Tourism of India

Tourism of India

History

Indian history dates back to 3000 BC. Excavations in Punjab and
Gujarat reveal that the Indus Valley civilisation was a highly
developed urban civilisation. In fact the two cities of Harappa and
Mohenjodaro, situated on two sides of the river Ravi , are known to have
been built on a similar plan. But that only meant a new wave of
urbanisation was taking place along the Ganges around 1500 BC. This has
been recorded in the Rig Veda – the earliest known literary source
composed in this period that sheds light on India ‘s past.

The Great Dynasties

By 6th century BC, the Magadh rulers dominated the Northern
plains. It was also the time when new thinking emerged in the form of
Buddhism and Jainism to challenge Hindu orthodoxy. The Magadh rule was
followed by the rule of Chandragupta Maurya (322-298 B.C.), one of India
‘s greatest emperors. The Mauryan reign peaked under the reign of
Ashoka the Great who extended his empire from the Kashmir and Peshawar
in the North to Mysore in the South and Orissa in the East. Not only was
Ashoka a great ruler, he was one of the most successful propagators of
Buddhism in the country. After Ashoka’s death in 232 B.C. the empire
began to disintegrate and the country was repeatedly raided and
plundered by foreign invaders, leaving India disunited and weak for the
next 400 years. Stability returned with the reign of Chandra Gupta I
(380-412 A.D.). His rule is considered the golden period in Indian
history when art and culture flourished and the country prospered.

Unlike the North of India, foreign invasions had little impact
on life in South India which also saw the rise and decline of many
empires. These included the Cholas whose rule extended to Sri Lanka and
South East Asia , the Pandyas, the Cheras, the Pallavas and the
Chalukyas. Under the various rulers, arts and craft in the South also
saw the emergence of various styles of architecture and some of the
grandest architectural accomplishments in the South – the most famous
being the exquisitely crafted Chola bronzes. These were followed by the
Hoysala and the Vijaynagar empires – among the greatest Hindu empires.

The Muslim Invasions

The first Muslim invasions of the country started with the
Mahmud of Gazni, who plundered the sub-continent for its riches between
1001 and 1025. Later Mohamed Ghori defeated Prithviraj Chauhan, the
Tomar ruler of Delhi and left it in charge of his deputy, Qutub-ud-din,
the man who built the Qutub Minar in Delhi . His rule was followed by
that of the Khilji, Tughlaq, Sayyid and Lodi dynasties. Known as the
Sultanate of Delhi, it was during this period that the Muslim rulers
introduced Islamic concepts of society and governance to most of the
sub-continent, though the South remained largely untouched.

In 1525, Babur, a descendant of Timur, as well as Genghis
Khan invaded Punjab and eventually founded the Mughal empire in India .
His rule was followed by that of his son Humayun. Humayun was ousted by
Afghan chieftain Sher Shah but resumed power after Sher Shah’s death.
Sher Shah is, however, remembered as the one to build the Grand Trunk
road spanning from Peshawar to Patna . Humayun’s reign was followed up
by his son Akbar who actually consolidated power and extended the empire
across North India and parts of South India . One of India ‘s wisest
rulers and most able administrators, Akbar’s reign is considered to be
one of the best the country has known. Akbar was succeeded by Jahangir,
followed by his son Shah Jahan – best known as the builder of the Taj
Mahal, the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid. Shah Jahan’s reign was followed
by Aurangzeb’s. The death of Aurangzeb saw the decline of the Mughal
rule in India .

British Rule

Over the centuries India had always been attractive to traders,
and one of the first Europeans to come to India was the Portuguese
trader Vasco da Gama who landed at Calicut , sailing via the Cape of
Good Hope in 1498. The Portuguese established their colony in Goa in the
16th Century but they did not expand it though their rule continued
till 1961. Vasco da Gama was followed by the French, the Dutch and the
English, all of whom were lured by the commercial interests that India
offered. By the last quarter of the 18th century the English established
themselves as the dominant power in India and they set about making
revolutionary changes in the social, political and the economic life of
the country.

Towards Independence

The disintegration of the Mughal empire, fighting among the
Maratha rulers and inability of the various rulers across the country to
unite against a common enemy saw the British consolidate their position
in the country. However, the 19th century saw a revival of national
pride and social reform and the Indians began to tire of the suppressive
British rule. Things reached a flash point in the second half of the
19th century when the first war of independence in 1857 broke out in
Meerut . It was sparked off by the introduction of a new rifle and
cartridge by the British in the Army. The cartridges which soldiers had
to bite off, allegedly contained pork and beef tallow, which offended
the religious sentiments of both Hindus and Muslims. The soldiers
rebelled, reached Delhi and proclaimed Bahadurshah Zafar the sovereign
ruler of India . They were eventually overpowered by the British.

But there was no looking back for the Indians who wanted
social reform and freedom. The Indian National Congress was set up and
educated Indians started formulating strategies to assert their
birthright to independence. The anti-British sentiment became a mass
movement with the arrival of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who devised a
unique strategy for India ‘s freedom struggle based on non-violence and
civil disobedience. He conceived and led the non-cooperation movement in
1922, the Salt Satyagraha in 1930 and the Quit India Movement in 1942.
All of which pushed the British into agreeing to transfer power on
August 15, 1947, the day that is now celebrated as India ‘s Independence
Day. Today, India is the world’s largest democracy with a federal form
of government