By Ian Heath, Michael Perry

The start of the nineteenth century observed the increase of a striking Sikh chief within the Punjab province of north-west India. Unifying the feudal rulers less than his authority, the conquering Maharaja Ranjit Singh pursued campaigns of growth for almost forty years, developing for the aim a brand new standard military at the Western version. His loss of life in 1839 stumbled on the frontiers of Sikh and British energy in disagreement; within the 1840s the inevitable trial of energy introduced British crown and East India corporation troops into conflict opposed to the main bold Indian military they ever confronted. Its tale is advised right here in interesting aspect, illustrated with infrequent early work and with vibrant reconstructions of Punjabi usual infantrymen and feudal warriors.

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Travel on to Madhya Pradesh through Varanasi, detouring south past tiger- and leopard-inhabited Bandhavgarh National Park to Jabalpur, for a boat cruise along the Narmada River gorge. Take a side trip to Kanha National Park for another decent chance of spotting tigers. Next, break east for Bhopal, a surprising city that is rising above its tragic past. From here, you can detour to well-preserved Buddhist ruins at Sanchi and prehistoric painted caves at Bhimbetka. Next, trundle southeast to Indore for detours to the Mughal and Afghan ruins at Mandu, the Hindu temples of Ujjain and the holy island of Omkareshwar.

An eastern branch of the Chalukyas, with its capital at Kalyani in Karnataka, rose and ruled again from 972 to 1190. In the far south, the Pallavas pioneered Dravidian architecture with its exuberant, almost baroque, style. The surviving architectural high points of Pallava rule are to be found in the Shore Temple and Five Rathas in Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram), the temples of the erstwhile Pallava capital at Kanchipuram and the Rock Fort Temple at Trichy (Tiruchirappalli;). The south’s prosperity was based on long-established trading links with other civilisations, among them the Egyptians and Romans.

Over thousands of years, an urban culture began to emerge from these tribes, particularly from 3500 BC. By 2500 BC large cities were well established, the focal points of what became known as the Harappan culture, which would flourish for more than 1000 years. The great cities of the Mature Harappan period were Moenjodaro and Harappa in present-day Pakistan, and Lothal near Ahmedabad. Lothal can be visited and from the precise, carefully laid-out street plan, some sense of this sophisticated 4500-year-old civilisation is still evident.

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