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Part of a series on the
History of India
Chronology of Indian history
Prehistoric India and Vedic India
Religion, Society, Mahajanapadas
Economy, Spread of Buddhism,
Chanakya, Hellenic Contacts
The Golden Age
The Classical Age
Art, Philosophy, Literature
Islam in India
Delhi Sultanate, Advent of Sufism,
Hindustani Music, Guru Nanak
Zamindari system, Warren Hastings,
Post & Telegraph, 1857
Hindu reforms, Famines,
Independence struggle, Gandhi
This article is about the history of the Indian Subcontinent prior to the Partition of India in 1947. For the history of the modern Republic of India, see History of the Republic of India. For the histories of Pakistan and Bangladesh see History of Pakistan and History of Bangladesh. Also for South India see History of South India.
The known history of India begins with the Indus Valley Civilization, which spread and flourished in the north-western part of the Indian subcontinent, from c. 3300 to 1300 BCE. Its Mature Harappan period lasted from 2600-1900 BCE. This Bronze Age civilization collapsed at the beginning of the second millennium BCE and was followed by the Iron Age Vedic period, which extended over much of the Indo-Gangetic plains and which witnessed the rise of major kingdoms known as the Mahajanapadas. In one of these kingdoms Magadha, Mahavira and Gautama Buddha were born in the 6th century BCE, who propagated their Shramanic philosophies among the masses.
Later, successive empires and kingdoms ruled the region and enriched its culture - from the Achaemenid Persian empire around 543 BCE, to Alexander the Great in 326 BCE. The Indo-Greek Kingdom, founded by Demetrius of Bactria, included Gandhara and Punjab from 184 BCE; it reached its greatest extent under Menander, establishing the Greco-Buddhist period with advances in trade and culture.
The whole subcontinent was conquered by the Maurya Empire during the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE. It subsequently became fragmented, with various parts ruled by numerous Middle kingdoms for the next ten centuries. Its northern regions were united once again in the 4th century CE, and remained so for two centuries thereafter, under the Gupta Empire. This period, of Hindu religious and intellectual resurgence, is known among its admirers as the "Golden Age of India." During the same time, and for several centuries afterwards, Southern India, under the rule of the Chalukyas, Cholas, Pallavas and Pandyas, experienced its own golden age, during which Indian civilization, administration, culture, and religion (Hinduism and Buddhism) spread to much of Asia.
The southern state of Kerala had maritime business links with the Roman Empire from around AD 77. Islam was introduced in Kerala through this route by Muslim traders. Muslim rule in the subcontinent began in 712 CE when the Arab general Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh and Multan in southern Punjab, setting the stage for several successive invasions between the 10th and 15th centuries CE from Central Asia, leading to the formation of Muslim empires in the Indian subcontinent such as the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire. Mughal rule came to cover most of the northern parts of the subcontinent. Mughal rulers introduced middle-eastern 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...
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