Archaeological artefacts discovered in 2007 appeared to indicate that the region around Kediri may have been the location of the Kediri Kingdom, a Hindu kingdom in the 11th century.
The city is a major trade centre for the Indonesian sugar and cigarette industry.
The Brantas River valley was known as the site of classical Javanese culture, particularly between the 10th and 15th centuries. The town of Kediri was established by King Airlangga on the banks of the upper Brantas river in 1042. It was originally called Dahanapura or Daha. After the death of Airlangga his kingdom was divided into two parts: the kingdom of Panjalu in the west, and the kingdom of Janggala in the east. Daha became the capital of Panjalu, and later the capital of the Kediri kingdom. Over the centuries, control of the city passed to the Singhasari, Majapahit, Demak and Mataram kingdoms.
The name "Kediri", or "Kadiri", is derived from the Sanskrit word Khadri, meaning Indian Mulberry, indicative of the mulberry trees (locally known as pacé or mengkudu) which grew in the area.
After the era of the Javanese kingdoms, Kediri went into decline, becoming a small rural settlement, which was later annexed by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) as part of the Dutch conquest of Java. East Java in the 1740s was controlled by Cakraningrat IV, a Madurese regent who was favorably disposed toward the VOC, as he believed the Dutch would help him in securing the independence of Madura from the Kasunanan Kartasura kingdom. However, when his plans were rejected by the VOC, Cakraningrat rise against the Europeans. The rebellion was ultimately suppressed by the VOC, assisted by two generals sent by Pakubuwana II, Sunan Kartasura. Kediri then became part of the VOC and remained under Dutch control until the independence of Indonesia in 1945.
Kediri began to flourish when the Dutch East Indies founded the autonomous Gemeente Kediri in 1906. Zelfstanding Gemeenteschap (self-government with full autonomy) was granted in 1928.
During the Indonesian National Revolution in 1945–1949, Kediri became a target of General Sudirman's guerrilla campaign. In 1965, after the failed 30 September Movement coup, Kediri suffered terrible bloodshed in which thousands of people were killed.
The Gudang Garam kretek tobacco industry was established in 1958 by Chinese Indonesian Tjoa Ing Hwie. He purchased vast lands in Kediri and established a kretek cigar factory. Today, Gudang Garam is the major employer of the city, with more than 40,000 workers.
City of Kediri is divided into three kecamatan ('districts'), each is headed by a camat. The districts areKecamatan Pesantren
Being the site of an ancient capital of Javanese kingdoms, the city is one of the major cultural center for Javanese people, the city also contains some ancient ruins and candis that dates back to the era of Kediri and Majapahit kingdom.
Kediri is home of Persik Kediri which plays in Premier Division of Indonesian Football League. Persik Kediri has won total two title of Premier Division of Indonesian Football League, last occurring in 2006.
Kediri city has Three National Universities, they are Universitas Brawijaya, STAIN Kediri, Politeknik Negeri Kediri. Kediri also has many private institutions for higher-education, such as Institut Ilmu Kesehatan Bhakti Wiyata, Universitas Nusantara PGRI Kediri, Universitas Kadiri, and Universitas Islam Kadiri.
City of Kediri hardly has natural tourist destination. A few amusement parks are present, e.g. Paggora Amusement Park, Tirtayasa Water Park, Selomangleng Water Park. Selomangleng Cave is a man-made cave used by the princess Dewi Kilisuci to meditate, according to folk tales. A few shopping centres are also built in the city, such as Golden Swalayan, and Kediri Mall. Along with the older shopping district Jalan Dhoho they serve the population of Kediri (both the city and the regency) and the surrounding areas.
Since 1906 Kediri was given status of gemeente, along with its gemeenteraad. The head was an assistent-resident. Since 1929 its status was changed to stadsgemeente with a burgemeester as its head. With the Act no. 16 Year 1950, Kediri is given the status of Kota Besar with a walikota (mayor) within Indonesian administrative structure Mr. L.K. Wennekendonk (1929-1936)
J.G. Ruesink (1936-1940)
M. Scheltema (1940-1941)
Dr. J.R. Lette (1941-1942)
R. Soeprapto (1945-1950)
R. Dwidjo Soemarto (1950-1960)
R. Soedjono (1960-1966)
Anwar Zainuddin (1968-1973)
Drs. Soedarmanto (1973-1978)
Drs. Setijono (1978-1989)
Drs. Wijoto (1989-1999)
H.A. Maschut (1999-2009)
Dr. H. Samsul Ashar Sp.PD (2009-2014)
Abdullah Abu Bakar, S.E. (2014-now)