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In India, more than 300 million people use Devanagari script for documentation. There has been a significant improvement in the research related to the recognition of printed as well as handwritten Devanagari text in the past few years. State of the art from 1970s of machine printed and handwritten Devanagari optical character recognition (OCR) is discussed in this paper. All feature-extraction techniques as well as training, classification and matching techniques useful for the recognition are discussed in various sections of the paper. An attempt is made to address the most important results reported so far and it is also tried to highlight the beneficial directions of the research till date. Moreover, the paper also contains a comprehensive bibliography of many selected papers appeared in reputed journals and conference proceedings as an aid for the researchers working in the field of Devanagari OCR.