With 1.2 billion inhabitants, India is the world’s second most populous country although it is only the 7th largest country in terms of geographical size. Over 10 million people live in each of the major cities of Mumbai, Kolkata (or Calcutta) and Delhi. It is home to some of the world’s most significant historical and religious figures, traditions and tales. Its rich history has intrigued travellers for centuries, luring them to Asian soil in search of information, insight and understanding.
India is surrounded by Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. It is also bordered on the southern side by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Just off its shores are Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the gorgeous Maldives. This proximity means that India is a convenient base destination for those wanting to explore other such sights and sounds.
The country is probably best known for its religious cultures. There are 4 main religious groups (Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism), but other religions (including Judaism and Christianity) are also represented in India. These were introduced by colonialists and have played a major role in ensuring that this country is marked by its diversity and complex culture. The British ruled India until 1947, when they finally gained independence. Today, India is a republic.
India is home to a portion of the highest mountains in the world, the Himalayas. These are situated in the north and north-east of the country, along with 6 other countries. These mountains are considered sacred in both the Buddhist and Hindu
religions. India is particularly varied in terms of the plants and animals that have made it their home. A third of the plant species found in this country are endemic to India, and over 12% of bird species and 7% of mammal species are found here. This natural profusion grants India an unrivalled splendour. There are also many forests, both coniferous and tropical. To protect these resources, there are many national parks and reserves throughout India.
Prayer and worship on the Ganges, Varanasi. The City of Shiva is one
of the holiest cities in India and Hindu pilgrims come to wash away
their sins at a place that links the physical and spiritual world.
India’s economy has soared to being amongst the fastest growing in the world. Over half a billion people are actively involved in the labour force, with the service sector making up the largest proportion of the industries. India exports textiles, gems, jewellery, software, chemicals and leather and imports crude oil, fertiliser and machinery.
Indian is culturally oriented. Customs and religious beliefs permeate every aspect of their lives and habits, providing
visitors with a deep sense of spiritual gravity. After centuries of European and western influence, the age-old traditions remain, if somewhat influenced by outside persuasions. Today, family values remain high on the priority list. An Indian home usually includes the extended family members as well (grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins). Almost all marriages are pre-arranged by the parents, often for under-age girls, and divorce is not tolerated.
Taj Mahal, Agra, India in the early morning light
The art, music and cuisine of this country are unique. They have taken a strong foothold in the cultural platform of the entire world, representing the ideals and nature of the Indian lifestyle. As with many other cultures that enjoy such an extensive heritage, Indian art and culture depicts more than just a simple rhythm or message. Rather, it is used to appeal to the gods, to achieve specific means in one’s own life, or to convey important information across generations.
When visiting India, tourists are urged to visit the Taj Mahal, the Himalayas and the various temples.
Here is the Official India Governmentt web site: http://india.gov.in/
Here is the Official India Tourism web site: http://www.incredibleindia.org