History

Independence

Independence

India wrested its independence from Britain in 1947 after a long freedom struggle led largely by the Indian National Congress and its visionary leaders, especially, Mahatma Gandhi. From 1920, the freedom movement leaders began highly popular mass campaign against the British Raj using largely peaceful methods. India’s acquisition of independence resulted in the formation of two countries, India and Pakistan. Following the controversial partition of India, rioting broke out, leaving some 500,000 dead. Also, this period saw one of the largest mass migrations ever recorded in modern history, with a total of 12 million Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims moving between the newly created nations of India and Pakistan.

Independence

Colonial

The Europeans -- Portuguese, French, Dutch, Danish and British -- started arriving in the early 1600s after Vasco da Gama successfully discovered a new sea route from Europe to India in 1498. All of them held territories in India and made friends and enemies among India's rulers as they got more and more involved with Indian politics, but it was the British who eventually controlled most of India and finally made it one of their colonies. In 1617, the British East India Company was given permission by Mughal Emperor Jahangir to trade in India. In the aftermath of India’s First War of Independence in 1857, all power was transferred from the East India Company to the British Crown, which began to administer most of India as a colony; the company's lands were controlled directly and the rest through the rulers of what it called the Princely states.

Independence

Mughal

The Mughals came from Central Asia and soon held sway over most of the northern parts of the subcontinent. Mughal rulers introduced Central Asian art and architecture to India. In addition to the Mughals and various Rajput kingdoms, several independent Hindu states, such as the Vijayanagara Empire, the Maratha Empire, and the Ahom Kingdom, flourished simultaneously in southern, western, and north-eastern India, respectively. The Mughal Empire suffered a gradual decline in the early 18th century, which provided opportunities for the Afghans, Balochis, Sikhs, and Marathas to exercise control over large areas in the northwest of the subcontinent until the British East India Company gained ascendancy over South Asia.

Independence

Pre-Mughal

In 1192, Mohammed of Ghor, a ruler from Afghanistan, came into India and captured several places in the north including Delhi. When he returned home, he left one of his generals in charge who became the first Sultan of Delhi. During this time Islam, was introduced into a major part of northern India. It may be mentioned that, even before that, just after the period of the Prophet (Praise Be Upon Him), Islam was brought to the western coast of India by Arab traders and flourished in what is now Kerala.

The Delhi Sultanate gradually took control of more and more of North India over the next 200 years, till Timur, who was called "Timur the Lame" or "Tamberlane" came from Turkey in 1398 to attack India which practically signalled the end of the Delhi Sultanate. Soon the Mughals, who were from Central Asia, came in and took control of the north.

In the meantime in the south, in 1336, the Hindu Vijayanagar Empire based at modern day Hampi in Karnataka was established and gained strength.

Independence

Medieval

The Gupta dynasty was the greatest to rule in the north after the Mauryas, heralding a period known as the ‘Golden Age of India’, while in the southern part of India several different 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. Christianity entered India at about the same time from Europe. Legend has it that St. Thomas the Apostle arrived in India in 52 AD. Even earlier than that people of Jewish religion arrived on India's shores. In approximately the 7th century AD, 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 distinctive flavour. In the 15th century, Guru Nanak laid the foundation of the Sikh religion in Punjab.