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History of India

Table of contents
1 Vedic India
2 Rise of Jainism and Buddhism
3 Mauryan Period
4 The Classical Age
5 Pallavas
6 Chalukya Empire
7 Chola Empire
8 Karnataka Empire
9 Muslim Invasion
10 Mughal Dynasty
11 British Colonial Period
12 1947 Onwards
13 Timeline approximate
14 Political timeline
15 See also
16 External links

Vedic India

Main article: History of South Asia

The people of India have had a continuous recorded civilization since the 7000 BC, traced to the Mehrgarh complex of the Indus Tradition in northwest India. This reached its most prosperous phase in the 2600 BC in the valleys of the Sarasvati and Sindh rivers as an urban culture based on commerce and sustained by agricultural trade. This civilization declined between the 19th and 17th century BC, probably due to ecological changes. See: Indus Valley civilization

Recent data, substantiated by satellite imagery and oceanographic studies, suggests that the civilisation flourished even as far back as the 9000 BC. Prior to this, a tradition of Indian rock art dates to 40 or 50,000 years ago.

Rise of Jainism and Buddhism

Mauryan Period

Chandragupta Maruya founded the Mauryan dynasty with the help of Chanakya or Kautilya the author of the ancient text Arthashastra. Ashoka, one of the greatest rulers of this dynasty, embraced and preached Buddhism after the bloody battle of Kalinga. The mighty empire of the Mauryans began to decline after the death of Ashoka.

The Classical Age

The political map of ancient and medieval India comprised myriad kingdoms with fluctuating boundaries. 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.


4th century to 9th century in Kanchi

Chalukya Empire

6th century to 12th century

Chola Empire

9th century to 13th century

Islam spread across the subcontinent over a period of 500 years. In the 10th and 11th centuries, Turks and Afghans invaded India and established sultanates in Delhi. In the early 16th century, descendants of Genghis Khan swept across the Khyber Pass and established the Mughal (Mogul) Dynasty, which lasted for 200 years. From the 11th to the 15th centuries the Hindu Chola and Vijayanagar Dynasties dominated southern India. During this time, the two systems — the prevailing Hindu and the Muslim — mingled, leaving lasting cultural influences on each other.

Karnataka Empire

The brothers Harihara and Bukka founded the Karnataka Empire, also known as the Vijayanagar Empire, in 1336. It suffered a major defeat in 1565 but continued for another century or so in an attenuated form.

Muslim Invasion

Mughal Dynasty

British Colonial Period

Main article: British Raj.

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.

The British expanded their influence from these footholds until, by the 1850s, they controlled most of the Indian sub-continent, which included present-day Pakistan and Bangladesh. In 1857, a rebellion in northern India led by mutinous Indian soldiers caused the British Parliament to transfer all political power from the East India Company to the Crown. Great Britain began administering most of India directly, while controlling the rest through treaties with local rulers.

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 with the establishment of provincial councils with Indian members; the British subsequently widened participation in legislative councils. Beginning in 1920, the Indian leader Mohandas K. Gandhi (also known as Mahatma Gandhi, a title similar to the Christian concept of sainthood) transformed the Indian National Congress party into a mass movement to campaign against British colonial rule. The movement eventually succeeded in bringing about independence by means of parliamentary action, nonviolent resistance and noncooperation.

1947 Onwards

On August 15, 1947, India became a dominion within the Commonwealth of Nations under the leadership of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims led to the partition of British India and the setting up of East and West Pakistan, where Muslim majorities lived. The Indian Constituent Assembly adopted India's constitution on November 26, 1949. External link to the constitution India became a secular republic within the Commonwealth after promulgating its constitution on January 26, 1950.

After independence, the Congress Party, the party of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, ruled India under the influence first of Nehru and then of his daughter Indira Gandhi and of his grandson Rajiv Gandhi, with the exception of two brief periods in the 1970s and 1980s.

Prime Minister Nehru governed the nation until his death in 1964. Lal Bahadur Shastri succeeded him, but also died in office. In 1966, power passed to Nehru's daughter, Indira Gandhi, who served as Prime Minister from 1966 to 1977. In 1975, beset with deepening political and economic problems, Mrs. Gandhi declared a state of emergency and suspended many civil liberties. Seeking a mandate at the polls for her policies, she called for elections in 1977, only to suffer electoral defeat at the hands of Morarji Desai, who headed the Janata Party, an amalgamation of five opposition parties.

In 1979, Desai's Government crumbled. Charan Singh formed an interim government, which was followed by Mrs. Gandhi's return to power in January 1980. On October 31, 1984, assassins killed Mrs. Gandhi, and the Congress (I) - for "Indira" - Party chose her son Rajiv Gandhi to take her place. His government fell in 1989 amid allegations of corruption. V.P. Singh and then Chandra Shekhar in turn succeeded as Prime Minister.

After the 1989 elections, although Rajiv Gandhi and Congress won more seats than any other single party, he did not succeed in forming a government with a clear majority. The Janata Dal, a union of opposition parties, formed a government with the help of the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the right and of the communists on the left. This loose coalition collapsed in November 1990, and for a short period of time a breakaway Janata Dal group supported by Congress (I) controlled the government, with Chandra Shekhar as Prime Minister. That alliance also collapsed, resulting in national elections in June 1991.

On May 27, 1991, while Rajiv Gandhi campaigned in Tamil Nadu on behalf of Congress (I), assassins, apparently Sri Lankan Tamil extremists, killed him. In the elections, Congress (I) won 213 parliamentary seats and put together a coalition, returning to power under the leadership of P.V. Narasimha Rao. This Congress-led government, which served a full 5-year term, initiated a gradual process of economic liberalization and reform, which has opened the Indian economy to global trade and investment. India's domestic politics also took new shape, as traditional alignments by caste, creed, and ethnicity gave way to a plethora of small, regionally-based political parties.

The final months of the Rao-led government in the spring of 1996 sufferred the effects of several major political corruption scandals, which contributed to the worst electoral performance by the Congress Party in its history. The Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged from the May 1996 national elections as the single-largest party in the Lok Sabha but without enough strength to prove a majority on the floor of that Parliament. Under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the BJP coalition lasted in power 13 days. With all political parties wishing to avoid another round of elections, a 14-party coalition led by the Janata Dal emerged to form a government known as the United Front, under the former Chief Minister of Karnataka, H.D. Deve Gowda. His government lasted less than a year, as the leader of the Congress Party withdrew his support in March 1997. Inder Kumar Gujral replaced Deve Gowda as the consensus choice for Prime Minister of a 16-party United Front coalition.

In November 1997, the Congress Party again withdrew support for the United Front. New elections in February 1998 brought the BJP the largest number of seats in Parliament--182--but this fell far short of a majority. On March 20, 1998, the President inaugurated a BJP-led coalition government with Vajpayee again serving as Prime Minister. On May 11 and 13, 1998, this government conducted a series of underground nuclear tests, prompting United States President Clinton and Japan to impose economic sanctions on India pursuant to the 1994 Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act.

In April 1999, the BJP-led coalition government fell apart, leading to fresh elections in September. The National Democratic Alliance - a new coalition led by the BJP - gained a majority to form a government with Vajpayee as Prime Minister in October 1999.

Timeline approximate

40000 BC -- Rock art in Bhimbetka
7000 BC -- The beginnings of the Indus Tradition in Mehrgarh
3300 BC -- Early Mohenjadaro and Harappa
3137 BC -- Traditional date of the Mahabharata War
3102 BC -- Kaliyuga calendar
2600 BC - 1900 BC -- Unified Indus-Sarasvati Civilisation, or Harappan Civilisation
1900 BC -- Indus-Sarasvati Tradition begins to fragment into regional cultures
500 BC -- Buddhism and Jainism

Political timeline


6676 BC - 5000 BC -- First Age, Krita yuga
5000 BC - 4000 BC -- Second Age, Treta yuga
4000 BC - 3102 BC -- Third Age, Dvapara yuga
3102 BC - 424 BC -- Brihadrathas, Pradyotas, Shishunagas, Nandas

322 BC onwards

322 BC - 183 BC -- Mauryan dynasty
183 BC - 71 BC -- Shunga dynasty
71 BC - 26 BC -- Kanva dynasty
26 BC - 434 BC -- Andhra dynasty
320 - 550 -- Gupta dynasty
606 - 647 -- Harsha of Kannauj
609-642 -- Pulakeshin of the Chalukya dynasty
870-906 -- Aditya Chola
906-953 -- Parantaka Chola I
985-1014 -- Rajaraja Chola I
1014-1042 -- Rajendra Chola I
1206-1520 -- Delhi Sultanate
1526-1707 -- Mughal Empire
1680-1818 -- Maratha Empire
1857-1947 -- British India

See also

External links