INDIA'S history goes back almost six thousand years and has passed through many different stages and societies and invasions from outside.
The earliest civilization was in the Indus Valley (now in Pakistan), with its well-planned city-states of HARAPPA AND MOHENJODARO, which lasted from 3250 to 1500 B.C.
At that point the ARYANS came in from the North and spread through large parts of India bringing with them their culture and religious beliefs, including the HINDU RELIGION.
In 567 B.C. Gautama Buddha was born, who was the founder of the BUDDHIST RELIGION. Also at around this time Mahavira lived, who started the JAIN RELIGION.
Two hundred years later, in the 4th century B.C., Emperor ASHOKA, one of the greatest leaders of all of India's history, led the Mauryan Empire to take over almost all of what is now modern India.
They were followed by the Guptas in the north, while in the south part of India several different Hindu empires, the Cholas, the Pandyas and the Cheras spread and grew, trading with Europe and other parts of Asia till the end of the 1100s.
CHRISTIANITY entered India at about the same time as it came to Europe. Legend has it that St. Thomas the Apostle arrived in India in 52 A.D.
Even earlier than that people of the JEWISH RELIGION arrived on India's shores.
In approximately the 7th century A.D. a group of Zoroastrians, or PARSEES, landed in Gujarat and became part of the large mix of religions in India today, each of which adds its important and distinctive flavour.
In the 15th century the SIKH RELIGION was born in the Punjab, in northern India.
In 1192, Mohammed of Ghori, a ruler from Afghanistan, came into India and captured several places in the north including Delhi. When he went home he left one of his generals in charge who became the first Sultan of Delhi. During this time ISLAM, the Muslim religion, was introduced into India.
The Dehli Sultanate gradually took control of more and more of North India over the next 200 years, till Timur, who was called "Timur the Lame" or "Tamberlane" came from Turkey in 1398 to attack India. He and his army stole all the valuables that they could carry and left again, and after that the Delhi Sultanate was never so strong again. Soon the MOGHULS, who were from Iran, came in and took control in the north.
In the meantime in the south , in 1336, the Hindu VIJAYANAGAR EMPIRE was set up and became very strong.
The EUROPEANS - Portuguese, French, Dutch, Danish and British - started arriving in the early 1600s. All of them held territories in India and made friends and enemies amoung India's rulers as they got more involved, but it was the BRITISH who eventually controlled most of India and finally made it one of their colonies.
India got its INDEPENDANCE from Britian in 1947 after a long struggle led mostly by MAHATMA GANDHI.
In the process of becoming independant India became, through PARTITION, two countries instead of one.
In the years SINCE INDEPENDANCE India has made huge progress and coped with great problems, has developed its industry and its agriculture, and has maintained a system of government which makes it the largest democracy in the world.