India Tourism - at a glance!
India is the seventh biggest country of the world (by area), consisting of 28 states and seven union territories, tenth biggest economy and the biggest democracy in the world. It is also the second largest peninsula, with Bay of Bengal in the east, Indian Ocean in the south and the Arabian Sea in the west. The northern most part of the country is guarded by the highest mountain range in the world – the Himalayas. With all these features, India enjoys a wide range of climates, which hold numerous varieties of ecosystems. The northern plains are fertile and provide a major part of the total agricultural output. The north-eastern and the south-western regions receive heavy precipitation. In fact, the “Western Ghats”, a 1600-km-long mountain range, situated at the western brim of the country, starting from Gujarat and Maharashtra, running through Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala to Kanyakumari (the southernmost tip of India), receives about 40% of the total outpour. Similarly, Mawsynram, a small village in the north-eastern part, is the wettest place in the world, which receives more than 460 inches of annual rainfall. These features make India, a place, one can’t resist visiting. With its 5000 years old culture-rich history and growing medical tourism sector, India welcomes about 18 million foreign tourists and 740 million domestic tourists every year, with the motto of "Atithi Devo Bhava"(Guest Is God). UNESCO has recognized 28 World Heritage Sites in India.
Although it quite difficult to describe such a huge country in so less words, but still, I’ve tried my level best to make it short, simple and interesting. Now, I’ll describe the whole country on the basis of the four directions, i.e., east, west, north, south and then, the central part.
The eastern part of the country is somewhat protruding from the main landmass and is shifted more towards the north as compared to the central or the southern part. Therefore it is often called the ‘north-eastern part’. The group of the 7 small northeastern states (Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura, Assam and Manipur) is termed as the ‘Seven Sisters’ states. The whole region lies in the lush green and hilly sub-Himalayan range. This region receives the greatest annual rainfall and is mainly composed of evergreen rainforests, which support numerous species of Flora and Fauna. There are even places which receive rainfall throughout the year. The rain-fed Nohkalikai falls in Cherrapunji are the highest falls in India with a record height of 335 meters. The landscapes and natural scenes are a boon for nature lovers and natural photographers. However the population density of this region is very low. There are some places where it is only 10 people per square kilometer. The population mainly consists of the local tribes.
Assam is popular for its world famous tea plantations.
Apart from the Seven Sisters, there are 5 more states in the eastern part, namely- Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Sikkim and West Bengal.
Although West Bengal is in the eastern part, but still, it is called ‘West Bengal’. The reason behind is that before the freedom of India from the British rule, there were two Bengal states, i.e. East Bengal and West Bengal. After the independence of the country, the two states were divided and East Bengal formed a separate country, which is now known as ‘Bangladesh‘ and it lies to the east of West Bengal. Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, is the biggest city of the country and is famous for the Victoria Memorial. Kolkata has been the hometown of several great personalities, from the great philosopher and ideal Swami Vivekananda, to the great author and poet and Nobel Prize winner Guru Rabindra Nath Tagore.
Besides all these things, the Sunderbans delta in West Bengal is the largest single-block tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world.
Darjeeling is yet another beautiful city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for its tea plantations.
Bihar is another history-rich state. Patna, the capital of this state (formerly known as Pataliputra) was once the work-place of the world famous mathematician and astrologer, ‘Aryabhata’, who has several achievements in the field of mathematics to his credit and who was the first person to give the theory behind the eclipses, else, there were several superstitions prevailing in the Indian society related to the occurrence of the eclipses. The world famous historical Nalanda University was also situated in Bihar. It is said that once the library of the university caught fire and due to its vastness, it kept on burning for three months!
Jharkhand lies next to Bihar and before becoming a separate state a few years ago, it was a part of Bihar.
Orissa is just below Bihar and towards the west of West Bengal. Bhubaneswar is the capital of Orissa. The three major cities, Puri, Konark and Bhubaneswar are known as the ‘Golden Triangle of India’. Bhubaneswar is known as the ‘Temple City of India’ and Konark is famous for the Sun Temple. Similarly Puri is famous for the Jagannath Temple and the ‘Ratha Yatra’ festival. Another landmark, the Hirakud dam in Orissa, is the largest earthen dam in the world.
Now moving onto the western part of the country, the western part has 3 major states. Rajasthan, which lies in the north-western region, is the biggest state of the country (by area). It is famous for its historical monuments, forts and palaces. The name ‘Rajasthan’ itself means ‘the land of the Kings’. Besides its royal dishes and delicacies, Rajasthan is famous for its traditional folk music and the abundance of the two beautiful animals- camel and peacock. The famous ‘Thar Desert’ is the only dry desert of the country. There are several other species of animals that dwell in the dry regions of Rajasthan. Mount Abu, a hill station is Rajasthan, is a famous tourist spot.
The Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary (now known as Koeladeo National Park) in the Bharatpur district of Rajasthan, is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has nearly 500 species of birds and animals and nearly 400 species of plants. Ranthambore National Park situated in Sawai Madhopur district, is one of the biggest national parks in northern India. It is a reserve for the endangered ‘Royal Bengal Tiger’ (along with Sariska Tiger Reserve in Alwar district of Rajasthan).
Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, is popularly known as the ‘Pink City’ because most of the buildings in the city are painted in pink. Jaipur was amongst the first few planned cities of the world and it was planned by Sawai Raja Jai Singh II.
Gujarat that lies below Rajasthan is somewhat similar to Rajasthan in cultures and traditions. Gujarat is also famous for its dishes and especially, the ‘Gujarati Thali’, which is a cuisine consisting of multiple dishes. Gujarat is also considered of mythological importance by the Hindus for places such as the world famous Somnath temple. The Gir National Park along with the Rann of Kutch is very well known for its Asiatic lions’ and wild ass reserve. Gujarat shares its borders with the Arabian Sea and Pakistan.
Maharashtra lies below Gujarat and is one of the greatest tourist attractions and hence, is counted amongst the states that receive a great part of the total international tourism in the country. With Mumbai as its capital, Maharashtra is also the producer of a huge part of the country’s economy. The main reason behind this is the linkage of Maharashtra directly to the rest of the world through water (Arabian Sea) and air (Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport).
Maharashtra is also counted amongst the places of historical importance with the several centuries’ old Ajanta-Ellora caves and the Elephanta caves. This states and mainly Mumbai is the house of the Indian Film Industry.
Rest of the places, including the northern, southern and central India have been described in a separate hub. The second part of this hub is - India Tourism - at a glance! (Part II).
For more information, please refer to the official Indian Tourism website - incredibleindia.org
Copyright © 2011 Abhimanyu Singh. All Rights Reserved.
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