India is a comparatively young nation (it gained independence from colonial rule only on August 15' 1947), yet it is the oldest civilization in the world.

Even pre-historic man has left signs of his creativity behind in cave paintings many millennia old, notably at Bhimbetka (Madhya Pradesh).

The recorded history of the Indian civilization begins with the Indus Valley Civilization about 5000 years ago, an advanced, urban culture that disappeared mysteriously. New Indus Valley sites are still being discovered and each excavation throws up a multitude of cultural treasures.

It is held that the Aryans started arriving in India around 1500 BC in several waves of migration from the region around the Caucasian mountains. They settled along the Gangetic plain in North India. The indigenous people- the Dravidians- slowly migrated to peninsular South India.

Soon the great empires of India followed- of the Mauryas and the Guptas in the North and the Chola and Vijaynagara empires of the South. The dominions of some of these empires stretched deep into South -East Asia.

A new phase in Indian history began with arrival of the Muslims in 13th century. Despite the disturbance caused by Muslim invasions, many new technologies and arts and crafts were introduced. In 1526, Babur marched into India and founded the Mughal empire.

From the 16th century onwards, Europe's attentions turned to India due to its immense affluence. The first to arrive were the Portuguese but it was the British who managed to colonize most of India. A long and valiant struggle for independence followed, answering Mahatma Gandhi's call for non-violent resistance.

In the post- independence era, India has emerged as one of the most influential nations in the world. It is also the largest democracy in the world.

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