Indian History in Chronological Order: Important Dates 

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 13th, 2023

History is the study of past events. The word ‘History’ is derived from the Greek word ‘historia’, which means research, inquiry or investigation. Therefore, knowledge acquired through the investigation is known as ‘historia’. The task of a historian is to describe the past as it was!


Indian History in Chronological Order: Important Dates 

In decoding the past events, a system of dating is fundamental. Therefore, a method of dating was developed as BC and AD.

BC is an acronym of ‘Before Christ’ (Before the birth of Christ). So, the years before the birth of Jesus is known as ‘Before Christ’. Eg. Gautama Buddha was born in 563 BC and died in 483 BC.

The AD is described as ‘Anno Domini’, a Latin phrase meaning ‘in the year of the Lord’.  Eg. Hazrat Muhammad was born in 570AD and died in 632 AD.


History is divided into two periods: Pre-historic and Historic. The period that has no written evidence is called the Pre-Historic Period and the period that have written proof is known as the Historic Period.

In practice, the tripartite division is more prevalent. According to this, History is divided into three periods: Pre-Historic, Proto-Historic and Historic.

  1. Pre-Historic (30,00,000 BC – 2,500BC): The period for which no written evidence is available, e.g. Lithic (Stone) Period.
  2. Proto-Historic Period (2,500BC-600BC): This is the period for which evidence is available but either their script has not been deciphered, or written documents have not been confirmed in the archaeological evidence. Eg. Indus Valley Civilization and Vedic Culture.
  3. Historic Period: (600 BC till date): The period for which written evidence is available, e.g. Mahajanapada Period to Till Date.

Christoph Cellarius, a German Historian, gave the tripartite division and divided the three periods as Ancient, Medieval and Modern History. This division has become standard.

Therefore, for the convenience, Indian History is divided as per the Standard division.

Ancient India (the beginning-647AD)

From Lithic (Stone) to death of Harsha

Medieval India (647-1757AD)

From the end of Harsha to the Battle of Plassey

Modern India (1757- till date)

From the Battle of Plassey to contemporary

Note: Based on tools found in the excavation, Pre-Historic Period is further divided into three sub-periods – Lithic (Stone) period, Copper Period and Iron Period.

Let us further see classify each Period :

Ancient India

Pre-Historic Period


Indus Civilization

2500 BC-1750 BC

Vedic Culture


Mahajanapada Period


Maurya Period


Post-Maurya/Pre-Gupta Period


Gupta Period


Post-Gupta Period/Vardhana Dynasty


 Medieval Period

Early Medieval Period

647-1206 AD

Sultanate Period


Mughal Period


 Modern Period

Stages of British Colonialism

First Phase(1757-1813)

The Mercantile Phase

The monopoly of trade and Direct appropriation of revenue

Second Phase (1813-1858)

The industrial Phase

Period of Lassez Fair, i.e. Free Trade

Third Phase(1860-1947)

The Financial Phase

Finance Imperialism(the period of British capital Investment in India)

British Policy towards the Native State of India

Ring Fence Policy


Subordinate Isolation Policy


Subordinate Union Policy


Equal Federation Policy


National Movement

First Phase of Congress (1885-1905)

Moderate Phase

Second Phase of Congress (1905-1917)

Extremist Phase

Third Phase of Congress (1917-1947)

Gandhian Phase

Note: The Indian timeline takes us on a journey of the History of the subcontinent, i.e. including Bangladesh, Pakistan. Pre-Independence Indian Archaeological excavations contributed significantly in deducing these timelines. While framing the timeline, many sources are taken into account such as Literary sources, Indigenous sources, foreign travel accounts etc.

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