The Beauty of India in Nature, Landscapes, Architecture, Light and Colors
Urban City Life in India - Look at These Colors
Structure of the Indian Subcontinent
India belongs to South Asia and is thus seen to the Asian continent although it has not much in common with countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and China. Although we count it to Asia, the whole world speaks about the "subcontinent" of India. A subcontinent is almost a continent itself, due to its geographical location and a clear separation from other continents.
India only exists right at the place where it is today, because one day in the earth's history India (then still only an earth plate) separated from other continental plates of the tectonic shelves of Antarctica. Hence, the then separated earth plate (our nowadays India) split off and after probably millions, maybe thousands, of years drifting in the flow of the oceans docked to the continental shelf of Asia. Strictly speaking, the Indian subcontinent has encountered the Asian plate. In this collision the land masses had been pushed together by which the Himalayas, one of the major landscape regions of India, first arose.
All other major landscape regions of India had time to develop after the earth plate docked - and I will introduce them to you in this article as they are very special and not really comparable to the rest of the Asian continent.
India - Country and Subcontinent
The Ganges Delta During Rain Season
India - Some Facts and Figures
Yes, some numbers belong to such an article to give you an impression about distances, the width and some other facts to understand what makes India special.
Do you know that the name of the state of India is given by the Indus River?
And do you know that India is a federal state? It consists of 28 states and has a government of democracy. The capital of India is New Delhi.
The neighbor countries to India are Tibet, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar (Burma) and Bangladesh. Since it is mainly surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the nearest island-nations of Sri Lanka and the Maldives are considered as neighbors. The continent and country India extends to the islands of the Andaman and Lakshadweep.
Do you know that India is, according to its proud inhabitants of 1.2 billion people (as of 2011), measured as the largest democracy in the world?
India is the seventh largest country in the world. You can already see its impressive proportions on the world map, but by your look at an earth map - did you realize that the Indian continent extends over 30 degrees of longitude?
Should you ever want to travel through the continent of India - not matter along or across - you have about 3,000 km to go. You have to drive just a little more (about 4,500 km) from New York City to Los Angeles - just to give you an idea. Hence, don't wonder to find at any place you travel in India another different large and impressive landscape which makes you feel as if you entered a new country. You can divide India into 6 major landscape regions.
Enough about statistics. Let's enjoy more of the magic and beauty of this special subcontinent.
India's Landscapes and States
The Six Major Landscape Regions of India
From Europe you will find the most flights to Mumbai (formerly Bombay) or Delhi . If you want to traverse India, you should fly to Delhi, which lies to the north, and from there traverse the subcontinent to the south. So, our journey through India's regions begins in the north. Each region is divided into different states but no worries I keep it simple and just describe the characteristics of the six main regions.
- Surely one of the best known of the major regions of India is the Himalayan Mountains. This large region is unique in its nature and landscape and also difficult to access, which attracts many people in search of adventures. In the Himalayas you can discover the sources of the Ganges River and (on China's side) of the Brahmaputra.
- Following the Ganges you will be popped in the Lowlands - another of the major regions of India. The Ganges flows from west to east into the Bay of Bengal.
- If you follow the course of the Brahmaputra you reach the next of the major regions of India. The river runs on Chinese territory and from west to east, then breaks through the mountain range and flows south-west to India. There he leads shortly before the Bay of Bengal in the Ganges and they flow together into the Gulf.
- Should you stay in the northwest, the basin of the Ganges merges with the Thar Desert, which also is one of the major regions of India.
- In the South you will find the Highlands, the Deccan-Plateau. It is considered a particularly dry area, making it difficult to agriculture here since it relies on irrigation. The reason for the drought is the mountains of the Western Ghats attributed, as this keeps away the monsoon coming from the southwest and usually bringing rain from the Deccan Highlands. The highlands of the Deccan is centrally located on the southern tip of the Indian continent.
- Top of the south on Indian´s subcontinent there are two mountain ranges that pass so to speak, at the tip of the continent into one another: the Eastern Ghats and the Western Ghats, hugging the Deccan-Plateau from both sides formally. The Eastern and Western Ghats are among the major regions of India.
Would You Like a Cup of Tea?
Earl Grey - an Indian Tea?
Some people think tea generally comes from India, because of the British colonial era. But: That's wrong! Earl Grey Tea for example is a certain mixture of different black tea sorts from China. For some reasons the mixture was named after Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, who then was the English Prime Minister and the one who cancelled the tea trade with China in 1833 by the way. Supposedly, because the Britains had found another source for tea in India.
Another legend says the Earl Grey Tea got the Prime Minister's name because he was the first one who tried the tea after the ship who brought it had a terrible accident on sea, got damaged and the cargo was expected to be spoilt by seawater. It wasn't and Earl Grey permitted the sale of this tea in England. So, nobody knows what exactly was the reason to name a Chinese tea mixture after a British Prime Minister, but Earl Grey Tea still belongs to the most famous tea sorts - I love it too.
Tea first was known in the early China and only in China. It was after the discovery of wild growing tea plants in the Indian State Assam, at the begin of the 19th century, when India became a tea producing country. This happened at the time when Assam belonged to the British-East-India-Company. We all know the spicy taste of Assam Tea. The tea industry worldwide still use Assam Tea as a basis for new tea mixtures.
Today you don't find tea plantations in the State Assam only, but all over India wherever the conditions are perfect for the tea plants.
So, the tradition to have a cup of tea actually has it's origin in China not in India and not in England. But today we all love a cup of tea from time to time, don't we?
Indian Architecture: The Taj Mahal
Indian Architecture: The Red Fort in Agra
The history of Indian's architecture is so multifarious that I can't tell this in a single capsule within this article. Hence, I can give only a few impressive examples, because the Indian architecture is so diverse. Just think about all the religious temples and holy places, the golden temple "Harmandir Sahib" of Amritsar in Punjab, the beautiful Taj Mahal in Agra and the Red Fort that surrounds palace areas of great moguls in Delhi. Additionally, all the new modern architecture. If you then remember how many influences streamed through the history of India already long before the colonial time and then add all the different religions... - All this is enough material for a very, very thick book full of stories and photos.
Indian Architecture: The Lotus Temple in New Delhi
India's Image in the Western World
Most people would say: Of course India is a poor country with too many poor people. So, what pictures do you have in mind when you think about India? Poorness, decease, hunger, sadness, dirt? Two thirds of all Indians live in poorness. Hence, we of course call it a poor country. But is the country itself really poor? I don't mean the millions and billions the last third owns, but India's natural resources. This is not easy to say because I think not everything is published. Hence, so far my researches say there is oil, natural gas and diamonds. I couldn't find anything about gold or silver, but I suppose they also have gold mines. The only problem no is that oil partly is cheaper than water and 80 million people in India have no access to water or can't afford it (I refer to an article of a serious German newspaper "Frankfurter Allgemeine"). But water is the basic for us, our lives, our survival. If this isn't given to 80 million people and you think this isn't much compared to the 1,34 billions over all then please think new. Germany for example has about 82 million registered citizens. A country with such a high rate of poorness and that can't guarantee it's citizens any access to fresh and drinkable water, electricity and food is to name a poor country.
So, this said I want to show you the beauty that lies under the surface and ask you to open your eyes for the color spectrum and this special light all over the country, the sound of the people´s laughter, the busy noises in the cities, the mixture of old and new cars and their terrible smell? This is exciting for a moment because it is so lively, but there also lies a sadness and beauty in it Not to forget the quietness when you leave the cities and then become aware of the colors of nature, the impressive animals, exotic fruits, beautiful landscapes and last not least this fantastic light!
Do you only see that the roads are not well asphalted or do you hear the sound of nature and like it somehow that some roads are still left as natural ways? Open your heart to the beauty of this subcontinent, but at the same time protect yourself and believe some of the rumors about India as it can be dangerous and difficult to travel through the country on your own. Murder, ropes and attacks and assaults are possible. Hence, better travel in a group.
It is recommendable to protect yourself by traveling in groups - especially when you travel there for the first time. Additionally, you of course can also experience fun adventures like in this Hollywood movie 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'. They compare India for example like Florida - but with more elephants. It is a funny film that plays with cliches, but in a nice and friendly way and in the end you will see India in a little different light. That's why I mention this film here - and because I'm a screenwriter and filmmaker myself. As such I hope you will find in India what so many people don´t see: "The light, the colors, the smiles that teach you something ..." (Quote of this film).
© 2017 Elisabeth Meier