It is not possible to compile a connected history of the Yavatmal District. All that can be done is to follow the course of events connected with well-known historical sites in the district or near its borders.
Yavatmal, with the rest of Berar, must have formed part of the legendary kingdom of Vidarbha mentioned in the Mahabharata, with the eponymous capital of which Bidar in the Nizam’s Dominions has been identified; and legend identifies the village of Kelapur, which gives its name to one of the talukas of the District, with Kuntalapur, one of the cities of Vidarbha; but the identification of sites in this nebulous kingdom must always be a matter of pure conjecture. The name of the kingdom has, however, been preserved in its adjectival form Vaidarbha in the east of Kelapur and flows into the Penganga.
Berar formed part of the empire of Ashoka Maurya, who reigned from 272 to 231 B.C., but before the disruption of the Maurya empire seems to have regained independence under a local chieftain, for to wards the end of the reign of Pushyamitra Sungna, who has commanded the forces of Brihadratha, the last Maurya emperor, and having slain his master, had established an independent dynasty with its capital at Vidisa, the modern Bhilsa, Agnimitra, his son, found it necessary to make war on his neighbour, the Raja of Vidarbha. The latter was defeated, and the river Wardha was made the boundary between the two kingdoms. There is no indication of the dynasty to which this Raja of Vidarbha belonged, or of the extent of his dominious; but the incident is mentioned as one, which affected Eastern Berar in times, which, in the present state of our historical knowledge, may almost be terned, prehistoric.
Vakatakas & Other Hindu Kingdoms
It is unnecessary, in considering the history of the Yavatmal District, to trace the connection of the Andhras, Sakas, Pahlavas and Yavatmal with Berar; but it is practically certain that the District with most, it not the whole, of the rest of the Province, formed part of the dominious of the Vakataka dynasty. Of this line of kings little is known; but if their capital was, as has been conjectured, at Bhandak, a village near Chandrapur, the Yavatmal District was very near the seat of Government. A short incription in Cave XVI at Ajanta gives the names of seven members of the Vakataka family, and from other sources we know that ten Rajas, the names of all of whom, save one, have been handed down, ascended the throne. The first was Vindhyasakti, who has been variously placed in A.D.275, 400, and allowing 25 years as the average length of a reign, 575; but all of these dates are very uncertain.
The Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas have left no monuments in the District. In the latter half of the tenth century it was included in the kingdom of Vakpati II, Munja, the Paramara Raja of Malwa, whose dominions stretched southwards to the Godavari; but about 995 A.D., Taila II defeated and captured the Raja of Malwa, and Berar thus fell once more under the sway of the Chalukyas.
Towards the end of the twelfth century the Yadavas of Deorigi seized most of the northern districts of the Chalukya kingdom, but it may be doubted whether the whole, if any part, of the Yavatmal District was annexed by this dynasty. The eastern tracts were probably occupied by the Gonds, whose power in the neighborhood of Chandrapur seems to have waxed as that of the Chalukyas waned.
In 1853 the District was assigned, with the rest of Berar, to the East India Company. No disturbance took place within it limits during the Mutiny, and its history since that time has been uneventful, consisting merely of a record of steady progress.
Berar on its assignment, was divided into the two District of East and West Berar, with their headquarters at Amravati and Akola; and the Yavatmal District, with the exception of the Pusad taluka, was included in the former, but in 1864 the taluka of Yavatmal, Darwha, Kelapur, and Wani were formed into a District termed at first South east Berar, and afterwards Wani. The assignment terminated in 1903 when Berar was leased by the Nizam to the Government of India, and was transferred from the administration of the Resident at Hyderabad to that of the Central Provinces. In 1905, after the lease, the six Districts of Berar were reconstituted and Wani received from the Basim District, which was broken up, the taluka of Pusad. The designation of the District was at the same time changed from Wani to Yavatmal.
(Source – Yavatmal District Gazetteer)