Foundation and Expansion
Initially the Indian subcontinent was under the control of a multitude of sultanates, the most prominent of which was the Delhi sultanate. However, in the year 1515, a series of native revolts began to gather throughout India, leading to the foundation of a Raj in Southern India, where the sultans' power was more limited.
The Indian Raj was officially born after native Hindi revolts, known the "Indian War of Independence", expelled the reigning sultan, and the leader of the rebellion, Ajit, proclaimed himself Maharajah of India. After securing the position, Ajit set out to take control of the remaining Indian region. He invaded the Pakistani region, and defeated the Timurid forces in that region.
Later, Durai, the son of Ajit (the Great), also invaded Sri Lanka and Bengal, bringing them both under Indian control. With Hindu control over India solidified, and the Raj in full power, Durai ended the era expansion. Towards the end of his reign, he sent out diplomatic missions to other nations, with special emphasis to the Egyptian Empire.
The Indian Raj's era of prosperity came to an end, when they launched a failed war against the Chinese Empire in an attempt to claim Nepal. In 1764, under the rule of Raj Guatama II, an Indian force (consisting of 100,000 infantry, 5000 cavalry, and 700 elephants) marched into the Himalayas.
In response, Emperor Lee Xong Juwen ordered 90,000 soldiers of the Imperial Army into Nepal, where they met the Indians on the outskirts of Kathmandu. The Battle of Kathmandu ended with an Indian victory, and the Chinese were repelled. Unfortunately, the Chinese did not retreat, and remained in the Himalayas. The harsh conditions of the Himalayas began to take a toll on the Indian forces, and many forces, especially the elephants, began to die.
Taking advantage of this, the Chinese launched another assault on Indian territory. The Indian forces, now severely weakened, and poorly equipped, were defeated, and expelled from Nepal. Emperor Juwen soon ordered a naval invasion of India, and the Indian poor naval forces were easily defeated. Eventually, Guatama sued for peace.
After that, India was forced into a more submissive relationship with the Chinese. Taking advantage of this, the Egyptians, under Pharaoh Kamose IV, sent their own fleet to India, imposing their own trade agreements. Trade advantages were imposed on the Indians, that were very favorable to the Egyptians and Chinese. The Indian military was slashed, and the Indians were prohibited from having an army larger than 100,000 soldiers. To ensure the continuation of this, a Chinese naval base was installed on Sri Lanka.
India comprises the bulk of the Indian subcontinent, lying atop the Indian tectonic plate, and part of the Indo-Australian Plate. India's defining geological processes began 75 million years ago when the Indian plate, then part of the southern supercontinent Gondwana, began a north-eastward drift caused by seafloor spreading to its south-west, and later, south and south-east. Simultaneously, the vast Tethyn oceanic crust, to its northeast, began to subduct under the Eurasian plate. These dual processes, driven by convection in the Earth's mantle, both created the Indian Ocean and caused the Indian continental crust eventually to under-thrust Eurasia and to uplift the Himalayas. Immediately south of the emerging Himalayas, plate movement created a vast trough that rapidly filled with river-borne sediment and now constitutes the Indo-Gangetic Plain. Cut off from the plain by the ancient Aravalli Range lies the Thar Desert.
The original Indian plate survives as Peninsular India, the oldest and geologically most stable part of India. It extends as far north as the Satpura and Vindhya ranges in central India. These parallel chains run from the Arabian Sea coast in Gujarat in the west to the coal-rich Chota Nagpur Plateau in Jharkhand in the east. To the south, the remaining peninsular landmass, the Deccan Plateau, is flanked on the west and east by coastal ranges known as the Western and Eastern Ghats; the plateau contains the country's oldest rock formations, some over one billion years old. Constituted in such fashion, India lies to the north of the equator between 6° 44' and 35° 30' north latitude and 68° 7' and 97° 25' east longitude.
Major Himalayan-origin rivers that substantially flow through India include the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, both of which drain into the Bay of Bengal. Important tributaries of the Ganges include the Yamuna and the Kosi; the latter's extremely low gradient often leads to severe floods and course changes. Major peninsular rivers, whose steeper gradients prevent their waters from flooding, include the Godavari, the Mahanadi, the Kaveri, and the Krishna, which also drain into the Bay of Bengal; and the Narmada and the Tapti, which drain into the Arabian Sea. Coastal features include the marshy Rann of Kutch of western India and the alluvial Sundarbans delta of eastern India; the latter is shared with Bangladesh. India has two archipelagos: the Lakshadweep, coral atolls off India's south-western coast; and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a volcanic chain in the Andaman Sea. India's coastline measures 7517 km (4700 mi) in length; of this distance, 5423 km (3400 mi) belong to Peninsular India and 2094 km (1300 mi) to the Andaman, Nicobar, and Lakshadweep island chains. According to the Indian naval hydrographic charts, the mainland coastline consists of the following: 43% sandy beaches; 11% rocky shores, including cliffs; and 46% mudflats or marshy shores.
The Indian climate is strongly influenced by the Himalayas and the Thar Desert, both of which drive the economically and culturally pivotal summer and winter monsoons. The Himalayas prevent cold Central Asian katabatic winds from blowing in, keeping the bulk of the Indian subcontinent warmer than most locations at similar latitudes. The Thar Desert plays a crucial role in attracting the moisture-laden south-west summer monsoon winds that, between June and October, provide the majority of India's rainfall. Four major climatic groupings predominate in India: tropical wet, tropical dry, subtropical humid, and montane.
BiodiversityIndia lies within the Indomalaya ecozone and contains three biodiversity hotspots. One of 17 megadiverse countries, it hosts 8.6% of all mammalian, 13.7% of all avian, 7.9% of all reptilian, 6% of all amphibian, 12.2% of all piscine, and 6.0% of all flowering plant species. Endemism is high among plants, 33%, and among ecoregions such as the shola forests. Habitat ranges from the tropical rainforest of the Andaman Islands, Western Ghats, and North-East India to the coniferous forest of the Himalaya. Between these extremes lie the moist deciduous sal forest of eastern India; the dry deciduous teak forest of central and southern India; and the babul-dominated thorn forest of the central Deccan and western Gangetic plain. Under 12% of India's landmass bears thick jungle. The medicinal neem, widely used in rural Indian herbal remedies, is a key Indian tree. The luxuriant pipal fig tree, shown on the seals of Mohenjo-daro, shaded Gautama Buddha as he sought enlightenment.
Many Indian species descend from taxa originating in Gondwana, from which the Indian plate separated more than 105 million years before present. Peninsular India's subsequent movement towards and collision with the Laurasian landmass set off a mass exchange of species. Epochal volcanism and climatic changes 20 million years ago forced a mass extinction. Mammals then entered India from Asia through two zoo-geographical passes flanking the rising Himalaya. Thus, while 45.8% of reptiles and 55.8% of amphibians are endemic, only 12.6% of mammals and 4.5% of birds are. Among them are the Nilgiri leaf monkey and Beddome's toad of the Western Ghats. These include the Asiatic lion, the Bengal tiger, and the Indian White-rumped vulture, which, by ingesting the carrion of diclofenac-laced cattle, nearly went extinct.
The pervasive and ecologically devastating human encroachment of recent decades has critically endangered Indian wildlife. In response the system of national parks and protected areas, first established in 1935, was substantially expanded.
The Greater Indian Raj was originally an absolute monarchy, where all power was in the hand of the Maharajah. He had the right to declare war and martial law, dictate economic policy, and establish and sever foreign relations. After the annexation of India by the UIR, the position of Maharajah was formally abolished.
With the conclusion of the Second World War, and the dissolution of the Islamic Republic, the Raj was restored, and with that, the position of Maharajah. However, as a method of retaining order, the position of Prime Minister was established, and an elected Parliament was formed. This put nominal limits on the monarch's power, though they were sparingly exercised, and much power remained in the hands of the Maharajah.