The name of the town was actually nag-dah which means cremation/burning (dah) of snakes (nag). The ancient city was developed by King Janamejaya. Janamejaya was a Hindu King of the Kuru Dynasty. Nagda was mentioned in the literature of Kalidasa. Presently, Nagda is a major industrial town with a manufacturing unit of Viscose fibre, thermal power plant and a chemical plant. Nagda is a major ISO granted railway junction on the Delhi–Mumbai railway line. It is exactly 694 km from both Delhi and Mumbai.
Prior to being an industrial town, Nagda was a small village. The location near river Chambal and availability of acres of land plus the added advantage of being at the centre of India's two biggest markets(Delhi & Mumbai) attracted Shri Ghanshyam Das Birla to set up a major facility. Today Grasim's industrial unit at Nagda is the largest manufacturer of Viscose staple fibre in Asia.
The number of literates in Nagda are 71,472, out of which 40,073 are male and 31,399 are female. Nagda has an average literacy rate of 80.71%, above than the national average of 74.04%: male literacy is 88.43%, and female literacy is 72.62%. In Nagda, 11.48% of the population is under 5 to 6 years of age.
According to 2011 census data, Hinduism is majority religion in Nagda city with 81.68% followers. Islam is second most popular religion in city of Nagda with approximately 14.58% following it. In Nagda city, Christianity is followed by 0.81%, Jainism by 2.09%, Sikhism by 0.53% and Buddhism by 0.53%. Around 0.00% stated 'Other Religion' and approximately 0.29% stated 'No Particular Religion'.
The culture of Nagda encompasses both the traditional Malwa culture and a modern, progressive attitude. People celebrate typical Indian festivals like Diwali, Dussehra, Navratri, Holi, Eid al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Mahavir Jayanti, Hanuman jayanti, Ram navmi,sharad purnima, janmashtami and Christmas. Apart from these festivals, city celebrates “Dhol Gyaras”( Dhol is a musical instrument like drum and gyaras means Ekadasi, a date in Hindu calendar), a one night event in which mobile temples, called झान्की (jhanki) in the local language, run in the city. The same celebration is witnessed three days later on Anant Chaturdashi at many nearby places like Ujjain and Indore and also in Birlagram, Nagda. The set of the pehalwans from different Akhara show their bravery in the front of these mobile temples. Various man-made craft items are displayed in shops specially built for this night. Dhol artists play their drums in continuous rhythms. The festival culminates in a carnival-like procession.
Hinduism is the dominant religion in Nagda with 81.68% followers as of 2011, followed by Islam with 14.58% and Jainism with 2.09%. Many temples & Masjids, Catholic church, Protestant Church, Guru Dwaras, Ayyappa Temple and other religious buildings are found throughout the city. The most prominent communities include Rajpoot, Gurjar, Brahmin, Marwaris, Viswakarma, Marwari Jains, Porwals along with the local communities. The most prominent Hindu temple in Nagda is Birla Mandir with its characteristic artwork carved beautifully on walls and pillars surrounded by a garden and fountain, dedicated to Lord Vishnu which was built by the Birla family.
Nagda has a variety of foods and cuisines. City starts its day with tea, poha, jalebi, samosa and kachodi. The Ratlami Sev is a common snack often served with a meal and dinner. Dal baati is the food of the Malwa. It is commonly served at all festivities, including religious occasions, wedding ceremonies, and parties. "Dal-Baati ", is a combination of two different food items - Dal (lentils), Baati. It is a typical Malwa dish. Dal is made of lentils and can be little spicy. Baati baked or a grilled ball of wheat flour dough.
Most colleges in Nagda are affiliated to the Vikram University. The city's most prominent college is Nagda Government College near Rupeta village.
Nagda is situated on the basin of river Chambal. It is an important junction station of Western Railways, which connect Delhi-Mumbai main line with Bhopal. It is an important halt for all trains that are bound for Jaipur, Mumbai, Delhi & Bhopal. The main lines passing through Nagda Junction are : • Mumbai- New Delhi line via Kota Junction ( broad gauge line).
The nearest airport is located in Indore about 110 km from the city.
Nagda has connectivity with NH79 via Jaora.