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HISTORY BACKGROUND

Indian history dates back to before 3,000 BC, when highly developed civilizations around the Indus Valley developed. Some evidence of these civilizations can be found in the Rig Veda. It is thought by many that in 1,500 BC Aryans, a foreign pale-skinned tribe from Central Asia invaded Northern India but there is some academic dispute about this. What seems clear, regardless of whether or not the Aryans were a foreign invader or natives of India, is that the darker-skinned Dravidians in the South pre-dated the Aryans and had their own culture and languages which flourished independently. 

The Indian history most explored by visitors to India appeals to most tourists, starts in the 6th century BC, when Buddhism and Jainism emerged from their Hindu roots. One of India's greatest emperors, the Mauryan emperor Ashoka the Great, extended his kingdom in the third century BC to include a large portion of what is now modern India. Architecture, sculpture and other arts flourished during his reign, as did Buddhism (after his conversion as a result of his remorse at heavy and bloody losses in battle).  After Ashoka's death in 232 BC, his empire began to disintegrate due to repeated raids by foreign invaders which left India disunited for the next 400 years or more. The golden period of the Guptas in the 4th to 5th centuries AD restored harmony to some extent and art, culture and commerce flourished once more.  

The first Muslim invasion is recorded to have occurred at the beginning of the 11th century, after which a series of further successful invasions resulted in the taking and rule of Northern India from Delhi. It was during this time that Islam was introduced to India. Many converted to Islam voluntarily (especially from the lower castes, as the caste system did not exist in Islam), but there were also many conversions that were effectively coerced by the Mughals. 

In 1525, Babur, a descendant of Genghis Khan, became the first Mughal emperor of India. Considered the greatest of all Mughal emperors was Akbar (Babur's grandson) who was known for his religious tolerance and for encouraging art and culture. The legacy of the Mughal empire legacy can still be seen throughout Northern India (the South remained largely untouched by the Mughals). Humayun's tomb in Delhi, Shah Jahan's Taj Mahal at Agra, and the Red Fort and Jama Masjid in Delhi are all reminders of the Mughal era. The Mughal Empire came to an end with the demise of Aurangzeb (who had killed his brother and imprisoned his father, Shah Jahan) and the arrival of the British, who arrived initially in the form of the East India Trading Company in the late 18th century. The Portuguese, Dutch, Danish and French had also arrived and claimed parts of South India; for example Goa (ruled by the Portuguese until 1961) and Pondicherry (ruled by the French until the 1950s). 

The British, like most other European colonists, first arrived to do business but gradually they won support from the Crown and from local inhabitants, overthrowing the Mughal rulers. However, an uprising against colonial rule grew to a peak in the mid 19th century, and resulted in the First War of Independence in Uttar Pradesh in 1897 (called the Indian Mutiny by the British). A wave of nationalism swept the country and saw the founding of the Indian National Congress.  Mahatma Gandhi will always be remembered as the greatest hero of the anti-British movement: his doctrines of non-violence and civil disobedience were central to his mentoring of many of those who brought the Congress Party into being after independence was granted on 15th August 1947. Today, India is the world's largest democracy with a federal form of government and a population of 1 billion people.  

Time Difference 

IST (Indian Standard Time, otherwise known as Indian Stretchable Time) is 5.5 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time or GMT, 4.5 hours behind Australian Standard Eastern Time and 10.5 hours ahead of American Eastern Standard Time. However, the clocks in India do not change according to the season and so there may be an hour's difference more or less depending on the time of year and country of comparison

 

TOURS HIGHLIGHT
 
JOURNALIST COMMENTS


"India won't allow you to simply look at her. She demand you perform in her threatre"

Debie Neilson:

Deputy Travel Editor


 


"India that 'land of contrasts', chalks up another 327 citizens as the traffic light changes."
"The Taj, as religious building, is a statement of the Islamic version fo paradise....


Crispin Hull:

Deputy Editor


 


"You can run, but you can't hide. Garry Tippet finds himself under fire in India's Rajasthan.

Garry Tippet

 


No matter how many times you have seen the photographs, nothing diminish the experience seeing the Taj Mahal trust hand.

Margot Lang
Travel Editor

 


The Indian Sub Continent is a region with civilization and culture that dates back to

Mike Smith
Travel Editor


 


The Indian Sub Continent is a region with civilization and culture that dates back to

Philip Hunter
Travel Editor

 


The Indian Sub Continent is a region with civilization and culture that dates back to

Mike Bingham
Travel Editor


 

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