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by Bharat

The Indus Valley Civilization – Home to Harappa, Mohenjo Daro, Lothal and Rupar

September 2, 2013 in History, Most Popular

Mohenjo daro Priest king

“Priest King” statue, Mohenjo-Daro, late Mature Harappan period, Karachi National Museum , Pakistan

 

The Indus valley civilization (also known as Harappan Civilization) was part of Bronze age (and beginning of Iron age too) and flourished between 3300–1300 BCE (BCE means Before Common Era and is same as BC/Before Christ) along the basin of Indus River. It is one of the biggest Ancient Civilizations known today.

The Indus Valley is one of the world’s earliest and biggest urban civilizations, along with its contemporaries, Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. At its peak, the Indus Civilization may have had a population of well over five million.

Discovery: The ruins of Harrappa were first described in 1842 by Charles Masson in his Narrative of Various Journeys in Balochistan, Afghanistan, and the Punjab, where locals talked of an ancient city.  In 1872–75 Alexander Cunningham published the first Harappan seal and about half a century later in 1912, some more Harappan seals were discovered by J. Fleet, prompting an excavation campaign under Sir John Hubert Marshall in 1921–22 and resulting in the discovery of the civilization at Harappa by Sir John Marshall, Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni and Madho Sarup Vats, and at Mohenjo-daro by Rakhal Das Banerjee, E. J. H. MacKay, and Sir John Marshall. Since city of Harappa was discovered first of all the Indus Valley Civilizations (IVC) , it is often called as Harappan Civilization. There were earlier and later cultures, often called Early Harappan and Late Harappan, in the same area of the Harappan Civilization. The Harappan civilisation is sometimes called the Mature Harappan culture to distinguish it from these cultures. Up to 1999, over 1,056 cities and settlements have been found, out of which 96 have been excavated.

Below is a table with chronological sequence of IVC ages (Courtsey: Wikipedia) :

Date range
Phase
Era
7000–5500 BCE
Mehrgarh I (aceramic Neolithic)
Early Food Producing Era
5500–3300
Mehrgarh II-VI (ceramic Neolithic)
Regionalisation Era
5500-2600
3300–2600 Early Harappan
3300–2800
Harappan 1 (Ravi Phase)
2800–2600
Harappan 2 (Kot Diji Phase, Nausharo I, Mehrgarh VII)
2600–1900 Mature Harappan (Indus Valley Civilization) Integration Era
2600–2450
Harappan 3A (Nausharo II)
2450–2200
Harappan 3B
2200–1900
Harappan 3C
1900–1300 Late Harappan (Cemetery H); Ochre Coloured Pottery Localisation Era
1900–1700
Harappan 4
1700–1300
Harappan 5
1300–300
Painted Gray Ware, Northern Black Polished Ware (Iron Age)
Indo-Gangetic Tradition

Information: The civilization is sometimes referred to as the Indus Ghaggar-Hakra civilization or the Indus-Sarasvati civilization. The appellation Indus-Sarasvati is based on the possible identification of the Ghaggar-Hakra River with the Sarasvati River of the Nadistuti sukta in the Rig Veda, but there are different opinions on this theory.

Geographical Areas

Indus Valley civilization boundaries map

Indus Valley civilization boundaries map showing present day location of sites like Harappa and Mohenjo Daro.
Courtsey: Wikipedia.org

First we need to understand that the Indus Valley Civilization is collection of all the civilizations that existed along Indus river and Ravi river. So do not confuse this with one city spread over thousands of miles. There were many cities like Harappa, Mohenjo Daro, Rupar, Lothal etc which were spread along the basin of the river Indus but were very similar when it came to planning, architecture, language , agriculture, trade etc. Collectively we call them Indus Valley Civilization. It was very similar to the other major civilizations that existed and flourished that time in other parts of the world like  Egypt and Peru. The Indus Valley Civilization encompassed most of Pakistan and parts of northwestern India, Afghanistan and Iran, extending from Balochistan in the west to Uttar Pradesh in the east, northeastern Afghanistan to the north and Maharashtra to the south. Lately, some isolated colonies have been found in Pakistan’s Frontier province and as far as  Turkmenistan and Gujarat.

Cities in Indus Valley / Harappan Civilization

By 2600 BCE, the Early Harappan small communities had been turned into large urban centers which we can call cities. If we collectively see the geographical area, population , number of cities and similarity with each other of the Indus valley civilization we could have called it an Empire, but we have no evidence if they were being ruled by an Emperor or anything similar. Anyway, archaeologists have excavated over 100 cities by now in today’s India, Pakistan and Afghanistan . Some of them are below:

India: Dholavira, Kalibangan, Rakhigarhi, Rupar, and Lothal

Pakistan: Harappa, Ganeriwala, Mohenjo-Daro

We will discuss some of them in little more detail later.

Government and Administration

There is no proof found that there existed a central ruling authority like king or emperor for any of these civilizations. We know this since no big forts or templates have been found. Also, there are no evidences that they followed orders from someone.

However similarity in architecture , culture and other social similarities suggest that there was a central administration which used to take care of these decisions and their implementation. We also know that everyone enjoyed equal status.

Buildings, Planning and Architecture

The city planning and architecture seems to be very advanced for that time. In fact, lot of modern cities and villages in many countries(including India and Pakistan) do not have such advanced planning and architecture. None of the other civilizations at that time have shown this much advanced planning and execution as per the available evidences.

Indus Valley remains

Looking at the well planned artchitcture and execution, archeologists have concluded that the engineers or the planners learned the art somewhere else and executed with these cities, otherwise building the whole city with such skill and planning would not have been possible.

One thing worth mentioning is that cities have been built on top of each other. Apparently, when a city was ruined, flooded or destroyed , new city was built on top of it. But the excavations have discovered that the bottom most architecture was most skillful and well executed. Reasons for this could be the initial knowledge was not well transitioned to next generations , the planning and execution people became less effective or less interested. But for what its worth, all the cities were still masterpieces for the period (they are still masterpieces in my opinion !!!)

 

Homes :  Homes were mostly one or two stories high, made of well baked solid bricks(in fact, lot of those bricks were used by villages in Pakistan to construct their homes before the sites were preserved ) and they all followed same design and architecture. This suggests that cities were completely built before people started to live there. Where did they live before their homes were constructed then? May be they were traders or settled from some other place, but we do not know for sure. Archaeologists are still trying to find answers to many similar questions.

Mohenjodaro ruins with great bath in front

Mohenjodaro ruins with great bath in front

 

Back to the architecture, the houses had their own courtyard , a window opening into the courtyard(to see the kids playing :)) a personal drinking well and a bathroom. No windows or doors opened on the main street, but only to inner lanes.

Roads: Main roads were straight, wide and well connected to all parts of the city through smaller lanes or roads. The smaller lanes were connected to the houses for direct accessibility to the main road. Remember, houses did not have window or door opening on the main roads.

Drainage system and Hygiene and Public facilities in Indus Valley

If you did not already know and some one describes you the sophisticated and technologically advanced urban culture that existed back then in IVC, you would never believe that it was an ancient civilization. The quality of municipal town planning suggests the knowledge of urban planning and efficient municipal governments which placed a high priority on hygiene, or, may be, accessibility to the means of religious ritual.

The homes had clay pipes from the bathrooms to the covered sewers down the street. These sewers were connected through piper running along the streets with the main sewer system , which drained into nearby rivers and streams. Archaeologists have also found massive bathing structures with small rooms alongside. Scholars believe that these might have been large swimming pools with changing rooms or perhaps these were used for religious ceremonies or rituals. One such structure found in the city of Mohenjo Daro is known as the ‘Great Bath‘. You can see its ruins in the picture above.

Arts and Crafts

Bronze Dancing_Girl_of_Mohenjo-daro

Bronze Statue of Dancing Girl from Mohenjo-daro

Excavations have revealed usage of metals and ceramic during that time for making tools, pottery, ornaments, beads and statues. Various sculptures, seals, pottery, gold jewelry, and anatomically detailed figurines in terracotta, bronze, and steatite have also been found.

Dance: Presence of the statue of a dancing girl reveals that people were aware of some form of dancing, liked to watch dancing or practiced it. Dancing could have been a source of entertainment too, but we are not sure as of now.

Jewelry & Ornaments:  Various metal ornaments like bronze and gold ornaments have been excavated. This reveals few things like people were fond of Jewelry and they wore it and that they had skills of making jewelry. Apart from metal, necklaces, bangles,ornaments and other crafts were made of beads, ceramacis , horns etc. Similar jewelry and ornaments are still used in some parts of India and Pakistan today.

Shiva Pashupati seal, showing a seated ithyphallic figure, surrounded by animals

Shiva Pashupati seal, showing a seated ithyphallic figure, surrounded by animals

 Seals and Pottery :  Many seals and ceramic potteries have been excavated from various sites.  We do not know exactly what they were used for , but they been helping archaeologists learn more about symbols, culture and language.

One of the seals found resembles figure of Lord Shiva (भगवान शिव) and has been named as Pashupati (पशुपति ) which is another name of Lord Shiva.

Chanhudaro Site. Fragment of Large Deep Vessel, circa 2500 B.C.E. Red pottery with red and black slip-painted decoration

Chanhudaro Site. Fragment of Large Deep Vessel, circa 2500 B.C.E. Red pottery with red and black slip-painted decoration

The Indus Valley Seals from British Museum

The Indus Valley Seals from British Museum

Pottery:  Indus valley people also had knowledge of ceramic pottery which is revealed by one of the broken pieces of pottery found during excavations.

Language, Writing System and Symbols:

Ten Indus Scripts, dubbed Signboard, Dholavira, India

Ten Indus Scripts, dubbed Signboard, Dholavira, India

Swastika Seals from the Indus Valley Civilization preserved at the British Museum

Swastika Seals from the Indus Valley Civilization preserved at the British Museum

Although archaeologists and historians are trying hard to decipher the language and symbols used, but there has not been much success as of now.  However we have some idea that all the civilizations in the Indus Valley used same languages and signs. On the right is a seal excavated from Indus Valley which has Swastik (स्वास्तिक ) Symbol engraved on it. Swastik symbol is one of major symbols used in Hindu and Jain Religions. Archaeologists or Historians have found no proof confirming, but the symbols and pictures found from all over the excavations lead us to believe that Hindu or Jain Religion was followed that time.  We have some references to a similar city like Harappa in Hindu Veda Rigveda although there was a time difference of almost a 1000 years. We will discuss this later.

Trade & Transport

The Indus Valley Civilizations seem to be heavily dependent upon Trade with other civilizations which existed that time like  Mesopotamia , Persia and possibly Egypt.

All the long route trade was made possible by advances in the transportation technology at that time. Indus valley civilization might be the first one to use wheeled transport and bullock carts. Small boats and larger ships were used for sea route trade. There are evidences of large sea harbors and canals in Lothal(in Gujrat, India now) which were possibly used for docking these boats and ships and for loading/unloading goods. We have been able to relate trade relations between different civilizations due to similarity in goods found at all those places.

Food and Crop

Evidences from excavations suggest that people knew farming and they grew crops. Domestic Wheat and Barley were major crops which were grown and consumed. Crops might also have been used for trade , but we can not say for sure.

Other Skills

Weights and Measurement: The people of the Indus Civilization achieved great accuracy in measuring length, mass, and time. They were among the first to develop a system of uniform weights and measures. A comparison of available objects indicates large scale variation across the Indus Civilizations. Their smallest division, which is marked on an ivory scale found in Lothal, was approximately 1.704 mm, the smallest division ever recorded on a scale of the Bronze Age. Harappan engineers followed the decimal division of measurement for all practical purposes, including the measurement of mass as revealed by their hexahedron weights.

Metallurgy : Harappans evolved some new techniques in metallurgy and produced copper, bronze, lead, and tin. The engineering skill of the Harappans was remarkable, especially in building docks.

A touchstone bearing gold streaks was found in Banawali, which was probably used for testing the purity of gold (such a technique is still used in some parts of India)

Dentistry Read the rest of this entry →

History of Madhya Pradesh, India

August 20, 2013 in Explore, History, States

The History of Madhya Pradesh is divided into three periods.



Ancient

Isolated remains of Homo erectus found in Hathnora in the Narmada Valley indicate that Madhya Pradesh might have been inhabited since the Middle Pleistocene era, around 500,000 years ago. Painted pottery dated to the later mesolithic period has been found in the Bhimbetka rock shelters. Chalcolithic sites belonging to Kayatha culture (2100–1800 BCE) and Malwa culture (1700–1500 BCE) have been discovered in the Western part of the state. 

Mesolithic Rock painting, Bhimbetka, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Mesolithic Rock painting, Bhimbetka, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The city of Ujjain (also known as Avanti) arose as a major center in the second wave of Indian urbanization in the sixth century BC, and served as the chief city of the kingdom of Malwa or Avanti. Further east, the kingdom of Chedi lie in Bundelkhand. Chandragupta Maurya united northern India c. 320 BCE, establishing the Maurya empire (321 to 185 BCE), which included all of modern-day Madhya Pradesh. King Ashoka’s wife was said to come from Vidisha- a town north of today’s Bhopal. The Maurya empire went into decline after the death of Asoka, and Central India was contested among the Sakas, Kushanas, and local dynasties during the 3rd to 1st centuries BCE. Ujjain emerged as the predominant commercial center of western India from the first century BCE, located on the trade routes between the Ganges plain and India’s Arabian Sea ports. It was also an important Hindu and Buddhist center. The Satavahana dynasty of the northern Deccan and the Saka dynasty of the Western Satraps fought for the control of Madhya Pradesh during the 1st to 3rd centuries CE.

Northern India was conquered by the Gupta empire in the 4th and 5th centuries, which became known as India’s “classical age”. The Vakatakadynasty were the southern neighbors of the Guptas, ruling the northern Deccan plateau from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal. These empires collapsed towards the end of the 5th century.

The Sanchi stupa in Sanchi, Madhya Pradeshbuilt by emperor Ashoka ranjit karvy mfs in the third century BC

The Sanchi stupa in Sanchi, Madhya Pradeshbuilt by emperor Ashoka ranjit karvy mfs in the third century BC

 


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Medieval

Khajuraho Dulhadeo Temple

Dulhadeo Temple, Khajuraho

The attacks of the Hephthalites or White Huns brought about the collapse of the Gupta empire, and India broke up into smaller states. A king Yasodharman of Malwa defeated the Huns in 528, ending their expansion. King Harsha of Thanesar reunited northern India for a few decades before his death in 647. The Medieval period saw the rise of the Rajput clans, including the Paramaras of Malwa and the Chandelas of Bundelkhand. The Paramara king Bhoj (c. 1010–1060) was a brilliant polymath and prolific writer. Present capital city of Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal has been named after him.  The Chandelas created the temple city of Khajuraho between c. 950 and c. 1050. Gond kingdoms emerged in Gondwana and Mahakoshal. Northern Madhya Pradesh was conquered by the Turkic Delhi Sultanate in the 13th century. After the collapse of the Delhi Sultanate at the end of the 14th century, independent regional kingdoms reemerged, including the Tomara Rajput kingdom of Gwalior and the Muslim Sultanate of Malwa, with its capital at Mandu. The Malwa Sultanate was conquered by the Sultanate of Gujarat in 1531.
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Modern

Most of Madhya Pradesh came under Mughal rule during the reign of the emperor Akbar (1556–1605). Gondwana and Mahakoshal remained under the control of Gond kings, who acknowledged Mughal supremacy but enjoyed virtual autonomy. After the death of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1707 Mughal control began to weaken, and the Marathas began to expand from their base in central Maharashtra. Between 1720 and 1760 the Marathas took control of most of Madhya Pradesh, and Maratha clans were established semi-autonomous states under the nominal control of the Maratha Peshwa. The Holkars of Indore ruled much of Malwa, and the Bhonsles of Nagpur dominated Mahakoshal and Gondwana as well as Vidarbha in Maharashtra. Jhansi was founded by a Maratha general. Bhopal was ruled by a Muslim dynasty descended from the Afghan General Dost Mohammed Khan. Maratha expansion was checked at the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761.

The British were expanding their Indian dominions from bases in Bengal, Bombay, and Madras, and the three Anglo-Maratha Wars were fought between 1775 and 1818. The Third Anglo-Maratha War left the British supreme in India. Most of Madhya Pradesh, including the large states of Indore, Bhopal, Nagpur, Rewa, and dozens of smaller states, became princely states of British India, and the Mahakoshal region became a British province, the Saugor and Nerbudda Territories. In 1853 the British annexed the state of Nagpur, which included southeastern Madhya Pradesh, eastern Maharashtra and most of Chhattisgarh, which were combined with the Saugor and Nerbudda Territories to form the Central Provinces in 1861. The princely states of northern Madhya Pradesh were governed by the Central India Agency. Top



After Indian independence

Madhya Pradesh was created in 1950 from the former British Central Provinces and Berar and the princely states of Makrai and Chhattisgarh, with Nagpur as the capital of the state. The new states of Madhya Bharat, Vindhya Pradesh, and Bhopal were formed out of the Central India Agency. In 1956, the states of Madhya Bharat, Vindhya Pradesh, and Bhopal were merged into Madhya Pradesh, and the Marathi-speaking southern region Vidarbha, which included Nagpur, was ceded to Bombay state. Bhopal became the new capital of the state. In November 2000, as part of the Madhya Pradesh Reorganization Act, the southeastern portion of the state split off to form the new state of Chhattisgarh. Top

by Bharat

Indian Freedom Struggle (1857-1947)

July 28, 2013 in History

After the revolt of 1857 was suppressed by British and the company rule ended, the Indian rule was directly undertaken by the British Queen Victoria through a proclamation on November 1, 1958. She assumed the title of empress, meaning unlimited powers in the Indian affairs. There were also significant changes done to the policies towards India which aimed at strengthening the British roots in India. British sought to strengthen their rule through Princely State heads, local Zamindars and chiefs  but they completely neglected other classes in the society and common masses.

Below are some important events which happened during this time period, popularly known as Indian Freedom Struggle :

    • Formation of Indian National Congress(INC) Indian National Congress was was originally formed by a retired British official, A. O. Hume and later it was found by Suredranath Banerjee with the formation of Indian Association at Calcutta in 1876. The aim of the Association was to involve and represent views of educated middle class which was not so much associated with the movement at that time. Its first session was held in Bombay in 1885. NIC took the freedom movement to the masses with ‘Swaraj Movement’ under leadership of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Aurobindo Ghose. The Congress session held in Calcutta  in 1906, under Dadabhai Naoroji, gave a call for attainment of ‘Swaraj‘ a type of self-government elected by the people within the British Dominion, as it prevailed in Canada and Australia, which were also the parts of the British Empire then. 
    • Morley-Minto Reforms 

      British government tried to divide the intensity of the movement through so called reforms , but it was not very well received by Indian leaders and masses. The Morley-Minto reform introduced special representation from Muslim community in the government which were aimed at breaking Hindu-Muslim unity which was vital for the movement.  However, Indian leaders including Muslim leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah sensed the same and widely opposed the reforms.

    • Shift of National Capital and Partition of Bengal

      Following wise unrest in the country after Morley-Minto reforms, the King George made two important announcements, one was the portion of Bengal effective 1905 and the other was to shift the national capital of India from Calcutta to Delhi.

    • Widespread Reach of National movement

      Under great leadership of leaders like  Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai and Bipin Chandra Pal (known as Lal Bal Pal) , the movement reached  to the masses and intensified. There was a virtual war going on between Indian masses and British government.  To add fuel to the fire, government introduced Rowlatt Act in 1919 which empowered the government to put people in jail without any trial. This ignited fury among the Indians and caused massive demonstrations.

    • Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

      When British government failed to control the public sentiments , they started suppressing the movement brutally. Jalianwala Bagh massacre of April 13, 1919 was a similar and one of the most inhuman acts of the British rulers in India. On this auspicious day of of Baisakhi, people of Punjab gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, near Golden Temple, Amritsar to lodge their peaceful protest against  persecution by the British Indian Government. General Dyer appeared suddenly blocking only way to exit with his armed force and fired indiscriminately on innocent unarmed people including women and children. Hundreds of people lost their lives and hundreds were seriously injured. This left whole India and the world in shock and anger towards British government.

by Bharat

History of Modern India

July 27, 2013 in Explore, History

The history of modern India is marked by arrival of  Vasco da Gama in 1498.

In 1498, Vasco da Gama successfully discovered a new sea route from Europe to India, which paved the way for direct Indo-European commerce. The Portuguese soon set up trading posts in Goa, Daman, Diu and Bombay. The next to arrive were the Dutch, the British—who set up a trading post in the west coast port of Surat in 1619—and the French. The internal conflicts among Indian kingdoms gave opportunities to the European traders to gradually establish political influence and appropriate lands. Although these continental European powers controlled various coastal regions of southern and eastern India during the ensuing century, they eventually lost all their territories in India to the British islanders, with the exception of the French outposts of Pondichéry and Chandernagore, the Dutch port of Travancore, and the Portuguese colonies of Goa, Daman and Diu.

Major portion of modern Indian history is about Company (East India Company) Rule. In 1617 the British East India company was given to trade in India. With the increasing powers , they were given duty free business grants in 1717.  However, establishing its high profit trade and long rule in India was not an easy task for the British forces and East India Company. The Company went through a fierce competition with  other European Merchants like the French and the Portuguese which finally favored the British forces after the defeat of the Portuguese in the Battle of Swally in year 1612. After their victory , the company established itself throughout the nation, which was then under the rule of the Mughal ruler Jahangir. Mughals allowed the Company to establish its reach throughout the India . British took this opportunity with both hands to establish their influence and power in the whole country.The primary strategy of the company had been to capture Indian economy by capturing all the trade routes. Soon they had full control on all the trade ports of India like Madras (now Chennai), Bombay (now Mumbai), Calcutta (now Kolkata).

Gradually, the British forces started to establish its rule in India although they received lot of received lot of resistance from the then Indian rules. After the famous battle of Plassey, the Bengal empire went to the hands of British first.  Following was battle of Buxar, which gave Bihar to the British company. Soon, Mysore and Maratha empire (near Bombay) was also overtaken by British rule.

Gradually , company expanded its rule all over the country and ruled for about 100 years. During company rule India saw some major fall in economy and some of the worst famines of all times.

Revolt of 1857

Finally, the East India company rule ended in 1857 after a long struggle which is also known as first war of independence of India. There were many reasons behind the revolt, some of them are briefly described below :

  • Miserable Economic conditions for Indians:  Although the Company was making huge profits with the trade they were doing with India, the economic conditions of India were getting poor and poorer. Company started to export raw material from India to England at very cheap prices and then import the finished goods back to India at high rates. Although, it was highly profitable business for the company, it broke backbone of many Indian industries like Handloom, Crafts etc. This in turn threw lives of workers and masses in misery and caused aggressive hatred towards company.
  • Social imbalance: British paid very little attention to the social setup of India and this caused disparity among different social divisions in the society. This led to the societies turning against British rule rapidly.
  • Religious Fury: The Indians started to become skeptical towards British attitude towards Indian religions when heavy taxes were imposed on religious properties. People started to think Britishers wanted to convert them to Christianity and it was totally unacceptable by any religious group that time.
  • Poor conditions and unequal status for Indian soldiers in the British army: Although majority of the British force in India constituted Indian soldiers, very little attention was paid towards their welfare. There were no growth opportunities, pay was very less and treatment was unequal.  All good ranks were reserved for Britishers. To add fuel, greased cartridges force introduced which were having cow and pig fat shell, something completely non-acceptable by both Hindus and Muslims. This caused outburst of anger within the army. In fact, the revolt started within military led by Mangal Pandey , in Meerut(eastern U.P. now).

The revolt was nationwide and very much successful , but there were some basic reasons due to which it could not succeed:

  • The revolt lacked proper plan and unity: Although there were many groups which participated in the revolt at many locations, they lacked proper planning and coordination. Due to this the damage was done in bits and bytes, but it lacked fatal impact on British empire.
  • Lack of participation of masses in general: The revolt was aggressive in nature and lacked involvement of general masses. Though, people were dissatisfied with the rule and were filler with anger, lack of proper coordination and aggressive nature of the movement attracted less participation from the Indian mass.
  • Back biting by Indian Princely states and local Indian groups:  Many Indian princely states supported British in suppressing the revolt with money and manpower. This caused dilution of the effects of revolt where it could have caused major dent in the British ship.

by Bharat

History of Medieval India

July 21, 2013 in History

 

For a period that has come to be so strongly associated with the Islamic influence and rule in India, Medieval history of India went for almost three whole centuries under the so-called indigenous rulers, that included the Chalukyas, the Pallavas, the Pandyas, the Rashtrakutas, the Muslims rulers and finally the Mughal Empire. The most important dynasty to emerge in the middle of the 9th century was that of the Cholas.

The Palas

Between 8th and 10th centuries A.D., a number of powerful empires dominated the eastern and northern parts of India. The Pala king Dharmpala, son of Gopala reigned from the late 8th century A.D. to early 9th century A.D. Nalanda University and Vikramashila University were founded by Dharmpala.

The Senas

After the decline of the Palas, the Sena dynasty established its rule in Bengal. The founder of the dynasty was Samantasena. The greatest ruler of the dynasty was Vijaysena. He conquered the whole of Bengal and was succeeded by his son Ballalasena. He reigned peacefully but kept his dominions intact. He was a great scholar and wrote four works including one on astronomy. The last ruler of this dynasty was Lakshamanasena under whose reign the Muslims invaded Bengal, and the empire fell.

The Pratihara

The greatest ruler of the Pratihara dynasty was Mihir Bhoja. He recovered Kanauj (Kanyakubja) by 836, and it remained the capital of the Pratiharas for almost a century. He built the city Bhojpal (Bhopal). Raja Bhoja and other valiant Gujara kings faced and defeated many attacks of the Arabs from west.

Between 915-918 A.D, Kanauj was attacked by a Rashtrakuta king, who devastated the city leading to the weakening of the Pratihara Empire. In 1018, Kannauj then ruled by Rajyapala Pratihara was sacked by Mahmud of Ghazni. The empire broke into independent Rajput states.

The Rashtrakutas

This dynasty, which ruled from Karnataka, is illustrious for several reasons. They ruled the territory vaster than that of any other dynasty. They were great patrons of art and literature. The encouragement that several Rashtrakuta kings provided to education and literature is unique, and the religious tolerance exercised by them was exemplary.

The Chola Empire of the South

It emerged in the middle of the 9th century A.D., covered a large part of Indian peninsula, as well as parts of Sri Lanka and the Maldives Islands.

The first important ruler to emerge from the dynasty was Rajaraja Chola I and his son and successor Rajendra Chola. Rajaraja carried forward the annexation policy of his father. He led armed expedition to distant lands of Bengal, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh.

The successors of Rajendra I, Rajadhiraj and Rajendra II were brave rulers who fought fiercely against the later Chalukya kings, but could not check the decline of Chola Empire. The later Chola kings were weak and incompetent rulers. The Chola Empire thus lingered on for another century and a half, and finally came to an end with the invasion of Malik Kafur in the early 14th century A.D.

by Bharat

Indian History – Ancient, Medieval, Modern & Freedom Struggle

July 18, 2013 in History

History of India dates back to the beginning of Human civilization as long as 75,000 years ago, or with earlier hominids including Homo erectus from about 500,000 years ago, so we will classify the Indian History in below categories:

 Ancient History of India

Ketavaram_rock_paintings , Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh

Ketavaram rock painting , Kurnool district, Andhra Pradesh

Ajanta Padmapani

Painting from Ajanta

ancient india image

Ancient Indian painting

The earliest human remains found in South Asian parts, which are over 30,000 years old suggest existence of human civilization back then. Many of these evidences have been found in today’s India like Bhimbetka rock shelters in Madhya Pradesh. Available evidences also suggest usage of Iron, Copper and other metals was widely prevalent in this part of the world at a fairly early age, indicating progress which was made at that time. We will start discussions with below classifications: Top 


Pre-Historic Stone Age(7000–3000 BC)

Bhimbetka Bull rock painting, Madhya Pradesh, India

Bhimbetka rock painting , Madhya Pradesh, India

Bhimbetka rock painting, Madhya Pradesh, India (30,000 years old)

Bhimbetka rock painting, Madhya Pradesh, India (30,000 years old)

Isolated remains of Homo erectus in Hathnora in the Narmada Valley in central India indicate that India might have been inhabited since at least the Middle Pleistocene era, somewhere between 500,000 and 200,000 years ago. Tools crafted by proto-humans that have been dated back two million years have been discovered in the northwestern part of the subcontinent. The ancient history of the region includes some of South Asia’s oldest settlements and some of its major civilisations. The earliest archaeological site in the subcontinent is the palaeolithic hominid site in the Soan River valley. Soanian sites are found in the Sivalik region across what are now India, Pakistan, and Nepal. The Mesolithic period in the Indian subcontinent was followed by the Neolithic period, when more extensive settlement of the subcontinent occurred after the end of the last Ice Age approximately 12,000 years ago. The first confirmed semipermanent settlements appeared 9,000 years ago in the Bhimbetka rock shelters in modern Madhya Pradesh, India. Early Neolithic culture in South Asia is represented by the Bhirrana findings (7500 BCE)in Haryana, India & Mehrgarh findings (7000 BCE onwards) in Balochistan, Pakistan. Top  Traces of a Neolithic culture have been alleged to be submerged in the Gulf of Khambat in India, radiocarbon dated to 7500 BCE. However, the one dredged piece of wood in question was found in an area of strong ocean currents. Neolithic agriculture cultures sprang up in the Indus Valley region around 5000 BCE, in the lower Gangetic valley around 3000 BCE, and in later South India, spreading southwards and also northwards into Malwa around 1800 BCE. The first urban civilisation of the region began with the Indus Valley Civilisation.


Pre-Historic Bronze Age(3000–1300 BC)

The Bronze Age in the Indian subcontinent began around 3300 BCE with the early Indus Valley Civilisation. It was centred on the Indus River and its tributaries which extended into the Ghaggar-Hakra River valley, the Ganges-Yamuna Doab, Gujarat, and southeastern Afghanistan. The civilisation is primarily located in modern-day India (Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan provinces) and Pakistan (Sindh, Punjab, and Balochistanprovinces). Historically part of Ancient India, it is one of the world’s earliest urban civilisations, along with Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. Inhabitants of the ancient Indus river valley, the Harappans, developed new techniques in metallurgy and handicraft (carneol products, seal carving), and produced copper, bronze, lead, and tin. We will discuss some more about Harappan Civilization later in the article. The Mature Indus civilisation flourished from about 2600 to 1900 BCE, marking the beginning of urban civilisation on the subcontinent. The civilisation included urban centres such as Dholavira, Kalibangan, Rupar, Rakhigarhi, and Lothal in modern-day India, and Harappa, Ganeriwala, and Mohenjo-daro in modern-day Pakistan. The civilisation is noted for its cities built of brick, roadside drainage system, and multistoried houses. Top 

The Indus Valley or Harappan Civilization (3000-2,500 BCE to about 1500 BCE)

Indus Valley remains

Indus Valley ruins. This is a picture of Great Bath, Mohenjo Daro.

The History of India begins with the birth of the Indus Valley Civilization, more precisely known as Harappan Civilization. It flourished around 2,500 BC, in the western part of South Asia, what today is Pakistan and Western India. The Indus Valley was home to the largest of the four ancient urban civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China. Nothing was known about this civilization till 1920s when the Archaeological Department of India carried out excavations in the Indus valley wherein the ruins of the two old cities, viz. Mohenjodaro and Harappa were unearthed. The ruins of buildings and other things like household articles, weapons of war, gold and silver ornaments, seals, toys, pottery wares, etc., show that some four to five thousand years ago a highly developed Civilization flourished in this region. The Indus valley civilization was basically an urban civilization and the people lived in well-planned and well-built towns, which were also the centers for trade. The ruins of Mohenjodaro and Harappa show that these were magnificent merchant cities-well planned, scientifically laid, and well looked after. They had wide roads and a well-developed drainage system. The houses were made of baked bricks and had two or more storeys. The highly civilized Harappans knew the art of growing cereals, and wheat and barley constituted their staple food. They consumed vegetables and fruits and ate mutton, pork and eggs as well. Evidences also show that they wore cotton as well as woolen garments. By 1500 BC, the Harappan culture came to an end. Among various causes ascribed to the decay of Indus Valley Civilization are the invasion by the Aryans, the recurrent floods and other natural causes like earthquake, etc.  [Read More ..]Top 


Vedic civilization

The Vedic civilization is the earliest civilization in the history of ancient India associated with the coming of Aryans. It is named after the Vedas, the early literature of the Hindu people. The Vedic Civilization flourished along the river Saraswati, in a region that now consists of the modern Indian states of Haryana and Punjab. Vedic is synonymous with Aryans and Hinduism, which is another name for religious and spiritual thought that has evolved from the Vedas. The largely accepted view is that a section of Aryans reached the frontiers of the Indian subcontinent around 2000 BC and first settled in Punjab and it is here, in this land, where the hymns of Rigveda were composed. The Aryans lived in tribes and spoke Sanskrit, which belonged to the Indo-European group of languages. Gradually, the Aryans intermingled with the local people and a historic synthesis was worked out between the Aryan tribes and the original inhabitants. This synthesis broadly came to be known as Hinduism. The Ramayana and Mahabharata were the two great epics of this period. [Read More ..]

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References

  1. National Portal of India
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_India