Did you ever wonder how you can encounter the real India, which has an irregular quadrilateral shape? The Indian sub-continent is often referred to as “chatuh samasthana samsthitam” as it has the Indian Ocean on the South, West and the East and the great Himalayan Range that stretches like a string of bow on its North.
The country is known for its diverse topography, be it the mountains or the valleys or the plains. While there are specific boundaries set for the regions in India, there are six major regions, each with their own culture, cuisine, and traditions.
North India: North India constitutes of the states Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh (the southern part of it can also be considered as Central India). The major cities in North India are Delhi, Jaipur, Lucknow, Chandigarh, and Kanpur.
Four languages are mainly spoken in Northern India, and they are Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, and Haryanvi. North India is also popular for tourist destinations and pilgrimage sites like Varanasi, the Golden Temple, and Ayodhya. The world famous and one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and an architectural marvel, Taj Mahal is located here.
West India: The states of Goa, Southern Rajasthan, a few parts of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat are a part of West India. The important cities located here are Mumbai, Pune, Goa, Nagpur, Ahmadabad, and Aurangabad. The main languages spoken here are Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, and Konkani. West India is famous for Bollywood, cricket and also generates about 24% of the GDP.
South India: The states that are a part of South India are Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Karnataka. The major metropolises here are Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Kochi, Trivandrum, and Coimbatore. People here speak Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, and Hindi. South India is famous for its lip-smacking food, spices and is home to several ancient temples and pilgrimage sites.
East India: East India constitutes of the states West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Orissa. The well-known metropolises here are Patna, Dhanbad, Bhubaneswar, Jamshedpur, Kolkata, and Ranchi. The major languages people speak here are Hindi, Bhojpuri, Oriya, and Bengali. East India is famous for its cricket and football culture and has a good number of heritage sites and attractions that are related to the country’s independence. It is also home to Nobel Laureates Swami Vivekananda and Rabindranath Tagore.
Central India: Madhya Pradesh, Southern Uttar Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh are a part of Central India with the major cities being Indore, Bhopal, and Jabalpur. The major language spoken here is Hindi and is known for Tiger reserves, diamond mines, and the famous Khajuraho Temples.
North East India: North East India has the states Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Sikkim, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Mizoram. The major cities here are Agartala, Aizawal, Guwahati, Dimapur, Imphal, and Shillong. People here speak various languages like Hindi, Garo, Assamese, Nepali, Bodo, Bengali, Nagamese, and Sikkimese. The North Eastern part of India is also famous for martial arts, handicrafts made of bamboo and for its natural and scenic beauty.
The cultural history of India can be dated back to more than 4500 years. Each and every era did add to the diverse culture of India and the country’s culture today is a mix of foreign influences and richness, all of which promise a unique experience.
India is known for its hospitality, the warmth, and the values. The charm of the country lies in its cuisine, forts, monuments, music, festivals, and more.
Festivals: Talk about festivals, and you would be thrilled to know about the various festivals celebrated here. The multi-religious place sees festivals celebrated all through the year. Festivals here represent the essence of the culture of India. From the start of the year, the people of India celebrate a festival every month. Like its landscape, the Indian festivals too are diverse. Some of the festivals that are celebrated with much vigor are Pongal, Lohri, Republic Day, and the Jaisalmer Desert Festival. Holi, Baisakhi, Bihu, Independence Day, Raksha Bandhan, Dusshera, Janmashtami, Durga Puja, Diwali, Christmas and New Year, to name a few. If you are on a trip to India, do plan a long holiday to witness how festivals are celebrated here.
Cuisine: India, as a country, offers varied cuisine that differs from state to state. Several dishes can be dated back to ancient times or history. Tourists can get the real taste of food in India at heritage or five-star hotels, at resorts and all other restaurants or street vendors.
Indian cuisine uses a whole lot of spices along with herbs. People from different states use different cooking techniques, and like the culture, the gastronomy is old too. Choosing the best dish out of Indian cuisine is challenging as every state offers a unique specialty. East India is popular for seafood and sweets, and there is Hyderabadi food, yummy Gujarati dishes, spicy Punjabi and Kashmiri food and of course Mughlai cuisine. So, tourists get to enjoy delicious flavors when on tour in India.
Religion: It can be said that religion is a way of life in this country where people follow various beliefs, faiths, and sects and of them worship the god in different ways. India is home to various religious, each of which is an important part of a country’s culture. Indian culture includes rituals, shrines, festivals, and customs of all the religions and faiths.
Arts and Crafts: Every era of India is known to have its style of handicrafts, and crafts and the ancient wonders and masterpieces showcase the same. Be it the tribal handicrafts or the artwork of Himalayas or Rajasthan and Gujarat, the art and craft of the country are genuinely magnificent. A few styles of crafts and arts have also found their place in UNESCO Intangible heritage.
Architecture: Do you know that the architectural heritage of the country is more than 2000 years old. The Hindu temples, the stupas, the ancient sites speak about the culture and beauty of India.
Tourists can visit the Khajuraho's Kandariya Mahadev Temple, which is known to have the finest architecture in the country. Several temples in South India too are known for their scared architecture, well-carved corridors, and well-ventilated hallways. Culture of India can also be seen via Islamic architecture. The country has several ancient churches and Gurudwaras that are known to have mesmerizing architecture.
South India has a lot of monuments, and ancient temples, and Mahabalipuram is a place one must visit to witness the rock-cut monuments and single stone structures. The other temples that are a must visit are the Kamakshi Amman temple, Varadaraja Perumal temple located at Kanchipuram.
People and Language: Culture of any country is always displayed by its people and the languages they speak. Though India was always the place of interest to conquerors or invaders and their cultures have been absorbed with the existing culture. The country has several tribes, and the people speak 17 major languages and Tamil is known to be the oldest of the languages spoken here. The Bengali language is precious when it comes to literature, and most of the languages of India are originated from Sanskrit.
Pages can fall short describing the culture of India. Visit today to experience the culture and traditions of this great country.
The history and the culture of India are quite dynamic and can be dated back to the very start of human civilization. It all started with the Indus Valley Civilization, where communities were formed near the southern lands. The use of metals like iron and copper began at an early period, which indicates the progress of the country when compared to the world.
The Indus Valley Civilization
It can be said that the history of India started with Indus Valley Civilization, which is also called the Harappan Civilization. The civilization was prevalent during 2500 BC, and it came into light in the year 1920 when excavations were carried out by the Archeological Department of India. This was when the two main ruins of this civilization were found, Mohenjodaro and Harappa.
Known as the earliest civilization of ancient India, the Vedic civilization existed near the Saraswati River, the region which is now home to the states of Punjab and Haryana. The two great epics of this civilization were the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
It was after the demise of Harsha; the Rajputs came into political existence in India. The Rajputs were not only known for their bravery but were also for chivalry and family feuds. The constant wrangling weakened them.
Akbar, the great Indian Emperor, was also called as Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar. He was a Mughal emperor and took over the throne after Babur and Humayun. He became the emperor when he was just 13 years old in 1556.
Shahabuddin Mohammed Shah Jahan was the 5th Mughal Emperor and was the ruler of India from the year 1628 to 1658.
The founder of the Maratha Empire, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, was one of the greatest warriors known during his time and today. The stories from the time of his rule are still narrated as folklore even today.
Modern History of India
It was during the 18th century that English established themselves as a governing power in the country. The British rule in India continued for more than two centuries, and this paved way to several changes in the political, economic, and social life of the country.
The land of India is more than a dreamy landscape and tropical greenery. India is a diverse and vast country and is known for a number of attractions, which are unique in every region. Let us learn about the major attractions India has to offer, region wise.
Best known as a tourist hub, North India has mesmerizing hill stations located near the foothills of Himalayas. Home to places like Shimla and Rishikesh, the Golden Triangle offers an amazing tourist experience where visitors get to witness the splendor of cities like New Delhi, Jaipur, Udaipur, and Agra.
The Ranthambore National Park is a must see as tourists get to enjoy jeep safaris. Another must-see location in North India is the city if Jaisalmer where one can witness the warmth and the roughness of the Great Indian Thar Desert. North India has world famous historical attractions like the Red Fort, Taj Mahal, The Amber Fort, Golden Temple, Fatehpur Sikri, and more.
The hill stations located near the Himalayas are worth a visit, especially during summers. Rishikesh, the Yoga capital of the World, is located in Uttarakhand, which is an excellent place for river rafting and other adventure sports.
The borders of India are worth a mention. The area near the Ladakh borders is known for its mesmerizing beauty and stunning scenery and is perfect for camping and trekking. The beauty of the Pangong Tso Lake is hard to describe in words.
West India is a large region, and Goa is one of the most popular tourist destinations here after Mumbai. Mumbai is home to ancient historical sites and is also known for lip-smacking street food. The city is fast-paced but has several tourist attractions like the Hanging Gardens, the Juhu Beach, the Gateway of India and more.
Another well-known destination in Maharashtra is Mahabaleshwar, which is known for its lush greenery and forests. The Ajanta and Ellora Caves are located near to Mahabaleshwar, and these are named as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Tourists can also visit wildlife reserves and parks like the Navegaon National Park and the Tadoba National Park.
Kerala, the “Gods Own Country,” is a must-visit destination as it offers the best views, thanks to the Arabian Sea beaches located here. The place is also known for its backwaters, the beauty of which can be witnessed through a boat ride. Tourists can also visit the Periyar National Park and the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve to spend some time close to nature.
Another must visit place in South India is Pondicherry where one can see the charming and historic French Quarters and villas. Mahabalipuram is another city located at a close distance from Pondicherry and is a famous beach town that offers the best surf scenes. Tourists can visit historic temples and churches here. The Shore Temple is a must visit which overlooks the blue waters of Bay of Bengal.
Tamil Nadu is another state one can visit when on South India tour. One can see the Meenakshi Amman Temple located in Madurai. The states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have a lot to offer to tourists. Visit the Charminar located in Hyderabad and enjoy the authentic taste of Hyderabadi Biryani.
East and Northeast India
East and Northeast India also offer beautiful destinations, especially the hill station of Darjeeling is a must visit. Another cultural hub is Kolkata, which is at its best during the time of Durga Pooja. Tourists can see the best of colonial style architecture in cities here.
Assam is a nature lover’s haven. Tourists can visit ancient temples and see the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Kaziranga National Park. Nagaland is another hill station to visit which is known for its beautiful hills and scenic valleys. The place is ideal for tourists who are into cultural immersion as one can find indigenous tribes here.
Central India has several national parks, religious sites and is known for its diverse scenery. Visit Khajuraho, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tourists can also visit the city of Jabalpur to see the tiger reserves of Pench and Kanha. The state of Bihar is known for the village named Bodh Gaya, and the Mahabodhi Temple complex, which is a sacred place. It is said that this is the place where Buddha has gained enlightenment under a Bodhi tree.
The Indian cuisine never fails to amuse you. Wherever you are traveling, you will find that the food in India changes along with the culture and is diverse like the traditions people here follow. Be it the spicy samosa or the chilled sweet lassi, the country offers everything to everyone and stands true to saying “Atithi Devo Bhava.” If you are in India, you certainly need to experience and explore the country though the taste buds.
While every state has its specialties, there are a few dishes you must eat. Let’s see what they are.
If you are in the state of Maharashtra, you will find Vada Pav almost everywhere. The vada is made using mashed potatoes and onion which are fried after being dipped in besan. The dish is not only humble but tastes divine when eaten along with garlic and sweet chutney. Another dish you can try when you are in Mumbai or Pune is Poha.
Visit a south Indian city, and you will be stunned with the number of dosa varieties you find there. Made using the batter of rice and urad dal, the dosa is filled with masalas of various kinds. The popular of the dosas are masala dosa and onion dosa. Idly sambar is another popular and staple dish of South Indian’s that tastes delicious when had with coconut chutney and spicy hot sambar.
A Punjabi dish, aloo paratha is often had with pickle and yogurt and with loads of ghee. Another proud Punjabi dish is Butter Chicken, which is a must-have if you wish to satisfy your appetite.
Another dish that is a must eat when you are in India, especially in Hyderabad, is Biryani. Made using marinated vegetables, mutton or chicken, the aromatic dish is cooked differently in different parts of the country. The Kerala Malabar Biryani and the Hyderabadi Dum Biryani are a must eat when you are in India.
India is also famous for its street food. Tourists can satisfy their palette with various kinds of chaats like Paanipuri or Bhel-puri, which are available in almost every part of the country.
If you are in Goa, you must not miss the seafood delicacies served here. The Goan Fish Curry is for sure to die for.
The deserts or sweets in India too are diverse. Visit a city or a state, and you get to taste the special sweet of that place without any trouble. People like to feast on Gajar ka Halwa during winters, and it is loaded with lots of ghee and dry fruits. Other sweets you must eat when in India are Gulab Jamun, Rabdi, Jalebi, Rasmali, and kulfi.
Indian cuisine is not limited to those listed above. Tourists certainly get to explore a lot during their culinary journey through the stress of vibrant and colorful India.
Every turn you take in India, you certainly find something you can do or see, that is stunning and will leave you with memories of a lifetime. Tourists have a lot of experiences, some fascinating, and rewarding, and some might be educational and frustrating.
Listing all the things you can do when in India is not a possible task but listed below are a few must do things to know the real India. Tourists can move away from the luxurious hotels and hill stations and explore the land the unusual way to gain some offbeat experiences.
Tourists on tour to India must visit the Taj Mahal, the Epitome of Love. The white marble monument was built during the 17th century. If possible try to visit the monument during the night on a full moon day and witness its shimmering glory. Tourists can also go on a tour of Old Delhi and Chandni Chowk, which do look like chaos but you will be surprised to see how lively the places are. One can visit the Paranthe Wali Galli to enjoy some lip-smacking food.
If you are in for an adventure, you must go on a bike ride to Ladakh, which is ultimate fun. The trip can start from Manali, and it goes through the Rohtang Pass and the scenic valley’s surrounding the place.
If you believe in fairies and wonderland, a visit to the Valley of Flowers is a must. Located in Uttarakhand, the World Heritage Site is a National park and is home to endangered species like the Snow Leopard and the Asiatic Black Bear.
If you are in for a spiritual adventure, you can pay a visit to Bodh Gaya or opt for a rejuvenating holiday at Rishikesh. A visit to the Golden Temple located at Amritsar is a must. The architecture of the temple has the influence of Hindu and Muslim and European cultures.
If you are a fan of Bollywood and want to recreate some of the Bollywood scenes, you can visit the Dal Lake at Srinagar. Tourists who are in love with the history of the country can go on a Khajuraho Trip or visit the town of Orchha, which is located at Bundelkhand district. Tourists can also go on a train journey by taking a ride on the toy train at Darjeeling.
Tourists can also be a part of festivities in India or take part in the Kumbh Mela and Durga Puja celebrations.
India has a lot of offer to its tourists, and the list can be never-ending. Come visit India to learn about its history, culture, and traditions.
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