In ancient times the region covered by the present District of Ballia, lay in the kingdom of Kosala. It is probable that the river Ganga, in its sweep towards the north-east of present town of Ballia, formed the boundary of Kosala which included the whole of the present Ballia district as far as the junction of the Sadanira and the Great Gandakil. The back-strewn mounds and fragmentary remains of structural character, which evoke memories not only of mythology but also of history, are found at a number of places in the district. The ruins in the neighborhood of Barhmain and Hanumanganj, consisting of a large mound called Mira Dih, covered with broken bricks and pottery of a dark hue, are probably the remains of an ancient city. Khaira Dih, near turtipar in tahsil Rasra. which is also a ruined site of a very ancient city named Bhargavapur. is presumed to have been the place where the rishi a Jamadagni lived. The excavations carried out under the auspices of the Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, have brought to light relics of the black and red ware civilization (1450-1200 B.C.) at various sites such as Bhumapardih, Bijulipur, Godabirgarh, Lovika-katopa, Maira Dih, Pakka Kot and Vainagadho, indicating that the tract enjoyed settled life and civilization from this early time. Popular legends also bear witness to the antiquity of these sites, one such being that of the village of Karon, (in tahsil Ballia), its name being considered to be a corruption of the word Kam-anaunya. The legend is that Siva, being enraged at the attempts of Kamdeo (the god of love) to beguile him from his meditations, burnt him to ashes at this spot. Ballia itself is supposed to have derived its name by the eruption of the name Valmiki, that of the great sage who is said to have had his hermitage or to have dwelt here for some time. It is also associated with Bhrigu, another renowned sage who, according to a local legend, came and dwelt here because of the sacredness of the place Other rishis Like Garga Parasar, Vashishta and Atri are traditionally believed to have visited the neighborhood of Ballia attesting to the sacredness of its environs extending to a circuit of about 16 km. According to tradition, Hansnagar (town of swans) a village 9.6 km. east of Ballia. is said to take its name from the legend that a swan turned into a man and a crow into a swan by drinking the water of the holy river Ganga at this place. At a distance of about 137 km. from Ballia there is an ancient tank named Dharmaranva Pokhara where an excavation is said to have revealed that thousands of rishis practiced austerities there and that to the north and east it there were traces of the previous existence of and ancient forest probably a remnant of the ancient Aranya. Some other places of this district are also associated the Vedic sages: Bhalsand (in tahsil Ballia) is said to have derived its name from Bhardwaja who resided there for sometime and Dhuband (also in tahsil Ballia) to be a corruption of Durvasa-ashrama, signifying the abode of Durvasa, a celebrated rishi. The early political history of this region is complex. According to the Puranic tradition the solar dynasty of Kshatriyas, founded by one Manu, was the earliest known dynasty which gave Kosala (to which the tract forming the district became subject) a systematic form of government and of which Ikshvaku, the eldest son of Manu, famed in Vedic tradition, was the first ruler. The line that descended from produced a number of illustrious kings till the accession of Rama who was the greatest ruler of this dynasty. Lakhnesar Dih, in tahsil Rasra, is named after Lakhsmana, the brother of Ram, who is said to have visited this place and built a temple at this spot in honour of Mahadev. The remains of an ancient town are still to be seen on the high band of the river in the form of immense piles of ruins, from which numerous pieces of sculpture have been obtained from time to time which bear testimony to the fact that even in those early times it was a settled abode with a flourishing population Lakhshmana's son. Chandraketu, entitled Malla (valiant) in the Ramayana, established a kingdom known as the Malla state, of which some portion of this district formed a part, It is probable that the territories of the Mallas touched those of Kasi in the south, Magadha in the south-east and Kosala in the south-west, of which an area of the present day Ballia district, then formed a part. It came to be the biggest and the most important of the autonomous states of Kosala in respect of territorial extent and political influence. In the sixth century B.C., Kosala came to be known as one of the sixteen Mahajanapadas (great kingdoms). At the time it was ruled by the powerful king. Mahakosala His son, Prasenjit the last great monarch of the solar dynasty of Kosala, was an important figure of his time. During his reign the kingdom attained great glory and prosperity. The Malla kingdom also figured as one of the sixteen Mahajanapadas with an independent entity and status equal to that of Koala itself. its chief, Bandhula, was a close ally of Prasenjit as well as of Mahali, the Linchchhave prince of Vaisalf. The were deeply influenced by the teachings of two great religious exponents-Mahavira and Buddha and Jainism and Buddhism found many followers among the Mallas. The period gave rise to a different culture-that of the northern black polished ware, as has been revealed by the excavations conducted at Ajaneraghar, Bhimapurdih, Bijulipur, Gidabirghar and Masumpur. After Prasenjit, the kingdom of Kosala began to decline rapidly and the history of this area is shrouded in obscurity. The existence of numerous ruined forts and other remains in the district connected with the Bhars and the Cherus in legend and folklore point to the fact that they might have held domination over the major part of the district at that time. The Vhars were the occupants of the western part of the district. According to local legend, the heaps of broken earthen bricks in the parganas of Lakhnesar, Bhadaon and Sikandrapur, belong to the time of the Bhars. The Cherus probably ruled over the eastern half of the district. Kopachit in tahsil Rasra is believed to have been the western limit of the Cheru dominion. Tradition states that Bansdih lay in the heart of the Cheru country. Through no remains attributable to the group are found in Bansdih itself, the remnants of a fort are pointed out in the neighboring and the now almost deserted village of Deorhi. A number of places in the Ballia tahsil are also associated with this group: Karnai is believed to have been originally owned by the Cherus. Garwar is alleged to have been founded by them and a small mound near the village and a large brick mound at Zirabasti are presumed to be the debris of Cheru strongholds. Extensive ruins at Pakka Kot are also said to be the debris of a fort and other buildings dating back to the time when the Cherus ruled the district. Tradition has it that the large inland lake, the Suhara Tal at Basantpur, was constructed by the Cherus but no traces are found of any artificial construction. The significance of the tradition implies how completely the power of the Cherus has been impressed upon the imagination of the people. About the middle of the 4th century B.C. the realm of Kosala was brought to an end by Mahapadma Nanda, who has been described in the Puranas as the exterminator of the Kshatriya race and who, by uprooting the Kosalans, extended his empire over the major part of this region. He was the first great historical emperor of northern India. But a part of the district under the Mallas did not come under the domination of this emperor as they saved their authority and existence by merely accepting the supremacy of the Nandas. The Nandas were supplanted by the Mauryas under Chandragupta (324-300 B.C.) who ruled over a vast empire and the district became a part of the Maurya dominion except for the portion under the Mallas, which remained independent. Kautilya, who took a leading part in this revolution, mentions in his Arthsastra that this republic was a Samgha, or a state in a federation. He enjoins upon Chandragupua Maurya to cultivate friendship with the Mallas: “It is better to have a Samgha on your side than to acquire an army or to secure an ally.” The most illustrious king of this dynasty was Asoka (273-236 B.C.), Chandragupta's grandson who became a Buddhist and combined in himself the zeal of a monk with the wisdom of a king. The excavations have laid bare the remains of a stupa at Ballia and the ruins of Buddhist monasteries here and at Barhmaian. The latter has remains of old walls and very large bricks measuring about 45 cm. long, 23 cm. broad and 11 cm. in height and many carved and ornamental specimens . With the fall of the Mauryas a new dynasty, that of the Sungas, came to power under Pushyamitra (187-151 B.C.) whose dominion covered only the central portion of the Maurya empire. The fact is confirmed by an inscription found at Ayodhua, describing him as the lord of Kosala. As he uprooted the Malla republic, the whole of the area covered by the district came under his sway. During his reign, the Greeks of Bactria invaded India and it is likely the district also suffered the effects of the invasion of Menander, who carried his arms as for as Madhyamika, Saketa and Pataliputra. The history of the district in the era immediately following the fall of the Sungas is shrouded in obscurity till the advent of the Kushanas. That Ballia became a part of the Kushana dominion is undoubted as evinced by the finding of a large number of coins mostly of this periods in the ruins of Khaira Dih. The large bricks (measuring 60 cm. by 45 13 cm.) found in the ruins are a witness to the antiquity and the prosperity of the place. After the dismemberment of the Kushana empire, the history of Ballia is mostly enveloped in darkness, But a glimpse of the history of the district is provided by a number of inscribed coins, found at the ancient city of Ayodhya, of certain rulers such as Satyamitrta, Ayumitra (or Aryamitra) Sanghamitra, Vijayamitra, Devamitra, Ajavarman and Kumudasena, who appear to have flourished, after the end of Kushana rule, in what is now eastern Uttar Pradesh, including the area then covered by district Ballia. Of these Kumudasena alone was called a raja. It is surmised that the Guptas, probably Samudragupta, conquered this region and annexed it to the empire, in the fourth century A.D. During the reign of his son, Chandragupta II (380-413) the celebrated Chinese (Buddhist) pilgrim, Fa-hien (400-411) came to India to pay homage to the holy places of Buddhism. He mentions that on his way from Kasi to Patliputra, he came across a Buddhist monastery and a Buddhist temple (in Ballia) which bore the name of ‘the vast solitude'. The Indian name is not given but the literal translation of the term used is Vrihadaranya or Bidaran. The decline of the Gupta empire was precipitated by the assumption of independence by its feudatories. About the beginning of the second quarter of the sixth century, Yashodharman of Malwa overran the whole of northern India and Ballia seems to have come under his meteoric sovereignty after which it passed under the rule of the Maukharis of Kannauj. They established an empire comprising the whole of modern Uttar Pradesh in addition to a large part of Magadha. Thus the glory of Magadha was eclipsed with the rising power of Kannauj. The Maukharis were subdued by Harsha Varhsana (606-647) who established an extensive empire, the district continuing to form part of the Varshana empire During his reign Hiuen Tsang (629-644) another famous Chinese pilgrim and a Buddhist monk, came from China and passed through this district on his way from Varanasi to Nepal, He describes the Buddhist monastery of Aviddhakarba which he calls A-pi-te-ka-la-na Sangharama (the monastery of the brethren with unpierced ears) situated close to the town of Ballia. According to him this monastery had been built for the use of Buddhist pilgrims, From there he went to the temple of narayana, which he describes as being of two storeys with halls and terraces beautifully adorned with the most marvelous sculptures in stone with stone images in the highest style of art. Carlleyle identifies the ruins of an ancient temple at Narainpur (in thisil Ballia) with the remains of the temple mentioned above. After the death of Harsha his empire broke up and anarchy and confusion prevailed for about half a century. The history of Ballia during the interval between Harsha's death and the rise of Yashovarman nearly three-quarters of a century later, is again obscure. He must have reigned in the latter part of the seventh and the first part of the eighth century A.D. and the district Ballia is likely to have formed an integral part of his dominion. After Yashovarman the kingdom of Kannauj (which included modern utter Pradesh ) was a dependency of the empire of Dharampala of Bengal, who nominated Chakrayudha as the ruler of Kannauj but who was to be directly subordinate to him In the first of the ninth century, probably soon after the capture of Kannauj by Naghbhatta II , it came under the sway of the rising power of the Gujrat Pratiharas of whom Bhoja was the strongest ruler in northern India. He maintained peace in his kingdom and defended it against external dangers but the power of the Gurjara Pratiharas began to decline in the latter half of the tenth century and was brought to an end by Mahmud of Ghani's invasion in 1018 A.D.The downfall of the Gurjara Pratiharas was followed by a period of chaos which came to an end only in the last decade of the 11th century by the establishment of the Gahadvala dynasty at Kannauj under Chandradeva. The only reference of this suzerainty is that he was the protector of the holy places of Kasi (varanasi), Kusika (Kannauj) , Uttarakosala(Ayadhya) and the city of Indra (Ancient Delhi). It will thus be seen that Chandradeva's jurisdiction comprised almost the whole of what is now Uttar Pradesh Therefore it may be presumed that the district of Ballia was also under his control . Reference to a Rajpu raja of Haldi , Ramdeo, who was installed in the 11th and 12th centuries A.D. show that some parts of the district were subjugated by local chiefs