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INDIA… IN THE VERY BEGINNING - How the Indian Subcontinent
The first Indians
Probably, a million
years ago, a group of wandering primitive men and women -- on the move --
looking for newer hunting grounds, stumbled upon a pass high in the
mountains. As they wandered into the richly forested valleys on the other
side of the mountains, they came upon a land with an abundance of animal
life and plenty of water.
For thousands of years,
they lived on these plains, hunting deer and other wild creatures. They
lived -- at first -- in caves. In time, they decorated the walls of their
caves with the scenes of their hunts. Bhimbetka -- in Madhya Pradesh -- is
one of the most famous caves, painted by early caveman in India. These
cavemen hunted bison and pigs. They used stone tools to skin their prey.
Implements such as choppers and scrapers are found in the Narmada Valley
and as far south as Madras.
The tribes that had
wandered into the Indian sub-continent, were relatively at peace and hence
could progress far more than the wandering-warring tribes north of the
Himalayas. These mountains, stood like sentinels, allowing passage only
through the high passes, like the Khyber and Bolan.
Left in peace, the next
great change came about 60,000 years ago. The clans of hunters on the
plains began to settle in groups around the many rivers of India. They had
already developed a vast range of all the basic tools required for
hunting. These tools are found at sites in Karwar (Karnataka) and the
Narmada Valley. Living near the rivers, they discovered the secrets of
agriculture. To help them to grow crops, they perfected a different set of
instruments. They acquired the skill of grinding and polishing stone
implements to make sickles and axes. Later, they made baskets and pots.
The Early Indian
The little villages of
ancient India got better organized. Earliest historical evidence of
advance civilization are available from about 6500 BC from Mehargarh (8000
years). About 5,000 years ago, the land was dotted with numerous large
villages and towns. Their remains have been found from Shimla to Madras.
But the most famous of these cities are Mohenjo-daro and Harappa of the
Indus River Valleys. Although Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, were 350 miles
apart, the cities had learned to trade and communicate using an efficient
river boat system. These, and the other marvels of the civilization, were
due to ten centuries of relative peace.
The cities had streets
laid out in grid fashion. Courtyards surrounded the houses of the wealthy.
There was a system of water supply and a separate drainage system. The
nobles used a magnificent public bathhouse. A system of written language
existed, but it is un-deciphered, till today. They left behind many sets
of terra-cotta seals, depicting bulls, elephants, rhinos and mythical
They made two distinct
contributions to subsequent civilizations -- the discovery of cotton and
the taming of the jungle fowl. They had a flourishing trade with the
Persian Gulf, from a port that they maintained at the mouth of the Indus.
The crews used a "compass bird" -- a crow that would fly, when released,
towards the nearest point of land.