Initially people of Dravidian and Austroloid stock inhabited this region. Around two thousand five hundred years ago, it became an area of significant Jain activity. According to some, the last Tirthankar of Jain religion, Mahavira Vardhamana, used to live and work in the area. The district and headquarters town thus came to be known as Bardhaman. Some identify the spread of Jainism in West Bengal with the Aryanisation of the region. Evidence of major Jain activity exists in the Jain temples on Parasnath Hills a.k.a. Pareshnath Hill in neighbouring Jharkhand. There is an old Jain temple at Begunia on the bank of the Barakar river and temples in neighbouring Bankura district also bear evidence of major Jain activity in the region. There is a Jain Temple in Asansol devoted to Vasupujya,12th Tirthankara in Mehta Road in Durga mandir and a Jain Bhawan.
Later, the area was possibly part of the Vishnupur kingdom, where the Malla dynasty ruled for around a thousand years till the advent of the British. There is a Vishnupur style temple in Chhotodighari village providing a clue to its links with Vishnupur. The local dialect and culture of the region has closer affinities with those of Bankura and Vishnupur than the other neighbouring areas.