...a land for all seasons
An Overview : The subcontinent of India lies in south Asia, between Pakistan, China and Nepal. To the north it is bordered by the world's highest mountain chain, where foothill valleys cover the northernmost of the country's 26 states. Further south, plateaus, tropical rain forests and sandy deserts are bordered by palm fringed beaches .
Side by side with the country's staggering topographical variations is its cultural diversity, the result of the coexistence of a number of religions as well as local tradition. Thus, the towering temples of south India, easily identifiable by their ornately sculptured surface, are associated with a great many crafts and performing arts of the region.
In the desert of Kutch, Gujarat, on the other hand, a scattering of villages pit themselves against the awesome forces of nature, resulting in Spartan lifestyles made vibrant by a profusion of jewelry and ornamental embroidery used to adorn apparel and household linen. In the extreme north is the high altitude desert of Ladakh. Local culture is visibly shaped by the faith - Buddhism -as well as by the harsh terrain. Yet another facet of Indian culture is observed in the colorful tribal lifestyles of the north eastern states of Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura and Manipur with their folk culture.
In the central Indian states of Orissa and Madhya Pradesh tribal village life has resulted in a variety of artistically executed handicrafts.
India's mountains provide heli skiing, river running, mountaineering and trekking. Its beaches provide lazy sun-bathing as well as wind surfing and snorkeling, and its jungles provide shooting wildlife -with a camera.
India's history goes back to 3,200 BC when Hinduism was first founded. Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism. Judaism. Zoroashtrianism, Christianity and Islam all exist within the country today. As a consequence of India's size, the history of the country has seldom been the same for two adjoining territories, and its great natural wealth has lured a succession of traders and foreign influences to it, each having left their imprint in the country, however faint or localized. Thus, Chinese fishing nets in Kerala are a throwback to that country's ancient maritime trade, while in the north, terra-cotta figurines of the centuries BC bear distinctly Greek traces.
Modern India is home alike to the tribal with his anachronistic lifestyle and to the sophisticated urban jetsetter. It is a land where temple elephants exist amicably with the microchip. Its ancient monuments are the backdrop for the world's largest democracy where atomic energy is generated and industrial development has brought the country within the world's top ten nations. Today, fishermen along the country's coastline fashion simple fishing boats in a centuries old tradition while, a few miles away. motor vehicles glide off conveyor belts in state-of-the-art factories.
India is set apart from the rest of Asia by the Himalayas, the highest, youngest and still evolving mountain chain on the planet. The subcontinent as it is rightly called, touches three large water bodies and is immediately recognizable on any world map. This thick, roughly triangular peninsula defines the Bay of Bengal to the east, the Arabian sea to the west, and the India Ocean to the south.
India holds virtually every kind of landscape imaginable. An abundance of mountain ranges and national parks provide ample opportunity for eco-tourism and trekking, and its sheer size promises something for everyone. From north to south India extends a good 2000 miles (3200 km), where the island nation of Sri Lanka seems to be squeezed out of India like a great tear, the synapse forming the Gulf of Mannar.
Himalayas, the world's highest mountain chain and Nepal as its Neighbouring country dominate India's northern border. Following the sweeping mountains to the northeast, its borders narrow to a small channel that passes between Nepal, Tibet, Bangladesh, and Bhutan, then spreads out again to meet Burma in the "eastern triangle." Apart from the Arabian Sea, its western border is defined exclusively by Pakistan.
North India is the country's largest region begins with Jammu and Kashmir, with terrain varying from arid mountains in the far north to the lake country and forests near Srinagar and Jammu. Moving south along the Indus river, the North becomes flatter and more hospitable, widening into the fertile plains of Punjab to the west and the Himalayan foothills of Uttar Pradesh and the Ganges river valley to the East. Cramped between these two states is the capital city, Delhi.
The states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, and part of the massive, central state of Madhya Pradesh constitute West India. Extending from the Gujarat peninsula down to Goa, the west coast is lined with some of India's best beaches. The land along the coast is typically lush with rainforests. The Western Ghats separate the verdant coast from the Vindya Mountains and the dry Deccan plateau further inland.
India is the home of the sacred River Ganges and the majority of Himalayan foothills, East India begins with the states of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, which comprise the westernmost part of the region. East India also contains an area known as the eastern triangle, which is entirely distinct. This is the last gulp of land that extends beyond Bangladesh, culminating in the Naga Hills along the Burmese border.
India reaches its peninsular tip with South India, which begins with the Deccan in the north and ends with Cape Comorin. The states in South India are Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, a favourite leisure destination. The southeast coast, mirroring the west, also rests snugly beneath a mountain range---the Eastern Ghats.
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