History of Mahanandi: There are two popular legends as to why the place came to be called Nava Nandi. One version is that in the beginning, of Kritayuga, one Parvata had two sons called Silada and Nandi. The eldest son Silada got his name due to his strict penance in which he gave up eating any food except Sila or stone. The Lord was pleased by his devotion and converted Silada into a holy hill and began to live upon him. In the same manner, the second son Nandi also meditated upon Lord Siva, and the Lord converted him as his Nandi and made him his vehicle. The place where Nandi conducted his tapascharya is considered to be the portion where the present Mahanandi exists.
The other version is that a dynasty of local kings, known as Nandas, ruled here in the 11th century A.D. and they built a number of temples and worshipped their ancestral deity the Nandi, hence the name Mahanandi.
Temples here have received the patronage of kings of several dynasties including those of the famous Vijayanagar kings.