Indian history dates back to 3000 BC. Excavations in Punjab and Gujarat reveal that the Indus Valley civilisation was a highly developed urban civilisation. In fact the two cities of Harappa and Mohenjodaro, situated on two sides of the river Ravi , are known to have been built on a similar plan. But that only meant a new wave of urbanisation was taking place along the Ganges around 1500 BC. This has been recorded in the Rig Veda - the earliest known literary source composed in this period that sheds light on India 's past.
By 6th century BC, the Magadh rulers dominated the Northern plains. It was also the time when new thinking emerged in the form of Buddhism and Jainism to challenge Hindu orthodoxy. The Magadh rule was followed by the rule of Chandragupta Maurya (322-298 B.C.), one of India 's greatest emperors. The Mauryan reign peaked under the reign of Ashoka the Great who extended his empire from the Kashmir and Peshawar in the North to Mysore in the South and Orissa in the East. Not only was Ashoka a great ruler, he was one of the most successful propagators of Buddhism in the country. After Ashoka's death in 232 B.C. the empire began to disintegrate and the country was repeatedly raided and plundered by foreign invaders, leaving India disunited and weak for the next 400 years. Stability returned with the reign of Chandra Gupta I (380-412 A.D.). His rule is considered the golden period in Indian history when art and culture flourished and the country prospered.Check out our recommended travel packages.
Unlike the North of India, foreign invasions had little impact on life in South India which also saw the rise and decline of many empires. These included the Cholas whose rule extended to Sri Lanka and South East Asia , the Pandyas, the Cheras, the Pallavas and the Chalukyas. Under the various rulers, arts and craft in the South also saw the emergence of various styles of architecture and some of the grandest architectural accomplishments in the South - the most famous being the exquisitely crafted Chola bronzes. These were followed by the Hoysala and the Vijaynagar empires - among the greatest Hindu empires.
The Muslim Invasions
The first Muslim invasions of the country started with the Mahmud of Gazni, who plundered the sub-continent for its riches between 1001 and 1025. Later Mohamed Ghori defeated Prithviraj Chauhan, the Tomar ruler of Delhi and left it in charge of his deputy, Qutub-ud-din, the man who built the QutubMinar in Delhi . His rule was followed by that of the Khilji, Tughlaq, Sayyid and Lodi dynasties. Known as the Sultanate of Delhi, it was during this period that the Muslim rulers introduced Islamic concepts of society and governance to most of the sub-continent, though the South remained largely untouched.
In 1525, Babur, a descendant of Timur, as well as Genghis Khan invaded Punjab and eventually founded the Mughal empire in India . His rule was followed by that of his son Humayun. Humayun was ousted by Afghan chieftain Sher Shah but resumed power after Sher Shah's death. Sher Shah is, however, remembered as the one to build the Grand Trunk road spanning from Peshawar to Patna .Humayun's reign was followed up by his son Akbar who actually consolidated power and extended the empire across North India and parts of South India . One of India 's wisest rulers and most able administrators, Akbar's reign is considered to be one of the best the country has known. Akbar was succeeded by Jahangir, followed by his son Shah Jahan - best known as the builder of the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid. Shah Jahan's reign was followed by Aurangzeb's. The death of Aurangzeb saw the decline of the Mughal rule in India.
Over the centuries India had always been attractive to traders, and one of the first Europeans to come to India was the Portuguese trader Vasco da Gama who landed at Calicut , sailing via the Cape of Good Hope in 1498. The Portuguese established their colony in Goa in the 16th Century but they did not expand it though their rule continued till 1961. Vasco da Gama was followed by the French, the Dutch and the English, all of whom were lured by the commercial interests that India offered. By the last quarter of the 18th century the English established themselves as the dominant power in India and they set about making revolutionary changes in the social, political and the economic life of the country.
The disintegration of the Mughal empire, fighting among the Maratha rulers and inability of the various rulers across the country to unite against a common enemy saw the British consolidate their position in the country. However, the 19th century saw a revival of national pride and social reform and the Indians began to tire of the suppressive British rule. Things reached a flash point in the second half of the 19th century when the first war of independence in 1857 broke out in Meerut . It was sparked off by the introduction of a new rifle and cartridge by the British in the Army. The cartridges which soldiers had to bite off, allegedly contained pork and beef tallow, which offended the religious sentiments of both Hindus and Muslims. The soldiers rebelled, reached Delhi and proclaimed Bahadurshah Zafar the sovereign ruler of India . They were eventually overpowered by the British.
But there was no looking back for the Indians who wanted social reform and freedom. The Indian National Congress was set up and educated Indians started formulating strategies to assert their birthright to independence. The anti-British sentiment became a mass movement with the arrival of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who devised a unique strategy for India 's freedom struggle based on non-violence and civil disobedience. He conceived and led the non-cooperation movement in 1922, the Salt Satyagraha in 1930 and the Quit India Movement in 1942. All of which pushed the British into agreeing to transfer power on August 15, 1947, the day that is now celebrated as India 's Independence Day. Today, India is the world's largest democracy with a federal form of government
Tourism in India has shown a phenomenal growth in the past decade. One of the reasons is that the Ministry of tourism, India has realized the immense potential of tourism in India during vacations. India travel tourism has grown rapidly with a great influx of tourists from all across the globe who have been irresistibly attracted to the rich culture, heritage, and incredible natural beauty of India.
India tourism with its foggy hill stations, captivating beaches, historical monuments, golden deserts, serene backwaters, pilgrimage sites, rich wildlife, and colourful fairs capture the heart of every tourist. In addition, a variety of festivals, lively markets, vibrant lifestyle, and traditional Indian hospitality, will make your experience as an india tourist truly unforgettable and fantastic.
Travel through the lovely Indian states and discover closely the resplendent colors and rich cultural locales of this incredible land. Our India tourism guide provides you a glimpse of travel and tourism in india ,india tourism information about south india tourism, north India tourism, and all the major tourist destinations, and tourism services of India.
The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013 ranks India 65th out of 144 countries overall. The report ranks the price competitiveness of India's tourism sector 20th out of 144 countries. It mentions that India has quite good air transport (ranked 39th), particularly given the country’s stage of development, and reasonable ground transport infrastructure (ranked 42nd). Some other aspects of its tourism infrastructure remain somewhat underdeveloped however. The nation has very few hotel rooms per capita by international comparison and low ATM penetration. The World Tourism Organization reported that India's receipts from tourism during 2012 ranked 16th in the world, and 7th among Asian and Pacific countries
One of the chief pleasures of visiting India is staying at a palace hotel. Take a look at the accommodations in India where you can taste the high life.
- Laxmi Niwas Palace, Lallgarh Complex, Bikaner Built in the early 20th century in memory of Maharaja Ganga Singh?s father, the sprawling 42-room red sandstone structure is renowned for its opulent architecture. The palace features a collection of rare Sanskrit manuscripts and a museum with possessions of the late maharajas, including British tin soldiers.
- Samode Palace, Samode A 19th century family fortress run by descendants of Jaipur?s former Prime Minister RawalSheo Singh. Family photos line the walls in several of the 43 room, which feature durries rugs and antique canopy beds; a few rooms have their own fountain.
- Udai Bilas Palace, Dungapur The wings of this royal residence surround the intricately carved EK Thambia Mahal, or one pillared palace, creating an atmospheric courtyard. Inlaid walls embellish the grand suite, one of 20 distinctive rooms. Guests dine at a banquet table beneath a Burmese teak ceiling, while mounted animal heads add a Raj-era-feel.
- UmaidBhawan Palace, Jodhpur Known as Chhittar Palace for the namesake sandstone of its stately exterior, the immense art deco edifice remains the residence of the Maharaja of Jodhpur and features 47 guest rooms. Indian cuisine is served at the buffet-style Marwar Hall; the Pillars, and open ? ? air eatery overlooks the lawns.
Ayurveda - The new balm for fevered souls
When alternative lifestyles and stressful schedules are talking points in the cosmopolitan circuits, Ayurveda, the art of ancient Indian healing cannot be far behind. The inability of modern allopathy to allay all sicknesses and diseases has made an increasing number of people turn to ayurveda, which has a cornucopia of ancient secret cures for stubborn diseases. Along with yoga, Ayurveda is the new balm for fevered souls. It uses natural herbs and their oils to treat ailments and ensure a healthy life. Most of the centres for Ayurveda, called Ayurveda Shalas, are in Kerala on the South Coast. This is beach country as well, so bring along your sunscreens and hats. In fact many westerners have made ayurvedic spas their annual treat, combining a relaxing holiday with cleansing for their bodies.
Say "massage" in the context of an Asian country, and the first thoughts that come flooding in are those of the exotic massage parlors of Pattaya. But an ayurvedic massage is the real thing. These are serious life-enriching massages, so be prepared to get some energetic flesh pounding from experts. While you soak in the herbs you can watch the beaches of Vizhinjam packed with boats out to sail in the sunset. From the beach you can see their lights strung out like pearls in a necklace from the coast. Look forward to being draped with pieces of linen, dipped in lukewarm herbal oils, all over the body by two to four trained therapists in a special rhythmic way. This goes on continuously for about 60 to 90 minutes per day for a period of 7 to 21 days, and is said to be an effective remedy for rheumatic diseases. It's supposed to be good for your nerves too and should pep up your overall energy levels as well
Blessed with snow-clad peaks, crystal glaciers, rolling meadows, beautiful valleys, meandering rivers, gushing waterfalls, thick forests, swampy deltas and magical moonscapes - India has something for everyone looking for adventure, however thrilling or risky it may be, it is recommended that every traveler has Travel Insurance as back up.
Up North, the Himalayan ranges that stretch across the country are the most intimidating, enthralling and beautiful mountains in the world. They offer the ultimate challenge to any adventurer whatever their pursuit - mountaineering, rock climbing, trekking or white water rafting. For any mountaineer the Himalayas are a perennial challenge. And with their ever-changing terrain, there is something new to see in every season and every region, be it the gentle slopes of the Garhwaland Kumaon region, the sharp ragged gorges of Himachal Pradesh, the pristine untouched beauty of Sikkim or the fantastic moonscapes of Jammu and Kashmir. Climbing these mountains is a spiritual experience that will make you keep coming back for more.
If mountaineering is not your scene, but you still want to savour the beauty of these mighty mountains, try trekking. From the foothills to the higher ranges, mountain trails - many of them unexplored - are a great way to experience the Himalayas . Some of the best trekking routes on the mountain sides are in the Garhwal and Kumaon regions of Uttranchal, Chamba and Manali in Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Zanskar and Spiti in Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim and the virtually untouched north eastern states of India. Trekking is one of the best ways to enjoy the panoramic and magnificent sites of the awesome mountains- the rivers, flora and fauna. The best part is that virtually anyone can go on a trek.
Of course, for the more energetic, the Himalayan mountain ranges offer other adventure opportunities like rock climbing, heli-skiing, hang gliding, mountain biking and even paragliding.
If you like water sports, again the Himalayas offer you some of the best river runs in the world. The foaming rapids on the Ganges in Rishikesh, Uttaranchal, the Beas in Himachal Pradesh and Teetsa in Sikkim are some of the toughest and most exciting you can find anywhere.
Further South you can enjoy the water adventures along both the west and the east coasts of India . The islands of Andaman and Nicobar in the Bay of Bengal and Lakshadweep in the Indian Ocean are virtually untouched and are some of the best spots for scuba diving and snorkeling. The beaches of Goa and Kerala also offer other sporting opportunities like water skiing, wind surfing and sailing.
Also unique are India 's jungle and desert safaris. In fact one of the most magical ways to discover the sands of Rajasthan, especially the unending sand dunes of Jaisalmer and Bikaner, is on camel back. Today, many heritage resorts run by erstwhile royalty also give you the option of enjoying the countryside on horseback, by far the best way to explore the countryside, see its' remote forts and palaces, and interact with its people.
Parks and Sanctuaries
Similarly, exploring India 's many wildlife parks and sanctuaries on elephant back is a unique experience. Most tiger and rhino sanctuaries offer this option and it's a better way of viewing wildlife than using a noisy jeep safari.
Other adventure activities available in the country are:
Sailing on the West coast in Mumbai, Goa and the lakes around Pune Polo in Rajasthan and Delhi
Ballooning, facilities for which are available for amateurs and professionals across the country
Whether you like living life on the edge, or you just want to enjoy the occasional thrill of the unknown, India has something for everyone.
Sun, surf and sand beck on thousands of sun-deprived tourists to India because it has the most mind-boggling varieties of beaches anywhere in the world. Placid lagoons and backwaters, marine estuaries teeming with fish, bays and rough lava-rocked seas, crashing surf, pure powdery golden sand or palm fringed shores where the mind is soothed by serene murmurs of the sea - you have them all.
Both the West and East Coast of India offer verdant vistas of palm on the Arabian Sea shores or the Bay of Bengal. The coasts of India have their own seafood cuisine, relaxing spas, diving and water sports and great places to stay for a balmy holiday. Set amidst the blue of the Arabian Sea and the lush green vegetation of Kerala, Kovalam is one of India 's best sea resorts. The long coastline lined with swaying coconut palm trees and dotted with an occasional fishing hamlet is fast developing into one of the world's best string of beaches.
Wake up to the yoga exercises in the morning and close your eyes to the tender fingers massaging your body in the finest traditions of herbal massages. The sea applauds the beach temple in Mahabalipuram, gloriously silhouetted against the spectrum of the seven colors in the sky. Puri, on the East Coast, is surely the world's most picturesque beach. And then there is Digha, a three-hour drive out of Kolkata, a beautiful beach, splendid in its isolation.
India has always been considered the land of spirituality. Though Hinduism continues to be the oldest religion in the country, India has been the birthplace of various religions like Bhuddism, Jainism, Sikhism and Sufism, and has always embraced new religions that other cultures brought into the country.
It is considered a milestone in a person's life and a char dhamsyatra - a visit to the holy sites at cardinal points of the country - a necessity for the regeneration of the spirit. These points lie across the subcontinent. In the north they are the snow-capped mountains of Badrinath, Kedarnath and Amarnath. In central India , one of the holiest places to visit is Benares, Prayaga ( Allahabad ) where the KumbhMela is held, and Mathura - the birth place of Lord Krishna. In the East lies Puri in Orissa famous for its Jagannath Temple and its RathYatra. In the South is Rameswaram and KanyaKumari and in the west is Dwaraka - the kingdom of Lord Krishna . But these aren't all the places that the Hindus take a pilgrimage to. Places like Tirupati, Vaishnodevi, Shirdi, Shabrimala, Tajore and Madurai towns are famous for their temples and shrines and very much on a must-visit list.
Several famous temples across the country also have their own unique festivals and yatras. In fact India is home to the largest religious gathering which takes place every 12 years - the KumbhMela. Whether it is a spiritual experience you seek or want to understand the depth and diversity of religion - this is the land with the answers
To begin, let me assure you that Indian food in India is quite unlike Indian food served in the West. Regretably however, Indian resorts are not adventurous when it comes to food.
For breakfast all resorts do offer eggs (in any form), toast, and cornflakes, but sausages, ham, bacon etc. may not always be available. Fresh seasonal fruit and juice is also served. An Indian breakfast consists of steamed rice cakes called idlis served with a spicy sauce. Alternatively one may be served a dosa which is not unlike a thin flat pancake with an accompaniment made from potato; or puris which are unleavened Indian bread also served with a dish made from potatoes.
For lunch and dinner the staple Indian base consists of white rice or Indian bread which usually consists of the roti and the nan. Pappadoms and a variety of spicy accompaniments such as chutneys and pickles are also served. Curries both vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian are served with the staple. Most non-vegetarian dishes are made with chicken because of the difficulty of procuring lamb or pork in the remoter resorts.
Starters in the evening, in the form of tandoori food and kebabs, come highly recommended.
Keeping visitors from abroad in mind, the food is not over spiced.
Most resorts do offer Western food, called Continental food in India, but remember that the quality may be indifferent and that it is cooked with Indian ingredients.
In India several dishes are brought to the table and shared among the diners. However, if you prefer to order something just for yourself, feel free to do so.
Travel in India is best done by air. Failing which one travels by train. Unfortunately Indian trains are not known for their comfort. If you have to travel by train, the air-conditioned second class compartments are recommended. They are cleaner and the air-conditioning is often necessary and will keep you, and your film, cool. In railway booking parlance these coaches are known as 2A.
Most importantly, your fellow passengers are middle class Indians, always safer when you are carrying expensive equipment. Importantly, the doors to the compartment are locked at night so there is less chance of somebody entering the compartment and making off with with your cameras. Never leave your bags unattended. I carry my equipment in a small LowePro bag. A bag of this size can fit up on the sleeper berth with you. You can lie down though you will not be able to sleep, a small price to pay to ensure the safety of your equipment. Secondly, should you need the toilet, a small bag can be carried with you.
If traveling by road, we recommend hiring a Toyota Qualis. The NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) levels are the best in India, and the rear AC ducts are fabulous.
In most places people traveling on a tour organized by wildphototoursindia.com will experience middle class India. You may dress as you like but Indians do not take kindly to uncovered bodies. Shorts are in, semi-nudity is out. Stick to cotton and avoid denim.
The communication network in India is considerably reliable. STD/ISD booths are available on almost every corner throughout the country. Cyber Cafes and hotels also provide calling and internet facilities, which makes local and international calling easy for the tourists. Due to this making calls to India and from India is easy and cheap.
Most problems occur when backpackers, in the hope of experiencing the chimera of the 'real' India, go to rough neighbourhoods dressed as they would dress on a hot summer's day in the West.
With regard to medication, consult your doctor at home. Common ailments may be treated with a range of locally available medication, but if you have special requirements bring them along with you. Travel insurance that includes cover for medical/hospital expenses is strongly recommended.