Chronology of Indian History


600 B.C: This period sees the rise of monarchies and republics in northern India. Various religious sects also arise with Buddhism and Jainism acquiring the status of major religions.

327 BC: Alexander of Macedon campaigns in north-western India. His premature death prevents the consolidation of his Indian exploits.

321 BC: The Mauryan empire, the first form of ‘imperial’ government in India takes root. Chandragupta Maurya establishes power and hegemony in central and north-west India.

273 Be: Ashoka, one of India’s greatest monarchs, ascends the throne. After his successful conquest of Kalinga, he denounces war and embraces Buddhism. A variety of sources suggest a centralised, highly efficient administration and bureaucracy and flourishing trade and craft.

200 Bc-200 AD: A series of Indo-Greek invasions take place. Indo-Greek King Menander conquers areas in Punjab and Mathura near Delhi. An intermingling of Greek and Indian cultures leads to the famous Gandhara School of Sculpture (See Visual Arts: Painting and Sculpture – Gandhara Scul pture).

180 BC: Mauryan power declines. Its disintegration gives rise to a number of small kingdoms such as the Sunga dynasty in Magadha and central India and Kalinga under its ruler Kharavela.

57 BC: Entry of the Sakas, a foreign tribe from central Asia, on the central scene.

87-144 AD: The Kushan dynasty, one of the significant phases in the cultural development of northern India, begins its reign. The Mathura School of Art flourishes (See Visual Arts: Painting and Sculpture). Kanishka, one of its greatest kings, rules over his kingdom from Purushapura (Pesha- war, now in Pakistan).

106-130: Ascent of the Satavahana power in the Deccan – the successors of the . Mauryans in that region. Rock-cut caves and Buddhist stupas belong to this period (See Archaeology/Architecture).

320: Chandragupta I founds the Gupta dynasty which is often referred to as the Classical Age or the Golden Age of India (See Archaeology/Architecture; Visual Arts: Painting and Sculpture). During his reign Hindu culture is firmly established in northern India. His successor Samudra-gupta, consolidates the Gupta ‘power and hegemony and pushes it further south.

375-415: Samudragupta’s son, Chandra- gupta II, also known as Vikramaditya de- feats the Sakas in western India. Fa Hien, the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim, visits India during this period and paints a glowing and comprehensive account of the country. Under the Guptas art and literature flourish anti scholars and poets like Kalidasa and Amarasimha are patronised. Ajanta paintings, the greatest of Buddhist art, also come from this period (See Literature; Visual Arts: Painting and Sculpture).

600-630: In the south several important kingdoms emerge, with the Palla vas and Chalukyas being the most prominent. This is followed by a period of conflict in which the Palla vas under Narasimhavarman defeat the Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas. The famous rock-cut temples at MahabaIipuram or Mamallapuram belong to this period (See Archaeology/Architecture; Holy Places: Temples; Visual Arts: Painting and Sculpture).

606-647: Rise of Harshavardhana or Harsha of the Pushyabhuti dynasty. Making Kanauj the seat of his power he extends his authority in north India. A detailed account of this period survives in the writing of court poet Barambhatta’s Harshacharitra(See Literature).

900: Anangpal, a Rajput ruler, builds Lal Kot, said to be the first city of Delhi.

907: Parantak  I, the Chela ruler estab- lishes Chola power in the south. Rajendra I succeed and continues the policy of expansion. The Chola period is known for its architecture and for its bronze sculptures and figurines (See Literature).

1001: Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni begins his raids from the northern frontier. He attacks 70 times in a period of 17 years and paves the way for the rule of the Turks and Afghans in India. Muhammad Ghori also conducts vigorous campaigns of expansion into northern India towards the end of the 12th century.

1206: Muhammad Ghori is murdered and his gereral Qutub-ud-din Aibak assumes control of his Indian possessions. This lays the foundation of what is known as the Delhi Sultanate.

1211-86: Aibak’s son-in-law iltutmish rules. To him goes the credit of firmly establishing the Turkish rule. He completes the famous monument Qutub Minar.

1266: Balban ascends the throne and consolidates the power of the Delhi Sultanate.

1296-1316: Ala-ud-din Khilji (or Khaljj) rules. His reign marks the highest point of the Sultanate’s political power in terms of extent of empire and authority of the Sultan. He lays the foundation of the second city of Delhi, Siri.

1320: Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq wrests power and establishes a new dynasty, the Tughlaqs. The third City of Delhi, Tughlaqabad, is raised by him.

1325-51: Muharnmed-bin-Tughlaq reigns. An innovative ruler, he is regarded by historians as a visionary whose fantastic ideas were out of tune with the times. He builds jahanpanah, the fourth city, between Lal Kot and Siri.

1351: Firoz Shah Tughlaq, known for his benevolent measures, succeeds to the throne. He builds Firozabad, the fifth city, on the western banks of the Yamuna. After him the power and influence of the Sultanate start to decline.

1398: Timur, the dreaded Turk attacks India and strikes the last blow to the Tughlaq dynasty. The Tughlaqs are succeeded by the Sayyids who only just manage to keep the Sultanate going.

1451-1596: The Lodis of Afghan descent rule. This period sees inter-tribal rivalries which finally lead to the eclipse of the dynasty.

1526: Babur, a descendant of Timur invades India. He lays the foundation or the Mughal rule in India.

1540: Babur dies and is succeeded by his son Humayun who establishes the foundation of the sixth city, Din Panah, at the site of Shergarh, Sher Shah’s city.

1556: Akbar becomes the emperor and the Mughal dynasty soars to new heights. The greatest of the Mughal kings, he abolishes jazia, a religious tax and marries a Rajput princess,Jodha Bai, the sister of Raja Man Singh, in an effort to bring different religious groups together. Twenty-six years after assuming power, he begins construction of his famous capital, Fatehpur Sikri, and promulgates his religion, Din ilahi.

1600: The London East India Company is granted charter. Other colonial powers make inroads into India.

1605: The United East India Company of the Netherlands is formed and four years later the Dutch Company is established at Pulicat in Tamil Nadu. In 1613, jehangir grants firman (permission) to the English East India Company and they begin trade with Bengal soon after.

1630: Shivaji, the greatest of the Maratha rulers, who would later harass both the British and the declining Mughal empire, is born in Maharashtra.

1638: Shah jahan, the fifth Mughal ruler, lays the foundation for Shahjahanabad, the seventh city, with the Red Fort at Delhi as its citadel.

1666: The greatest of the Mughal architects, Shah jahan, who constructed the beautiful Taj Maha l at Agra and the Red Fort at Delhidies. In 1707, with the death of his son Aurangzeb, the Mughal empire begins to disintegrate.

1739: Nadir Shah, a Persian ruler, invades Delhi and takes away the Mughal Peacock throne amidst much violence and killing.

1744: Frenchman Joseph Francois Dupleix is appointed governor of Pondi- cherry in the south. In east India, the English capture Chandernagore. With the battle of Arcot near Madras in 1751 the domination of the French is broken.

1757: Robert Clive is appointed governor of Bengal.

1769-70: The great Bengal famine occurs. The estimates of dead vary from three to ten million.

1773: British rule in India gains ascendancy. The Permanent Settlement of land revenue, whereby a fixed amount is taken as tax from the peasants, is signed between the rulers of Bengal and the British.

1801: Karnataka becomes part of the British empire.

1839: Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Lahore known as ‘Lion of Punjab’ dies after founding a Sikh kingdom.

1853: Railway link from Bombay to Thane introduced in India for the first time and also for the first time Indians are allowed to sit for the Indian Civil Service in open competition with the British.

1857: Sepoy revolt at Meerut breaks out. It is the first expression of unrest by the sup- pressed Indians which spreads all over north India.

1876: Queen Victoria is proclaimed Empress of India.

1885: The Indian National Congress is formed. A British civil servant, A.O. Hurne, founds the party, w.e. Bonnerji, a Calcutta barrister, is appointed its first president. Several prominent Indians like Dadabhoy Naoroji attend the Bombay meeting.

1905: The British partition Bengal in an effort to break the national movement but are unsuccessful and cannot cope with the patriotic upsurge. Khudiram Bose, 18, gives vent to the growing anti-British feelings by throwing a bomb which kills two British women in Bengal in 1908. He is sentenced to death.

1911: King George V holds a coronation durbar at Delhi and proclaims the shifting of the capital from Calcutta to Delhi.

1930: The anti-British campaign gathers momentum in India. A salt march is held in Dandi, Gujarat, to break salt laws and many people are arrested. Gandhiji begins the Civil Disobedience Movement and is arrested. A round table conference is held in England to discuss India’s Independance.

1940: M.A.Jinnah in a presidential address at the Lahore session of the All India Muslim League demands a separate homeland for Muslims and passes a resolution for creation of Pakistan.

1942: Quit India Resolution is passed by the Congress Working Committee. In Bangkok, Subhash Chandra Bose forms the Indian National Army and General Mohan Singh is appointed commander- in-chief.

1945: Interim government is formed in India but Jinnah reiterates his demand for a separate Muslim state and refuses to join the interim government.

1947: Partition of India results in a blood bath. The Indian dominion is established at midnight August 15 and Jawaharlal Nehru is appointed first prime minister.

1948: ‘The father of the nation,’ Mahatma Gandhi, is shot dead at a prayer meeting by Nathu Ram Godse. The nation is plunged into gloom. Lord Louis Mountbatten, India’s first governor-general, leaves for England and Dr e. Rajagopalachari is appointed in his place.

1950: India is proclaimed a Sovereign Democractic Republic on January 26. Dr. Rajendra Prasad becomes president of the Indian Republic.

1962: In October, China launches a massive attack on India in Ladakh and other north-eastern areas. On November 21, a ceasefire is announced. India suffers a humiliating defeat and she decides to strengthen her armed forces.

1964:Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, dies. Lal Bahadur Shastri is elected leader of the Congress Party and sworn in as the second prime minister.

1965: Indo-Pak conflict results when Pakistan invades Indian territory. The Soviet Union invites leaders from both sides for talks to resolve differences. Within hours of signing the agreement with the Pakistan President at Tashkent in 1966, Shastri dies on Soviet soil on 24th January, Indira Gandhi is sworn in as prime minister.

1971• Second Indo-Pak conflict in December ends in the surrender of Pakistani troops to the Indian army in Dacca. Bangladesh is born and an agreement is signed with India for unified military command.

1975: After the Allahabad High Court set aside Indira Gandhi’s electioneering practices, a state of Emergency is declared by her. Opposition leaders and dissident Congressmen are arrested. Later, the Supreme Court upholds Indira Gandhi’s election.

1977: Indira Gandhi loses the March elections. Congress Party is routed. The opposition parties who unite under the banner of the janata Party form the first non-Songress government with Morarji Desai as prime minister. The rift in the janata Party in 1979 causes Morarji Desai to step down and Charan Singh becomes leader of the coalition government.

1980: Elections are held and Indira Gandhi and those who stayed loyal to her return with a thumping majority. Sanjay Gandhi, Indira Gandhi’s younger son, is appointed secretary of the Congress but he dies in an airplane crash soon after in june.

1984: Demand for a separate Sikh state, Khalistan escalates in Punjab. Army operation against militants at Golden Temple, Amritsar, on 3rdJune. Among those killed is Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a grantbi (religious leader) who spearheaded the movement for Khalistan. On 31st October Indira Gandhi is assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in the garden of her house.

Rajiv Gandhi, Indira Gandhi’s elder son, assumes the post of prime minister. December, elections are held and Rajiv Gandhi sweeps the polls winning by a three-fourth majority. Out of 495 seats in the Lok Sabha, the Congress claims 401. On 3rd Dec the Union Carbide tragedy occurs in Bhopal. Escaping gas from tanks in the plant takes a heavy toll of lives.

1986: 3OthJune. Peaceful accord after a 20- year insurgency in Mizoram.

1987: India and Sri Lanka sign a peace accord to end the communal conflict between the government and the Tamil separatist fighters in Sri Lanka.

1989 Nov. Elections are held and the Congress Party fails to gain majority. A coalition government is formed with V P Singh as prime minister.

1991 May: RajivGandhi assassinated.

1991 June: PV Narasimha Raosworn in as prime minister.