Sometime back I was talking to a South African colleague of mine about Indian culture etc. when he suddenly said to me “So Aashish! Sell me India. Why should I visit India?” I was asked the same thing when dining with her very lovely wife, Veronica. I did the same on a team dinner when I tried to talk a couple of colleagues into coming to India, while being surrounded by a number of SA settled third generation Indians.
I tried to tell them about the great cultural diversity in our land, the myriad variety of foods that we eat, the in-numerous dress languages that we have, literally millions of gods and goddesses that we look (literally) up to, a melee of cultural values living with boardroom antics.
And they seem to have been sold on that. But then I thought, am I really doing a justice to the INCREDIBLENESS THAT IN INDIA (yes in ALL CAPS!!!).
So I ran a search on the net via the Google dev (god) to search why indeed should anyone visit India. Surprisingly, while there was a lot of material on what to visit while visiting India, there wasn’t even a single post on WHY should they be visiting India in the first place?
Having failed in my attempt, I decided to make an effort at penning down a post which might act as a ready reckoner for anyone who is planning to maybe visit India. Maybe I can help tip the scales. Who knows???
So here you go Brian… My top reasons why I feel that India is a must visit for any person (though I myself cannot claim to have seen it all)
Monuments – India has a number of monuments that are a must visit for everyone. Not all of them are historical though. I am sure all would have heard about Taj Mahal (after all it figures in the list of wonders of world). India has myriad such historical monuments such as the Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Ashok Stambh etc. In addition to such monuments, we have a lot many of religious places such as Jama Masjid,Delhi; Golden Temple, Amritsar; Jagannath Puri Temple, Orissa; Akshardham Temple, Delhi and Gujarat. We have a wide variety of forts and palace such as Old Fort,Delhi ; Red Fort,Agra; Hawa Mahal,Jaipur; Jal Mahal,Jaipur; Gingee Fort,Tamil Nadu and what not. Culture – In India, we love talking about our cultural heritage, our legacy etc… but what exactly does all that encompass? The cultural traits, the way we dress, the way we talk and sing, the way we behave among family and friends changes every so often. In music we have Hindustani Gharana music, Carnatic Music, Ghazals and Folk Music. In textile we have Chikankari, Kanjeevaram Saree, Zardozi and the like. We have several dance forms such as Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Mohiniattam, Odissi, not to mention Punjabi Bhangra and what not! Did you know that India has millions of gods and goddesses. Hinduism itself has around 330 million deities. Food – When you hear people swear by Indian food; it’s not an exaggeration. Visiting India is a culinary delight for vegetarians and an eye opener for meat lovers. I am often asked why I don’t eat non-veg and I simply reply “because I don’t need to with so much vegetarian variety”. That’s not to say that we don’t have sufficient craving for chicken or fish. And the best food in India is the one that is sold on the myriad roadside stalls, and not within the four square walls of a fancy restaurant. On one hand we have a gazillion variety of sweet meats whereas on the other hand we have a range of spicy, taste bud tickling offerings. And worldwide, chicken tikka and tandoori chicken are the words which are just about to get added to the oxford dictionary.
Language – In the land of one billion people, not only do we have dozens of language, we have several dialects within those languages as well. And not like English the Texas way vis-à-vis English the London way. No Sir! We have languages which a person from other territory might not recognize. The languages are as different from each other as apples from orange. Did you know that at resent we have 22 official languages and 398 living languages in India. Unlike other countries, we don’t have a singular language (ofcourse Hindi is our national language but still English is the one we most commonly communicate in when we go to a different zone of the country). So when somebody asks me to speak in Indian, I am often stumped as there is no language called “Indian”.
Variety of people – Being in a place like India is as much of an experience as having visited tens of country because the people are simply so different from each other. And yet, despite all this diversity, they still manage to live in a harmony with each other.
While on one hand we have the boasty, garrulous people from Punjab who believe that showing off is the way to communicate with people; on the other hand we have the passive aggressive folks from South India who believe in simple living high thinking. On one hand we have the Bengal folks talking about communist way of life, while we have the shrewd business minded people of Gujarat where even a five year old has a business of his/her own. “Adda” (useless chitchat between friends) of one place becomes “bakar” in another and “gupshup” in yet another. “bhai” (brother) of one place undergoes a range of transformation from “bhaiyya” to “dada” to “virji” to “cheta”. Such is the wide variety that we have!
Delhi – I am including this point specifically because of the fact that I am a bit partial towards my city.... and the fact that it is indeed awesome!!! For those of you who feel that “Slumdog Millionaire” was a reflection on how India is, or are still stuck in India as being the land of snake charmers; a visit to Delhi, the mecca of modern India is a must visit. Being in Delhi is no less than being in the heart of New York or Beijing or Tokyo. You have all the major MNCs of the world with facilities that may surpass even the best of the best.
Natural beauty – The natural beauty of India is at par its global counterparts.
In the northern part of the country we have the valleys of Kashmir dubbed as ‘the Paradise on earth’, for its beautiful valleys, lakes, rivers, peaks and its people and for which Jahangir once said “Its pleasure meadows and enchanting cascades are beyond all description. These are running streams and fountains beyond count. Wherever, the eye reaches, there are vendure and running water. The red rose, the violet and narcissus grow of themselves in the field”. In the south, we have the serene backwaters of Kerala and its majestic beauty.
Spiritual enthusiasts abode – I feel like the word “spiritual tourism” has been defined with India in mind.Off lately, the spiritual tourism industry seen a tremendous growth especially after the popularization of yoga and traditional Indian remedies and medicines in the western culture.
India offers something for every religion from Hindu to Muslim, from Sikh to Christian to Buddhist. Places like Varanasi, Haridwar, Golden temple are the ideal destination for spiritual seekers. Four “dhams” and nine “devi” of Himachal are a must see for everyone. Ancient Indian scriptures quote such cures and remedies and solutions which are increasingly finding their way in the modern lives now that people are trying to live more in tune with nature. Several western countries have tried and failed at getting patents over traditional use items in India such as turmeric for its medicinal property, Basmati rice etc.
Well that was my 2 cents on this topic. In no way that I believe that I have done justice to the wonder that is India as this is but a mere glimpse of what India has to offer to all. Do let me know as to what you think of this meager attempt to mine to summarize India. All bouquets and brickbats are welcome!!!
Some interesting links here:
- 10 Must See India Destination
- Must Visit India
- 10 Must-See Places in India
- Tourism in India – Must Visits
- India's Famous Monuments
- Languages of India
- Indian Languages Map
Images courtesy: culturextourism.com, voiceculture.org, allhindugodgoddess.blogspot.com, inventindia.in, wikimedia.org, travel.kashmironline.net, indialine.com, indiamart.com, indianetzone.com, lonelyplanet.com, flickr.com, blog.mapsofindia.com, blog.knowledge-must.com, indianfoodforever.com, southindianfoods.in, restaurantsinnoida.com, weirdasianews.com, go4indya.blogspot.com, bharatonline.com, rahuleink.wordpress.com, thehindu.com, instablogs.com, connaught-place.com