India is rich in tradition and colourful cultures. This vast sub-continent is a mystical land that offers an array of unforgettable experiences and casts a magical spell on its visitors.
Northern India is home to the capital Delhi, a city brimming with tombs, forts, mosques and bazaars. Just 3 hours from Delhi, Agra boasts 3 UNESCO-listed World Heritage sites including the magnificent white mausoleum of the Taj Mahal by the River Yamuna.
Northwest India shelters Rajasthan, the legendary land of Rajas and Maharajas and the epitome of romantic India with its sand dunes, dusty deserts, ornate palaces and imposing forts.
Coastal India enjoys a relaxed atmosphere; here palm-fringed tropical beaches slope gently towards clear blue waters. Goa’s Portuguese history is reflected in its cuisine and its Catholic churches. Its laidback air and hippy markets remain long after the hippies have left. Further south, Kerala’s secluded backwaters may be experienced at a leisurely place from a wooden houseboat.
West coast Mumbai showcases colonial architecture and the glamorous world of Bollywood, while Chennai continues its pivotal role at the heart of the South’s artistic and cultural heritage. In Bangalore, a dynamic hub for young IT professionals, the face of modern India is emerging.
The newest face of India may be seen in Bangalore whose burgeoning IT industry attracts well-heeled young professionals with a yearning for the best of modernity.
All humanity is here in this vast “sub-continent of nationalities”. Walk with a trusted guide from ICS Travel Group and let India reveal its glories.
India’s vast area experiences a number of variations throughout the country so there is always pleasant weather somewhere in the country year round. Generally the large southern areas are best explored during the cool season from late October to March. To beat the heat and get a feeling of India’s beautiful diversity go north when the subcontinent experiences its hot and rainy seasons.
The seasons in the north are generally influenced by the monsoon from the south and rugged high altitude conditions with winds blowing in from the west and north. The north experiences four seasons with a cold winter from November to February, cool yet warming weather from March to May and slightly warmer summer from June to august. Weather starts to cool in the months of September and October as the rainy monsoon begins to recede in the south.
A large part of the country lies in the south western monsoon path and experiences three unique seasons. The cool season lasts from the end of November until February when the temperatures start to dramatically increase until June. At the beginning of June the monsoon rains arrive and begin to taper off at the end of October.
During the summer months when the rest of India experiences its monsoon, the northern areas experience relatively dry and cool weather in comparison to their southern neighbours while some areas can experience damp and even cold weather compared to dryer areas to the west. The weather starts getting cooler into September and October while cold winters are experienced from November to February with extreme winter weather in the foothills of the Himalayas. The season begins to shift in March and the weather starts getting warmer between March to May.
A large part of India experiences a more traditional hot and humid monsoon system which arrives from the southwest and pushes eastwards towards Southeast Asia. The cool season is characterised by hot and humid weather but very little rain; this lasts from late November to February. Temperatures continue to rise from March to the beginning of June when the monsoon arrives to the relief of local people. The monsoon is characterised by heavy rain showers and high humidity. Some areas of the subcontinent receive more rain than others. The rainy season winds down in October and the cool season arrives again.
Lightweight clothing for most of India is absolutely essential. If you plan on visiting holy sites, thin yet conservative dress is also necessary. Walking shoes, plenty of pairs of socks and undergarments are also recommended. Because of the cooler weather in India’s northern regions, especially in winter months, warmer attire is highly encouraged. An umbrella and a light waterproof jacket are also recommended for any time spent in the rainy season.
Don’t forget to double check the expected seasonal weather patterns before setting out on your India adventure. Climate zones are sub-divided into a number of sub-climates described above as the country hosts soaring mountains, dry arid deserts and hot tropical rain forests
During the Indian kingdom age (ca. 500 BC-1200 AD) two distinct types of architecture emerged: Buddhist and Hindu/Jain. The most famous form of Buddhist architecture is the stupa, and the primary building type of Hindu and Jain architecture is the temple, often featuring heavily sculpted exteriors and great tapered towers.
Deities are the main subject of Indian sculpture and painting and may be depicted as lone figures, or in scenes from scripture. The foremost collection of Indian sculpture and wall painting is found at the Ajanta Caves, a complex of Buddhist temples and monasteries hewn out of solid rock.
With the rise of Islamic states as the dominant powers of South Asia (ca. 1200-1800), Indian art was subjected to Islamic influences, a prime example of this is the Taj Mahal, the masterpiece of Indo-Islamic architecture.
Traditionally, Indian theatre incorporates music and dance and in most forms of Indian classical dance the performer is an actor and musician, as well as a dancer. Dance in India is as diverse as the multiethnic society from which it stems. Each region, with its own language, literature, customs, costume, and cuisine, has its own dance forms, some of which are traced through wall paintings, ancient manuscripts, and temple sculptures to well over three thousand years ago.
Indian dancers gesture with the eyes, head, neck, and hands. With wrists bent and arms flowing, the dancer interprets the lyrics of accompanying songs, telling stories through facial expression and hand gestures. A popular form of dance is Kathakali which literally means story-play. A Striking feature of Kathakali is the use of elaborate make-up and colourful costumes to emphasize that the characters are superbeings from another world.
– In Indian culture it is unseemly to show too much emotion so avoid losing your temper over problems and delays.
– You should always take your shoes off when entering a temple or when visiting private houses.
– You should never touch anybody’s head intentionally as it is regarded as a particularly holy part of the body.
– Accordingly, the feet are literally the lowest part of the body so do not point your feet at anybody or at a Buddha image.
– It is polite to ask permission before taking photographs of people.
Impossible to find out the exact origin of Indian people as it is an amazing amalgamation of various races and cultures. However two major strains predominate: the Aryan in the north, and the Dravidian in the south. India is a land of great cultural diversity, as is evidenced by the enormous number of different languages spoken throughout the country.
Although Hindi (spoken in the north) and English (the language of politics and commerce) are used officially, more than 1,500 languages and dialects are spoken. India is currently home to about 1.21 billion people, representing a full 17% of the earth’s population.
India is known as the land of spirituality and philosophy and is the birth place of four of the world’s major religions: Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Over 80 percent of the population is Hindu and the remaining are Muslims, Christians and Sikhs. Indians are very tolerant of each other’s religions and retain a secular outlook, although inter-religious marriage is not widely practiced.
Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world dating back about 5000 years and is a colourful religion with a vast gallery of Gods and Goddesses.
Zoroastrianism and Judaism also have an ancient history in India and each has several thousand Indian adherents.