The first records of history trace back to the great 5000-year old Indus Valley civilization on the banks of the river Indus. Many planned cities have been excavated at Harappa, Mohenjodaro (now in Pakistan), Lothal in Gujarat and many other cities.
The restless Aryans who came to the subcontinent around 2000 BC, became the inhabitants of the country pushing the Dravidians towards the southern tip of India. Sun worshippers, they settled down to a pastoral life, governed by the politics of kings and emperors. Their own contribution to the civilization was a wisdom born of their travels, their spirit of adventure and their language. Legends of India spread across the continents
The Mauryan dynasty was founded in 323 BC by Chandragupta Maurya and this period is known as the Golden Age. Ashoka, the great monarch was a product of this dynasty. Whilst expanding the boundaries of his empire, he recognised the futility of conquest by war and embraced Buddhism. Later he sent monks with the message of the Buddha to Sri Lanka, Syria, Egypt and Macedonia. Inscriptions listing his ethical principals are found on rocks and pillars throughout India.
Kanishka ushered in the Kushan empire. In southern India, the Chola, Pandya and Chera dynasties flourished. The Gupta dynasty strengthened India and trade with Europe began on a major scale. One of the world's most famous universities at Nalanda opened its doors and the spirit of learning spread across the length and breadth of the country.
The Chalukyas and the Pallavas established dominion in south India. Islam found its way into India in the 8th century AD when Muslim conquerors came to the country and settled down. Subsequently, the Mughals established a mighty empire and the monuments of that period are still virtually intact. Then came the British and for the first time in its history, India was united in a bid to oust foreign dominance and regained her independence to become a democratic nation.
Souvenirs of her glorious past still survive in India. Edicts and stupas from the Mauryan age; the rock temples and mural paintings of Ajanta and Ellora from the Gupta age; the magnificent heritage of Chola and Pallava kings, the great palaces of the Mughals and the traditions of architecture left behind by them, and the imperial extravagance of the Raj which resulted in the railways, posts and telegraph and an organised central administrative machinery.
This history continues to live in India. Religion and culture combine with education to give the Indian a background that other nations envy.