At the time of the British withdrawal, 565 princely states were officially recognised in the Indian subcontinent, apart from thousands of regional and local chiefs including taluqars, zamindaris and jagirs. In 1947, princely states numbering 555 covered 48% of area of pre-Independent India and constituted 28% of its population.
Mysore State, Krishnaraja Wadiyar, Anton Sebastian Private Collection
The most important states had their own British Political Residencies:
Indore State, Anton Sebastian Private Collection
Hyderabad, Mysore and Travancore in the South followed by Jammu & Kashmir and Sikkim in the Himalayas, and Indore in Central India. Gun-salutes were often given for personal distinctions of the ruler rather than the importance of the state and varied from time to time. The most prominent among those – roughly a quarter of the total – had the status of a salute state, one whose ruler was honoured by receiving a set number of
Bhairava ( a fearsome manifestation of Shiva) riding horse with his consort Kali (Devi) holding a lotus bud accompanied by his dog (Shvan)
Animals have been representative of deities from ancient times since worship began, and in the course they became gods and goddesses themselves. Reliance of animals began during the hunter-gatherer period when nature was central to man’s survival. Animal’s were the source of man’s strength by way of food, defence and support. The earliest known domesticated animal is the dog and it is also happens to be earliest companion of primitive man during his hunter-gatherer era. Dog is portrayed in Hindu religion as the vehicle or companion of God Bhairava, a fierce manifestation of Shiva. Bhairava happens to originate from the word bhīru, which means “fearful”, while the dog is also associated other fearsome gods such as Yama, the lord of death, whose Vahana is also a dog mentioned under its Sanskrit name Sarama.
The antiquity of the role of animals in Hinduism is exemplified by the fact that the first paintings of stone age man were that of animals as revealed through prehistoric cave art. When civilisation began as early as 6000 years ago in the Indus Valley we see animals appearing in the seals of pre-Aryans who occupied the valley. However, we are unable to gauge significance of these animal images since the text accompanying these seals still remain undeciphered: a missing link in the history of civilisation.
The appearance of cow in Hindu religion also may have taken origin during the pastoral period of early societies. It is a sacrilege in Hinduism to hurt a cow which is worshipped as deity named Nandi. In a more serene mood Shiva’s vehicle (vahana) is Nandi but in a warrior role Shiva abandons his meek companion and chooses the horse. One such role is as Khandoba, a village protector with a wielding a sword. Kamadhenu , also known as Surabhi, is a divine bovine-goddess described in Hinduism as the mother of all cows.
She is a miraculous “cow of plenty” who provides her owner whatever he desires and is often portrayed as the mother of other cattle. In Hindu art and iconography, she is generally depicted as a white cow with a female head and breasts, the wings of a bird, and the tail of a peafowl or as a white cow containing various deities within her body. All cows are venerated in Hindu religion as the earthly embodiment of the Kamadhenu. However, Kamadhenu is not worshipped independently as a goddess, and temples are not solely dedicated in her honour alone; rather, she symbolises the veneration of cows Hinduism
Born to Shiva and Parvati god Ganesha (Ganapati, Vinayaka) is perhaps is the most depicted god in Hindu art and sculpture in a zoomorphic form: an elephant head with an indulgent human body. In contrast to the size of his body Ganesha rides a mere rat. The significance of the impracticality of an elephant riding on meek rat has generated hundreds of logical and illogical assumptions to explain this paradox.
The Avatars of God Vishnu, a concept in Hinduism which means “descent” are even more complex. Of the avatars of Vishnu, the Fish (Matsya), tortoise (Kurma), boar (Varaha) and lion (Narasimha) are the standard zoomorphic deities that still invite and await theological explanation for their existence. Matsya is sometimes depicted as a great fish or as a human torso connected to the tail of a fish who rescued the first man, as well as other creatures of the earth, from a great deluge in mythologies related to cosmic history. Kurma is the incarnation Vishnu that relates to the myth of churning the ocean to obtain treasures dissolved in the ocean of milk. In this myth, Vishnu takes the form of a tortoise to support the churning stick on his back. Varaha is often depicted as a boar head on a human body who raised the sunken earth out of the water. In another depiction of Narasimha as an avatar of Vishnu he emerges as a human lion to slay the demon.
Of all the ancient religions in the world Hinduism is perhaps the most zoomorphic depicted by animal gods. The antiquity of the religion may help to explain this phenomenon just as Aesop’s Fables uses animals to explain complex philosophy in a simple. Similarly in Buddhism the Jataka Tales is a vehicle of philosophy.
Enshrining animals in religion is a concept common to many ancient religions but Christianity is an exception where worship of animals is sacrilege.
Ahmad Shāh Durrānī (c. 1722 – 1772), the founder of the modern state of Afghanistan began his career by enlisting as a young soldier in the military of the Afsharid Kingdom and quickly rose to become a commander of the Abdali Regiment, a cavalry of four thousand Abdali Pashtun soldiers. After the death of Nader Shah Afshar in 1747, Ahmad Shah Durrani was chosen as King of Afghanistan.
Pre-Islamic Silver Coin, 870 AD
Time line of Afghanistan
1838-42 – British forces invade, install King Shah Shujah. He is assassinated in 1842. British and Indian troops are massacred during retreat from Kabul.
1878-80 – Second Anglo-Afghan War. A treaty gives Britain control of Afghan foreign affairs.
1919 – Emir Amanullah Khan declares independence from British influence.
1926-29 – Amanullah tries to introduce social reforms, which however stir civil unrest. He flees.
1933 – Zahir Shah becomes king and Afghanistan remains a monarchy for next four decades.
Afghanistan, Parliament House, 1939
1953 – General Mohammed Daud becomes prime minister. Turns to Soviet Union for economic and military assistance. Introduces social reforms, such as abolition of purdah (practice of secluding women from public view).
1963 – Mohammed Daud forced to resign as prime minister.
1964 – Constitutional monarchy introduced – but leads to political polarisation and power struggles.
King Zahir Shah, who ruled for 40 years until he was ousted in 1973
1973 – Mohammed Daud seizes power in a coup and declares a republic. Tries to play off USSR against Western powers.
1978 – General Daud is overthrown and killed in a pro-Soviet coup. The People’s Democratic Party comes to power but is paralysed by violent infighting and faces opposition by US-backed mujahideen groups.
1979 December – Soviet Army invades and props up communist government.
1980 – Babrak Karmal installed as ruler, backed by Soviet troops. But opposition intensifies with various mujahideen groups fighting Soviet forces. US, Pakistan, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia supply money and arms to the mujahideen.
1985 – Mujahideen come together in Pakistan to form alliance against Soviet forces. Half of Afghan population now estimated to be displaced by war, with many fleeing to neighbouring Iran or Pakistan.
1986 – US begins supplying mujahideen with Stinger missiles, enabling them to shoot down Soviet helicopter gunships. Babrak Karmal replaced by Najibullah as head of Soviet-backed regime.
1988 – Afghanistan, USSR, the US and Pakistan sign peace accords and Soviet Union begins pulling out troops.
1989 – Last Soviet troops leave, but civil war continues as mujahideen push to overthrow Najibullah.
1992 – Najibullah’s government toppled, but a devastating civil war follows.
1996 – Taliban seize control of Kabul and introduce hard-line version of Islam, banning women from work, and introducing Islamic punishments, which include stoning to death and amputations.
1997 – Taliban recognised as legitimate rulers by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. They now control about two-thirds of country.
1998 – US launches missile strikes at suspected bases of militant Osama bin Laden, accused of bombing US embassies in Africa.
1999 – UN imposes an air embargo and financial sanctions to force Afghanistan to hand over Osama bin Laden for trial.
2001 September – Ahmad Shah Masood, leader of the main opposition to the Taliban – the Northern Alliance – is assassinated.
2001 October – US-led bombing of Afghanistan begins following the September 11 attacks on the United States. Anti-Taliban Northern Alliance forces enter Kabul shortly afterwards.
2001 December – Afghan groups agree deal in Bonn, Germany for interim government.
Image captionLoya Jirga delegates adopted a new constitution in 2004
Hamid Karzai is sworn in as head of an interim power-sharing government.
2002 January – Deployment of first contingent of foreign peacekeepers – the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) – marking the start of a protracted fight against the Taliban.
2002 April – Former king Zahir Shah returns, but makes no claim to the throne and dies in 2007.
2002 June – Loya Jirga, or grand council, elects Hamid Karzai as interim head of state. Karzai picks members of his administration which is to serve until 2004.
2003 August – Nato takes control of security in Kabul, its first-ever operational commitment outside Europe.
2004 January – Loya Jirga adopts new constitution which provides for strong presidency.
2004 October-November – Presidential elections. Hamid Karzai is declared winner.
2005 September – Afghans vote in first parliamentary elections in more than 30 years.
2005 December – Parliament opens with warlords and strongmen in most of the seats.
2006 October – Nato assumes responsibility for security across the whole of Afghanistan, taking command in the east from a US-led coalition force.
2007 August – Opium production has soared to a record high, the UN reports.
2008 June – President Karzai warns that Afghanistan will send troops into Pakistan to fight militants if Islamabad fails to take action against them.
2008 July – Suicide bomb attack on Indian embassy in Kabul kills more than 50.
2008 September – US President George Bush sends an extra 4,500 US troops to Afghanistan, in a move he described as a “quiet surge”.
2009 January – US Defence Secretary Robert Gates tells Congress that Afghanistan is new US administration’s “greatest test”.
2009 February – Nato countries pledge to increase military and other commitments in Afghanistan after US announces dispatch of 17,000 extra troops.
New US approach
2009 March – US President Barack Obama unveils new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. An extra 4,000 US personnel will train and bolster the Afghan army and police and there will be support for civilian development.
2009 August – Presidential and provincial elections are marred by widespread Taliban attacks, patchy turnout and claims of serious fraud.
2009 October – Mr Karzai declared winner of August presidential election, after second-placed opponent Abdullah Abdullah pulls out before the second round.
2009 December – US President Obama decides to boost US troop numbers in Afghanistan by 30,000, bringing total to 100,000. He says US will begin withdrawing its forces by 2011.
An Al-Qaeda double agent kills seven CIA agents in a suicide attack on a US base in Khost.
2010 February – Nato-led forces launch major offensive, Operation Moshtarak, in bid to secure government control of southern Helmand province.
2010 July – Whistleblowing website Wikileaks publishes thousands of classified US military documents relating to Afghanistan.
General David Petraeus takes command of US, ISAF forces.
2010 August – Dutch troops quit.
Karzai says private security firms – accused of operating with impunity – must cease operations. He subsequently waters down the decree.
2010 September – Parliamentary polls marred by Taliban violence, widespread fraud and a long delay in announcing results.
2010 November – Nato – at summit in Lisbon – agrees plan to hand control of security to Afghan forces by end of 2014.
2011 January – President Karzai makes first official state visit to Russia by an Afghan leader since the end of the Soviet invasion in 1989.
2011 February – Number of civilians killed since the 2001 invasion hit record levels in 2010, Afghanistan Rights Monitor reports.
2011 April – Burning of Koran by a US pastor prompts country-wide protests in which foreign UN workers and several Afghans are killed.
Some 500 mostly Taliban prisoners break out of prison in Kandahar.
2011 July – President’s half-brother and Kandahar governor Ahmad Wali Karzai is killed in Taliban campaign against prominent figures.
2011 September – Ex-president Burhanuddin Rabbani – a go-between in talks with the Taliban – is assassinated.
2011 October – As relations with Pakistan worsen after a series of attacks, Afghanistan and India sign a strategic partnership to expand co-operation in security and development.
2011 November – President Karzai wins the endorsement of tribal elders to negotiate a 10-year military partnership with the US at a loya jirga traditional assembly. The proposed pact will see US troops remain after 2014, when foreign troops are due to leave the country.
2011 December – At least 58 people are killed in twin attacks at a Shia shrine in Kabul and a Shia mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif.
Pakistan and the Taleban boycott the scheduled Bonn Conference on Afghanistan. Pakistan refuses to attend after a Nato air strike killed Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border.
2012 January – Taliban agree to open office in Dubai as a move towards peace talks with the US and the Afghan government.
2012 February – At least 30 people are killed in protests about the burning of copies of the Koran at the US Bagram airbase. US officials believed Taliban prisoners were using the books to pass messages, and that they were extremist texts not Korans. Two soldiers are also killed in reprisal attacks.
2012 March – US Army Sgt Robert Bales is accused of killing 16 civilians in an armed rampage in the Panjwai district of Kandahar.
2012 April – Taliban announce “spring offensive” with audacious attack on the diplomatic quarter of Kabul. The government blamed the Haqqani Network. Security forces kill 38 militants.
2012 May – Nato summit endorses the plan to withdraw foreign combat troops by the end of 2014.
Image captionNato troops will withdraw by late 2014, giving security responsibilities to Afghan forces
New French President Francois Hollande says France will withdraw its combat mission by the end of 2012 – a year earlier than planned.
Arsala Rahmani of the High Peace Council is shot dead in Kabul. A former Taliban minister, he was crucial in reaching out to rebel commanders. The Taliban deny responsibility.
2012 July – Tokyo donor conference pledges $16bn in civilian aid to Afghanistan up to 2016, with US, Japan, Germany and UK supplying bulk of funds. Afghanistan agrees to new conditions to counter corruption.
2012 August – The US military discipline six soldiers for accidentally burning copies of the Koran and other religious texts in Afghanistan. They will not face criminal prosecution. Three US Marines are also disciplined for a video in which the bodies of dead Taliban fighters were urinated on.
2012 September – US hands over Bagram high-security jail to the Afghan government, although it retains control over some foreign prisoners until March 2013.
The US also suspends training new police recruits in order to carry out checks on possible ties to Taliban following series of attacks on foreign troops by apparent police and Afghan soldiers.
2013 February – President Karzai and Pakistan’s Asif Ali Zardari agree to work for an Afghan peace deal within six months after talks hosted by Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron. They back the opening of an Afghan office in Doha and urge the Taliban to do the same for talks to take place.
2013 March – Two former Kabul Bank chiefs, Sherkhan Farnood and Khalilullah Ferozi, are jailed for the multi-million dollar fraud that almost led to its collapse and that of the entire Afghan banking system in 2010.
2013 June – Afghan army takes command of all military and security operations from Nato forces.
President Karzai suspends security talks with the US after Washington announces it plans to hold direct talks with the Taliban. Afghanistan insists on conducting the talks with the Taliban in Qatar itself.
2014 January – Taliban suicide squad hits a restaurant in Kabul’s diplomatic quarter, the worst attack on foreign civilians since 2001. The 13 foreign victims include IMF country head.
2014 April – The presidential election produces an inconclusive result and goes on to a second round between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani.
2014 June – Second round of presidential election is held, with more than 50 reported killed in various incidents during the vote.
2014 July – Election officials begin recount of all votes cast in June’s presidential run-off, as part of a US-mediated deal to end dispute between candidates over widespread claims of fraud.
2014 September – The two rivals for the Afghan presidency, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, sign a power-sharing agreement, following a two-month audit of disputed election results. Ashraf Ghani is sworn in as president.
2014 October – The US and Britain end their combat operations in Afghanistan.
Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan reaches an all-time high, according to a US report
2014 December – NATO formally ends its 13-year combat mission in Afghanistan, handing over to Afghan forces. Despite the official end to Isaf’s combat role, violence persists across much of the country, with 2014 said to be the bloodiest year in Afghanistan since 2001.
2015 January – NATO-led follow-on mission “Resolute Support” gets underway, with some 12,000 personnel to provide further training and support for Afghan security forces.
Islamic State (IS) group emerges in eastern Afghanistan and within a few months captures a large swathe of Taliban-controlled areas in Nangarhar province.
2015 March – US President Barack Obama announces that his country will delay its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, following a request from President Ashraf Ghani.
The lynching of a woman wrongly accused of burning a Koran in Kabul provokes widespread revulsion and criticism of hard-line clerics. Police face accusations of doing too little to save her. The incident leads to widespread protests against the treatment of women. Four men are later convicted of murder.
2015 May – Taliban representatives and Afghan officials hold informal peace talks in Qatar. Both sides agree to continue the talks at a later date, though the Taliban insist they will not stop fighting until all foreign troops leave the country.
2015 July – Taliban admits that reclusive founder, Mullah Omar, died a few years ago, and appoints Mullah Akhter Mansour as his replacement.
2015 September – Taliban briefly capture major northern city of Kunduz in their most significant advance since being forced from power in 2001.
2015 October – Powerful earthquake kills more than 80 people in northeast of country.
2015 October – US President Barack Obama announces that 9,800 US troops will remain in Afghanistan until the end of 2016, backtracking on an earlier pledge to pull all but 1,000 troops from the country.
2015 November – A new Taliban splinter group, headed by Mullah Rasool, announces its presence in southern Afghanistan. However, the group is totally crushed by the mainstream Taliban by spring 2016.
2015 December – Taliban make bid to capture Sangin, a town and district in Helmand Province. US warplanes deploy in support of Afghan security forces’ attempt to repel insurgents.
2015 December – NATO extends its “Resolute Support” follow-on mission by 12 months to the end of 2016.
2016 – Over one million Afghans are on the go during the year, either due to internal displacement because of the war, or are forced to repatriate by Pakistan, Iran and the European Union, according to the United Nations.
Heavy US air strikes reverse Islamic State’s gains in the east, and the group is cornered in a few districts in Nangarhar.
2016 May – New Taliban leader Mullah Mansour is killed in a US drone attack in Pakistan’s Baluchestan province.
2016 July – US President Barack Obama says 8,400 US troops will remain in Afghanistan into 2017 in light of the “precarious security situation”. NATO also agrees to maintain troop numbers and reiterates a funding pledge for local security forces until 2020.
2016 August to October – Taliban advance to the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand, and to the northern city of Kunduz. The group has brought much of the two provinces under its control since the bulk of NATO forces withdrew by end of 2014.
2016 September – The Afghan government signs a peace agreement with the militant group Hezb-e-Islami and grants immunity to the group’s leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
2017 January – A bomb attack in Kandahar kills six UAE diplomats.
2017 February – Rise in Islamic State activities reported in a number of northern and southern provinces.
2017 March – Thirty people are killed and more than 50 wounded in an attack by so-called Islamic State on a military hospital in Kabul.
2017 June – Islamic State militants capture the mountainous region of Tora Bora in Nangarhar province, which was formerly used as a base by the late al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.
2017 August – US President Donald Trump says he’s sending more troops to fight a resurgent Taliban.
The Satavahana (Stavhanas) Empire was an Indian dynasty based from
Satavana Coin, Satlkarni I 100 BC, Anton Sebastian Private Collection
Dharanikota and Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh as well as Junnar (Pune) and Prathisthan (Paithan) in Maharashtra. The territory of the empire covered much of India from 230 BCE onward. Although there is some controversy about when the dynasty came to an end, the most liberal estimates suggest that it lasted about 450 years, until around 220 CE. The Satavahanas are credited for establishing peace in the country, resisting the onslaught of foreigners after the decline of Mauryan Empire.
The Stavhanas were vassals to the Mauryan dynasty until the decline of the latter. They are known for their patronage of Hinduism. The Stavhanas were early issuers of Indian state coinage struck with images of their rulers. They formed a cultural bridge and played a vital role in trade and the transfer of ideas and culture to and from the Indo-Gangetic Plain to the southern tip of India.
Satavahana Dynasty, Satkarni I, Copper Unit,, Anton Sebastian Private Collection
The Satavahanas are among the earliest Indian rulers to issue their own coins with portraits of their rulers, starting with king Gautamiputra Satakarni, a practice derived from that of the Western Kshatrapas he defeated, itself originating with the Indo-Greek kings to the northwest.
Thousands of lead, copper and potin Satavahana coins have been discovered in the Deccan region; a few gold and silver coins are also available. These coins do not feature uniform design or size, and suggest that multiple minting locations existed within the Satavahana territory, leading to regional differences in coinage.
The coin legends of the Satavahanas, in all areas and all periods, used a Prakrit dialect without exception. Some reverse coin legends are in Tamil, and Telugu languages.
Several coins carry titles or matronyms that were common to multiple rulers (e.g. Satavahana, Satakarni, and Pulumavi), so the number of rulers attested by coinage cannot be determined with certainty. The names of 16 to 20 rulers appear on the various coins. Some of these rulers appear to be local elites rather than the Satavahana monarchs.
The Satavahana coins give unique indications as to their chronology, language, and even facial features (curly hair, long ears and strong lips). They issued mainly lead and copper coins; their portrait-style silver coins were usually struck over coins of the Western Kshatrapa kings. The Satavahana coins also display various traditional symbols, such as elephants, lions, horses and chaityas (stupas), as well as the “Ujjain symbol”, a cross with four circles at the end.
Temple coins or tokens which depicted specific Hindu deities on the coins often included native script including date, name of the saint or the name of the temple and location, goes back centuries. Early on they were stamped and used as holy offerings, but by the 1800s they are produced for sale at holy sites and temples as a source of income for the temple and kept by devotees as holy tokens or even murthes. Some were made by fine jewellers and many in metal from Calcutta based metal shops. Some of the stamps were used through the 19th Century into modern era. Earlier in the 12th Century they were often minted in gold, mostly in South India as the Muslim rulers who controlled areas of Northern India forbade any such holy tokens which depicted a figure or Deva, or any human-like stamps such as depictions of saints and mystics. After World War II, Diwali tokens became popular, often in silver. These would depict Ganesha and Lakshmi. However, in the olden days, most of the temple coins depicted the great epics, especially from the Ramayana. Thus the term Ramatankas, they would be stamped with Sita-Ram and the beloved Hanuman. Coins of Lakshman, Bharata and Shatrughnawere were also made.In July of 2011, a treasure worth over 10 billion dollars (500 billion rupees) including such coins were found in the vaults under the Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram India, and there are more secret chambers which have been closed for over 150 years. This is a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu and built hundreds of years ago by the King of Travancore, but has origins back to the 6th Century, and has many treasures which are donations by devotees. It is considered one of the108 Divya Desams or Holy Abodes of Maha Vishnu. Thousands of gold coins and tokens were found here. Since Independence, a trust managed by the descendants of the Travancore Royal Family has managed the temple. However, India’s Supreme Court ordered that the temple valuables will be managed by the State. The actual value in materialistic terms of this temple exceed that of Tirupathi Temple in Andhra Pradesh which was thought to be the richest temple. This value of the treasures at the Vishnu temple is believed to actually exceed that of Tirupathi, and it is believed that in fact there are many other temples which have coins, jewellery and wealth of equal value that may tempt plunder by materialists and government both domestic and international – for example the 108 Vishnu Temples noted above.