The Banswara district forms eastern part of the region known as Vagad or Vagwar. The district was formerly a princely state ruled by the Maharavals. It is said that a Bhil ruler Bansia ruled over it and Banswara was named after his name. Bansia was defeated and killed by Jagmal Singh who became the first Maharaval of the princely state.
It is also named so because of the bamboos (Bans) which were found in abundance in the forests. In 1913 some bhils revolted under the headship of a social reformer Govindgiri and Punja which was suppressed in November, 1913. Hundreds of Bhils were shot dead at the Mangarh hillock where they were holding a peaceful meeting. The event is also known as the Mini Jalianwala Bagh massacre. The place has become sacred and is better known as the Mangarh Dham.
With the merger of the princely states in the Union of India, the Banswara State and Kushalgarh chiefship got merged in the Greater Rajasthan in 1949 and Banswara was carved out as a separate district by merging these principalities.