History of India

From Free net encyclopedia

History of the Indian Subcontinent
Stone Age 70,0007000 BCE
Mehrgarh Culture 70003300 BCE
Indus Valley Civilization 33001700 BCE
Late Harappan Culture 17001300 BCE
Vedic Civilization 1500500 BCE
Kuru Dynasty 1200316 BCE
Maha Janapadas 700321 BCE
Magadha Empire 684321 BCE
Middle Kingdoms 600 BCE1279 CE
Maurya Empire 321184 BCE
Gupta Empire 240550 CE
Chola Empire 8481279 CE
Islamic Sultanates 9791596
Hoysala Empire 10401346
Delhi Sultanate 12101526
Vijayanagara Empire 13361565
Mughal Era 15261707
Maratha Empire 16741761
Colonial Era 17571947
Republic of India 1947 onwards
General Histories
India · Pakistan
Bangladesh · Sri Lanka
Nepal · Bhutan
Regional Histories
Punjab · South India · Assam
Pakistani Regions · Bengal
Specialized Histories
Timeline · Dynasties · Economy
Maritime · Mathematics · Military
Science and Technology

The history of India can be traced in fragments to as far back as 9,500 years ago. The Indus Valley Civilization, one of the oldest in the world, dates back over 5,000 years. This was followed by the Vedic Civilization of the Indo-Aryans. The origins of the Indo-Aryans is under some dispute. Most scholars today believe in some form of the Indo-Aryan migration hypothesis, which proposes that the Aryans, a semi-nomadic people, possibly from Central Asia or northern Iran, migrated into the north-west regions of the Indian subcontinent between 2000 BCE and 1500 BCE. The nature of this migration, the place of origin of the Aryans, and sometimes even the very existence of the Aryans as a separate people are hotly debated. The merger of the Vedic culture with the earlier Dravidian cultures (presumably of the descendants of the Indus Valley Civilization) apparently resulted in classical Indian culture, though the exact details of this process are controversial. The births of Mahavira and Buddha in 6th century BCE mark the beginning of well-recorded Indian history. For the next 1500 years, India produced its classical civilisation, and is estimated to have had the largest economy of the ancient world between the 1st and 15th centuries CE, controlling between one third and one quarter of the world's wealth up to the time of the Mughals, from whence it rapidly declined during European rule.

Incursions by Arab and Central Asian armies in the 8th and 12th centuries were followed by inroads by traders from Europe, beginning in the late 15th century. From 1757, the British East India Company had begun colonising parts of India and by 1858, the British Crown had assumed political control over virtually all of India. Indian armed forces in the British army played a vital role in both the World Wars. Nonviolent resistance to British colonialism led, by Mohandas Gandhi, Vallabhbhai Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru brought independence in 1947. The subcontinent was partitioned into the Secular Democratic Republic of India and the smaller Islamic Republic of Pakistan. A war between the two countries in 1971 resulted in East Pakistan becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh. In the 21st century, India has made impressive gains in economic investment and output, and stands as the world's largest democracy with a population exceeding 1 billion, is self sufficient in terms of food, and is a fast-growing, economically strong country, with the fourth largest economy (PPP) in the world.

Human civilisations in India are some of the earliest recorded, and were contemporaries of civilisations in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. India's history essentially includes all of the Indian subcontinent, including the more recent nations of Pakistan and Bangladesh. India is also inalienably linked with the history and heritage of the other South Asian nations like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan. India's culture, economy and politics has had an influence on the history and culture of the nations in South East Asia, East Asia and Central Asia, such as Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, China, Tibet, Persia and Afghanistan over thousands of years, and in turn, India has been influenced by Persia, and to an extent, China and Afghanistan. After Arab incursions into India during the early part of the secondnd millennium CE, similar quests for access to India's fabled wealth strongly influenced the history of medieval Europe, after the landing of Vasco Da Gama. Christopher Columbus discovered America whilst seaching for a new route to India, and the British Empire gained much of its resources after the incorporation of India as the 'Jewel in the Crown', from the late 1700s to 1947.


The Paleolithic era

Template:Main Image:Bhimbetka rock paintng1.jpg Isolated remains of Homo Erectus in Hathnora in the Narmada Valley in Central India indicate that India might have been inhabited since at least the Middle Pleistocene era [1]. The precise date of these remains is unclear, and archaeologists put it anywhere between 200,000 to 500,000 years [2]. The fossils are the earliest human remains found in South Asia. Recent finds include a quarry along the Malaprabha and Ghataprabha rivers in the Kaladgi Basin in Karnataka. Modern humans seem to have settled the subcontinent towards the end of the last Ice Age about 12,000 years ago. The first confirmed permanent settlements appeared 9,000 years ago in Bhimbetka in modern Madhya Pradesh.

The Neolithic era

By 7000 BCE, people in the Indus Valley were farming and harvesting einkorn, a primitive form of wheat. Early Neolithic culture in South Asia is represented by the Mehrgarh findings (7000 BCE onwards), in Balochistan, Pakistan. The Mehrgarh community was mostly pastoral, lived in mud houses, wove baskets and tended to goats and their farms. By 5500 BCE, pottery began to appear and later chalcolithic implements began to appear. By 2000 BCE, the settlement was abandoned.

Traces of a Neolithic culture have been found submerged in the Gulf of Khambat in 2002 [3]. Many of the finds recovered from the area have been radiocarbon dated to 7500 BCE.

Late Neolithic cultures sprang up in the Indus Valley region between 6000 and 2000 BCE (see below), and in southern India between 2800 and 1200 BCE.

The Bronze age

Bronze age civilisations in the Indian subcontinent laid the foundations for modern Indian civilization, including urban settlements and the development of Vedic beliefs, which form the core of Hinduism. Many historians claim that the rise, and eventual decline of the Indus Valley Civilization, and the migration of nomadic peoples from Central Asia into the Indian subcontinent shaped its history during this period.

Indus Valley civilisation

Template:Main Image:IndusValleySeals.JPG Image:Lothal conception.jpg The transition of settlements from agricultural to complex urban communities, a salient feature of all late Neolithic and early Bronze Age cultures, occurred in the Indian subcontinent sometime between the early settlements at Mehrgarh and c. 3300 BCE. This period marked the beginning of the earliest urban society in India, known as the Indus Valley Civilization (or, the Harappan Civilisation), which thrived between 3300 and 1900 BCE. It was centred onthe Indus River and its tributaries, including the Ghaggar-Hakra River, and extended into the Ganges-Yamuna Doab, Gujarat, and northern Afghanistan.

The civilisation is noted for its cities built of brick, road-side drainage system and multi-storeyed houses. The earliest historic references to India may be those to the Meluhha in Sumerian records, possibly referring to the Indus Valley civilization. When compared to the contemporary civilizations of Egypt and Sumeria, the Indus civilisation possessed unique urban planning techniques, covered the largest geographical area, and may have been a single state, as suggested by the amazing uniformity of its measurement systems.

The Mohenjo-daro ruins were once the centre of this ancient society. Indus Civilization settlements spread as far south as present-day Bombay, as far east as Delhi, as far west as the Iranian border, and as far north as the Himalayas. Among the settlements were the major urban centres of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, as well as Dholavira, Ganweriwala, Lothal, Kalibanga and Rakhigarhi. At its peak, some archaeologists are of the opinion that the Indus civilisation may have had a population of well over five million. To date, over 2,500 cities and settlements have been found, mainly in the general region to the east of the Indus River in Pakistan. It is thought by some that geological disturbances and climate change, leading to a gradual deforestation may ultimately have contributed to the civilization's downfall.

Archaeological resources suggest that the diverse geography of ancient India was increasing in the amount and specialization of faunal remains around 2400 to 1500 BCE. This specialization suggests that the Indus Valley Civilizations were dependent upon the alluvial soils of the rivers, which produced high yield crops. By 2600 BCE, the presence of a state level society is evident, complete with hierarchical rule and large scale public works. These include accomplishments such as irrigation, warehouses for grain, public streets, and brick-lined drainage systems for sanitation. Around the middle of the second millennium BCE, the region of the Indus River basin, in which approximately two-thirds of currently known sites were located dried up, and the sites were abandoned.

Vedic civilisation


The Vedic civilization is the Indo-Aryan culture associated with the Vedas, which are some of the oldest extant texts, orally composed in Vedic Sanskrit. The exact connection between the genesis of this civilization and the Indus Valley civilization on one hand, and a possible Indo-Aryan migration on the other hand, is the subject of dispute. Early Vedic society was largely pastoral. After the Rigveda, Aryan society became increasingly agricultural, and was organized around the four Varnas, or classes. Several small kingdoms and tribes merged to form a few large ones, such as the Kuru and Pançala, some of which were often at war with each other.

In addition to the principal texts of Hinduism (the Vedas), the great Indian epics (the Ramayana and Mahabharata) are said to have their ultimate origins during this period, from an oral tradition of unwritten bardic recitation. The Bhagavad Gita, another primary text of Hinduism, is contained within the Mahabharata.

Early Indo-Aryan presence probably corresponds, in part, to the presence of Ochre Coloured Pottery in archaeological findings. The kingdom of the Kurus corresponds to the Black and Red Ware culture and the beginning of the Iron Age in Northwestern India, around 1000 BCE (This date is most likely, contemporaneous with the composition of the Atharvaveda). Painted Grey Ware cultures spanning much of Northern India marks the Middle Vedic period, followed by a wave of urbanization that occurred across the Indian sub-continent, from Afghanistan to Bengal, in the 6th century BCE. A number of kingdoms and oligarchies, often called republics, emerged across the Indo-Gangetic plain and the northern part of the Deccan during this period. 16 of these Republics, called Mahajanapadas (great lands), are referred to in the ancient literature of the period.

The Mahajanapadas

Template:Main Image:StandingBuddha.JPG By 500 BCE, sixteen monarchies and 'republics' known as the Mahajanapadas stretched across the Indo-Gangetic plains from modern-day Afghanistan to Bangladesh. The largest of these nations were Magadha, Kosala, Kuru and Gandhara. The right of a king to his throne, no matter how it was gained, was usually legitimized through religious right and genealogies concocted by priests who ascribed divine origins to the rulers. There is some controversy about how closely the political entities of this period can be represented by those mentioned in the Vedas, and ancient epics of India. The educated speech at that time was Sanskrit, while the dialects of the general population of northern India were referred to as Prakrits.

Hindu rituals at that time were complicated and conducted by the priestly class. It is thought that the Upanishads, late Vedic texts dealing mainly with incipient philosophy, were first composed early in this period. They had a huge effect on Indian philosophy, and were contemporary to the development of Buddhism and Jainism, indicating a golden age of thought in this period, similar to that in ancient Greece. It was in 537 BCE, that Gautama Buddha gained enlightenment and founded Buddhism, which was initially intended as a supplement to the existing Vedic dharma. Around the same time period, in mid-6th century BCE, Mahavira founded Jainism. Both religions had a simple doctrine, and were preached in Prakrit, which helped it gain acceptance amongst the masses. While the geographic impact of Jainism was limited, Buddhist nuns and monks eventually spread the teachings of Buddha to Central Asia, East Asia, Tibet, Sri Lanka and South East Asia.

Recorded history from this period of fragmented states is sparse, up until the advent of Buddhism and Jainism but the Mahajanapadas were roughly equivalent to the ancient Greek city-states of the same period in the Mediterranean, producing philosophy which would eventually form the basis of much of the eastern world's beliefs, just as ancient Greece would produce philosophy that much of the western world's subsequent beliefs were based on. The period effectively ended with the onset of Persian and Greek invasion, and the subsequent rise of a single Indian empire from the kingdom of Magadha.

Persian and Greek invasion

Around the 5th century BCE, the northern Indian subcontinent was invaded by the Achaemenid Empire and the Greeks of Alexander the Great's army. This had important repercussions for Indian civilisation, as the political systems of the Persians would have an influence on later Indian political philosophy, including the administration of the Mauryan dynasty, and a melting pot of Indian, Persian, Central Asian and Greek culture was created in the modern region of Afghanistan, producing a unique hybrid culture.

Achaemenid empire

Template:Main Much of the northwestern Indian Subcontinent (present day Eastern Afghanistan and most of Pakistan) was ruled by the Persian Achaemenid Empire from c. 520 BCE during the reign of Darius the Great, up until its conquest by Alexander the Great. Lands in present-day Punjab, the Indus river from the borders of Gandhara down to the Arabian Sea, and some other parts of the Indus plain, became a satrapy of Alexander's empire. According to Herodotus of Halicarnassus, it was the most populous and richest of all the twenty satrapies of the empire. Achaemenid rule lasted about 186 years. The Achaemenids used the Aramaic script for the Persian language. After the end of Achaemenid rule, the use of Aramaic in the Indus plain diminished, although we know from inscriptions from the time of Emperor Asoka that it was still in use two centuries later. Other scripts, such as Kharosthi (a script derived from Aramaic) and Greek became more common after the arrival of Alexander the Great.

Alexander the Great

Template:Main The interaction between Hellenistic Greece and Buddhism began when Alexander the Great conquered Asia Minor and the Achaemenid Empire, reaching the north west frontiers of the Indian subcontinent in 334 BCE. There, he defeated King Puru in the Battle of the Hydaspes (near modern-day Jhelum, Pakistan) and conquered much of the Punjab. However, Alexander's troops refused to go beyond the Beas river, and he was forced to march his army southwest.

Alexander created garrisons for his troops in his new territories, and founded several cities in the areas of the Oxus, Arachosia, and Bactria, and Macedonian/Greek settlements in Gandhara (see Taxila) and the Punjab. The regions included the Khyber Pass — a geographical passageway south of the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush mountains — and the Bolan Pass, on a trade route connecting Drangiana, Arachosia and other Persian and Central Asian kingdoms to the lower Indus plain. It is through these regions that most of the interaction between South Asia and Central Asia took place, generating intense cultural exchange and trade.

Greco-Buddhist period

Template:Main Greco-Buddhism, sometimes spelled Græco-Buddhism, is the cultural syncretism between the culture of Classical Greece and Buddhism, which developed over a period of close to 800 years in the area corresponding to modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan, between the 4th century BCE and the 5th century CE. Greco-Buddhism especially influenced the artistic development of Mahayana Buddhism, before it was adopted by Central and Northeastern Asia from the 1st century CE, ultimately spreading to China, Korea, and Japan. It was mainly centered around the area of Gandhara, or modern Afghanistan, the area of the subcontinent that had most been influenced by Persian and Greek contact. Gandhara was roughly contemporary to the other Mahajanapada kingdoms elsewhere in India.


The Magadha empire

Template:Main Amongst the sixteen Mahajanapadas, the kingdom of Magadha rose to prominence under a number of dynasties that peaked in power under the reign of Asoka Maurya, one of India's most legendary and famous emperors. The kingdom of Magadha had emerged as a major power following the subjugation of two neighbouring kingdoms, and possessed an unparalleled military.

Shishunaga dynasty

Template:Main According to tradition, the Shishunaga dynasty founded the Magadha Empire in 684 BCE, whose capital was Rajagriha, later Pataliputra, near the present day Patna. This dynasty lasted till 424 BCE, when it was overthrown by the Nanda dynasty. This period saw the development of two of India's major religions. Gautama Buddha in the 6th or 5th century BCE was the founder of Buddhism, which later spread to East Asia and South-East Asia, while Mahavira founded Jainism.

Nanda dynasty

Template:Main The Nanda dynasty was established by an illegitimate son of the king Mahanandin of the previous Shishunaga dynasty. Mahapadma Nanda died at the age of 88, ruling the bulk of this 100-year dynasty. The Nandas were followed by the Maurya dynasty.

Maurya dynasty

Template:Main In 321 BCE, exiled general Chandragupta Maurya founded the Maurya dynasty after overthrowing the reigning king Dhana Nanda to establish the Maurya Empire. During this time, most of the subcontinent was united under a single government for the first time. Capitalising on the destabilization of northern India by the Persian and Greek incursions, the Mauryan empire under Chandragupta would not only conquer most of the Indian subcontinent, but also push its boundaries into Persia and Central Asia, conquering the Gandhara region. Chandragupta was succeeded by his son Bindusara, who expanded the kingdom over most of present day India, barring the extreme south and east, which may have held tributary status. Image:Sanchi2.jpg The kingdom was inherited by his son Ashoka The Great who initially sought to expand his kingdom. In the aftermath of the carnage caused in the invasion of Kalinga, he renounced bloodshed and pursued a policy of non-violence or ahimsa after converting to Buddhism. The Edicts of Ashoka are the oldest preserved historical documents of India, and from Ashoka's time, approximate dating of dynasties becomes possible. The Mauryan dynasty under Ashoka was responsible for the proliferation of Buddhist ideals across the whole of East Asia and South-East Asia, fundamentally altering the history and development of Asia as a whole. Ashoka the Great has been described as one of the greatest rulers the world has seen.

Approximate Dates of Mauryan Dynasty
Emperor Reign start Reign end
Chandragupta Maurya 322 BCE 298 BCE
Bindusara 297 BCE 272 BCE
Asoka The Great 273 BCE 232 BCE
Dasaratha 232 BCE 224 BCE
Samprati 224 BCE 215 BCE
Salisuka 215 BCE 202 BCE
Devavarman 202 BCE 195 BCE
Satadhanvan 195 BCE 187 BCE
Brihadratha 187 BCE 185 BCE

Shunga dynasty

Template:Main The Sunga dynasty was established in 185 BCE, about fifty years after Ashoka's death, when the king Brihadratha, the last of the Mauryan rulers, was brutally murdered by the then commander-in-chief of the Mauryan armed forces, Pusyamitra Sunga, while he was taking the Guard of Honour of his forces. Pusyamitra Sunga then ascended the throne.

Early middle kingdoms - the golden age

Template:Main Image:Ellora cave16 003.jpg The middle period, especially that associated with the Gupta dynasty, is known as India's Golden Age, a time of unparalleled cultural development. The Kushanas invaded northwestern India about the middle of the 1st century CE, from Central Asia, and founded an empire that eventually stretched from Peshawar to the middle Ganges and, perhaps, as far as the Bay of Bengal. It also included ancient Bactria (in the north of modern Afghanistan) and southern Tajikistan. Their power also extended into Turkestan and helped spread Buddhism to China. In South India, several kingdoms emerged. The earliest of these is the Pandya kingdom in southern Tamil Nadu, with its capital at Madurai. The Indo-Greek Kingdoms following the conquests of Alexander the Great ruled much of Gandhara from 180 BCE to 10 CE. Around the same time in southern India, the Dravidian Pandyan kingdom began to take shape. An important source for the geography and history of that period is the Greek historian Arrian.

Satavahana empire

Template:Main The Satavahanas, also known as the Andhras, were a dynasty which ruled in Southern and Central India starting from around 230 BCE. Although there is some controversy about when the dynasty came to an end, the most liberal estimates are of about 450 years. Long before that their kingdom had disintegrated into successor states. Conflict with the Sakas and the rising ambitions of their feudatories, led to their decline. Several dynasties divided the lands of the kingdom among themselves.

Indo-Greek kingdom

Template:Main Image:DemetriusCoin.jpg The Indo-Greek Kingdom (or sometimes Greco-Indian Kingdom) covered various parts of northwest and northern India from 180 BCE to around 10 CE, and was ruled by a succession of more than thirty Greek kings, often in conflict with each other. The kingdom was founded when the Greco-Bactrian king Demetrius invaded India in 180 BCE, ultimately creating an entity which seceded from the powerful Greco-Bactrian Kingdom centered in Bactria (today's northern Afghanistan).


Template:Main Image:AzesII.jpg The Indo-Scythians are a branch of the Indo-European Sakas (Scythians), who migrated from southern Siberia into Bactria, Sogdiana, Kashmir and finally into Arachosia and then India from the middle of the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century BCE. They displaced the Indo-Greeks and ruled in northern India from Gandhara to Mathura.


Template:Main The Indo-Parthian Kingdom was established during the 1st century CE, by a Parthian leader named Gondophares, in an area covering today's Afghanistan, Pakistan and Northern India. The Parthians ended up controlling all of Bactria and extensive territories in Northern India, after fighting many local rulers such as the Kushan Empire ruler Kujula Kadphises,in the Gandhara region.

Kushan empire

Template:Main The Kushan Empire (c. 1st3rd centuries) was a state that at its height, about 105250, stretched from Tajikistan to the Caspian Sea to Afghanistan and down into the Ganges river valley. The empire was created by Tocharians from modern East Turkestan, China, but was culturally dominated by north India. They had diplomatic contacts with Rome, Sassanian Persia and China, and for several centuries were at the centre of exchange between the East and the West, spreading Buddhism through trade with China.

Gupta dynasty

Template:Main Image:Kumaragupta coins.JPG Image:Indischer version3.jpg In the 4th and 5th centuries, the Gupta Dynasty unified northern India. During this period, known as India's Golden Age, Hindu culture, science and political administration reached new heights. After the collapse of the Gupta empire in the 6th century, India was again ruled by numerous regional kingdoms. The Gupta 'golden age' marked a period of significant cultural development.

Their origins are largely unknown, however the Chinese traveller I-tsing provides the first evidence of the Gupta kingdom in Magadha. The Vedic Puranas are also thought to have been written around this period. The empire came to an end with the attack of the Huns from central Asia. A minor line of the Gupta clan continued to rule Magadha after the disintegration of the empire. These Guptas were ultimately ousted by the Vardhana king Harsha, who established an empire in the first half of the seventh century that, for a brief time, rivalled that of the Guptas in extent.

Hun invasion

Template:Main The Huns, (sometimes known as Alchon, and inaccurately potrayed as the Indo-Hephthalites), seem to have been part of the Hephthalite group, who established themselves in Afghanistan by the first half of the fifth century, with their capital at Bamiyan. They were responsible for the downfall of the Gupta dynasty, and thus brought an end to what historians consider a golden age in northern India. However, much of the Deccan and southern India were largely unaffected by this state of flux in the north.

The Gupta Emperor Skandagupta repelled a Hun invasion in 455 CE, but they continued to pressure India's northwest frontier (present day Pakistan), and broke through into northern India by the end of the fifth century, thereby hastening the disintegration of the Gupta Empire. After the end of the sixth century, little is recorded in India about the Huns, and their ultimate fate is unclear; some historians surmise that the remaining Huns were assimilated into northern India's population. Certain historians, such as Romila Thapar, have suggested that the Huns are the ancestors of the Rajputs. Many Rajputs themselves however have hotly rejected this suggestion.


Template:Main The Sassanian empire of Persia, who were close contemporaries of the Guptas, began to expand into the northwestern part of ancient India (now Pakistan), where they established their rule. The mingling of Indian and Persian cultures in this region gave birth to the Indo-Sassanian culture, which flourished in the western part of the Punjab and the areas now known in Pakistan as the North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan. The last Hindu kingdom in this region, the Shahis, also may have arisen from this culture.

Late Middle Kingdoms - the classical age

Template:Main Later, the Chola kingdom emerged in northern Tamil Nadu, and the Chera kingdom in Kerala. The ports of southern India were involved in the Indian Ocean trade, chiefly involving spices, with the Roman Empire to the west and Southeast Asia to the east. In the north, the first of the Rajputs, a series of kingdoms which managed to survive in some form for almost a millennium until Indian independence from the British. Image:Bronzes-Chola-1.jpg

Harsha's empire

King Harsha of Kannauj succeeded in reuniting northern India during his reign in the 7th century, after the collapse of the Gupta dynasty. His kingdom collapsed after his death. From the 7th to the 9th century, three dynasties contested for control of northern India: the Pratiharas of Malwa and later Kannauj; the Palas of Bengal, and the Rashtrakutas of the Deccan.

The Chalukyas and Pallavas

Template:Main articles The Chalukya Empire ruled parts of southern and central India from 550 to 750 (from Badami, Karnataka) and again from 970 to 1190 (from Kalyana, Karnataka). The Pallavas of Kanchi were their contemporaries to the south. Over a period of roughly a century, the two kingdoms fought a series of low-intensity wars, each conquering the other's capitals at various points. The kings of Sri Lanka and the Keralan Cheras rendered support to the Pallavas, while the Pandyas rendered support to the Chalukyas. Whilst the northern concept of a pan-Indian empire had collapsed at the end of Harsha's empire, the ideal instead shifted to the south. The two dynasties were responsible for some of the greatest examples of both rock-cut and free-standing temples.

Chola empire

Template:Main Image:Rameswaram temple gopuram.jpg The Cholas emerged as the most powerful empire in the south in the 9th century and retained their pre-eminent position until the 13th century when the Vijayanagar empire was founded. The Cholas, like the Chalukyas and Pallavas before them, and the Vijayanagar after them, were responsible for some of India's finest monuments, and being located on the south tip of the peninsula, ruled Sri Lanka, and culturally dominated most of South East Asia, where the Hindu Srivijaya and Khmer empires of Indonesia and Cambodia used south Indian temple design. The Chola Navy was the most powerful for its time having conquered the neighbouring island of Lanka and other areas across the Bay of Bengal. Template:See also

The Pratiharas, Palas, and Rashtrakutas

Template:Main articles The Pratiharas, also called the Gurjara-Pratiharas were an Indian dynasty who ruled kingdoms in Rajasthan and northern India from the sixth to the eleventh centuries. The Pala Empire controlled Bihar and Bengal, from the 8th to the 12th century. The Rashtrakutas of Malakheda (Karnataka) were a dynasty which ruled the Deccan during the 8th-10th centuries after the end of Chalukya rule. Each three kingdoms vied for north Indian domination around the same time that the Cholas were flourishing in the south.

The Rajputs

Template:Main Image:Shiva and Uma 14th century.jpg The first recorded Rajput kingdoms emerged in Rajasthan in the 6th century, and Rajput dynasties later ruled much of northern India, including Mewar (Sisodias), Gujarat (Solankis), Malwa (Paramaras), Bundelkhand (Chandelas), and Haryana (Tomaras). The Pallava dynasty of Kanchipuram ruled southeastern India from the 4th century to the 9th century. The Pratihara ruled northern India before the Rajputs. Various other dynasties such as the Yadav, Chera, Hoysala of Halebidu, Sena and Pala controlled various empires of their own.

Vijayanagar empire

Template:Main The brothers Harihara and Bukka founded the Karnataka Empire, also known as the Vijayanagara Empire, in 1336. The Vijayanagara empire prospered during the reign of Krishnadevaraya. It suffered a major defeat in 1565 but continued for another century or so in an attenuated form. Southern Indian kingdoms of the time expanded their influence as far as Indonesia, controlling vast overseas empires in south east Asia. The Hindu dynasty came into conflict with Islamic rule (the Bahmani Kingdom) and the clashing of the two systems, the prevailing indigenous Hindu/Muslim religion, which caused a mingling of the indigenous and foreign culture that left lasting cultural influences on each other. The later Mughal rule also saw such influences of Gujarati and Rajasthani culture contributing towards this.

The Islamic sultanates

Template:Main After the Arab-Turkic invasion of India's ancient northern neighbour Persia, various short lived Islamic empires invaded and spread across the subcontinent over a period of 1000 years. Prior to Turkic invasions, Muslim trading communities flourished throughout coastal South India, particularly in Kerala, where they arrived in small numbers through trade links via the Indian Ocean with the Arabian peninsula.

Delhi sultanate

In the 10th and 11th centuries, Turks and Afghans invaded parts of northern India and established the Delhi Sultanate at the beginning of the 13th century. The Slave dynasty managed to conquer large areas of northern India, approximate to the ancient extent of the Guptas, while the Khilji Empire was also able to conquer most of central India, but were ultimately unsuccessful in conquering most of the subcontinent, until the onset of the Mughals. Template:See also

Mughal empire

Image:Monument of love and symmetry.jpg In 1526, Babur, a Timurid descendant of Timur, swept across the Khyber Pass and established the Mughal Empire, which lasted for over 200 years. The Mughal Dynasty ruled most of the Indian subcontinent by 1600; it went into a slow decline after 1707 and was finally defeated during the Indian rebellion of 1857. This period marked vast social change in the subcontinent as the Hindu majority were ruled over by the Mughal emperors, some of whom showed religious tolerance, while others liberally patronized Hindu culture, and some of whom destroyed historical temples and imposed taxes on non-Muslims. During the decline of the Mughal Empire, which at its peak occupied an area slightly larger than the ancient Mauryan Empire, several smaller empires rose to fill the power vacuum or themselves were contributing factors to the decline.

The Greater Mughal Emperors
Emperor Reign start Reign end
Babur 1526 1530
Humayun 1530 1556
Akbar 1556 1605
Jahangir 1605 1627
Shah Jahan 1627 1658
Aurangzeb 1658 1707

The Maratha confederacy

Image:India1760 1905.jpg Image:Jantar mantar.JPG Image:Clive.jpg Template:Main The Maratha Kingdom was founded by Shivaji in 1674, when he annexed a portion of the Bijapur Sultanate. After consolidating his hold over his territories in the Deccan, Shivaji declared war on the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. By the 18th century, it had transformed itself into the Maratha Confederacy under the rule of the Peshwas. By 1760, the Empire had stretched across practically the entire subcontinent. This expansion was brought to an end by the defeat of the Marathas by an Afghan army led by Ahmad Shah Abdali at the Third Battle of Panipat (1761). The last Peshwa, Baji Rao II, was defeated by the British in the Third Anglo-Maratha War.

The Kingdom of Mysore

Template:Main The Kingdom of Mysore was a kingdom of southern India, which was founded around 1400 CE by the Wodeyar dynasty. The rule of the Wodeyars was interrupted by Hyder Ali and his son Tippu Sultan. Under their rule Mysore fought a series of wars sometimes against the combined forces of the British and Marathas, but mostly against the British with some aid or promise of aid from the French. After the death of Tippu Sultan in the Fourth War of Mysore in 1799, the Wodeyar dynasty regained limited power as a Princely State under the British. The Kingdom of Mysore became part of the modern day, Indian state of Karnataka.

The Punjab

Template:Main The Punjabi kingdom, ruled by members of the Sikh religious movement was a political entity that ruled the region of modern day Punjab. Founded by the ten Gurus of the Sikh faith, it expanded its borders during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh at the height of the Sikh Empire to include surrounding areas like Kashmir and Peshawar, and was among the last areas of the subcontinent that was conquered by the British. The Anglo-Sikh wars marked the downfall of the Sikh Empire.

Durrani Empire

Template:Main In 1748, the Afghan leader Ahmed Shah Durrani crossed the Indus River on the pretext of waging a jihad against the "Hindus". He attacked Lahore (in present day Pakistan) in 1750, his first Indian target. Subsequentley, he raided the rest of the Punjab (including Amritsar), Kashmir and finally Delhi. He also fought against the Marathas frequently. He left India with numerous treasures, including the Kohinoor diamond.

Colonial era

During the colonial era, India, along with several ancient nations in Asia, Africa and South America, was targeted by expansionist European powers, and was eventually incorporated into the British Empire. The subsequent freedom struggle, beginning with the First War of Independence, and later led by figures such as Mohandas Gandhi, would prove to be one of the biggest turning points in the development of modern world history.

Company rule

Template:Main articles Vasco da Gama's discovery of a new sea route to India in 1498 paved the way for European colonization of India. The Portuguese set up bases in Goa, Daman, Diu and Bombay. They remained the longest colonial rulers for 500 years till 1962. The British established their first outpost in South Asia in 1619 at Surat on the northwestern coast of India, arriving in the wake of Portuguese and Dutch visitors. Later in the century, the British East India Company opened permanent trading stations at Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta, each under the protection of native rulers. Template:Main

The French set up base along with the British in the 17th century. They occupied large parts of southern India. However subsequent wars with the British, led to the loss of almost all their territory. They however retained the colonies of Pondicherry - (Pondicherry, Karaikal, Yanam, and Mahé.) and Chandernagore. Pondicherry was ceded to India in 1950.

The Dutch did not have a major presence in India. The towns of Travancore were ruled by the Dutch. However they were more interested in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and their prize of the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). They were responsible for training the military of the princely state of Kerala. In 1845, the Danish colony of Tranquebar was sold to the United Kingdom.

The British Raj

Template:Main Image:British Empire 1921 IndianSubcontinent.png The British established a foothold in Bengal when the British soldiers, funded by the East India Company, and led by Robert Clive, defeated Nawab Siraj Ud Daulah in the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and plundered the Bengali treasure. Bengal became a protectorate, and then directly went under the rule of East India Company. The British East India Company monopolized the trade of Bengal. The Bengali craftsmen were inevitably fixed at foreign posts of the Company, where they were obliged to render their labour at minimal compensation while their collective tax burden increased harshly. The result was the famine of 1769 to 1773 in which 10 million Bengalis died, followed almost a century later by the catastrophic Great Calamity period, resulting in part from an extension of similar policies, in which up to 40 million Indians perished from famine amidst the collapse of India's native industries and skilled workforce.

By the 1850s Britain controlled most of the Indian sub-continent, which included present-day Pakistan and Bangladesh. From 1830, the defeat of the Thugs played a part in securing establishing greater control of diverse Indian provinces for the British.

The Indian rebellion of 1857 in the north, led by mutinous Indian soldiers, was crushed by the British. In the aftermath all political power was transferred from the East India Company to the Crown, which began administering most of India directly. It controlled the rest through local rulers.

The independence movement

Template:Main Image:Nehru Gandhi 1937 touchup.jpg In the late 19th century "British India" took its first steps toward self-government with the appointment of Indian councillors to advise the British viceroy, and the establishment of provincial Councils with Indian members; the British subsequently widened participation in legislative councils. Beginning in 1920, Indian leaders such as Mohandas K. Gandhi (also known as Mahatma (Great Soul) Gandhi) and Subhas Chandra Bose transformed the Indian National Congress into a mass movement to campaign against British colonial rule. The movement eventually succeeded in bringing independence to the people of the Indian subcontinent, by means of parliamentary action and non-violent resistance and non-cooperation. Following the division of India into the secular Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in August 1947, rioting broke out between Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims in several parts of India, including Punjab, Bengal and Delhi, leaving some 200,000 dead. Also, this period saw the largest mass migration ever recorded in modern history, with a total of 12 million Hindus and Muslims moved between the newly created dominions of India and Pakistan.

Republic of India

Main Articles: Political Integration of India, History of the Republic of India

Image:India-partition.GIF Since independence, India has fought a number of wars against its neighbours, most notably four wars against Pakistan, and one against China. It also detonated a nuclear device in 1974 and became a Declared nuclear state in 1998 following a series of tests. From a socialist-inspired economy to the early 1990s , India continued to make slow progress away from the state the British had left the country in, however, it was only after extensive economic reforms in the early 90s (initiated by Present Prime minister of India Manmohan Singh) that India's economy began to grow at a high rate. Today, in the 21st century, India is considered an emerging economic superpower, and is currently the tenth largest economy in terms of gross GDP, and 4th largest when accounting for purchasing power parity. Image:Mumbai Skyline.jpg Since independence, India has fought three major wars and one minor war with Pakistan (see Indo-Pakistani Wars). The Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 started over the control of Kashmir. The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 was also fought over Kashmir. In 1971, India hosted refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan and helped the Bangladeshi freedom fighters (Mukti Bahini) with resources and training during the Bangladesh Liberation War. During the final stages of that war, India became directly involved in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, which ultimately resulted in Pakistan's defeat and the independence of Bangladesh. India also fought a border war with China in 1962 (see Sino-Indian War).

As well as being a declared nuclear state, India has an advanced space program designed to benefit the country economically, rather than merely create prestige. In the 1990s, following economic reform from the socialist-inspired economy of post-independence India, the country began to experience rapid economic growth, as markets opened for international competition and investment. In the 21st century, India is an emerging economic power with vast human and natural resources, and a huge knowledge base. Economists predict that by 2050, India will be among the top three economies of the world.

Textbooks and surveys

See also

External links

de:Geschichte Indiens es:Historia de la India fr:Histoire de l'Inde he:היסטוריה של הודו lt:Indijos istorija pl:Historia Indii pt:História da Índia ru:История Индии fi:Intian historia sv:Indiens historia te:భారతదేశ చరిత్ర zh:印度历史