India Tourism
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TOURISM

GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION AND CLIMATE

Located in the South of Asia, India is bordered by the Arabian Sea to its west and the Bay of Bengal to the east. India's sheer size means the country has a varied climate and terrain, stretching from the Himalayas in the north, to deserts in the West, plains in the Central region, and plateaus in the South, about 7,500 km long coastal line and rain-fed tropical forests. There are distinct seasons in India but the intensity of seasonal variations in the weather differs from region to region.

The subcontinent has eight climatic zones. Although monsoon rains are common to all areas, the wet season occurs at different times across the country. In general, the mountainous regions to the north have the most distinctive seasons, while the plains to the south are dry and hot, and the coastal regions enjoy a relatively moderate climate year round.

Summer lasts from April to the middle of June, when temperatures rise to over 40 degrees centigrade in many parts of northern and central India. December, January and February are the coldest months, when temperatures drop to near zero in northern India, the south rarely experiences temperatures below 10 degrees centigrade.

RELIGION

India's major religion, Hindusm, is practiced by approximately 82% of the population. There are over 120 million Muslims in India (12% of the population). 2.3% of the population practices Christianity, and 1.9% practice Sikhism. 0.8% practice Buddhism, and 0.4% practice Jainism. 0.4% of the population follows other religions.

LANGUAGE

Eighteen languages are officially recognized by the Constitution, but over 1,600 minor languages and dialects were recorded in the 1991 census.

Hindi, which is the National Language, is the predominant language in the north, and primarily used by 40% of the people. English is widely spoken and understood in urban and semi-urban areas. English is the main Business Language used in India.

SHOPPING

India's diverse culture and traditions have resulted in making each part of the country a unique shopper's paradise. Different regions of India specialize in different kinds of items. Each item is unique to the place where it is made and in many cases enjoys a strong historical bonding. Indian textiles have been a much sought-after item from ancient days and a variety of rich fabrics are available all over the country. Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh is famous for chicken work and Banaras for banarsi sarees, Kashmir for embroidery in woolens, Gujrat for cotton fabrics, and south India for silk and chiffons. Ready-made clothes in these fabrics are also widely available.

One can buy traditional jewellery from Rajasthan, exquisite pashmina and woollen shawls from Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir, stone sculpture from Orissa, bronze from Uttar Pradesh, leather goods from Chennai.Other popular shopping items from India include carpets, precious stones, brassware, tribal art, inlaid stoneware, leather items, and wood carvings. The range of handicrafts, handlooms, fabrics, jewellery, and antiques, available in India at affordable prices are truly the India's gift to its visitors. Government-owned shops or emporia in large cities also stock high quality handicrafts at fixed price. Tourists can venture into a whole variety of stalls and little shops surrounding most tourist destinations and bargain for the best deals. In addition, one can get a host of consumer durables and non-durables made in India and abroad. A number of international brands have their presence in India and some have their manufacturing plants in India too.

LEISURE ACTIVITIES

India presents a spectrum of leisure activities, right from indulging in some invigorating sports to participating in cultural activities. To get the real taste of India one should seek out the auditoriums and theatres, which host a variety of cultural programmes, plays as well as Indian dance and music. The famous Indian classical dances are Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Odissi,Kuchipudi. Similarly, Indian classical music combines different elements of nature and sounds, rendered by instrumentalists and vocalists with unique interpretations.

India also offers a wide range of adventure sports for tourists. Trekking and Skiing in the Himalayas, White Water Rafting on the Ganges and Beas, Camel and Jeep safaris in the deserts of Rajasthan, Paragliding in Himachal, Watersports in Goa and Scuba Diving in Lakshadweep and Andaman are just some of the options available to the adventure seeking tourists. In addition facilities for squash, tennis, snooker, bowling alleys, golf, swimming and workouts are easily available with the advent of cable television and Internet one can be connected to the entire world. Internet parlors are available across the country with high-speed data access. Various international channels, including Hong Kong-based Star TV, BBC, CNN, Discovery, National Geographic, and CNBC are accessible in India.

PALACE ON WHEELS

Where else can you relax in comfort & witness the history of India passing by. It's a journey worthy of kings. No wonder the experience is labelled the Palace on Wheels. With its cream saloons, embellished with intricate designs, the train chugs through Rajasthan on a journey to the former royal kingdoms of this state. These were once ruled by kings whose presence lingers on in forbidding fortresses and fairytale palaces, now converted into museums, hotels, and restaurants, where retainers serve truly royal repasts.

The 14 coaches of the Palace on Wheels are named after former Rajput states. Each evokes visions of those royal kingdoms. The names are romantic, mesmerizing... Kota, Jaipur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Alwar, Sirohi, Kishangarh, Bundi, Dungarpur, Bharatpur, Jhalawar, and Dholpur. It has been rated one of the ten most luxurious train journeys in the world. The train passes through places like Delhi, Jaipur, Udaipur, and Jaiselmer.

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

India's rich and diverse natural, cultural, and religious heritage provides a unique opportunity for tourism. Business travellers will find a slice of India's history within easy access of most cities. Ranging from prehistoric Vedic India to glorious middle India to refined Mughal India, the architecture of its temples, palaces, and forts, the grandeur of its sculptures and rock-cut buildings, the beauty of its paintings and miniatures all offer an unparalleled experience. Scenic diversities and natural wonders abound, from the majesty of the snow-bound Himalayas to the stark beauty of the Rajasthan deserts, from the gentle tea-estates of Eastern India to the lush tropics of the South, from the exquisite beaches of Goa to the rugged terrain of the central plateau. For the interested traveller, the immensely varied geography can provide for every taste, every need.

The renowned Taj Mahal in Agra, one of the 'Wonders of the World', has become a symbol of eternal love and is an imperative for the first-time visitor to India. A magnificent yet intricately delicate composition in marble, its beauty captivates and enthralls immediately. The impressive Agra Fort and nearby Fatehpur Sikri add to the attractions of Agra.

The Himalayas in the north are endowed with some of the most beautiful hill stations in the world. Escapes for the British rulers from the summer heat, these little towns, such as Chamba, Dalhousie, and Darjeeling, still retain some of that old-world charm. The pretty valleys of Kullu and gushing mountain rivers provide rare opportunities for trekking, white-water rafting, skiing, or adventure sports amid splendorous mountain vistas. For the historically-inclined, ancient temples and monasteries are to be found along traditional trade routes to Central Asia.

Rajasthan, the desert State in the west, with its rich heritage of majestic forts, imposing palaces and historic temples, is an immensely popular tourist destination. Its colourful people and crafts enrich the arid desert landscape. Camel rides and camping in the dunes offer a romantic escapade. Jaipur better known as 'Pink City' of India and also the capital of Rajasthan, is famous for its Forts and Palaces. One can visit Amber Fort ,Jaigarh Fort, City Palace and Hawa Mahal in Jaipur reflecting India's rich cultural heritage.

Goa, situated along the Arabian Sea, is a prominent beach resort and offers a perfect fusion of East and West. The erstwhile Portuguese colony still reflects the unique cuisine and beautiful cathedrals of its earlier masters, while the laid-back atmosphere on the beaches provides the ultimate relaxation.

South India offers beautiful beaches, palaces, traditional temples, and places of pilgrimage. Kerala on the Arabian Sea has become a centre for traditional medicine, massage, and relaxing spas, while a few days aboard a houseboat on its serene backwaters offer an ideal calming experience.

The states of West Bengal, Assam and Sikkim in the East are endowed with beautiful hill stations, tea gardens, and wildlife sanctuaries. Many of these States have base points for treks to Mount Everest and Kanchenjunga. Buddhism was a major religion in India in ancient days and a tour of important Buddhist sites have become a highlight for travellers interested in Buddhism. The famous cities include Bodhgaya in Bihar where the Buddha attained enlightenment, Sarnath where he delivered his first sermon, Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh, the site of a historical stupa, and Kushinagar where he attained nirvana, besides other centres of learning and memorials.

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