Araria has a very prestigious past though shrouded in midst of uncertainties. Some passages in the Mahabharata (Sabha Parva and Vana Parva) describing the conquest of Bhima in the eastern India furnish valuable information regarding the antiquity of the district.

In ancient times ruled by three important clans of Indian history Araria may be termed as a place of confluence of three entirely different cultures. The important tribe of Kiratas governed the northern side , while the eastern side was under the Pundras and area west of the river Kosi, at that time flowing somewhere near the present Araria, by Angas.

A.J.Forbes was a military adventurer and had taken part in the adventures of Northwest India . He was also in the team of Commissioner Yule of Bhagalpur while fighting the rebels of 73rd native infantory.A.J.Forbes founded the Sultanpur estate and a number of indigo factories situated at different places in this district. The sub divisional town of Forbesganj is named after him.

In the first war of independence of 1857 Araria also witnessed a few skirmishes between the mutineers and the commissioner Yule’s forces, which took place near Nathpur. In view of the 1857 episode and other developments regarding the law & order, in the year 1864 Araria was constituted as Sub-Division by merging the small divisions of Araria, Matiari, Dimia, parts of Haveli and Bahadurganj to provide better administration and ultimately it became a district in 1990.