(Last Updated on : 28/06/2014)
History of Nagpur dates back to the early 8th century. Bhakt Buland, a Gond prince of the kingdom of Deogad in the Chhindwara district, founded the present city in the early 18th century. Perceiving the advantage of civilised life in Delhi, he started to build Nagpur as his new capital. His successor Chand Sultan aided him. After Chand Sultan's death in 1739, clashes regarding succession arose and Raghuji Bhonsle, the Maratha governor of Berar, helped to re-establish the elder son to the throne. As the dissentions continued, Raghuji Bhonsle again intervened in 1743, and the control of Nagpur slowly passed on from the Gonds to the Marathas. It became the capital of the Bhonsles.
The ancient history of Nagpur states the evidence of human existence before 3000 years or in 8th century BC. Mehir burial sites at Drugdhamna (near Mhada colony) point out megalithic culture existed around Nagpur and is still followed in present times. The first reference to the name Nagpur is found in a 10th century copperplate inscription excavated at Devali in the neighbouring Wardha district. The inscription is a record of endowment of a village situated in the visaya (district) of Nagpura-Nandivardhana during time of Rastrakuta king Krsna III in the Saka year 862 (940 CE). Towards the end of third century King Vindhyasakti possibly ruled the Nagpur region and in the 4th century Vakataka Dynasty reigned in the Nagpur region and surrounding areas and carried out good relations with the Gupta Empire. The Vakataka king Prithvisena I moved his capital to Nagardhan that was located at 28 kilometers (17 mi) from Nagpur.
Recent history of Nagpur ascribes the founding of this city to Bakht Buland, a prince of the Gond kingdom of Deogarh in the Chhindwara district. In 1743, the Maratha leader Raghoji Bhonsle of Vidarbha established his honour in Nagpur, after conquering the territories of Deogarh, Chanda and Chhattisgarh by 1751. After Raghoji's death in 1755, his son and successor Janoji was forced to concede the valuable supremacy of the Maratha Peshwa of Pune in 1769. Despite this, the Nagpur state continued to grow. Janoji's successor Mudhoji I (d. 1788) attained power in 1785 and bought Mandla and the upper Narmada valley from the Peshwa between 1796 and 1798, after which Raghoji II (d. 1816) acquired Hoshangabad, the larger part of Saugor and Damoh. Under Raghoji II, Nagpur covered certain parts of the presents like Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, and parts of Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand.
In 1803, Raghoji II joined the Peshwas against the British in the Second Anglo-Maratha War. The British prevailed, and Raghoji was forced to cede Cuttack, Sambalpur, and a part of Berar. This period was significant in history of Nagpur and marked certain cultural changes due to the influence of British rule. After Raghoji II's death in 1816, his son Parsaji was deposed and murdered by Mudhoji II.
Despite the fact that he had entered into a treaty with the British in the same year, Mudhoji joined the Peshwa in the Third Anglo-Maratha War in 1817 against the British, but was forced to surrender the rest of Berar to the Nizam of Hyderabad, and certain parts of Saugor and Damoh, Betul, Mandla, Seoni and the Narmada valley to the British after being defeated at Sitabuldi in modern-day Nagpur city.
From 1853 to 1861, the Nagpur Province consisted of the present Nagpur region, Chhindwara, and Chhatisgarh. The Nagpur Province commenced the start of modern history of Nagpur and became part of the Central Provinces. However, Berar came under the administration of a commissioner under the British central government, with Nagpur as its capital. Berar was added in 1903 and Tata group started the country's first textile mill at Nagpur, officially known as Central India Spinning and Weaving Company Ltd. The company was popularly known as "Empress Mills".
The history of Nagpur also finds its place in the political activity during India's freedom struggle and included hosting of two annual sessions of the Indian National Congress. Non-cooperation movement was launched in the Nagpur session of 1920. Nagpur witnessed a Hindu-Muslim riot in 1923 which had profound impact on K. B. Hedgewar. In 1925, he founded RSS, a Hindu nationalist organization, in Nagpur, patronising the idea of creating a Hindu nation. After the 1927 Nagpur riots RSS gained further popularity in Nagpur and the organization grew throughout the nation.
When the Indian states were reorganized along linguistic lines in 1956, the Nagpur region and Berar were transferred to Bombay state, which in 1960 was divided between the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. In 1994, Nagpur witnessed its most violent day in modern history of Nagpur in form of Gowari stampede deaths.