Traditionally the area is mentioned as Dandakaranya in the epic Ramayana, and part of the Kosala Kingdom in the Mahabharata. Around 450 AD, Bastar state was ruled by Nala King, Bhavadatta Varman, who is mentioned to have invaded the neighboring Vakataka kingdom, during the reign of its King, Narendrasena (440-460)
The princely state of Bastar was established around 1324 AD, when Annama Deva, brother of the last Kakatiya King, Pratapa Rudra Deva (r. 1290-1325), left Warangal and established his kingdom at Bastar under the tutelage of local goddess, 'Dantheshwari', who still is the tutelary deity of Bastar region, her famous Dantheshwari Temple stands today at Danthewada, also named after her.
Annama Deva ruled till 1369 when he was followed successively by Hamir Deva (r. 1369-1410), Bhaitai Deva (1410–1468), Purushottama Deva (1468–1534) and Pratapa Raja Deva (1602–1625) after which the Bastar branch of the dynasty became extinct in the third generation with Dikpala Deva (1680–1709), after which a descendant of the younger brother of Prataparaja Deva, Rajapala Deva became the next King in 1709. Rajapala Deva had two wives, first a Baghela Princess, married, who had a son, Dakhin Singh, secondly, a Chandela Princess, who has two sons, Dalapati Deva and Pratap.Trouble however struck again when after the death of Rajapala Deva in 1721, the elder queen ousted other claimants and placed her brother on the throne of Bastar, Dalapati Deva took refuge in the neighboring kingdom of Jeypore and finally regained his throne a decade later in 1731.
Its capital was Jagdalpur, where Bastar royal palace built by its ruler, when its capital was shifted here from old capital Bastar. Later at some point in the 15th century Bastar was divided into two kingdoms, one based in Kanker and the other ruled from Jagdalpur. The present Halba Tribe claims to descend from the military class of these kingdoms.
Until the rise of the Marathas, the state remained fairly independent until 18th century. In 1861, Bastar became part of the newly formed Central Provinces and Barer, and in 1863, after years of feud, over the Kotapad region, it was given over to the neighboring Jeypore state in 1863, on the condition of payment of tribute of Rs. 3,000, two-thirds of which sum was remitted from the amount payable by Bastar. By virtue of this arrangement the tribute of Bastar was, reduced to a nominal amount.
Pravir Chandra Bhanj Deo (1929–1966), the 20th and the last ruling head of the Bastar state, ascended the throne in 1936, before it acceded to India in 1948 during the political integration of India.
Maharaja pravir Chandra Bhanj Deo was immensely popular among the tribal. He was shot dead in a "police action" in 25 March 1966 while leading a tribal movement in Bastar. He was executed on the steps of his own Palace in Jagdalpur. Scores of other tribes and courtiers too were murdered by the police.
A number of tribes started migrating to Andhra to escape the brutalities of police in connivance with the outsider-settlers who viewed the tribal lands green eyed. Due to the continued Police brutalities and Sociocultural harassment by the settlers, the migration gained pace and there has been a gradual reduction in the tribal and native populations as a percentage of the total population.