Isolated remains of Homo erectus found at Hathanora in the Narmada basin indicate that the Madhya region may have been inhabited during the Middle Pleistocene era.  Colored pottery from the later medieval period has been found in the Bhimbetka rock shelter. Chalcolithic sites belonging to Kayatha culture (2100-1800 BCE) and Malwa culture (1700-1500 BCE) have been discovered in the western part of the state. Madhya Pradesh is the ninth most populous subnational entity in the world.
In the second wave of Indian civilization in the sixth century BC, the city of Ujjain emerged as a major center in the region. It serves as the capital of the state of Avanti. Other kingdoms mentioned in the ancient epics – Malava, Karusha, Dasarna and Nishada – have also been identified with parts of Madhya Pradesh.
Chandragupta Maurya united northern India around 320 BCE, establishing the Maurya Empire, which included modern-day Madhya Pradesh. Ashoka, the greatest of the Mauryan rulers, brought the region under firmer control. After the decline of the Mauryan Empire, the region was fought over by the Shakas, Kushans, Satavahanas and several local dynasties between the 1st and 3rd centuries AD. Heliodorus, the Greek ambassador to the court of the Shunga king Bhagabhadra, erected the Pillar of Heliodorus near Vidisha.
From the first century onwards, Ujjain emerged as a major commercial center in western India, located on the trade routes between the Gangetic Plain and the Arabian Sea ports of India. The Satavahana dynasty of northern Deccan and the Shaka dynasty of western satraps fought for control of Madhya Pradesh from the 1st to 3rd centuries AD.
The Satavahana king Gautamiputra Satakarni defeated the Saka rulers and conquered Malwa and parts of Gujarat in the 2nd century AD.
Subsequently, the region came under the control of the Gupta Empire and their southern neighbors, the Vakatakas, in the 4th and 5th centuries. Rock-cut temples at Bagh Caves in Kukshi tehsil of Dhar district attest to the presence of the Gupta dynasty in the region, supported by evidence from the Badwani inscription of 487 CE.
Attacks by the Hephthalites or White Huns led to the destruction of the Gupta Empire, which was divided into smaller kingdoms. King Yasodharman of Malwa defeated the Huns in 528 and ended their expansion. Later, Harsha (c. 590–647) ruled the northern parts of the kingdom _ Malwa was ruled by the South Indian Rashtrakuta dynasty from the late 8th century to the 10th century. When Govinda III, the South Indian emperor of the Rashtrakuta dynasty, conquered Malwa, he established a family of his subordinates named Parmar. 
In medieval times
Rajput clans emerged, including the Parmars of Malwa and the Chandelas of Bundelkhand. The Chandelas built magnificent Hindu-Jain temples at Khajuraho, which represent the culmination of Hindu temple architecture in Central India. The Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty also had influence in North and West Madhya Pradesh at this time. Gwalior also left some monuments of architectural value.
The southern parts of Madhya Pradesh like Malwa were invaded several times by the South Indian Western Chalukya Empire which imposed its rule on the Paramara kingdom of Malwa. Parmar Rajabhoj (c. 1010-1060) was a noted polymath. Small Gond kingdoms emerged in the Gondwana and Mahakoshal regions of the state. Northern Madhya Pradesh was conquered by the Turkic Delhi Sultanate in the 13th century.
After the fall of the Delhi Sultanate at the end of the 14th century, independent regional kingdoms re-emerged, including the Tomara Kingdom of Gwalior and the Muslim Sultanate of Malwa, with their capital at Mandu.
In 1531 Gujarat Sultanate conquered Malwa Sultanate. In 1540, most of the kingdom fell to Sher Shah Suri and then to the Hindu king Hemu. Hemu, who had previously served as a general of the Suri dynasty, operated from the Gwalior fort between 1553–56 and became the ruler of Delhi as Vikramaditya Raja, winning 22 consecutive battles from Bengal to Gujarat and defeating Akbar’s army in the Battle of Delhi. On 7 October 1556.
However, after the formal coronation, he chose Delhi as his capital and left Gwalior. After Hemu was defeated by Akbar in the Second Battle of Panipat in 1556, most of Madhya Pradesh came under the kingdom.Mughal rule. Gondwana and Mahakosala remained under the control of the Gond kings, who acknowledged Mughal suzerainty but enjoyed virtual autonomy.
After the death of Emperor Aurangzeb in 1707, Mughal control weakened considerably. Between 1720 and 1760, the Marathas occupied most of Madhya Pradesh, resulting in the establishment of semi-autonomous states under the nominal control of the Peshwas of Pune.
Holkar Indore ruled most of Malwa, Dewas and Dhar were ruled by the Pawars, the Mahakoshal-Gondwana area was dominated by the Bhonslas of Nagpur, while the Scindias of Gwalior controlled the northern parts of the state. Mahadji Shinde, Ahilyabai Holkar and Yashwantrao Holkar were the most notable Maratha rulers of the region.
Besides, there were many other small states including Bhopal, Orchha and Rewa. The state of Bhopal, which paid tribute to both the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad, was founded by Dost Mohammad Khan, a former general in the Mughal army.
After the war, the British took control of the entire region. All the sovereign states of this region became princely states of British India governed by the Central India Agency. The Mahakoshala region became a British province: Saugor and the Nerbudda region. In 1861, the British merged Nagpur Province with Saugor and Nerbudda Provinces to form Madhya Province.
During the uprising of 1857, rebellion broke out in the northern part of the state under the leadership of leaders like Tatya Tope. However, these were crushed by the British and the princes loyal to them. The state witnessed many anti-British activities and protests during the Indian independence movement.
Many notable leaders like Chandrasekhar Azad, BR Ambedkar, Shankar Dayal Sharma, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Arjun Singh were born in what is now Madhya Pradesh.
After India’s independence, Madhya Pradesh was created in 1950 from the erstwhile British Central Provinces and the princely states of Berar and Makrai and Chhattisgarh, with Nagpur as the state capital.
The new states of Madhya Bharat, Vindhya Pradesh and Bhopal were created out of the Central India Agency. In 1956, the states of Madhya Bharat, Vindhya Pradesh and Bhopal were merged into Madhya Pradesh and Marathi-speaking southern Vidarbha, which included Nagpur, was given to Bombay State.
Jabalpur was chosen as the capital of the state but due to last minute political interference, Bhopal was made the state capital. In November 2000, as part of the Madhya Pradesh Reorganization Act, the southeastern part of the state was separated to form the new state of Chhattisgarh.
Three sites in Madhya Pradesh have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO: the Khajuraho Group of Monuments (1986), including Devi Jagdambi Temple, Khajuraho, Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (1989) and Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (2003). Other architecturally significant or scenic places include Ajaygarh, Amarkantak, Asirgarh, Bandhavgarh, Bawanagaja, Bhopal, Vidisha, Chanderi, Chitrakut, Dhar, Gwalior, Indore, Nemawar, Jabalpur, Burhanpur, Maheshwar, Mandalashwar, Mandu, Omkareshwar, Orchha, Pachmarhi, Shivpuri, Sonagiri, Mandla and Ujjain.
Madhya Pradesh is famous for classical and folk music. Some of the famous Hindustani classical music families of Madhya Pradesh include Maihar Gharana, Gwalior Gharana and Senia Gharana.
Two prominent singers of medieval India, Tansen and Baiju Bawra, were born near Gwalior in present-day Madhya Pradesh. Noted dhrupad players Aminuddin Dagar (Indore), Gundecha Brothers (Ujjain) and Uday Bhavalkar (Ujjain) were also born in what is now Madhya Pradesh.
Famous classical singer Kumar Gandharva spent his life in Dewas. Famous playback singers Kishore Kumar (Khandwa) and Lata Mangeshkar (Indore) and singer and composer Adesh Srivastava (Jabalpur) are also birthplaces in Madhya Pradesh.
Local styles of folk singing include Phaga, Bharathari, Sanja Geet, Bhopa, Kalbeliya, Bhat/Bhand/Charan, Vasdev, Videsiya, Kalgi Tura, Nirguniya, Alha, Pandavani singing and Garba Garbi Govalan.
The major folk dances of MP are Rai, Karma, Saila, Matki, Gangaur, Gadhai, Baredi, Naurata, Ahiri and Bhagoria.
Art and Architecture
Ancient temples, forts and cave works reflect the rich history of Madhya Pradesh. At the foothills of the Vindhya Range, prehistoric paintings dating back to around 10,000 BC adorn its walls.
Bhimbetka Rock Shelter (designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003). In the west-central region, one of the state’s oldest historical structures is a stupa (Buddhist hill forming a memorial temple) near Sanchi, Vidisha.
Originally built by Emperor Ashoka of India between 265 and 238 BC, the stupa was expanded by the Shunga kings who ruled the region during the 2nd and 1st centuries AD.
Remains of another stupa dated to about 175 BC have been excavated, near Satna, and are now housed in the Indian Museum, Calcutta; The particular descriptive style found on this stupa is known as Bharhut sculpture.
Some of the most remarkable ancient artefacts of Madhya Pradesh are found in caves. The Bagh Caves, near the town of Mahu in the southwest, are decorated with paintings on Buddhist themes that date back to about the 5th century.
Dating from about the same period (4th to 7th century) are the Udayagiri Caves (Brahminical and Jain monasteries), near Vidisha, which exhibit similar artefacts and rock-cut architecture as the well-known Udayagiri Caves in the neighboring state of Orissa.
The Khajuraho temples in North Madhya Pradesh are famous for their sensual art; It was built by the Chandela kings, who ruled the region from the early 9th century to the mid-11th century.
The 14th- and 15th-century palaces and mosques at Mandu, near the western city of Dhar, and the fort of Gwalior—perhaps the most impressive of the former princely residences of Madhya Pradesh—are notable architectural achievements.
Many traditions of the tribal people of Madhya Pradesh have remained strong and a great deal of local mythology and folklore has been preserved. The Pardhans (bards of the Dagond community) continue to sing of the legendary deeds of Lingo-Pen, the legendary progenitor of the Gond people.
Dapandvani is the Gond equivalent of the Mahabharata (one of the two great Hindu epics), Taralchmanjati Akhyayika is the Gond equivalent of the Ramayana (the other great Hindu epic). All tribes have legends and myths about their origins.
Some songs are associated with the celebration of specific life events such as births and marriages, while others accompany various dance styles. Folklore, riddles and proverbs are other components of the state’s rich oral-traditional heritage.