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INDIA: Culture

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Your India cell phone rental will make discovering this mystical country a breeze.


Stone Age rock shelters with paintings at Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh are the earliest known traces of human life in India. The first known permanent settlements appeared 9,000 years ago and developed into the Indus Valley Civilisation, which peaked between 2600 BC and 1900 BC. It was followed by the Vedic Civilisation. From around 550 BC onwards, many independent kingdoms came into being. In the north, the Maurya dynasty, which included Ashoka, 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 AD onwards the Gupta dynasty oversaw the period referred to as ancient India's "Golden Age".

The Sanchi stupa in Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh built by emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCIn the south, several dynasties including the Chalukyas, Cheras, Cholas, Kadambas, Pallavas and Pandyas prevailed during different periods. Science, art, literature, mathematics, astronomy, engineering, religion and philosophy flourished under the patronage of these kings. Following the Islamic invasions in the beginning of the second millennium, much of north and central India came to be ruled by the Delhi Sultanate, and later, much of the entire subcontinent by the Mughal dynasty. Nevertheless, several indigenous kingdoms remained or rose to power, especially in the relatively sheltered south. Vijayanagara Empire was notable among such kingdoms.

During the middle of the second millennium, several European countries, including the Portuguese, Dutch, French and British, who were initially interested in trade with India, took advantage of fractured kingdoms fighting each other to establish colonies in the country. After a failed insurrection in 1857 against the British East India Company, popularly known in India as the First War of Indian Independence and most commonly known in the West as the Indian Mutiny, most of India came under the direct administrative control of the crown of the British Empire.

'The Wheel of Konark'. The Sun Temple at Konark, Orissa built in the 13th century, is one of the most famous monuments of stone sculpture in the world.
The Brihadisvara Temple or "Big temple" in Tanjavore was built by the chola emperor Raja Raja Chola in the 10th century AD.In the early part of the 20th century, a prolonged and largely non-violent struggle for independence, the Indian independence movement, followed, to be eventually led by Mahatma Gandhi, regarded officially as the Father Of The Nation. The culmination of this path-breaking struggle was reached on 1947-08-15 when India gained full independence from British rule, later becoming a republic on 1950-01-26.

As a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, India has had its share of sectarian violence and insurgencies in different parts of the country. Nonetheless, it has held itself together as a secular, liberal democracy barring a brief period from 1975 to 1977 during which the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a "state of emergency" with the suspension of civil rights. India has unresolved border disputes with China, which escalated into a brief war in 1962, and Pakistan which resulted in wars in 1947, 1965, and 1971, and a border altercation in the northern state of Kashmir in 1999. India was a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement and the United Nations. In 1974, India conducted an underground nuclear test, making it an unofficial member of the "nuclear club", which was followed up with a series of five more tests in 1998. Significant economic reforms beginning in 1991 have transformed India into one of the fastest growing economies in the world and added to its global clout.

Use your international cell phone rental to discover India's rich history.


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