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Ashoka's empire

Ashoka's empire

Bhadrachalam history dates back to ancient, even mythological times. The town of Bhadrachalam, situated on the banks of the Godavari River, has an important Rama temple and a paper mill. It is close to the Dhandakaranya forest, and Hindus believe that it is from here that Ravana kidnapped Sita and took her to Lanka.

Temple History

The idols in the temple of Bhadrachalam are old. The great saint Ramdas, known as Bhadrachalam Ramdas or Gopanna, built the present temple in 1630 CE. Gopanna was the thasildar or revenue official for the region and spent the revenue collected in building the temple. For this crime, he was imprisoned in the Golconda Fort. Later, he was released as the amount he `misappropriated’ had been replenished by Lord Rama himself. There are many other legends associated with this place.


Bhadrachalam is so known as the temple is situated atop the Bhadragiri Hill. Because the saint Bhadra performed austerities here, Lord Vishnu is said to have appeared here in the form of Rama along with Sita and Lakshmana. The main idols in the sanctum sanctorum depict this appearance of the Lord.

From Bhadrachalam one can visit the place where Lord Rama built a hut for himself and Sita and Lakshmana. The place where Jatayu, the bird, fell and waited for Rama is also close by.

The first temple at Bhadrachalam was built by Pokala Dammakka. She is supposed to have dreamt of the existence of the idols and found them in the forest. She then cleared the land around the idols and built a small temple where she worshipped the idols. This is the mythological story behind the origin of this temple at Bhadrachalam. The idols are believed to be self-manifested ones, not created by man.

Muslim Influence

Under the Nizam of Hyderabad, this temple was patronized by the Muslim ruler. The upkeep of the temple was out of the funds collected by the thasildar of the area. This feature of Hindu-Muslim unity at this temple is a record that is rare in India. The first Nizam to patronize this temple was Nawab Tanishah. He started the tradition of sending pearls to the deities each year. This tradition is still continued by the present state government.

This temple is indeed testimony to the patronage of Hindu temples by Muslim rulers. This patronage forms part of the unique history of this great temple and the beautiful icons present there in.

The people of India have had a continuous civilization since 2500 B.C. when the inhabitants of the Indus River Valley developed an urban culture based on commerce and sustained by agricultural trade. This civilization declined around 1500 B.C. probably due to ecological changes.

During the second millennium B.C. pastoral Aryan-speaking tribes migrated from the northwest into the subcontinent. As they settled in the middle Ganges River Valley they adapted to antecedent cultures.

The political map of ancient and medieval India was made up of myriad kingdoms with fluctuating boundaries. The first great empire in India was the Maurya empire in Northern India. Chandragupta Maurya expanded and strengthened the empire, defeating Alexander the Great's successor Selecus. The greatest king of the Maurya empire was his grandson Ashoka, who embraced and propagated Buddhism. In the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. northern India was unified under the Gupta Dynasty. During this period known as India's Golden Age Hindu culture and political administration reached new heights.

Islam spread across the subcontinent over a period of 500 years. In the 10th and 11th centuries Turks and Afghans invaded India and established sultanates in Delhi. In the early 16th century descendants of Genghis Khan swept across the Khyber Pass and established the Mughal (Mogul) Dynasty which lasted for 200 years. From the 11th to the 15th centuries southern India was dominated by Hindu Chola and Vijayanagar Dynasties. During this time the two systems--the prevailing Hindu and Muslim--mingled leaving lasting cultural influences on each other.

The first British outpost in South Asia was established in 1619 at Surat on the northwestern coast. Later in the century the East India Company opened permanent trading stations at Madras Bombay and Calcutta each under the protection of native rulers.

The British expanded their influence from these footholds until by the 1850s they controlled most of present-day India Pakistan and Bangladesh. In 1857 a rebellion in north India led by mutinous Indian soldiers caused the British parliament to transfer all political power from the East India Company to the Crown. Great Britain began administering most of India directly while controlling the rest through treaties with local rulers.

In the late 1800s the first steps were taken toward self-government in British India with the appointment of Indian councilors to advise the British viceroy and the establishment of provincial councils with Indian members; the British subsequently widened participation in legislative councils. Beginning in 1920 Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi transformed the Indian National Congress political party into a mass movement to campaign against British colonial rule. The party used both parliamentary and non-violent resistance and non-cooperation to achieve independence.

On August 15 1947 India became a dominion within the Commonwealth with Jawaharlal Nehru as Prime Minister. Enmity between Hindus and Muslims led the British to partition British India creating East and West Pakistan where there were Muslim majorities. India became a republic within the Commonwealth after promulgating its constitution on January 26 1950.

After independence the Congress Party the party of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharla Nehru ruled India under the influence first of Nehru and then his daughter and grandson with the exception of two brief periods in the 1970s and 1980s.

Prime Minister Nehru governed the nation until his death in 1964. He was succeeded by Lal Bahadur Shastri who also died in office. In 1966 power passed to Nehru's daughter Indira Gandhi Prime Minister from 1966 to 1977. In 1975 beset with deepening political and economic problems Mrs. Gandhi declared a state of emergency and suspended many civil liberties. Seeking a mandate at the polls for her policies she called for elections in 1977 only to be defeated by Moraji Desai who headed the Janata Party an amalgam of five opposition parties.

In 1979 Desai's Government crumbled. Charan Singh formed an interim government which was followed by Mrs. Gandhi's return to power in January 1980. On October 31 1984 Mrs. Gandhi was assassinated and her son Rajiv was chosen by the Congress (I)--for "Indira"--Party to take her place. His government was brought down in 1989 by allegations of corruption and was followed by V.P. Singh and then Chandra Shekhar.

In 1989 the Janata Dal a union of opposition parties dislodged Rajiv Gandhi's Congress (I) Party with the help of the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the right and the communists on the left. This loose coalition collapsed in November 1990 and the government was controlled for a short period by a breakaway Janata Dal group supported by Congress (I) with Chandra Shekhar as Prime Minister. That alliance also collapsed resulting in national elections in June 1991.

On May 27 1991 while campaigning in Tamil Nadu on behalf of Congress (I) Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated apparently by Tamil extremists from Sri Lanka. In the elections Congress (I) won 213 parliamentary seats and put together a coalition returning to power under the leadership of P.V. Narasimha Rao. He was the first Congress Party Prime Minister in 30 years who did not come from the Gandhi/Nehru family.

Rao's Congress Government served a full 5-year term. This period marked the beginning of a gradual process of economic liberalization and reform which has opened the Indian economy to the globe. India's domestic politics also took a new shape as divisions of caste creed and ethnicity gave rise to a plethora of small regionally based political parties. The final months of the Rao-led Government in the Spring of 1996 were noted for several major political corruption scandals which contributed to the worst electoral performance by the Congress Party in its history. The Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged from the May 1996 national elections as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha but without enough strength to prove a majority on the floor of parliament. Under Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee the BJP lasted 13 days in power. With all political parties wishing to avoid another round of elections a 14-party coalition led by the Janata Dal emerged to form a government known as the United Front under the former Chief Minister of Karnataka H.D. Deve Gowda. His government lasted less than a year as the leader of the Congress Party withdrew his support for the Deve Gowda Government in March 1997. Mr. Inder Kumar Gujral replaced Deve Gowda as the consensus choice for prime minister of a 16-party coalition in the United Front.

In November 1994 the Congress Party again withdrew support for the United Front and the President called for elections. In the February 1998 elections the BJP again received the largest number of seats in Parliament 182 but fell far short of a majority. On March 20 1998 the President inaugurated a BJP-led coalition government with Vajpayee again serving as Prime Minister.

On May 11 and 13 the government of Prime Minister Vajpayee conducted a series of underground nuclear tests. U.S. President Clinton imposed economic sanctions on India pursuant to the 1994 Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act.

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