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Travel Guide - History of India

The history of India dates back almost six thousand years and which has passed through many diverse stages and societies and invasions from the outside world. The earliest civilization was in the Indus Valley, almost five thousand years back. The twin cities of Mohenjodaro and Harappa now in Pakistan were ruled by priests and held the fundamentals of Hinduism. The ancient Indian civilizations are world famous for possessing a highly stylish lifestyle, then an extremely developed sense of aesthetics, an astounding knowledge of town planning and an inexplicable script language. At one point of time the Indus valley civilization was spread out nearly on million square kilometers. These ancient civilizations were present at the same time as the other world’s ancient civilizations of Egypt and Sumer but far outlived them. Finally, the Indus valley civilization perished due to the tectonic turmoil’s, after surviving for nearly a thousand years.

The Indus valley civilization finally ended with the coming of the Aryans around 1500 BC. This was the beginning of Vedic ages as the Aryans came in from the North and spread through large parts of India bringing along with them their own culture and religious beliefs. This is very period when four Vedas or the important books of Hinduism were compiled. In history of India, the year 567 B.C. saw the founder of the Buddhist Religion Gautama Buddha being born. Also, during this very same period lived Mahavira, who founded the Jain Religion. Till this date the Indian subcontinent is packed with number of caves and monuments devoted to these religions and all are worth a visit.

200 years later arrived the golden period in the history of India, in the 4th century B.C., when Emperor Ashoka, regarded as one of the greatest King of Indian history, led the Mauryan Empire to take over almost all of what is now modern India. Later in his life this great king embraced Buddhism and built world famous group of monuments at Sanchi, which today is a UNESCO world heritage site. The famous Ashoka pillar at Sarnath is today India’s national emblem and the Dharma Chakra on the Ashoka Pillar beautifies the National Flag. The North saw the coming of the Guptas, while in the south part of India several different Hindu empires, the Cholas, the Pandyas and the Cheras spread and grew, trading with Europe and other parts of Asia till the end of the 1100s.

India saw Christianity entering at about the same time from Europe. As the legends go St. Thomas the Apostle arrived in India in 52 A.D. Even earlier than that people of the Jewish religion arrived on India's shores. In approximately the 7th century A.D. a group of Zoroastrians, or Parsees, landed in Gujarat and became a part of the large mix of religions in India today, each of which adds its important and distinct flavor.

Sikh religion’s foundation was laid in the 15th century by Guru Nanak in Punjab. In the year 1192, Mohammed of Ghori, a ruler from Afghanistan, came into India and took over several places in the north including Delhi. After he left for his home, his general took control who became the first Sultan of Delhi. This is very time Islam took its roots in the Indian society of northern India. Though, even before that, just after the period of the prophet, Islam was brought to the western coast of India by Arab traders and flourished in the regions of what is now Kerala.

The Delhi Sultanate gradually gained control of almost all of North India over the next 200 years, till Timur, arrived from Turkey in 1398 to attack India. He and his army stole all the valuables that they could carry and left again, and after that the Delhi Sultanate was never so strong again. Soon the Mughals followed from Iran, who came in and took control of the north. During the same time south, in 1336, the Hindu Vijayanagar Empire was set up and became very strong.

In the early 1600s, the Europeans - Portuguese, French, Dutch, Danish and British - started arriving. All of them held territories in India and made friends and enemies among India's rulers as they got more and more involved, with the Indian politics, but it was the British who eventually controlled most of India and finally made it one of their colonies.

After a very long struggle India got its independence from Britain in 1947 under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. In the process of becoming independent, India became two countries instead of one. Over the years since independence India has made huge progress and has dealt with great problems, developing its industry and its agriculture, and running a system of government which makes it the largest democracy in the world.

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