• 2500 BCE: The earliest civilisation in India, known as the Indus Valley Civilisation, flourishes in the western part of the Indian subcontinent. This civilisation is known for its well-planned cities, advanced drainage systems and the use of standardised weights and measures.

  • 1500 BCE: The Aryans migrate to India and introduce their language and culture. They establish several small kingdoms in the northern part of the subcontinent.

  • 321 BCE: The Maurya Empire is founded by Chandragupta Maurya. This empire is known for its strong central government, extensive road network and the famous emperor Ashoka, credited with spreading Buddhism across the subcontinent.

Early history

  • 4th century: India is ruled by a series of dynasties, including the Gupta Empire, known for its thriving arts, science and philosophy policies.

  • 7th century: Islam is introduced to India by Arab traders, leading to the establishment of several Muslim dynasties in the subcontinent, including the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire.

Mughal Empire

  • 1526: The Mughal Empire is founded in 1526 by Babur, a Central Asian ruler who conquered parts of northern India. The Mughals were Muslim rulers who governed a predominantly Hindu population.

  • 15561605: The empire reaches its height under the reign of Emperor Akbar, who introduces a policy of religious tolerance and promotes the arts and culture. The Mughal Empire is known for its grand architecture, including the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort and the Agra Fort. The Mughals also introduce new technologies and industries to India, including paper-making, textiles and ceramics.

  • 1608: The British East India Company arrives in India, establishing trading posts in several coastal cities.

  • 1658-1707: Under Aurangzeb, the Mughal Empire expands to its greatest territorial extent, but his policies of religious intolerance and heavy taxation weaken the empire and lead to widespread rebellions. The decline of the Mughal Empire allows for the emergence of regional powers, such as the Marathas and the Sikhs, who challenge Mughal authority.

  • 1857: The Moghul Empire era officially ends as the British East India Company take control of India in the mid-19th century.

British Empire

  • 1858: The British Empire takes control of India after the Sepoy Mutiny, a rebellion by Indian soldiers in the British East India Company's army against the company's rule. In the aftermath of the rebellion, the British Crown takes direct control of India, and India becomes a British colony.

  • 18581947: In what is known as the British Raj, the British Crown appoints British administrators and a Governor-General or Viceroy to rule India. The British maintain their grip on power by implementing a policy of divide and rule, exploiting divisions between various communities in India.

  • 18531854: The British build railway, telegraph and irrigation infrastructure in India, which help to modernise the country.

  • 1857: Indian nationalist movements begin to emerge, led by figures such as Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, who advocate for independence from British rule.

  • 1860: The British enact a series of laws and administrative reforms, including the introduction of modern legal and education systems and the development of the Indian Civil Service, which have a lasting impact on the country. The British outlaw various forms of caste discrimination and introduce affirmative action policies to promote social mobility and reduce inequality.

  • 18851920: The British respond to the Indian nationalist movements with repression and occasional violence, including the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919. Former UK Prime Minister H. H. Asquith openly condemns it, calling it "one of the worst, most dreadful, outrages in the whole of our history".

  • 19391945: During World War II, Indian soldiers fight on the British Empire's behalf, but the war also fuels Indian nationalist sentiment and demands for self-rule.

  • 1947: The British government passes the Indian Independence Act, which grants independence to India and Pakistan and ends the British Raj. With the end of British rule comes the partition of India, forcing millions to migrate across the newly-drawn border between India and Pakistan. This leads to widespread violence and displacement.


  • 1947: With India released from the British, Jawaharlal Nehru becomes the first prime minister of the newly independent nation. 

  • 1950: India becomes a republic and builds a path towards democratic socialism. India faces numerous challenges in the early years after independence, such as religious tensions, poverty and economic instability.

  • 1951: India launches its first Five-Year Plan focusing on developing the economy and eradicating poverty, leading to the country's significant progress in agriculture, education and industry. 

  • 1962: The Sino-Indian War breaks out between India and China over border disputes. India suffers a defeat.

  • 1971: The Indo-Pakistani War begins as India tries to stake a claim on East Pakistan, which eventually becomes the independent country of Bangladesh.

  • 1974: India's first nuclear test is conducted, resulting in international sanctions. 

  • 1984: Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by her own Sikh bodyguards, leading to widespread violence against the Sikh community.

  • 1991: India implements economic liberalisation policies, giving rise to a significant increase in foreign investment and economic growth.

  • 19902008: India faces several terrorist attacks, including the 1993 Mumbai bombings and the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament. Mumbai is again targeted in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in 2008.

  • 2002: The death of 59 Hindu pilgrims in a train fire gives rise to interreligious violence resulting in more than 1,000 people casualties, mostly Muslims. 

  • 20082014: India continues to make significant progress in various sectors, including space technology, information technology and renewable energy. Still, the country faces challenges like poverty, unemployment and environmental degradation.

  • 2014: Narendra Modi becomes Prime Minister of India, and his government focuses on economic growth, infrastructure development and improving the country's international standing.

  • 2019: Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party wins a landslide victory in the general elections, securing a second term in office.

  • 2020: India makes headlines the world over with record-breaking rates of Covid-19 infections, resulting in more than 500,000 deaths and devastating economic impact.

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