History of India
The history of India is one of the grand epics of world history and can be best described in the words of India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru as "a bundle of contradictions held together by strong but invisible threads". Indian history can be characterised as a work in progress, a continuous process of reinvention that can eventually prove elusive for those seeking to grasp its essential character.
The history of this astonishing sub continent dates back to almost 75000 years ago with the evidence of human activity of Homo sapiens. Amazingly, almost five thousand years ago, the inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilisation had developed an urban culture based on commerce and sustained by agricultural trade.
Following is the history of India through the Ages:
Early Historic Period
The Vedas are some of the oldest extant texts, next to those in Egypt and Mesopotamia. The Vedic era in the subcontinent lasted from about 1500-500 BCE, laying down the foundation of Hinduism and other cultural dimensions of early Indian society. The Aryans laid down Vedic civilisation all over North India, particularly in the Gangetic Plain.
This period saw the second major rise in urbanisation in India after the Indus valley Civilisation. The word "maha" means great and the word "janapada" means foothold of a tribe. In the later Vedic Age, a number of small kingdoms or city states had mushroomed across the subcontinent and also find mention in early Buddhist and Jain literature as far back as 1000 BCE. By 500 BCE, sixteen "republics" or Mahajanapadas has been established, namely; Kasi, Kosala, Anga, Magadha, Vajji (or Vriji), Malla, Chedi, Vatsa (or Vamsa), Kuru, Panchala, Matsya, Surasena, Assaka, Avanti, Gandhara, and Kamboja.
Persian and Greek Conquests:
Ancient India Timeline
Prehistoric Period: ( 400000 BC - 1000 BC ): The period when man, basically a food gatherer, discovered fire and wheel.
Indus Valley Civilisation: (2500 BC - 1500 BC): Derived its name from the river Indus and thrived on agriculture and worshipped natural forces.
Epic Age: (1000 BC - 600 BC): The period saw the compilation of the Vedas, distinction of Varnas in terms of Aryans and Dasas (slaves).
Hinduism and Transition: (600 BC - 322 BC): As caste system became more rigid, the period saw the advent of Mahavira and Buddha who rebelled against casteism. Mahajanapadas were formed - Magadha under Bimbisara and Ajat Shatru and Shisunanga and Nanda dynasty.
The Mauryan Age: (322 BC - 185 BC): Founded by Chandragupta Maurya, the empire encompassed the entire North India and Bindusara further extended it. After fighting the Kalinga war, Ashoka embraced Buddhism.
The Invasions: (185 BC - 320 AD): The period saw the invasion of Bactrians, Parthians, Shakas & Kushans, opening of Central Asia for trade, issuance of GOLD coins and introduction of the Saka era.
Deccan and South India: (65 BC - 250 AD): The southern part was ruled by Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas This period is known for construction of Ajanta and Ellora cave temples, Sangam literature, and arrival of Christianity to India.
The Gupta Dynasty: (320 AD - 520 AD): The Gupta dynasty founded by Chandragupta I, ushered in classical age in north India with Samudragupta extending his kingdom and Chandragupta II fighting against Shakas.
Age of Small Kingdoms: (500 AD - 606 AD): The period saw migrations from Central Asia and Iran as Hunas moved to north India.
Harshavardhana: (606 AD - 647 AD): The famous Chinese traveller Hieun Tsang visited India during Emperor Harshawardhana's reign.
The Southern Kingdoms: (500 AD - 750 AD): Empire of Chalukyas, Pallavas & Pandya flourished. Zoroastrians (Parsis) came to India.
Chola Empire: (9th Cent. AD - 13th Cent. AD): Founded by Vijayalaya, the Chola empire adopted a maritime policy.
The Northern Kingdoms: (750 AD - 1206 AD): The Rashtrakutas became powerful, Pratiharas ruled in Avanti and Palas ruled Bengal. The period also saw emergence of Rajput clans.
The Mughal Empire:
Family Tree of Mughals:
The British Rule:
Bahadur Shah Zafar:
Most rebelling Indians accepted Bahadur Shah Zafar as the Emperor of India under whom they united. But he fell to the wily machinations of the British. His fall marked the end of more than three centuries of Mughal rule in India.
Mangal Pandey, part of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry, is primarily known for his involvement in attack on his senior British officers on 29th March 1857 at Barrackpore, an incident that marked the beginning of the First War of Indian Independence.
Nana Sahib, the adopted son of exiled Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao II, led the revolt at Kanpur.
She fought valiantly against the British troops along with Tatya Tope. However, on the 17th of June 1858, while battling against the British near the Phool Bagh area of Gwalior, she laid down her life.
Tatya Tope, a close associate and general of Nana Sahib, fought against the British and joined forced with Rani Lakshmibai.
Veer Kunwar Singh:
The king of Jagdispur, currently a part of Bhojpur district, Bihar, Veer Kunwar Singh, led armed soldiers against the British troops.
The Indian Independence Movement and Mahatma Gandhi:
Leaders of Freedom Struggle
Independence and Partition:
Today, India marches proudly as the most vibrant republic and largest democracy of the world, an influential nation in South Asia and an emerging global superpower.
India is the second largest country in Asia and the seventh largest and second most populous country on Earth. It comprises as much as one third of Asia and supports one seventh of humanity.