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History

India is known for one of the most ancient civilizations in the world. The first


major civilization here flourished for about one thousand years since 2500 BC


along the Valley of Indus River. The great cities of this civilization were


Mohenjodaro and Harappa which is now in Pakistan. Later invaders swept south


from central Asia between 1500 and 2000 BC and took control of northern India


thereby pushing the original Dravidian inhabitants to south of country.


By 6th century BC, the Magadh dynasty ruled the Northern plains. It was also the


time when Buddhism and Jainism emerged and challenged Hindu orthodoxy.


The Magadh dynasty rule was followed by the rule of Chandragupta Maurya


(322-298 B.C.), one of India’s greatest emperors. The golden period was under


the reign of Ashoka the Great who extended his empire from the Kashmir and


Peshawar in the North to Mysore in the South and Orissa in the East. Ashoka


was not only a great ruler, but he was also one of the most successful


propagators of Buddhism not only in India but even in other countries. After his


death in 232 B.C. the empire began to disintegrate and weak and that was the


time when country was raided and plundered by foreign invaders, leaving India


disunited for the next 400 years. After going through a gloomy phase, India had


stability again under the rule of Chandra Gupta I (380-412 A.D.). His rule is


considered to be the golden period in Indian history as there are all round


development, art and culture flourished and the country prospered.


 


Unlike the North of India, South India remained untouched by impact of what was


going in Northern part. South India also saw the rise and fall of many empires


which included the Cholas whose rule extended beyond India to Sri Lanka and


other parts of South East Asia, the Pandyas, the Pallavas and the Chalukyas.


Under the various rulers of these dynasties, arts and craft in the South flourished


also saw the emergence of diverse styles of architecture and the grandest


architectural accomplishments in the South – the most notable being the


delicately crafted Chola bronzes. These were then followed by the Great Hoysala


and the Vijaynagar empires which are among the greatest Hindu empires.


The Muslim Invasions


Mahmud of Gazni was the first Muslim invader who came to India and plundered


the country between 1001 and 1025 for its treasures. Later it was Mohamed


Ghori who defeated Indian rules, Prithviraj Chauhan, and left Qutub-ud-din, in


charge of the territory. Qutub-ud-din is famous for constructing Qutub Minar in


Delhi which remained tallest building in the city for ages. His rule was followed by


other Muslim dynasties; Khilji, Tughlaq, Sayyid and Lodis. It was during this


period also known as Delhi Sultanat, the Muslim rulers introduced Islamic


concepts of society and governance to most of the sub-continent, though the


South remained largely untouched.


In 1525, Babur, a descendant of Timur and Genghis Khan invaded Punjab and


founded the Mughal empire in India which rules for many centuries. After his


death, his son Humayun. Humayun became the rules but he was ousted by


Afghan chieftain Sher Shah. Sher Shah is known for building the Grand Trunk


road spanning from Peshawar in the west to Patna in east. Humayun was again


able to resum power after Sher Shah’s death. After Humayun, it was his his son


Akbar who consolidated power and extended the great empire across North India


and parts of South India. Akbar is also considered to be one of the most


intelligent and best administrator ruler. Akbar was succeeded by Jahangir,


followed by his son Shah Jahan who is best known for giving the world, Taj


Mahal, the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid. Shah Jahan was succeded by


Aurangzeb who was the last powerful Mughal Emperor. Although Mughals ruled


for few more generations, but the empire had started becoming weaker. Bahadur


Shah Zafar was the last Mughal ruler. After a revolt in 1857-58, Bahadur Shah


Zafar was deposed by the British government, who then took control of the


country


British Rule


Since ages, immense wealth of India had attracted foreign traders. The


Europeans came to India for commercial purpose. One of the first Europeans to


come to India was the Portuguese trader Vasco da Gama who landed at Calicut,


sailing via the Cape of Good Hope in 1498. The Portuguese were followed by the


French, the Dutch and the English. By the end of 18th century, the Britishers


established themselves as the formidable power in India. They did not only rule


 


the country but also brought olutionary changes in the social, economic and


political life of the country.


Toward Independence


After Mughal Empire became weak, India was being ruled by various rulers who


were busy in fighting among themselves and could not pose any serious


challenge to English. Britishers had consolidated their position. However, Indians


in 19th century started to feel frustrated by oppressive policies of British. The


frustration led to great revolt or also known as first war of independence in 1857.


Although the frustration was building up for quite some time but it was


introduction of a new rifle and cartridge by the British Army that helped spark the


revolt. The cartridges which soldiers had to bite off, allegedly had pork and beef


which offended the religious sentiments of both Hindus and Muslims. The Indian


soldiers in the army reached Delhi and proclaimed Bahadurshah Zafar the


sovereign rulers of India and fought under his leadership. The revolt was


eventually quelled by British soon.


Since then, there was no looking back for the Indians who wanted social reform


and freedom from foreign rule. The Indian National Congress was founded on


28th December, 1885 and soon became the largest and most prominent Indian


public Organization. The Congress party led the Indian Independence movement


besides other leaders and organizations. It had more than 15 million members


and 70 million Indians participated in its struggle against British rule in India. The


movement gained momentum with the arrival of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi


who devised a unique strategy for India’s freedom struggle based on non-


violence and civil disobedience. After various movements, British agreed to


transfer power on August 15, 1947, that is now celebrated as India’s


Independence Day.