Far away from the American continents, across the north Atlantic, beyond the European peninsula, over the vast Arabian desert, and east of the Hindu Kush mountains lies India—one word encompassing more than one billion identities.
When foreigners think of India, they think of the Himalayas, Cricket, Bollywood, and the Taj Mahal. However, it is so much more than just that. Today, I would like to tell you more about my homeland, India.
An Introduction to India
I chose this topic because I love learning about history and culture. Moreover, I was born in India and am being raised as a Hindu in a Hindi speaking North Indian Family. It’s important to learn about India because it’s a very important country in our world.
Not only is it the most populated country and the world’s largest democracy, but it’s also the birthplace of the four major religions of this world. Notably, the south Asian country has the fastest growing economy in the world, which has sextupled in size in less than 20 years. It’s more than just a country striving for economic and social success, it is a spiritual, social, and cultural home for millions.
From the Golden Temple in Amritsar to the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, speaking Hindi in Uttar Pradesh to Telugu in Andhra Pradesh, and wearing kurtas in North India to dhotis in South India, the south Asian country is essential to a myriad of people. In order to start exploring the various different reasons to visit India, we will start with its cultural diversity.
Then, we’ll learn about its architecture, history, and religious sites. Lastly, we will conclude with its geography. Let us dive into learning what makes India so culturally diverse.
India’s Culture & Diversity
India is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, as many different languages are spoken there. Not only is it home to various religious practices, more than 100 spoken languages, houses different ethnic and cultural groups, but it is also home to many different traditions.
There are 29 states, each with their own unique, official language and a slightly different culture. For instance, in Uttar Pradesh, a state in northern India, the official languages are Hindi and Urdu. Meanwhile, in Tamil Nadu, a state in southern India, the official language is Tamil. If you traveled east to Bengal, you would find Bengali speakers. Travel in the opposite direction to the west, and you’d see people speaking Gujarati or Marathi.
Clothing is different in every region. When you travel across states, you’ll realize that language isn’t the only thing that changes, the people’s clothing, festivities, and ethnic makeup also change. In northern India, you’ll find women in salwar kameezes and men in kurtas. However, in south India, you will find women in sarees and men in dhotis. In addition to clothing, various parts of India celebrate different things. Hence, each region has its own unique festivities.
Festivals & Celebrations
Some famous festivals of North India are Diwali, Holi, Lohri, Baisakhi, and Teej. Although, Onam, Utsav, Mysore Dasara, and Pongal are celebrated in south India. These festivals are not only specific to the region but also specific to the state. For instance, Gujarat, a state in west India, is big on celebrating Navaratri, a nine-day festival to celebrate divine femininity.
The Ethnic Divide
Lastly, the ethnic makeup of Indians varies a lot. The most distinct difference is between north and south Indians. North Indians have more caucasian features because they live in a cooler region, therefore, they have longer faces, lighter skin color, and longer and sharper noses. Now that we have discussed the people, it is time to discuss their architecture.
Architecture in India
The second reason to visit India is to witness its magnificent architecture, and visiting the Taj Mahal is a must. It is a UNESCO world heritage site. UNESCO describes it as an, “immense mausoleum of white marble, built in Agra between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, the Taj Mahal is the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.”
Another architectural marvel from the Mughals is the red fort, the lal qila. It is a famous fort in Old Delhi, Delhi, India, which served as the Mughal Emperors’ main residence. Indo-Islamic is the style of its architecture.
Another architectural marvel in Delhi is the India Gate. At the center of New Delhi stands the 42 m high India Gate, an “Arc-de-Triomphe” like archway in the middle of a crossroad. According to the Government of Delhi, it was made to, “Commemorate the 70,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British Army during World War I.”
Lastly, you must visit India to see the lotus temple. This a lotus-shaped temple, as the name would imply. The temple complex is made up of 27 separate marble “petals” that have been grouped into three sections to create nine sides. As the meaning behind creating the architecture suggests, India has a vibrant history.
The History of India
Furthermore, another reason to visit India is to learn about its interesting history. Its lengthy and varied past includes numerous ancient civilizations, such as the Indus Valley Civilization, as well as the Mughal Empire and British colonial control. The Indus Valley Civilization, which flourished in what is now northwest India and Pakistan, was the first known civilization in India. According to Devi Course, “…this civilization dates back to 3300 BC and was known for its well-planned cities, advanced drainage systems, and the use of a writing system.”
The Vedic Era, which spanned from 1500 BC to 500 BC, is another crucial era in India’s history. At this period, Hinduism came into existence and the Vedas, a collection of historic Hindu books, were compiled. The Mahajanapadas, India’s first kingdom, was founded during this time, along with the expansion of the Hindu caste system.
The Mughal Empire, which was succeeded by British colonial control, had a considerable impact on Indian culture and art, as did the Mauryan Empire.British Raj and Independence Movement India finally gained its independence from British rule in 1947 as a result of the independence struggle, which was championed by individuals like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.
Based on India’s history, we can tell that it was introduced to a lot of different people, and these people had different religious beliefs.
India is home to many different religions, thus, it has many religious sites. Varanasi, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and a center of Buddhist and Hindu pilgrimage, is the spiritual and cultural center of India.Varanasi was allegedly founded by Lord Shiva and is known as the “City of Gods.” There are numerous saints who reside there. Amritsar, home to the Golden Temple, is the most sacred site for Sikhs, another religious city. Because of the Golden Temple, Amritsar is regarded as a location of immense spiritual significance.
Clearly, India is a huge country and has vast geographical features. So… Lastly, India is a very geographically diverse subcontinent, and thus it has many natural attractions. The most popular attraction are the Himalayas, the highest mountain range in the world. When you visit the mountain range, you’ll notice amazing scenery, rare wildlife, and beautifully chilling rivers.
Another geographical marvel is the Thar Desert, known for Camel Safari, Desert Safari, and Jeep Safari. Located in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent, the Great Indian Desert spans 205,000 km^2 in both India and Pakistan. It ranks as the world’s ninth-largest hot subtropical desert and the world’s 20th-largest desert overall.
Moreover, you must visit the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world. The severely endangered indigenous river terrapin, estuary crocodiles, Ganges and Irrawaddy dolphins, and Royal Bengal Tiger are just a few of the endangered species found in the Sundarbans.
India as a Whole
The South Asian nation of India is fascinating to learn due to its rich culture, history, and religion. One billion people call it home, but despite their many linguistic, cultural, and racial backgrounds, they are all united by a shared love and loyalty for India. This is because India is a diverse country where many communities have come together to create something more and better than themselves.
As a whole, India is a culturally varied gem that is home to stunning architecture and a wide range of religions as a result of the combination of history, people, and tradition. The country also has a variety of geographical features, thus there are numerous natural attractions there. India is just like a work of art, created with several brush strokes from different people. Between learning English from the British conquerors, to adapting the salwar kameez from the Mughals to learning peacemaking from Gandhi, India is a diversified masterpiece.
Even if their individual contributions are modest and unique, when they combine, they create a collective Indian identity that is interesting to learn about. As a result, everyone should travel to India, a country with a rich diversity.
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