A leading regional city, Bareilly is a powerful influence over regional commerce, finance, culture, art, fashion, research, education, and entertainment. It is also a center for the manufacture of furniture and for trade in cotton, grain, and sugar. The city's population in 2001 was 699,839. Geographically it forms the outer gateway to enter Uttarakhand State. The status of the city has been upgraded when its name was included in the "Counter Magnets" of National Capital Region (NCR) also including Hissar, Patiala, Kota and Gwalior. Bareilly is equidistant from New Delhi, the capital of India and Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh and thus has a lot of potential for setting up industries and to attract people to settle here.
According to the epic Mahābhārata, Bareilly region (Panchala) is said to be birth place of Draupadi, who was also referred to as 'Panchali' (one from the kingdom of Panchāla) by kṛṣṇā (Lord krishna). When Yudhisthira becomes the king of Hastinapura at the end of the Mahābhārata, Draupadi becomes his queen. The folklore says that Gautama Buddha had once visited the ancient fortress city of Ahicchattra in Bareilly. In 12the Century, the kingdom was under the rule by different clans of Kshatriya Rajputs . With the Islamic Invasion the region became a part of the Delhi Sultanate before getting absorbed in the emerging Mughal Empire. The foundation of the modern City of Bareilly foundation was laid by Mukrand Rai in 1657. Later the region became the capitol of Rohilkhand region before getting handed over to Nawab Vazir of Awadh and then to East India Company (transferred to the British India) and later becoming an integral part of India. The region has, also, acted as a mint for a major part of its history.
This fast-growing city is also known as Bans-Bareilly (Bansaldev & Baraldev). Though Bareilly is also a production center for cane (Bans) furniture, but it is just a coincidence. The name Bans Bareilly is not derived from its big bans (bamboo) market.It derived after the name of two prince named Bansaldev & Baraldev (Son of Local King). Bareilly is also famous by the names of "Nath Nagri" by the Hindus. The name Nath Nagri is derived out the presence of a lot of Lord Shiva Temples (Bhole Nath Temples) including Alakha Nath, Trivati Nath, Madhi Nath, Dhopeshwar Nath temples, Bankhandi Nath and Pasupati Nath. It is also famous for Ala Hazrat Imam Ahmed Raza Khan Fazil-e-Barelvi's Dargah all over the world and is also called "Bareilly Shareef" by Muslims.
The city is also famous for its Zari work (a type of embroidery or fabric decoration), 'Jhumka' - an intricate ear-rings or ear-pendants, Surma (Kohl and Manja. Manja (the glass powder coated kite flying and fighting string) called 'Luddhi Manja'. This manja thrives on a secret recipe of rice, fevicol and glass, all in good quantity, that results in it being lethal should any other manja come in contact with it.
In recent past, Bareilly has given four eminent personalities- Waseem Barelvi (world renowned Urdu poet), Priyanka Chopra (former miss world and famous young Bollywood actor hailed from this city, Imran Khan (won a Gold medal in shooting in the 19th Commonwealth Games held in New Delhi) and Apoorv Agarwal.
The M. J. P. Rohilkhand University (1975) and Bareilly College (1837) along with many private colleges and universities underline Bareilly's educational front. The Indian Veterinary Research Institute (I.V.R.I.) and Central Avian Research Institute (C.A.R.I.) is located in the suburb of Izzatnagar.