The Indian subcontinent is the home of one of the world's oldest and most influential civilizations. From about 5000 BC, increasing numbers of settlements of agriculturalists began to appear throughout the Indus Valley; by 2600 BC some of these villages grew into urban centers, forming the basis for the early Harappan civilization, the peer of contemporary Egyptian and Babylonian civilizations. However, unlike these regions, centralized imperialism, which was attempted in the Mauryan Period (325-185 BC), collapsed. Nonetheless, the accession of Candra Gupta Maurya ("Chandragupta") in 321 BC is significant because it inaugurated the first Indian empire; the Mauryan dynasty was to rule nearly the entire subcontinent. Using War Elephants to good effect, he defeated Alexander's successor Seleucus, the ruler of the eastern Greek holdings in Iran and India. The result was a treaty by which Seleucus ceded the trans-Indus provinces to Chandra and the latter presented Seleucus with 500 elephants for his own army.
A century later, the disintegration of the Mauryan empire gave rise to a number of feuding kingdoms, the Guptas and Pajputs in the north and Chola, Hoysalas and Pandyas in the south. These separate kingdoms, however, would be unable to resist the rising tide of Islam. Though there had been Muslim trading communities in India for decades before, the first Arabic raids in the subcontinent were made along the western coast and in Sind during the 7th and 8th centuries. The permanent military movement of Muslims into northern India, however, dates from the late 12th century and was carried out by the Turkish dynasty that arose on the ruins of the Abbasid caliphate. The road to conquest was laid by Sultan Mahmud, who conducted more than 20 campaigns in India from 1001 to 1027 AD and established a large but short-lived empire. By 1186 AD, the Mahmud realm had been destroyed by the Ghurids, who proceeded to conquer the Rajput kingdoms and establish a Muslim sultanate in Delhi, from which a series of able Turkish overlords ruled the north until 1526 AD.
The Muslim states were themselves supplanted by the Mughul Empire (1526-1761 AD), founded by Zahir-ud-Din Muhammad Babur (1526-1530 AD). Babur was a Mongol, a fifth-generation descendant of Timur and a 14th-generation descendant of Genghis Khan. In a series of lightning campaigns commencing in 1511 AD, he overran the Punjab and Hindustan. Akbar the Great (1556-1605 AD), his grandson, continued the conquest of the subcontinent, overrunning Gujarat, Bengal and Rajasthan. At its zenith, the Mughal realm commanded resources unprecedented in Indian history and covered almost the entire subcontinent. The 16th and 17th centuries also saw the establishment and expansion of European trading organizations in the subcontinent, principally for the procurement of rare resources. By 1740, the Portuguese, Dutch, English and French had all founded colonial settlements, but with the Seven Years' War the French holdings were surrendered to the British East India Company.
The quarter-century following the bitter Indian revolt of 1857-59, which transferred the company's rule to the crown, ended with the birth of nationalist agitation. The Indian National Congress held its first meeting in December 1885 in Bombay, even as Indian troops were fighting in upper Burma under the British flag. Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948), later known as Mahatma ("Great-Souled), was recognized throughout India as the spiritual leader of a nationwide movement for independence. His doctrine of nonviolent protest became the stuff of legend, impressing even his most bitter enemies. The Jallianwala Bagh (1919) massacre turned millions of moderate Indians from patient and loyal supporters of the British raj into fervent nationalists. The last years of British rule were racked by increasingly violent Hindu-Muslim conflict and intensified opposition to foreign rule. In July 1947, Britain's Parliament passed the Indian Independence Act, one of the quickest and most lucrative divorce settlements ever recorded: within a single month, the assets of history's largest and richest colony had been divided. By midnight of August 14, 1947, the dominions of India and Pakistan had became sovereign nations, forever free from British rule.
In Civilization III, the Indians are considered a Religious and Commercial civilization, therefore, they start with Alphabet and Ceremonial Burial, and have significant bonuses to religious pursuits and trade-related activities. See the developer update on Civ-specific abilities for more on these bonuses.
In many ways, Elephants were the tanks of the ancient era: massive, hard to kill, and incredibly dangerous. One of the most famous showdowns involving elephants took place in 326 B.C. when Alexander the Great squared off with India's Porus, a powerful rajah who commanded an army with as many as 200 elephants. Porus' mighty elephants frightened Alexander's horses and put the fear of God into his infantry, but Alexander had a plan. Alexander's strategy was to attack the mahouts (elephant drivers) and then encircle and assault the elephants' underbellies with spears and whatever else they had. The panicked elephants, however, were not amused, and responded by trampling and goring whatever was in their paths. Luckily for Alexander, the confused beasts trampled over as many (or more) Indian troops as Alexander's. In the end, Porus' forces were defeated, but Alexander's troops were severely traumatized by the memory of the thunderous beasts.
The War Elephant is the Indian version of the knight. Though it shares the same attack, defense, and move ratings of the knight, it requires no natural resources to build, whereas knights require both horses and iron. This distinction allows the Indians to easily produce these powerful juggernauts in any city, irrespective of trade networks.
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