Indian History

The history of India begins with evidence of human activity of Homo sapiens, as long as 75,000 years ago, or with earlier hominids including Homo erectusfrom about 500,000 years ago. [1] The Indus Valley Civilisation, which spread and flourished in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent from c. 3300 to 1300 BCE in present-day Pakistan and northwest India, was the first major civilisation in South Asia. [2] A sophisticated and technologically advanced urban culture developed in the Mature Harappan period, from 2600 to 1900 BCE. 3] This Bronze Age civilisation collapsed before the end of the second millennium BCE and was followed by the Iron Age Vedic Civilisation, which extended over much of the Indo-Gangetic plain and which witnessed the rise of major polities known as the Mahajanapadas. In one of these kingdoms, Magadha, Mahaviraand Gautama Buddha were born in the 6th or 5th century BCE and propagated their Shramanic philosophies. Most of the subcontinent was conquered by the Maurya Empire during the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE.

Various parts of India ruled by numerous Middle kingdoms for the next 1,500 years, among which the Gupta Empire stands out. Southern India saw the rule of the Chalukyas, Cholas, Pallavas, and Pandyas. This period, witnessing a Hindu religious and intellectual resurgence, is known as the classical or “Golden Age of India”. During this period, aspects of Indian civilisation, administration, culture, and religion (Hinduism and Buddhism) spread to much of Asia, while kingdoms in southern India had maritime business links with the Roman Empire from around 77 CE.


Muslim rule in the subcontinent began in 8th century CE when the Arab general Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh and Multan in southern Punjab in modern day Pakistan,[4] setting the stage for several successive invasions from Central Asia between the 10th and 15th centuries CE, leading to the formation of Muslim empires in the Indian subcontinent such as the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire. Mughal rule came from Central Asia to cover most of the northern parts of the subcontinent.

Mughal rulers introduced Central Asian art and architecture to India. In addition to the Mughals and various Rajput kingdoms, several independent Hindu states, such as the Vijayanagara Empire, the Maratha Empire, Eastern Ganga Empire and the Ahom Kingdom, flourished contemporaneously in southern, western, eastern and northeastern India respectively. The Mughal Empire suffered a gradual decline in the early 18th entury, which provided opportunities for the Afghans, Balochis, Sikhs, and Marathas to exercise control over large areas in the northwest of the subcontinent until the British East India Company gained ascendancy over South Asia. [5] Beginning in the mid-18th century and over the next century, large areas of India were annexed by the British East India Company. Dissatisfaction with Company rule led to the Indian Rebellion of 1857, after which the British provinces of India were directly administered by the British Crown and witnessed a period of both rapid development of infrastructure and economic decline.

During the first half of the 20th century, a nationwide struggle for independence was launched by the Indian National Congress and later joined by the Muslim League. The subcontinent gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1947, after the British provinces were partitioned into the dominions of India and Pakistan and the princely states all acceded to one of the new states.

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