Hindi and Urdu also took root in medieval North India.
Jainism continues to be practiced by a significant number who are ambivalent about whether they consider themselves Hindus or not. The importance of Vedic deities like Indra and Agni reduced and Puranic deities like Vishnu, Shiva, their various Avatars and family members gained prominence. Gradually the raiders started staying as rulers, and soon much of North India was ruled by Muslims.
The most important of the Muslim rulers were the Mughals, who established an empire that at its peak covered almost the entire subcontinent (save the southern and eastern extremities), while the major Hindu force that survived in the North were the Rajputs.
This is the period when the Vedas, one of the oldest and important books of Hinduism, were compiled.
The earliest archaeological traces are from 7000 BC in Mehrgarh, which grew to be the "Indus Valley Civilization".
India's culture and heritage are a rich amalgam of the past and the present.
This vast country offers the visitor a view of fascinating religions and ethnography, a vast variety of languages with more than 438 living languages, and monuments that have been present for thousands of years.
In the 1st millennium BC, various schools of thought in philosophy developed, enriching Hinduism greatly. However, three of these schools - Sikhism , Buddhism and Jainism - questioned the authority of the Vedas and they are now recognized as separate religions.
Many great empires were formed between 500 BC and AD 500.
Mesolithic sites include the Bhimbetka rock shelters in Central India, Madhya Pradesh, which are 300,000 years old.
Indians date the Vedic Period as one of the significant role in Indian society, which scholars place in the second and first millennia BC continuing up to the 6th century BC, based on literary evidence.
Eventually, however, the Rajputs were subdued, and the Rajput-Mughal alliance remained strong till the end of the empire.