Haldwani is one of the most populous towns in Nainital district of Uttarakhand, and is known as the "Gateway of Kumaon". In Kumaoni, the local dialect, the place is called "Halduvani", after the tree named "Haldu", which was found in abundance prior to deforestation for agriculture and settlement.
In 1816, after the British defeated Gorkhas, Gardner was appointed the Commissioner of Kumaon. Later George William Trail took over as Commissioner and renamed Halduvani as Haldwani in 1834 . Though British records suggest that the place was established in 1834, as a mart for hill people who visited the Bhabhar (Himalayan foothills) region, during the cold season.
Mughal historians mention that in 14th century, a local ruler, Gyan Chand of Chand Dynasty, visited Delhi Sultanate and received the regions of Bhabhar- Terai up to the Ganga as a grant from then Sultan. Later, the Mughals tried to take over the hills, but their attempts received set back due to the difficult terrain .
In 1856, Sir Henry Ramsay took over as the Commissioner of Kumaon. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, it was briefly seized by the rebels of Rohilkhand, soon martial law was declared in the region by Sir Henry Ramsay, and by 1858, the region was cleared of the rebels.
Later, Ramsay connected Nainital with Kathgodam by road in 1882. In 1883-84, the railway track was laid between Bareilly and Kathgodam. The first train arrived at Haldwani from Lucknow on April 24, 1884 . Later, the railway line was extended to Kathgodam.
In 1901, with a population of 6,624, Haldwani was the headquarters of the Bhabhar region of Nainital District, in the United Province, and it also used to become the winter headquarters of the officers of the Kumaun Division and of Nainital District. The Arya Samaj Bhavan was built in 1901 and Sanatan Dharm Sabha in 1902. The Tehsil office was opened here in 1899, when it became the tehsil headquarters of the Bhabhar, one of four division of Nainital district , and included 4 towns and 511 villages; and had a combined population of 93,445 (1901), spread over 1,279 sq. miles . Though before the formation of Nainital district in 1891, it was part of the Kumaon District, which was later called Almora district .
In 1904, it was consitituted as a 'notified area' and in 1907 Haldwani got the status of town area .Gora Padao, 4 km south of Haldwani was named after a British camp/post at that location in the mid 1800s, Gora being a slang for the British. Haldwani-Kathgodam Municipal Council was established on September 21, 1942. Currently it is the second largest Municipal Council in the state of Uttarakhand after Haridwar