Incredible India – my 7 year long journey through the country

On popular demand, beginning next Sunday, you will see a new series of blogposts on ‘Incredible India’. I will pick a new travel theme every month and write 4-5 blogposts on that theme every Sunday. I invite suggestions from my readers on these travel themes.

There are 195 countries in the world. In this world, exists INDIA, housing a world within its boundaries.

1.4 billion people live across 28 states & 7 union territories in this country – following diverse faiths, speaking 122 major languages & celebrating unique cultural distinctions be it in food, clothes, customs & architecture.

Seven years ago, I decided to ditch the more popular travel destinations of the world to explore the ancient, rich and unique heritage of this incredible country.

People often ask me – why don’t I travel to Europe more or other exotic foreign destinations. My answer hasn’t changed in these past seven years.

I love India and it loves me back.

Glimpse of my journey through East, West, Central, North and South India.

East India:
Mahabodhi Temple, Bihar, World UNESCO Heritage site – where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment, a highly revered milestone in the Buddhist spiritual journeys
West India:
Gateway of India, Mumbai (Arabian Sea)
Central India: Khajuraho Temples, Madhya Pradesh. Are you wondering what’s special? Look closer.
North India:
Golden Temple, Amritsar, Punjab
(the Gurudwara made of Gold that feeds thousands of humans everyday, for free)
South India: Nilgiris, Western Ghats – a beautiful mountain range spanning across many southern states resulting in gorgeous landscapes

What’s so special about India anyway?

Well, a lot. Let’s talk Geography.

Indian Subcontinent is a peninsula, surrounded by water bodies on the three sides: Bay of Bengal on the East, Arabian Sea on the West and Indian Ocean on the South. This opened up major trade routes centuries back thereby giving us a strategic advantage. Remember, once this country was called a Golden Sparrow (sone ki chidiya)?! Because of all the wealth generated via these trade routes, along with other things, of course.

Kaup Beach (Arabian Sea), Karnataka
Pamban Bridge (Indian Ocean), Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu

History and Heritage

Being one of the oldest civilisations in the world (Indus Valley), we were ahead of the rest of the world in many areas back then.

We gave the world ‘Zero’, ‘Decimal System’, ‘Buddhism’, ‘Yoga’, ‘Sanskrit’, ‘Chess’ and many such firsts!

Imagine the treasures of heritage that you can find in this country: be it in the ancient temples or rock-cut caves dating from the 322-185 BCE, or the indigenous art & craft forms that you can find here.

India is home to one of the seven wonders of the world, and 40 World UNESCO Heritage sites, making it the sixth country with maximum number of heritage sites. 🙂 Not just Taj Mahal guys, but also forts, palaces, monuments, churches, temples, buddhist/ islamic monuments, caves, rocks, science observatories, stepped wells, archaeological ruins/ excavations and national parks.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Taj, one of the seven wonders of the world, located in Agra, Uttar Pradesh
Bibi Ka Maqbara, Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Yes, you are right. It’s a replica of Taj Mahal. While the Taj was built by Shah Jahan for his wife…this was built by his grandson for the love for his mother. But then, it looks like this because of resource crunch. You know, how budgeting works!
Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. This is where Lord Buddha gave the first sermon. This was also the Lion Capital of Ashoka, the great. The National Emblem of India is inspired by this same, Lion Capital aka the Ashoka Emblem from Sarnath.

Incredible North-east India

North-east is the most shining jewel in the crown of India. Comprising eight states, North-east India is famous for many things: its progressive customs, cleanliness, rainforests, Eastern Himalayas, rivers and Kanchenjunga (the third highest mountain peak in the world).

Highly unique and distinct from mainland India, north-east surprises you at every juncture with their magnanimous hospitality, incredible fashion sense, strong talent in music, art and craft and diverse customs. You come here once, you would want to settle in permanently.

Double Decker Bridge, Meghalaya. What’s so special about it, you might wonder. Well, it’s a man-made bridge using the roots of a Rubber tree. This can carry people & load across. 🙂 Seen anything like this, ever?
Zero Point, Sikkim. Situated at an altitude of 15,300 ft., it’s the last outpost of civilisation. The world ends here. Er, I mean…the road.

Mountains and Hill Stations

The Indian Himalayan region is the subsection of Himalayas that spans across seven Indian states and transforms into magnificent landscapes. In total, India has got seven mountain ranges – which is the reason why we have some of the highest mountain roads in the world.

While we have places like Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Kerala and Chennai that remain relatively warm for a major part of the year, we also have Leh Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir & Siachen Glacier that touch subzero temperatures for most part of the winter season.
The temperature in Siachen Glacier drops to minus 50 degrees celsius sometimes. Did you know that?!

Yes, that’s correct. Inspired by the epic movie, ‘The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’…in Narkanda, Himachal Pradesh
Munnar, Kerala, one of my favourite hill stations. Full of tea plantations, beautiful landscapes and happiness. ♥️♥️♥️
Located at an altitude ranging from 9,000 ft. to 25,170 ft., Ladakh shares its boundaries with the Great Indian Himalayas & Siachen Glacier. Ladakh is also home to KhardungLa pass – one of the highest motor-able passes in the world.

Incredible Wildlife

India is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world and is home to three of the 36 biodiversity hotspots in the world. In simple language, we have hit a jackpot when it comes to wild animals, birds, flora and fauna. 🙂

There are 105 national parks in India and 53 Tiger Reserves, housing more than 80% of wild Tigers in the world. Just like its people, the country is rich and diverse even in its wildlife population.

The Royal Bengal Tiger, spotted in Panna Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh. Tiger is also the national animal of Incredible India.
Asiatic Lions, found in Gir National Park, Gujarat – the only place where Lions are found in the wild, in Asia.
A beautiful female leopard resting up a tree, Jim Corbett, Uttarakhand

Forts and Caves

Caves came first, and then forts & fortresses. India has got plenty of both. There are 2702 explored caves in India. There might be many more in uncharted territories. While some of these are natural caves, many of them are rock-cut caves designed for religious & spiritual reasons. Developed over generations, many caves were shaped by multiple dynasties such as Ajanta and Ellora caves of Maharashtra. By the way, fun fact: the maximum number of caves in India exist in Maharashtra.

India didn’t stop at caves. We took our construction and architecture game up a notch by selecting high altitudes and building forts there. These forts, other than providing strategic military advantages, often doubled as architectural marvels.

Ajanta Caves, Aurangabad, Maharashtra , one of the finest examples of ancient surviving Indian art
Kailash Temple, Ellora Caves, Aurangabad, Maharashtra. One of the most remarkable rock-cut temples of the world, where they developed a temple with intricate carvings and sculpting- from one single rock. Yes, you read that right!
Amer Fort, Jaipur, Rajasthan.

With this, I invite all of you to make recommendations for travel themes, that I can pick up and start blogging about. I will pick one travel theme for each month, and will write one blogpost every Sunday, on the travel theme of the month.

Till then, Keep travelling. Keep enjoying the Life on Weekends.

India, forever!


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