The history of Kalahandi goes back to the primitive period where a well-civilized, urbanized, and cultured people inhabited this land mass around 2000 years ago. The world's largest celt of Stone Age and the largest cemetery of the megalithic age have been discovered in Kalahandi. This shows the region had a civilized culture since the pre-historic era. Asurgarh near Narla in Kalahandi was one of the oldest metropolises in Odisha whereas the other one was Sisupalgarh near Bhubaneswar. Some other historical forts in the region includes Budhigarh (ancient period), Amthagarh (ancient period), Belkhandi (ancient to medieval period) and Dadpur-Jajjaldeypur (medieval period). This land was unconquered by the great Ashoka, who fought the great Kalinga War, as per Ashokan record. In medieval period the region had played a prominent role to link South India, Eastern India and Central India region and witnessed the battle ground for Somavamsi, Chola, Kalachuris of Kalyani and Eastern Ganga dynasty. Kalahandi region was the main route for Chola to attack Subarnapur.
The history of Kalahandi is rich in terms of contribution towards the Indian culture and temple architecture. Temple of Goddess Stambeswari at Asurgarh, built during 500 AD, is a perfect example where the first brick Temple in Eastern India was built. Sanskritization in Odisha was first started from Kalahandi, Koraput region, ancient Mahakantara region. Earliest flat-roofed stone temple of Odisha was built at Mohangiri in Kalahandi during 600 AD. Temple architecture achieved perfection at Belkhandi in Kalahandi and then traversed to Ekamra, present Bhubaneswar, along with the political expansion of the Somavamsis during the 1000–1100 AD.
After Indian independence, Kalahandi joined with the Union of India on 1 January 1948. On 1 November 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. In 1993, Nuapada sub-division was carved out as a separate district, but Kalahandi (Lok Sabha constituency) continues to constitute present Kalahandi district and Nuapada district together. Kalahandi was famous for gemstone (Karonda Mandal), rich agriculture- and forest-based economy. During Bengal famine Kalahandi alone had sent 100,000 tons of rice. During the 1930s princely state of Kalahandi had proposed to build Upper Indravati Project but subsequent merger of princely state with India delayed the project. It got approved in 1978 and yet to be fully completed.
The Kalahandi-Nuapada Judgeship was separated from Bolangir-Kalahandi Judgeship on 28.02.1982 and started functioning w.e.f 28.02.1982.
Further Nuapada Judgeship was separated from Kalahandi-Nuapada Judgeship on 07.07.2012.