Early history of the present-day district area is obscure. According to a legend, the area was part of "Mahakautar", a barrier of dense forests and hills separating North India from South India. 10th century CE onwards, names of Rajput rulers (including Bhoja) Malwa appear in the historical records. The number of Muslims rose after invasions by the Delhi Sultanate under Iltutmish. In 1401, Dilawar Khan Ghori (father of Hoshang Shah) took control of the territory, ruling from Dhar.
In the 14th century, a Gond warrior Yadoram established a kingdom headquartered at Garh-Mandla. At the time of Mughal invasion of Malwa in 1561, the area was subdivided into territories known as chaklas. The present-day Bhopal district was part of the Ginnor chakla, which comprised 750 villages. The Gond warlord Nizam Shah controlled these villages from his fort of Ginnorgarh. After his death, the Afghan mercenary Dost Mohammad Khan managed the state's affairs on behalf of his widow Kamlapati. After her death, Khan usurped the territory, and acquired neighbouring territories to establish the Bhopal princely state. He founded the town of Islamnagar, and also established the modern city of Bhopal. His son Yar Mohammad Khan paid tribute to the Marathas. After his death, there was a war of secession between Sultan Mohammad Khan and Faiz Mohammad Khan, during which the Nawabs of Bhopal had to cede some territories to the Marathas. Faiz was a religious recluse, and his step-mother Mamola Bai effectively ruled the state on his behalf. His successors maintained good relations with the East India Company, which eventually came to rule India.
After the States Reorganisation Act of 1956, Bhopal state was integrated into the Sehore district of the newly formed state of Madhya Pradesh. The Bhopal city was declared as the capital of Madhya Pradesh. On 13 September 1972, the Government of Madhya Pradesh announced that Bhopal would be made a separate district. The Bhopal district was officially carved out of the Sehore district on 2 October 1972.
The district has an area of 2,772 km². According to the provisional data of the 2011 census, population of the district is 23,68,145 (12,39,378 males and 11,28,767 females) with a sex ratio of 911 females per 1000 males. Population density is 854/km² Total literacy rate is 82.3% (male 87.4% and female 76.6%).