ABSTRACT

The influence of physical location and characteristics as well as that of climate are also widely recognized as having played critical roles in influencing Indian history. India’s location in the middle of the Indian Ocean has meant that it has long been at the centre of a number of interconnected trading networks which encouraged traffic in goods and people, but also facilitated the exchange of religions and ideologies (Chaudhuri, 1991). Traders on the south-east coast of India developed extensive links with South East Asia, some of them travelling further afield where they left permanent reminders of their presence in such places as Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Bali in present-day Indonesia. Even earlier, the archaeological record confirms that goods were being traded between western India and Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. At the same time, the characteristics of India’s seaward and landward frontiers have meant that it has been buffered against invasion from most directions save for the north-west and from the sea.