The region was inhabited by Rathwa tribes since ancient times. The Royal state of Chhota Udaipur was founded in 1743 AD by Rawal Udey Singhji, a descendent of Patai Rawal of Champaner. The Inscription studies show that the founders of Chhota Udaipur kingdom were direct descendants of Maharaja Prithviraj Chauhan. It is believed that, Khichi Chauhan Rajputs moved to the Pavagadh Hill via Malwa just after their battle with Muslim invaders. Initially they established a capital at Mohan near Narmada and eventually moved the capital to Chhota Udaipur. After a treaty was signed with British army, the city attained peace. The kingdom became a part of Union of India on March 10, 1948 AD. It was carved out of the Vadodara district on January 26, 2013 with its headquarters at Chhota Udaipur town and is the 28th district of Gujarat.
It is situated 100 Km. from Vadodara. The local administration of the area is looked after by the Municipality. Chhota Udepur district has a forest area of 75,704 hectares and has deposits of dolomite, fluorite, granite and sand all of which are mined. The district is also home to a large dairy industry.
By road: Vadodara, 112 km from Ahmedabad and 420 km from Mumbai, is located on National Highway 8.
By rail: Vadodara, a major railway junction is located on the Western Railway, which connects Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad. Tribal Chhota Udepur and Vadodara are now connected through a new railway line
By air: Vadodara is connected by various domestic airlines to Ahmedabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Daman, and Pune.
Chhota Udepur is a district head quarter. Besides government offices, the town has a big post office, major Indian banks, ATMS, a hospital and a Bus stand. The town's main ornament is the lake which is situated right at the center of the town. Every Saturday, a haat bazaar is organized around the lake; people from nearby villages come to indulge in their weekly shopping. The town also has guest houses to accommodate travellers and researchers. The town is in close proximity to Vadodara, which has almost all facilities. Those visiting the town in groups should opt to stay at Bhasha institute at Tejgarh, which is at 12.8 km distance.
The town has a mix of monumental and vernacular architecture. Many buildings date back to pre-colonial period, which are now being used as offices. Flat roof architecture is prevalent in the town and many new multi storey buildings are being made. Some of the old buildings also have conical roof with clay tiles. In the farmlands surrounding the town, the tribes live in houses made of bricks with bamboo frame as ceiling which is covered with clay tiles. These houses often have a fenced backyard for keeping livestock.
The Ratwa villages have open ground in front which is called as Gondhro, this is used for various festivities, ceremonies and a grazing ground for cattle. The boundary of such villages is called 'him'. The guardian deity of Himodi protects the village and the villagers often gift clay tigers to this goddess.
The region is inhabited by local tribes such as Rathwa, Bhil, Bhilala etc. Rathwas have long inhabited the region and constitute the major part of population in Baroda, Panchmahal, Chhota Udepur and Alirajpur districts. Their mythology is greatly influenced by Geography of Madhya Pradesh and one can find several references to Malwa horses, land of Dhar and Raja Bhoj of Dhar district. The tribe speaks local dialect of Rathwi which is a mixture of Gujrati, Malvi, Marathi and ancient Bhil dialect. The traditional occupation of Rathwa tribe is farming; they practice small scale farming by slash and burn technique which involves burning of a patch of land and then digging to sow the seeds for new crops. They still use plough and pair of bullocks to cultivate the lands and rain is their major source for irrigation. When not doing farming, the families employ themselves as laborers in nearby towns. Hunting, fishing in nearby streams and cattle rearing are other ways of obtaining livelihoods for Rathwas.
The Rathwas are classified into several exogamous clans such as Katolia, Changol, Dovda, Punjara, Sadariya, Haraya, Oharia, Damor, Tadvi, Basia, Bamania etc. Marriages within the same clan are prohibited and majority of marriages happen by mutual consent. A sacred sweet Jaggery is distributed in village by groom's father when the couple has mutually agreed upon the nuptial knot and wedding ceremony is arranged at girl's residence.
The chief religious practitioner of the clan is Badvo (Shaman). All the religious and ceremonial activities are carried in the presence of this chief. He also has a great influence over social and financial matters of the village. The problems of diseases, burglary, sterility of women and livestock, crop failure and natural calamities are often consulted with Badvo. He is the also considered as an interpreter of supernatural occurrences.
The chief deities of Rathwa tribes are the spirits of their ancestors, they also believe in Gamdev 'Village god', Himodi 'the goddess of village boundary', Khetarpal 'field deity', pithoro 'god of foodgrains', Ind and Hadhol 'pithoro's assistants', bhehato 'protector of buffaloes', Babo tundvo and Ai tundvi 'two hills which are considered gods', the sun, the moon.