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History of India
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An Introduction to Indian History

The Indus valley civilization saw its genesis in the holy land now known as India around 2500 BC. The people inhabiting the Indus River valley were thought to be Dravidians, whose descendants later migrated to the south of India. The deterioration of this civilization that developed a culture based on commerce and sustained by agricultural trade can be attributed to ecological changes. The second millennium BC was witness to the migration of the bucolic Aryan tribes from the North West frontier into the sub continent. These tribes gradually merged with their antecedent cultures to give birth to a new milieu.

The Aryan tribes soon started penetrating the east, flourishing along the Ganga and Yamuna Rivers. By 500 BC, the whole of northern India was a civilized land where people had knowledge of iron implements and worked as labor, voluntarily or otherwise. The early political map of India comprised of copious independent states with fluid boundaries, with increasing population and abundance of wealth fueling disputes over these boundaries.

Unified under the famous Gupta Dynasty, the north of India touched the skies as far as administration and the Hindu religion were concerned. Little wonder then, that it is considered to be India’s golden age. By 600 BC, approximately sixteen dynasties ruled the north Indian plains spanning the modern day Afghanistan to Bangladesh. Some of the most powerful of them were the dynasties ruling the kingdoms of Magadha, Kosla, Kuru and Gandhara.

Known to be the land of epics and legends, two of the world’s greatest epics find their birth in Indian settings - the Ramayana, depicting the exploits of lord Ram, and the Mahabharta detailing the war between Kauravas and Pandavas, both descendants of King Bharat. Ramayana traces lord Ram’s journey from exile to the rescue of his wife Sita from the demonic clutches of Ravana with the help of his simian companions. Singing the virtues of Dharma(duty), the Gita, one of the most priced scriptures in Indian Mythology, is the advice given by Shri Krishna to the grief laden Arjun, who is terrified at the thought of killing his kin, on the battle ground. 

Mahatma Gandhi revived these virtues again, breathing new life in them, during India’s freedom struggle against British Colonialism. An ardent believer in communal harmony, he dreamt of a land where all religions would be the threads to form a rich social fabric.

Other good resources for History of India

India Timeline

Indian timeline takes us on a journey of the history of the subcontinent. Right from the ancient India, which included Bangladesh and Pakistan, to the free and divided India, this time line covers each and every aspect related to the past as well as present of the country. Read on further to explore the timeline of India:

Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (9000 BC to 7000 BC)
The earliest records of the Indian history exist in the form of the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka. These shelters are situated on the southern edge of the central Indian plateau, in the foothills of the Vindhyan Mountains. There are five groups of rock shelters, each of them adorned with paintings that are believed to date from the Mesolithic Period right through to the historical period.

Mehrgarh Culture (7000 BC to 3300 BC)
Mehrgarh is one of the most significant sites belonging to the Neolithic Age. At the same time, it is one of the oldest sites that indicate the introduction of the concept of farming and herding. Situated on the Kachi plain of Baluchistan (Pakistan), it lies to the west of the Indus River valley. The site of Mehrgarh, spread over an area of 495-acre, was discovered in the year 1974.

Indus Valley Civilization (3300 BC to 1700 BC)
The Indus Valley Civilization was discovered in the 1920s. The major events in the timeline of the Indus Valley are given below:

Early Harappan Phase (3300 BC to 2600 BC)
The early Harappan Phase lasted for approximately 700 years, starting with the Ravi Phase. It is one of the three earliest urban civilizations and made use of an early form of the Indus script, known as Harappan script, for writing purposes. Around 2800 BC, the Kot Diji phase of the Indus Valley Civilization started.

Mature Harappan Phase (2600 BC to 1700 BC)
The Mature Harappan Phase started around 2600 BC. Large cities and urban areas started emerging and the civilization expanded to over 2,500 cities and settlements. Urban planning, excellent sewage and drainage system, system of uniform weights and measures, knowledge of proto-dentistry, etc are some of the other elements that characterize the mature phase.

Late Harappan Phase (1700 BC to 1300 BC)
The Late Harappan Phase began around 1700 BC and came to an end around 1300 BC. However, one can find many elements of the Indus Valley Civilization in later cultures.

Vedic Period/Age (1700 BC to 500 BC)
The Vedic Period or the Vedic Age refers to the time of the compilation of the sacred Vedic Sanskrit texts in India. Situated on the Indo-Gangetic Plain, the Vedic Civilization formed the basis of Hinduism and the sIndian culture. The Vedic Period can be divided into the following two phases:

Early Vedic/Rig Vedic Period (1700 BC to 1000 BC)
Early Vedic Period represents the time period when the Rig Veda was compiled. During this period, the king was believed to be the protector of the people, who took an active part in the government. The caste system started becoming rigid and the families started becoming patriarchal. The major events of this time are:
  • 1700 BC - Late Harappan and Early Vedic period coincide
  • 1300 BC - The end of Cemetery H culture
  • 1000 BC - Iron Age of India
Later Vedic Age (1000 BC to 500 BC)
The emergence of the later Vedic period was marked with agriculture becoming the dominant economic activity and a decline in the significance of cattle rearing. The political organization changed completely, with the reduction in the involvement of people in the administration. The major events are:

600 BC - The formation of Sixteen Maha Janapadas (Great Kingdoms)
599 BC - The birth of Mahavira, founder of Jainism
563 BC - The birth of Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), founder of Buddhism
538 BC - Cyrus the Great conquered parts of Pakistan
500 BC - Earliest written records in Brahmi
500 BC - Panini standardized grammar and morphology of Sanskrit, converting it
into Classical Sanskrit. With this, the Vedic Civilization came to an end.

Ancient India (500 BCE - 550 AD)

Rise of Jainism and Buddhism
Jainism or Jain Dharma is the religious philosophy that originated in the Ancient India. The religion is based on the teachings of the Tirthankaras. The 24th Tirthankara, Lord Mahavira, is credited with propagating the religion in the various parts of the world. Buddhism is based on the teachings of Lord Buddha, who was born as Prince Siddhartha Gautama. After attaining Enlightenment, Lord Buddha set on a task of teaching others how to achieve nirvana. His teachings were later propagated throughout the world by Emperor Asoka. The other major events of the Ancient Indian period are:

333 BC - Darius III was defeated by Alexander the Great. The Macedonian Empire was established
326 BC - Ambhi, King of Taxila surrendered to Alexander, Battle of the Hydaspes River
321 BC - Chandra Gupta Maurya established the Maurya Empire
273 BC - Emperor Ashoka took over the Maurya Empire
266 BC - Ashoka conquered most of South Asia, Afghanistan and Iran
265 BC - The battle of Kalinga, after which Emperor Ashoka embraced Buddhism
232 BC: Ashoka died and was succeeded by Dasaratha
230 BC - Satavahana Empire was established
200 to 100 BC - Tholkappiyam standardized grammar and morphology of Tamil
184 BC - Collapse of Maurya Empire with the assassination of Emperor Brihadrata, Establishment of the Sunga dynasty
180 BC - Establishment of the Indo-Greek kingdom
80 BC - Establishment of the Indo-Scythian kingdom
10 BC - Establishment of the Indo-Parthian kingdom
68 AD - Establishment of the Kushan Empire by Kujula Kadphises
78 AD - Gautamiputra Satkarni took over Satavahana Empire and defeated Scythian king Vikramaditya
240 AD - Establishment of the Gupta Empire by Sri-Gupta
320 AD - Chandragupta I took over the Gupta Empire
335 AD - Samudragupta took over the Gupta Empire and started expanding it
350 AD - Establishment of the Pallava Empire
380 AD - Chandragupta II took over the Gupta Empire
399 to 414 AD - Chinese scholar Fa-Hien traveled to India

Medieval Period (550 AD to 1526 AD)
The medieval period can be divided into the following two phases:

Early Medieval Period (Upto 1300 AD)
606 AD - Harshavardhana became the King
630 AD - Hiuen Tsiang traveled to India
761 AD - First Muslim invasion by Mohammed Bin Qasim
800 AD - The birth of Shankaracharya
814 AD - Nripatunga Amoghavarsha I became Rashtrakuta king
1000 AD - Invasion by Mahmud of Ghazni
1017AD - Alberuni traveled to India
1100s AD - Rule of the Chandelas, Cholas, Kadambas, and Rashrakutas
1120 AD - Kalyani Chalukya Empire attained peak, Vikramaditya VI introduced Vikrama Chalukya Era
1191 AD - First battle of Tarain between Mohammed Ghori & Prithivi Raj Chauhan III
1192 AD - Second battle of Tarain between Ghauri and Prithivi Raj Chauhan III
1194 AD - Battle of Chandawar between Ghauri and Jayachandra
1288 AD - Marco Polo came to India

Late Medieval Period (1300 AD to 1500 AD)
1300 AD - Establishment of the Khilji Dynasty
1336 to 1565 AD - Vijayanagar Empire
1498 AD - First voyage of Vasco-da-Gama to Goa

Post-Medieval Era (1526 AD to 1818 AD)
The major events in the post medieval era are:

1526 AD - Babur, the Mughal ruler of Kabul, invaded Delhi and Agra and killed Sultan Ibrahim Lodi
1527 AD - Battle of Khanwa, in which Babur annexed Mewar
1530 AD - Babur died and was succeeded Humayun
1556 AD - Humayun died and was succeeded by his son Akbar
1600 AD - East India company was formed in England
1605 AD - Akbar died and was succeeded by Jehangir
1628 AD - Jehangir died and was succeeded by Shah Jahan
1630 AD - Shivaji was born
1658 AD - Shah Jahan built Taj Mahal, Jamia Masjid and Red Fort.
1659 AD - Shivaji defeated Adilshahi troops at the Battle of Pratapgarh
1674 AD - Maratha Empire was established
1680 AD - Shivaji died
1707 AD - Aurangzeb died and was succeeded by Bahadur Shah I
1707 AD - Maratha Empire broke into two divisions
1734 AD - Pamheiba invaded Tripura
1737 AD - Bajirao I conquered Delhi
1740 AD - Bajirao I died and was succeeded by Balaji Bajirao
1757 AD - Battle of Plassey was fought
1761 AD - Third battle of Panipat ended the expansion of Maratha Empire
1766 AD - First Anglo-Mysore War
1777 AD - First Anglo-Maratha War
1779 AD - Battle of Wadgaon
1780 AD - Second Anglo-Mysore War
1789 AD - Third Anglo-Mysore War
1798 AD - Fourth Anglo-Mysore War
1799 AD - Tipu Sultan died, Wodeyar dynasty was restored
1803 AD - Second Anglo-Maratha War
1817 AD - Third Anglo-Maratha War begins
1818 AD - End of the Maratha Empire and British control over most of India

Colonial Era (1818 AD to 1947 AD)
The Colonial Era started with the British taking control over almost all the parts of India and ended with the freedom of India in 1947. The major events that took place during the Colonial Era are:

1829 AD - Prohibition of Sati
1857 AD - First Indian war of Independence, known as Indian Mutiny
1885 AD - Indian National Congress was formed
1930 AD - Dandi Salt March, Simon Commission, First Round Table Conference
1915 AD - Home Rule League was founded by Annie Besant

1919 AD - Massacre at Jallianwalabagh
1931 AD - Bhagat Singh was hanged by the British, Second Round Table Conference, Gandhi-Irvin Pact
1919 AD - Khilafat Movement, Jalianwala Bagh Massacre, Rowlat Act
1937 AD - Congress won power in many states, World War II broke out
1921 AD - Civil Disobedience Movement
1928 AD - Murder of Lala Lajpat Rai
1942 AD - Quit India Movement, Rise of Subhash Chandra Bose
1922 AD - Quit India Movement suspended after the Chauri-Chura violence
1946 AD - Muslim League adamant about the formation of Pakistan
1947 AD - India gained independence and witnessed partition

Free and Modern India (1947 onwards)
In 1947, India became independent and from that year onwards, started India's struggle to become one of the leading nations of the world. Today, the country is regarded as one of the fastest growing economies of the world.

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