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"The roots of the present lay in the past and so I made the voyages of discovery with the past ever seeking a clue in it, if any such existed to the understanding of the present."
- Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru

Few countries in the world have roots that stretch back in time to pre-recorded history. The earliest human activity in the Indian sub-continent can be traced back to the early, middle and late Stone Ages (400,000-200,000 BC). Implements from all three periods have been found in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bihar, parts of what is now Pakistan and the southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula.

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One can broadly define different periods or influences in the history of this land, many of which overlap each other. They are classified according to ancient, medieval, British and modern period.
The beginning of medieval history is marked by the Turkish invasion.

Ancient Indian history includes the pre-historic period, the Indus valley civilisation, the Vedic and epic ages and a period of transition when Mahavira and Buddha lived. The emergence of the Mauryan empire followed thereafter ending in a series of invasions, the rise of the Deccan kingdoms and the Gupta dynasty followed by an age of fragmentation into smaller kingdoms that eventually led to the reign of Harshavardhana. In the south the rule of the Chalukyas, Pallavas & Pandyas were followed by the Cholas and in the North the invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni leads us into the medieval history of India.

Medieval history is marked by the Turkish invasion, followed by the formation of the Delhi Sultanate by the establishment of the Slave dynasty followed by the Khiljis, the Tughluqs, Sayyids and Lodhis.

Modern Indian history includes the trauma of partition and the aftermath of the creation of India and Pakistan.
The Vijayanagar and Bahamanis followed before Babur formed the Mughal empire that finally disintegrated with the last Moghul emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar II, being imprisoned by the British. In the Deccan, the Maratha kingdom which had been established by Shivaji was annexed.


British Indian history encompasses the establishment of the East India company, the first independence struggle in 1857, followed by British Raj, the rise of the Indian National Congress, the Jalianwala Bagh massacre, Mahatma Gandhi's independence initiatives including the salt march to Dandi, the Quit India movement and the final transfer of power to independent India.

Modern Indian history includes the trauma of partition and the aftermath of the creation of India and Pakistan. It is about India's post-Independence struggles and achievements and it's recognition in the international forum as a secular democracy that has made the transition to a mature economy, and is now focusing it's energy on the dynamics of an unlimited potential for growth.

Compiled by Romola Butalia

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.