Our story begins long,
long ago. In fact, more than 210 million years ago. (One million =
It was a time when
giant dinosaurs ruled the earth. They were the undisputed kings of the
planet for 100 million years. So long was their reign, that we human
beings find it more convenient to count their time period in Eras, rather
than in years or even million years. At that time in the past, the earth
itself did not resemble the planet as we know it now. There existed a huge
land mass, called Pangaea (or as some scientists call it Gondwanaland),
that lay across the sphere, running from the north pole to south pole, of
our infant earth.
The temperatures then
were generally warmer -- allowing plants and animals to live at much
higher northern and southern latitudes. Therefore, dinosaurs roamed across
the land mass, and adapted themselves to live even in the regions near the
About 210 million years
ago, the giant continent Pangaea, began to disintegrate and drift apart.
Where the lands separated, the waters of the ocean rushed in to form new
seas. Over the next 120 million years, the massive pieces of Pangaea
drifted across the oceans of the earth, taking up new positions.
North America and
Europe, which had been a single land mass drifted apart, and the Atlantic
Ocean spread out between then. The African Continent floated lazily for
millions of years, before it joined up with Asia. Gradually, the world
began to assume more of its modern-day appearance.
In the beginning, the
land that was to become India, lay almost at the South Pole of the earth,
tucked in between two other land masses, that would eventually become
Antarctica and Australia.
When the land mass
broke up in the southern regions, Australia was set adrift. So, too, was
the triangular plate, that would eventually become India. This plate of
land floated steadily north, towards the mass of land that would one day
While the continents
were adrift, the dinosaurs achieved the peak of their reign. They had
ruled the earth for million years. But quite abruptly (in terms of the
planet's life span) they disappeared from the face of the earth, never to
be seen again.
The race of creatures
that benefited the most from the disappearance of these terrible
dinosaurs, was a group of tiny rat-like creatures -- the precursors of
mammals and man.
As the floating Indian
sub-continent approached Asia, the sea was forced out. Finally, about 50
million years ago, the two vast land masses met head on. As India rammed
into Asia, there were terrible upheavals on both sides.
On the Asian side, the
land was pushed upwards, creating the high lands of Tibet. On the Indian
side, two giant slabs of rock were pushed up into the sky. These were to
become the mighty Himalayas -- the highest mountains in the world. The
force of collision of the floating land mass was so great that for
millions of years, the land was in upheaval. During this time, the
Himalayas were shaped. The rocks rose upwards and then tumbled aside --
again and again -- as fresh seismic activity shook the newly formed
Finally, the force of
collision of the floating land mass was exhausted. The Himalayas, as we
now know them, had been formed. The remnants of the pre-historic oceans,
that had closed in, were lifted thousands of feet high into the mountains
and became the two great watersheds of the region.
Flowing to the east
were the Ganges and the Brahmaputra. Flowing to the west were the five
rivers, which formed the basin of the Indus Valleys. Along these river
valleys, millions of years later, would grow some of the world's greatest
The sub-continent of
India had been born!