GORAKHPUR, a city, district and division of the United Provinces of British India. The city is situated on the left bank of the river Rapti. Pop. (1901) 64,148. It is believed to have been founded about 1400 A.D. It is the civil headquarters of the district and was formerly a military cantonment. It consists of a number of adjacent village sites, sometimes separated by cultivated land, and most of the inhabitants are agriculturists.

The District of Gorakhpur has an area of 4535 sq. m. It lies immediately south of the lower Himalayan slopes, but itself forms a portion of the great alluvial plain. Only a few sandhills break the monotony of its level surface, which is, however, intersected by numerous rivers studded with lakes and marshes. In the north and centre dense forests abound, and the whole country has a verdant appearance. The principal rivers are the Rapti, the Gogra, the Gandak and Little Gandak, the Kuana, the Rohin, the Ami and the Gunghi. Tigers are found in the north, and many other wild animals abound throughout the district. The lakes are well stocked with fish. The district is not subject to very intense heat, from which it is secured by its vicinity to the hills and the moisture of its soil. Dust-storms are rare, and cool breezes from the north, rushing down the gorges of the Himalayas, succeed each short interval of warm weather. The climate is, however, relaxing. The southern and eastern portions are as healthy as most parts of the province, but the tarai and forest-tracts are still subject to malaria.

Gautama Buddha, the founder of the religion bearing his name, was born, and died near the boundaries of the district. From the beginning of the 6th century the country was the scene of a continuous struggle between the Bhars and their Aryan antagonists, the Rathors. About 900 the Domhatars or military Brahmans appeared, and expelled the Rathors from the town of Gorakhpur, but they also were soon driven back by other invaders. During the 15th and 16th centuries, after the district had been desolated by incessant war, the descendants of the various conquerors held parts of the territory, and each seems to have lived quite isolated, as no bridges or roads attest any intercourse with each other. Towards the end of the 16th century Mussulmans occupied Gorakhpur town, but they interfered very little with the district, and allowed it to be controlled by the native rajas. In the middle of the 18th century a formidable foe, the Banjaras from the west, so weakened the power of the rajas that they could not resist the fiscal exactions of the Oudh officials, who plundered the country to a great extent. The district formed part of the territory ceded by Oudh to the British under the treaty of 1801. During the Mutiny it was lost for a short time, but under the friendly Gurkhas the rebels were driven out. The population in 1901 was 2,957,074, showing a decrease of 3% in the decade. The district is traversed by the main line and several branches of the Bengal & North-Western railway, and the Gandak, the Gogra and the Rapti are navigable.

The Division has an area of 9534 sq. m. The population in 1901 was 6,333,012, giving an average density of 664 persons per sq. m., being more than one to every acre, and the highest for any large tract in India.