India and South Asia 1215 CE

India has entered a new phase in its history as Muslim states establish themselves over much of the north.

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What is happening in India and South Asia in 1215CE

India has entered a new phase in its history as Muslim states establish themselves over much of the north.

From 1000 onwards, Mahmud of Ghazna, a Muslim ruler in central Asia, conducted many raids into India and conquered the Punjab.  After Mahmud’s death, and his successors’ defeat by the Seljuqs (1040), the Ghaznavids shifted their power-base to the Punjab, the vanguard of a Muslim invasion of the sub-continent.

The Rajput princes of northern India held off the Muslim invaders for a time, but their resistance was hampered by continual fighting amongst themselves. In due course, several Muslim sultanates established themselves in the north, the Sultanate of Delhi being the most powerful.

In the Deccan, the large Chalukya kingdom broke up into several large states at the end of the 12th century. In south India, the Chola kingdom renewed its expansion in dramatic style in the closing decades of the 10th century. They conquered territory both within India and overseas, with expeditions to Sri Lanka and even (according to their records) as far afield as South East Asia. By the early 13th century, however, Chola dominance of southern India is being challenged by other powers, in particular the resurgent Pandya dynasty.

The coming of alien Muslim armies into India seems to have completed the decline of Buddhism in its Indian homeland. It also seems to have started a process whereby Hindus emphasised certain features of their faith, the better to differentiate themselves from the Muslim newcomers. One of these features was caste. From now on, the caste system seems to have started becoming increasingly rigid. This process would continue for several centuries.

Next map: India and South Asia in 1453

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