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History of India

Around 3000 BC, one of the world’s oldest civilisations flourished in India. Excavations in the north-western region have uncovered well-planned cities like Mohenjodaro, Harappa and Lothal as well as dockyards for sea-borne trade.

From around 2000-1500 BC, nomadic Indo –
Aryan groups came to settle in Northern India. Aside from the horse, they introduced the worship of fire. From nomads to settled agriculturists, the Aryans developed village communities. Hinduism was at a very nascent stage and Sanskrit, from which many modern Indian languages are derived, developed alongside Dravidian, Sino-Tibetan, and munda languages. The Vedas, Upanishads and epics – Ramayana and Mahabharata – are the major works dating back to those ancient times.

Social and intellectual ferment in the 6th century BC led thinkers like Mahavira and Gautama Buddha to seek and offer alternate paths – Jainism and Buddhism.

When the Greek ambassador Megasthenes visited India, in the 3rd century BC, the north was consolidated into one great empire under Chandragupta Maurya. His grandson, Ashoka the great (268-231 B.C.), was deeply affected by the bloodbath on the battlefield, and chose to practice and disseminate the Buddhist philosophy of non-violence in India and abroad.

Between 320 and 480 AD, often referred to as the Golden Age of the Guptas, India saw the flowering of art, culture, literature and science. Scholarly treatises on subjects ranging from medicine and mathematics to astronomy and even love (the famed Kamasutra) were written.

Qutub-ud-din Aibak laid the foundation of Muslim rule in India in the 13th century. The Tughlaqs and Lodis succeeded the Aibaks. In the 16th century, Babur founded the Mughal empire which reached its zenith with his grandson Akbar (1562-1605) the Great. Another ruler, Shahjehan, is famous for building the magnificent Taj Mahal.

The 17th century brought the Europeans, with the British, French, Dutch and Portuguese setting up trading posts. Soon commercial interests combined with political ambitions to produce a power struggle among the Europeans. The Battle of Plassey in 1757 was decisive, with the British gaining supremacy over the others.

British rule gave rise to national aspirations which resulted in the First War of Independence in 1857. Though brutally suppressed, it marked the beginning of a struggle led by the Indian National Congress, founded in 1885. Finally, on August 15, 1947, India gained independence. On 26th January 1950, it became a republic.

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