Decisive Dates in Indian History

Ancient Indian Civilization
2500-1500 BC The Indus Valley Civilization: Mohenjodaro, Harappa
1500 BC The Hindu sacred text, Rig Veda, is written
563 BC Birth of Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism
599-527 BC Vardhamana Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, is born
326 BC Alexander the Great invades India
320 BC Chandragupta starts the Mauryan Empire that rules over Northern India
273-232 BC Emperor Ashoka
261 BC Kalinga War: Ashoka's conversion to Buddhism
180 BC Menander, Greek king of Sialkot is born
100 BC The Scythians (Sakas) rule Northern India
52 AD Saint Thomas arrives in India to promote Christianity
68-182 The Kushan Empire flourishes
320-490 The Gupta Empire, the Golden Age of Indian Civilization, is established. Science, literature and arts flourish.
470 The Huns invade India, the fall of the Guptas, Decline of Buddhism
528 Defeat of the Huns by the Hindus
506-647 Harsha rules the throne of Kanauj
630-645 Hiuen Tsang, the Chinese traveller, visits India
6th-7th Century The Chalukya Dynasty of South India - Aiholi, Badami
8th Century The Rashtrakutas of Ellora, the Ganga Dynasty of Puri & Bhubaneshwar
788 Birth of Sankracharya, the Vedanta philosopher
The Rajput Period: 900-1200
850 Anangpal builds Lal Kot, Delhi's first city
1000-1300 Hoysala Empire rules the South
1001-1019 Muhammed of Ghazni raids India
1026 Looting of Somnath by Muhammed of Ghazni
1176 Muhammed Ghor's invades the North and makes Qutub-ud-Din Aibak Delhi's first ruler
1192 Battle of Tarain: Prithviraj Chauhan slain
The Delhi Sultanate
1206 Qutub-ud-din Aibak becomes sultan of Delhi. His dynasty is overthrown in 1296 by Feroz Shah, a Turk, who builds Delhi's second city east of Lal Kot
1297 Marco Polo visits South India
1321 Ghias-ud-Din Tughlaq is proclaimed sultan. He starts building Tughlaqabad, the third city of Delhi
1325 Muhammed-bin Tughlaq becomes sultan and builds Jahanpanah, the fourth city.
1336 The Hindu kingdom of Vijaynagara is built in South India
1351 Feroz Shah Tughlaq builds Ferozabad, the fifth city.
1398 Looting of Delhi by Timurlane
1414 Power passes to the Sayyids
1451 Buhlbal Lodi, an Afghan noble, captures the throne and founds the Lodhi dynasty
14th-16th centuries Islam is established throughout the north. The south remains independent under the Hindu Vijayanagar dynasty
1469 Birth of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism
1498 The Portugese arrive in Kerala, Vasco De Gama establishes Portugese trading posts, followed by the Dutch, French and English
The Mughal Dynasty: 1526-1857
1526 Babur, a warlord from Samarkand, defeats the Sultan of Delhi at the Battle of Panipat, and proclaims himself the first Mughal emperor
1540 Humayun succeeds his father, Babur, and starts to build Purana Qila, Delhi's sixth city
1556 Akbar is enthroned, aged 13. He pushes the borders of the Mughal Empire three-quarters of the way across the sub-continent
1565 Akbar starts to build the Red Fort in his capital city, Agra. Meanwhile, Muslim forces bring down the Vijayanagar dynasty in the south, which in turn is conquered by the Mughals
1569-1574 Akbar builds his "dream city" of Fatehpur Sikri, near Agra and moves his capital there, but the court returns to Agra ten years later. Akbar then starts to build his tomb at Sikandara
1600 Queen Elizabeth I grants a trading charter to the British East India Company, and in 1608, English merchants set up a trading base at Surat in Gujarat
1605 Akbar is succeeded by his son, Jahangir
1627-1658 Shah Jahan, Akbar's grandson, becomes emperor.
1632 Shah Jahan starts building the Taj Mahal in memory of his wife.
1638 Shah Jahan moves the capital from Agra to Delhi and lays the foundation for Shahjahanabad, Delhi's seventh city
1639 Shah Jahan begins work on Lal Qila (Red Fort)
1646-1680 Shivaji captures the hill forests around Poona which signals the rise of Maratha power
1659-1707 Aurangzeb becomes emperor by imprisoning his father, Shah Jahan, in the Red Fort at Agra. Following his death the Mughal Empire declines.
1674 The French setup a trading post at Pondicherry
1739 Nadir Shah, a Persian king, invades Delhi and slaughters 30,000 residents of Shahjahanabad before returning to Persia with the Peacock throne
1756-1763 In the Seven Years' War the British East India Company ousts the French from Bengal
1761 The British defeat the Maratha armies at Panipat
1764 In the Battle of Buxar, Clive receives the Diwani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa for the East India Company
1774-1785 Warren Hastings consolidates British gains
1799 Rise of Maharaja Ranjit Singh & the Sikhs
1804 Delhi Emperor is put under British protectorate
1818 By finally overthrowing the Marathas, the British establish themselves as the paramount power in India
1849 Second Sikh War: annexation of Punjab
1857 Indian Mutiny breaks out in Meerut, where sepoys are incited by a rumour that a new issue of bullets is greased with animal fat from pigs, which are unclean to Muslims, and cows, which are sacred to Hindus. The anti-British campaign spreads across India, causing much bloodshed. The British quell the rebellion. Bahadur Shah, last of the Mughal Emperors, is exiled to Burma. The reign of the East India Company comes to an end.
The British Raj: 1858-1947
1858 The British Crown imposes direct rule and appoints a viceroy as the sovereign's representative
1869 Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is born at Porbandar in Gujarat
1877 Queen Victoria is proclaimed Empress of India
1885 The first political party, the Indian National Congress, is founded
1906 Foundation of the Muslim League
1911 George V, King and Emperor, announces that the capital will be transferred from Calcutta to Delhi
1915 Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, known as the "Mahatma" (great soul), returns from South Africa, and starts to campaign for passive resistance to British rule
1919 General Dyer orders his Gurkha troops to open fire on a peaceful but illegal anti-British protest meeting in Amritsar, killing 379 and wounding 1,200 people in the courtyard of Jalianwala Bagh. This proves catalytic to the Indian Independence movement
1922-1929 The first workers union is established. The Congress, inspired by Gandhi, goes to the masses for support and non-violence becomes the banner for the freedom movement
1930 Gandhi's "Quit India" drive gains momemtum with his Dandi Salt March from Ahmedabad to protest against taxes on Indian-produced salt
1931 New Delhi inaugurated as the capital of India
1935 Mohammed Ali Jinnah, head of the Muslim League, calls for a new Muslim nation of Pakistan
1937 In the elections to the Provincial Assemblies, the Congress wins a majority, its relations with the Muslim League deteriorate
1939 Congress refuses to support England during the World War II
1941 Congress revises position on World War and offers support in exchange for Independence. Gandhi disapproves and leaves Congress
1942 Negotiations between the Congress and British fail. Congress launches Quit India Movement, in which thousands of Congress leaders, including Gandhi, are imprisoned
1946 Congress wins the elections, Jawaharlal Nehru angers Jinnah who announces Direct Action day. This results in an outbreak of communal riots in Calcutta, with the violence spreading all across North India and Punjab is in flames
Independence: 1947-Present
15th August 1947 India gains independence from Britain at midnight on 15th August. Jawaharlal Nehru becomes her first Prime Minister. India is divided into two countries, the mainly Hindu nation of India and the Muslim nation of Pakistan. During Partition more than 10 million people migrate in each direction across the divided Punjab. Communal violence between Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims claims between 200,000 and 1,000,000 lives.
30th January 1948 Mahatma Gandhi is assasinated by a Hindu fanatic
1948 India and Pakistan go to war over Kashmir
26th January 1950 India becomes a Republic and the Consitution comes into force
1954 France return Pondicerry, Mahe to India
1955 The Non-Aligned Movement is launched with India as a founding member
1961 The Indian Army takes over the last Portugese possession in India - Goa, Daman, Diu
1962 Indo-Chinese War
1964 Jawaharlal Nehru dies. Lal Bahadur Shastri becomes India's Prime Minister and in 1965, repulses Pakistan's attacks on India in the Rann of Kutch and Kashmir
1966 Indira Gandhi, Nehru's daughter, becomes Prime Minister
1971 War with East Pakistan leads to the creation of a new independent nation of Bangladesh
1975-1977 Indira Gandhi imposes a State of Emergency, suspends civil liberties and imprisons her political opponents. She is defeated in the 1977 elections
1977-1979 Janata Party comes to power under Morarji Desai
1980 Indira Gandhi returns as prime minister
1984 Sikhs demand independence for Punjab; 1,000 people die when the Indian army storms the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holiest Sikh Shrine. Indira Gandhi is assasinated on 31st October. Her son, Rajiv Gandhi becomes prime minister
1988 New opposition party, Janata Dal, is established
1989 Congress-I loses majority in general election; Janata Dal forms minority government
1990 Communal and civil disturbances in Jammu and Kashmir and Assam. Religious violence in Punjab.
1991 Rajiv Gandhi is assasinated. Congress forms a minority goverment lead by Narasimha Rao
1992-1993 Destruction of Babri Masjid in Ayodhaya by Hindu militants provokes riots nationwide
1996 The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) falls from power after two weeks in office. A leftist coalition under Deve Gowda, later succeeded by I K Gujral, takes control
1998 Election victory for BJP; their leader Atal Behari Vajpayee, becomes prime minister