Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur, has the second largest pre-modern dome in the world after the Byzantine Hagia Sophia.
After conquering Persia, Arab Islamic Caliphate incorporated parts of what is now Pakistan around 720 CE. The Muslim rulers were keen to invade India, which was a rich region, with a flourishing international trade and the only known diamond mines in the world. In 712 CE an Arab Muslim general called Muhammad bin Qasimconquered most of the Indus region in modern day Pakistan, for the Umayyad empire, to be made the “As-Sindh” province with its capital at Al-Mansurah, 72 km (45 mi) north of modern Hyderabad in Sindh, Pakistan. After several wars including the Battle of Rajasthan, where the Hindu Rajput clans defeated the Umayyad Arabs, their expansion was checked and contained to Sindh in Pakistan, many short-lived Islamic kingdoms (sultanates) under foreign rulers were established across the north western subcontinent over a period of a few centuries. Additionally, Muslim trading communities had flourished throughout coastal south India, particularly in Kerala, where Muslim traders arrived in small numbers, mainly from the Arabian peninsula. This had marked the introduction of a third Abrahamic Middle Eastern religion, following Judaism and Christianity, often in puritanical form. Later, the Bahmani Sultanateand Deccan sultanates founded by Turkic rulers, flourished in the south.
Qutub Minar is the world’s tallest brick minaret, commenced by Qutb-ud-din Aybak of the Slave dynasty.
Main article: Delhi Sultanate
In the 12th and 13th centuries, Turks and Afghans invaded parts of northern India and established the Delhi Sultanate in the former Rajput holdings. The subsequent Slave dynasty of Delhi managed to conquer large areas of northern India, approximately equal in extent to the ancient Gupta Empire, while the Khilji dynastywas also able to conquer most of central India, but were ultimately unsuccessful in conquering and uniting the subcontinent. The Sultanate ushered in a period of Indian cultural renaissance. The resulting “Indo-Muslim” fusion of cultures left lasting syncretic monuments in architecture, music, literature, religion, and clothing. It is surmised that the language of Urdu (literally meaning “horde” or “camp” in various Turkic dialects) was born during the Delhi Sultanate period as a result of the intermingling of the local speakers of Sanskritic Prakrits with immigrants speaking Persian, Turkic, and Arabic under the Muslim rulers. The Delhi Sultanate is the only Indo-Islamic empire to have enthroned one of the few female rulers in India, Razia Sultana (1236–1240).
A Turco-Mongol conqueror in Central Asia, Timur (Tamerlane), attacked the reigning Sultan Nasir-u Din Mehmud of the Tughlaq Dynasty in the north Indian city of Delhi. The Sultan’s army was defeated on December 17, 1398. Timur entered Delhi and the city was sacked, destroyed, and left in ruins, after Timur’s army had killed and plundered for three days and nights. He ordered the whole city to be sacked except for the sayyids, scholars, and the other Muslims,; 100,000 war prisoners, mostly Hindus, were put to death in one day.
The Mughal era
Extent of the Mughal Empire in 1700.
Taj Mahal, built by the Mughals
Main article: Mughal Empire
In 1526, Babur, a Timurid descendant of Timur and Genghis Khan from Fergana Valley(modern day Uzbekistan), swept across the Khyber Pass and established the Mughal Empire, covering modern dayAfghanistan, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. However, his son Humayun was defeated by the Afghan warrior Sher Shah Suri in the year 1540, and Humayun was forced to retreat to Kabul. After Sher Shah’s death, his son Islam Shah Suri and the Hindu king Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya, who had won 22 battles from Punjab to Bengal and had established a secular Hindu Raj, ruled North India from Delhi till 1556, when Akbar’s forces defeated and killed Hemu in the Second Battle of Panipat on 6 November 1556.
The Mughal dynasty ruled most of the Indian subcontinent by 1600; it went into a slow decline after 1707 and was finally defeated during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, also called the 1857 War of Independence. This period marked vast social change in the subcontinent as the Hindu majority were ruled over by the Mughal emperors, most of whom showed religious tolerance, liberally patronising Hindu culture. The famous emperor Akbar, who was the grandson of Babar, tried to establish a good relationship with the Hindus. However, later emperors such as Aurangazeb tried to establish complete Muslim dominance, and as a result several historical temples were destroyed during this period and taxes imposed on non-Muslims. During the decline of the Mughal Empire, several smaller states rose to fill the power vacuum and themselves were contributing factors to the decline. In 1739, Nader Shah, emperor of Iran, defeated the Mughal army at the huge Battle of Karnal. After this victory, Nader captured and sacked Delhi, carrying away many treasures, including the Peacock Throne.
The Mughals were perhaps the richest single dynasty to have ever existed. During the Mughal era, the dominant political forces consisted of the Mughal Empire and its tributaries and, later on, the rising successor states – including the Maratha confederacy - which fought an increasingly weak Mughal dynasty. The Mughals, while often employing brutal tactics to subjugate their empire, had a policy of integration with Indian culture, which is what made them successful where the short-lived Sultanates of Delhi had failed. Akbar the Great was particularly famed for this. Akbar declared “Amari” or non-killing of animals in the holy days of Jainism. He rolled back the jizya tax for non-Muslims. The Mughal emperors married local royalty, allied themselves with local maharajas, and attempted to fuse their Turko-Persian culture with ancient Indian styles, creating a unique Indo-Saracenic architecture. It was the erosion of this tradition coupled with increased brutality and centralization that played a large part in the dynasty’s downfall after Aurangzeb, who unlike previous emperors, imposed relatively non-pluralistic policies on the general population, which often inflamed the majority Hindu population.
Main articles: Maratha Empire, Kingdom of Mysore, Hyderabad State, Sikh Empire, Rajputs, and Durrani Empire
See also: History of Sikhism
Further information: Shivaji, Tippu Sultan, Nizam, Oudh, Ranjit Singh, and Ahmad Shah Abdali
The Maratha Empire in 1760. The last Hinduempire of India.
Harmandir Sahib or The Golden Temple is culturally the most significant place of worship for the Sikhs.
The post-Mughal era was dominated by the rise of the Maratha suzerainty as other small regional states (mostly late Mughal tributary states) emerged, and also by the increasing activities of European powers (see colonial era below). The Maratha kingdom or confederacy was founded and consolidated byShivaji. By the 18th century, it had transformed itself into the Maratha Empire under the rule of the peshwas(prime ministers). By 1760, the domain of the Marathas stretched across practically the entire subcontinent. This expansion was brought to an end by the defeat of the Marathas by an Afghan army led by Ahmad Shah Durrani at the Third Battle of Panipat(1761). The last peshwa, Baji Rao II, was defeated by the British in the Third Anglo-Maratha War.
The Kingdom of Mysore in southern India was founded around 1400 CE by the Wodeyar dynasty. The rule of the Wodeyars was interrupted by Hyder Aliand his son Tipu Sultan. Under their rule, Mysore fought a series of wars sometimes against the combined forces of the British and Marathas, but mostly against the British, with Mysore receiving some aid or promise of aid from the French.
Hyderabad was founded by the Qutb Shahi dynasty of Golconda in 1591. Following a brief Mughal rule, Asif Jah, a Mughal official, seized control of Hyderabad and declared himself Nizam-al-Mulk of Hyderabad in 1724. It was ruled by a hereditary Nizam from 1724 until 1948. Both Mysore and Hyderabad became princely states in British India.
The Punjabi kingdom, ruled by members of the Sikh religion, was a political entity that governed the region of modern-day Punjab. This was among the last areas of the subcontinent to be conquered by the British. The first and second Anglo-Sikh war marked the downfall of the Sikh Empire.
Around the 18th century, the modern state of Nepal was formed by Gurkha rulers.
Main article: Colonial India
In 1498, Vasco da Gama successfully discovered a new sea route from Europe to India, which paved the way for direct Indo-European commerce. The Portuguesesoon set up trading posts in Goa, Daman, Diu and Bombay. The next to arrive were the Dutch, the British—who set up a trading post in the west coast port of Surat in 1619—and the French. The internal conflicts among Indian kingdoms gave opportunities to the European traders to gradually establish political influence and appropriate lands. Although these continental European powers controlled various coastal regions of southern and eastern India during the ensuing century, they eventually lost all their territories in India to the British islanders, with the exception of the French outposts ofPondicherry and Chandernagore, the Dutch port of Travancore, and the Portuguese colonies of Goa, Daman, and Diu.
Company rule in India
Main articles: East India Company and Company rule in India
Map of India in 1857 at the end of Company rule.
In 1617 the British East India Company was given permission by Mughal Emperor Jahangir to trade in India. Gradually their increasing influence led the de-jureMughal emperor Farrukh Siyarto grant them dastaks or permits for duty free trade in Bengal in 1717. The Nawab of Bengal Siraj Ud Daulah, the de facto ruler of the Bengal province, opposed British attempts to use these permits. This led to the Battle of Plassey in 1757, in which the ‘army’ of East India Company, led by Robert Clive, defeated the Nawab’s forces. This was the first political foothold with territorial implications that the British acquired in India. Clive was appointed by the company as its first ‘Governor of Bengal’ in 1757. This was combined with British victories over the French at Madras,Wandiwash and Pondicherry that, along with wider British successes during the Seven Years War, reduced French influence in India. After the Battle of Buxar in 1764, the company acquired the civil rights of administration in Bengal from Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II; it marked the beginning of its formal rule, which engulfed most of India and extinguished the Moghul rule and dynasty within the next century. The East India Company monopolized the trade of Bengal. They introduced a land taxation system called the Permanent Settlement which introduced a feudal-like structure in Bengal, often with zamindars set in place. By the 1850s, the East India Company controlled most of the Indian sub-continent, which included present-day Pakistan and Bangladesh. Their policy was sometimes summed up as Divide and Rule, taking advantage of the enmity festering between various princely states and social and religious groups.
Main articles: British Raj and Indian rebellion of 1857
The British Indian Empire at its greatest extent (in a map of 1909)
The first major movement against the British Company’s high handed rule resulted in the Indian Rebellion of 1857. After a year of turmoil and reinforcement of the East India Company’s troops with British soldiers, the company overcame the rebellion. The nominal leader of the uprising, the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was exiled to Burma, his children were beheaded, and the Moghul line was abolished. In the aftermath all power was transferred from the East India Company to the British Crown, which began to administer most of India as a colony; the company’s lands were controlled directly and the rest through the rulers of what it called the Princely states. There were 565 princely states when the Indian subcontinent gained independence from Britain in August 1947.
During the British Raj, famines in India, often attributed to failed government policies, were some of the worst ever recorded, including the Great Famine of 1876–78 in which 6.1 million to 10.3 million people died and the Indian famine of 1899–1900 in which 1.25 to 10 million people died. The Third Plague Pandemic started in China in the middle of the 19th century, spreading plague to all inhabited continents and killing 10 million people in India alone. Despite persistent diseases and famines, the population of the Indian subcontinent, which stood at about 125 million in 1750, had reached 389 million by 1941.
The Indian Independence movement
Main articles: Indian independence movement and Pakistan Movement
See also: Mahatma Gandhi and Freedom fighters of India
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi andMuhammad Ali Jinnah, Bombay, 1944.
The physical presence of the British in India was not significant. Yet the British were able to rule two-thirds of the subcontinent directly and exercise considerable leverage over the princely states that accounted for the remaining one-third. The British employed “Divide and Rule” in British India as a means of preventing an uprising against the Raj.
In this environment of Hindu-Muslim disunity, the first step toward Indian independence and western-style democracy was taken with the appointment of Indian councilors to advise the Britishviceroy, and with the establishment of provincial Councils with Indian members, the councilors’ participation was subsequently widened in legislative councils. From 1920 leaders such asMohandas Karamchand Gandhi began highly popular mass movements to campaign against the British Raj using largely peaceful methods. Some others adopted a militant approach that sought to overthrow British rule by armed struggle; revolutionary activities against the British rule took place throughout the Indian sub-continent. The Gandhi led independence movement opposed the British rule using non-violent methods like non-cooperation, civil disobedience and economic resistance. These movements succeeded in bringing independence to the Indian sub-continent in 1947.
Independence and Partition
Main articles: Partition of India, History of the Republic of India, History of Pakistan, and History of Bangladesh
Along with the desire for independence, tensions between Hindus and Muslims had also been developing over the years. The Muslims had always been a minority, and the prospect of an exclusively Hindu government made them wary of independence; they were as inclined to mistrust Hindu rule as they were to resist the foreign Raj, although Gandhi called for unity between the two groups in an astonishing display of leadership. The British, extremely weakened by the World War II, promised that they would leave and participated in the formation of an interim government. The British Indianterritories gained independence in 1947, after being partitioned into the Union of India and Dominion of Pakistan. Following the controversial division of pre-partition Punjab and Bengal, rioting broke out between Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims in these provinces and spread to several other parts of India, leaving some 500,000 dead. Also, this period saw one of the largest mass migrations ever recorded in modern history, with a total of 12 million Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims moving between the newly created nations of India and Pakistan (which gained independence on 15 and 14 August 1947 respectively). In 1971, Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan and East Bengal, seceded from Pakistan. The histories of each of these modern nations can be found on the respective pages shown above.