Madhya Pradesh occupies perhaps the oldest part of the subcontinent. Close to
Bhopal at Bhimbetka are the pre-historic caves that preserve some fascinating
paintings dating back to Paleolithic times. In Gupta period, the whole region
came under the domain of the imperial Guptas and subsequently formed part of
Harshvardhan's empire. With the decline in imperial power the province was
broken up into small principalities contending forever to establish their
supremacy over one another. Chandels were one such dynasty claiming descent from
the moon, who carved out a strong prosperous kingdom for themselves after the
decline of the great empire. Chandels were followed by Pratihara and Gaharwar
Rajput dynasties claiming mythical origins relating their scions to the gods or
heroes in the epics. Rulers of Malwa fought a running battle with the subedars
of Gujarat or the commanders of the Sultan of Delhi throughout the sultanate
period. The grand Moghul Akbar succeeded in subduing most of them and his
sterner grandson Aurangzeb broke through the last pockets of resistance in this
Many of the smaller kingdoms trace their origins to the lands granted by the emperor at Delhi to those who had served him well. Marathas also ruled this region for sometime.
In course of time the Marathas were replaced by the British who entered into treaty relationships with these princely states. Independence of India was followed by the merger of hundreds of princely states into the union, with the foundation of the Republic on 26 January 1950. The boundaries were rationalized with reorganisation of states and Madhya Pradesh assumed its present face.