The city got the name as "Anantapur" from "Anantasaagaram" (that means 'Endless Ocean'). Anantasaagaram is a big tank, which was built by Sri Chikka Vodaya, a minister Bukka Rayalu, a Vijayanagaran king. The town was popularly known as "Hande Anantapuram", 'Hande', which means Chief. Another Vijayanagaran ruler, Hanumappa Naidu gifted Anantapur to Hande family.
Over a period of time, the town was ruled by Qutub Shahis, Mughals and then by the Nawabs of Kadapa. The Hande chiefs continued to rule as subordinates under the subsequent rulers. Anantapur was then occupied by the Palegar (the Reddy community) of Bellary during the time of Ramappa. Later, it was seized by Ramappa's son Siddappa, who bought the place for Rs. 50, 000 from Morari Rao Ghorpade in 1757.
Then the town came into the hands of Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan, after which the British occupied the territory. Today, the town holds all the grace and royalty of the rulers who ruled it, in contrast with the contemporary edifices.