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Chapter 1: TRACING CHANGES THROUGH A THOUSAND YEARS
Take a look at Maps 1 and 2. Map 1 was made in 1154 CE by the Arab geographer Al-Idrisi. The section reproduced here is a detail of the Indian subcontinent from his larger map of the world. Map 2 was made in the 1720s by a French cartographer. The two maps are quite different even though they are of the same area. In al-Idrisi’s map, south India is where we would expect to find north India and Sri Lanka is the island at the top.
Chapter 2: NEW KINGS AND KINGDOMS
Many new dynasties emerged after the seventh century. Map 1 shows the major ruling dynasties in different parts of the subcontinent between the seventh and twelfth centuries.
Chapter 3: THE DELHI SULTANS
In Chapter 2 we saw that regions like the Kaveri delta became the centre of large kingdoms. Did you notice that there was no mention of a kingdom with Delhi as its capital? That was because Delhi became an important city only in the twelfth century.
Chapter 4: THE MUGHAL EMPIRE
Ruling as large a territory as the Indian subcontinent with such a diversity of people and cultures was an extremely difficult task for any ruler to accomplish in the Middle Ages. Quite in contrast to their predecessors, the Mughals created an empire and accomplished what had hitherto seemed possible for only short periods of time. From the latter half of the sixteenth century they expanded their kingdom from Agra and Delhi, until in the seventeenth century they controlled nearly all of the subcontinent.
Chapter 5: RULERS AND BUILDINGS
Figure 1 shows the first balcony of the Qutb Minar. Qutbuddin Aybak had this constructed around 1199. Notice the pattern created under the balcony by the small arches and geometrical designs. Can you see two bands of inscriptions under the balcony? These are in Arabic. Notice that the surface of the minar is curved and angular.
Chapter 6: TOWNS, TRADERS AND CRAFTSPERSONS
What would a traveller visiting a medieval town expect to find? This would depend on what kind of a town it was – a temple town, an administrative centre, a commercial town or a port town to name just some possibilities. In fact, many towns combined several functions – they were administrative centres, temple towns, as well as centres of commercial activities and craft production.
Chapter 7: TRIBES, NOMADS AND SETTLED COMMUNITIES
You saw in Chapters 2, 3 and 4 how kingdoms rose and fell. Even as this was happening, new arts, crafts and production activities flourished in towns and villages. Over the centuries important political, social and economic developments had taken place. But social change was not the same everywhere, because different kinds of societies evolved differently. It is important to understand how, and why, this happened.
Chapter 8: DEVOTIONAL PATHS DEVOTIONAL PATHS TO THE DIVINE TO THE DIVINE
You may have seen people perform rituals of worship, or singing bhajans, kirtans or qawwalis, or even repeating the name of God in silence, and noticed that some of them are moved to tears. Such intense devotion or love of God is the legacy of various kinds of bhakti and Sufi movements that have evolved since the eighth century.
Chapter 9: THE MAKING OF THE MAKING OF REGIONAL CULTURES REGIONAL CULTURES
One of the commonest ways of describing people is in terms of the language they speak. When we refer to a person as a Tamil or an Oriya, this usually means that he or she speaks Tamil or Oriya and lives in Tamil Nadu or Orissa. We also tend to associate each region with distinctive kinds of food, clothes, poetry, dance, music and painting.
Chapter 10: EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY POLITICAL FORMATIONS POLITICAL FORMATIONS
I f you look at Maps 1 and 2 closely, you will see something significant happening in the subcontinent during the first half of the eighteenth century. Notice how the boundaries of the Mughal Empire were reshaped by the emergence of a number of independent kingdoms.