In the north, the Maurya dynasty, which included Ashoka, contributed greatly to India's cultural landscape. From 180 BC, a series of invasions from Central Asia followed, with the successive establishment in the northern Indian Subcontinent of the Indo-Greek, Indo-Scythian and Indo-Parthian kingdoms, and finally the Kushan Empire. From the 3rd century AD onwards the Gupta dynasty oversaw the period referred to as ancient India's "Golden Age". In the south, several dynasties including the Chalukyas, Cheras, Cholas, Kadambas, Pallavas and Pandyas prevailed during different periods.
During the middle of the second millennium, several European countries, including the Portuguese, Dutch, French and British, who were initially interested in trade with India, took advantage of fractured kingdoms fighting each other to establish colonies in the country.
In the early part of the 20th century, a prolonged and largely non-violent struggle for independence, the Indian independence movement, followed, to be eventually led by Mahatma Gandhi, regarded officially as the father of modern India. The culmination of this path-breaking struggle was reached on 1947-08-15 when India gained full independence from British rule, later becoming a republic on 1950-01-26.
India has unresolved border disputes with China, which escalated into a brief war in 1962, and Pakistan which resulted in wars in 1947, 1965, and 1971, and a border altercation in the northern state of Kashmir in 1999. India was a founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement and the United Nations. In 1974, India conducted an underground nuclear test, making it an unofficial member of the "nuclear club", which was followed up with a series of five more tests in 1998.
The Sanchi stupa in Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh built by emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC
'The Wheel of Konark'. The Sun Temple at Konark, Orissa built in the 13th century, is one of the most famous monuments of stone sculpture in the world.
The Brihadisvara Temple or "Big temple" in Tanjavore was built by the chola emperor Raja Raja Chola in the 10th century AD.