India has a continuous culture going back thousands of years yet it is ever new, timeless. The many civilisations, dynasties, and empires that inhabited India left behind their memorials in metal, stone, brick, wood, even rock. It all begins with the oldest civilisation known to man – the beautifully planned geometric cities of the Indus Valley settlements (in Gujarat and Haryana) that were way ahead of their time.
The collective wealth of India’s architectural icons is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites List – outstanding mausoleums, forts, and tombs in the North; glorious caves, rock art, stepwells, colonial-era churches and convents, AND a railway station in the West; the detailed sculptural magnificence of temples, palaces, ruins in the South; erotic shrines, sublime temples, and an ancient university in the East; prehistoric rock shelters and the world’s first Buddhist sanctuary in Central India; and mountain railways that are marvels of engineering in the toughest terrain.
Made up of six regions, India has a mind-boggling number of multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-lingual communities; there are no less than 22 official languages (400 or so languages in all) and thousands of dialects across 29 states, and seven Union Territories. Each state in each region has its own distinct cuisine, traditions, attire, and festivals!
Every region and sub-region in India showcases its own genres and styles of art and craft, ranging from woodwork and metalwork to stone, lac, and glass works; from carpet weaving to handwoven textiles; from jewel encrusted paintings and resplendent murals to splendid tribal art and contemporary masters.
India’s ancient traditions of dance, music, storytelling, and dramatic performances along with countless folk and vernacular inputs are glorious art forms where moods, rhythms, and gestures are each tied to context, season, purpose, time, and audience – giving you a brilliant display of the country’s timeless heritage.
Renowned as the hub of the spice trade for centuries, India’s rich, aromatic, flavourful, and incredibly diverse cuisines are a marvellous fusion of many cultural influences and indigenous ingredients.
India’s villages and its tribal regions – where the real India lives – are steeped in beautiful folklore, dance, music, and indigenous craft, imparted by skilled artisan communities. Rural tourism is a wonderful way of enriching a traveller’s India experience.