Brief History of the District
It is said that the present name of the district is derived from Rishi Jalwan,who lived here in ancient times, but some local people ascribe its name to Jalim,(a Sanadhya Brahmin) believed to have been the founder of its first settlement.
District Jalaun is surrounded by three rivers, Yamuna, Betwa and Pahuj.The land being an undulated plain has always been suitable for human inhabitation. As such, the people had been living here since a very ancient time. Kalpi, at the bank of river Yamuna, happened to be the biggest and most ancient township of the district. The earliest known traditional ruler of this region was Yayati, who are mentioned in the Purana and Mahabharata as a Samrat (emperor) and a great conqueror who extended his kingdom far and wide. The earliest known Aryan people associated with this region were the Chedis. This region rose into great prominence during the period of Mahabharata, which describes the Chedis along with the Korus, Panchals and Matsayas. The ancient history of the district is closely associated with the history of entire Bundelkhand region. It is a history of ascendancy and dethronement of many rulers. The territory was ruled over by Harsh Vardhan and found mention in the report of Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang. After Harsh, in a quick succession it passed on to a Buddhist Brahmin then to the rulers of Kannauj and then to Nagabhatta the ambitious ruler of Gurjar Pratihar in Rajputana, from whom it descended to his grandson Mihira who is better known as Raja Bhoj. Afterwards Chandel rulers of Kalinjar annexed the area and it remained under their rule for few hundred years and Kalpi was one of the main forts of these rulers till Prithviraj brought it under his rule as a consequence of the battle with Raja Parmar.
In early times Jalaun seems to have been the home of two Rajput clans, the Chandelas in the east and the Kachwahas in the west. The town of Kalpi on the Yamuna was conquered by the armies of Muhammad of Ghor in 1196. From the beginning of the 13th century the district through its most important place Kalpi,became intimately associated with Muslims. The Muslim hold over Bundelkhand including the present district, however, remained nominal even after its occupation in 1202. As Shahabuddin was the first ruler to invade the territory in late twelfth century. From whom it was annexed by the founder of Bundela regime. Thereafter, Pathans and Mughal rulers dominated the scene. Among Pathans the Lodi dynasty remained connected.
Early in the 14th century the Bundelas occupied the greater part of Jalaun, and even succeeded in holding the fortified post of Kalpi. That important possession was soon recovered by the Delhi Sultanate, and passed under the way of the Mughal Empire. In 1583 AD emperor Akbar visited Kalpi, where he was the guest of its Jagirdar Abdul Matlub Khan. Quli Khan and Abdur Rahim KhanKhana governed this place during Mughal period.
Akbar’s governors at Kalpi maintained a nominal authority over the surrounding district, and the Bundela chiefs were in a state of chronic revolt which culminated in the war of independence under Maharaja Chhatrasal. On the outbreak of his rebellion in 1671 he occupied a large province to the south of the Yamuna. Setting out from this base, and assisted by the Marathas, he conquered the whole of Bundelkhand. On his death in 1732 he bequeathed one third of his dominions to his Maratha allies, who before long succeeded in 10 annexing the whole of Bundelkhand. The Marathas dominated the scene for more than a hundred years. Under Maratha rule the country was a prey to constant anarchy and strife. To this period must be traced the origin of the poverty and desolation which are still conspicuous throughout the district. In 1806 Kalpi was made over to the British, and in 1840, on the death of Nana Gobind Ras, his possessions lapsed to them also. Various interchanges of territory took place, and in 1856 the boundaries of the British district were substantially settled, with an area of 1477 square miles.
Jalaun was the scene of much violence during the Revolt of 1857. When the news of the rising at Kanpur reached Kalpi, the men of the 53rd Native Infantry deserted their officers, and in June the Jhansi rebels reached the district, and began their murder of Europeans. It was not until September 1858 that the rebels were finally defeated. During first struggle for freedom in 1857, fierce armed conflict was held between British forces and freedom fighters led by Nana Sahib of Bithoor, Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi and Tatyan Tope. These events happened at Orai, Kalpi, Jalaun, Konch and places like Kachchwahagarh.
In the later 19th century, the district suffered much from the invasive kans grass (Saccharum spontaneum), owing to the spread of which many villages were abandoned and their land thrown out of cultivation. The population of the district was 399,726 in 1901, and the two largest towns are Konch and Kalpi (pop. 10,139 in 1901). The district was traversed by the line of the Indian Midland railway from Jhansi to Kanpur. A small part of it is watered by the Betwa Canal.
Grain, oil-seeds, cotton and ghee were exported. The twentieth century began with the heralding of a new name of nationalism in the whole of India and Jalaun also did not remain unaffected. The congress, which had already become the mouthpiece of people’s aspiration at the national level, was becoming increasingly popular in this district and a branch of it was founded in this district. The people of this district participated in all the national level movements to oust the British government, including Civil Disobedience and Quit India Movement.