INDIA INFORMATION

Incredible India has all the right ingredients - good food, rich culture, beautiful historic monuments, spirituality, diversity, and beautiful weathers - to lure travellers from all over the world.

AT A GLANCE

  • Capital - New Delhi
  • Largest City - Mumbai
  • Administrative Division - 29 States and 7 Union territories
  • Area - 3.3 Million sq. Km
  • Coastline - 7,516.6 Km
  • Population - (2015 estimate) 1,276,267,000 (approx. 1.27 billion)
  • Population Density - 387.6/sq. Km
  • Population Growth Rate - 1.38% per annum
  • Sex Ratio - 940 females per 1000 males (2011)
  • Literacy rate - 64.8%
  • GDP (2015 estimate) - $2.183 trillion (7th largest economy)
  • Economic Growth rate - 5.8%
  • Nominal per capita income US$ 1,688 (Ranked 141st)
  • Human Development Index (ranking) - 130th (2014)
  • People - Hindu (79.8%), Muslim (14.2%), Christian (2.3%), Sikh (1.7%), Buddhist (0.7%), Jain (0.4%)
  • Highest mountain peak - Kanchanjunga (8586 M or 28169 ft)
  • Longest River - Ganges (Ganga) 2525 Km
  • Before Partition - Indus (Sindhu) 3180 Km
  • National Symbols
    • Animal - Royal Bengal Tiger
    • Bird - Indian Peacock
    • Flower - Lotus
    • Tree - Banyan
    • Fruit - Mango
    • Sport - Field Hockey
    • River - Ganges
    • Monument - Taj Mahal
  • National Days
    • 26 January - Republic Day
    • 15 August - Independence Day
Some Interesting Facts
  • India never invaded any country in her last 100000 years of history.
  • When many cultures were only nomadic forest dwellers over 5000 years ago, Indians established Harappan culture in Sindhu Valley (Indus Valley Civilization)
  • The name 'India' is derived from the River Indus, the valleys around which were the home of the early settlers. The Aryan worshippers referred to the river Indus as the Sindhu.
  • The Persian invaders converted it into Hindu. The name 'Hindustan' combines Sindhu and Hindu and thus refers to the land of the Hindus.
  • Chess was invented in India.
  • Algebra, Trigonometry and Calculus are studies, which originated in India.
  • The 'Place Value System' and the 'Decimal System' were developed in India in 100 B.C.
  • The World's First Granite Temple is the Brihadeswara Temple at Tanjavur, Tamil Nadu. The shikhara of the temple is made from a single 80-tonne piece of granite. This magnificent temple was built in just five years, (between 1004 AD and 1009 AD) during the reign of Rajaraja Chola.
  • India is the largest democracy in the world, the 6th largest Country in the world, and one of the most ancient civilizations.
  • The game of Snakes & Ladders was created by the 13th century poet saint Gyandev. It was originally called 'Mokshapat'. The ladders in the game represented virtues and the snakes indicated vices. The game was played with cowrie shells and dices. In time, the game underwent several modifications, but its meaning remained the same, i.e. good deeds take people to heaven and evil to a cycle of re-births.
  • The world's highest cricket ground is in Chail, Himachal Pradesh. Built in 1893 after leveling a hilltop, this cricket pitch is 2444 meters above sea level.
  • India has the largest number of Post Offices in the world.
  • The largest employer in the world is the Indian Railways, employing over a million people.
  • The world's first university was established in Takshila in 700 BC. More than 10,500 students from all over the world studied more than 60 subjects. The University of Nalanda built in the 4th century was one of the greatest achievements of ancient India in the field of education.
  • Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to mankind. The Father of Medicine, Charaka, consolidated Ayurveda 2500 years ago.
  • India was one of the richest countries till the time of British rule in the early 17th Century. Christopher Columbus, attracted by India's wealth, had come looking for a sea route to India when he discovered America instead.
  • The Art of Navigation & Navigating was born in the river Sindh over 6000 years ago. The very word Navigation is derived from the Sanskrit word 'NAVGATIH'. The word navy is also derived from the Sanskrit word 'Nou'.
  • Bhaskaracharya rightly calculated the time taken by the earth to orbit the Sun hundreds of years before the astronomer Smart. According to his calculation, the time taken by the Earth to orbit the Sun was 365.258756484 days.
  • The value of "pi" was first calculated by the Indian Mathematician Budhayana, and he explained the concept of what is known as the Pythagorean Theorem. He discovered this in the 6th century, long before the European mathematicians.
  • Algebra, Trigonometry and Calculus also originated in India. Quadratic Equations were used by Sridharacharya in the 11th century. The largest numbers the Greeks and the Romans used were 106 whereas Hindus used numbers as big as 10*53 (i.e. 10 to the power of 53) with specific names as early as 5000 B.C. during the Vedic period.Even today, the largest used number is Terra: 10*12(10 to the power of 12).
  • Until 1896, India was the only source of diamonds in the world
  • (Source: Gemological Institute of America).
  • The Baily Bridge is the highest bridge in the world. It is located in the Ladakh valley between the Dras and Suru rivers in the Himalayan mountains. It was built by the Indian Army in August 1982.
  • Sushruta is regarded as the Father of Surgery. Over 2600 years ago Sushrata & his team conducted complicated surgeries like cataract, artificial limbs, cesareans, fractures, urinary stones, plastic surgery and brain surgeries.
  • Usage of anaesthesia was well known in ancient Indian medicine. Detailed knowledge of anatomy, embryology, digestion, metabolism,physiology, etiology, genetics and immunity is also found in many ancient Indian texts.
  • India exports software to 90 countries.
  • The four religions born in India - Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, are followed by 25% of the world's population.
  • Jainism and Buddhism were founded in India in 600 B.C. and 500 B.C. respectively.
  • Islam is India's and the world's second largest religion.
  • There are 300,000 active mosques in India, more than in any other country, including the Muslim world.
  • The oldest European church and synagogue in India are in the city of Cochin. They were built in 1503 and 1568 respectively.
  • Jews and Christians have lived continuously in India since 200 B.C. and 52 A.D. respectively
  • The largest religious building in the world is Angkor Wat, a Hindu Temple in Cambodia built at the end of the 11th century.
  • The Vishnu Temple in the city of Tirupathi built in the 10th century, is the world's largest religious pilgrimage destination. Larger than either Rome or Mecca, an average of 30,000 visitors donate $6 million (US) to the temple everyday.
  • Sikhism originated in the Holy city of Amritsar in Punjab. Famous for housing the Golden Temple, the city was founded in 1577.
  • Varanasi, also known as Benaras, was called "the Ancient City" when Lord Buddha visited it in 500 B.C., and is the oldest, continuously inhabited city in the world today.
  • India provides safety for more than 300,000 refugees originally from Sri Lanka, Tibet, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who escaped to flee religious and political persecution.
  • His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, runs his government in exile from Dharmashala in northern India.
  • Martial Arts were first created in India, and later spread to Asia by Buddhist missionaries.
  • Yoga has its origins in India and has existed for over 5,000 years.


History
Nearly five thousand years back flourished India's first major civilisation along the Indus River valley. The twin cities of Mohenjodaro and Harappa now in Pakistan were ruled by priests and held the rudiments of Hinduism. These civilisations are known to possess a sophisticated lifestyle, a highly developed sense of aesthetics, an astonishing knowledge of town planning and an undecipherable script language. The Indus civilization at one point of time extended nearly a million square kilometres across the Indus river valley. It existed at the same time as the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Sumer but far outlasted them. Surviving for nearly a thousand years the Indus valley civilisation fell to tectonic upheavals in about 1700 BC, which caused a series of floods.

The coming of the Aryans around 1500 BC, gave the final blow to the collapsing Indus Valley civilisation. At the dawn of Vedic ages the Aryans came in from the North and spread through large parts of India bringing with them their culture and religious beliefs. The Four Vedas or the important books of Hinduism were compiled in this period.

In 567 B.C. the founder of the Buddhist Religion Gautama Buddha was born. During this time lived Mahavira, who founded the Jain Religion. The Indian subcontinent is full of caves and monuments devoted to these religions and are worth a visit.

Two hundred years later, in the 4th century B.C., Emperor Ashoka, one of the greatest King of Indian history, led the Mauryan Empire to take over almost all of what is now modern India. This great leader embraced Buddhism and built the group of monuments at Sanchi (a UNESCO world heritage site). The Ashoka pillar at Sarnath has been adopted by India as its national emblem and the Dharma Chakra on the Ashoka Pillar adorns the National Flag.

They were followed by the Guptas in the north, while in the south part of India several different Hindu empires, the Cholas, the Pandyas and the Cheras spread and grew, trading with Europe and other parts of Asia till the end of the 1100s.

Christianinty entered India at about the same time from Europe. Legend has it that St. Thomas the Apostle arrived in India in 52 A.D. Even earlier than that people of the Jewish religion arrived on India's shores.

In approximately the 7th century A.D. a group of Zoroastrians, or Parsees, landed in Gujarat and became a part of the large mix of religions in India today, each of which adds its important and distinctive flavour.

In the 15th century Guru Nanak laid the foundation of the Sikh religion in Punjab.

In 1192, Mohammed of Ghori, a ruler from Afghanistan, came into India and captured several places in the north including Delhi. When he went home he left one of his generals in charge who became the first Sultan of Delhi. During this time Islam, was introduced into a major part of Northern India. It may be mentioned that even before that, just after the period of the prophet, Islam was brought to the western coast of India by Arab traders and flourished in what is now Kerala.

The Dehli Sultanate gradually took control of more and more of North India over the next 200 years, till Timur, who was called "Timur the Lame" or "Tamberlane" came from Turkey in 1398 to attack India. He and his army stole all the valuables that they could carry and left again, and after that the Delhi Sultanate was never so strong again. Soon the Mughals, who were from Iran, came in and took control of the north.

In the meantime south , in 1336, the Hindu Vijayanagar empire was set up and became very strong.

The Europeans - Portuguese, French, Dutch, Danish and British - started arriving in the early 1600s. All of them held territories in India and made friends and enemies among India's rulers as they got more and more involved, with the Indian politics, but it was the British who eventually controlled most of India and finally made it one of their colonies.

India got its independence from Britain in 1947 after a long struggle led mostly by Mahatma Gandhi. In the process of becoming independent, India became, two countries instead of one. In the years since independence India has made huge progress and coped with great problems, and has developed its industry and its agriculture, and has maintained a system of government which makes it the largest democracy in the world.


Geography
India is set apart from the rest of Asia by the Himalayas, the highest, youngest and still evolving mountain chain on the planet. The subcontinent as it is rightly called, touches three large water bodies and is immediately recognizable on any world map. This thick, roughly triangular peninsula defines the Bay of Bengal to the east, the Arabian sea to the west, and the India Ocean to the south.

India holds virtually every kind of landscape imaginable. An abundance of mountain ranges and national parks provide ample opportunity for eco-tourism and trekking, and its sheer size promises something for everyone. From north to south India extends a good 2000 miles (3200 km), where the island nation of Sri Lanka seems to be squeezed out of India like a great tear, the synapse forming the Gulf of Mannar.

Himalayas, the world's highest mountain chain and Nepal as its Neighbouring country dominate India's northern border. Following the sweeping mountains to the northeast, its borders narrow to a small channel that passes between Nepal, Tibet, Bangladesh, and Bhutan, then spreads out again to meet Burma in the "eastern triangle." Apart from the Arabian Sea, its western border is defined exclusively by Pakistan.

North India is the country's largest region begins with Jammu and Kashmir, with terrain varying from arid mountains in the far north to the lake country and forests near Srinagar and Jammu. Moving south along the Indus river, the North becomes flatter and more hospitable, widening into the fertile plains of Punjab to the west and the Himalayan foothills of Uttar Pradesh and the Ganges river valley to the East. Cramped between these two states is the capital city, Delhi.

The states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, and part of the massive, central state of Madhya Pradesh constitute West India. Extending from the Gujarat peninsula down to Goa, the west coast is lined with some of India's best beaches. The land along the coast is typically lush with rainforests. The Western Ghats separate the verdant coast from the Vindya Mountains and the dry Deccan plateau further inland.

India is the home of the sacred River Ganges and the majority of Himalayan foothills, East India begins with the states of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, which comprise the westernmost part of the region. East India also contains an area known as the eastern triangle, which is entirely distinct. This is the last gulp of land that extends beyond Bangladesh, culminating in the Naga Hills along the Burmese border.

India reaches its peninsular tip with South India, which begins with the Deccan in the north and ends with Cape Comorin. The states in South India are Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, a favourite leisure destination. The southeast coast, mirroring the west, also rests snugly beneath a mountain range---the Eastern Ghats.


Climate
The climate of India defies easy generalisation, comprising a wide range of weather conditions across a large geographic scale and varied topography. India hosts six major climatic subtypes, ranging from desert in the west, to alpine tundra and glaciers in the north, to humid tropical regions supporting rainforests in the southwest and the island territories. Many regions have starkly different microclimates. The nation has four seasons: winter (January and February), summer (March to May), a monsoon (rainy) season (June to September), and a post-monsoon period (October to December).

India's unique geography and geology strongly influence its climate; this is particularly true of the Himalayas in the north and the Thar Desert in the northwest. The Himalayas act as a barrier to the frigid winds flowing down from Central Asia. Thus, North India is kept warm or only mildly cold during winter; in summer, the same phenomenon makes India relatively hot. Although the Tropic of Cancer—the boundary between the tropics and subtropics—passes through the middle of India, the whole country is considered to be tropical.

As in much of the tropics, monsoonal and other weather conditions in India are unstable: major droughts, floods, cyclones and other natural disasters are sporadic, but have killed or displaced millions. The formation of the Himalayas some 53 million years ago was a key factor in determining India's modern-day climate.


People & Lifestyle
In a country as diverse and complex as India, it is not surprising to find that people here reflect the rich glories of the past, the culture, traditions and values relative to geographic locations and the numerous distinctive manners, habits and food that will always remain truly Indian. According to five thousand years of recorded history.

From the eternal snows of the Himalayas to the cultivated peninsula of far South, from the deserts of the West to the humid deltas of the East, from the dry heat and cold of the Central Plateau to the cool forest foothills, Indian lifestyles clearly glorify the geography. The food, clothing and habits of an Indian differ in accordance to the place of origin.

Indians believe in sharing happiness and sorrow. A festival or a celebration is never constrained to a family or a home. The whole community or neighbourhood is involved in bringing liveliness to an occasion. A lot of festivals like Diwali, Holi, Id, Christmas, Mahaveer Jayanthi are all celebrated by sharing sweets and pleasantries with family, neighbours and friends. An Indian wedding is an occasion that calls for participation of the family and friends. Similarly, neighbours and friends always help out a family in times of need.

Ethnically Indians speak different languages, follow different religions, eat the most diverse varieties of food all of which add to the rich Indian culture.The beauty of the Indian people lies in the spirit of tolerance, give-and-take and a composition of cultures that can be compared to a garden of flowers of various colours and shades of which, while maintaining their own entity, lend harmony and beauty to the garden - India!


Languages
India is a land of a variety of linguistic communities, each of which share a common language and culture. Though there could be fifteen principal languages there are hundreds of thousands dialects that add to the vividness of the country.

18 languages are officially recognized in India of which Sanskrit and Tamil share a long history of more than 5,000 and 3,000 years respectively. The population of people speaking each language varies drastically. For example Hindi has 250 million speakers, while Andamanese is spoken by relatively fewer people.

Tribal or Aboriginal language speaking population in India may be more than some of the European languages. For instance Bhili and Santali both tribal languages have more than 4 million speakers. The vividness can be ascertained by the fact that schools in India teach more than 50 different languages; there are Films in 15 languages, Newspapers in 90 or more languages and radio programmes in 71 languages!

Indian languages come from four distinct families, which are: Indo-European, Dravidian, Mon-Khmer, and Sino-Tibetan. Majority of Indian population uses Indo-European and Dravidian languages. The language families divide India geographically too.

Indo-European languages dominate the northern and central India while in south India; mainly languages of Dravidian origin are spoken. In eastern India languages of Mon-Khmer group is popular. Sino Tibetan languages are spoken in the northern Himalayas and close to Burmese border. In terms of percentage, 75% of Indian population speaks languages of Indo-European family, 23% speak languages of Dravidian origin and about 2% of the population speaks Mon-Khmer languages and Sino-Tibetan languages.


Cuisine
The Indian cuisine boasts of an immense variety not restricted to only curry. An authentic Indian curry is an intricate combination of a stir-fried Masala - a mixture of onion, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes; various spices and seasonings with which meat; poultry, vegetables or fish is prepared to produce a stew-type dish. Note: the word Masala also means spice.

Food in India is wide ranging in variety, taste and flavour. Being so diverse geographically, each region has its own cuisine and style of preparation. Indian cuisine, renowned for its exotic gravies seems complicated for any newcomer. The Mughlai cuisine of North differs sharply from the preparations of the south. The Wazwan style of Kashmir is luxurious but the same can be said about Bengal's Macher Jhol, Rajasthan's Dal Bati, Uttar Pradesh's Kebabs and Punjab's Sarson Ka Saag and Makki di Roti. In India, recipes are handed down from generation to generation.

The unique and strong flavours in Indian cuisine are derived from spices, seasonings and nutritious ingredients such as leafy vegetables, grains, fruits, and legumes. Most of the spices used in Indian cooking were originally chosen thousands of years ago for their medicinal qualities and not for flavour. Many of them such as turmeric, cloves and cardamoms are very antiseptic, others like ginger, are carminative and good for the digestion. All curries are made using a wide variety of spices.

In Indian cuisine, food is categorized into six tastes - sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter and astringent. A well-balanced Indian meal contains all six tastes, not always can this be accomplished. This principle explains the use of numerous spice combinations and depth of flavour in Indian recipes. Side dishes and condiments like chutneys, curries, daals and Indian pickles contribute to and add to the overall flavour and texture of a meal and provide balance needed.


Money
Currency is Rupee (INR, symbol Rs) 1 Rupee = 100 paise. Notes are in denominations of Rs1,000, 500, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of Rs 5, 2 and 1, and 50 paise.

The import and export of local currency is prohibited.

Currency can be changed at banks, airports or authorised money changers. It is illegal to exchange money through unauthorised money changers. US Dollars and Pounds Sterling are the easiest currencies to exchange.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs :An increasing number of cards are accepted including American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa.

Traveller's Cheques: These are widely accepted and may be changed at banks and larger hotels. The most widely accepted currencies include US Dollars and Pounds Sterling.


Food & Health
Water for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should first be boiled or otherwise sterilised. Milk is often unpasteurized and should be boiled. Avoid dairy products likely to have been made from unboiled milk. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.

Health care facilities are limited and travellers are strongly advised to take out full comprehensive medical insurance before departing for India. It is advisable to bring specific medicines from your country along with their prescriptions. There are government-operated facilities in all towns and cities and private consultants and specialists in urban areas.

Travellers diarrhoea (TD) is mostly caused by enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli bacteria. It is seen among 20%-50% of the travellers from developed countries to developing countries. The symptoms of traveller’s diarrhoea include sudden onset, increases frequency and volume of stool. There may be over four watery stools per day. Along with loose stool there may be nausea, vomiting, fever, abdominal cramps, bloating etc. The TD usually resolves within 2-3 days even if there is no treatment. The people from developing countries, including India, are already immune from frequent exposure and rarely get TD.

Some of the preventive measures that can be taken by the travellers include avoidance of undercooked foods and drinks from street vendors etc. Also travellers should make sure to carry their own drinking water which has been obtained from a reliable source (like RO/UV water filter) or always drink branded mineral/packaged drinking water.


Vaccinations/ Immunizations
The following are the recommended vaccinations for India when your travel is for less than 5 months (Note: This is just a general guide. Please consult your doctor for country specific medical advise with regards to your travel to India.) :

Hepatitis A, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Malaria, Tetanus, Japanese encephalitis, Poliomyelitis & Rabies.

Also ensure you are updated with regards to routine vaccinations such as for influenza, chickenpox, polio, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) (& also for rotavirus for children) and their booster doses by your doctor regardless of travel requirement.

Yellow fever vaccine is required for all travellers arriving from a yellow-fever-infected country in Africa or the Americas, or arriving from or transiting through the following countries:

Africa: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia.

Americas: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela.

Caribbean: Trinidad and Tobago.

Yellow fever vaccine is not recommended or required for travellers arriving directly from North America, Europe, Australia, or other Asian countries.


Communication
Telephone (Country code: 91)
Mobile Telephone: Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. Coverage is limited to major towns but is increasing all the time.

Internet: E-mail can be accessed from an increasing number of hotels and from Internet cafes across the country, many now with Wi-Fi.

Post: Airmail service to U.S and Western Europe takes up to two weeks. Post office hours: Generally Mon-Sat 1000-1300 and 1330-1630 in bigger towns and cities.


Time
ndian Standard Time (IST) is the time observed throughout India, with a time offset of UTC+05:30. India does not observe daylight saving time (DST) or other seasonal adjustments. Indian Standard Time is calculated on the basis of 82.5° E longitude, which is just west of the town of Mirzapur, near Allahabad in the state of Uttar Pradesh.