Spanning several thousands of years, India’s history is vast and rich, to say the least. The Indian subcontinent inhabits one of the world’s most ancient and significant civilizations. The first record of settlements was found at the site of Mehrgarh, where there was documentation of wheat and barley cultivation and poultry farming. Over the course of the years, the Indian subcontinent saw immense development in the inhabitation of the land. The first traces of civilization in this region dates back to the Indus Valley civilization. This community resided in what is today regions of Pakistan, and north-western India. They are known for their urban planning, baked brick houses, meticulously planned drainage systems and irrigational facilities. Indian history is split into many parts based on different timelines, here are some of these distinct periods:
Early prehistoric times
The prehistoric period of time encompasses two sub-categories including the Palaeolithic and Neolithic time periods.
Palaeolithic - This time period involved an African tribe known as the Hominins. They were known to be a nomadic tribe that traversed across the globe. They are believed to have settled in the Indian subcontinent at some point of their existence, making them the first inhabitants of this land, as per archaeological evidence. The earliest hominin fossils were found in the Narmada Valley situated in Central India. However, the archaeological traces of the Hominin tribe suggest that their inhabitation of the Indian subcontinent was sporadic in nature.
Neolithic - During this time, civilizations depended on water forms, especially rivers for their livelihood. Thus, these communities were seen on the western banks of the Indus river. These settlements slowly grew into the Indus Valley Civilization.
Indus Valley Civilization
During this time, there was an emergence of a few urban civilizations. The cause of this sudden development of settlements in particular parts of the world was the access to rivers. Thus people started to form communities and migrate to areas that had ample water supply, primarily from rivers. This led to the growth of some of the world’s most important civilizations, including the Mesopotamian civilization, the Egyptian civilization and the Indus Valley civilization. Situated on the bank of the Indus River, the fertile soil made it possible for agriculture in this area to flourish. Archaeologists discovered many artefacts such as household items, war weapons, gold and silver accessories, that displayed the richness of this civilization. They were popularly known for their urban planning and architecture, especially their baked brick houses.
After the Indus Valley civilization came to the emergence of the Vedic civilization along the banks of the river Saraswati. Getting its name from Hindu Vedic literature, the trademark of this time period are the Hindu epics - Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Followed by the Vedic civilization, came the dawn of the Buddhist Era. This time period is dictated by the religion based on Siddhartha Gautama, otherwise known as, the Buddha. This revolved around the spiritual doctrines of this time period that focused on promoting a righteous life and the search for enlightenment.
Right after this, came the reign of Alexander, who invaded India by crossing the river Indus. However, the key aspect of this war was the Indian’s use of elephants, which was never seen before.
The Gupta reign is also fondly remembered as India’s Golden Age in Indian history. The most prominent figure of this dynasty was Chandragupt, who is often referred to as the ‘king of kings’ due to his judicious conquests and the prosperous state of India under his rule. His empire began from the river Ganges upto Allahabad.
Medieval Indian History
This period is commonly known to have taken inspiration from Islamic kingdoms. Medieval India is best known for three distinct kingdoms, they are:
The Mughal Rule
The next period that was a significant part of India’s history was the emergence of the Mughal Empire. This time period was responsible for the birth of systematic public administration, exemplary infrastructure, and patronage of the arts. The eminent rulers of this time period were Babar, Humayun, Akbar, Jehangir, Shah Jahan, and Aurangzeb.
Modern Indian History
This period in Indian history was primarily surrounded by the British rule. Throughout their rule, they brought about comprehensive social, political and economic changes in the country.
Q1. Is the Indian race a pure one?
No, it is an amalgamation of tribal cultures that migrated to India millions of years ago. It is believed that the Indian race has emerged from three different waves of migration, namely, from Africa, Iran and Central Asia.
Q2. Who was the first king of India?
The very first king of India was Chandragupta Maurya, who founded the Maurya dynasty. His empire not only spanned kingdoms in ancient India, but also extended to Afghanistan and the borders of Persia.
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