Nearly five thousand years back flourished India's first major civilisation along the Indus River valley. The twin cities of Mohenjodaro and Harappa now in Pakistan were ruled by priests and held the rudiments of Hinduism. These civilisations are known to possess a sophisticated lifestyle, a highly developed sense of aesthetics, an astonishing knowledge of town planning and an undecipherable script language. The Indus civilization at one point of time extended nearly a million square kilometres across the Indus river valley. It existed at the same time as the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Sumer but far outlasted them. Surviving for nearly a thousand years the Indus valley civilisation fell to tectonic upheavals in about 1700 BC, which caused a series of floods.

The coming of the Aryans around 1500 BC, gave the final blow to the collapsing Indus Valley civilisation. At the dawn of Vedic ages the Aryans came in from the North and spread through large parts of India bringing with them their culture and religious beliefs. The Four Vedas or the important books of Hinduism were compiled in this period.

In 567 B.C. the founder of the Buddhist Religion Gautama Buddha was born. During this time lived Mahavira, who founded the Jain Religion. The Indian subcontinent is full of caves and monuments devoted to these religions and are worth a visit.

Two hundred years later, in the 4th century B.C., Emperor Ashoka, one of the greatest King of Indian history, led the Mauryan Empire to take over almost all of what is now modern India. This great leader embraced Buddhism and built the group of monuments at Sanchi (a UNESCO world heritage site). The Ashoka pillar at Sarnath has been adopted by India as its national emblem and the Dharma Chakra on the Ashoka Pillar adorns the National Flag.

They were followed by the Guptas in the north, while in the south part of India several different Hindu empires, the Cholas, the Pandyas and the Cheras spread and grew, trading with Europe and other parts of Asia till the end of the 1100s. Christianinty entered India at about the same time from Europe. Legend has it that St. Thomas the Apostle arrived in India in 52 A.D. Even earlier than that people of the Jewish religion arrived on India's shores.

In approximately the 7th century A.D. a group of Zoroastrians, or Parsees, landed in Gujarat and became a part of the large mix of religions in India today, each of which adds its important and distinctive flavour. In the 15th century Guru Nanak laid the foundation of the Sikh religion in Punjab.

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indianIn a country as diverse and complex as India, it is not surprising to find that people here reflect the rich glories of the past, the culture, traditions and values relative to geographic locations and the numerous distinctive manners, habits and food that will always remain truly Indian. According to five thousand years of recorded history. From the eternal snows of the Himalayas to the cultivated peninsula of far South, from the deserts of the West to the humid deltas of the East, from the dry heat and cold of the Central Plateau to the cool forest foothills, Indian lifestyles clearly glorify the geography. The food, clothing and habits of an Indian differ in accordance to the place of origin.

Indians believe in sharing happiness and sorrow. A festival or a celebration is never constrained to a family or a home. The whole community or neighbourhood is involved in bringing liveliness to an occasion. A lot of festivals like Diwali, Holi, Id, Christmas, Mahaveer Jayanthi are all celebrated by sharing sweets and pleasantries with family, neighbours and friends. An Indian wedding is an occasion that calls for participation of the family and friends. Similarly, neighbours and friends always help out a family in times of need.

Ethnically Indians speak different languages, follow different religions, eat the most diverse varieties of food all of which add to the rich Indian culture.The beauty of the Indian people lies in the spirit of tolerance, give-and-take and a composition of cultures that can be compared to a garden of flowers of various colours and shades of which, while maintaining their own entity, lend harmony and beauty to the garden - India!
 

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