Travel through our timeline of major events in India's history.
The Indus Valley civilization develops around the valley of the Indus River (now in Pakistan). Its trade is based on crops grown on the fertile river plains. It reaches the height of its power and is larger than any other ancient empire, including that of Egypt.
The Indus Valley civilization collapses, possibly due to severe floods or a change in the course of the Indus River.
Around 1500 B.C.
The Aryan people, who come from the region between and including India and Europe, invade India from the north. They spread through the Indus Valley and down into the Ganges Valley.
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Alexander the Great of Macedon (northeastern Greece) crosses the Indus River into India.
Trade flourishes between India and the Roman Empire. Romans eagerly buy Indian pearls, ivory, silk, spices, cloth and precious stones.
After centuries of being split into small kingdoms and republics, India is ruled by the Gupta Empire. Under the rule of the Gupta kings, Hinduism becomes the major religion of the empire. Literature, art, architecture and science flourish during this "classical age" of peace and prosperity.
The rule of the Mogul Empire begins, unifying much of south India with the north for the first time.
Eager to gain access to India's spices, rice, silk, tea and jewels, Holland, Great Britain and France establish key trading posts in India.
Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan begins construction of the Taj Mahal in memory of his wife Mumtaz.
The British overthrow the Moguls and take control of India.
After studying law in Britain and fighting for Indian rights in South Africa, Mohandas Gandhi launches a campaign of nonviolent resistance against British rule in India. Gandhi is called Mahatma, meaning "Great Soul."
India gains independence from the British and is divided into two countries, India and Muslim-controlled Pakistan.
Mahatma Gandhi is assassinated.
Indira Gandhi (not related to Mahatma) becomes Prime Minister and one of the first women elected to lead a nation.
ADRIAN MURRELL—GETTY IMAGES
India wins the cricket world cup.
India tests its first nuclear weapon, one of only seven nations to have done so.
India's population exceeds 1 billion.
A series of natural disasters, including floods, earthquakes and tsunamis, brings destruction to southern coastal communities.
Pratibha Patil becomes the first female President of India.