Kalahandi District had a glorious past and great civilization in ancient time. Archaeological record of Tel valley reveals the presence of the primates in its various zones during the Pleistocene phase. The discovered archaeological wealth of Tel Valley suggest a well civilized, urbanized, cultured people inhabited on this land mass around 2000 years ago and Asurgarh was its capital. Kalahandi District along with Koraput and Bastar was part of Kantara referred in Ramayana and Mahabharata.
In 4th century B.C. Kalahandi District was known as Indravana from where precious gem-stones and diamond were collected for the imperial Maurya treasury. During this period Vyaghraraja was ruling over Mahakantara comprising Kalahandi, undivided Koraput and Bastar region. After Vyaghraraja, the Nala kings like Bhavadatta Varman, Arthapati and Skanda Varman ruled over south part of Kalahandi District up to about 500 A.D. Rest of Mahakantara, lower part of Tel river valley was ruled by king Tastikara and his scions.
In the 6th century A.D. a new kingdom came into existence in the Kalahandi District under King Tustikara. Maraguda valley was identified as capital of Sarabapuriyas. During Sarabapuriyas in 6th century A.D. Kalahandi District lost its political entities and merged with eastern part of South Kosal or Kosal. But this was also for a short period as in succeeding phase it assumed a distinct name Trikalinga. By 9th and 10th century A.D. the Kalahandi District including Western Odisha, Koraput District and Bastar region was known as Trikalinga. Nagas started ruling Kalahandi District since 1006 AD.
After 14th century Nagas owed allegiance from Eastern Gangas to the Suryavamsi Gajapatis. This territory assumed independence after the downfall of the Gajapatis of Odisha in 1568 AD. According to tradition the Kalahandi kingdom commanded sovereign power over eighteen garhs. It was occupied by the Bhonslas of Nagpur in the middle of the 18th century AD but still it was a Gadajat under Nagas rule. In 1853 AD the Nagpur state lapsed to the British Crown as Raghujee III died without an heir. Then Kalahandi District became a princely state under British and was known as Karonda Mandal.
After Indian independence, Kalahandi District joined with the Union of India on January 1, 1948. On November 1, 1949, Patna Balangir District and Subarnapur District together constituted a separate District and the Nuapada sub-division of Sambalpur was added to the Kalahandi District. In 1967, Kashipur block of Kalahandi District was transferred to Rayagada division for administrative purpose.