History of India
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The history of India begins with the archaeological record of Homo sapiens ca. 34,000 years ago. Bronze Age civilization emerges contemporary to the civilizations of the Ancient Near East. India's history essentially includes the entire Indian subcontinent, encompassing the territory of the modern nations of the Republic of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan.
The Indus Valley Civilization in its early phase began around 3300 BC, and reached its mature phase from around 2600 BC. This was followed by the Vedic Civilization. The origin of the Indo-Aryans is under some dispute. Most scholars<ref>Mallory, J.P. (1989). In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology and Myth. London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-27616-1. “The great majority of scholars insist that the Indo-Aryans were intrusive into northwest India.”</ref> 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 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, with some claiming that the Aryans moved out of India. This theory suggests that the Indus Valley Civilization was essentially Vedic and spread to other parts of Europe between the 6th and 2nd millennia BCE.<ref>The Aryan Non-Invasionist Model By Koenraad Elst </ref> The births of Mahavira and Buddha in the 6th century BCE mark the beginning of well-recorded Indian history. For the next 1500 years, India produced its classical civilization, and is estimated by some historians to have had the largest<ref>The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective - Angus Maddison, Organization for Economic Cooperation & Devel (April 2001) - ISBN 9264186085</ref> economy of the ancient world between the 1st and 15th centuries CE, controlling between one third and one quarter<ref>The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective - Angus Maddison, Organization for Economic Cooperation & Devel (April 2001) - ISBN 9264186085</ref> of the world's wealth up to the time of the Mughals, from whence it rapidly declined during British rule.<ref>The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective - Angus Maddison, Organization for Economic Cooperation & Devel (April 2001) - ISBN 9264186085</ref>
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. The British East India Company was established in 1600 CE. From 1757, the British East India Company had begun colonising parts of India and by 1858 after defeating Sikh Empire in Punjab in 1849, they fought 2 Anglo Sikh wars, 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 one 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.
 The Stone Age
Stone Age civilization in the Indian subcontinent started with the beginning of human settlement, and progressed towards farming, and the development of tools derived from natural objects, or crafted from raw material. The Mehrgarh community represents the earliest stage of agriculture in the subcontinent , and led to the emergance of Bronze Age culture of the Indus Valley.
 The Paleolithic era
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.<ref></ref> The precise date of these remains is unclear, and archaeologists put it anywhere between 200,000 to 500,000 years ago.<ref></ref> The fossils are the earliest human remains found in South Asia. Recent finds include a quarry along the Malaprabha River and Ghataprabha River in the Kaladgi Basin in Karnataka.
 The Mesolithic era
The Mesolithic period in the Indian subcontinent covered a timespan of around 25,000 years, starting around 30,000 years ago, where the earliest discovered sites of Mesolithic culture has been unearthed in Sri Lanka. Other settlements have also been found as far north as the caves of the Hindu Kush, which seem to be a direct progression from upper Paleolithic art. Cave paintings of game animals and human activity such as hunting, have been found at Mesolithic sites, and early forms of religious activity seem to have been found at some sites. Overall there is a great proliferation of Mesolithic culture throughout India, suggesting widespread habitation. Hunting, gathering, fishing, and other forms of hunter-gatherer subsistence seem to have dominated the period, however early forms of herding and small scale farming have been detected. Modern humans seem to have settled the subcontinent towards the end of the last Ice Age about 12,000 years ago.
 The Neolithic era
The first confirmed permanent settlements appeared 9,000 years ago in Bhimbetka in modern Madhya Pradesh. By 5100 BC, 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.<ref></ref> 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 civilizations in the Indian subcontinent laid the foundations for , 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 Civilization
The irrigation of the Indus Valley, which provided enough resources to support major urban centers such as Harappa and Mohenjo-daro around 2500 BC, marked the beginning of the Harappan Civilization. This period marked the beginning of the earliest urban society in India, known as the Indus Valley Civilization (or, the Harappan Civilization), which thrived between 2500 and 1900 BCE. It was centred on the Indus River and its tributaries, including the Ghaggar-Hakra River, and extended into the Ganges-Yamuna Doab, Gujarat, and northern Afghanistan.
The civilization 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 Sumer, the Indus Civilization 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 Civilization 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 Civilization
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. 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) including the famous stories of Rama and Krishna 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 well-known for its philosophical nature, is contained in 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 pdas]] (great lands), are referred to in the ancient literature of the period.
 The 16 Mahajanapadas of the Iron Age
During the iron age, a number of small kingdoms or city states covered the subcontinent, many mentioned during Vedic literature as far back as 1000 BCE. By 500 BCE, sixteen monarchies and 'republics' known as the Mahajanapadas viz: Kasi, Kosala, Anga, Magadha, Vajji (or Vriji), Malla, Chedi, Vatsa (or Vamsa), Kuru, Panchala, Machcha (or Matsya), Surasena, Assaka, Avanti, Gandhara, Kamboja-- stretched across the Indo-Gangetic plains from modern-day Afghanistan to Bangladesh, and many smaller clans mentioned within early literature seem to have been present across the rest of the subcontinent. 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 rite 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.
 Kuru kingdom
The location of the Kuru kingdom was in the area of modern Haryana state in India, and their capital was Indraprastha, which may have been the most powerful city in India, prior to the rise of the Magadhan city of Pataliputra. The Kuru kingdom figures prominently in the list of Mahajanapadas. At the time of Buddha, the Kuru realm was only three hundred leagues in extent, but was a cultural hub. The kingdom corresponds in name to the Kuru dynasty mentioned in the Indian epic Mahabharata.
 Gandhara kingdom
The location of the Gandhara kingdom was in the area of what is today northern Pakistan and southern Afghanistan, and major cities included Peshawar and Taxila, the latter of which is where Panini formulated his complete Sanskrit grammar around 500 BCE, marking the transition from Vedic Sanskrit to Classical Sanskrit. It was one of the most powerful of the Mahajanapadas, and also appeared in the Mahabharata epic, as an ally of the Kuru kingdom. The name Gandhara only disappeared 1500 years later, as part of the conquests of the controversial Mahmood of Ghazni.
 Kosala kingdom
The location of the Kosala kingdom was in the area of Oudh in Uttar Pradesh state in India, and their capital was Ayodhya. Like Kuru, Magadha and Gandhara, they represented one of the most powerful post-Vedic states in India, but were eventually weakened and absorbed by the growing Magadhan Empire during the Haryanka dynasty, and subsequent dynasties. The area featured prominently in epic Sanskrit literature such as the Ramayana, and was visited by Buddha and Mahavira.
 Anga kingdom
The location of the Anga kingdom was in the area of Bhagalpur and Monghyr in Bihar state of India. Their capital was said in the Indian epics to be the city of Malini, known later as Champa. Their territory may have at some point extended to the sea, and their capital was known as a center of commerce, perhaps trading as far away as modern Vietnam.
 Kalinga kingdom
- Main article: Kalinga
Kalinga was one of the many kingdoms throughout India at the time that were not one of the Mahajanapadas, however, they would play an important role in one of ancient India's most famous events - the conquest of their kingdom by the Emperor Asoka Maurya. Located in modern Orissa, the Kalinga kingdom may have begun the cultural link between India and the islands that would later become Indonesia that persisted throughout history.
 Persian and Greek invasion
Around the 5th century BCE, the northern Indian subcontinent was invaded by the Achaemenid Empire and, by the late 4th century BCE, the Greeks of Alexander's army. This had important repercussions for Indian Civilization, 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
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. 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.
 Alexander's Empire
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 was defeated by 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 Hyphases (Beas) River near modern day Jalandhar, Punjab, India, he crossed the river and ordered to erect giant altars to mark the eastern most extent of his empire on the east bank of the Beas. He also set up a city named Alexandria nearby and left many Macedonian veterans there, he himself turned back and marched 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
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 centred about 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
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.
 Haryanka dynasty
According to tradition, the Haryanka dynasty founded the Magadha Empire in 684 BCE, whose capital was Rajagriha, later Pataliputra, near the present day Patna. This dynasty was succeeded by the Shishunaga dynasty.
 Shishunaga 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. This dynasty lasted till 424 BCE, when it was overthrown by the Nanda dynasty.
 Nanda dynasty
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. It is said that rumors of the huge size of the Nanda army was in part responsible for the retreat of Alexander from India.
 Maurya dynasty
In 321 BCE, exiled general Chandragupta Maurya, under direct patronage of the genius of Chanakya, 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 Maurya was influenced by the jainacharya Bhadrabahu and he adopted Jainism.He is credited for the spread of Jainism in southern Indian region. Chandragupta was succeeded by his son Bindusara, who expanded the kingdom over most of present day India, barring Kalinga, and the extreme south and east, which may have held tributary status. Modern day India is an image of the Mauryana, that tied all the peoples and cultures of the erstwhile separate kingdoms under one banner, and predicted a common destiny for all Indians (then mainly Hindus and Buddhists). The tradition was continued later by the Mughals and the British, who formed similar empires.
Bindusara's 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.Ashoka's grandson Samprati adopted Jainism.He was influenced by the teachings of a great jain acharya Arya Suhasti. Following the lines of Ashoka, Samprati spread Jainism in many parts of this world and Indian sub-continent.It is said that Samprati built 1,25,000 Jain Temples all over India, many of which are worshipped today as well.
|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|
 Sunga dynasty
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.
 Kanva dynasty
The Kanva dynasty replaced the Sunga dynasty, and ruled in the eastern part of India from 71 BCE to 26 BCE. The last ruler of the Sunga dynasty was overthrown by Vasudeva of the Kanva dynasty in 75 BC. The Kanva ruler allowed the kings of the Sunga dynasty to continue to rule in obscurity in a corner of their former dominions. Magadha was ruled by four Kanva rulers. In 30 BC, the southern power swept away both the Kanvas and Sungas and the province of Eastern Malwa was absorbed within the dominions of the conqueror. Following the collapse of the Kanva dynasty, the Satavahana dynasty of the Andhra kindgom replaced the Magandhan kingdom as the most powerful Indian state.
 Early middle kingdoms - the golden age
The middle period, especially which associated with the Gupta dynasty, is known as India's Golden Age, a time of unparalleled cultural development. The Kushanas invaded north-western 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. Around the same time in southern India, the Pandyan kingdom began to take shape. An important source for the geography and history of that period is the Greek historian Arrian. This period lasted roughly from the rise of the Satavahanas in 200 BCE as the Mauryans declined, to the end of the Guptas, around the middle of the first millennium CE, a span of 700 years, and ended with the onset of Huna invasion.
 Satavahana empire
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.
 Kuninda kingdom
The Kuninda kingdom is noteworthy for being a small Himalayan state that survived for almost 500 years, and like many other small kingdoms of the era, were related to states contemporary to the Mahajanapadas, and mentioned in the epics. It was documented from around the 2nd century BCE, and lasted until roughly the 3rd century CE.
 Pandyas, Cholas and Cheras
Three different empires, the Pandyas, Cholas and Cheras, dominated the southern part of the Indian peninsula, at different periods of time. Eventually, due to the destabalisation of the large northern empires, caused by the onset of invasion from West Asia and Central Asia, replaced the southen plains as the center of classical Indian art and culture. They formed overseas empires that stretched across South East Asia. In the time period leading up to this, the kingdoms mainly warred with each other and Deccan states, for domination of the south.
 Kushan empire
The Kushan Empire (c. 1st–3rd centuries) was a state that at its height, about 105–250, stretched from Tajikistan to the Caspian Sea to Afghanistan and down into the Ganges river (Ganga) 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.
 Western Kshatrapas
The Western Kshatrapas, or Western Satraps, (35-405 CE) were Saka rulers of the western and central part of India (Saurashtra and Malwa: modern Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh states). They were contemporaneous with the Kushans who ruled the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, and the Satavahana (Andhra) who ruled in Central India. Altogether, there were 27 independent Kshatrapa rulers during a period of about 350 years. The word Kshatrapa stands for satrap, and its equivalent in Persian Ksatrapavan, which means viceroy or governor of a province.
 Gupta dynasty
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.
|The Greater Gupta Emperors|
|Emperor||Reign start||Reign end|
|Chandra Gupta I||319||335|
|Chandra Gupta II||380||415|
|Kumara Gupta I||415||445|
 White Hun invasion
The White Huns, (sometimes known as Alchon, and inaccurately portrayed 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.
In the south, a Buddhist kingdom, the Kalabhras, briefly interrupted the usual domination of the Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas, imposing the only known Buddhist dynasty to have ever ruled there. However, between the 3rd and the 6th century CE, they would succeed in uniting the south.
 Northwestern hybrid cultures
A series of hybrid cultures formed in the region of northwestern India, around modern Afghanistan and Pakistan, due to remnant kingdoms left by Persian and Greek conqests, who were later supplanted by invading nomads from central Asia. These unique cultures often dominated the area of the silk route where trade and culture from India, China and Persia met, gaining influence from cultures throughout the world, and spreading Indian developments to other countries connected along the trade route. Their rulers adopted Buddhism and Hinduism, and their culture influenced north Indian styles.
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 centred in Bactria (today's northern Afghanistan).
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.
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. They were known in India as Pahlava.
The Sassanian empire of Persia, who were close contemporaries of the Guptas, began to expand into the north-western 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 Balochistan. The last Hindu kingdom in this region, the Shahi dynasty, also may have arisen from this culture.
 Late Middle Kingdoms - the classical age
Later during the middle period, 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. This period produced some of India's finest art, considered the epitomy of classical development, and the main spiritual and philosophical systems of India continued to be Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. This period began with the resurgence of the north during Harsha's conquests around the 7th century, and ended with the fall of the Vijaynagar Empire in the South, due to pressure from the invaders to the north in the 13th century.
 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. King Harsha is often referred to as The Last Hindu Emperor of India, seeing that no king until Akbar in the 16th century managed to conquer an empire as large as Harsha's.
 The Chalukyas and Pallavas
The Vishnukundina dynasty was located around the area of Kalinga or Orissa, starting around the 6th century, and would eventually become part of the Chalukya holdings. The Chalukya Empire ruled parts of southern and central India from 550 to 750 from Badami, Karnataka and again from 970 to 1190 from Kalyani, 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
The Cholas emerged as the most powerful empire in the 9th century and retained their pre-eminent position until the 12th century when the Hoysala empire was founded in Karnataka. The Cholas, like the Chalukyas and Pallavas before them, and the Hoysala and 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. One particular medieval Chola ruler, Raja Raja the Great, is known as one of India's greatest Emperors, having initiated a massive building programme, that produced some of the finest temple architecture in the subcontinent.
 Pratiharas, Palas, and Rashtrakutas
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 Sena dynasty would later assume control of the Pala kingdom, and the Pratiharas fragmented into various Rajput states.
 The Rajputs
<**>The origins of Rajputs and the clans and kings mentioned here are not based upon any definitive historical evidence - especially so with Prithviraj Chauhan. The reader is warned<**>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). One Rajput of the Chauhan dynasty, Prithviraj Chauhan, was known for bloody conflicts against the encroaching Islamic Sultanates, and the Rajputs in general, due to their location in the north of India, bore the brunt of this assault for centuries, successfully maintaining their kingdoms. Later, some of them cooperated with the Mughal empire. The Rajput period is known for its artistic and architectural contribution. The Rajputs constructed some of the most beautiful architectural marvels of India, including the Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, the palaces of Udaipur, and the temples of Khajuraho. Rajput architecture played a major role in the fruition of Mughal architecture. Rajasthani art and paintings (also called Pahari art) depicting the pastimes of Lord Krishna became a landmark, paving the way for religious and artistic movements in India during the Mughal period. Hindi was the result of amalgamation of Hindu cultures like the Rajputs with the Mughals.
 Hoysalas, Kakatiyas, southern Kalachuris, Seuna Yadavas
With the decline of the Kalyani Chalukya empire, their feudatories, Hoysalas of Halebidu, Kakatiya of Warangal, Seuna Yadavas of Devagiri and a southern branch of the Kalachuri divided the vast Chalukya empire amongst themselves around the middle of 12th. century. Literature in local vernaculars and spectacular architecture flourished till about the beginning of the 14th century when southern expeditions of the sultan of Delhi took their toll on these kingdoms. By 1343 A.D., all these kingdoms had ceased to exist giving rise to the Vijayanagar empire that rose to power in the domains of the Hoysalas and Kakatiya.
 Shahi kingdom
The Shahi dynasty ruled portions of eastern Afghanistan, northern Pakistan, and Kashmir from the mid-seventh century to the early eleventh century. They are split into two eras the Buddhist Turk Shahis and the Hindu Shahis with the changeover occurring sometime around 870. They were the last Hindu or Buddhist dynasty to rule the area of Gandhara or Afghanistan, prior to the invasions of the Ghaznavids and other Sultanates or warlords.
 Vijayanagar empire
The brothers Harihara and Bukka founded the Vijayanagara Empire, in 1336 with its regal capital as Vijayanagara, which is present day Hampi in Karnataka. 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 Southeast Asia. The Hindu dynasty came into conflict with Islamic rule (the Bahmani Kingdom) and the clashing of the two systems, caused a mingling of the indigenous and foreign culture that left lasting cultural influences on each other. The empire contributed greatly to arts, architecture and literature in Kannada, Telugu and Sanskrit. The vast theatre of monuments at Hampi are testimony to this.
The Vijaynagar Empire eventually declined due to pressure from the first Delhi Sultanates who had managed to establish themselves in the north, centered around the city of Delhi, a former Rajput holding. This marked a new period in Indian history, and the end of the classical culture that had been created in India, and influenced the east, for almost two thousand years.
 The Islamic sultanates
After the Arab-Turkic invasion of India's ancient northern neighbour Persia, expanding forces in that area were keen to invade India, which was the richest classical civilization, with the only known diamond mines in the world. After resistance for a few centuries by various north Indian kingdoms, short lived Islamic empires invaded and spread across the northern subcontinent over a period of a few centuries. 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, however, this marked the largescale introduction of western religion into the primarily dharmic culture of India, often in puritanical form.
 Delhi sultanate
In the 12th and 13th centuries, Arabs, Turks and Afghans invaded parts of northern India and established the Delhi Sultanate at the beginning of the 13th century, from former Rajput holdings. The subsequant Slave dynasty of Delhi 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.
 The Mughal era
During the Mughal era, the dominant political forces consisted of the Mughal Empire, its tributaries, and the rise of its successor states, including the Maratha confederacy, who fought an increasingly weak and disfavoured Mughal dynasty.
 Mughal empire
In 1526, Babur, a Timurid (Turco-Persian) descendant of Timur, swept across the Khyber Pass and established the Mughal Empire, which lasted for over 200 years. (The traditional form of "Mughal" in English is "Mogul," leading to the use of that word as a term for a powerful businessman.) 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, liberally patroning 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 Maurya Empire, several smaller empires rose to fill the power vacuum or themselves were contributing factors to the decline. The Mughals were perhaps the richest single dynasty to have ever existed. The Taj Mahal might have existed long before Shahjahan's era is another debatable issue for some of the historians based on certain archaeological evidences which prove otherwise.
The Mughals, while often employing brutal tactics to subjugate their empire, had a policy of integration with Indian culture, which is what made them successful where the short-lived Sultanates of Delhi had failed. This is much the same as how the earliest Mongols had conquered Asia, and then adopted local culture, whether Chinese or Persian. Akbar the Great was particularly famed for this. Akbar was greatly influenced by the teachings of JainAcharyaHir Vijay Suri and Jin Chandra Suri. Akbar gave up non-vegetarian food by their influence. Akbar declared "Amari" or non-killing of animals in the holy days of Jains like Paryushan and Mahavir Jayanti. He rolled back Zazia Tax from Jain Pilgrim places like Palitana.The Mughal Emperors quickly married local royalty, allied themselves with local Maharajas, and attempted to fuse their Turko-Persian culture with ancient Indian styles, creating unique Indo-Saracenic architecture. It was the erosion of this tradition coupled with increased brutality and centralisation that played a large part in their downfall after Aurangzeb, who unlike previous emperors, imposed relatively non-pluralistic policies on the general population, that often inflamed the majority Hindu population.
|The Greater Mughal Emperors|
|Emperor||Reign start||Reign end|
 Post-Mughal era
The post-Mughal era was dominated by the rise of the Maratha confederacy, other regional states, post-Mughal tributary states, and the increasing activities of European powers, leading to the British annexing of Bengal.
 The Maratha Empire
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, gaining popular support against his controversial policies. By the 18th century, it had transformed itself into the Maratha Empire 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
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 Hyderabad State
Hyderābād and Berar Telugu: హైదరాబాదు Urdu: حیدر آباد) under the Nizam's, was a princely state in India. Area wise it was as big as the United Kingdom. It was located in south-central India from 1724 until 1948, ruled by a hereditary Nizam, and an Indian state from 1948 to 1956. Its capital city Hyderabad was for most of that time one of India's four largest cities.(
In 1686 the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb campaigned in the Deccan to tame the Marathas and conquer the independent Deccan states. Before the campaign, the Mughals had controlled the northwestern Deccan, including Khandesh and Berar, but Mughal control ended at the Godavari River. Aurangzeb conquered Golconda and Bijapur in 1687, extending Mughal control south of the Krishna River.
The Mughal Empire began to weaken during the reign of Aurangzeb's grandson, Muhammad Shah. A Mughal official, Asif Jah, defeated a rival Mughal governor to seize control of the empire's southern provinces, declaring himself Nizam-al-Mulk of Hyderabad in 1724. The Mughal emperor, under renewed attack from the Marathas, was unable to prevent it.
The seniormost (21-gun) princely state in British India, Hyderabad was an 82,000 square mile (212,000 km²) region in the Deccan ruled by the Asif Jah dynasty of Muslim rulers, who had the title of Nizam and style of His Exalted Highness. The Nizams ruled over the wealthiest state in India at that time, controlling some 16,500,000 people. During the height of Hyderabad's wealth in the 1930s the Nizam was the world's richest man, famous for employing 11,000 servants and using the Jacob Diamond as a paperweight. Administratively, it was made up of sixteen districts, grouped into four divisions. Aurangabad division included Aurangabad, Beed, Nander, and Parbhani districts; Gulbargah (Gulbargah) division included Bidar District, Gulbarga, Osmanabad District, and Raichur District; Gulshanabad District or Medak division included Atraf-i-Baldah, Mahbubnagar, Medak, Nalgonda (Nalgundah), and Nizamabad districts, and Warangal division included Adilabad, Karimnagar, and Warangal districts.
 Indian independenceWhen India became independent on August 15, 1947, the Muslim Nizam refused to accede to the Indian Union, although it entirely surrounded his territory, demanding the right as ruler of 18 million (overwhelmingly Hindu) subjects to rule a separate state. The resulting standoff ended a military invasion by Indian troops under the rubric of a 'police action' called Operation Polo between September 13 - September 17, 1948 and its incorporation as a state of India the next year. The present Nizam (the eighth), Nawwab Mir Barkat Ali Khan, Mukarram Jah Bahadur, currently lives in Turkey.
In November 1956 the State of Hyderabad was divided along linguistic lines, with Telangana, the northeastern Telugu-speaking region including the city of Hyderabad, assigned to the newly created Andhra Pradesh state, the Kannada-speaking western districts assigned to the state of Karnataka, and Marathwada, the Marathi-speaking northwestern region of the state, assigned to Bombay state, later Maharashtra.
Due to the long rule of the nawabs and the muslim rulers, there is still a long lasting cultural impact that continues to this day. For instance many of the local dialects of Telugu and Kannada are laced with Urdu - the official language during the Nizam rule. The cuisine too incorporates the Biryani a popular main dish and several other influences.
More than half the revenue of the state was derived from the land, and the development of the country by irrigation and railways caused considerable expansion in this revenue, though the rate of increase in the decade1891-1901was retarded by a succession of unfavourable seasons. The generally fertile soil produced millets of various kinds, rice, wheat, oil-seeds, cotton, tobacco, sugar-cane, and fruits and garden produce in great variety. Silk, Lac, gums and oils were found in great quantities. Hides, raw and tanned, are articles of some importance in commerce. The principal exports are cotton, oil-seeds, country-clothes and hides; the imports are salt, grain, timber, European piecegoods and hardware. The mineral wealth of the state consists of coal, copper, iron, diamonds and gold; but the development of these resources has not hitherto been very successful. The only coal mine now worked is the large one at Singareni, with an annual out-turn of nearly half a million tons. This coal has enabled the nizam's guaranteed state railway to be worked so cheaply that it now returns a handsome profit to the state. It also gives encouragement to much-needed schemes of railway extension, and to the erection of cotton presses and of spinning and weaving mills.
The Hyderabad-Godavari railway (opened in 1901) traverses a rich cotton country, and cotton presses have been erected along the line. The currency of the state is based on the hall sikka, which contains approximately the same weight of silver as the British rupee, but its exchange value fell heavily after 1893, when free coinage ceased in the mint. In 1904, however, a new coin (the Mahbubia rupee) was minted; the supply was regulated, and the rate of exchange became about 115 = loo British rupees. The state suffered from famine during 1900, the total number of persons in receipt of relief rising to nearly 500,000 in June of that year. The nizam met the demands for relief with great liberality.
The nizam of Hyderabad is the principal Mahommedan ruler in India. The family was founded by Asaf Jah, a distinguished Turkoman soldier of the emperor Aurangzeb, who in 1713 was appointed subandar of the Deccan, with the title of nizamul-mulk (regulator of the state), but eventually threw off the control of the Delhi court. Azaf Jah's death in 1748 was followed by an internecine struggle for the throne among his descendants, in which the British and the French took part. At one time the French nominee, Salabat Jang, established himself with the help of Bussy. But finally, in 1761, when the British had secured their predominance throughout southern India, Nizam Ali took his place and ruled till 1803. It was he who confirmed the grant of the Northern Circars in 1766, and joined in the two wars against Tippoo Sultan in 1792 and 1799. The additions of territory which he acquired by these wars was afterwards (1800) ceded to the British, as payment for the subsidiary force which he had undertaken to maintain. By a later treaty in 18J3, the districts known as Berar were "assigned" to defray the cost of the Hyderabad contingent. In 1857 when the Mutiny broke out, the attitude of Hyderabad as the premier native state and the cynosure of the Mahommedans in India became a matter of extreme importance; but Afzul-ud-Dowla, the father of the present ruler, and his famous minister, Sir Salar Jang, remained loyal to the British. An attack on the residency was repulsed, and the Hyderabad contingent displayed their loyalty in the field against the rebels. In 1902 by a treaty made by Lord Curzon, Berar was leased in perpetuity to the British government, and the Hyderabad contingent was merged in the Indian army. The nizam Mir Mahbub Ali Khan Bahadur, Asaf Jab, a direct descendant of the famous nizam-ul-mulk, was born on the 18th of August 1866. On the death of his father in 1869 he succeeded to the throne as a minor, and was invested with full powers in 1884. He is notable as the originator of the Imperial Service Troops, which now form the contribution of the native chiefs to the defence of India. On the occasion of the Panjdeh incident in 1885 he made an offer of money and men, and subsequently on the occasion of Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1887 he offered 20 lakhs (£130,000) annually for three years for the purpose of frontier defence. It was finally decided that the native chiefs should maintain small but well-equipped bodies of infantry and cavalry for imperial defence. For many years past the Hyderabad finances were in a very unhealthy condition; the expenditure consistently outran the revenue, and the nobles, who held their tenure under an obsolete feudal system, vied with each other in ostentatious extravagance. But in 1902, on the revision of the Berar agreement, the nizam received 25 lakhs (L167,000) a year for the rent of Berar, thus substituting a fixed for a fluctuating source of income, and a British financial adviser was appointed for the purpose of reorganizing the resources of the state.
 The Punjab
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, Peshawar, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, 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.
In 1748, the Afghan leader Ahmed Shah Abdali 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.
 Gorkha kingdom
It was around the 18th century that modern Nepal, formerly part of several empires such as the Mauryans, was formed by Gorkha rulers, who conquered the Kathmandu valley. During later colonial rule, Nepal was made a puppet state of Great Britain, rather than annexed like other princely states, in part due to the use of Gurkhas in the British and British Indian armies.
 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 attempted to be incorporated as a vassal territory governed largely by the British Crown. This was a turning point in the development of modern world history. The subsequent independence struggle began with the Rebellion of 1857, and was later led by figures such as Mohandas Gandhi.
 Trade-Post rule
Vasco da Gama's discovery of a new sea route to India in 1498 paved the way for European commerce with India. The Portuguese set up bases in Goa, Daman, Diu and Bombay. They maintained the longest trade-post 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.
 French factories/trade posts
See also: French India
The French set up base along with the British in the 17th century. They tried to occupy large parts of southern India. However, subsequent wars with the British, led to the loss of almost all of their commercial posts. They however retained the trade-posts of Pondicherry - (Pondicherry, Karaikal, Yanam, and Mahé.) and Chandernagore. The French were expelled from Pondicherry in 1950.
The Dutch did not have a major presence in India. They maintained trade-posts in the towns of Travancore; however they were more interested in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). They were responsible for training the military of the princely state of Kerala. In 1845, the Danish trade-post of Tranquebar was sold to the United Kingdom.
 The British Raj
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 and known in British history as the Great Mutiny, 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 Indian Independence movement
With all the myriad kingdoms united in one entity, in the late 19th century, the first step toward Indian nationhood and western-style democracy was taken, with the appointment of Indian councillors to advise the symbolic British viceroy, and the establishment of provincial Councils with Indian members; the councillors participation was subsequently widened in legislative councils. Beginning in 1920, Indian leaders such as Subhas Chandra Bose transformed the Indian National Congress into a mass movement to campaign against the British Raj. The movement eventually succeeded in bringing a unified democratic nation-state 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 nations of India (officially secular, later the Republic of India) and Pakistan (Islamic, later the Islamic Republic of Pakistan) in August 1947, rioting broke out between Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims in several parts of India, including Punjab which was partitioned between India and Pakistan; 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, Sikhs and Muslims moved between the newly created nations of India and Pakistan.
 Republic of India
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 the then Finance minister of India Manmohan Singh (currently the Prime Minister) that India's economy began to grow at a high rate. Today, in the 21st century, India is considered an emerging economic superpower,<ref>Chaze, Aaron (2006). India: An Investor’s Guide to the Next Economic Superpower. USA: Wiley. ISBN 0-470-82194-9.</ref> and is currently the tenth largest economy in terms of gross GDP, and 4th largest when accounting for purchasing power parity.
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 the People's Republic of 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 and labelled as a modern great 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. 
 Further reading
- Allan, J. T. Wolseley Haig, and H. H. Dodwell, The Cambridge Shorter History of India (1934)
- Chandavarkar, Raj. The Origins of Industrial Capitalism in India: Business Strategies and the Working Class in Bombay 1900-1940 (1994)
- Cohen, Stephen P. India: Emerging Power (2002)
- Daniélou, Alain. A Brief History of India (2003)
- Das, Gurcharan. India Unbound : The Social and Economic Revolution from Independence to the Global Information Age (2002)
- Keay, John. India: A History (2001)
- Kishore, Prem and Anuradha Kishore Ganpati. India: An Illustrated History (2003)]
- Kulke, Hermann and Dietmar Rothermund. A History of India. 3rd ed. (1998)
- Majumdar, R. C., H.C. Raychaudhuri, and Kaukinkar Datta. An Advanced History of India London: Macmillan. 1960. ISBN 0-333-90298-X
- Majumdar, R. C. The History and Culture of the Indian People New York: The Macmillan Co., 1951.
- Mcleod, John. The History of India (2002)
- Rothermund, Dietmar. An Economic History of India: From Pre-Colonial Times to 1991 (1993)
- Smith, Vincent. The Oxford History of India (1981)
- Spear, Percival. The History of India Vol. 2 (1990)
- Thapar, Romila. Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300 (2004)
- Wolpert, Stanley. A New History of India 6th ed. (1999)
 See also
- Emperor Bharata
- Economic history of India
- Economy of India
- Historical maps of India
- History of Buddhism
- History of Hinduism
- History of sex in India
- History of South Asia
- Indian maritime history
- Indian mathematics
- Kingdoms of Ancient India
- List of Indian Monarchs
- List of Indians
- Military history of India
- Timeline of Indian history
- Mughal empire
- Emperor of India
- Mir Jumla
 External links
- Central Oregon Community College:India Timeline
- Sources of Early Indian History
- A Tribute to Hinduism
- A Concise History of India
- A Timeline of Indian History