There’s no perfect starting point for India: You just have to dive right in and surrender yourself to this extraordinary corner of South Asia! That said, the Golden Triangle—the much-visited and much-celebrated region described by Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur— serves up some of the country’s most epic sights and experiences. No landmark symbolizes India so completely as the Taj Mahal, Agra’s resplendent Mughal mausoleum. Jaipur is one of Asia’s most sought-after tourist destinations, what with historical marvels such as Nahargarh Fort and the Jal Mahal palace helping to compose its hill-backdropped cityscape. In addition to its amazing lineup of historical sites, Delhi provides the ideal venue to savor India’s remarkable mix of cultures—and its unbelievable cuisine, which will have you cleaning your plate with a shred of paratha or naan as your delectable utensil!
In addition to the national language, Hindi, there are 14 other official languages, which reflects the diversity of the country. Four major world religions originated here: Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism.
Bollywood productions have brought the bright colors, lavish costumes and music of India to the world. The film industry is centered in Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay.
The most popular sport for playing and viewing in India is by far cricket, a bat and ball sport with lengthy matches. The sport originated in the UK, but was brought to India via the East India Company in the 18th century. The India national team has done well in world competitions. Although cricket is the most popular sport, field hockey is actually the national sport of India and like most of the world soccer is well-liked. It is believed that the sport of badminton originated in India as an adaptation of an old English children’s game.
The evolution of Indian food was shaped by the rajahs, Indian rulers, whose chefs created ever more exotic dishes to please their employers. Indian cuisine’s diversity matches the diversity of the country’s regions, climate, religions and cultures.
Indian food does have a reputation for being hot; so if you are not accustomed to spicy food, just order your dish accordingly. India’s gastronomy makes extensive use of spices and herbs to create its unique flavors. Some of the most common flavors include salty, pungent, sweet, bitter, sour and astringent.
Indian breads, such as naan and roti, originated in northern India because the area is known for growing wheat. The breads are often used to dip into the sauces of various Indian dishes. Much of India’s food includes the staples lentils, beans, pulses and in the south particularly rice. The Kashmir area leans toward meat based meals, while coastal regions such as Kerala, Goa and Bengal, favor fish as a main feature.
Tandoori chicken, samosas, pakoras, and rice pilafs have become popular outside the country as are curries of which there is a great variety including the very spicy vindaloo.
The tea plantations of the country have created a nation of tea drinkers, and chai, which has become popular in other places, originated in India. In coastal areas visitors enjoy refreshing coconut water.
Health conscious travelers won’t have much difficulty finding healthy and tasty meals as Indian dishes tend toward ample amounts of vegetables along with healthy grains and most restaurants have several vegetarian dishes on their menus. Yogurt served as an accompaniment to many Indian meals is considered to be beneficial to the digestive system. India even has a practice called Ayurveda, which is an ancient system of traditional medicine combining diet, nutrition and health through the balance of the five elements.
India, located in southern Asia, is the seventh largest country in the world and one of the most populous. India shares its borders with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bangladesh, Burma and Bhutan. Its long coastline touches the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean.
India’s diverse geography includes vast plains, rivers, deserts, mountains, mangrove forests and islands. The northern region contains some of the highest mountains in the world, the Himalayas, which attract mountain climbers to attempt the challenges of Mount Everest and K2.
Delhi is the former seat of various Indian empires, and current center of government in India. Old Delhi’s narrow streets are lined with imposing mosques. The new city, designed with spacious avenues, was created by the British Raj and is home to many of the city’s government buildings. As the culture capital of India, some of Delhi’s most prominent sites include the Red Fort, the India Gate and the Lotus Temple.
The pink city of Jaipur, so named for the beautiful blush tones of its spectacular buildings, attracts many visitors. The city’s finest architectural example, the Taj Mahal, is a must see for anyone traveling to the city.
Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, has a colonial past which almost gets hidden among the largest city in India’s flashy new malls and apartment blocks. The influence of the city’s film industry, Bollywood style movies, is reflected in the trendy fashions seen the city’s nightspots.
Most visited cities: Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai, Agra, Goa, Kolkata, Varanasi
India contains part of the Indus Valley, which is home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world. Due to its location in the center of Asia, the area became a crossroads of culture between other Asian nations, Africa and Europe.
In the 5th century much of India was united under Ashoka, one of India’s greatest rulers, who converted to Buddhism, thus spreading the religion to other parts of Asia. A succession of empires and religions followed his reign, until finally during the 16th century under the Mughal Empire a measure of political unity was achieved.
Europe had established a presence in India by the 15th century when the Portuguese set up trading outposts in Goa and Bombay. By the 18th and 19th centuries, India had fallen under the control of the British East India Company. Dissatisfaction with the way the region was being ruled led to a rebellion in 1857, which led to the British Crown directly ruling various Indian provinces though other provinces were controlled by local royal families. In fact, England’s Queen Victoria was crowned the Empress of India.
Continued dissatisfaction led to nonviolent resistance movements during the 1920’s onwards, of which world figure Gandhi played a significant role advocating civil disobedience and economic resistance. This movement led to independence in 1947, with the area divided along lines of religion into two countries, India and Pakistan, a decision that still has repercussions today. Jawaharlal Nehru became prime minister of the country and later his daughter, Indira, became prime minister of India as well. In 1950, India became a new republic with a new constitution. Today India is a country in which the economy and tourism industry are rapidly growing.