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Timeline of Indian History

Earliest times to present


The Indian subcontinent has been home to complex civilizations for more than 5,000 years. In the past century, it played a pivotal role in the decolonization process as well.

Learn about the vast span of Indian history.

Ancient India: 3300 - 500 BCE

The Harappan Civilization flourished c. 3000-1500 BCE.
luluinnyc on Flickr.com

Indus Valley Civilization; Late Harappan Civilization; "Aryan" Invasion; Vedic Civilization; "Rig-Veda" Composed; 16 Mahajanapadas form in northern India; Development of caste system; "Upanishads" composed; Prince Siddharta Gautama becomes the Buddha; Prince Mahavira founds Jainism

Mauryan Empire and Development of Castes: 327 BCE - 200 CE

This figure is in a wat in Bangkok, based on an Indian story.
truth82 on Flickr.com

Alexander the Great invades Indus Valley; Mauryan Empire; "Ramayana" composed; Ashoka the Great rules Mauryan Empire; Indo-Scythian Empire; "Mahabharata" composed; Indo-Greek Kingdom; "Bhagavata Gita" composed; Indo-Persian kingdoms; "Laws of Manu" define four main Hindu castes

Gupta Empire and Fragmentation: 280 - 750 CE

Christian Haugen on Flickr.com

Gupta Empire - "Golden Age" of Indian history; Pallava Dynasty; Chandragupta II conquers Gujarat; Gupta Empire falls and India fragments; Chalukyan kingdom founded in central India; South India ruled by Pallava Dynasty; Thanesar Kingdom founded by Harsha Vardhana in north India and Nepal; Chalukyan Empire conquers central India; Chalukyas defeat Harsha Vardhana at Battle of Malwa; Pratihara Dynasty in northern India and Palas in the east

Chola Empire and Medieval India: 753 - 1190

Ravages on Flickr.com

Rashtrakuta Dynasty controls south and central India, expands northward; Chola Empire breaks off from Pallavas; Pratihara Empire at its height; Chola conquers all of south India; Mahmud of Ghazni conquers much of Punjab; Raja Raja of Chola builds Brihadeshvara Temple; Mahmud of Ghazni sacks Gurjara-Pratihara capital; Cholas expand into Southeast Asia; Palas Empire peaks under King Mahipala; Chalukya Empire breaks into three kingdoms

Muslim Rule in India: 1206 - 1490

Amir Taj on Flickr.com

Delhi Sultanate founded; Mongols win Battle of Indus, bring down Khwarezmid Empire; Chola Dynasty falls; Khilji Dynasty takes over Delhi Sultanate; Battle of Jalandhar - Khilji general defeats Mongols; Turkic ruler Muhammad bin Tughlaq takes Delhi Sultanate; Vijayanagara Empire founded in southern India; Bahmani Kingdom rules Deccan Plateau; Vijayanagara Empire conquers Muslim sultanate of Madura; Timur (Tamerlane) sacks Delhi; Sikhism founded

Mughal Empire and British East India Co.: 1526 - 1769

India's Taj Mahal
abhijeet.rane on Flickr.com

First Battle of Panipat - Babur and Mughals defeat Delhi Sultanate; Turkic Mughal Empire rules north and central India; Deccan sultanates become independent with breakup of Bahmani Kingdom; Babur's grandson Akbar the Great ascends to throne; British East India Co. founded; Shah Jihan crowned Mughal Emperor; Taj Mahal built to honor Mumtaz Mahal; Shah Jihan deposed by son; Battle of Plassey, British East India Co. begins political control of India; Bengali Famine kills some 10 million people

British Raj in India: 1799 - 1943

Photo of British India by Bourne and Shepherd, 1875-76.
Library of Congress Prints and Photos

British defeat and kill Tippu Sultan; Sikh Empire founded in Punjab; British Raj in India; British outlaw sati; Queen Victoria named Empress of India; Indian National Congress formed; Muslim League founded; Mohandas Gandhi leads anti-British campaign; Gandhi's salt protest and March to the Sea; "Quit India" movement

Partition of India and Independence: 1947 - 1977

Digital Vision / Getty Images

Independence and the Partition of India; Mohandas Gandhi assassinated; First Indo-Pakistani War; Indo-Chinese border war; Prime Minister Nehru dies; Second Indo-Pakistani War; Indira Gandhi becomes Prime Minister; Third Indo-Pakistani War and creation of Bangladesh; First Indian nuclear test; Indira Gandhi's party loses elections

The Turbulent Late 20th Century: 1980 - 1999

Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

Indira Gandhi returns to power; Indian troops attack Sikh Golden Temple, massacre pilgrims; Indira Gandhi assassinated by Sikh bodyguards; Union Carbide gas leak at Bhopal kills thousands; Indian troops intervene in Sri Lankan civil war; India withdraws from Sri Lanka; Rajiv Gandhi assassinated by Tamil Tiger suicide bomber; Indian Nation Congress loses elections; Indian Prime Minister travels to Pakistan to sign peace declaration; Renewed Indo-Pakistani fighting in Kashmir

India in the 21st Century: 2001 - 2008

Paula Bronstein / Getty Images

Gujarat earthquakes kill 30,000+; India launches first large orbital satellites; Sectarian violence kills 59 Hindu pilgrims and then 1,000+ Muslims; India and Pakistan declare Kashmir ceasefire; Mahmohan Singh becomes prime minister of India; Thousands of Indians die in Southeast Asian tsunami; Pratibha Patil becomes India's first female president; Mumbai terrorist attack by Pakistani radicals

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