Indian History for Competitive Exams

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Indian History

Indian History is an essential part of the syllabus of various national and state-level competitive exams. From the Awadh History to the Mughal Empire and the advent of British India, the glorious history of Indian revolutions and movements is filled with many remarkable events. So, to help you cover the expansive concepts covered in this topic, here are the notes and summary of Indian history for competitive exams.

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Anglo-Maratha War

One of the most important events in Indian history, the Anglo Maratha War covers the events of the conflict between Marathas and Britishers. Balaji Baji Rao was the third Peshwa to die in the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761, following the defeat of the Marathas. He was succeeded by his son, Madhav Rao. While Raghunath Rao, Balaji Baji Rao’s brother, became the next Peshwa. The British fought the first war with the Marathas after the death of Madhav Rao in 1772. Here is the summary of events that happened during the Anglo-Maratha war to help you understand this crucial phase of Indian history:

  • After the death of Madhavrao I, there was a conflict in the Maratha camp. Narayanrao was on his way to become the Peshwa, however, his uncle Raghunathrao desired to become the Peshwa too. 
  • Therefore, after the interference of English, the Surat Treaty was signed in the year 1775. As per the treaty, Raghunathrao gave 2500 soldiers to the English in exchange of Salsette and Bassein.
  • Under Warren Hastings, the British Calcutta Council annulled this treaty and the Purandar Treaty was concluded in 1776 between the Calcutta Council and a Maratha minister, Nana Phadnavis.
  • Consequently, a pension was only awarded to Raghunathrao and the British retained Salsette.
  • But Bombay’s British establishment breached this treaty and shielded Raghunathrao.
  • In 1777, Nana Phadnavis went against his treaty with the Calcutta Council and granted a port on the western coast to the French.
  • It led the British to send a force to Pune. There was a battle at Wadgaon near Pune in which the Marathas under Mahadji Shinde claimed a decisive victory over the English.
  • In 1779, the English were compelled to sign the Wadgaon Treaty.
  • At the end of the Anglo-Maratha wars, the Treaty of Salbai was concluded in 1782 which created an eventful landmark in the Indian history.

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Growth of Trade under the Mughal Empire

The rise of Mughal Empire is also a critical juncture in Indian history and you might encounter many questions related to the Mughal Empire in the competitive exams. Take a look at the major pointers you should know about how the advent of Mughal Empire led to the growth of import and export in India:

  • There were large numbers of Indian trading groups spread throughout the region. These included, Long-distance traders Seth and Bohra; Banik- Local merchants; Banjaras who often travelled long distances with their goods on the back of oxen, another class of traders who specialised in transporting bulk goods. Also, bulk goods were brought on boats across rivers.
  • Hindus, Jains and Muslims were among the Gujarati merchants while Oswals, Maheshwaris, and Agarwals came to be called the Marwaris in Rajasthan.
  • In South India, the most significant trading societies were on the coast of Coromandel, The Chettis, The Muslim Malabar Merchants, etc. Bengal-Sugar, rice as well as delicate muslin and silk were exported.
  • Gujarat, from where fine textiles and silk were taken to northern India, was an entry point for foreign goods. Certain metals such as metals were the main imports into India. Copper and tin, Warhorses and warhorses, Luxury pieces, including ivory, Gold and silver imports are balanced by trade.

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Art and Architecture under the Mughal Empire

A plethora of Indian historic monuments got built during the reign of the Mughals and became an essential part of the Indian history. Here is a summary of the popular arts and architecture under the Mughal Empire which you must study for Indian history for competitive exams:

  • They were fond of laying gardens with flowing water for the Mughals. Some of the gardens of the Mughals are in Kashmir’s Nishat Bagh, Lahore’s Shalimar Bagh and the Garden of Pinjore in Punjab.
  • During Sher Shah’s reign, the mausoleum at Sasaram in Bihar and the Purana Qila near Delhi were built.
  • With the dawn of Akbar, construction of buildings on a broad scale began. Many forts were designed by him and the most prominent was the Fort of Agra. It was made out of red sandstone. His other strongholds are in Lahore and Allahabad.
  • The famous Red Fort in Delhi was built by Shah Jahan with its Rang Mahal, Diwan-i-Am and Diwan-i-Khaswaswaswas
  • A palace cum fort complex at Fatehpur Sikri was also built by Akbar (City of Victory).
  • Many Gujarati and Bengali-style buildings are also found in this complex.
  • For his Rajput mothers, Gujarati style buildings were possibly constructed.
  • The most majestic structure in it is the Jama Masjid and the entrance to it, known as Buland Darwaza or the Lofty Gate.
  • The height of the gateway is 176 feet. It was designed to commemorate Akbar’s victory over Gujarat.
  • Jodha Bai’s palace and the five-storey Panch Mahal are other important buildings in Fatehpur Sikri.
  • The Humayun tomb was built in Delhi during Akbar’s rule, and it had a huge dome of marble.
  • The predecessor of the Taj Mahal can be considered.
  • Akbar’s tomb was completed by Jahangir at Sikandra, near Agra.
  • The tomb of Itmad Daulah in Agra was constructed by Nur Jahan.
  • It was entirely made of white marble, with floral designs on the walls made of semi-precious stones. During the reign of Shah Jahan, this method became more popular.
  • Built by Shah Jahan, Taj Mahal is considered amongst the seven wonders in history. For its construction, the Pietra Dura process was used on a wide scale. It contains all of the architectural forms that the Mughals created. The Taj’s chief glory is the wide dome and four slender minarets which its decor is kept minimalistic. 

Awadh History

Now that we have explored the Mughal Empire and the colonial rule, let’s also explore the artistic and aesthetically rich Awaadh history of India during which many renowned Indian poets were born and the most beautiful aspects of Indian literature was written. On the other hand, this part of Indian history was also filled with many conflicts as explained below.

  • Awadh was northern India’s historic region, now the north-eastern portion of the state of Uttar Pradesh. It took its name from the Kingdom of Ayodhya, the capital of Kosala, and became part of the Mughal Empire in the 16th century. 
  • In 1800, the British subjugated themselves as part of their empire. Awadh’s Suba became independent in A.D. In 1722, Muhammad Sha, the Mughal Emperor, appointed a Persian Shia called Saadat Khan as the governor of Awadh. 
  • Saadat Khan helped to overthrow the Sayyid brothers. Saadat Khan was deputed by the king to negotiate with Nadir Shah so that he could desist from destroying the city and return to his country for payment of a large sum of money. When Nadir Shah failed to get the promised amount of money, his anger was felt by the people of Delhi. He had ordered a general slaughter. Saadat Khan committed suicide because of humiliation and shame.
  • Safdar Jang, who was also named Wazir of the Mughal Empire, was the next Nawab of Awadh. He was succeeded by Shujauddaullah, his uncle. A strong army was organised by the Awadh king, which consisted of Muslims and Hindus, Naga and Sanyasis as well. The Awadh ruler’s authority extended to Rohilkhand, territory east of Delhi. A large number of Afghans from the mountain ranges of the northwestern frontier, called the Rohillas, settled in it. 

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Here is a summary of the famous Awadh Nawabs in the Indian history:

  1. Saadat Khan Burhan-ul-Mulk (AD 1722-1739): As an autonomous state, he established Awadh in AD 1722. During the invasion of Nadir Shah, he was named governor by the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah and played a very important role in imperial affairs. He committed suicide for the sake of name and honour.
  2. Safdar Jung/Adbdul Mansur (AD 1739-1754): Saadat Khan, who took part in the Battle of Manpur against Ahmed Shah Abdali, was the son-in-law of Saadat Khan (AD 1748).
  3. Shuja-ud-daula (AD 1754-1775): Son of Safdar Jung, he was an ally of Ahmed Shah Abdali of Afghanistan. By defeating Rohillas with the aid of the British, he annexed Rohilkhnad to Awadh in Ad 1774.
  4. Asaf-ud-daula: He was famous for promoting the culture of Lucknow and constructed important monuments such as Imambara and Rumi Darwaza. He concluded the Faizabad (AD 1755) treaty with the British.
  5. Wajid Ali Shah: He was widely called as Jaan-i-Alam and Akhtarpiya, and the last king of Awadh, but the British Lord Dalhousie was annexed on the grounds of misgovernance. With performers like the Kalka-Binda brothers of classical music and dance styles, he was spotted in his court.
Video Courtesy: Amit Sengupta, YouTube

Important Questions on Indian History

Here are the most important questions on Indian history for competitive exams:

  • When were the first Anglo-Maratha wars fought?
  • When was the Treaty of Salbai signed?
  • The second Anglo-Maratha war was fought between?
  • When was the Treaty of Rajput Garh signed?
  • Who was Baji Rao II?
  • When was the Battle of Plassey fought?
  • What did Mir Bakshi look after under Akbar’s rule?
  • Who pronounced the theory of economic drain during British Imperialism?
  • Who signed the treaty of Mangalore?
  • What was Todar Mal associated with?

We hope that this blog covered the necessary topics for Indian history to help you with your competitive exams. Want to pursue a degree in History? Our Leverage Edu experts are here to help you select the right program and university as per your interests and preferences! Sign up for a free session right away!

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