India is a land of great diversity with most fascinating travel destinations in the world. It is one of the largest and most populated countries in the world with more than one billion inhabitants. Geographically, it sticks out into the Indian Ocean and up into the Asian subcontinent.
Culturally, it is dominated by a strict religious caste system, but it is a home to several of the world's largest religions. Pilgrims from all over the world come to worship in its various regions and at shrines. Despite being home to ancient beliefs, it is also a home to a striving film industry and a growing high tech economy.
The geography of India is just as diverse as its culture. To the north is the world's highest mountain range which includes Mount Everest in neighboring Nepal and Tibet. The mountains make for some of the most inaccessible regions of the world but also are the source of several river networks that flow into fertile agricultural plains. The northern agricultural regions, in turn, give way to a tropical climate further south. Of course, there also is a desert region.
The large area covered by India, it is the seventh largest country in the world, makes for a number of distinct regions. India is divided into 28 states and seven territories. Even though more than 80 percent of the country's people are Hindus, these various states are divided by belief in addition to geography. Monsoon rains also have a large impact on the country, with floods killing many over the years.
As dramatic as the geography is the country's politics. Violence born out of religious and cultural differences has seen many deaths throughout history. British domination of the country also led to much of the turmoil. In another of India's many paradoxes, this unrest led to the rise of one of history's most famous men of peace, Mohandas Gandhi, revered as the "Mahatma," which means "great soul."
India bears the mantle of being the world's largest democracy. Although the Indian National Congress Party dominated elections for many years, rival parties have grown greatly in recent years. These days the National Congress Party and several others, including the Communists, compete for power. A number of local and regional political parties also have risen to prominence.
India is one of the cradles of civilization with a history dating back more than 9,000 years. It is the birthplace of at least two of the world's major religions and the growth and friction between these factions has been responsible for much unrest over the years. It also is a land rich in resources and something that has made it a target of colonialism.
During the earliest parts of its history, India was really not a single country but a collection of kingdoms. Sultans and pashas divided up the country largely on geographical and religious divisions. Rich agricultural areas cover much of the country and its mineral wealth once accounted for the majority of the world's supply of diamonds.
Some of the earliest inhabitants of India lived in Bhimbetha some 8950 year ago. The region is at the foot of the Vindhyachal hills where a number of cave and rock paintings were found in the 19th century. The rock shelters of Bhimbetha are south of the city of Bhopal in north central India and the area is listed as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization( UNESCO) cultural site, one of several in India.
India also is known for its Bronze Age settlements in the Indus Valley dating back to 3000 Bce. These archeological ruins in western India near Pakistan are thought to have been home to as many as five million inhabitants. Scientists have found that the civilization included advanced urban planning and was comparable to the civilization that developed in Egypt.
Two weeks holiday in Nepal with Mission Eco-Trek
My wife and I took a 2 week tour in Nepal with Mission Eco-Trek in Feb 2011 and had a fantastic time. Mission Eco-Trek provided the very highest caliber guides and Ram Kumar (the proprietor) personally made sure that everything went smoothly. When storms caused our original flights to be cancelled and then cancelled for a second time, he graciously accommodated our changes at no extra cost. The cost was reasonable and the services provided were exceptional -even beyond what we had expected from the contract....
Kevin & Jacque
New York, USA