The history of the southern part of India covers a span of over four thousand years during which the region saw the rise and fall of a number of dynasties and empires. The period of known history of the region begins with the Iron age (1200 BC to 24 BC) period during which Chera, Chola, Pandya ruled the South Indian country until 14th century A.D. Inscriptions on Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple shows that once Pandyan kingdom ruled from Himalayas in North to Kanyakumari in the South. Other dynasties of Satavahana, Chalukya, Pallava, Rashtrakuta, Kakatiya and Hoysala were at their peak during various periods of history. These kingdoms constantly fought amongst each other and against external forces when Muslim armies invaded south India. Vijayanagara empire rose in response to the Muslim intervention and covered the most of south India and acted as a bulwark against Mughal expansion into the south. When the European powers arrived during the 16th century CE, the southern kingdoms were not powerful enough to resist the new threat and eventually succumbed to British occupation. The British created the Madras Presidency which covered most of south India directly administered by the British Raj, and divided the rest into a number of dependent princely states. After Indian independence South India was linguistically divided into the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.