The history of India includes the prehistoric settlements and societies in the Indian subcontinent; the blending of the Indus Valley Civilization and Indo-Aryan culture into the Vedic Civilization; the development of Hinduism as a synthesis of various Indian cultures and traditions; the rise of the Śramaṇa movement; the decline of Śrauta sacrifices and the birth of the initiatory traditions of Jainism, Buddhism,Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism; the onset of a succession of powerful dynasties and empires for more than two millennia throughout various geographic areas of the subcontinent, including the growth of Muslim dynasties during the Medieval period intertwined with Hindu powers; the advent of European tradersresulting in the establishment of the British rule; and the subsequent independence movementthat led to the Partition of India and the creation of the Republic of India.
Evidence of Anatomically modern humans in the Indian subcontinent is recorded as long as 75,000 years ago, or with earlier hominids including Homo erectus from about 500,000 years ago. The Indus Valley Civilization which spread and flourished in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent from c. 3200 to 1300 BCE, was the first major civilization in South Asia. A sophisticated and technologically advanced urban culture developed in theMature Harappan period, from 2600 to 1900 BCE. This civilization collapsed at the start of the second millennium BCE and was later followed by the Iron Age Vedic Civilization, which extended over much of the Indo-Gangetic plainand which witnessed the rise of major polities known as the Mahajanapadas. In one of these kingdoms, Magadha, Mahavira and Gautama Buddha propagated their Shramanicphilosophies during the fifth and sixth century BCE.
Most of the subcontinent was conquered by the Maurya Empire during the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE. From the 3rd century BC onwards Prakrit and Pali literature in the north and the Sangam literature in southern India started to flourish. Wootz steel originated in south India in the 3rd century BC and was exported to foreign countries. Various parts of India were ruled by numerous dynasties for the next 1,500 years, among which the Gupta Empire stands out. This period, witnessing a Hindu religious and intellectual resurgence, is known as the classical or "Golden Age of India". During this period, aspects of Indian civilization, administration, culture, and religion (Hinduism and Buddhism) spread to much ofAsia, while kingdoms in southern India had maritime business links with the Roman Empire from around 77 CE. Indian cultural influence spread over many parts of Southeast Asia which led to the establishment of Indianized kingdoms in Southeast Asia (Greater India).
The most significant event between the 7th and 11th century was the Tripartite strugglecentered on Kannauj that lasted for more than two centuries between the Pala Empire,Rashtrakuta Empire, and Gurjara Pratihara Empire. Southern India was ruled by theChalukya, Chola, Pallava, Chera, Pandyan, and Western Chalukya Empires. The seventh century also saw the advent of Islam as a political power, though as a fringe, in the western part of the subcontinent, in modern-day Pakistan. The Chola dynasty conquered southern India and successfully invaded parts of Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bengal in the 11th century. The early medieval period Indian mathematics influenced the development of mathematics and astronomy in the Arab world and the Hindu numerals were introduced.
Muslim rule started in parts of north India in the 13th century when the Delhi Sultanate was founded in 1206 CE by the Central Asian Turks. The Delhi Sultanate ruled the major part of northern India in the early 14th century, but declined in the late 14th century when several powerful Hindu states such as the Vijayanagara Empire, Gajapati Kingdom, Ahom Kingdom, as well as Rajput dynasties and states, such as Mewar dynasty, emerged. The 15th century saw the emergence of Sikhism. In the 16th century, Mughals came from Central Asia and gradually covered most of India. The Mughal Empire suffered a gradual decline in the early 18th century, which provided opportunities for the Maratha Empire, Sikh Empire and Mysore Kingdom to exercise control over large areas of the subcontinent.
From the late 18th century to the mid-19th century, large areas of India were annexed by theBritish East India Company of British Empire. Dissatisfaction with Company rule led to theIndian Rebellion of 1857, after which the British provinces of India were directly administered by the British Crown and witnessed a period of both rapid development of infrastructure and economic stagnation.