The history of India begins with the evidence of human activity 500,000 years ago, and the legacy continues. The Stone Age marked the beginning of Indian sub-continent that evolved into Indus Valley civilization, matured into Golden Era, declined with the Dark Ages, re-emerged during Classical Era and British Raj and gained Independence. This article throws light on the History of India.
Pre-Historic India – Stone Age and Bronze Age: The period begins with the first settlement of Homo sapiens as long as 75,000 years ago. With stone tools and invention of the wheel and fire, it marked the Stone Age. Later, the civilization spread and flourished in the north-western part of the Indian subcontinent from 3300 to 1300 BC, and evolved into a sophisticated and technologically advanced urban culture of the Mature Harappan period, extending from 2600 to 1900 BC. Often referred as Bronze Age civilization, it collapsed before the end of the 2nd millennium BC and was trailed by the Iron Age Vedic Civilization that extended over the Indo-Gangetic plain. It witnessed ascend of major polities recognized as the Mahajanapadas. Indus valley civilization:
Indus valley civilization was the home to the four chief ancient urban civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, South Asia and China. These civilizations extended into the Indian sub-continent with the rise of Harappa city that flourished between 2600 and 1700 B.C. Its highly evolved and complex culture creates a unique space in the chronicles of world history and architecture.
Vedic Age: The Vedic Period emerged from the Aryans conquest during 1st century BC in the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent. It relates to the period when the oldest written literature - The Vedas were composed during this period. With the composition of the great Indian epics - Ramayana, Mahabharata, Upanishads and Hymns, it laid the foundation of Hinduism.
Golden Era- Mauryan Empire: This period began from 3rd century and extended up to the 18th century. Identified as the Golden era, it was ruled by the Mauryan dynasty. Indian sub-continent witnessed humungous developments ranging from economy to urbanization and arts &culture. Economy flourished with the opening of trade routes between India and the Roman Empire. Literature flourished as the four important Vedas were written. Hinduism gained momentum with the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata, simultaneously Buddhism and Jainism propagated their sramanic philosophies. Aryabhatta discovered the concept of Zero and Indian numerals.
It subsequently fragmented, with various parts ruled by numerous Middle kingdoms for the next 1,500 years. Golden Age of Indian Arts & Sciences:
The golden age of India stretched between 2nd and 3rd BC. Arts & Science flourished, while religion and culture progressed. Khyber Pass built during this period, served as a trading route between India and the globe. Spice and silk were widely exported. World heritage acclaimed temples, forts, palaces and monuments were built during this period.
Rise of Jainism & Buddhism: The 6th Century B.C witnessed the rise of Buddhism and Jainism as a response to counteract the Brahmanical Hindu order. With the emergence of Jainism and Buddhism, several Hindu religious customs and rituals ended.
Dark Ages- Muslim Invasion: With the development of Muslim trade via Kerala, Islam was introduced and subsequently, Muslim invasions began from 712 CE when the Arab general Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh and Multan in southern Punjab. It led to the formation of Muslim empires- Moghul
Empire and Delhi Sultanate. Identified as Dark Ages, several social evil practises like sati and johar emerged.
Classical Era – Moghul Empire: The classical era of the Moghul rule introduced Middle Eastern art and architecture to India. Mughlai cuisine evolved, so did the magnificent Taj Mahal and the imperial Red Fort. The Moghul Empire gradually declined in the early 18th century paving way for the British East India Company.
British Raj: The East India Company annexed India in the mid-18th century and over the next 200 years, ruled. Referred as British Raj, rapid developments in every aspect of Indian society occurred. Indian Railways, the third largest Railway system on the globe was the contribution of this period. Education system drastically improved as new schools and colleges emphasising British education emerged. Social evils like sati and johar abolished. Independence & Partition – India’s Freedom Struggle & Pakistan/India partition:
Dissatisfaction with Company rule led to the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Later, the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League launched nationwide independence struggle. India gained independence in 1947.The same year India/Pakistan partition occurred.
Modern India: Modern India imbibes the tradition, culture and values from the ancient world, while progressing as developed economies in the world. It merges the glorious past with a progressing present, where different traditions, religions and cultures maintain a harmonious existence.