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Mapping out the history of Indian regions and their culture

India being one of South Asia’s biggest countries, is home to a diverse range of cultures, religions, languages and traditions. These cultural aspects are also dictated by the region they belong to. The Ganga-Yamuna Doab, the Middle Ganga Valley, the Northern Deccan, Andhra, Kalinga and the Tamil plains are the main regions of the Indian subcontinent. There are however some smaller regions in the Indian subcontinent that also hold great importance. They are Konkan, Kanara and Chattisgarh. Then there are others that are known for their agricultural potential, namely, the Raichur Doab between Krishna and Tungabadra and Vengi between Godavari and Krishna. 

The Gangetic Plains

Due to its high agricultural produce and rich population, the Ganga plains are known to be a dominant force in the Indian subcontinent. This region holds great historical value as it accounts for the emergence of the notions of territories and territorial kingdoms (rastras and janapadas). For the first time in history, the janapadas and mahajanapadas were mentioned in contemporary Indian literature. This brought about many social, economic and political changes. These concepts came into existence in the Middle Ganga valley during the Mauryan period. These state societies used Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism as a form of social instruction. 

The Tamil Country 

Early Tamil poem anthologies, cumulatively, known as Sangam literature portray an elaborate picture of the evolution of state society in the Tamil country (Tamilakam) from a ministerial-tribal lifestyle. They display the co-existence of various ecological regions of the Tamilakam. The procedures of state formation were dictated by: 

  • The Roman trade during the early Christian centuries

  • The increase in townships

  • The infiltration of the Northern Sanskritic (Aryan) cultures into the Brahmana culture

Kerala played a vital role in the Tamilakam during its early period. Various hilly chieftaincies and marginal agricultural sectors were assimilated into the sphere of the three kingdoms. In a social aspect, peasants were reduced to the Shudra status.

The Deccan: Andhra and Maharashtra

In the Deccan region, Megalithic communities that followed Neolithic-Chalcolithic cultures formed the base for the transformation of these regions. Their burial sites have accounted for: 

  • rudimentary craft specialisation, 

  • a rudimentary exchange network, which transported mineral resources to the Northern Deccan

  •  status differentiation

The arrival of the Mauryas and the Megalithic culture brought about the emergence of early historical settlements in this region. This led to the formation of many urban centres and monasteries in this region, which in turn, led to the emergence of localities which were parallel to the North Indian janapadas. It was advanced further under the Ikshvakus in coastal Andhra, the Kadambas in Karnataka and the Vakatakas in Maharashtra.

Kalinga and Ancient Orissa

The deltaic coast littoral zone transformed to the historical stage earlier than the inner forest tracts and rolling uplands, which share many similarities with the adjoining Chhattisgarh and Bastar sub-regions. Central and western Orissa's tribal situation accounted for the region's stalled and uneven transformation process. The massive aggregation of tribals and the land's physiography prevented a repeat of the Gangetic social and economic pattern. Casteism in society emerged late within the Varna structure. When it did, there was a difference in the broad essentials. In terms of social issues, Orissa is an intriguing example of regional variation.


Q1. Which are the regions that influence Indian history? 

The regions that are influential in India’s history as a nation are - the Himalayan Mountains, the Southern peninsula and the Indo-Gangetic plains. 

Q2. Why is the regional history of India important? 

It is a pivotal part of history because it showcases the truth that life is determined by the places we live in. It is also an example of how the geographical location we are situated in can be a huge determinant of the way we live our lives and how traditions are born out of it.

Q3. Which is the most historical book of India?


Rajatarangini is a metrical legendary and historical chronicle of the north-western Indian subcontinent, particularly the kings of Kashmir. It was written in Sanskrit by Kashmiri historian Kalhana in the 12th century CE. The work consists of 7826 verses, which are divided into eight books called Tarangas.


The earliest historical texts of India are the sacred Vedas in Hinduism. The Vedas are composed between 1500 and 1200 BCE, containing hymns, prayers, and rituals that are still an important part of Hindu religious practice today. They provide insight into the early culture and beliefs of the people who lived in the region.


Q4. Where can I learn Indian history?


Offline: There are several books written by eminent writers on Indian History.




Encyclopedia Britannica: has detailed information on India's fight for freedom authored by eminent historians such as Romila Thapar.


Know India: website is part of, the National Portal of India.


NCERT: textbooks about the Indian independence movement are accessible online.


India's Struggle for Independence, 1857-1947: is available to read on Google Books.


National Archives, UK: this is a source of important documents related to Indian nationalism and independence.


GandhiServe: GandhiServe Foundation and GandhiServe India Trust videos recorded the reminiscences of the oral history of India's independence movement.

Q5. What are the eras of Indian history?


Ancient India: Indus Valley Civilisation - Iron Age - Vedic Period and Arrival of Aryans;  Mauryan Empire - Chandragupta – Bindusara- Ashoka; Chola –Cheras- Pandyas; Gupta Empire (300AD – 800 AD)


Medieval India: Attack of Muhammed Bin Kassim - Muhammad Ghazni - Muhammad Ghori  - Delhi Sultanate;  Slave Dynasty - Khilji  - Tuglaq - Sayyid  - Lodi; Mughals; - Arrival of British


Modern India: 1857- First War of Indian Independence – Start of freedom movements (politically) - 1947-Independence and Partition of India - Constitutional Development of India - 1962- India- China war- 1965-India-Pakistan war - 1971- Formation of Bangladesh

Q6. Which regions influenced Indian history?


Geographical attributes such as rivers, mountains, forests, climate, etc. have a lot of influence on the history of a place, its tradition, and culture etc. Both in prehistoric and historical times, South-East Asia and south China have influenced India. The huge area of the Indian subcontinent's land mass is distinguished by a variety of physical features. India's total land mass is 2,973,190 square kilometers and is divided into three main geological regions: the Indo-Gangetic Plain, the Himalayas, and the southern peninsula region. Both the Indus and the Ganges rivers carried rich silt from the mountains to the plains.

Q7. What are the three important sources in Indian history?


Literary/written sources : The literary/written sources to reconstruct Ancient Indian history can be classified among three major categories, (i) Religious, (ii) Secular, and (iii) Scientific. It also comprised some different kinds of sources like (IV) Sangam literature and (v) foreign travelers.


Ancient Architecture/Monuments : Earlier, houses were made from perishable materials like wood and grass; burnt bricks were started for constructing houses or so-called Ancient Monuments. India then witnessed developments and variations in materials, and types of construction, classified into Secular and Religious architecture.


Archaeological Remains : Through excavation, archaeologists unearthed materials for the reconstruction of the history of that particular settlement.

Q8. How many divisions are there in the sources of Indian history?

These are broadly divided into two categories; Archeological Sources and Literary Sources. The Archeological Sources are further divided into - Monuments, Inscriptions, Coins, and Artifacts. Literary Sources are further divided into Religious, Secular, and Foreign Accounts. Archaeological sources include buildings (Buddhist Stupas, Chaityas, Viharas, Hindu Temples, Houses, etc.), Paintings, pottery, seals, coins, monuments, writings and paintings on stones or walls, tools, jewelry, bones, leftovers, pieces of metals and other artifacts. Inscriptions are writings on seals, temple walls, stones or pillars, wooden tablets, bricks, and images. Literary Sources include Vedic/Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain Canonical Literature, Scientific Treaties, etc.