Few countries in the world have roots that stretch back in time to pre-recorded history. The earliest human activity in the Indian sub-continent can be traced back to the early, middle and late Stone Ages (400,000-200,000 BC). Implements from all three periods have been found in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bihar, parts of what is now Pakistan and the southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula.
Passage to India
One can broadly define different periods or influences in the history of this land, many of which overlap each other. They are classified according to ancient, medieval, British and modern period. The beginning of medieval history is marked by the Turkish invasion.
Ancient Indian history includes the pre-historic period, the Indus valley civilisation, the Vedic and epic ages and a period of transition when Mahavira and Buddha lived. The emergence of the Mauryan empire followed thereafter ending in a series of invasions, the rise of the Deccan kingdoms and the Gupta dynasty followed by an age of fragmentation into smaller kingdoms that eventually led to the reign of Harshavardhana. In the south the rule of the Chalukyas, Pallavas & Pandyas were followed by the Cholas and in the North the invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni leads us into the medieval history of India.
Medieval history is marked by the Turkish invasion, followed by the formation of the Delhi Sultanate by the establishment of the Slave dynasty followed by the Khiljis, the Tughluqs, Sayyids and Lodhis.
Modern Indian history includes the trauma of partition and the aftermath of the creation of India and Pakistan.
The Vijayanagar and Bahamanis followed before Babur formed the Mughal empire that finally disintegrated with the last Moghul emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar II, being imprisoned by the British. In the Deccan, the Maratha kingdom which had been established by Shivaji was annexed.
British Indian history encompasses the establishment of the East India company, the first independence struggle in 1857, followed by British Raj, the rise of the Indian National Congress, the Jalianwala Bagh massacre, Mahatma Gandhi's independence initiatives including the salt march to Dandi, the Quit India movement and the final transfer of power to independent India.
Modern Indian history includes the trauma of partition and the aftermath of the creation of India and Pakistan. It is about India's post-Independence struggles and achievements and it's recognition in the international forum as a secular democracy that has made the transition to a mature economy, and is now focusing it's energy on the dynamics of an unlimited potential for growth.
India Facts Dateline of Events
Few countries in the world have roots that stretch back in time to pre-recorded history. The earliest human activity in the Indian sub-continent can be traced back to the early, middle and late Stone Ages (400,000-200,000 BC). Here we provide a dateline through which we define the history of India from the time of the Harappa civilisation. The dateline is neither exhaustive nor comprehensive, but broadly defines important events in the history of India.
Passage to India
2700 BC Harappa Civilisation
1000 BC Aryans expand into the Ganga valley
900 BC Mahabharata War
800 BC Aryans expand into Bengal; Beginning of the Epic Age: Mahabharata composed, first version of Ramayana
550 BC Composition of the Upanishads
544 BC Buddha's Nirvana
327 BC Alexander's Invasion
325 BC Alexander marches ahead
324 BC Chandragupta Maurya defeats Seleacus Nicator
322 BC Rise of the Mauryas; Chandragupta establishes first Indian Empire
298 BC Bindusara coronated
272 BC Ashoka reigns
180 BC Fall of the Mauryas ; Rise of the Sungas
145 BC : Chola king Erata conquers Ceylon
58 BC Epoch of the Krita-Malava-Vikram Era
30 BC Rise of the Satvahana Dynasty in the Deccan
40 AD Sakas in power in Indus Valley and Western India
50 AD The Kushans and Kanishkas
78 AD Saka Era begins
320 AD Chandragupta I establishes the Gupta dynasty
360 AD Samudragupta conquers the North and most of the Deccan
380 AD Chandragupta II comes to power; Golden Age of Gupta Literary Renaissance
405 AD Fa-hein begins his travels through the Gupta Empire
415 AD Accession of Kumara Gupta I
467 AD Skanda Gupta assumes power
476 AD Birth of astronomer Aryabhatta
606 AD Accession of Harshavardhan Gupta
622 AD Era of the Hejira begins
711 AD Invasion of Sind by Muhammad Bin Qasim
892 AD Rise of the Eastern Chalukyas
985 AD The Chola Dynasty: Accession of Rajaraja, the Great
1001 AD Defeat of Jaipal by Sultan Mahumd
1026 Mahmud Ghazni sacks Somnath Temple
1191 Prithviraj Chauhan routs Muhammad Ghori: the first battle of Tarain
1192 Ghori defeats Prithviraj Chauhan: the second battle of Tarain
1206 Qutbuddin establishes the Slave Dynasty
1221 Mongol invasion under Genghis Khan
1232 Foundation of the Qutub Minar
1288 Marco Polo visits India
1290 Jalaludin Firuz Khalji establishes the Khalji dynasty
1320 Ghiyasuddin Tughluk founds the Tughluk dynasty
1325 Accession of Muhammad-bin-Tughluk
1336 Foundation of Vijayanagar (Deccan)
1398 Timur invades India
1424 Rise of the Bahmani dynasty (Deccan)
1451 The Lodi dynasty established in Delhi
1489 Adil Shah establishes dynasty at Bijapur
1490 Nizam Shahi dynasty at Ahmednagar starts
1498 Vasco da Gama lands in India
1510 The Portuguese capture Goa
1518 Kutub Shahi dynasty established at Golconda
1526 The beginning of the Mughul Dynasty with the First Battle of Panipat and Babur defeating the Lodis
1526-1530 Reign of Babur
1530 Humayun succeeds Babur
1538 Death of Guru Nanak
1539 Sher Shah Suri defeats Humayan and becomes Emperor of Delhi
1555 Humayun recovers the throne of Delhi
1556 Death of Humayun leads to accession of Akbar.
1564 Akbar abolishes poll tax on Hindus
1565 Battle of Talikota where Muslim rulers in Deccan overcome the Vijaynagar Empire
1568 Fall of Chittaur
1571 Foundation of Fatehpur Sikri by Akbar
1572 Akbar annexes Gujarat
1573 Surat surrenders to Akbar
1575 Battle of Tukaroi
1576 Battle of Haldighat: Akbar defeats Rana Pratap; Subjugation of Bengal
1577 Akbar invades Khandesh
1580 Accession of Ibrahim Adil Shah II in Bengal. Rebellion in Bihar and Bengal
1581 Akbar's march against Muhammad Hakim and reconciliation with him
1586 Annexation of Kashmir
1591 Mughul conquest of Sind
1592 Annexation of Orissa
1595 Siege of Ahmednagar; Annexation of Baluchistan
1597 Akbar completes his conquests
1600 Charter of the English East India Company
1602 Formation of the United East India Company of Netherlands
1605 Death of Akbar follwed by Jahangir suucceding to the throne
1606 Rebellion of Khusrav; Execution of the Fifth Sikh Guru, Arjan
1612 The Mughul Governor of Bengal defeats the rebellious Afghans and the Mughuls annex Kuch Hajo
1615 Submission of Mewar to the Mughuls; Arrival of Sir Thomas Roe in India
1620 Capture of Kangra Fort; Malik Ambar revolts in the Deccan
1622 Shah Abbas of Persia beseiges and takes Qandahar
1623 Shah Jahan revolts against Jahangir
1624 Suppression of Shah Jahan's rebellion
1627 Death of Jahangir, followed by Shah Jahan succeeding
1628 Shah Jahan proclaimed Emperor
1631 Death of Shah Jahan's wife Mumtaz Mahal and the construction of Taj Mahal
1632 Mughul invasion of Bijapur; Grant of the "Golden Firman" to the English Company by the Sultan of Golkunda
1633 End of Ahmednagar Dynasty
1636 Aurangzeb appointed Viceroy of Deccan
1639 Foundation of Fort St. George at Madras by the English
1646 Shivaji captures Torna
1656 The Mughuls attack Hyderabad and Golkunda; Annexation of Javli by Shivaji
1657 Invasion of Bijapur by Aurangzeb; Aurangzeb captures Bidar and Kalyani
1658 Coronation of Aurangzeb
1659 Battles of Khajwah and Deorai
1661 Cession of Bombay to the English; Mughul capture Cooch Bihar
1664 Shivaji sacks Surat and assumes royal title
1666 Death of Shah Jahan; Shivaji's visit to Agra and escape
1674 Shivaji assumes the title of Chhatrapati
1678 Marwar occupied by the Mughuls
1680 Death of Shivaji
1686 Fall of Bijapur
1689 Execution of Sambhaji
1698 The new English company trading to the East Indies
1699 First Maratha raid on Malwa
1707 Death of Aurangzeb and the Battle of Jajau
1714 Husain Ali appointed Viceroy of the Deccan. Treaty of Marathas with Husain Ali
1739 Nadir Shah conquers Delhi
1740 Accession of Balaji Rao Peshwa. The Marathas invade Arcot
1742 Marathas invade Bengal
1750 War of the Deccan and Carnatic Succession; Death of Nasir Jang
1751 Treaty of Alivadi with the Marathas
1756 Siraj-ud-daulah captures Calcutta
1757 Battle of Plassey: The British defeat Siraj-ud-daulah
1760 Battle of Wandiwash: The British defeat the French
1761 Third battle of Panipat: Ahmed Shah Abdali defeats the Marathas; Accession of Madhava Rao Peshwa; Rise of Hyder Ali
1764 Battle of Buxar: The British defeat Mir Kasim
1765 The British get Diwani Rights in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa
1767-1769 First Mysore War: The British conclude a humiliating peace pact with Hyder Ali
1772 Death of Madhava Rao Peshwa; Warren Hastings appointed as Governor of Bengal
1773 The Regulating Act passed by the British Parliament
1774 Warren Hastings appointed as Governor-General
1775-1782 The First Anglo-Maratha war
1780-Second Mysore War : The British defeat Hyder Ali
1784 Pitt's India Act
1790-1792 Third Mysore War between the British and Tipu
1793 Permanent Settlement of Bengal
1794 Death of Mahadaji Sindhia
1799 Fourth Mysore War: The British defeat Tipu; Death of Tipu; Partition of Mysore
1802 Treaty of Bassein
1803-1805 The Second Anglo-Maratha war: The British defeat the Marathas at Assaye:Treaty of Amritsar
1814-1816 The Anglo-Gurkha war
1817-1818 The Pindari war
1817-1819 The last Anglo-Maratha war: Marathas finally crushed by the British
1824-1826 The First Burmese war
1829 Prohibition of Sati
1829-1837 Suppression of Thuggee
1831 Raja of Mysore deposed and its administration taken over by East India Company
1833 Renewal of Company's Charter and the abolition of company's trading rights
1838 Tripartite treaty between Shah Shuja, Ranjit Singh and the British
1839-1842 First Afghan war
1843 Gwalior war
1845-1846 First Anglo-Sikh war
1848 Lord Dalhousie becomes the Governor-General
1848-1849 Second Anglo-Sikh war with the rise of the Sikhs followed by the British annexing Punjab as Sikhs are defeated
1852 Second Anglo-Burmese war
1853 Railway opened from Bombay to Thane, telegraph line from Calcutta to Agra
1857 First War of Indian Independence
1858 British Crown takes over the Indian Government
1861 Indian Councils Act, Indian High Courts Act, Introduction of the Penal Code
1868 Punjab Tenancy Act, Railway opened from Ambala to Delhi
1874 The Bihar Famine
1877 Delhi Durbar: The Queen of England proclaimed Empress of India
1878 Vernacular Press Act
1885 First meeting of the Indian National Congress; Bengal Tenancy Act
1897 Plague in Bombay. Famine Commission
1899 Lord Curzon becomes Governor-General and Viceroy
1905 The First Partition of Bengal
1906 Formation of Muslim League; Congress declaration regarding Swaraj
1911 Delhi Durbar; Partition of Bengal modified to create the Presidency of Bengal
1912 The Imperial capital shifted from Calcutta to Delhi
1916 Home Rule League founded, Jalianwalla Bagh massacre
1920 Mahatma Gandhi leads the Congress, non-co-operation movement started
1921 First Census of India
1922 Civil Disobedience Movement, followed by violence at Chauri-Chaura which leads Gandhi to suspend movement
1923 Inclusion of Swarajis in Indian Councils, certification of Salt Tax; Hindu-Muslim riots
1927 Simon Commission Appointed
1928 Simon Commission comes to India, boycotted by all parties.
1929 Lord Irwin promises Dominion status for India, Jawaharlal Nehru hoists the National Flag at Lahore
1930 Civil Disobedience movement continues, salt satyagraha, Gandhiji's Dandi March, First Round Table Conference
1931 Second Round Table Conference; Irwin-Gandhi Pact; Census of India
1932 Third Round Table Conference
1933 Publication of White Paper on Indian reforms
1934 Civil Disobedience Movement called off; Bihar Earthquake
1935 Government of India Act
1937 Inauguration of Provincial Autonomy; Congress ministries formed in a majority of Indian provinces
1939 Political deadlock in India as Congress ministries resign
1942 Cripps Mission to India, Congress adopts Quit India Resolution, Congress leaders arrested, Subhash Chandra Bose forms Indian National Army
1944 Gandhi-Jinnah talks break down on Pakistan issue
1945 First trial of Indian Army men opened
1946 Mutiny in Royal Indian Navy, Cabinet Mission's plan announced, Muslim League decides to participate in the Interim Government, Interim Government formed, Constituent Assembly's first meeting
15 Aug 1947 Indian Independence, Jawaharlal Nehru becomes the first Indian Prime Minister
1948 Reserve Bank of India nationalized, Mahatma Gandhi assassinated, B.R.Ambedkar presents first Draft Constitution to Constituent Assembly
26 Jan 1950 Republic of India declared with the Constitution of India in force
1951 First Five year plan set in motion
'51- Feb'52 First General Election
1956 Second Five year Plan
1957 Second General Election held
1959 Dalai Lama flees from Tibet to India, military confrontation with China in Aksai Chin
1961 Liberation of Goa
1962 Third General election
1962 Indo-China war
1964 Jawaharlal Nehru dies, Lal Bahadur Shastri becomes Prime Minister
1965 Indo-Pak war
1966 Lal Bahadur Shastri dies, Indira Gandhi becomes Prime Minister
1967 Fourth General Election
1969 Morarji Desai resigns from cabinet, fourteen Banks nationalized, Indira Gandhi expelled from Congress party for indiscipline
1970 Supreme court holds nationalisation of banks illegal, Privy Purses and special privileges of former Indian rulers abolished
971 Fifth General Election, Indo-Pakistan War
1973 Coal mines nationalised; Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) passed
1974 Underground nuclear explosion at Pokhran
1975 Indian satellite Aryabhatta launched, Sikkim joins India, Emergency declared Indira Gandhi announces 20-point economic programme
1976 Private Oil companies nationalized, Urban Land Ceiling Regulation Act passed
1977 Sixth General Election: first Non-Congress Govt, led by Morarji Desai
1979 Morarji Desai resigns after split in Janata Party, Seventh General Election, Indira Gandhi becomes Prime Minister again
1982 The Ninth Asian games held in Delhi
1983 Indira Gandhi imposes President's rule on Punjab
1984 Operation Blue Star where Indian army storms Golden Temple in Amritsar, killing hundreds of people. Indira Gandhi assassinated in Delhi and Rajiv Gandhi sworn in as Prime Minister. India's biggest industrial disaster: Bhopal gas tragedy, Eighth General Election: Congress wins with Rajiv Gandhi as Prime Minister
1985 Narmada Bachao Andolan
1988 Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) comes into existence, Insat-IC launched
1989 Ninth General Election: Congress loses; V.P. Singh becomes Prime Minister
1990 Mandal Commission Report
1991 Rajiv Gandhi assassinated by LTTE , tenth General Election in which Congress wins and Narasimha Rao becomes Prime Minister. Liberalisation initiated by Finance Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh
1992 Demolition of Babri Masjid
1993 Hindu-Muslim riots in Bombay, Rupee made convertible on trade account, over 300 people killed in bomb blasts, Latur earthquake
1994 Telecom services sector opened to private companies
1996 Eleventh General Election; BJP's Atal Behari Vajpayee becomes Prime Minister, BJP loses confidence vote; Deve Gowda takes over as Prime Minister of United Front coalition government
1997 Congress withdraws support to UF government, I.K.Gujral appointed Prime Minister, nation celebrates 50 years of Independence, Gujral government falls as Congress withdraws support, Sonia Gandhi steps into active politics
1998 BJP-led alliance government is sworn in. Atal Behari Vajpayee becomes the Prime Minister of India, India conducts three underground nuclear tests at Pokhran in Rajasthan.
1999 Lok Sabha elections lead to National Democratic Alliance forming a coalition government with Atal Behari Vajpayee as Prime Minister. Pakistan backed insurgents infiltrate Kargil valley, deep in Indian territory, and are successfully pushed back.
India Facts Time Periods of Indian History
Prehistoric Period: ( 400000 BC - 1000 BC )
During this early period, man was basically a food gatherer. Fire was discovered, cultivation of plants and domestication of animals started, along with the first move towards communities.Metals like bronze and copper were used, tools became more sophisticated and the wheel was discovered.
Indus Valley Civilization : ( 2500 BC - 1500 BC )
This was a highly developed civilization where there was a social structure and agriculture was the mainstay of the economy. There is evidence of a pictographic script, worship of natural forces, and extensive use of metals like copper and bronze.
The Vedas and Epics : ( 1500 BC - 600 BC )
At this time the Vedas were compiled. Worship was primarily of the forces of nature. The tribe Bharata came into evidence. The basic foundations of Hinduism were laid, and the great epics were written. Ritualistic and sacrificial practices started, a caste system emerged with the domination of the priests in the rural society which now fortified their camps.
Period of Transition : ( 600 BC - 322 BC )
The caste system increasingly became more rigid. Mahavira and Buddha were the great beings to be born in this period, whose ideologies continue to influence Indians. Iron implements were now used. Another important historical event was that Alexander crossed the Indus.
The Mauryan Empire : ( 322 BC - 185 BC )
Chandragupta Maurya founded the Mauryan empire with the entire northern India coming under a central administration. Bindusara extended his kingdom, and Ashoka fought the Kalinga war and embraced Buddhism. The Grant Trunk Road was built.Pushyamitra Shunga founded the Shunga dynasty.
Time of Invasions : ( 185 BC - 320 AD )
The invasion of Bactrian, Parthians, Shakas and Kushans simultaneously opened Central Asia for trade, and the Old Silk Route came into existence. Gold was first used to make coins. Kanishka introduced the Saka era, and Buddhism became divided into two main streams.
The Deccan Period : ( 65 BC - 250 AD )
At this time the Ajanta and Ellora cave temples were built and an exchange between the south and the north was initiated, with the South being under the Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas.The vedic gods were superseded by the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Christianity came to India.
The Gupta Dynasty : ( 320 AD - 520 AD )
The Gupta dynasty was founded by Chandragupta, I Samudragupta extended his kingdom and Chandragupta II campaigned against the Shakas.Shakuntala and Kamasutra were written. Aryabhatta made enormous strides in Astronomy. The Bhakti cult emerged in Hinduism.The Hunas invaded north-west India.
Age of Small Kingdoms : ( 500 AD - 606 AD )
While the North was splintered into warring kingdoms, the political scene became increasingly dynamic with migrations from Central Asia and Iran, the Hunas moving to north India.
Reign of Harshavardhana : ( 606 AD - 647 AD )
Harshawardhana built his short-lived empire and the capital moved from Thaneshwar to Kanauj Pulakesin II defeated Harsha with the collapse of Harsha's empire,and the disintegration into small kingdoms, with the Deccan becoming powerful. During this period,Hieun Tsang visited India.
The Southern Kingdoms : (500 AD - 750 AD)
The empire of Chalukyas, Pallavas & Pandyas dominated.The Zoroastrians fleed from Persia to India. The rabs annexed Sindh and the the Rashtrakutas emerged, as did the. Yadavas, Kakatiyas & Hoysalas with cave architecture developing to a degree of excellence.
Chola Empire : ( 9th Cen. AD - 13th Cen. AD )
Vijayalaya founded the Chola Empire which adopted a maritime policy. Rajaraja and Rajendra I expanded their empire, initiated local self-government.Temples became a major cultural and social focal point, with the worship of Shiva in the form of a lingam and the development of Nataraja. became a masterpiece. The Dravadian languages became increasingly more sophisticated.
Northern India : ( 750 AD - 1206 AD )
The Rashtrakutas became powerful. The Pratiharas ruled in Avanti and the Palas ruled Bengal. The Chalukyas Senas and Rajput clans all emerged as forces to reckon with. The temples at Khajuraho, Kanchipuram and Puri were built, and the art of miniature painting developed.
Turkish Domination : ( 1000 AD - 1206 AD )
Mahmud of Ghazni raided India in 1000 AD with Peshawar and Multan falling, and the ransacking of Somanath temple. The Rajput clans emerged as a force. Muhammad of Ghur invaded India in 1191 with Prithviraj defeating Ghur in the first battle of Terrain, but being overcome in the second battle of Terrain with the resulting fall of Delhi.
The Slave Dynasty : ( 1206 AD - 1290 AD )
The Delhi Sultanate was formed with Qutb-ud-din Aibak establishing the Slave Dynasty. Iltutmish completed the monumental Qutub Minar. Raziya Sultan assumed power followed by Balban who created a strong, centralised government.
The Khilji Dynasty : ( 1290 AD - 1320 AD )
Jalaluddin Khilji established the Khilji Dynasty but was later murdered byAlauddin Khilji who succeeded him.Malwa, Gujarat & Rajasthan came in their control. Malik Kafur leads campaign to south-India, defeating the Yadavas, Kakityas and Hoysalas, while the Mongol invasion is successfully repelled
The Tughlaq Dynasty : ( 1320 AD - 1412 AD )
Ghyasuddin founded the Tughlaq Dynasty extending the Delhi Sultanate till Madurai. Muhammad-Bin-Tughlaq succeeded his father, and further extended their area of domination to central Asia, though the Deccan and the South rejected their authority. Firoz shah Tughlaq succeeded Muhammad. Timur invaded India, ransacking and plundering Delhi.
The Sayyids & Lodhis : ( 1446 AD - 1526 AD )
The Sayyids controlled the Delhi Sultanate were finally defeated by the Lodhis who extended the rule of the Sultanate upto Bengal. The capital was shifted from Delhi to Agra, marking the beginning of the end of an era. While Islam gained influence and the use of Urdu spread, Ibrahim Lodhi was defeated by Babur in the first battle of Panipat
Vijayanagara and Bahamani Kingdoms : ( 1336 AD - 1689 AD )
Harihara and Bukka founded the Vijayanagara Empire, conflicting with the Bahamanis over Raichur-Doab, finally leading to the signing of a peace treaty. The Classical Age of South India begins. The Bahamani's, founded by Hasan Gangu, overcome the Vijayanagara kingdom Empire. Differences between Deccanis and Afaqis lead to the splintering of the Bahamani kingdom broke into five small kingdoms. The Gol Gumbaz was built during this time. Imadshahi conquered by Nizamshah, Barid Shahi annexed by Adilshah. And the consequent absorption into the Mughal Empire, which had grown increasingly more powerful.
The Mughal Empire ( 1526 AD - 1857 AD )
Babur founded the Mughal dynasty, and first introduced artillery to India. Humayun succeeded him and gained an empty treasury. Sher Shah defeated Humayun and there was an amalgamation of the Turko-Iranian culture. Akbar defeated Hemu in the second battle of Panipat, consolidating his empire. The Din-i-Ilahi came into existence, and the Ibadat-Khana (Hall of Prayer) was built. Jahangir succeeded his father, with Nur-Jahan taking an active part in politics. The East India company was formed.
Shah Jahan succeeded Jahangir. During this time, Mughal art reached its zenith with the building of the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort and the Peacock Throne. Aurangzeb imprisoned his father, Shah Jahan and succeeded to the throne, leading to the end of a dynasty with his successors too weak to withstand the rising ascendancy of the British, who imprisoned Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the last Moghul emperor.
The Marathas : ( 1674 AD - 1819 AD )
Shivaji built the Hindavi Swaraj in the Deccan, checking the power of Adilshah and Nizam Shah, and signing a peace treaty with Aurangzeb. Shivaji was then imprisoned by Aurangzeb, and succeeded in fleeing. Aurangzeb executed Sambhaji and imprisoned Sahu, and finally the Marathas united under Peshwas, but were defeated at Panipat by Ahmed Shah Abdali with the East India company annexing the kingdom in 1819.
The East India Company : ( 1600 AD - 1857 AD )
After the arrival of the Europeans in India, the British formed the East India Company, acquiring it's first territory in Bombay. The Battle of Plassey where the British defeated Siraj-ud-daulah was followed by the Carnatic war where they defeated French troops, and after several Mysore and Anglo-Maratha wars, the British defeated the Marathas and Tipu Sultan. The East India Company's rule ended and the British Crown took over.
British India : ( 1858 AD - 1947 AD )
After the British Crown took over, Queen Victoria became the Empress of India. The British followed a policy of divide and rule, transforming India into a colonial economy, with development along the ruling nation's need structures with a series of devastating famines crippling the people. Indian nationalism finally led the political impetus for change , and the Indian National Congresswais formed. After the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, a non-co-operation movement was initiated and Gandhiji was in the forefront of leading the freedom movement with the Dandi march to break the Salt Law. Subhash Chandra Bose founded the Forward Bloc and Jinnah became the president of the Muslim league. The Congress passed the Quit India resolution and as the fervour to realize the dream of an independent India grew, leading to the eventual transfer of power from the British.
Independent India (15th August 1947
Lord Mountbatten appointed as the last Viceroy oversees the traumatic partition of India and the emergence of two nations, India and Pakistan. As the largest democracy in the world, the constitution of the Government of India is prepared under the chairmanship of Dr.Ambedkar, with a parliamentary system of government and declared a secular state. The early pattern of development is on the model of a mixed economy. Modern Indian history includes India's post-Independence struggles and achievements and it's recognition in the international forum as a secular democracy that has made the transition to a mature economy with unlimited potential for growth.
India Facts Geography
The Republic of India, which lies across the Tropic of Cancer, comprises most of the Indian sub-continent. India is, by area, the seventh largest country in the world with the Indian mainland covering an area of 3,287,782 sq.km. From north to south, the country measures 3,214 km and from east to west 2,933 km. India's land frontiers are approximately 15,200 km long and its coastline is about 6,100 km.
China, Nepal and Bhutan are India's neighbours on the north-east and Pakistan and Afganistan on the north-west. To the east of India lies Myanmar, while surrounded by India's eastern and north-eastern states is Bangladesh. Eastern India is, as a result, linked to the north-eastern territories by a strip of land that is only about 50 km wide at its narrowest. India with its varied terrain and climatic conditions can be broadly defined as having four climatic seasons
Below the broad territorial expanse of northern India is peninsular India, with the Arabian Sea to its west and the Bay of Bengal to the east. Just south of peninsular India is Sri Lanka, separated from the mainland of India by Palk Strait and the Gulf of Mannar. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal and Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands in the Arabian Sea are integral parts of the Indian territory.
India's great landmass is divided into four fairly clear regions: the northern mountain region, the Indo-Gangetic Plain, the desert area and the southern peninsular. The mountain region, which stretches along almost the entire northernmost part of the country, comprises three almost parallel ranges extending over a distance of around 2,400 km. In these mountain ranges are found some of the highest peaks in the world. India is, by area, the seventh largest country in the world with its landmass divided into four fairly clear regions.
India Facts Indian Economy
The Indian economy has finally reaped the benefits of just over a decade of reforms. It is now recognised that the Indian and Chinese economies maybe the world's growth engines in the 21st Century. Witness some of the following changes that have altered the economic landscape so dramatically in the past 12 years.
The economy has recorded a growth rate of 6% per annum since 1990, reducing poverty by 10% points in the process. Industry is no longer a State monopoly. Almost all sectors have been opened up to the private sector. Import licensing has been abolished. Duties, which were as high as 400 on some items have been rationalized to internationally acceptable levels. The growth rate in India is averaging 8% over the past few years.
These are remarkable achievements for an economy that was tightly protected and controlled for 46 years from 1947 to 1993. What are most noticeable are the intangibles: the feel good factor, the "can do" attitude and the increasing amount of young managers that are turning entrepreneurs.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) has been liberalized such that inflows have increased from $200m annually in the beginning of the decade. FDI now averages around USD 8 billion annually. The inflows for the financial year 2006/07 are expected touch USD 12 billion. Foreign exchange reserves have climbed rapidly from USD 40 billion in March 2001 to 170 billion in November of 2006. This is striking when we recall that the level was near zero at the beginning of the reforms period, 13 years ago.
The Indian software industry has achieved international recognition for its quality in software development and has caught the imagination of the world.
As with any growing economy the sectoral composition of GDP has been changing with the services sectors showing an increased share and that of agriculture declining to nearly 20% %. The fastest growing sector in the economy has been the services sector, which now accounts for 50% of GDP.
Indian software exports boom
India's software and services exports have been rising rapidly. The annual growth rate is 20 % in IT services and 60 % in IT-enabled services, Business Process Outsourcing ( BPO) and other administrative support operations. Together they are predicted to grow at 25% pa for the forseeable future.
Software exports now make up 20 % of India's total export revenue, up from 4.9 % in 1997.This figure is expected to go up to 44% of annual exports by 2010. Nasscom also estimates that software exportsare on track to achieving the target of over $50 billion exports by 2009. Though India accounts for just about 3 % of the world market for information technology services, this sector has been growing at a scorching pace, helped by a large pool of English-speaking workers, 6.5 million engineers and the increasing tribe of tech-savvy entrepreneurs in the country.
The Information Technology industry currently accounts for almost 2 % of India's GDP. As per a Nasscom-McKinsey Study it will account for 7 % of India's GDP by 2010.
Software and IT enabled services have emerged as a niche sector for India. This was one of the fastest growing sectors in the last decade with a compound annual growth rate exceeding 50 per cent. Software service exports increased from US $ 0.50 million in 1990 to $5.9 billion in 2000-01 to 23.6 billion dollars in 2005-06 recording a 34% growth. A compound annual growth of over 25% per annum is expected over the next 5 years even on the expanding base. Consider the implications for a moment. India notched up a current account surplus in 2001-02, for the first time in 24 years. Imagine the impact on the economy of projected software and IT enabled sevice exports of $ 60 billion by 2010. (Nasscom Mckinsey projections).
India is the second largest country in the world, measured by population and arable land. In terms of Purchasing Power Parity it ranks 4th in the world and expects to become the third largest economy in the world (even in US Dollar terms not PPP) by 2025. It is surely becoming a force to contend with.
Principal industries are textiles, chemicals, food processing, steel, transportation equipment, cement, mining and petroleum. Main agricultural crops are - rice wheat, oilseeds, cotton, jute, tea, sugarcane, potatoes and livestock. India is the largest tea producer in the world.
The middle class constitutes some 250 million people and their purchasing power is growing. This is also the fastest growing segment among the economic classes. Rural consumption patterns too are changing with growing exposure.
The process of liberalisation had its growth pangs. While it led to faster growth, it also resulted in a painful restructuring process for Indian industry, which continues to this day. Industry responded to the challenge of domestic and global competition by going through a phase of restructuring, consolidation, mergers and acquisitions. Due to archaic labour and land laws some industries have not been able to weather the storm. However, the rest have emerged leaner, meaner and globally competitive.
Meanwhile, real GDP growth has averaged a growth of 6% per annum between 1981 and 2002 if the crisis year of 1991 is excluded. GDP grew by 8.4% in the financial year ended March 2006 as compared to 7.5 per cent in the previous fiscal. The country is expected to be the 2nd fastest gowing economy in the world after China for some decades to come.
The economy traditionally enjoys a high savings rate primarily because of the contribution of the household sector. Gross Domestic Savings are around 24 per cent of GDP, currently down to 23. This can go up if public sector savings are pushed up. The process of privatisation and reforms that has been launched for the public sector should facilitate the savings rate. Household financial saving approximates 10% of GDP.
In the 90's the population growth rate came down from 2.1 % ( recorded in the previous decade) to 1.9 %. Population control will have to be achieved through education and improving standards of living.This is the second most populous country in the world, with a higher growth rate than China. India's population has crossed the alarming billion mark. 70 % of the population still lives in rural areas that are yet to witness the benefits of the reform process.
Though the number of people living below the poverty line is sizeable, official figures estimate that the poverty ratio has reduced considerably. Though poverty is declining, it remains widespread. A recent estimates shows 250 million people below the poverty line (about one - fourth of the population) compared to about 164 million people in 1954, or about one-half the population at that time. About 10% of the population has risen above the poverty line in the past decade.
With increased stability and diversification of the economy, post- reforms, the rate of inflation has drastically come down to around 4%.
Areas of Concern
Long neglected, the infrastructure sector needs to be the focus of attention. Teledensity has improved tremendously in the past decade. A revolution is taking place in the Cell phone and Internet segments. It was just 8 years ago that cellphones were launched in the country. At that time teledensity was 66 per 1000. This has more than doubled to 15%. The mobile telephone has now become the highest selling consumer good in India, it has displaced the bicycle from the top slot. The Government has entrusted the national highways authority the job of developing expressways and four-lane highways. A grand expressway from Mumbai to Pune is the first of these to go on stream. The Govt. is working on a National Highway project of Rs.170,000 crore.The deadline for widening of 50,000 km of road and constructing 1000 kms of expressways is 5 years. All major cities, state capitals, ports and strategically important centres are expected to be connected through this network. The economic stimulus expected from the backward and forward linkages is expected to be huge.
With increased stability and diversification of the economy, post- reforms, the rate of inflation has drastically come down to 4% in the current year.
While, the process of reforms in the Telecom sector has been dramatic, and roads are catching up, power and ports continue to languish. Power shortages continue and will not be resolved till populist measures like free electricity offered to many sections are done away with. The National Sample Survey data on consumption expenditures points to a further widening of disparities between Urban India and Rural India. Nothing captures this reality more than the fact that the monthly per capita consumer expenditure in the first was 87 per cent higher than in the second. It has been pointed out by some that the nineties growth trajectory has benefited Urban India, particularly the top 30% of the economic segment, but has aggravated the rural-urban divide in consumer expenditures.
The primary area of concern is the fiscal deficit, which has been unchecked for too long. The Government's financial situation has been under strain and very little effort has been made towards long term structural reform. The task is now to increase revenues, reduce deficits in the public sector and reduce expenditure through appropriate policy actions. It remains to be seen whether political will can be mustered. The total budget deficit of centre and states combined exceeds 10 % of the GDP and total debt could be near 70% of GDP, or 400% of revenues.
A sleeping tiger has been un-caged. But a majority of the billion people wait to see if the benefits of liberalisation and modernisation and a free market will percolate down to the 70% of the population untouched by reforms. The fact of India's anticipated emergence as a Global Economic Superpower is now widely acknowledged. The emergence of China and India as major global players, riding on a crest of economic success over the next 15 years, will transform the geopolitical landscape, says a US National Intelligence Council Report released in January 2005. It compares the trend to Germany?s rise in the 19th century and the US?s in the early 20th century. The NIC says that India, currently trailing China on most economic measures, could possibly overtake China as the fastest growing economy. Citing experts, it says India has several factors working for it. India possesses working capital markets and world class firms in some important high-tech sectors, which China has yet to achieve, it says. Also, India?s well-entrenched democratic institutions make it relatively less vulnerable to political instability.
The year 2006 is witnessing an upsurge in optimism. Expectations have risen and consumer confidence soared on the assumption that that the Economy would now capitalise on its intrinsic strengths. GDP grew at 8.4 % during 2005-2006. There is again renewed optimism that it can reach its recognised potential of a sustainable 8 % p.a. if the second phase of reforms is carried out in a time bound manner over the next few years.
Amidst this upbeat mood, the flip side has to be kept in mind. In several Indian Economic surveys tabled in Parliament, the Finance Ministry had stated that fiscal consolidation has to be given a priority so that funding to the private sector is not crowded out. The Economic Surveys have called for a cut in untargeted subsidies and encouraging public investment in physical and social infrastructure. It has also recommended streamlining the tax system to shore up revenues. The areas earmarked for rationalisation of subsidies are food, fertilisers, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and kerosene. All these are areas where it will be politically difficult to implement the cuts and this is a huge area of concern to economists. However, slow reforms with no upheaval are preferable to social disruptions.
Meanwhile both Industry and Services sectors seem to be growing at 10 % per annum. There is now more evidence to suggest that the Indian economy may be entering a phase of sustained investment-led growth. Major capacity expansions are being planned in the manufacturing sector. The last time such big investments took place in the industry was during 1993-96. There are clear signs that most industry segments are operating at full capacity. Further capacity building exercise has begun in sectors such as steel, cement, aluminium, paper, textiles and automobiles.
The Fiscal Deficit for 2004-05 was 4.5 % of the GDP while the Central Govt?s consumption expenditure formed 22.9 % of the total expenditure.
The savings rate in the country had overtaken the rate of investment in 2001-02 for the first time since 1975. Savings were 24 % of the GDP while domestic investment was 23.7 %. This confirms that investments had been subdued for many years. The last 2 years have seen a reversal of this trend.
During the past few years, the rupee has been strengthening against the US $. In July 2002, the rupee traded at 48.67 to the dollar. In November 2006, it was trading at 44.60.
The external debt situation has improved significantly in recent years and the external debt-GDP ratio decreased from 28.7% at the end of March 1991 to 21 % currently.
Foreign currency assets at end-March 2001 were US $39.5 billion. In March 2002, they reached US $51 billion. These exceeded the magic figure of 100 billion at the end of December 2003. They stand at USD 170 billion in November 2006. It is estimated that as much as two-thirds of the reserve accretion is on account of non-debt capital flows. The rapid growth in reserves is partly the result of a strong inward remittances and portfolio inflows. Services exports have also been an important area of success reflected in net invisible inflows of US $14 billion annually.
Capital markets had been subdued for 3 long years. The NSE-50 index, which was at 1,087 in January 2002, was at 1,073 in January 2003. Thereafter, the indices have surged. The index is 3950 at the end of November 2006. A new found confidence in the Indian Economy and its growth prospects have seen inflows of USD 7 billion into the Indian Capital markets in the past 12 months. Meanwhile, an increasingly confident economy is now targeting a growth rate of 8% per annum for the next plan period. And India now aims at emerging as an economic superpower in the coming decades. But this will be a slow and steady elephants pace and not a tigers pace. India will grow and become a superpower in 2 decades but for various sectors and sections of the economy, the journey will be in fits and starts. The creaky bureaucracy and vested interests entrenched over the last five decades now seem to be India's biggest stumbling block and will be the last to reform.
India Facts Religion
INDIA, home to a billion people of many different faiths, exemplifies unity in diversity. For Indians, religion, like tradition, is an integral part of life; it is not distinct from every day living. Secular India is home to Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and several other religious traditions. Hinduism, the dominant faith, is practiced by over 80% of the population. Besides Hindus, Muslims are the most prominent religious group and after Indonesia, India has the second largest population of Muslims in any country.
Because religion is a way of life, religious festivals are the very mainstay of celebrations in India, and all major events are celebrated within a religious context. Kinship bonding in India is very strong, with an enormous respect for family, community values and traditions. It is but natural that celebration of festivals is not within a personal space but in a spirit of bonhomie within a larger cultural context, which readily crosses religious divides. While each religious community has it's own pilgrimage sites, heroes, legends and even culinary specialties, there are many places of worship and several legendary heroes who transcend the invisible barrier between religions to become a celebration of the universality of human living.
MAJOR RELIGIONS OF INDIA
Hinduism - 82%
Islam - 12%
Sikhism » 2%
Christianity - 2%
Buddhism - 0.8%
Jainism - 0.4%
The river valleys of the Indus, Ganga and Bramhaputra merge to form the Indo-Gangetic Plain, which extends across Northern India for about 2,400 km, with a width varying from 260 to 350 km. This almost flat plain is amongst the most densely populated areas on earth. The desert region of India comprises the 'great desert' and the 'little desert'. The former extends northwards from the edge of the Rann of Kachchh and covers virtually the whole of the Rajasthan-Sind frontier. The 'little desert' stretches from between Jaisalmer and Jodhpur to a little beyond north Rajasthan.
The Peninsular plateau, separated from the Indo-Gangetic Plain by the Aravalli, Vindhya, Satpura, Maikala and Ajanta mountain ranges, is flanked by the Eastern Ghats and the Western Ghats, the former averaging about 600 metres in height and the latter around 1,000 metres (with certain peaks over 2,000 metres). Joining both Ghats at the southern point of the great plateau are the Nilgiri Hills. The country has many large rivers, the most important of which are the Ganges, Jamuna, Brahmaputra, a stretch of the Indus, Godavari, Krishna, Mahanadi, Narmada and Cauvery. All these rivers are navigable in parts.
India with its varied terrain and climatic conditions can be broadly defined as having four climatic seasons : Winter (December to February), Summer (March to May), South-West Monsoons (June to September) and Post-monsoon season (October to November). The winter months are pleasant throughout India with bright sunny days, except in the mountainous regions of the North where the temperature can fall steeply associated with heavy snowfalls
The summer months are hot in most parts of India. The hill resorts of Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir, the Garhwal and Kumaon hills, Sikkim, West Bengal and the Nilgiri hills gain popularity during the summer holiday season when educational institutions are closed. The south-west monsoon usually breaks around the beginning of June on the west coast and reaches elsewhere later. India receives the major share of its rainfall between June and September. The post-monsoon season is generally the most pleasant time of year throughout the country.
Rainfall is very heavy in the north-eastern region, the western slopes of the Western Ghats and parts of the Himalayas, all of which receive over 2,000 mm annually. The eastern part of the peninsula, extending up to the northern plains, receives rainfall varying from 1,000 to 2,000 mm a year, while the area from Western Deccan up to the Punjab plains gets between 100 mm and 500 mm a year. Rajasthan , Kachchh and Ladakh have hardly any rainfall. The population of India crossed the billion mark at the turn of the millenium.
Forests in the western Himalayan region range from conifers and broad-leaved trees in the temperate zone to silver fir, silver birch and junipers at the highest level of the alpine zone. The temperate zone of the eastern Himalayan region has forests of oaks, laurels, maples and rhododendrons, among other species.
Vegetation of the Assam region in the east is luxuriant with evergreen forests, occasional thick clumps of bamboo and tall grasses. The Gangetic plain is largely under cultivation. The Deccan tableland supports vegetation from scrub to mixed deciduous forests. The Malabar region is rich in forest vegetation. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have evergreen, mangrove, beach and diluvial forests. Much of the country's flora originated three million years ago and are unique to the sub-continent.
The population of India crossed the billion mark at the turn of the millenium. The mammoth census of 2001 is in the process of being compiled. In 1996, the population was 945 million with 73% in rural areas. In terms of population, India is the world's second-largest country, after China. 16% of the world's population lives in India. The average population density is 320 per sq km (in 1996), though it reaches 6,888 per sq km in the larger cities. The population growth rate for the period 1980 - '96 has been 2% p.a., with life expectancy at 63 years (62 for men and 63 for women). Infant mortality has declined from from 139 per 1,000 live births in 1972 to 65. By 1996 41% of married women were using contraceptives. The sex ratio is 93 females to 100 males.
Festivals of India
Legends of Kumbha - Romola Butalia
A Kumbha procession defies description
- it must be experienced to be known. It is heralded by the conjunction of planets at an auspicious time and place, and it is the convergence of a spiritual energy that has it's own compelling power. Read More...
Prayag Triveni Snan (Bathing Dates), Allahabad 2007
The Ardh Kumbha auspicious bathing dates begin with Paush Purnima on 3rd January 2007 and end with Mahashivaratri clebrted over 15th and 16th February 2007. Read More...
Sri Gorakh Babaji's Camp, Prayag
All are cordially invited to participate on the auspicious occasion of the Ardh Kumbha at Allahabad. Read More...
Sadhu-Sanyasins at the Kumbha
Adi Shankaracharya classified the Adwaitvadi Sannyasins into ten groups : Giri, Puri, Bharti, Tirtha, Wan, Aranya, Parwat, Ashram, Sagar and Saraswati. This organisation is known as Dashnami Sangh. Read More...
Janmastami (also known as Krishnastami or Gokulastami) is a festival dedicated to Lord Sri Krishna and commemorates his birth. Read More...
Radhasthami, celebrated for the birth of Sri Radha is closely associated with the divine mystery of Sri Radha-Krishna. The context and spiritual significance of some of the associated legends. Read More...
Guru Purnima is celebrated in honour of the birth of Maharishi Veda Vyasa who compiled the four Vedas, authored the Brahma Sutras, wrote the 18 Puranas... Read More...
Ganesh-Chaturthi is the festival devoted to Ganesh the elephant-headed God. Read More...
Nagapanchami is a festival dedicated to the snake-god. It occurs on the fifth day (panchami) of the fortnight as is evident from it's name. Read More...
Sri-Ramnavami is dedicated to the memory of Lord Rama. It occurs on the ninth day (navami). The festival commemorates the birth of Rama who is remembered for his prosperous and righteous reign... Read More...
Diwali - the Festival of Lights
Diwali or Deepaavali means an Array of Lamps (Deep = Lamp, Vali =Array) Lamp, Vali =Array). This is one of the major festivals in the Hindu calendar. Read More...
It marks the end of winter and the advent of spring: a new beginning. Also celebrated as Saraswati Puja, the goddess of learning and wisdom is worshipped. Read More...
Festivals in India are commemorated with great passion, seemingly as a celebration of life itself. Rich in its cultural inheritance, festivals are an intrinsic part of the Indian ethos. Read More...
Holi - Festival of Colour
A spring harvesting festival, Holi is celebrated with gaiety and wild abandon. Read More...
Mahashivaratri is associated with Shiva - the Lord of Mount Kailas who is portrayed as the Destroyer in the Hindu trinity (trimurti) along with Brahma (the Creator) and Vishnu (the Preserver). Read More...
Festivals of Jammu & Kashmir
The tradition of collective celebration continues with every occasion, be it a wedding, birth, harvesting or even the flowering of plants and is marked by community celebration with dancing and singing of folk songs. Read More...
Festivals of Kumaon
Numerous fairs and festivals are celebrated all over Uttaranchal every year. The Kumaon hills celebrate their own festivals apart from the usual ones. Read More...
Festivals of Rajasthan
Rajasthan with its aura of romance and history is the land of colourful festivals and fairs. Read More...
Festivals of Sikkim
Costumed lamas with gaily painted masks, ceremonial swords and sparkling jewels, leap and swing to the rhythm of resounding drums, trumpeting horns and chanting monks. Read More...
Festivals of Goa
Festivals of Tamil Nadu
Goa celebrates festivals with gusto. In the midst of a year round atmosphere of festivity, here is a list of special festivals. Read More...
Tamil Nadu is a land of many festivals. January marks the festival season in the state. Read More...
India Facts Languages of India
In a country with so much regional variation, where in several cases state boundaries have been drawn on linguistic lines, it is but inevitable that fifteen national languages are recognized by the Indian constitution. These are spoken in over 1600 dialects.
While India's official language is Hindi in the Devnagri script, English continues to be the official working language. Most Indians living in urban and semi-urban towns are multi-lingual. For many in the metro cities of India, English is virtually their first language, and for many more, it is the second language. Sanskrit, one of the oldest languages of the world, is the language in which the great Indian epics and classical literature have been written.
Hindi is spoken as a mother tongue by about 40 percent of the population, mainly in the area known as the Hindi belt. It is the official language of the Indian Union and of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh., Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
Assamese is the state language of Assam and is spoken by nearly 60 percent of the State's population. The origin of this language dates back to the 13th century. Bengali, also developed in the 13th century, is the official state language of West Bengal. It is spoken by nearly 200 million people worldwide, and is used in neighbouring Bangladesh also. Oriya, the state language of Orissa is spoken by nearly 87 percent of its population.
Hindi is spoken as a mother tongue by about 40 percent of the population.
In the south, Kannada is the State language of Karnataka and is spoken by 65 percent of the state's population. Malayalam, spoken in Kerala, is an ancient Dravidian language with it's origin dating thousands of years. Tamil, an ancient Dravidian language at least 2000 years old, is the state language of Tamil Nadu and is spoken by at least 65 million people. Telugu, also a Dravidian language, is spoken by the people of Andhra Pradesh.
Marathi is an Indic language dating back to the 13th century, and is the official language of the western state of Maharashtra. Gujarati, Indic in origin, is the state language of Gujarat and is spoken by 70 percent of the State's population. Konkani, principally based on classical Sanskrit, belongs to the southwestern branch of Indo-Aryan languages and is spoken in the Konkan region covering Goa and parts of the coastal regions of Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra.
Urdu is the state language of Jammu and Kashmi. It is also the language used by the majority of Muslims in India. Written in the Persio-Arabic script, it contains many words from Persian. Kashmiri is a language written in both Persio-Arabic and Devnagri script and is spoken by 55 percent of the population of Jammu and Kashmir. Sindhi is spoken by many in the North-west frontier of the Indian sub-continent comprising both India and Pakistan. In Pakistan, the language is written in the Persio-Arabic script, while in India the Devnagri script is used. Punjabi is an Indic language spoken in the state of Punjab. Although based on the Devnagri script, it is written in Gurmukhi, a script created by the Sikh Guru, Angad in the 16th century.
Passage To India Travel Tips for the First Timer
India is a beautiful, vast and diverse country to travel in with plenty to offer by way of destinations, flora, fauna, festivals, culture, history and variety of terrain. There are a few general tips we offer here, to help you make your travels in India easier.
Passports and Visas
All visitors have to obtain visas at an Indian embassy or consulate abroad prior to entering the country. There are no provisions for visas upon arrival.
While the visitor is encouraged to travel and explore this vast country, a few areas are restricted for security and other reasons, and travel in them requires specific permission (from Indian diplomatic missions abroad or in some cases from the Ministry of Home Affairs). These include the states of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, parts of Kulu and Spiti District of Himachal Pradesh, the border areas of Jammu and Kashmir, some areas of Uttaranchal, the area west of National Highway 15 running from Ganganagar to Sanchar in Rajasthan, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and the Union Territory of the Lakshadweep Islands.
Valuables and petty crime
Cases of petty crime, like theft of personal property, are often reported. This is best tackled by not leaving your belongings unattended and preferably by avoiding travelling alone. Do not keep passports, money and other valuables unattended. Do chain and padlock your luggage when travelling in trains and do not keep valuables within reach of the window.
Keep a small amount of local currency separate and handy for daily anticipated expenditure. It is not advisable to keep reaching out for your entire stock of cash and cheques each time you have to make small payments.
If you have medical or travel insurance, do check whether the company will make payment overseas or will merely reimburse you later. Most Indian hospitals and doctors will insist on payment on the spot.
Vaccinations and health precautions
Do check out vaccination requirements before travel. Carry vaccination certificates with you. This is mandatory if you are coming from or arriving via a Yellow Fever infected region.
Traffic safety and road conditions
Traffic moves on the left in India. Also many roads will be in poor condition and have poor traffic discipline. For anyone coming from abroad, hazardous road conditions and safety norms can seem appalling. Prepare yourself mentally for this and take necessary precautions, wherever possible.
The quality of hotels has improved dramatically during the recent past and unless one is staying in the really cheap hotels, cleanliness and service should not be a problem. Take a quick tour of the hotel before deciding to take a room there. Before paying for a room, make sure to look at the room first.
As a rule most water is unsafe for drinking. The better (equated to more expensive) hotels and restaurants will serve safe drinking water. Elsewhere, well known brands of bottled water are recommended. Make sure the bottle is sealed and do not accept opened bottles. Otherwise, stick to drinking carbonated drinks or hot tea/coffee or treat water with iodine drops/chlorine tablets.
Indians are a genuinely warm and friendly people and service is a part of the culture. In most places the service is genuinely friendly and not a mere facade.
English is widely spoken and language should not be a barrier to travel.
Quality of air travel in the country is comparable to the best, and in the case of the private airlines like Jet Airways and Sahara Airlines, the service is arguably better and more genuine than what one is used to overseas.
In most unorganised markets, or in case of unbranded products, bargaining is acceptable and practiced. Treat it as part of different cultural norms, and you may even enjoy it. If it bothers you, restrict yourself to shopping at standard outlets.
Indians are an exceptionally friendly people, and can be somewhat overly curious and inquisitive and pushy in their overtures. If you would prefer not to subject yourself to over-friendliness, which can, in tourist destinations, sometimes be a guise to take advantage of the gullible tourist, keep a polite but firm distance. As everywhere, your body language will convey your preference for company or not.
As a foreigner to a different culture, do display a degree of sensitivity to your host country. If you would not take photographs of people, their lifestyle and their homes in Western countries, without making a specific request, do refrain from being trigger happy while in India.
You are advised to dress conservatively, if you would prefer not to draw attention to yourself. This is particularly applicable for women. Indians are status conscious, and the scruffy tourist can generate an appropriate response!
It will make a big difference if you learn a few phrases in Hindi or the local language of the state you are travelling in, such as "Thank you" and "yes, please". Using the local greeting "namaste" for hello and goodbye is always appreciated.
At a restaurant a tip of 10% of the bill is considered adequate and can be reduced to 5% if you run up bills of Rs. 1000 or more.
Visit authorised foreign exchange dealers and banks and keep the encashment certificates.
Phone calls are much cheaper from the ubiquitous STD (Subscriber Trunk Dialling) booths than from hotels.
What to carry
Travel light. A hard suitcase is preferable to a soft topped one, as it better withstands wear and tear, is water proof and can be used to sit on at railway stations and bus stops! Do include your anti bacterial creams, sun screen lotions and, if you are travelling to remote areas, water purification tablets. A flashlight and a Swiss army penknife will always come in handy. A padlock will be useful if you are staying at budget hotels. Remember to carry your personal medication and a handy medical kit.
The power outlet in India is 230-240 volt. Most sockets are 3 pin sockets.
Do keep photo copies of important travel documents. One set can be left behind with someone at home and the other can be kept on your person or in a different bag/article of luggage, from where you keep the originals. Photocopies should be made of your tickets, credit cards and passport, visa and travellers cheques. Carry extra copies of passport size photographs.
In places where there are taxi queues available, don't hire a taxi that is not part of the queue.
Steam Railways of England
Manohar Rakhe, an arent fan of Indian Railways is equally fascinated by the steam railways of England which are privately owned and operated by volunteers, preserving a tradition and heritage with an undeniable romantic appeal. Read More...
Darjeeling Himalayan Railways
T. T. Shringla, long-time resident of Darjeeling and retired civil servant recalls the building of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and particularly remembers Franklyn Prestage who was responsible for the creation of the marvellous 'toy train' to Darjeeling. Read More...
The first railway on the Indian sub-continent ran a stretch of 21 miles from Mumbai to Thane. Read More...
On the Right Tracks
The best way to get to know a vast country like India is to traverse it by Indian Railways. They run 1300 trains and move more than 14 million people every day, over a route length of 67,000 kms. Read More...
Toy Train to Darjeeling
T.T.Shringla flashes back six decades to pay homage to the toy train to Darjeeling that still chugs its way up the hills to Darjeeling. Read More...
Maharishi Goraksha Babaji Camp, Ardh Kumbha Prayag
You are cordially invited to participate on the auspicious occasion of the Ardh Kumbha at Parayag Allahabad beginning in Jan 2007. Yoga and meditation, yagya and anusthan, spiritual discourses... Read More...
Bathing Dates at Ardh Kumbh, Prayag Allahabad, Jan 2007
The auspicious Ardh Kumbha officially begins with Paush Purnima on 3rd Jan and ends on the auspicious occasion of Mahashivratri on 16th Feb 2007. Read More...
Legends of Kumbha
A Kumbha procession defies description - it must be experienced to be known. It is heralded by the conjunction of planets at an auspicious time and place, and it is the convergence of a spiritual energy that has it's own compelling power. Read More...
Practical Guide to Kumbha
Romola Butalia, Editor, India Travelogue, outlines the practical difficulties of attending a Kumbha Festival, and provides an insiders' perspective to a planned visit. Read More...
Sadhu - Sanyasins at the Kumbha
Adi Shankaracharya classified the Adwaitvadi Sannyasins into ten groups : Giri, Puri, Bharti, Tirtha, Wan, Aranya, Parwat, Ashram, Sagar and Saraswati. This organisation is known as Dashnami Sangh. Read More...
Simhastha at Ujjain
Ujjain, on the banks of the sacred Shipra river, is in the state of Madhya Pradesh, in central India. Here, the Simhastha is celebrated every 12 years. This is also the centre of Hindu timekeeping. Read More...
Countdown to the Kumbh at Ujjain - Romola Butalia
Behind the scenes, the administration gears up and the sadhu-sannyasins set up camps for the greatest spiritual congregation on earth. Read More...
Ujjain Snan (Bathing Dates), 2004
The Simhastha will begin with the first bathing date on April 05 and end with the shahi snan on May 05, 2004.