Panna was a Gond settlement until the 13th century. When the Gondi were defeated by the Chandelas they migrated to other parts of Madhya Pradesh. Until that date, there were many rulers of the area. The famous mandir of Padmavatipuri Dham, adorned with divine lustre, is located in Panna town at the centre of Vindhyachal in Madhya Pradesh. The itinerant sage Mahamati Prannath and his disciples reached Panna with a divine message of awakening one’s soul. Seeing a desert island, he decided to unfurl the flag of Jagani there. He helped the king Chhatrasal and adorned him with the title of Maharaja. He remained there for eleven years, and took samadhi inside the dome. The place, therefore, is known as the seat of salvation [Muktipitha] or Padmavatipuri Dham.
Panna was the capital of Chhatar Sal, the Bundela Rajput leader who led a revolt against the Mughal Empire. Upon his death in 1732, his kingdom was divided among his sons, with one-third of the kingdom going to his ally, the MarathaPeshwa Baji Rao I.
The Kingdom of Panna went to Harde Sah, the eldest son of Chhatar Sal. In the early 19th century, Panna became a princely state of British India, and gained control states of the states of Nagod and Sohawal. Raja Nirpat Singh assisted the British in the Revolt of 1857, and the British rewarded him with the title maharaja. Maharaja Mahendra Yadvendra Singh acceded to the Government of India on January 1, 1950, and the kingdom became Panna District of the new Indian state of Vindhya Pradesh. Vindhya Pradesh was merged into Madhya Pradesh on November 1, 1956.
Panna has a tiger reserve which is called Panna National Park. The sightings of tigers in Panna have fallen over recent years, and official tiger population figures were disputed by naturalists. There were plans to relocate two tigresses to Panna in 2009, which actually happened, but the last male tiger meanwhile disappeared. A male tiger was relocated there. One of the relocated tigresses gave birth to three cubs in 2010. The reserve is home to a wide variety of other animals, many of which can be seen at closer quarters than in other reserves, because Panna has fewer visitors. There are jungle lodges and hotels near the reserve, it can also be reached from Khajuraho. Raneh fall and Pandav fall are also famous visiting spots of tourists during monsoon.
A large group of diamond deposits extends North-East on a branch of the Vindhya Range for 150 miles (240 km) or so, and is known as the Panna group. They do not cover an area of more than 20 acres (81,000 m2). Great pits, 25 feet (7.6 m) in diameter and, perhaps, 30 feet (9.1 m) in depth, are dug for the sake of reaching the diamond conglomerate, which, in many cases, was only a very thin layer. According to Valentine Ball, who edited the 1676 ‘Travels in India’ of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, Tieffenthaler was the first European to visit the mines in 1765 and claimed that the Panna diamonds could not compare in hardness and fire with other locations in India. No really large diamonds have come from this area. The most productive mines were in the 1860s and were found in Sakaria, around 20 miles (32 km) from Panna. Four classifications were given to the Panna diamonds: first, Motichul, clear and brilliant; 2nd, Manik, with a faint orange tint; 3rd, Panna, verging in tint towards green; 4th, Bunsput, sepia coloured. Mines is situated in the interior of Panna district. Diamond mines in Panna are managed by the Government of India. In other mines every year the land is leased to prospective miners by the government agency. The diamonds unearthed are collected by the district magistrate of Panna and are then auctioned in the month of January. Auctions are open to the public and upwards of 100 diamonds of different carat and shade are offered for auction.