The history of the city dates back to the 12th century AD when the Hada, a Chauhan Rajput chieftain, Rao Deva, conquered the territory and founded Bundi and Hadoti. Later, in the early 17th century, during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir, the ruler of Bundi - Rao Ratan Singh, gave the smaller principality of Kota to his son, Madho Singh. Since then Kota became a hallmark of the Rajput gallantry and culture.

The independent state of Kota became a reality in 1631 when Rao Madho Singhal, the second son of Rao Ratan of Bundi was made the ruler, by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. Soon Kota outgrew its parent state to become bigger in area, richer in revenue and more powerful. Maharao Bhim Singh played a pivotal role in Kota's history, having held a 'Mansab' of five thousand and being the first in his dynasty to have the title of Maharao. During colonial period firebrand social activist Guru Radha Kishan organised the masses against the policies of the government. He left Kota after local administration came to know about the arrest warrant issued against him for his participation in Indian Independence activities.