpur etc. However, the economic and industrial growth of this region had been greatly hindered because of caste-guided political in-fighting and a huge population.[citation needed] The major issues are lack of civic infrastructure, proper rural education and employment. Bleak law and order is a major area of concern. Negligence on the part of Uttar Pradesh government and Central Government of India have also added to its present condition of chaos.[citation needed]

The region played a very important role in the freedom struggle of India. It was for this reason that Britishers were always apprehensive of the strong nationalist and pro-independence spirit of the people. Mangal Pandey is one of the most prominent freedom fighters from this region, known as the true son of Purvanchal. In popular culture, Purvanchal is well known as "The land of warriors". Hinduism and its subsets Buddhism and Jainism also owe their origin to this region only.

GI tag holders Sant Ravidas Nagar, Bhadohi and Mirzapur are major players in the carpet manufacturing in Asia. Another GI tag holder district Varanasi is a center of Indian tourism and special saari manufacturing. Sonbhadra, a district of Purvanchal, Uttar Pradesh produces 7000 MW electricity, almost half of the total electricity generation in the state of Uttar Pradesh and largest and only major mine of limestone in India. Varanasi and Kushinagar attract more than 65% of the total tourists visiting Uttar Pradesh. Mirzapur and Sonbhadra are very rich with natural resources.

List of districts in Purvanchal[edit]

Purvanchal includes the following districts from Uttar Pradesh:

1. Azamgarh
2. Ballia
3. Basti
4. Chandauli
5. Deoria
6. Ghazipur                             

  7. Gorakhpur
  8. Jaunpur
  9. Kushinagar
10. Maharajganj
11. Mau
12. Mirzapur                             

13. Sant Kabir Nagar
14. Sant Ravidas Nagar-Bhadohi
15. Siddharth Nagar
16. Sonbhadra
17. Varanasi

Purvanchal may also include the following districts from Bihar:

   1.  Bhojpur                     
   2.  Buxar                     
   3.  Kaimur                     

   4.  Rohtas                     
   5.  Siwan                     
   6.  Gopalganj                     

   7.  Saran                     
   8.  East Champaran                     
   9.  West Champaran                     

In the year 2000, the Mayawati government, at the time of reorganisation of the Uttar Pradesh state, formed the Purvanchal Economic Zone and rather arbitrarily included the non-Purvanchali districts into the zone, including Allahabad, Pratapgarh, Faizabad and eight more. There has been growing unrest and anger among the people of Allahabad and other districts on being included in the Pruvanchal zone. Agitation has started taking shape, through media and internet. Ironically Faizabad-Ayodhya is also included under this zone, ignoring the fact that the state of Awadh derives its name from Ayodhya, and it was once the capital of Awadh.


The region of Purvanchal, Uttar Pradesh, had a long tradition of learning, although it had remained mostly confined to the elite class and religious establishments. Sanskrit-based education comprising the learning of Vedic-to-Gupta periods, coupled with the later Pali corpus of knowledge and a vast store of ancient-to-medieval learning in Persian/Arabic languages, had formed the core of Hindu-Buddhist-Muslim education, until the rise of British power. The present schools-to-university system of education owes its inception and development here, as in the rest of the country, to foreign Christian missionaries and the British colonial administration.

Banaras Hindu University is a Central University in Varanasi.[3] It evolved out of the Central Hindu College of Varanasi, set up by Annie Besant — a colorful British woman of Irish descent — who joined hands with Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya in April 1911 for a common Hindu university at Varanasi. The Banaras Hindu University started functioning from 1 October 1917, with the Central Hindu College as its first constituent college. Most of the money for the university came from Hindu princes and its present 1,350-acre (5.5 km2) campus was built on land donated by the Kashi Naresh. Regarded as the one among the largest residential universities in Asia,[4] it has more than 128 independent teaching departments; several of its colleges — including science, linguistics, law, Management (FMS-BHU) and medicine (IMS-BHU) — are ranked amongst the best in India.[5] The university's enrollment stands at just over 15,000, including international students.

Indian Institute of Technology (Banaras Hindu University), Varanasi is an Institute of National Importance in Purvanchal. It is one of the 16 prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology. It was established in 1919 by the visionary Mahamana Pandit Mohan Malviya and has been constantly ranked among the top 10 technical institutes of India.

A Government Degree College was set up by the Government of Uttar Pradesh, for providing higher education to scholars who are interested in course work and programs of higher studies. At present, 137[6] Government Degree Colleges have been established by the state government to fulfill above criteria. The UP government[7] administers, manages and controls these colleges through Department of Higher Education, Uttar Pradesh[8] and follows the norms and regulations of University Grants Commission, New Delhi.[9]

Major universities[edit]

School of Biotechnology, Faculty of Science, Banaras Hindu University
DDU University at Gorakhpur.

Major colleges[edit]

Madan Mohan Malaviya Engineering College Gorakhpur

Economic Zone[edit]

Tourist attractions[edit]

The ancient excavated Buddha image inside the Parinirvana Temple, Kushinagar
Inside Vindhyachal Temple entrance
Makutabandhana, the cremation site of Gautama Buddha's body; also known as Ramabhar Stupa

Important Roads, Railways and Airports[edit]

Major Roads[edit]

NH-2, NH-7, NH-19, NH-28, NH-29, NH-56, NH-97, Golden Quadrilateral



Notable people from Purvanchal[edit]

List 1-50:

   1.  Mangal Pandey   
   2.  Hazari Prasad Dwivedi   
   3.  Jai Prakash Narayan   
   4.  Jaishankar Prasad   
   5.  Sachchidananda Vatsyayan   
   6.  Bharatendu Harishchandra   
   7.  Vibhuti Narain Rai   
   8.  Prabhu Nath Rai   
   9.  Premchand   
 10.  Kirti Azad   
 11.  Rahul Sankrityayan   
 12.  Sahajanand Saraswati   
 13.  Kaifi Azmi   
 14.  Shabana Azmi   
 15.  Baba Azmi   
 16.  Guru Bhakt Singh 'Bhakt'   
 17.  Kedarnath Singh   

 18.  Siddheshwari Devi   
 19.  Girija Devi   
 20.  Gopal Shankar Misra   
 21.  Lalmani Misra  
 22.  Ravi Shankar  
 23.  Hariprasad Chaurasia  
 24.  Ravikant Shukla  
 25.  Narendra Hirwani  
 26.  Kapila Vatsyayan  
 27.  Rinku Singh  
 28.  Birju Maharaj  
 29.  Saurabh Shukla  
 30.  Ravi Kishan  
 31.  Rahi Masoom Raza  
 32.  Sameer (lyricist)  
 33.  Anjaan  
 34.  Hemanta Kumar Mukhopadhyay  

 35.  Rajkumari Dubey  
 36.  Piyush Pandey  
 37.  Prasoon Pandey  
 38.  Ram Chandra Shukla  
 39.  Billy Arjan Singh  
 40.  Laxmi Narayan Mishra  
 41.  Sudama Panday 'Dhoomil'
 42.  Banarasidas
 43.  Ramchandra Shukla
 44.  Sachchidananda Vatsyayan
 45.  Prem Chand Pandey
 46.  Rajan and Sajan Mishra
 47.  Sahajanand Saraswati
 48.  Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari
 49.  Mahendra Nath Mulla
 50.  Abdul Hamid (soldier)

List 51-110:

   1.  Bismillah Khan      
   2.  Ravi Shankar      
   3.  Rajendra Prasad      
   4.  Meira Kumar      
   5.  Lal Bahadur Shastri      
   6.  Bhagwan Das      
   7.  Kishan Maharaj      
   8.  Rahul Sankrityayan      
   9.  Veer Kunwar Singh      
 10.  Obaid Siddiqui      
 11.  Ram Kinkar Upadhyay      
 12.  Vidya Niwas Mishra      
 13.  Giriraj Kishore      
 14.  Kapil Deva Dvivedi      
 15.  Mohammed Shahid      
 16.  Sandeep Pandey      
 17.  Mohammad Hamid Ansari      
 18.  Raj Shankar      
 19.  Kamla Kant Pandey      

 20.  P. K. Sethi      
 21.  Syed Modi   
 22.  Chandra Shekhar   
 23.  Rajnath Singh   
 24.  Vir Bahadur Singh   
 25.  Ram Naresh Yadav   
 26.  Kamalapati Tripathi   
 27.  Tribhuvan Narain Singh   
 28.  Sampurnanand   
 29.  Om Prakash Singh   
 30.  Kalpnath Rai   
 31.  Shriram Chauhan   
 32.  Mahaveer Prasad   
 33.  Acharya Kuber Nath Rai   
 34.  Viveki Rai   
 35.  Sri Krishna Rai Hridyesh   
 36.  Ramchandra Shukla   
 37.  Sri Lal Sukla   
 38.  Rahi Masoom Raza   

 39.  Baldev Upadhyaya   
 40.  Chhannulal Mishra   
 41.  Saurabh Shukla
 42.  Jhanak Shukla
 43.  Vinay Shukla
 44.  Chunky Pandey
 45.  Hari Shankar Tiwari
 46.  Chittu Pandey
 47.  Gyanendra Pandey
 48.  Veer Bhadra Mishra
 49.  Amarmani Tripathi
 50.  Kalraj Mishra
 51.  Ramapati Ram Tripathi
 52.  Sarjoo Pandey
 53.  Sudhanshu Pandey
 54.  Shibli Nomani
 55.  Dr. Annapurna Mishra
 56.  Jagdambika Pal
 57.  Pt. Subedar Mishra


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bayly, Christopher Alan (1983). Rulers, Townsmen, and Bazaars: North Indian Society in the Age of British Expansion, 1770-1870. Cambridge University Press. p. 489 (at p 18). ISBN 978-0-521-31054-3. 
  2. ^ a b Mark Manuel. "Nobody's Seen The Gourmet Maharaja Eating!". Upper Crust. Archived from the original on 2007-11-10. Retrieved 2008-04-08. 
  3. ^ Rediff news
  4. ^ "Banaras Hindu University" (PDF). Indian Academy of Sciences. 2005-07-26. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  5. ^ Raj Chengappa (2008-05-22). "India's best colleges: India Today". Indiatoday.intoday.in. Retrieved 2010-07-18. 
  6. ^ http://uphed.up.nic.in/colleges_info.htm
  7. ^ http://upgov.nic.in/
  8. ^ http://uphed.up.nic.in/
  9. ^ http://www.ugc.ac.in/policy/englishgazette.pdf

External links[edit]