Harda district, a part of Narmadapuram division is a district of Madhya Pradesh state with its administrative headquarters located at Harda town. The district got its name from the headquarters town i.e. Harda town. Like other districts this too has an interesting history. In the era of Mughal rulers, Harda was declared as a mahal in the Handia sarkar. In 1742, the place was captured by Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao and then he threw out the Muslim governor of the Handia sarkar. As a result, the place of Harda replaced Handia and emerged as the most significant town in the area since the local Maratha Amil (chief) resided here. Once Harda was also a part of the Scindia's territories. In 1801, Yashwantrao Holkar made a great destruction in Harda. After sometime, another devastation in Harda was made by the Pindaris and the Korku tribals. In the year 1817, when the Third Anglo-Maratha War was its peak point, Harda declared as the headquarters of John Malcolm's division. Then the area was ceded to the British in 1844 but very soon in 1860 the cession was completed. Then the Harda Nagar Palika was established on 18th May, 1867 and the Harda as a tehsil emerged in 1913. During the period of British rule, Handiya, a village situated at the western part of the Harda was a well known prosperous village. The British also tried their level best to give Harda a progressive direction. At that time the place of Harda was created by merging two notable villages namely Kul Harda and Mehmudabad. The introduction of the railway lines were laid to the fast development of the place, Harda. In those days, Harda was one of the largest places in the old 'Madhya Prant'. The Harda district came into existence in the year 1998.
Geographically, the district lies at 22°34'N latitude, 77°10'E longitude and 296 m Altitude. In the year 2021, there was a total 28.17% forest area of total geographical area. The district encompasses a geographical area of 3,334 sq km. and in terms of geographical area it occupies the ranks of 47th in the state and 369th in India. It is bounded by Sehore district on the North, Hoshangabad district on the North East, Betul district on the South East, Khandwa district on the South and West and Dewas district on the North West. The climate of the district remains normal throughout the year. Most of its rainfall occurs in the monsoon season. The actual rainfall in the district was 1032.4 mm in the year of 2021-22.
Administration wise, the district is divided into 6 tehsils namely Handiya, Harda, Khirkiya, Rehatgaon, Sirali and Timarni. There are 1 Lok Sabha seat and 2 assembly constituencies in the district. Moreover, the district comprises 6 sub-districts, 3 towns and 567 villages. The administrative language in the district is Hindi.
According to 2011 census the district has a population of 5,70,465 including 2,94,838 are males and 2,75,627 are females. The district has a sex ratio of 935 females for every 1000 males. During the year 2001-2011 the population growth rate in the district was 20.25% out of which 19.26% were males and 21.32% were females. The population density in the district is 171 persons per sq. km. In the year 2020 the number of live births in the district was 11,290 out of which 5,840 were males and 5,450 were females. In the same year the number of deaths in the district was 3,521 out of which 2,167 were males and 1,354 were females. As per 2011 census the major religion in the district is Hindu with 92.46% of the total population.According to 2011 census the principal language in the district is Hindi with 90.30%.
The economy of the district is mainly dependent on agriculture. More than half of its population are engaged in agriculture in order to earn their livelihood. Most of the lands in the district are use for agricultural purposes. The chief agricultural products in the district are paddy, maize, different types of pulses, soybean, groundnut, cotton, etc. The adoption of the new agricultural technologies amongst the farmers of the district helps to increase the production of various agricultural items. The industrial growth in the district is insufficient. The district is famous for the teak wood forests. So, sometime its economy is as well based on forestry. In the year 2019-20 the gross domestic product in the district was Rs. 7,10,605 lakhs at current price and Rs. 4,18,067 lakhs at constant prices in the year 2011-2012. The net domestic product in the district during the period 2019-20 was Rs. 6,60,739 lakh at current price and Rs. 3,79,402 lakh at constant prices in the year 2011-2012. The Per Capita Income or NDDP, At Factor Cost during the period 2019-20 was Rs. 1,01,474 at current price and Rs. 58,267 at constant prices in the year 2011-2012.
The district is an abode of several reputed educational institutions. It provides a platform for higher education. Some of its recognised educational institutions are Harda Degree College, Lal Bahadur Shastri College, Govt. Polytechnic College, Govt. Excellence School, St. Mary's School, Harda School of Educatiion, Saraswati Vidya Mandir, Sunflower H.S. School, Narmada Vidhya Mandir, Holy faith higher sec. School, Sanskar vidyapeeth, etc. As per 2011 census the literacy rate in the district is 72.5% including 81.14% are males and 63.27% are females.
Kamal Patel, an eminent Indian politician and four times elected MLA from Harda constituency i.e. in 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2008 was born on 6th October, 1961 at Ratatalai village in the Harda district. He is a member of Bhartiya Janta Party.
The district has several centres of attraction which allures numerous travellers from different parts o the country as well world. Nemawar, popularly known as Handia is a famous pilgrimage spot situated at a distance of 20 km. from the Harda town. The renowned Narmada River flows through the district have the nabhi kund meaning the centre of Narmada River. The place also consists of many ancient temples devoted to Lord Shiva. Natives of the place believe that there is a temple, built in a single night during the period of Mahabharata. Charuwa, a place in the district is full of mesmerising natural sceneries. It also has a beautiful temple of Lord Shiva and a small but wonderful waterfall. Sirali, a place located about 35 km. away from the Harda town has the illustrious Sai temple. Pilgrims from far off places comes to this temple to offer their prayers. Salakanpur, situated at a distance of 95 km. from Harda has a temple of Salkanpur wali Devi, recognised as one of the most pious places in the district. More than thousands of people visit this place every day climbing more than 1000 steps. Some other important temples in the district are Gayatri Shakti Peeth, Mahalaxmi Mandir, Shree Gupteshwar Mandir, Laxmi Narayan Bada Mandir, Siddhi Vinayak Mandir and many more.