• Bangladesh!

    Bangladesh: Traditional houses. Go Now!

    This low-lying country has historic ties to India and Pakistan, but today maintains a wholly unique culture. Explore Bangladesh!

  • Indonesia!

    Indonesia: Lombok. Go Now!

    This archipelago nation is culturally diverse from big cities to isolated islands. Begin Your Journey!

  • Jordan!

    Jordan: Petra. Go Now!

    Tucked away in this Middle Eastern country, the famed city of Petra (pictured) links the past to the present culture. Explore Jordan!

  • Mongolia!

    Mongolia: Desert. Go Now!

    This vast country has a culture that spans past and present... a nomadic life shifting to a modern & sedentary society. Begin Your Journey!

  • Kyrgyzstan!

    Kyrgyzstan: Tian Shan Mountains. Go Now!

    The mountains, including the Tian Shan Mountains (pictured), give Kyrgyzstan a unique culture, partially formed from this isolation from the mountains. Go Now!

History of India

WARNING: Terrorist threats continue in India, please read this travel warning before going!

India's history dates back as one of the world's first cradles of civilization. The land was fertile and by 2000 BC settlements were fairly well established and organized. In about 1500 BC Hinduism was formalized and the caste system was introduced.

In the period from about 500-300 BC the various ethnic groups in modern-day India held off the Persians and later the Greeks led by Alexander the Great, who turned back before invading the land. During this time Hinduism became better established and more widely followed as both Buddhism and Jainism were introduced, both of which are philosophies that fight the Hindu's caste system.

After this time, trade expanded with China, Central Asia, and the west as the Silk Road peaked and the people in modern-day northern India took a vital role. The first true union among numerous ethnicities in India began in the 300s (in the north), let by the Guptas, an empire which collapsed in the 500s after being defeated by the Huns. This led to more small rulers in the country's geographic borders and led to the rise of Hinduism as the dominant religion/philosophy in India.

In the 1000 and 1100s there were invasions on the north from the Middle East, which converted a significant minority of the people to Islam, but these invaders lost most control as they tried to invade southern India while maintaining their growing empire.

Meanwhile the south, which had been predominantly Hindu for centuries, remained primarily divided into small areas ruled by various leaders, but thrived through Indian Ocean trade. The south, for much of this time had remained out of the reach of invaders, including the Muslims, until the 1300s when it was invaded by a number of groups and opened the area up to the growth of larger kingdoms.

In the 1500s the Muslim Mughals took power in India, their empire covering nearly the entire Indian subcontinent. Although best known to many people as the builders of the Taj Mahal, the Mughals proved to be a military, political, and cultural power, expanding the people's general well-being and even creating peace between the Muslims and Hindus, instead of trying to suppress the Hindus. This empire declined beginning in about 1700 and only 40 years later the Persians successfully invaded.

In about 1500 the Portuguese landed in India (Goa) and secured control over Indian Ocean trade with posts throughout the Middle East and Africa. The British arrived enforce in about 1600, first setting up trading posts with local leaders ruling over the people, then creating an official colony in 1858. The British vastly improved India's unity by building better infrastructure and communication networks, including the teaching of English as the language of communication.

In about 1900 Indian independence movements began, but disagreements between the Hindus and Muslims between how to govern a joint state delayed any uniform organization so these talks moved slowly, even after Mohandas Gandhi took the lead in the peaceful independence movement. In 1947 the country gained independence, but was divided into Muslim Pakistan (at the time East and West Pakistan, later the east became Pakistan) and Hindu India. This division caused a huge amount of violence and in some places ethnic cleansing took place in the streets.

Since independence, India has had poor relations with Pakistan and much internal instability. Wars have taken place with both Pakistan and China since independence over border issues, primarily in Kashmir. Domestically, the country has been overcome with religious fights and bombings between the Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains among others.

This page was last updated: March, 2013