History of India
India is the story of people who migrated across boundaries and diverse cultures and tribes that made the land rich with socio-economic progress. Going back in time we see culture crossovers from China, Africa and Europe. India's history dates back to unique developments that actually are a microcosm of human civilizations and progress around the world. This is the nation of great people who spanned from 2600 BC with the Indus civilization to 1000 AD, to give to the world the eternal gifts of non-violence and “unity in diversity”.
India is the tale of communities like Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa and the heritage of the great Aryan tribe who invaded India around 1500 BC, and brought with them into the country new traditions and ways that still can be found even today.
The pre-Vedic and Vedic periods were responsible for the social and religious structure of Indian society. Going back to the fifth century, Emperor Ashoka (268-31 BC) and his Maurya Dynasty ruled over India, encouraging and spreading Buddhism, which also extended into other parts of Asia.
But their rule ended by 180 BC, leaving a variety of minor kingdoms to gain prominence until Gupta Dynasty rose to power around 320 AD unifying the north and ushering in the Golden Age of India.
The country and its people witnessed the onset of Islam in the seventh century, which slowly went on to become a political force to be reckoned with. The north of the country saw invasions by the Tughlaqs and Lodhis and their remnants and influence can still be seen in the architecture and the traditions in those regions today.
Under prince Babur the Moghul empire gained control of much of the Indian subcontinent in the early1500s. During the reign it was Emperor Shah Jahan, a descendant of Babur, who commissioned the famous Taj Mahal in Agra as a tomb for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, in the mid 1600s.
While the Moghul empire and Islam enjoyed strong footing, the southern and western regions still found pockets of smaller Hindu kingdoms.
It was not until the seventeenth century that the Europeans first traded and then made India home. With the coming of the Europeans, the Mughal empire began to disintegrate.
The British East Indian Company first gained a foothold into India in the early 1600s in Surat where they were given permission to conduct trade. They soon expanded, taking over the entire European trade business by the late 1700s. Their strength grew until the Indian Rebellion of 1957 at which time Britain nationalized the company. The ensuing British Raj came to be in 1858 as Great Britain took control over most of India, indirectly governing Indian rulers of the princely states.
But Indian wanted its independence, and as tensions mounted between the Muslims and the Hindus it was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who in 1915 began his campaign to end the strife between the two groups and help end the British Raj. Gandhi’s unique, non-violent demonstrations and arguments eventually led to the British exit in 1947. And on August 15, 1947 India had its independence.
The nation today is ranked among the top three economies of the world, but this achievement too has come at a price. The old and new merge as one ever so easily in this magical land. It is a rare sight though and yet possible only in India where you get to see old customs and traditions from a rich past breathe new life in the present that has accommodated western ways.