The Republic of India is an extremely diverse country, with vast differences in geography, climate, culture, language and ethnicity.
The country’s culture and heritage are a rich mix of past and present, influenced by both ancient civilizations, fascinating religions, spectacular monuments and an incredible variety of languages, as well as modern day technology, media and economy of a globalized world.
India holds virtually every kind of landscape imaginable and promises something for everyone. The country is a fantastic natural mosaic, with high mountains, deep jungles, huge deserts, mangroves and beaches. To the north, northeast and northwest the snow-capped Himalayas create a natural border and protect the country from invaders and feed the perennial sacred Ganges, Brahmaputra, Jamuna and Indus rivers. India, being one of the eighteen megadiverse countries, displays significant biodiversity, with many ecoregions showing extreme high rates of endemism. The country’s wildlife is protected in more than five hundred sanctuaries, biosphere reserves and wetlands. India’s forests range from the tropical rainforest of the Andaman Islands, Western Ghats, and northeastern India, to decidious forests in central and southern India, to the coniferous forest of the Himalaya.
Home to the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation and a region of historic trade routes and vast empires, the Indian subcontinent was identified with its commercial and cultural wealth for much of its long history. The Vedic civilization, in the second and first millennia BC, laid the foundations of Hinduism and other cultural aspects of early Indian society, and influences India to this day. Between 500 BC and AD 500 many great empires were formed, among them the Mauryas and the Guptas.
Following Islamic invasions from Central Asia between the 10th and 12th centuries, almost the entire Indian subcontinent became part of the Mughal Empire. The most important of the Muslim rulers were the Mughals, while the major Hindu force that survived in the north were the Rajputs. This period is referred to as India’s Golden Age, with science, technology, engineering, art, logic, language, literature, mathematics, astronomy,religion and philosophy flourishing. European traders started visiting India beginning in the late 16th century, which eventually led to the colonization of the country by the British. Non-violent resistance to British colonialism under Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi led to independence on 15 August 1947.
India has a very rich and diverse mix of culture and tradition, dominated by religious and spiritual themes. There is no single unified Indian culture, and it’s probably the only country where people of so many different origins, religious beliefs, languages and ethnic backgrounds coexist.
Indian religions form one of the most defining aspects of Indian culture. Major dhármic religions which were founded in India include Hinduism, Buddhismand Jainism. Buddhism originated in India in 5th century BC. Religious practices are an integral part of everyday life and are a very public affair.
As diverse and rich its nature, history and culture are, is India’s superb food. Each region has its own cuisine and style of preparation. Indian cuisine is characterised by a wide variety of regional styles and sophisticated use of herbs and spices. What India has exported abroad is just one part of its extraordinary range of culinary diversity.
The colourful mosaic of Indian festivals and fairs, is packed with fun and excitement. A festival or a celebration is never constrained to a family or a home. Festivals are all celebrated by sharing sweets and pleasantries with family, neighbours and friends. Every season brings along new festivals, each a true celebration of the bounties of the rich traditions followed for time immemorial.
Festivals in India are a true celebration of life!