Greater India

The Indian subcontinent has been occupied by humans for an extremely long time, and its history is exceedingly complex. Never in all history has absolutely all of what might be considered Indian territory been unified under a single authority; the British Raj (1878-1948) has perhaps come closer than any other in this regard. Modern India, while not covering all the territory of its predecessor, is nevertheless a powerful and influential state, not only in Asia but in the world at large.

GREATER INDIAA general survey of empires spanning much, if not all, of the subcontinent of southern Asia. Local states will be found below, in their own section.

LOCAL STATES A small sampling of some of the vast number of local polities to have dotted the landscape of southern Asia. The area covered here includes the modern nations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan. Ceylon and the Maldive Islands are located on a separate page.

AHMADNAGAR A successor state to the Deccan Sultanate.

ANJUVANNAM (Shingly) A "pocket principality" in Cranganore, on the Malabar Coast of southern India. Anjuvannam was created by a grant from Bhaskara Ravivarman II, the Chera Emperor of Kerala, to Joseph Rabban, the leader of the exceedingly ancient Malabari Jewish community. The grant was engraved on a set of copper plates, extant to this day, which forms a charter of royal privileges for Kerala's Jews. Some have postulated that Anjuvannam was not a traditional territorial principality, but rather an extraterritorial principality to which all the Jews of Kerala belonged (akin to the authority of the Resh Galuta in the Muslim world). ARCOT A town strategically placed on the route between Madras and Bangalore, in southern India. The district was the scene of much fighting in the 17th and 18th centuries between local Moslems, Marathas, British,  and French forces. ASSAM Extreme northeastern India, a rough triangle bounded by Bangladesh, Bhutan / Tibet, and Burma. This region was the largest supplier of tea to the British Empire during the days of the Raj. AVUKU A minor state in the southern Deccan, south-central India, about equidistant between Hyderabad to the north and Bangalore to the south. AWADH (Oudh) An extensive province in Northern India, between the Ganges and Nepal, and encompassing the cities of Benares, Cawnpore, and Lucknow. Just over the edge of Awadh's northeastern frontier with Nepal is the site of the ancient Sakya district, birthplace of Gautama Buddha. BAHAWALPUR A city in central Pakistan, about 75 miles from the Indian frontier; the Nawabs (Governors, were effectively independent from the middle of the 18th century. BALUCHISTANBounded by Iran, Afghanistan, India, and the Indian Ocean. To British India 1875-1948. BARODA A city near the northern edge of the west coast, just east of the Bay of Cambay and the Kathiawar Peninsula. A Maratha stronghold in the 18th century. BENGAL (Bangladesh) In the northeast corner of the subcontinent, along the coast, and involving the vast delta region associated with the Ganges and Brahmaputra River systems. BERAR A successor state to the Deccan Sultanate. BHATGAON In central Nepal, a separate Malla state during the centuries of fragmentation. BHUTANA Himalayan Kingdom east of Nepal, and northwest of Assam. BIDAR A successor state to the Deccan Sultanate. BIJAPUR A successor state to the Deccan Sultanate. It was from here that the Marathas first established a revitalized Hindu state, in the 17th century. BIKANER A city and district in western India, within the Great Thar Desert, roughly 220 miles (350 km.) west of Delhi and about 60 miles (95 km.) east of the Pakistani border. The BRITISH EAST INDIA COMPANY Not a nation as such, but "merely" a corporate entity, the EIC nevertheless controlled during it's heyday more territory than some empires. Incorporated on December 31, 1600 as The Governor and Company of Merchants trading with the East Indies, it began as a private monopoly to take advantage of spice trading in southeast Asia after the weakening of Hispano-Portuguese monopolies following the defeat of the Armada in 1588. The company quickly became enmeshed in conflict with the Dutch East India Company, and were driven out of Indonesia by them, while gaining a strong foothold in India. Expanding it's power in India over the course of the 18th century, the peak of it's authority was reached between 1757-1773. In the late 18th century, the British government exerted more direct control over company affairs, and it's commercial monopoly was removed in 1813. From 1834 it was converted into the managerial authority through which the British government wielded power in India. After the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, Great Britain took full political authority in India unto itself, and the Company was formally dissolved in 1873. The following list details the Governors-General of the Company, a position of supreme authority over the three Indian Presidencies created in 1773 by the Regulating Act, the first movement by Britain to rope in "John Company". CANNANORE A port in southwestern India, a few miles north of Pondicherry. The region was inhabited by large numbers of Mopla Muslims, but is also a well-known temple site for Hindus. Economically, the district is famous for its sophisticated weaving industry. CHITTAGONG A port city and surrounding district, comprising the southeastern panhandle of Bangladesh extending away from the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta. COCHIN A coastal district in far southwestern India, about 150 miles (240 km.) northwest of Cape Comorin. DELHI An important Sultanate in north-central India; significant as (at times) a large imperial state acting as a buffer between Mongol and Timurid aggression toward the rest of India. GOA A port and district on the west coast of India, retaining an unusual blend of Indian and Portuguese culture. This was the center and capital of Portuguese Asia and during the hetday of the Portuguese Empire in the 16th century it was of great power and influence in southern Asia generally. GOLKONDA A Deccan state within east-central India. GUJARAT A region in western India bounded by Kutch to the west and Malwa to the east, with the Arabian Sea around the Kathiawar Peninsula extending across its southwestern flank. It is largely an agricultural district, but well-known for distinctive architectural styles and important crafts. The Gujaratis have had an outward-looking sea-faring tradition for millennia, and even today natives of Gujarat or descendents of Gujaratis form a larger than average percentage of Indians living abroad. Ghandi came from Gujarat - he was born in Porbandar, a seacoast town on the southwest flank of the Kathiawar Peninsula. GURKHA A town in west-central Nepal, about 47 miles (75 km.) west-northwest of Katmandu. This district, noted for it's pugnacious warriors, produced the leaders who reunified Nepal after the era of Malla fragmentation, and is also the source of Great Britain's famed Gurkha mercenary corps. GWADAR (Gawadar) A port city in extreme southwestern Pakistan, on the Baluchistani coast about 45 miles (72 km.) from the Iranian frontier. An Omani possession during much of the 1800's and early 1900's. GWALIORAn important fortress and city in central India, about 160 miles (250 km.) south-southeast of Delhi. During the latter 18th century, the rulers of Gwalior were perhaps the most powerful among native Indian Princes, controlling for a time Delhi itself. HYDERABAD In south-central India, the largest of the raj principalities. By Indian standards, the capital is a very young city, having been established in 1590. INDORE A city and district in central India, a Maratha stronghold. It is very young by Indian standards, having been established as a trade market and temple complex only in the early 18th century. JAIPUR A city in western India, 135 miles (215 km.) southwest of Delhi. JAISALMER A city in western India, within the Thar desert about 70 miles (110 km.) from the Pakistani frontier. Founded in the 12th century as a Rajput fort and caravanserai, it is noted for it's libraries and archives, and for the rich golden-coloured stone that its walls and towers are constructed of. JAUNPUR A large but ultimately ephemeral state in the Ganges watershed, based on the city of Jaunpur, north of Benares. JODHPUR A city on the edge of the Great Thar desert, in western India, roughly 350 miles (560 km.) southwest of Delhi, and approximately 180 miles (290 km.) east of the Pakistani frontier. KASHMIR  This state is located HERE.

KATMANDU In central Nepal, it's largest city and since 1768 the capital. During the centuries of fragmentation during Malla rule, Katmandu was a separate Kingdom.

KERALA An Indian state located along the southwestern coast of the subcontinent, from Mangalore in the north to Trivandrum in the south, and including such locales as Cannanore, Pondicherry, Calicut, and Cochin. The region is very ancient, and because of its geographic situation has seen a great many diverse influence not encountered elsewhere in India - it is here that St. Thomas is reputed to have travelled, a Jewish colony was established at Cranganore in the 1st century CE, and this is where Portuguese and later Dutch explorers first landed in India. KOLHAPUR A Marathan state within central India. KUTCH A district on the coastal portion of the India/Pakistan frontier, to a large extent involving an extensive salt-flats (the Great Rann of Kutch) adjacent to the Gulf of Kutch, an arm of the Arabian Sea extending toward Gujarat. At the time of Alexander's invasion (4th century BCE) the Rann was a shallow but navigable lake, but subsequent centuries of silting have made a mud flat of it, and settlement within the Rann is limited to what hills are present. LADAKH This Tibetan state is located HERE.

LAHORE In north-central Pakistan, about 20 miles from the Indian frontier. This place is the source for the fabled Koh-I-Noor diamond, once a possession of the Royal Family, and now one of the chief Crown Jewels of Great Britain.

MADURAI A city in the far south of India, roughly 130 miles (210 km.) north of the tip of Comorin Cape. MAGADHA An ancient kingdom in east-central India, in modern Bihar state. Comprising the vast Ganges plain to the west of Bengal, Magadha has been the core of several Indian Empires, and it's territory has been the scene of a great deal of Indian historical and cultural experience. MAHARASHTRA The bulk of the central Indian plateau, with a very long and complex history. Here is a general framework for recent states in the region. MALWA An Indo-Aryan kingdom in west-central India - the tableland to the north of the Vindhya Range. MANIPUR A region, now a State of India, located in the far northeast - it is bordered by Assam to the west, Nagaland to the north, and Burma to the east and south. It is a hilly country, and difficult to access - the dominant people here are the Meithei, a folk related to Tibetans and Burmese. The MARATHA CONFEDERACY The Marathas (Mahratta) are a people of central India, primarily Maharashtra State. A vigourous and often turbulent folk, they are best known outside India today as the impetus behind the Hindu revival which occured in the latter 17th century under Sivaji the Great, who carved a state out of Mughal territory in western Maharashtra. The movement extended itself to many parts of India in the ensuing generation, but real political unity was proved impossible to create. As a response, Sivaji's grandson Shahu I granted considerable authority to the Bhat family as hereditary Prime Ministers (Peshwas) and proceeded with Peshwa control of Marathan armies to expand his power base and that of other maratha associate states. After Shahus death in 1749, the Peshwas were the effective rulers of the confederation. MATHURA A Saka (Scythian) successor state of remote Dahae descent, located slightly to the south of Delhi. MULTAN An exceedingly ancient city in the Punjab. In ancient times Multan was known as "The House of Gold" and was the main religious center for a popular Indian solar cult centered around the god Aditya. MUSTANG An isolated vale athwart the edge of the Himalayas, astride the modern frontier between Nepal and Tibet. It has been for a very long while a sub-Kingdom under the nominal tutelege of more powerful states in the area. MYSORE A large and important city and district in the extreme south of India, about 90 miles (145 km.) east of the Malabar Coast. NAGPUR A Marathan state within central India. NEPAL A landlocked state athwart the southern Himalayas, the last remaining Hindu Kingdom. ORISSA A province in eastern India, located on the Bay of Bengal between the delta of the Ganges and Bramhaputra floodplain to the northeast, and the Hyderabad region to the southwest. The area has for a very long time been a primary center of Hindu art and culture. PATAN A town in central Nepal, nowadays Lalitapur, just south of Katmandu. During the centuries of Malla fragmentation, it became a separate state. PATIALA A young city (founded 1762) about 140 miles (175 km.) north-northwest of New Delhi and roughly 100 miles (160 km.) southeast of the Pakistani frontier. PHATLAN A state in Maharashtra region of India. PONDICHERRY A city and enclave on the Carnatic coast of southeastern India, the chief French stronghold on the subcontinent. PUNJAB Region in the NW of the Indian subcontinent. Since 1947 it has been separated into an Indian state and a Pakistani province bearing the same name. The Indus River bounds the region in part of the west and the Yamuna River in part of the east. Punjab was one of the early centers of Indian civilization; more recently it has become the heartland of the Sikh community. See also Sind, for a closely related district. SAKYA An ancient tribal kingdom in the Himalayan foothills, along the Indian-Nepalese border. Its capital was Kapilavatthu (located about 5 miles (8 km.) inside Nepal, in the southeast corner of modern Lumbini Province). It is best known as the birthplace of the Buddha. SATAVAHANA A Dravidian kingdom in the Deccan plain of central India, centered mostly around the Andhra Pradesh region. At its height in the first century CE it dominated most of southern India. It's dynasts were noted as patrons of advanced literature and architecture, but the state suffered and ultimately collapsed from almost continuous internecine warfare with it's neighbours. Note that the dates of these rulers, and in some instances even the order in which they appear, is in some disarray - in researching this dynasty, I seldom found two lists that agreed at any particular instance. SAURASHTRA A district within south-central Gujarat, comprising the greater part of the Kathiawar Peninsula, with the city of Rajkot as its center. The SIKHS A religious movement  which began in the 15th century, and now has about 18 million followers. It was started as a response to both Hinduism and Islam, and attempted a working syncretism between the two faiths. Persecuted by both, and outlawed in Mughal times, the Sikh community traveled north into the hills of the Punjab, where the greatest number of them still live. They continued to be the object of hostlity and persecution, and gradually a martial life-style emerged as a means of defending their communities. SIKKIMA small Himalayan vale nestled between Nepal and Bhutan. SINDH Occupying the frontier zone between India and Pakistan, this is the land adjacent to the Indus River and the Thar Desert. It is, in fact, one of the oldest inhabited regions on earth, and hosted one of the worlds great pre-classical civilizations. Today it includes the cities of Karachi (former capital and still the largest city in Pakistan) and Hyderabad (not to be confused with the city in central India of the same name). See also Punjab, for a closely related district. Further Emirs of Khairpur... SOUTHERN INDIAThe southern portion of the subcontinent has often followed a different course of development than the center and north. Here the non-Aryan Dravidians retreated, and here have been the loci of several large and powerful states. Currently, this listing memorializes the last two. SUREN This Parthian dependency, located in much of what is now Pakistan, northeastern India, southern Afghanistan, and eastern Iran, is now placed among other SCYTHIAN groups.

TANJORE (Thanjavur) A city and district in far southern India, about 50 miles (80 km.) west of the French enclave and port of Karaikal.

UDAIPUR In western India, about 200 miles (320 km.) northeast of the Kathiawar Peninsula. **************************************************

To Central Asia pt. 1 (Western Central Asia)

To Central Asia pt. 2 (Eastern Central Asia)

To Central Asia pt. 3 (Southern Central Asia)

To Iran

To Southeast Asia

To Sri Lanka

Return to Regnal Chronologies