The one thing that appeals to the world about India, among many, is the extensive diversity that the country has sustained itself on. Regions, cultures, heritages, lifestyles and practices – they all differ at a very short geographic frameworks in India, and yet the country is one whole nation living the ideal of unity in diversity.
It is only natural that a country with such amazing diversity has seen numerous changes overtime. India has been ruled by a plethora of rulers and dynasties, which built and destroyed cultures through strength or emotional influence. Not just that, the demography of the country has changed overtime as well. According to a series of maps of India drawn by historic researcher Thomas Lessman, here are the phases that literally changed the map of India since 1 AD!
The Indus Valley Civilization
This dates back to as early as 3000-1000 BC, where human civilization began taking form in India, starting from the banks of the Indus river. Although, a severe drought hit the area and the civilization started migrating towards the south and east, which made documentation of ongoing impossible and hence there is no reference available regarding what happened for a long time then.
Age of empires
This is known to have happened during 600 BC, where the country was divided into empires. Great wars, falls and rises of empires followed, until 300 BC where the Maurya dynasty took control of most of India. The Mauryan Empire was called Magadha. This was the time when Alexander the Great tried a hand in invading India, but legends state that he returned home empty handed, and the large Mauryan dynasty did not even have a chance to battle him.
By 200 BC, the Taxila professor Chankya watered the growth of the Maurya empire which was established by Chandragupta Maurya and taken forward by emperor Asoka. At that time, entire India was encompassed under one dynasty of the Mauryas, which neither happened in the past nor again in the future.
The ambiguous age
After the fall of Mauryas in 100 BC, the history of India is quite distorted owing to the invasion of numerous Indo-Greek rulers, as well as consolidation of neighbouring empires with India. There was also a span of hostile takeover by Kushans, and nothing highly eventful or noteworthy took place until 480 CE.
And then the rise of Guptas happened in 480 CE. This dynasty enhanced the cultural intensity and heritage of India, taking the province to higher and richer standards. However, their rule also ended after two centuries, and there was takeover by numerous other dynasties that divided India into fragments. After rise and fall of numerous dynasties that changed India’s identities into Buddhist or Hindu, there was also the establishment of the Nalanda University in 800 CE.
By 1000 CE, the South Indian provinces began taking concrete shapes through the formation of Rashtrakuta and Chola dynasties.
However, it was in 1000 CE that the Indian history began taking a completely new and unpleasant form, as the era of Islamic invasion began in 1000 CE.
Era of Islamic invasion
The Ghurid Sultanate was the first to invade India, and the very dynasty destroyed the great knowledge bank of the country – the Nalanda University. By 1400 CE, the Northen and Southern provinces could be clearly distinguished as Islamic and Hindu respectively; as the Afghans of the North ruled from Delhi Sultanate and the Vijayanagara Empire prevailed in the south.
By 1605, the Mughals found their way into India and the rest of the Islamic rulers were encompassed under them by the Mughal dynasty. Though there was a political unrest in the country under their rule, there were a number of glorious monuments built during this period.
Era of western colonization
By 1750, the Marathas began countering the Mughals and pretty much succeeded in driving them out, but were defeated in the battle of Panipat. This loss encountered by native Indians made an easy way for Western colonizers to establish themselves in India, and the East India Company was established in India at the same time.
The entire province of India left behind by both Mughals and Marathas was consumed by the British invaders. Until 1947, that is more than 2 complete centuries, the western colonizers ruled the entire country, administering it from Britain.
Dawn of modern India
1947 saw the great independence movement that led to the formation of modern India. In 1953, the current map of India was devised after the division of administrative states and union territories. A number of leaders have served the country since independence in a democratic way. Changes have been consistent since them, but never as drastic as the ones we see in history. India has withstood numerous good and bad experiences since times immemorial, and sustains to be one of the greatest legacies the world has ever known!