One of the earlier names of Nagpur was “Fanindrapura”. It derives its origin from the ‘Fana’ or hood of a cobra. In fact, Nagpur’s first newspaper was named ‘Fanindramani’, which means a jewel that is believed to be suspended over a cobra’s hood. It is this jewel that lights up the darkness, hence the name of the newspaper. The river Nag flows through the city. B. R. Ambedkar claimed that both the city and the river are named after “Nag people”. The word “pur” means “city” in many Indian languages. During British rule, the name of the city was spelt and pronounced as “Nagpore”.
Early and medieval history
In the 18th century, this city was created by leader of Gond Dynasty named Bakht Buland Shah in the first half of the century. 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 Rastrakuta king 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, the Rashtrakutas, 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 during Mughal era, regional administration was carried out by the Gond kingdom of Deogarh-Nagpur in the Chhindwara district of the modern-day state of Madhya Pradesh. In the 18th, century Bhonsles of the Maratha Empire established the Nagpur Kingdom based in the city.
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.
Nagpur was burnt substantially in 1765 and again partially in 1811 by marauding Pindaris. However, the development of city of Nagpur continued. 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.
Nagpur Province (which consisted of the present Nagpur region, Chhindwara, and Chhattisgarh) 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. The advent of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIP) in 1867 spurred its development as a trade centre 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.
The non-co-operation movement was launched in the Nagpur session of 1920. The city witnessed a Hindu–Muslim riot in 1923 which had profound impact on K. B. Hedgewar, who in 1925 founded the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh(RSS), a Hindu nationalist organisation in Nagpur with an idea of creating a Hindu nation. After the 1927 Nagpur riots RSS gained further popularity in Nagpur and the organisation grew nationwide.
After Indian independence
After Indian Independence in 1947, Central Provinces and Berar became a province of India and in 1950 became the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, again with Nagpur as its capital. When the Indian states were re-organised along the linguistic lines in 1956, Nagpur and Berar regions were transferred to Bombay state, which in 1960 was split between the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. At a formal public ceremony on 14 October 1956 in Nagpur B. R. Ambedkar with his supporters converted to Buddhism starting Dalit Buddhist movement which is still active. In 1994, the city witnessed its most violent day in modern times in form of the Gowari stampede deaths.
Nagpur completed 300 years of establishment in the year 2002. A big celebration was organised to mark the event.