The Indian Subcontinent – the name itself of which suggests a plethora of varied experiences in the form of cultures, traditions, geography and biology is the only one of its kind. Without a doubt, no country other than India will ever take such a long time to explore. Here in India, even if you happen to just visit the most famous places in each state (and every state has its own story to tell, so you cannot afford skipping any!), it will take you at least a month or two to tick all the places on your list.
Once a civilization that had its expanse from the Hindukush mountains to the Arakan Yoma and now been sliced into a much narrow area after many a political issue, it still holds the charm it was ever so famous for. The gods, the belief, the exoticism, the mysticism, pure grandeur, endless expanse of unadulterated nature and paradoxically enough, even populous bustling cities now dot the geography of this 64 year old nation.
In this feature, The Other Home brings the highlights of India to your homes. Despite each place in India housing a million things to see and do, we bring to you a tight set of images of what you should look forward to if you are planning a trip in and around this beautiful nation. For those who have already had the experience, a little jog down the memory lane will be nothing short of nostalgic!
Let’s take a quick stroll down the Indian landscape..
Aptly called ‘Heaven on Earth,’ Jammu and Kashmir is the northernmost state of India. Jammu region is known for its famous Vaishno devi shrine and the 12 kilometer trek. Kashmir on the other hand houses picturesque valleys, beautiful lakes and amazingly captivating landscape. Although a part of Jammu and Kashmir, the Ladakh region has a completely different landscape. It’s a stark contrast to the lush green pastures and apple orchards of Kashmir. Cold deserts and grandly picturesque valleys with very sparse vegetation and terrain so rugged, it’s a biker’s paradise.
Literally translating to the land of snow, this place is home to many a pretty hill station which used to be coveted by British rulers before India became independent. A very peaceful state, it is also home to the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala city of its Kangra District. It shares its borders with Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand and China. Do not be fooled by the beautiful landscape. It also houses a rough terrain in its districts of Lahaul, Spiti and Kinnaur Valley.
Home to a warm and welcoming culture, it could easily be the state with the highest contentment factor among its people.
A largely agrarian state, Haryana has in the recent years begun to play host to many a manufacturing unit and factory. Many of India’s leading companies have their head offices in the town of Gurgaon. This state also plays host to the world’s third largest highway toll plaza- with 32 toll booths. Many of India’s sportspeople have their origins here.
Home to the magnificient Golden Temple, the mecca of Sikhs and home to the famous mustard and wheat fields that often form the background for many a Bollywood love story, Punjab has always been known for its abundance in natural resources. Be it the wind, the water or the wheat – you won’t find all three of them in such dramatic visuals elsewhere. Not to forget, the famous India-Pakistan Road Border lies in Amritsar in Punjab.
The sultry desert blended with the purebred royalty of the state is just breath-taking. The lengthy history of the regal kingdoms coupled with their colourful culture set against the backdrop of an arid mass of sand feels every bit surreal.
Home to the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi, the man who singlehandedly spearheaded the Indian independence movement and won India its freedom and home to India’s coveted Asiatic lion reserve, Gujarat has many a treat up its sleeve.
The land of one of India’s most valiant rulers, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the rugged terrain of Sahyadri’s dotted by over 80 forts built in defence, mostly by the Maharashtrian ruler, this state never let the Mughal rulers move forward in the southern expansion efforts. Once a part of the Portuguese’s dowry to the British, India’s financial capital Mumbai is also the capital of this state.
Dotted with pristine beaches and an amazing shack culture which cannot be found elsewhere in India, Goa once known for its hippie settlements used to be a Portuguese colony till the 60s. Enjoy the Old Portuguese charm with its pleasant bohemian touch as you sip chilled beer sitting on a cliff overlooking the ocean at sunset.
The land of backwaters, jackfruit chips, coffee plantations and most of all, a massive culture of strong faith involving masked story tellers called Kathakalis and processions of temple elephants every evening, Kerala is aptly called ‘God’s own country.’
The state that boasts of abundance in royalty, wildlife, rich cultural and historical background, Madhya Pradesh is located right at the heart of India.
Home to Asia’s largest brackish water lake where one can see dolphins and many a migratory bird and also a breeding ground for the endangered olive ridley turtles across its pristine beaches, Odisha (formerly Orissa) is among the lesser explored states in India.
Once a state that encompassed the present day Bangladesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Orissa, West Bengal is the homeland of many an Indian literary genius. The sixth longest cantilever and the busiest bridge of the world, Howrah Bridge connects one end of the Ganges to another in the capital city of Kolkata.
One should visit the state during Durga Puja if you want to be completely bowled over by the colours and culture of this east Indian state.
This eleven-year-old state lies to the south of Bihar and is the hometown of the Indian cricket captain M.S.Dhoni.Although it is home to many a good Business school, sanctuaries and tiger reserves, naxal insurgency has led to this state being heavily unexplored by tourists.
Home to a diverse culture, although mostly populated by tribals who are in the process of transition into the modern world, Chattisgarh can be an interesting experience.
Bihar, one of India’s most rural states is also where Bodh Gaya(where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment) and Madhubani, (famous for its ancient fine art form) are located. Any trip to north India near would be incomplete without a trip to Bodh Gaya.
This state in particular has a lot to offer. Right from being the home-ground to India’s capital city, the magnificent mausoleum we call Taj Mahal to the holy banks of Ganges at Varanasi, this state has all the markings of a perfect tourist destination.
The last princely state to be incorporated into the union of India, Sikkim sits tiny and cute, nestled between West Bengal and Nepal. Although fairly new, this state has become one of the leading tourist attractions of the country in the past few years.
Famous for the refreshingly tasty tea which is named after this state, Assam is among the ‘7 Sisters’ belt of the Indian subcontinent.
monastery..Second largest in the world after Lhasa monastery.." src="http://blog.theotherhome.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Picture331.jpg" alt="Tawang monastery..Second largest in the world after Lhasa monastery.." width="600" height="337" />This vast state stands tall on the topmost point of ‘7 Sisters’ belt. It shares a majority of its national border with China and was also the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama.
Home to many an old tribe and a breath-taking expanse of nature’s bounty, Nagaland’s weaved products are worth collecting. Nowhere else will you find Naga shawls and traditional handicrafts being made!
Sitting on the easternmost point of India, Manipur is a landlocked state. Their traditional dance is a subject of interest to many a culture enthusiasts as they narrate stories of Lord Krishna in their local style – something that isn’t very common in the north-eastern states.
Often touted as the Scotland of the east, Mizoram has many a handicraft option to offer. The lack of many amenities have made visiting this place slightly tougher than the other places, but a visit to North East will not be complete without a road trip to Mizoram
Home to 19 indigenous tribal sects, Tripura is a tiny north-eastern state with vast cultural wealth. Wedged between Bangaldesh and north-east India, Tripura is packed with many treasures, be it abundance of nature or history.
Meghalaya is a tiny state in the North East which is landlocked by Assam on north, Nagaland to the east, Tripura to the south and Bangladesh to the west. Mainly divided into Garo, Khasi and Jaintia Hills regions, Meghalaya is very famous for a superb music scene.
UNION TERRITORIES OF INDIA
The Union Territories of India do not come under any state. They are governed directly by the central government and the laws here are slightly different.
Andaman & Nicobar are a set of islands that lie to the east of the Indian mainland’s southernmost tip. Famous for being the home of the endangered Jarawa tribe and land of the infamous Cellular Jail, these islands are actually the peaks of the submerged mountains of the Arakan Yoma range.
Lakshadweep, literally translating to one lakh islands is a group of islands that lie to the east of the southernmost tip of the Indian mainland. These coral-based islands are picturesque in every way possible and a trip to India would be incomplete without a trip to this cluster of islands.
The capital of two major Indian states, Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh is un-arguably the country’s most planned city. Planned by a French architect and designed in a fashion that allows every resident to get a view of the snow-clad mountains that lie farther in the background, this city is a delight to live in. No buildings are taller than 2 floors and no roads are named after people, giving this place a very practical look. Dotted with cycle lanes, manicured trees running alongside the roads, this is one pretty city!
The capital of the nation, this city was erected to house the leader of the country. Home ground of a heavy shopping culture and many monumental remain of the illustrious Mughal past, this city is worth spending a few days in!
This French colony turned Indian Territory is one colourful little place. The French influence can still be seen everywhere on the streets as you walk (make it a point to walk around town once and theres nothing on the planet you will like more!) around this beach riddled town.
Dadra and Nagar Haveli
Originally traded by the Maratha’s to the Portuguese in exchange for keeping the British from invading the coast, these two towns of Dadra and Nagar Haveli are now union territories located between Maharashtra and Gujarat. The exceptional blend of Portuguese and Maharashtrian art can be easily spotted by anyone visiting this place. Key attractions are Bindrabin Temple, Vanganga Lake Garden and Hirwa Van Garden.
Daman and Diu
Among the few territories that the Portuguese had their controls were the two towns of Daman and Diu. Located just outside Gujarat, they are famous for their pristine beaches and Portuguese style architecture.