In urban areas scarcity of land to build infrastructure has driven the geotechnical engineers to improve poor subsoil conditions through different techniques. Granular column treatment is one of the most promising ground improvement techniques widely practiced all over the world. This paper discusses briefly the status of research on this topic. Focus is on the recent advancement of encasing these columns with geosynthetic products to enhance their performance in load bearing capacity and reducing the foundation settlements. This paper is divided into analytical, experimental, numerical and field studies on the aspect of encased granular columns (EGCs) which have been published in the past three decades. The primary objective of this study is to compile the above said aspects of EGCs into one single source of information to interested researchers in this field. Lot of studies have been conducted mainly on the laboratory aspects of EGCs. Very few attempts have been made by researchers to study the mechanism of granular columns at full-scale levels through field tests. Finally a brief summary with necessary discussions is provided on the efforts made so far in studying the behavior of EGCs. © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd 2019.