India, known as the Republic of India, is found country in South Asia. By area, it is the seventh-largest country and the second-most populated country in the world.
Archaeological evidence has informed us that a highly sophisticated urbanised culture – the Indus civilisation – dominated the north-western part of the subcontinent from about 2600 to 2000 BCE. From here onwards, India functioned as a virtually self-contained political and cultural arena. From this grew a distinctive tradition that was associated primarily with Hinduism, the origins of which can largely be traced to the Indus civilisation. Other religions, notably Buddhism and Jainism, began in India and over the centuries residents of the subcontinent nurtured a rich intellectual life in such fields as mathematics, astronomy, architecture, literature, music, and the fine arts.
Over time, India was intermittently disturbed by incursions from beyond its northern mountain wall. Beginning early in the 8th century CE, the most significant was the coming of Islam, brought from the northwest by Arab, Turkish, Persian, and other raiders. Some of those raiders remained and by the 13th century much of the subcontinent was under Muslim rule, and the number of Muslims steadily increased. It was only following the arrival of the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama, in 1498, and then the establishment of European maritime supremacy in the region, when India was exposed to major external influences arriving by sea. This led to the decline of the ruling Muslim elite and the subcontinent being ruled by the British Empire.
Sitting upon layers of history, there is perhaps no other country on Earth as complex as India. It assaults the senses with its cacophony of sounds, its vibrant colours and its extreme contradictions. It is the unexpected nature of India that adds to the adventure.