Umaria district is located to the North East of Madhya Pradesh. Mathematically the coordinates of the District extend from 23o38' to 24o20' North and 80o28' to 82o12' East. It has geographical area of 4548 The greatest length of the district is about 150 km. from north to south and the greatest width is about 60km from east to west. The population of the district on the basis of 2001 census is 515963. Out of which about 83% population resides in rural areas.

The district has extensive forests. About 42% of the total area is covered by forests only. The District is rich in minerals. The most important mineral found in the district is coal and as a result 8 mines are being operated by South Eastern Coalfield Limited in the district.

The famous Bandhavgarh National Park (Tala) and Sanjay Gandhi Thermal Power Station Mangthar (Pali) are located in the district.

Umaria was formerly the headquarters of the South Rewa District and thereafter the headquarters town of the Bandhavgarh tehsil. It is situated at a distance of about 69 Km. from Shahdol, the parent district. Metalled roads connect the town with Katni, Rewa Shahdol etc., on which regular buses ply. Umaria is also a railway station on the Katni-Bilaspur section of the South-Eastern Railway.
The state of Rewa owes its origins to the foundation of a state dating to 1234 by Vyaghra Dev, a descendant of the Vaghelas of Gujarat. He married the daughter of the Raja of Pirhawan and conquered the territory between Kalpi and Chandalgarh. Karan Dev, son of Vyaghra Dev married the daughter of the Raja of Ratanpur, bringing Bandhogarh (now known as Bandhavgarh) into the family as her dowry. The legendary fortress of Bandhogarh fell into Mughal hands in 1597, almost by accident. At the death of H.H. Maharaja Virbhadra Rao in 1593, his minor son succeeded as H.H. Maharaja Vikramaditya. When he was sent to Delhi for his own safety, the emperor took advantage of his absence to send one of his loyal nobles as temporary governor. Once he had taken control of the fort, the Maharaja’s nobles and officials were expelled and the fort annexed by the Mughals. On his return to his remaining domains, H.H. Maharaja Vikramaditya was forced to establish a new capital at Rewa, whence the state took its name.

The history of the region can be traced back to the 1st century. There are 39 caves in the Bandhavgarh fort and in the surrounding hillocks up to a radius of about 5 km. The oldest cave dates from the 1st century. Several caves carry inscriptions in Brahmi script. Some caves have embossed figures such as tigers, pigs, elephants and horsemen. Badi gufa, the largest cave, has a broad entrance, nine small rooms and several pillars. It has been dated back to the 10th century. The cave appears to be primitive, lacking the elaborate statues and carvings seen in the caves of the Buddhist period. Its purpose remains a mystery.

No records are available to show when Bandhavgarh fort was constructed. However, it is thought to be some 2000 years old, and there are references to it in the ancient books, the “Narad-Panch Ratra” and the “Shiva Purana”. Various dynasties have ruled the fort; including the Mauryans from the 3rd century BC, Vakataka rulers from the 3rd to the 5th century the Sengars from the 5th century and the Kalachuris from the 10th century. In the 13th century, the Baghels took over, ruling from Bandhavgarh until 1617, when Maharaja Vikramaditya Singh moved his capital to Rewa. The last inhabitants deserted the fort in 1935.

Bandhagarh National Park is a park with a rich historical past. Prior to becoming a national park, the forests around Bandhavgarh had long been maintained as a Shikargah, or game preserve, of the Maharajas and their guests.

In 1947 Rewa State was merged with Madhya Pradesh; Bandhavgarh came under the regulations of Madhya Pradesh. The Maharaja of Rewa still retained the hunting rights. No special conservation measures were taken until 1968, when the areas were constituted as a national park. Since then, numerous steps have been taken to retain Bandhavgarh National Park as an unspoilt natural habitat.

Project Tiger was constituted in 1972 and then the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 came into force. It was realized that protection of just the 105 km² of prime Bandhavgarh habitat was not enough, so in 1982, three more ranges, namely Khitauli, Magdhi and Kallawah were added to Tala range (the original Bandhavgarh National Park) to extend the area of Bandhavgarh to 448 km². As Project tiger extended its activities and area of influence, Bandhavgarh was taken into its folds in 1993, and a core area of 694 km² was established including the previously named ranges and the Panpatha Sanctuary along with a buffer area of 437 km² which was declared as the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve.