Cultural Vacations - Discover India - a country with variegated art and culture. Explore it to know more about it.
Discover the fascinating culture of India
India, as we know, is the land of cultural diversity. The people of this vast country follow different religons, speak numerous languages, have developed their unique art & dance forms and celebrate various festivals. Tourists desirous of exploring Indias cultural diversity will be pleasantly surprised with the huge difference they will encounter in the north, south, central, east and west of India.
North India is filled with places that are culturally rich. Tourists from both India and abroad, on a visit to this part, are exposed to amazingly diverse culture .People of these places have endeavoured to preserve their culture and have been successful to a large extent.
The capital of India is a representative of Indian culture in the truest sense as people from different parts of country reside here. Though the population of Delhi is predominantly Punjabi, people from other states are also found in considerable number. Delhi has numerous art galleries like the prestigious National Art Gallery, Lalit Kala Academy, Triveni Kala Sangam etc where exhibitions of artists are held. Dance and music lovers have numerous options. Siri Fort auditorium and Kamani auditorium hold classical music and dance programmes. Delhi also hosts many music and dance festivals in specific seasons. Zardozi or embroidery by gold thread is an widely appreciated art workof the artists of Old Delhi.Apart from Zardozi, Meenakari work and lacquer work bangles are also hugely popular with tourists.
Uttar Pradesh is one such state where we can still find a culture that is reminiscent of a bygone era.
Cultural Places : Uttar Pradesh is full of places that have cultural importance.The capital of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow is called the city of Nawabs not only because it was founded by the nawabs but also because the people here are particularly observant about manners(Tehzeeb).Not far away, on the bank of the sacred Ganges is the city of Varanasi or Banaras which is a pilgrimage for every Hindu around the world. Performing a puja on the banks of the Ganges and bathing in it is considered extremely auspicious.
Mathura and Vridavan, two places where lord Krishna spent a part of his life are still alive with his legends.Janamashtami or the birthday of Shri Krishna is celebrated with great fervour and enthusiasm in these two places.
Religion : The major religion of the state are Hinduism, Islam, Christanity and Jainism.
Languages Spoken : As similar to the cultural practice, the languages spoken in the state also varies from region to region and include Hindi, Urdu (pure form used by famous Urdu poets), Braj, Bundeli and Bhojpuri.
Major Dance Form of the State : The major dance form of Uttar Pradesh, Kathak (storyteller) traces its origin in the ancient temple ritual which was modified later to entertain the Mughal emperors.
Art and Craft : People of Uttar Pradesh are accomplished artists and craftsmen.The saris from Varanasi, carpets from Mirzapur and clothwork & embroidery of Lucknow are well known not just in India but around the world.
Fairs and Festivals : The major festival of the states are Holi, Diwali, Dusherra and Janamashtami. The much famous and much publisized Kumbh Mela is held in Allahabad every twelve years.
From a visit to religious place to enjoying a fun filled mela and shopping for saris and other items- the state offers a variety which is sure to be loved by tourists.
The culture in the western part of India is yet again a reflection of the cultural diversity of the country. The people, their lifestyle and art form arre markedly different from the rest of the country.
Rajasthan offers a culture which is distinctly different from that of any other area lying on the plains of north India. The glorious heritage of the land of Maharajas is still alive with their descendants occupying prominent places in the region. A considerable portion of Rajasthan is a desert region, however it is a colourful state marked with festivity and celebrations throughout the year. The beauty of the place lies in the fact that the people seek to make their lives pleasant irrespective of the hardships they have to face. To ward off the monotony of the sandy region, people consciously dress up in bright and radiant clothes complete with exquisite jewellery and beautiful turbans.
Major cultural Places : The cities of Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Chittorgarh have huge cultural significance.They are home to magnificient forts, palaces and gardens that are reflective of the royal past of the state. The regions cultural heritage is evident even today.
About 130 km from Jaipur is the city of Ajmer wherin lies the tomb of a famous 13th century Sufi saint, Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chisti. Ajmer is the major pilgrim for Muslims around the world during the period of Ramzan, however, people following other faiths also visit the Dargah and bow their head in respect.
Religion : The major religion followed are Hinduism and Jainism.
Languages Spoken : Hindi, English and indegeneousRajasthani are the common languages spoken by the people.
Music and Dance Form : Music & dance, integral to the lives of Rajasthanis have a magnetic charm that impresses any listener. The folk songs of Rajasthan describe the chivalry and romantic exploits of their legendary heroes. The song are also devotional, festive and one depicting moods of lovers, their unions, laughter, happiness etc. These songs are accompanied by music of local instruments like Sarangi & Ektara (stringed instruments), Nagaras & Dhols (percussion instruments), and shenai & algoza (flute variety). Adding colour to their festivity are their spontaneous dances -ghoomar,gair and chari. Other dance form include fire dance and kachi ghodi.
Art and Craft : Rajasthan is renowned worlwide for its art and craft, be it statues, jewellery, paintings, stone & silver articles, furnitures and textiles- tourists can pick up anything of their choice.
Fairs and Festivals : The festivals celebrated by Rajasthanis include Gangur and Teej, both of which are celebrated in honour of Goddess Parvati.A major source of attraction for tourists, both foreigners and Indians, is the Pushkar Mela. Pushkar is the sole place in India where a temple of Lord Brahma, the creator of this universe can be found.
Exceedingly different from one corner to the other, Rajasthan is a place where culture is deep rooted in the lives of the dwellers. A sojurn to this place will leave an indelible mark on the visiting tourists
The commercial capital of India,Maharashtra has a rich cultural bakground. The land of the Chatrapati Shivaji (Great Maratha leader), Bajirao, Veer Savarkar and B R Ambedkar holds its cultural legacy with pride while marching ahead to the path of modernity.
Cultural Places : Few important places of Maharashtra are Mumbai (the capital city that derives its name from Mumba Devi), Pune (capital of the erstwhile Maratha Empire), Nashik (an important pilgrimage for Hindus and one of the four states in the country to host the famous Kumbh Mela)), and Aurangabad (named after Aurengzeb ) among others.
Religion : Though Hindus form the majority of the population Muslims, Christans, Jews and people following other religion are also in considerable number.
Languages Spoken : The languages spoken in the state are Marathi, Hindi and English.
Music and Dance Form :The very popular Lavni is performed by women and is highly entertaining combination of dance and song. Other known dances of the region include Dhangari Gajas, Povadas and Koli.The interest of Maharashtrians in art is also evident in the growth of Marathi theatre.
Fairs and Festivals : The Ganesh festival better known as Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated for eleven days and is the most important festival of Maharashtra. Other festivals celebrated in the state are Gokul Ashtmi, Mohurrum, Diwali and Dusherra.
Art and Craft : The state is a delight for shoppers as both traditional and modern art and craft products can be found in abundance.Souvenirs with Bidri work, Ajanta and Warlis paintings are example of exceptional art and craft of the state.However Kolahapuri chappals and Paithani sari in silk are two hugely popular items with shoppers.
The hot spot of Portuguese empire, Goa still reflects a mix of Portuguese and Indian culture.
Important Cultural Places : Panaji(capital city) and Margao, two of the biggest cities in Goa houses some of the important temples and churches like the Mahalaxmi temple, Chandreshwar Bhutnath temple, Our Lady of Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit church. The Basilica of born Jesus , a world heritage site is located in Velha Goa . Also in Velha Goa is the largest church of Goa, Se Cathedral.
Religion : The population of Goa comprises of Hindus, Muslims and Christans.
Languages Spoken : Konkani, Marathi, English and Portuguese are the languages spoken by people Fairs & Festivals- Goans are enthusiastic people hence festivals are time when happiness and excitement is in the air. The major festivals celebrated by the Goans are Mahashivratri, Shigmotsav, Navratri, Diwali etc.
Art and Craft : Goans are outstanding artists and craftsmen. They specialise in bamboo craft, woodcarving, brass metals and seashell craft .
Music and Dance Forms : Goans have an abiding interest in music and dance. An important and now famous music form is Goa Trance. The major dance forms are Fugdi & Dhalo and Dekni (both performed by women alone). The Lamp dance is performed during the Shigmo festival.
The South India
The South Indian culture bears absolutely no resemblance to the culture of the rest of India. The people, their history, languages, art forms, lifestyles etc present before a tourist a completely different India. The major states of south India Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhara Pradesh, though unique in their own culture, still have numerous similarities.
Karnataka has a vibrant culture that has been carried on from years to present time.
Cultural Places : Mysore, the cultural capital of the state was the political capital of the Tiger of Mysore Tipu Sultan at one point of time. Along with Tipu Sultan, other rulers of Karnataka, before and after him have contributed immensely to build up the culture of Karnataka.Near Mysore is Sravanbelagola,the place where famous Indian ruler Chandragupta Maurya embraced Jainism. The city is replete with huge monolithic Jain statues but the most prominent among all is a colossal 1000 year old statue of Bahubali.Hampi, a part of the erstwhileVijaynagar Empire is famous for its temples .
Religion : The population of the state comprises of Hindu , Muslims, Jains and Christans.
Languages spoken - Residents of the state speak various languages like Kannada, Telgu, Tamil, Urdu, Marathi, Tulu, Hindi and English. Karnataka.
Music & Dance Forms : Karnataka is well known for its Carnatic music, a form of classical music. Bayalata or the open air folk theatre is the famous dance form of the state. Doddata is yet another dance form of the state.
Fairs & Festivals : Dussehra and Muharram are celebrated with great pomp and show. Siddeshwara temple festival , a music festival with a crafts mela is organised in Bijapur. Another important festival, the Virupaksha Temple Car Festival is held in Hampi.
Art and Craft : The skilled craftsmen of Karnataka are experts in wood carving, ivory carving,stone carving, sandalwood carving, metalware. Mysore paintings and mysore silk are two extremely popular and appreciated art forms of the state.
The culture of Tamil Nadu is a reflection of the old Dravidian culture. Numerous temples with their huge gopurams and rock carvings are found throughout the state.
Cultural Places : Places like Kanchipuram, the ancient city of thousand temple is not only one of the most important pilgrimage for Hindus but also for Jains and Buddhists. Numerous temples like the Kamakshi temple, the Vardaraja temple etc enhance the importance of the place. It is also the place where the handloom industry is thriving. Rameshwaram , the Varanasi of South India is yet another holy place for the Hindus. Other important places are Madurai, Tiruchirapalli and Tanjavur.
Religion : Hindus, Christan, Muslims and Jains form the population of Tamil Nadu.
Language Spoken : The people of Tamil Nadu speakTamil, however due to influx of people from other states and improvement in education, various languages including English are now part of states culture.
Music and Dance Form : The major dance form of the state is Bharatnatyam(one of the oldest dance forms of India). Apart from this the folk dances of Tamil Nadu are Mayil Attam(where girls dress up like a peacock), Bommalattam(puppet show) and Kummi. Carnatic music is the most important form of music in Tamil Nadu.
Fairs and Festivals : Tamil Nadu is a land of festivity and hence a number of festivals are celebrated all through the year, the most important being the harvest festival-Pongal. The Thyagaraja festival is another important festival celebrated annually in the memory of eminent singer-poet of the state Thyagaraja.
Art and Craft : Art and craft of the state include metalware, woodwork, textile weaving, stone encrusted and gold jewelleries.
The present state of Kerala, along with a part of Tamil Nadu formed the princely state of Travancore.A majority of people in Kerala are Dravadians and hence the culture of Dravidians is also apparent. A number of temples can be found in the state of Kerala. Though a fully literate state , Kerala has retained its age old culture. From ancient times, importance of art and culture was emphasized.
Cultural Places : A major part of Eranakulam ( Erayanarkulam means abode of Lord Shiva) was a part of the Kochi kingdom. The place has many pilgrimage centtres like Attukal Bhagvati temple and Chettikulangara temple. Eranakulam is also famous for Yoga, Ayurvedic and naturopathy centres. Kasaragod district has a rich cultural background and it is manifested in the architecture of Madhur Mahaganapathy Temple. Thiruvanantpuram is another ancient city ahich is culturally important. It was once a capital of the princely state of Travancore. Religion : Kerala has a majority of Hindu population but there are Christan and Muslims in large number too. Jains and Jews form the minority population of the state. Languages Spoken : Malayalam is the major language spoken in the state, however English is also common since the state is hundred percent literate.
Music and Dance Forms : Kathakali and Mohiniattam are the most common dance forms in Kerala. Fairs and festivals-Onam, the most important festival of the state celebrating the harvest season . The Great Elephant March (101 beautifully decorated elephants are teken out on a procession that starts from Thrissur and ends in Trivandrum) and Navaratri are also celebrated in the state. The annual boat race at Punnamada lake in Alappuzha is one of the most interesting festivals of the state. Art and Craft : Kerala is famous for its carvings especially carvings on rosewood and sandalwood. Snake boats are made in large numbers.Apart from these granite idols, coirs and pillars are also made.Best buys for tourists are silk sarees, articles made of coconut shells and numerous other handicrafts.
East India has a rich cultural past which reflects in its present form of art, dance & music and festivals.
One of the most important states of India, West Bengal has a unique culture that has developed due to its exposure to various ruling dynasties. The Guptas are the earliest known rulers of the state though it was ruled by many other rulers.West Bengal became significant when British East India Company made the state its headquarters. Numerous structure built during the British period still occupy an important place.Prominent among these are the Victoria Memorial and the Raj Bhavan in Calcutta.
Cultural Places : Kolkata, the capital of the state is considered the cultural capital of India because the Bengali have deep rooted interest in art and culture. Other important places of the state include Murshidabad, the former capital of West Bengal which is an important educational centre and is famous for silk. Birbhum is another important place which has the famous Vishwa Bharti University.
Religion : West Bengal is dominated by Hindus though people following other religion also reside in the state.
Language Spoken : The populace of the state which is largely Hindu speaks Hindi, English and Bengali.
Music and Dance Forms : The state was home to the famous poet Rabindranath Tagore and hence his writings have left a huge impression on the minds of the people. Rabindra sangeet is immensely famous and respected not merely in the state but worldwide. Vishwa Bharti, an international university was founded by Rabindranath Tagore as a platform where culture from both east and west could merge. Apart from Rabindra Sangeet other songs famous in Bengal are Bhatiali, dhrupad, baul and devotional songs. Different dance forms are also popular in West Bengal like Jatra, Chhau, Rava and Santhali.
Fairs and Festivals : The Durga Puja festival is the most important festival of the state during which people keep aside every other work and rejoice in the fetsivity of the puja. People draped in colourful clothes worship Goddess Durga and seek her blessings. It is also a period when numerous cultural shows are organized in the state for the entertainment of the people. Apart from this other festivals like Diwali, Eid and Holi are also celebrated in the state.
Art and Crafts : West Bengal is also a place where shoppers can pick up various things ranging from tradional to modern . Handicrafts made from jute, conch shell, brass, bamboo etc are very famous apart from the terracota figurines, painted clay plaques, leather bags and handloom sarees.
The Kalinga Empire of King Ashoka is now known as Orissa.
Cultural Places : Orissa has numerous cultural places, the most prominent being the holy city of Puri which is the site of the annual festival of Lord Jagannath called Rath Yatra. Bhubaneswar, the capital of Orissa was also the capital of the Kalinga Empire and has numerous temples like the Lingaraja temple and the Mukteshvara temple. Konark is another important place that houses the famous Konark temple.
Religion : Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism are the important religion that people of the state follow.
Languages Spoken : Oriya is states official language,
however, Hindi and English are also spoken.
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