Icon of Jaipur – Hawa Mahal

22.10.2017:

12.15 hrs – Time to visit the signature building of Jaipur – the b! Hawa Mahal is about 10 minutes walk from the Jantar Mantar. I preferred walking over a tuk-tuk since its the best way to explore a place 😉 I came across a Pol or gate which actually leads into the City Palace area. Jaipur is one such place which needs to be explored by walking around the surroundings to immerse ourselves in it’s architecture and culture. Hawa Mahal is surrounded by a cluster of buildings whose architecture is a blend of Mughal, Rajput and European styles. The market area here is also a fine one to hit at!

While nearing the Hawa Mahal I came across a street photographer whose name is Tikam Chand. His prized possession is a 1880’s Carl Zeiss Wooden Box camera with which he takes the old-fashioned black-and white portraits. Though he offered me one, I simply denied but requested him that I would like to peep through it’s viewfinder 🙂 and Tikam Chand happily agreed 🙂 Bidding a bye to Tikam Chand, I walked into a narrow pathway which leads to the ticket counter of Hawa Mahal. The entry ticket costs Rs. 50/- for Indians.

If Jaipur is synonymous to anything else, it is this unique piece of architecture – the Hawa Mahal or the Palace of Winds. It is a five-storied Palace built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh under the supervision of his able architect Lal Chand Ustad. The entry to this building is through AnandPol and there is another entry further called the ChandraPol which leads to a spacious courtyard in middle of which there is a water fountain without water :-0 surrounded on the three sides by two-storey buildings. In the courtyard, there is a also a souvenir shop selling various souvenirs and postcards and also Cafe Coffee Day for refreshments.

The Palace is constructed in red and pink sandstone and is in the form of the Hindu God Lord Krishna’s crown. Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh who is a great devotee of Lord Krishna had dedicated this Palace to him and worshipped him at the Vichitra Mandir.  There are no staircases available to reach the upper floors, but ramps connected all the various floors. It is said that the main motive behind having these ramps is to facilitate the movement of palanquins of the queens! What a royalty 🙂

There is something unusual about this palace. Firstly, there are no staircases which should be the common case in a five-storied building; secondly, though each floor is named uniquely as Sharad Mandir, Ratan Mandir, Hawa Mandir and so forth, we can’t literally see a mandir or Palace as such. The base two are courtyards, while the top three are just a single room thick. And the most important feature of this structure are the ‘Jharokhas’ or windows adorned with intricate designs. It is said that there are 953 such Jharokhas throughout the Palace.

There are two motives behind having these Jharokas or windows – one was to make the royal women enjoy freedom of watching the royal procession on the streets through these windows without being seen in public and the other is for the wind circulation throughout the palace. But in totality, the Hawa Mahal was built as an extension of the Royal City Palace to allow the women of the royal household to witeness the street festivities without being seen 😦

The Ratan Mandir is perhaps the only one which has got intricate glass work and to climb up to the Hawa Mandir which is the last floor of the palace, I had to wait for 10 minutes as there is no much space up there and I can enter only if someone gets down! From the top, we get a view of the neighboring Jantar Mantar and the bustling streets of Badi Choupar. The Palace is an excellent blend of Rajput and Mughal architectures. While the former style is palpable from the fluted pillars, floral patterns and domed canopies, the arches and stone inlay filigree work are manifestations of the latter style. The palace also has an archaeological museum.

The exit is through another dimly lit and long narrow passage. Passing through it, I almost felt that entering Hawa Mahal is far more easier than exiting it! 😀 Soon, I was on to the outer courtyard and I moved out through the other gateway which directly opens into the Market area!

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The Black Pagoda – Konark Sun Temple

The Konark Sun Temple, originally built on sea shore is also called as the Black Pagoda due to its dark color. Though the temple is dedicated to the Sun god, the legend also has it that after slaying demon Gyasur, Lord Vishnu left his belongings at several places to commemorate his victory – conch in Puri, disc in Bhubaneswar, mace in Jaipur and lotus in Konark. The most important part of this temple apart from the legends and myths around it, is its exquisite architecture! The temple was built in the form of the celestial chariot of the Sun God being pulled by seven galloping horses on 12 pairs of wheels towards east; and hence the main entrance of this temple is on the eastern side.

The seven horses pulling the temple eastwards towards dawn is symbolic of the seven days of the week; the dozen pair of wheels represent the 12 months of the year and the eight spokes in each wheel symbolize the eight ideal stages in a woman’s day.  The entrance of the temple is guarded by two huge lions, each killing a war elephant (represents pride) and beneath the elephant (represent wealth) is a man. This symbolizes the conquest of spiritual power over worldly power and the symbol of ignorance conquered by knowledge. The temple consists of a vimana (main temple) for housing the deity, Jagamohana, which is a praying hall and the natya mandir wherein which the dances are performed.

The most unique feature of this temple is its design which ensures the rays of the Sun fall on the image of the Sun God at equinoxes. Also this temple is known as pancha-ratha-dekha deul with each of its façade broken by five small projections, which as a consequence produces the effect of light and shade on the surface and creates an impression of one continuous vertical line called rekha. A guide here told us that there used to be a magnet at the top of the temple and every two stones of the temple are sandwiched by iron plates, and as a result the idol was said to have been floating in the air – no idea how far this is true!

During the medieval times, this temple was used as a navigational landmark by ancient sailors to Odisha and it is said that the magnet placed on top of the temple have disturbed the compasses of these sailors leading to shipwrecks and hence it was removed on a later stage. There are two raised platforms on the right side and behind the temple which are also in ruins. The walls of the temples are adorned with rampaging elephants, military processions, hunting scenes, as well as a few erotic figurines here and there. We spent about 2.5 hrs sitting here and there in the complex listening to various stories and legends shared by the gatekeepers, some old men who are frequent visitors to this temple and of course an old guide too 🙂 Yes, Eshwar hired one!

It was this guide who told the fascinating story of a 12 year old boy called Dharmapad who had sacrificed himself for the sake of the 12000 craftsmen who worked for 12 years to complete this temple. The legend is that Bisu Maharana, heading the group of craftsmen was unable to finish off the construction even after 12 years and the king Narasimha announces that all would be beheaded if the construction wouldn’t be completed the following day. Dharmapad, son of Bisu Maharana who studied Odiya temple architecture finds out the fault lay and erects the final stone or the Kalash on top of the Konark temple. But, Dharmapad had to end his life by jumping off into the sea as he knew that the king won’t accept the defeat of his craftsmen at the hands of a 12 year old boy and definitely beheads them.

While sharing this heroic story with us, I could see the old man taking pride in Dharmapad and remembering him so fondly and as a source of inspiration! As truly remarked by the great poet Rabindranath Tagore, “Here in Konark, the language of stone surpasses the language of man” 🙂

 

Konark – A UNESCO World Heritage Site

25.06.2017:

Odisha is popular for its architecturally celebrated temples like the Lingaraja temple in Bhubaneshwar, Lord Jagannath’s shrine in Puri and the Sun Temple at Konark and many more sacred shrines and heritage monuments along with the famous Odissi dance, fairs, festivals and exotic handicrafts. The first thing that comes into everyone’s mind when heard of the state’s name is either the famous Rath Yatra or the Konark Sun Temple. This itself proves that how heritage has become an integral part of Odisha!

As I reached the entrance, I could see the Kalinga architectural marvel standing as a living sonata in stone! This 13th century temple dedicated to the Sun God, is built in black granite during the reign of King Langula Narasimhadeva – I of the Ganga Dynasty around 1250 AD. This is one of the most important temples dedicated to the Sun God in India and is a leading Hindu pilgrimage centre. This place is now under the maintenance of Archaeological Survey of India and the entry fee is Rs. 30/- per person.

There was a queue of tour guides behind us by the time we entered the temple complex and we politely rejected their services! 🙂 The first structure we encountered upon entering the complex is the Natya Mandir (the Dance Hall) where the temple dancers once performed. A stone staircase flanked by seated lions led us on to the platform from where we can get a better view of the Sun Temple. Once upon a time, the temple dancers used to perform here as a ritual offering to the God, but now this ritual is no more!

The Natya Mandir had exquisitely carved pillars with various mythical figures, floral motifs and human creatures etc. I can imagine how the musicians might have seated there with their drums and other instruments and the temple dancers performed in front of the God here 🙂 , would have been good if I got back to those days 🙂 . Nevertheless, we can have the same experience now too; by attending the annual Konark Dance Festival which is held in every December, dedicated to the classical Indian dance forms. Why late, grab the tickets now! 😉

We walked towards the main temple which is visibly in ruins, corroded by time and sea air. Yet the temple shares the brilliance and dazzle of the sun with its fascinating architecture, exotic sculptures and intriguing social history of Odisha; which was also a beacon to mariners in medieval times. Konark has got its name from two Sanskrit words – Kona, meaning corner and ark implying the sun. And this temple which was dedicated to the worship of the Sun God holds the sun as the soul of whole manifestation, primal cause of this universe and its different cycles of manifestation and annihilation. The Suryopanishad – a scripture on the Sun God asserts that the Sun is the creator, protector and destroyer.

Though in ruins now, this place retained its rustic charm and serene aura. The mighty sculptures, beautiful lawns and gardens around the temple attracted me the most and I instantly fell in love with this place!

Padmanabhapuram Palace – The Travancore heritage in Tamil Land

Off to Mathur Hanging Bridge – We reached Kanyakumari Bus Station and inquired about the route which we need to take to reach Mathur village. Some of them suggested us to go to Nagercoil as we could get more number of buses from there and we followed the same. After reaching Nagercoil, they suggested us to catch a bus to Thuckalay and catch another bus to Mathur Village from there. Thuckalay is about 25 kms from Nagercoil and it took us around 30 minutes to reach this place. We sought the help of few people to guide us to reach Mathur bridge but could see people being confused either because of the language or the place about which we are asking. No idea what’s going in their minds!

After a long wait of about 45 minutes, we started feeling frustrated as we were not able to get even a single bus which could drop us off at our destination. In the mean while, my friend got busy surfing the internet when I was about to tell her that we would go back to Trivandrum as it’s getting late. It was at this point of time that she showed me her mobile pointing out the Padmanabhapuram Palace, which is like just 5 minutes from the bus station. That’s how we ended up at this place instead of the Mathur Aqueduct! 😀 😀

What will be one’s expectation will be like when heard of a palace? The Mysore Palace, The Falalknuma?? Here is a different one from the routine. The Padmanabhapuram Palace located in Padmanabhapuram Fort against the backdrop of the Veli Hills that form a part of the Western Ghats in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu. A magnificent wooden palace of the 16th century, this is a fine specimen of Kerala’s indigenous style of architecture. Though this palace is located in Tamil Nadu, the palace and its surroundings are owned and governed by the Kerala state.

The palace was built by Iravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal, the ruler of Travancore in 1601 AD and was also called Kalkulam Palace. At a later point of time, the King Marthandavarma rebuilt this palace to its current state. Spread across some 6.5 acres of area, the palace enthrall its visitors with intricate wooden work. Lavish use of wood can be seen in this palace; thanks to the rich forest cover of Kerala! 🙂 Also one can witness the defining aspects of Kerala structure in this palace, like the high steep sloping roofs, often covered with tiles, copper plates or thatched palm leaves supported on a roof frame made of hard wood or timber.

 

The first structure we encountered after entering the palace complex, is Poomukkham with images of horse riders on both sides of the entrance, showing exquisite wood carvings. There are few people who guide us inside the palace and explaining the history. The main attraction of this structure is the wooden ceiling which is ornamented with almost 90 lotus medallions and each one is different from the other. It was here that the erstwhile king used to entertain his special guests. Yet another attraction is a chair presented to the former king by Chinese merchants and Onavillu presented as a tribute by landlords and chieftains.

On the first floor of this structure are the Mantrasala, the King’s Council Chamber and the main attraction of this part of the palace is the bed used by the erstwhile king. It is said that the bed is made of sandalwood and is layered with a mix of 400 different kinds of medicinal herbs which are available abundantly in the state of Kerala. One can also see the Dining Hall which can accommodate 400 persons at a time!

Next structure is Thaikkottaram (Mother’s Palace), built of finely decorated and carved wooden pillars. The other structures include the Navarathri Mandapam, built by King Marthandavarma in 1744 AD which is breathtakingly beautiful and mesmerizing with it’s exquisite architecture. We came across a temple inside the palace which is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati, but it was closed at the time we visited!

There is a long corridor in the first floor of the building bordered with small balconies on the sides called Ambari Mukhappu (bay window). It is said that the kings and queens used to view chariot races during festivals and make public appearances from this very place.  A significant feature of this structure is the lattice work on the sides of the pathway. Once out of the palace, we walked towards the southern side of the palace called Thekkekottaram. It has a heritage museum now which shows the younger generations the old palace articles, belongings of the royal family like kitchen utensils, easy chair, swing etc.

Another antique piece of this palace is the Manimalika (Clock Tower), which is believed to be some 200 years old. This tower contains a rather unique clock as its movement is regulated by two weights made up of disc-shaped blocks, that is raised every week by a 1.5 meter pendulum. This can be see from the entrance of the palace.

There is no spectacle of pomp and show about the palace and looks understated when compared to other royal palaces of India.

But what truly makes this palace outstanding is it’s rich architectural grandeur, indigenous craftsmen ship of Travancore artisans and royal splendor of erstwhile Travancore!

A day in the Land of Virgin Goddess – Kanyakumari (II)

Part-II:

After having a darshan of the Goddess, we were onto the streets of Kanyakumari which are packed with various shops selling a wide range of goods like clothes, antiques, toys for the children and souvenirs. We went to a shop where my friend bought a jewelry box for her cousin while I bought  a small sindhoor box for my mom. After going around few more shops, we headed towards another important tourist place of this town – ‘Gandhi Memorial‘, which is located near to the Kanyaka Amman temple.

From the outer view and architecture of this Memorial, one can find it different as this is not of the Dravidian style which is quite common in South India. Instead this was constructed in the Kalinga style or the style which is most common in Odisha. It is said that the urn containing the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi was kept at this place before immersing them in the waters here. This is a two-storied building with the roof-top offering some of the best views of the town. The ground floor has a meditation hall with it’s walls adorned by various photographs of Mahatma Gandhi and the height of the central dome is 79 feet which indicates the age of Mahatma when he died! Though they said that there is a library here, which will remain open on Saturdays, we couldn’t find any that Saturday!

Our next place to visit is the church which we saw from the Vivekananda Rock Memorial. It seemed huge from there, so we made a point to visit this church also. We took an auto-rickshaw asking him to leave us at one of the most beautiful churches I would say called the ‘Our Lady of Ransom Church‘. It is 15 minutes away from the Amman Temple and when we reached there, the church was indeed huge. It is a pristine and exquisite example of Gothic Architecture and the church is dedicated to Mother Mary. The church stands on the sea shore and this huge white structure with the blue sea in it’s background is picture perfect!

The height of this church is 153 ft with a cross on top of it which is made of pure gold. And a mast is erected infront of the temple, which was donated by a merchant who bought a foreign ship that got stuck on the seashore of Leepuram at Kanyakumari. This is an added attraction to the church! Having enough of photographs of this beautiful monument, we left the place to visit yet another significant structure called the ‘Mathur Aqueduct‘ or the ‘Mathur Hanging Trough’.

The Splendid beauty of BELUR

10.09.2016:

We started off to our next destination “Belur” which is located at a distance of about 22 km from Halebidu at 3.30 PM. We stopped at the Angels Multi-Cuisine Restaurant, to be frank it’s a Bar-cum-Restaurant, but one can only see the board – Restaurant. It was 4 PM when we entered the restaurant and we ordered our food. Food is a sort of ok, but the service was very slow. I would recommend this one 🙂 🙂

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After a good meal, we resumed our journey and reached Belur which was built by King Vishnuvardhana commemorating his victory over the Cholas at Talakad in 1117 AD. Located on the banks of the river Yagachi, Belur, earlier referred to as Velapuri was the early capital of the Hoyasala Empire.  We walked towards the Raja Gopura (main entrance) and entered the temple complex. The Chennakesava temple or the main temple is situated in middle of the complex facing the east. The temple almost resembles the Hoyasala temple in Halebidu, though it is not overly decorated like the latter. This 500 year old temple which took 103 years for completing its construction is made of soapstone and is made of interlocking components giving it a structural integrity.

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This temple has three entrances with doorkeepers carved on both sides and is pretty dark inside. While the Hoyasala temple at Halebidu doesn’t have much of inner architecture, the Chennakesava (a form of Krishna) temple at Belur is famous for its inner architecture. It is said that the temples were built by the famous sculptor Amarashilpi Jakkanna. There are multiple intricately sculpted pillars supporting the roof and each of the statues on those pillars is different from each other. While one is said to Mohini, the other statue is that of a lady holding a parrot while the other pillar is called the Narasimha pillar. But what attracted me the most is the finely carved ceiling in the main temple hall infront of the sanctum where the Lord Chennakesava is seated.

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The Belur temple is famous for its large size splendid carvings of various Gods and Goddesses on its outer walls. A temple dedicated to Saumyanayaki, which has a Garbhagriha, surmounted by a tower is located to the south-west of the main temple and the Veera Narayana temple raised on an elevated basement is to the west and this temple has beautiful sculptures on its outer walls.

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The temple which is now on the UNESCO World Heritage List has a Kalyani (Tank) in the north east corner of the complex. This tank is also known as Vasudeva Sarovara and the periodical temple rituals are carried out in this tank. The temple complex also has a well, whose water is used for various activities in the temple and a gravity pillar showing the scientific skills of our earlier days. The annual Ratha Yatra at the temple takes place between the months of March and April.

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We also visited the Panduranga temple on our way to Chikmaglur and it was another 30 min drive from Belur to Chikmaglur. It was cool in Chikmaglur and the roads were buzzing with people and vehicles by the time we reached here. Our accommodation was arranged at F.J.Comfort Inn which was located a bit interior and away from the traffic. The receptionist gave us a warm welcome and guided us to our room. It was clean, hygienic and importantly the washroom is clean enough 😀

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We quickly refreshed ourselves and went out for a walk through the streets of Chikmaglur and had our dinner at one of the veg restaurants located on the M.G. Road. The food is alright and as we were too exhausted we went back to our hotel without exploring much. We quickly decided our next day’s plan and asked our driver uncle to be ready by 6 AM in the morning 🙂

Time to sleep 🙂 😉

Halebidu – The Hoyasala Beauty

Time for another tale 🙂 This time it is a blend of history, heritage, nature and adventure. One of my childhood friends and I decided to go on a short trip around Karnataka. Though we thought of going to Mangalore and Murudeshwar, we changed our mind and decided upon Chikmaglur. After a thorough discussion of the plan with some of our other friends, the only ones who could make up to the plan remained the same. That’s me and my friend 😀 . Though we decided to drop our plan initially, we hit the road on 10th of September finally 🙂 🙂

As it was only we two into the trip, we thought of choosing a package instead of driving ourselves to this place. In our search over the Internet, we came across a 2-day, 1-night package and found it feasible enough. The package was offered by the Karnataka Vacations and we contacted Mr. Mahesh, Manager of KV. He is an amicable person and made few quick changes we have asked for and the payment was done.

10.09.2016

We set on our trip from Bangalore at 10.00 AM from Bellandur, Bangalore and the cab driver Vasanth Kumar, though a very reserved person found to be quite friendly. We had our breakfast on our way and managed to be on the outskirts of Bangalore by 11.30 AM. The drive from here was smooth as the roads are in very good condition and there wasn’t too much of traffic. About a distance of 200 km from Bangalore, situated is the Hassan district and it took us around 3.5 hours to reach here and a further drive of around 30 kms left us at our first destination Halebidu.

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We got down our car and started walking towards the famous Hoyasaleswara temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple which was previously known as Dorasamudra or Dwarasamudra, or the entrance to sea is believed to derive its name from the Hoyasala ruler King Vishnuvardhana Hoyaslaeswara. The temple has four entrances on east, west, and south and the visitors usually enter through the entrance on the north side. The temple is dark inside as there are no lights other than the light entering through the entrances.

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Inside the temple, there are huge pillars, highly polished and carved diligently and also few statues and it is said that no two statues looks like the same. There is a garbagriha (sanctum) inside the temple where in which the deity Hoyasaleswara is seated. We walked around the temple whose walls are carved very well; probably the best handiwork in entire India and the sculptures depict the mythological epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. This art which has been preserved so well even after many invasions and lootings by the Muslim rulers is truly astonishing 🙂

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There are two large mantapas hosting two large Nandi (the Bull god) statues in each one of them located such opposite to two of the temple entrances. And one of these is known to be the most beautifully decorated Nandi statue in India and is also amongst the largest statues among the world. The temple complex also has an archaeological museum which preserves the important excavations in and around the area.

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We finished our tour around the temple and headed towards Jain Basadi, which is located at a distance of 2km from the Hoyasala temple, and has three Jain temples dedicated to Parsavanatha (west), Adinatha (central), and Shantinatha (east) thirthankaras. We entered the temple complex through the gate at the West and walked towards the temple which is just infront of the entrance. This is built of soapstone and had a garbagriha. The most important attraction of this temple is the 18 ft tall Parsavanatha Tirtankara statue in the Garbhagriha (sanctum). The temples were so dark without any lamps and we should be very careful while walking inside the sanctums as we will be hardly able to see anything.

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The temple complex is not very rich in architecture on the outer walls of the temple. Though we can see some fine architecture inside the sanctums, we can hardly see any carvings on the outer walls of the temple except for some inscriptions. But the striking thing in this temple complex is that, while in one of the temples the pillars are highly ornate and coarse, the pillars in the other are highly polished and has a glossy look and touch. In all, Halebidu is a place which shows how secular the kings were in the good olden days.

Time for the next! 🙂 😉

Diversity of India – Geographical and Cultural contexts

The diversity of India is unique. India has retained its diversity from an ancient time to till date. Being a large country with large population, India presents endless varieties of physical features and cultural patterns. It is a land of diversity in race, religion, caste, language, landforms, flora, fauna and so on. In short, India is “the epitome of the world”. Some of the important forms of diversity in India are:

Geographical Diversity:

Spanning an area of 3,287,263 square kilometers, India is a vast country with great diversity of physical features like dry deserts, evergreen forests, snowy Himalayas, a long coast and fertile plains. Certain parts in India are so fertile that they are counted amongst the most fertile regions of the world, while other are so unproductive and barren that hardly anything can be grown there.

The region of Indo-Gangetic valley belongs to the first category, while certain areas of Rajasthan fall under the latter category. From the point of climate, there is a sharp contrast; India has every variety of climates from the blazing heat of the plains, as hot in places as hottest Africa to freezing points of the Himalayas as in the Arctic.

The Himalayan ranges which are always covered with snow are very cold while the deserts of Rajasthan are well known for their heat. As India is dependent on Monsoons, the rainfall is not uniform across the country. While the places like Mawsynram and Cherapunji in Meghalaya, which are considered to be the places which receives highest amount of rainfall in the world gets rainfall almost all the year, places like Sindh and Rajasthan gets hardly any rainfall in an year.

This variation in the climate has also contributed to a variety of flora and fauna in India. In fact, India possesses the richest variety of plants and animals known in the world. The unique geographic demographics also host a unique eco-system rich with vegetation, wildlife, rare herbs, and a large variety of birds.

Cultural Diversity of India:

Indian culture is one of the oldest and unique. In India, there is an amazing cultural diversity throughout the country. The South, North, and the Northeast have their own distinct cultures and almost every state has carved its own cultural niche. If compare, there is hardly any culture in the world that is as varied and unique as India’s.

India, a place of infinite variety, is fascinating with its ancient and complex culture, dazzling contrasts and breathtaking physical beauty. India is the best place in the world to see the different cultures from modern to ancient and find the similarities in these diversified cultures.

The years of foreign rule, religious movements, and spiritual discoveries in the ancient land of India has given way to a rich culture of social habits, festivals and customs. Indian culture has never been rigid and that’s why it’s surviving with pride in the modern era. It timely imbibes the qualities of various other cultures and comes out as a contemporary and acceptable tradition. The flexibility and movement with time has made Indian Culture fashionable and acceptable too.

  • Linguistic Diversity:

In India there is a good deal of linguistic diversity. The census of 1961 listed as many as 1652 languages and dialects. India’s schools teach 58 different languages. The number of languages is much higher and Census, 2001 recognized 122 languages belonging to five families of Indo-European, Dravidian, Austro-Asiatic, Tibeto-Burmese and Semito-Hamitic. The nation has newspapers in 87 languages, radio programs in 71, and films in 15.  In terms of the number of languages spoken in the country, the situation was complex indeed and yet in terms of the hierarchy between the languages among different groups there was a stable pattern which did not allow India to be reduced into a “veritable Tower of Babel”.

Since most of these languages are spoken by very few people, the subsequent census regarded them as spurious but the 8th Schedule of the Constitution of India recognizes 22 languages. These are Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Sindhi, Santali, Boro, Maithili and Dongri.  These languages belong to two linguistic families: Indo-Aryan and Dravidian.

This linguistic diversity notwithstanding, India has always had a sort of link language, though it has varied from age to age. In ancient times it was Sanskrit, in medieval age it was Arabic or Persian and in modern times we have Hindi and English as official languages.

  • Indian Festivals:

India is undoubtedly, a land of festivals. There are festivals for every season, for every legend and myth, every region and every religious place. Some are exclusive to certain communities and religions while others have a national and secular character about them. The numerous and varied festivals that are held throughout the year offer a unique way of seeing Indian culture at its best.

  • Indian Cuisine:

The cuisine in India is classified into three major categories. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Sattva stands for balance, Rajas for Passion and Tamas for indulgence. Food is consumed according to the lifestyle of a person. India is known for its love for food and for its diverse multi cuisine. The cooking style varies from region to region. Major Indian foods include South Indian, Punjabi, Mughali, Bengali, Kashmiri, Rajasthani and Gujarati.

  • Indian Art forms:

Dance, drama, theatre or music, every art is unique in itself. In India, religions, mythology and classical literature form the basis of most of the performing arts.

  • India has thousands of year old tradition of fine arts and classical and folk music and dances. Some of the world-famous dance forms that originated and evolved in India are Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Mohiniattam and Odissi. Indian dance too has diverse folk dance forms such as Bhangra of Punjab, Yakshagana of Karnataka, Bihu of Assam and Chhau of Jharkhand.
  • The music of India plays a very important role in the lives of Indians. The music of India includes multiple varieties of religious, folk, pop and classical music.
  • Indian architecture has evolved through various ages in different regions of the country. Sculpture and architecture in India dates back to the Indus valley civilization, where stone and bronze figurines have been discovered. Indian temple carvings have their unique styles which are world famous.
  • The earliest Indian paintings were the rock paintings, Cave paintings such as Ajanta, Ellora and temple paintings.