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Colonial India refers to areas of the Indian Subcontinent and Maharajahs under the influence of European colonial powers through trade and conquest .
The first European power to arrive in India was the army of Alexander the Great in 327-326 BC. The satraps he established in the northwest quickly crumbled after he left.
Trade was carried between Indian states and the Roman Empire by Greco-Roman sailors that reached India by sailing on the Red and Arabian Seas.
The Portuguese sailor, Vasco da Gama, was the first European to arrive in India solely by navigating the sea, at the end of the 15th century.
Arrived in Calicut, which by then was one of the major trading ports of the eastern world, he obtained permission by Mānavikraman Raja to trade in the city from Saamoothiri Rajah.
Trading rivalries brought other European powers to India.
Dutch, British, French and Danes established trading posts in India in the early 17th century .
As the Mughal Empire disintegrated in the early 18th century, the unstable, fractured, debilitated Indian kingdoms were manipulated by Europeans through increasingly dependent "friendly" Indian rulers.
The second half of the 18th century saw the British and French enter into intense struggles for dominance through proxy Indian rulers and by direct military intervention .
The defeat of the redoubtable Indian ruler, Tipu Sultan, in 1799, marginalized French influence .
With the French threat removed, the following decades witnessed a rapid expansion of British power through the greater part of the subcontinent .
By the middle of the 19th century, the British had already gained direct or indirect control over almost all of India.
Long after the decline of the Roman Empire's trade with India, the Portuguese were the next Europeans to arrive for the purpose of trade, first arriving in May 1498 .
The closing of the traditional trade routes in western Asia by the Ottomans and rivalry with the Italian states, set Portugal in search of an alternate sea route to India.
The first successful voyage to India was by Vasco da Gama in 1498, when he arrived in Calicut, now in Kerala .
The Portuguese established a chain of outposts along India's west coast and on the island of Ceylon in the early 16th century.
They built the St.Angelo Fort at Kannur to guard their possessions in North Malabar .
Goa was their prized possession and, the seat of Portugal's viceroy who governed Portugal's empire in Asia.
Portugal's northern province included settlements at Daman, Diu, Chaul, Baçaim, Salsette, and Mumbai.
Bombay (Mumbai) was given to the British crown in 1661 as part of the dowry of Catherine of Braganza.
The rest of the northern province, with the exception of Daman and Diu, was lost to the Marathas in the early 18th century.
Dadra and Nagar Haveli was acquired by the Portuguese in 1779. Dadra and Nagar Haveli was occupied by the Republic of India in 1954, and Goa, Daman, and Diu were annexed to India in 1961.
 The Dutch East India Company established trading posts on different parts along the Indian coast .
 For some while, they controlled the Malabar southwest coast (Cranganore/Cranganor/Kodungallor, Cochin de Cima/Pallipuram, Cochin, Cochin de Baixo/Santa Cruz, Quilon (Coylan), Cannanore, Kundapura, Kayankulam, Ponnani) and the Coromandel southeastern coast (Golkonda, Bimilipatnam, Jaggernaikpoeram/Kakinada, Palikol, Pulicat, Porto Novo/Parangippettai, Negapatnam) and Surat (1616–1795).
 They conquered Ceylon, nowadays Sri Lanka (1658–1796), from the Portuguese .
 The Dutch also established trading stations in Travancore and coastal Tamil Nadu as well as at Rajshahi in present-day Bangladesh, , Hugli-Chinsura, and Murshidabad in present-day West Bengal, Balasore (Baleshwar or Bellasoor) in Orissa, and Ava, Arakan, and Syriam in present-day Myanmar (Burma).
 Ceylon was lost at the Congress of Vienna in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, where the Dutch having fallen subject to France, saw their colonies raided by Britain. The Dutch later became less involved in India, as they had the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) as their prized possession.
 Following the Portuguese, British, and Dutch, the French also established trading bases in India .
 Their first establishment is in Pondicherry on the Coromandel Coast in southeastern India, in 1674.
 Subsequent French settlements are Chandernagore in Bengal, northeastern India in 1688, Yanam in Andhra Pradesh in 1723, Mahe in 1725, and Karaikal in 1739
 The French were constantly in conflict with the Dutch, and later on mainly with the British in India.
 At the height of French power in the mid-18th century, the French occupied most of southern India and the area lying in today's northern Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.
 Between 1744 and 1761, the British and the French repeatedly attacked and conquered each others forts and towns, in southeastern India, and in Bengal in the northeast.
 After some initial French successes, the British decisively defeated the French in Bengal in the Battle of Plassey in 1757, and in the southeast in 1761 in the Battle of Wandiwash, after which the British East India Company was the supreme military and political power in Southern India as well as in Bengal.
 In the following decades it gradually increased the size of the territories under its control. The enclaves of Pondicherry, Karaikal, Yanam, Mahé and Chandernagore were returned to France in 1816, and were integrated with the Republic of India after its independence in 1947.
 Denmark was a minor colonial power to set foot in India. It established trading outposts in Tranquebar, Tamil Nadu (1620), Serampore, West Bengal (1755) and the Nicobar Islands (1750s).
 At one time, the main Danish and Swedish East Asia companies together imported more tea to Europe than the British did. Their outposts lost economic and strategic importance, and Tranquebar, the last Danish outpost, was sold to the British in 1845.
Sovereign Indian states in the colonial era
 Sovereign Indian kingdoms and other states that ruled during the colonial era included:
 Kingdom of Mysore
 Maratha Empire
 Sikh Confederacy
 Rajputana
 Hyderabad State
 Travancore

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