India’s history is ancient and dynamic. It is a crossroad of many cultures and can be broadly divided into three eras – Ancient, Medieval and Modern.
The hallmark of Indian history dates back to 3300 BCE with the birth of the Indus Valley Civilization and coming of the Aryans. These two phases are known as the pre-Vedic and Vedic period. Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were the famous sites of the Indus Valley Civilization. The foundation of Hinduism was laid in the Vedic Age. In the 4th and 3rd century BCE large parts of India were united under Ashoka, the great Mauryan ruler. It is in his reign that Buddhism spread to various parts of Asia. This is referred to as the ‘Classical period’ of Indian history.
Towards the end of the 3rd century, the Gupta dynasty took over the Mauryan dynasty. This period is known as ‘India’s Golden Age’. Hindu culture and political administration reached new heights. The Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Pallavas, Pandayas and Cholas were among the major empires of South India. Science, art, literature, astronomy and philosophy prospered under the patronage of these kings.
In the 10th and 11th centuries, Turks and Afghans invaded India and established sultanates in Delhi. The North Indian dynasties of the Lodhis, Tughlaqs and others were scattered in Delhi and around North India. Later they were succeeded by the descendants of Genghis Khan and the Mughal Dynasty was established, which lasted for 200 years.
From the 16th century, several European countries like Portugal, Netherlands, France and the United Kingdom started arriving as traders. Later they established colonies in India.
In the 17th and 18th century, the Mughal supremacy declined and the Maratha Empire became the dominant power. They ruled Central India for a long time before falling to the last great regal power – the British.
The British established their power over India by 1803 and started exploiting the country and its citizens. Indians were discriminated and devoid of their rights. The Revolt of 1857 was the first mark of mass protest by the Indians. In the early 20th century, a nationwide struggle for independence was launched by the Indian National Congress and other political organizations. The nation was lead by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, popularly known as ‘Mahatma Gandhi’. Various nationalist movements like the Khilafat movement, Non-cooperation movement, Civil disobedience movement and Quit India movement were launched by the Indians. After centuries of struggle, India finally attained independence on 15th August 1947. The Partition of India took place and the country was divided into two – India and Pakistan, separate nations for Hindus and Muslims. Jawaharlal Nehru became the first Prime Minister of independent India. Three years later, on 26 January 1950, India became a republic and the constitution came into effect.