Sironj was ruled by the Nawabs of the Tonk province in Rajasthan till 1956 AD. It was a part of the Malwa region, lying beside the Bundelkhand region. Earlier known as Sironcha, it was an important peg in Jain pilgrimage, trade and military conquests since it lies in the south to north and west route from Burhanpur to Surat or Agra. For the Digambar Jains, it was the Atishaya Kshetra. In trade, it was the centre for calicos cotton(Maheshwari), kalamkari works and Muslin cloth trade. The Maheshwari traders had soon left Sironj when they took offence to the Nawabs actions. When it was ruled by the Mughals, a Mughal district in Sironj catered to the trade of water cooling pots and flat-woven mats, directly to the ports of Gujarat. It was the halting station for the army of Ghiasuddin Khan, the governor general of Gujarat and Malwa. He was commissioned by Nizam-ul-Mulk to launch an offensive against the Peshwa Baji, during 1738. Ghias-ud-din was unable to conquer the Konkan and retreated. Some members of his army are believed to have stayed back in Sironj. The city also sheltered Tantia Tope during the revolt of 1857.
The city lies at 24005' N Latitude and 77 050' E Longitude and is 300m above mean sea level. A tributary of the Betwa River runs through Sironj and has a hilly terrain. The terrain can be divided into four parts -The Valley of river Betwa proper, The Bina Valley, The Eastern Range, The Western Range and the Sindh Valley. Sironj city lies in the Malwa region characterized by Black cotton soil and drained by 2 small rivers namely, Kethan and Naren.
The city is strategically located at the intersection of two State Highways - SH 23 and SH 14. Siroj lies approx. 120 km north of the capital city Bhopal. Vidisha district is surrounded by Guna and Ashoknagar districts towards North, Sagar district to its East, Raisen to the South and Bhopal district to its West; thus offering it excellent connectivity and proximity to prime commercial nodes in Madhya Pradesh.
By Road - There are frequent buses going from Bhopal to Sironj, a journey of about 2.5 hours.
By Rail - The city does not have direct rail connectivity, the nearest Railway Station being Ganj Basoda, 45 kilometers east of Sironj.
By Air - The nearest airport in in Bhopal
Sironj has a semi-arid climate with hot summers and pleasant winters. The temperatures peak to a maximum of 45 deg celsius during the summer months of March, April and May. During the winter months from December to February the night temperatures fall to a minimum of 4 deg celsius. Humid heat sets in with occasional relief of rainfall during the monsoons spanning June to September. The city receives an annual average rainfall of 960mm.
Sironj lies in a part of the great Vidhyanchal range .The main crops cultivated in Sironj are wheat, maize and gram in winters and soyabean and lentils in rains. Scrub forests rich in flora and fauna lie in the periphery of the city. The trees native to this region are Teak, Sandal and Sagwan. These are under great threats of deforestation and grazing pressure.
Sironj is a growing city with a municipal area of 10 sq.km, divided into 21 wards. Agricultural occupation is the main contributor to Sironj's economy. Beedi making and Dhurrie making are flourishing household industries. Sironj does not have a development Authority. Bhopal development authority was established in October 1976 to plan and implement the integrated city development plan of Bhopal city, with a view to meet the needs of people in urban as well as rural areas.
There are no factories in the city. Water supply for drinking and irrigation is from the dam on the river Kethwa. The bazaar or mandi is a bustling hub where all the daily necessities are purchased. Sironj has a district hospital and other medical facilities. Higher secondary schools and colleges are located around the periphery of the city. Electricity supply in Sironj is under MPSEB (Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Board) which deals with generation.
The erstwhile architecture of Sironj is an amalgamation of various influences, depending on the changing rulers and dynasties. Today, the city is specked with many old mosques and ancient temples. The Jama Masjid in Sironj is said to be built by Aurangazeb. There are ruins of an old observatory, which is believed to have be one of the three observatories Sir George Everest organised to measure the height of Mt. Everest. This survey was later completed by Radhanath Sikdar using a Theodolite. The ruins still exist exist in a village called Bhoori Tori.
The Girdhari temple is a 11th century temple in Sironj known for its exquisite sculptures and fine carvings. Temples dedicated to deities Jatashankar and Mahamaya are said to be very old and sacred. The Mahamaya temple is the site of the grand annual fair of Sironj. It lies 5km southwest of the city, on a small hill. The inner city has narrow lanes flanked by shops and stalls. The residential areas are towards the outer regions and consist of both pakka and semi pakka construction. The houses in the outermost regions are slum houses or have mud-walls with thatched roofs.
Sironj has a religious diversity comprising of Hindus, Muslims and Jains. The village population is mostly Hindus whereas the town area has both Hindu and Muslim population in equal numbers. The Jain population in Sironj is a very small number.
The Sironj Mahotsav is a 9-day long grand annual fair. It is celebrated with much aplomb with performances by celebrities as well as with dances like Gutumbaja, Kalbeliya and Badhai. Cattle owners deck up their cows in bright and colourful attire, and parad them across the city part of 'Gopa Ashtami', a festival when cows are worshipped.The other major festivals like Diwali, Eid, Ram-navami, Ekadashi etc are also celebrated.
The traditional attire of the people of Sironj are sarees or salwars worn by the women, and the dhoti-kurta worn by the men. Shirts, t-shirts and pants also form the clothing now with contemporary influences.
Other than the Hindu, Muslim and Jain classification, the Mina tribe is also native to Sironj. They are mostly farmers and also depend on animal husbandry, labor and service for their livelihood. They mostly speak Braj and Hindi. They are non-vegetarians. Wheat and rice are their staple cereals. Soya bean and mustard oil are used in cooking. Alcoholic beverages are consumed by them regularly.
Ruins of an old three tiered market still exist in Sironj. This is a rare and famous kind of arrangement. In a single building, there were shops that were partly underground and partly on the surface (meant for customers on feet), shops that were slightly raised (for the customers on the horseback) and shops on the first floor (for the customers on elephant -back). Many of these shops survive.
The dhurries of Sironj are famous throughout history. It was a prominent part of trade to western countries. There is an entire locality in Sironj called the Dari-wala Mohalla.