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Geographical region and nation. As a region it occupies the South Asian subcontinent and comprises the modern nations of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. It stretches from the Arabian Sea on the W to Myanmar to the E. The Indian nation, occupying the central and largest part, is the second most populous country in the world; it has a complex caste system, which it is slowly eliminating; it is the largest democracy in the world, and its people speak hundreds of languages and dialects, of which Hindi is the most important.

One of the earliest civilizations in the world and the first on the Indian subcontinent was that of the Indus Valley in what is now Pakistan. It flourished from c. 2500 b.c. to c. 1500 b.c., and its downfall probably came at the hand s of Aryan tribes, who invaded from the NW and first settled in the Punjab region. Over a long period of time the Aryan culture developed into Hinduism. Another kingdom, that of Kosala, was powerful in the sixth century b.c. Alexand er the Great invaded India from the northwest between 327 and 325 b.c. but was driven out by the founders of the Mauryan Empire, whose dynasty lasted until c. 185 b.c. and which for the first time brought almost all of India under unified rule. A number of independent kingdoms arose over the centuries: among them the Pallava, Chalukya, Chola, and Rajputana. Most notable was the Gupta Empire in the fourth and fifth centuries a.d. The Delhi Sultanate, the first Muslim kingdom, was established in 1192. The most powerful of these states, however, was the Mogul Empire, which ruled most of India from 1526 to 1857.

Europeans reached India in 1498 when Vasco da Gama of Portugal land ed at Khozhikode (Calicut), after rounding the tip of Africa. The wealth to be gained also attracted the French, Dutch, and En glish, and the English established their first trading station in 1613. India was a French-British battleground from 1746 until 1763, when the British prevailed. Also at that time, the Maratha Confederacy was battling the Moguls. For nearly a century British India in effect was the property of the British East India Company, which in part ruled through puppet Mogul emperors. In 1857, however, the Indian, or Sepoy, Mutiny broke out—a protest against several aspects of British rule. It was suppressed after much slaughter on both sides and led to a takeover of India by the government of Great Britain. Conditions improved, but agitation for self-rule increased.

The Indian National Congress was organized in 1885 and after World War I, to which India sent 6 million troops for the Allies, the movement for independence grew, especially through the nonviolent resistance campaigns of Mohand as K., called Mahatma, Gand hi. More self-government was granted in 1935, but World War II brought out much anti-British sentiment and resulted in arrests of the Indian leadership in 1942. In August 1947 the British government through Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy, granted independence, and India was divided into two nations, mostly Hindu India, and Pakistan, the mostly Muslim regions of Punjab to the West and Bengal to the East of India. Jawaharlal Nehru became the first prime minister of India and governed until 1964.

Partition was accompanied by bloody fighting between Hindus and Muslims. India and Pakistan also fought over Kashmir in 1948. A constitution, based on that of the United States, was adopted in 1949. In 1956 India retook the French colonies and in 1961 the Portuguese holdings on the subcontinent. India engaged in a border war with China in 1962, and in 1965 India and Pakistan again clashed over Kashmir. Indira Gand hi, Nehru’s daughter, succeeded Lal Bahadur Shastri and became prime minister in 1966. She lost the election of 1977 after oppressive rule, but was returned to power in 1980. In the meantime, in 1971, India defeated Pakistan in a war that grew out of East Pakistan’s secession, to become the independent nation of Bangladesh.

During the cold war, India professed nonalignment between the superpowers, but maintained close economic, political, and military ties with both East and West. In 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gand hi was assassinated by Sikh bodyguards as a reprisal for using the Indian army to flush out armed Sikh radicals from the Golden Temple in Amritsar. She was succeeded by her son Rajiv Gand hi, who was also assassinated in 1991 by Tamil nationalists. In 1992, a Hindu mob stormed and destroyed a mosque built on the alleged site of Rama’s birth in Ayodhya, which spurred further Hindu-Moslem rioting and Hindu fundamentalism in Indian politics. In 1998, India performed its first nuclear weapons test. This brought support to the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, but increased tensions with Pakistan, especially in the Kashmir. The Kashmir situation was close to all-out war in 2002 with both India and Pakistan testing nuclear-capable warheads in the region.

Now if people are looking for a new experience when going to another country then they should consider places to travel in India. This huge and really diverse country has been fascinating people for many centuries now. Air travel has made it easy for people to travel into India and then to more places within it. That means if people have enough time and money spare they can see more of the country.

Visitors could start their tour of India in New Delhi, which both the Mughals and the British used as the capital when they ruled over the country. The city remained the capital with Indian Independence in 1947. There are buildings from the Mughal empire and the British Raj. The most famous building in the city is the Taj Mahal. It is a building that immediately makes people think of India.

There are other famous cities in India that tourists should visit including Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Calcutta, and Bangalore. These cities have their own attractions and there is much to see and do ineach part of the country. Whilst many tourists prefer to fly across the country those with a bit more spare time may consider using trains. Using the railways may take longer yet people will see more of the country.

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