How Old is Indian History
The history of India or Bharat is often thought to predate any other known civilization on this planet making this dynamic and vast culture perhaps as old as the human civilization itself!
Ancient India was spread across the Indus River, covering the Himalayas till the southern part of India and that’s when the Indus Valley Civilization started around 5,000 years ago on this land. With time, people from different parts of the world kept arriving in this country and many of them settled here making it a land of diverse cultures. The discovery of the two great cities of Indus Valley, Harappa and Mohenjo Daro provided evidence of the richness of this culture with war weapons, household articles, well-planned township, houses made of baked bricks, use of gold and silver ornaments, and metals like iron, copper and other metals being used.
The pieces of evidence were enough to suggest that India was a developed civilization about 5,500 years ago and other archaeological, hominoid activity discoveries and scientific shreds of evidence suggest that India was home to humans around 250,000 years ago. The remains of the ancient city of Dwarka that is submerged around 70 feet below in the Arabian Sea indicate that there was a flourishing civilization in the Indian subcontinent around 9,000 years ago. The primary religion of this land, the Sanatan (Hindu) Dharma is believed to be 155.52 trillion years old as per the calculations of Vedic Mathematics.
Different Eras in Indian History
- Indus Valley Civilization – Also known as Harappan Civilization, it prospered around 2,500 BC, in the part that is Western India and Pakistan as of today. It was an unearthed civilization until 1920 when the Archaeological Department of India found the ruins of the two cities, Mohenjodaro and Harappa. Further studies showed that these cities were well planned, had proper drainage systems and wide roads. Moreover, they used to grow staples like wheat, barley, and cereals.
- Vedic Civilization – Vedas are considered as the pillars of the Hindu religion and Vedic Civilization that flourished along the River Saraswati (states of Punjab and Haryana) was during 1500 BC – 500 BC.
- Buddhist Era – The 7th and early 6th century BC is known as the Buddhist Era during which Lord Gautam Buddha and the sixteen great powers (Mahajanapadas) were born and Buddhism flourished in India. Licchavis of Vaishali and Sakyas of Kapilavastu, etc, were the famous republics of this era.
- Invasion of Alexander – Alexander invaded India in the year 326 BC and he progressed towards Takshila after crossing the Indus River. Alexander challenged Porus whose kingdom was spread between the rivers Chenab and Jhelum. Porus lost this battle but was allowed to continue his rule by Alexander.
- Gupta Dynasty – Gupta Dynasty of Magadha Dynasty, was the Golden Age of Indian History and their empire was spread over northern and parts of western and central India during the early 4th to the late 6th century.
- Harshvardhana – Harshvardhana ruled the northern part of India during 606 – 647 AD when he took over the throne of Kannauj and Thaneshwar after the death of his brother Rajyavardhana.
- The period after the Ancient Era was the Medieval era and a few famous dynasties and rulers of this period include – The Palas (northern and eastern parts of India between 8th and 10th century AD, Nalanda University and Vikramashila University were founded during this period), The Senas (11th and 12th century, Bengal), The Pratiharas (9th and 10th century AD, central India), The Rashtrakutas (8th and 10th century, central and southern India), Chola Empire (9th – 14th century AD, South India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives), Rise of Islam (includes Muslim Invasion, The Delhi Sultanate, The Slave Dynasty, The Khilji Dynasty, The Tughlaq Dynasty, Timur's Invasion, Sayyid Dynasty, Lodhi Dynasty, and the Bahmani Kingdom from 8th -18th century in different parts of India, though were never able to capture entire India), and the most recent history belongs to the British rule (1757 – 1947), after which India achieved Independence.
Books on Indian History: Pick Up One of These to Know India
We have selected 10 books on Indian History and divided them into 5 subsections with two books each in every subsection. The subsections are – pre-historic era, ancient era, medieval era, modern era, and post-independence era. The first book in each subsection is a must-read history book about that era while the second book is more of a subject-specific book.
Books on Indian History - Pre-historic Era
1. Prehistory and Protohistory of India – An Appraisal by VK Jain
This book by V.K. Jain, Prehistory and Protohistory of India: An Appraisal - Palaeolithic, Non-Harappan, Chalcolithic Cultures (Perspectives in Indian Art & Archaeology), is based on the new dating techniques, fresh excavations, and new discoveries that are constantly reshaping our knowledge about the history of Indian Subcontinent. A comprehensive guide to the undergraduate and postgraduate students of history, this book talks in detail about the Megalithic Cultures of peninsular India, Chalcolithic Cultures outside the Harappan area, Stone Age, and the Deccan Plateau as well. Wide-ranging topics that include technologies, tools, existence patterns, settlements, and ecological background have been discussed in this book. A glossary about frequently used archaeological terms, line-drawings, explanatory notes, and maps make it a must to read book for history lovers. It is available on Amazon, with the Hardcover at Rs. 520 and the Paperback at Rs. 207.
2. Unknown Civilization of Prehistoric India by Subhashis Das
The book ‘Unknown Civilization of Prehistoric India’ authored by Subhashis Das was released in the year 2013 and can be considered a sequel to his previous book ‘Sacred Stones in India Civilization’. This book mentions the lesser-known aspects of prehistoric Indian civilization like the megaliths, and the proto-austroloid Kolarian tribes. It mentions how megaliths were built for astronomical uses apart from funerary reasons, how a group of megalithic denizens had knowledge of astronomy and mathematics, and substantiates the claims by well describing the architecture of a few of the megaliths across the Indian subcontinent.
This book also talks about the various cult practices by the ancient tribes, the folklores, and how they originated by tracing them to their original homeland. The author has also given certain references to draw parallels between the old Adivasis culture and Horites of the Bible, austric Mundari words that are still a part of many European languages, and stunning similarities between the megaliths of Europe, Britain, and India. This book is available on Amazon at Rs. 1,025.
Books on Indian History - Ancient Era
3. Ancient India by RC Majumdar
Mr. R.C. Majumdar (1888-1990) was an iconic historian, Sheriff of Kolkata, professor of history at the University of Calcutta, General President of the Indian History Congress, and has held many prominent positions in National and International institutions. In this book, Mr. Majumdar has divided the natural course of development of Ancient Indian History and Civilization into three broad sections:
(A) From the prehistoric age to 600 B.C.,
(B) 600 B.C. to 300 A.D., and
(C) 300 A.D. to 1,200 A.D.
Various aspects of society and culture like religious, economic, political, literary, and cultural provisions have been taken into account to describe Ancient India. This book covers a lot of topics of ancient India and Indus valley civilization and is also a useful resource for students preparing for competitive exams with the ancient history of India as a major subject. At Rs 475, you can purchase the book from Flipkart.
4. Lifestyle of the Vedic People by Pranati Ghosal
This book by Pranati Ghosal talks in-depth about the various aspects of the life in Vedic era, be it seers, or common people. The author has tried to cover many topics like education, housing, social organizations, mode of agriculture and occupations, entertainment, food and drink, dress and cosmetics, etc. She has also discussed many themes to provide a detailed idea of the Vedic Era that includes religion, politics, art, literature, sculptures of Indonesia, architecture, etc. Scholars of history specializing in culture and religion, specific to South-East Asia and other regions of Asia would get some interesting and useful content in this book. It is priced at Rs. 400 on Amazon.
Books on Indian History - Medieval Era
5. History of Medieval India: From 1,000 A. D. To 1,707 A. D. by R.S. Chaurasia
This book offers a detailed description of the medieval period of Indian History spanning from the 11th century to the 18th century. Many historians mention this period as the dark period of Indian History as it was the glorious period of Indian History when the foundation of the social structure and Indian culture was laid. Several famous architectures and buildings were made during this period while literature, art, music, and painting, etc, also flourished. Hindi literature progressed with the work of great poets like Tulsi, Kabir, Surdas, Rahim, Jayasi, and Raskhan, etc while this period also witnessed the rise of Sikhism, the Bhakti era, and Sufism. The Hardcover is priced at Rs. 632 while the Paperback at Rs. 258 on Amazon.
6. The Royal Rajputs: Strange Tales and Stranger Truths by Manoshi Bhattacharya
Manoshi Bhattacharya tells about the heard and unheard timeless tales of the Rajput era in her book ‘The Royal Rajputs: Strange Tales and Stranger Truths’ that explores the ambition for power, scandals, battles, forts, and the traditions and customs of the Rajputs. The tales of gallantry, pride, honor, sacrifice, love, and royal history bundled in this book that well narrates the epic stories of the Royal Rajputs. Available on Amazon, it is priced at Rs. 1,500.
Books on Indian History - Modern Era
7. From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India by Sekhar Bandyopadhyay
Sekhar Bandyopadhyay is Senior Lecturer and Head of the History Programme, at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and has authored a number of books on the History of Modern India. The book ‘From Plassey To Partition: A History Of Modern India’ starts with the downfall of the Mughal empire and the simultaneous rise of the British Empire in the Indian subcontinent. The book covers the perspective of Indians as they fought their 200 years of battle for freedom starting with the struggle of 1857. The book talks in length about the problems faced by Indians during British rule, the changes that happened in the society and culture of India due to British influence, and how the concept of partition was laid during Independence. It is available on Flipkart at Rs. 425.
8. India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
Bipan Chandra was a well-known historian, author, and professor of modern history at Jawaharlal Nehru University. In this book, the author has covered India’s struggle for freedom based on valid legal, written, and verbal references, and has covered the freedom movement of the entire country. The book starts with the first war of Independence and mentions the battles fought by Mangal Pandey and Rani Laxmi Bai among others. He also talks about other prominent freedom fighters and leaders including Gandhi and Bose. Other noteworthy topics in the book are - Foundation of the Congress:
-The Fight to Secure Press Freedom,
-World War I and
-Indian Nationalism: The Ghadar, The Non-Cooperation Movement—1920-1922, Civil Rebellions, and many more such important events during the freedom struggle of 200 years.
Purchase the book from Amazon at Rs. 69 for the Kindle Edition or Rs. 272 for the Paperback version.
Books on Indian History - Post Independence
9. India's Wars: A Military History, 1947-1971 by Arjun Subramaniam
Air Vice-Marshal Arjun Subramaniam, has completed his Ph.D. in Defence and Strategic Studies and has well used his experience and knowledge to author many books on the wars, growth of the military forces, and many strategic decisions that took place in the post-independence era. In his book ‘India's Wars: A Military History, 1947-1971; Arjun Subramaniam has shared the exhilarating experiences of many veterans and provided a detailed version of the wars fought between 1947-1971. It is available at Rs. 2,418 on Flipkart.
10. The Emergency: A Personal History by Coomi Kapoor
The Emergency period (1975-77), was one of the darkest phases of Independent India, and the author Commi Kapoor, in her book ‘The Emergency: A Personal History’ shares her own experience as a young journalist of that time. The then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi crushed civil freedom, the press was muzzled and the reign of terror saw brutal evictions, imprisonments of thousands, and forced sterilizations. The author has tried to share an eyewitness account of those nineteen horrific months in her book. Purchase this book from Amazon at Rs. 243, for the Kindle Edition, Rs. 1,400, for the Hardcover, or Rs. 399, for the Paperback.
Where Does the Indian Ancestry Begin?
Whether a scholar, researcher, linguist or have taken a shine to literature, when it comes to Indian History, these are the best books to use and read. Learn of the Indus and Vedic civilizations, how Alexander the Great invaded India, the Gupta Dynasty and the different eras in history. From the medieval times to the modern era, learn of the great names who put a foothold to India's' great name, like Mahatma Gandhi and some of the great Empires and Emperors, Dynasties and Kings in Indian History. Learn all these through these books on ancient Indian history.