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India Culture
Indian Culture

India's culture has been enriched by successive waves of migration which were absorbed into the Indian way of life.It is this variety which is a special hallmark of India. Its physical, religious and racial variety is as immense as its linguistic diversity. Underneath this diversity lies the continuity of Indian civilization and social structure from the very earliest times until the present day. Modern India presents a picture of unity in diversity to which history provides no parallel. Here is a catalogue of everything Indian. Indian religions, festivals, rituals, artifacts, monuments, costumes, music and dance, language and literature. Come and discover a little more of India's culture by selecting any of the topics listed below.

India has been an important part of three major world religions - Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. Buddhism began in India and spread to other places in Asia. Islam came into India from West Asia. The origins of Hinduism are less clear, but are certainly related to the arrival of the Indo-European Aryans from West Asia.

Indian Art
Indian art is basically religious in its themes and developments, and its appreciation requires at least some bacground knowledge of the country's faiths. The highlights include classical Indian dance, Hindu temple architecture and sculpture (where one begins and the other ends is often hard to define), the military and urban architecture of the Mughals, miniature painting, and mesmeric Indian music. The latter is difficult for visitors to appreciate since there is no sense of harmony in the Western sense, but don't be put off by this.

Indian Dance
Considered the most ancient form of art, dance in India is rooted in religion and traditions. Shiva, Krishna and Goddess Kali are often represented through the dances. The earliest reference to dance is found in Bharat Muni`s Natyashastra. Whilst classical Indian dances are popular in the subcontinent even today, the modern forms of dances have also found admirers.

Indians love the cinema and the Indian film industry, centred on Bombay, is one of the largest and most glamorous in the world. The vast proportion of films produced are gaudy melodramas based on three vital ingredients: romance, violence and music. You'll know what to expect from the fantastically hand-painted cinema billboards that dominate many streets. Imagine Rambo crossed with The Sound of Music and a Cecil B De Mille biblical epic, and you're halfway there. It's cheap operatic escapism, extremely harsh on the ears, and should not be missed.

Contrary to popular belief, not all Hindus are officially vegetarians. Although you'll find vegetarians everywhere, strict vegetarianism is most prevaslent in the south (which has not been influenced by meat-eating Aryans and Muslims) and in the Gujarati community. There are considerable regional variations from north to south, partly because of climatic conditions and partly because of historical influences. In the north, much more meat is eaten and the cuisine is often 'Mughal style', which bears a closer relationship to food of the Middle East and Central Asia. The emphasis is more on spices and less on chilli; grains and breads are more popular than rice. In the south, more rice is eaten, there is more vegetarian food, and the curries tend to be hotter. Another feature of southern vegetarian food is that you do not use eating utensils; just scoop the food up with your fingers - though not with those of your left hand.
Traditional Indian clothing for women are the saris or the salwar kameez and also Ghaghra Cholis (Lehengas). For men, traditional clothes are the Dhoti, Lungi or Kurta.Over the dhoti, men wear shirts, t-shirts, or anything else. Women wear a sari, a long sheet of colourful cloth with patterns. This is draped over a simple or fancy blouse. In some village parts of India, traditional clothing mostly will be worn. In southern India the men wear long, white sheets of cloth called dhoti in north Indian languages like Hindi and Bengali and veshti  in Tamil. Little girls wear a pavada. A pavada is a long skirt worn under a blouse. Both are often daily patterned. Bindi is part of the women's make-up. Indo-western clothing is the fusion of Western and Subcontinental fashion. Churidar, Dupatta, Gamchha, Kurta, Mundum Neriyathum, Sherwani are among other clothes.

Cultural Sites
Astonishing enough, seven out of the ten world heritage sites in India are termed cultural by UNESCO. Thus, the stupas, monasteries, temples and architecture are all representatives of the rich cultural heritage of India. The following are the cultural world heritage sites of India:
  • Agra Fort (1983)
  • Ajanta Caves (1983)
  • Elephanta Caves (1987)
  • Ellora Caves (1983)
  • Humayun's Tomb, Delhi (1993)
  • Sun Temple, Kon├órak (1984)
  •  Taj Mahal (1983)
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