In 1801 when Rohilkhand was ceded to the British Pilibhit was a Pargana of The District Of Bareilly, which lost it in 1833, the arrangement being temporary and the tract being again united with Bareilly in 1841. In 1871 was formed the Pilibhit subdivision comprising Jahanabad, Pilibhit and Puranpur which was eventually converted into a seprate District in 1879. At the introduction of the British rule the parganas of Pilibhit, Jahanabad & Bisalpur was formed into seprate Tehsils. Puranpur was united for this purpose with Khutar. A redistribution of the area was effected in 1824, when the Bisalpur Tehsil contained the Parganas of Bisalpur and Maurari, which afterwards become a single area; Jahanabad was joined with Richha to form tehsil Pareva & Pilibhit with Bilheri, the HQ being at Pilibhit. In 1851 Bilheri and the other tarai pargana were taken under direct management and in 1863 Richha was attached to the new Baheri Tehsil, Pargana Jahanabad being assigned to Pilibhit which also received Puranpur on its transfer in 1865. The latter, in 1871, a became subtehsil dependent on Pilibhit. The promotion of Puranpur into a full Tehsil occurred in 1879, while Bisalpur throughout remained a seprate subdivision.Thus the area is now divided into three Tehsils and four Parganas. Puranpur & Bisalpur constituting individual Tehsils and Parganas & the Tehsil of Pilibhit comprising the paraganas of Pilibhit and Jahanabad.


According to the central statistical organization the District Pilibhit had an area of 3,504 sq.km. on July 1, 1971, occupying 49th position in the state. Major part of Pilibhit District is covered by dense forest. Total 78478 hectare is forest.


The district of Pilibhit is the north-eastern most district of Rohilkhand division which is situated in the sub Himalayan belt on the boundary of Nepal. It lies between the parallels of 28o6' and 28o53' north latitude and the meridians of   79o57' and 80o27' east longitude. On the north are the district Udhamsingh Nagar and the territory of Nepal, on the south lies the Shahjahanpur district, on the east the district is flanked for a short distance by district Kheri and for the remaining distance by the Shahjahanpur district and on the west the district of Bareilly.


According to the census of 2001 the total population is 1645183, out of which 1350959 rural and 294224 urban population.

According to the census of 1991 the total population is 1283103, out of which 1046247 rural and 206775 urban population.



The present town is of comparatively recent origin but there is still a village known as 'Old Pilibhit' standing on the left bank of the Khakra river about 5 Km. to the north-east near the road to Neoria. This village had always been occupied by the Banjaras of the Periya clan. It is supposed that Pilibhit is the corruption of Periya Bhit or the village mound of the Periyas and also that the name Pilibhit has beed derived from a yellow mud wall which once surrounded the district.



In its general appearance the district presents diverse features and topographically may be divided into several distinct tracts. In the north and north-west the tract is a continuation of the Terai. The southern portion of the Bisalpur Tehsil is similar in most respect to the adjacent tract of Bareilly and Shahjahanpur. The eastern and smaller section approximates rather to undeveloped forest areas of Khiri, though with the spread of cultivation the dissimilarity between Puranpur and the rest of the district is gradually becoming less marked.





The Sharda canal is the main canal of the district, the others being its branches. The names and lengths of various branches of the canal are given below.

Name of channel (with year of functioning) Length in KM.
Sharda canal (1928) 12.64
Hardoi branch (1928) 36.80
Kheri branch (1928) 31.20
Sharda Sagar feeder (1957) 03.90
Outlet channel (1957) 03.23
Subsidiary Hardoi branch (1957) 21.55

The data given above is symbolic as now the total length of canals in the district is 938 Km.


42,000 Thousand people died in 1918 in Pilibhit. Because of lack of medical facilities many people died in this district. The details of deaths in different years are shown in table below.

YEAR Plague Cholera Smallpox Fever  Gastro-enteritis Total Deaths
1911 1825 804 24 18022 44 24347
1912 773 102 01 12279 36 20420
1913 213 06 04 12564 12 15652
1914 239 253 49 14523 86 18184
1915 44 5458 02 17485 252 25828
1916 75 1121 11 20254 111 24737
1917 368 239 08 28609 145 32512
1918 21 864 04 39690 96 42624
1919 20 107 06 19601 73 22868
1920 43 77 157 18734 113 21589
1921 237 3461 04 2047 422 24601



Though Pilibhit District is a bit backword in the area of industry. The main crop in this area is sugar cane. So there are four sugar factories at Majhola, Puranpur, Bisalpur and Pilibhit. Three factories are in co-operative sector and one at Pilibhit is in private sector. Other major units are three solvent plants, one flour mill, one steel plant and one Alcohol Distillery.

Small scale industries are Rice mills, engineering units, brick kilns, candles and mainly bansuri (flute) manufacturing.