INTRODUCTION TO INDIA
The famous writer Mark Twain said: ‘Nothing was left undone, by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds.’
India is steadily moving past China to become the world’s most populated nation. India is already the world’s biggest democracy. The nation that used to be called ‘The jewel in the crown‘ is a place of colour and contrast, filled with spice and spectacle.
Every day, thousands of visitors fly in from all over the world to see India’s treasures up close. What makes India famous? Here are a few highlights.
Conquered by the Portuguese in the 16th century, Goa looks very different from the rest of India. When you first see the bungalows with their columns and porches you might think you stepped off the plane too soon and ended up in the south of Europe!
If you ever make a trip to India, more than one person will ask you ‘Are you going to Goa?’ It is India’s smallest state, but also it’s most popular one. The beaches are wide, the weather perfect and the fish is always fresh.
The TAJ MAHAL, the 7th wonder of the world, is one of the most beautiful buildings on earth. The story of the Taj is as amazing as the building itself. Emperor Shah Jahan loved his wife Mumtaz very much. She suddenly died at the birth of their fourteenth child in 1631. Shah Jahan promised to do something special to let the whole world remember Mumtaz.
He hired a crew of 20.000 workers to build the beautiful Taj. A thousand elephants were used to carry the best Marble and precious stones from all over India and even Arabia. It took 20 years to finish the building. This monument became the grave of his wife Mumtaz.
Shah Jahan’s son Aurangazeb thought this was all going too far. ‘You’re wasting money, dad!‘, he would say. One day, he captured his father and locked him in a nearby fort. There, through a window, the old Shah could look at his masterpiece from a distance and dream of his wife Mumtaz. The great builder died like a prisoner. After his death, Aurangazeb buried his father beside his wife in his beloved Taj.
Today, millions of people visit the Taj every year. And naturally it’s a favourite spot for marriage proposals!
Visiting Delhi is experiencing a small shock. Imagine over 16 million people in one town! Crowds! heat! noise! dust! But once you get used to it, Delhi is an amazing city. It has many treasures, forts, museums and surprises.
Delhi is also the seat of India’s government.
Other major Indian cities are Mumbai (Bombay), Calcutta and Bangalore.
The Himalayas are enormous. Just imagine: A mountain range with 100 peaks that are each higher than 7,200 meters (23,600 ft). The Himalayas are stretched over six countries: India, Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bhutan, and China, making it the largest and highest mountain range in the world; about 1500 miles in length.
Some people call the Himalayas ‘the roof of the world’. But what can you do with a roof? The answer is simple, you can climb up the world’s roof or slide down from it!
That is why mountain climbers and skiers have always travelled to North India and the Himalayas. Conquering one of these highest peaks is their biggest thrill.
Some of the nicest parts of India are not "in" India. They are in the sea surrounding it! India’s tropical islands are a bit like a dream. Palm trees, coconuts, fresh fruit, white beaches and sunshine. There are more than 25 islands, but the most popular ones are Lakshadweep and the Maldives.
For those who like to do nothing more on holiday than sunbathe and stroll on the beach at sunset, these are the best places on earth!