Jaina Bhagavati-Sutra of circa 5th century A.D. mentions that Purulia was one of the 16 Mahajanapadas and was a part of the country known as Vajra-bhumi in ancient times. However, little is known about Purulia before the East-India Company obtained the 'Diwani' of Bengal, Bihar, Orissa in 1765. By Regulation XVIIII of 1805, a Jungle Mahals district composed of 23 parganas and mahals including the present Purulia (known as 'Purulia' those days) was formed. By Regulation XIII of 1833 the Jungle Mahals district was broken up and a new district called Manbhum was constituted with headquarters at Manbazar. The district was very large in size and included parts of Bankura, Burdwan of present West Bengal and Dhanbad, Dhalbhum, Saraikela and Kharswan of present states of Jharkhand and Orissa. In 1838 the district headquarters was transferred to Purulia of today. Since the formation of the district it was withdrawn from regular administration and placed under an officer called Principal Assistant to the agent to the Governor-General for South-Western Frontier. The title of the officer Principal Agent was later changed to Deputy Commissioner by Act XX of 1854. Finally in 1956 Manbhum district was partitioned between Bihar and West Bengal under the States Reorganization Act and the Bihar and West Bengal (Transfer of Territories) Act 1956 and the present district Purulia was born on 1st November, 1956.
Purulia is the westernmost district of West Bengal with all-India significance because of its tropical location, its shape as well as function like a funnel. It funnels not only the tropical monsoon current from the Bay to the subtropical parts of north-west India, but also acts as a gateway between the developed industrial belts of West Bengal and the hinterlands in Orissa, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarpradesh. For its convenient location, this place has acquired an important place in the tourist map in India.