The history of Cox’s Bazar begins in the Mughal period. On his way to Arakan, when the Mughal Prince Shah Shuja (1616–1660) passed through the hilly terrain of the present day Cox’s Bazar, he was attracted to the scenic and captivating beauty of the region. He commanded his forces to camp there. A place named Dulahazara, meaning “one thousand palanquins”, still exists in the area.
Cox’s Bazar is named after Captain Hiram Cox, an officer of the East India Company, who was assigned with the charges of the current day Cox’s Bazar and its adjacent areas.The town of Cox’s Bazar was established in 1799 as a market town to honour Captain Cox. In 1854, Cox’s Bazar was made a Sub Divisional headquarter in Chittagong district under the Bengal Presidency of British India.
After the end of British rule in 1947, Cox’s Bazar remained a part of East Pakistan under the Dominion of Pakistan till 1971. Captain Advocate Fazlul Karim was the first chairman after independence from the British of Cox’s Bazar municipality. He established the Tamarisk Forest along the beach to draw tourism to the town and to protect the beach from the tide. He donated many of his father-in-law’s and his own lands to establish a public library and town hall. In 1971, the wharf was used as a naval port by the Pakistan Navy‘s gunboats. This and the nearby airstrip of the Pakistan Air Force were the scene of intense shelling by the Indian Navy during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.
In the year 1984, Cox’s Bazar was upgraded into a District from a Sub Division under the Chittagong Division.