The first known permanent settlements appeared 9,000 years ago and developed into the Indus Valley Civilization, which peaked between 2600 BC and 1900 BC, followed by the Vedic Civilization.
The Maurya dynasty from around 400 BC onwards, which included the Buddhist king Ashoka of the Sarnath Pillar fame, contributed greatly to India’s cultural landscape. From 180 BC, a series of invasions from Central Asia followed, with the successive establishment in the northern Indian subcontinent of the Indo-Greek, Indo-Scythian and Indo-Parthian kingdoms, and finally the Kushan Empire. From the 3rd century onwards the Gupta dynasty oversaw the period referred to as ancient India’s “Golden Age”. In the south, several dynasties including the Chalukyas, Cheras, Cholas, Kadambas, Pallavas and Pandyas prevailed during different periods. These kings were great patrons of science, art, literature, mathematics, astronomy, engineering, religion, and philosphy.
Following frequent Islamic invasions in the beginning of the second millennium, much of India came to be ruled by the Delhi Sultanate, and later, much of the entire subcontinent by the Mughal dynasty.
During the 1500s, several European countries, including the Portuguese, Dutch, French, and British, who were initially interested in trade with India, took advantage of kingdoms fighting each other to establish colonies in the country. The English, after a series of battles, managed to thwart the other colonisers and came to rule much of the country by 1840. After a failed insurrection in 1857 against the British East India Company, popularly known in India as the First War of Indian Independence, most of India came under the direct administrative control of the British crown. In the early part of the twentieth century, a prolonged and largely non-violent struggle for independence, the Indian independence movement, followed. It came to be eventually led by Mahatma Gandhi, regarded officially as the father of the nation. This historical struggle brought the nation to the 15th day of August, 1947 when India gained full independence from British rule, later becoming a republic on 26th January, 1950.