Pressing demands of productivity and accuracy in today’s robotic applications have highlighted an urge to replace classical control strategies with their modern control counterparts. This recent trend is further justified by the fact that the robotic manipulators have complex nonlinear dynamic structure with uncertain parameters. Highlighting the authors’ research achievements in the domain of manipulator design and control, this paper presents a systematic and comprehensive review of the state-of-the-art control techniques that find enormous potential in controlling manipulators to execute cutting-edge applications. In particular, three kinds of strategies, i.e., intelligent proportional-integral-derivative (PID) scheme, robust control and adaptation based approaches, are reviewed. Future trend in the subject area is commented. Open-source simulators to facilitate controller design are also tabulated. With a comprehensive list of references, it is anticipated that the review will act as a first-hand reference for researchers, engineers and industrial-interns to realize the control laws for multi-degree of freedom (DOF) manipulators.