Nagpur is the seat of the annual winter session of the Maharashtra state assembly, “Vidhan Sabha”. It is a major commercial and political centre of the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. In addition, the city derives political importance from being the headquarters for the Hindu nationalist organisation RSS.
The city was founded by the Gonds and later became a part of the Maratha Empire under the royal Bhonsale dynasty. The British East India Company took over Nagpur in the 19th century and made it the capital of the Central Provinces and Berar. After the first reorganisation of states, the city lost its status as the capital. Following the informal “Nagpur Pact between political leaders, it was made the second capital of Maharashtra.
Human existence around present-day Nagpur can be traced back 3000 years to the 8th century BCE. Mehir burial sites at Drugdhamna (near the Mhada colony) indicate that the megalithic culture existed around Nagpur and is still followed. The first reference to the name “Nagpur” is found in a 10th-century copper-plate inscription discovered at Devali in the neighbouring Wardha district. The inscription is a record of grant of a village situated in the visaya (district) of Nagpura-Nandivardhana during the time of the Rastraku taking Krsna III in the Saka year 862 (940 CE). Towards the end of the 3rd century, King Vindhyasakti is known to have ruled the Nagpur region. In the 4th century, the Vakataka Dynasty ruled over the Nagpur region and surrounding areas and had good relations with the Gupta Empire. The Vakataka king Prithvisena I moved his capital to Nagardhan (ancient name Nandivardhana), 28 kilometres (17 mi) from Nagpur. After the Vakatakas, the region came under the rule of the Hindu kingdoms of the Badami Chalukyas, theRashtrakutas, and finally the Yadavas. In 1296, Allauddin Khilji invaded the Yadava Kingdom after capturing Deogiri, after which the Tughlaq Dynasty came to power in 1317. In the 17th century, the Mughal Empire conquered the region. However, regional administration was carried out by the Gond kingdom of Deogarh-Nagpur in the Chhindwara districtof the modern-day state of Madhya Pradesh.
Recent history ascribes the founding of Nagpur to Bakht Buland, a prince of the kingdom of Deogarh-Nagpur. The next Raja (king) of Deogarh was Chand Sultan, who resided principally in the country below the hills, fixing his capital at Nagpur, which he turned into a walled town. On Chand Sultan’s death in 1739, Wali Shah, an illegitimate son of Bakht Buland, usurped the throne and Chand Sultan’s widow invoked the aid of the Maratha leader Raghoji Bhonsale of Berar in the interest of her sons Akbar Shah and Burhan Shah. The usurper was put to death and the rightful heirs placed on the throne. After 1743, a series of Maratha rulers came to power, starting with Raghoji Bhonsale, who conquered the territories of Deogarh, Chanda and Chhattisgarh by 1751.
In 1803 Raghoji II Bhonsale joined the Peshwa against the British in the Second Anglo-Maratha War, but the British prevailed. After Raghoji II’s death in 1816, his son Parsaji was deposed and murdered by Mudhoji II Bhonsale. 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 suffered a defeat at Sitabuldi in present-day Nagpur city. The fierce battle was a turning point as it laid the foundations of the downfall of the Bhonsales and paved the way for the British acquisition of Nagpur city. Mudhoji was deposed after a temporary restoration to the throne, after which the British placed Raghoji III Bhonsale, the grandchild of Raghoji II, on the throne. During the rule of Raghoji III(which lasted till 1840), the region was administered by a British resident. In 1853, the British took control of Nagpur after Raghoji III died without leaving an heir.
From 1853 to 1861, the Nagpur Province (which consisted of the present Nagpur region, Chhindwara, and Chhatisgarh) became part of the Central Provinces and Berar and came under the administration of a commissioner under the British central government, with Nagpur as its capital. Berar was added in 1903. Tata group started the country’s first textile mill at Nagpur, formally known as Central India Spinning and Weaving Company Ltd. The company was popularly known as “Empress Mills” as it was inaugurated on 1 January 1877, the day queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India.