India Knowledge Guide
What is the population size of India?
India is one of the most geographically diversified and strikingly beautiful countries. It is the 7th largest country in the world which is home to 1.2 Billion people.
How many languages and dialects are spoken in India
This one is the toughest to measure since India is home the maximum variety of spoken language in a single country. According to one of the latest consensus, there are 22 major languages which are a part of eighth constitution of India. However, a total of 19,500 linguistic affiliations are counted so far, which people use as their mother tongue. There are 121 different languages which are spoken by 10,000 or more people respectively.
How many religions are practiced in India?
India is a country which is the birthplace of religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, houses people of different religions and is a perfect example of unity in diversity. It is home to all 7 major religions of the world i.e. Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism and Animism.
How many varieties of food is found in India?
There has been no definitive count of number of food variety due to its sheer volume. India boasts of having the largest variety of cuisines in the world, which are all indigenous to the land, soil, herbs, fruits, spices, condiments and the culture of different states and regions. And they vary significantly with no relation to each whatsoever. According to some assumptions, the food palette changes after every 16 kilometres.
How many seasons are witnessed in India?
The geography of India witnesses all four seasons i.e. Summers, Winters, Monsoon and Spring. The climatic conditions of India are considered to be most pleasant in the world, and this is the reason why it has been an agrarian nation.
What is the landscape of India?
From lush green forests to daunting deserts, pristine beaches to mighty snow-capped mountains, India is rich with varied landscapes; each one more attractive than the other. There are 8 major landscapes –
1. The Himalayan mountain ranges
2. The Central Highlands
3. The Thar Desert
4. The Indo Gangetic Plains
5. The Coastal Plains
6. The Eastern Ghat
7. The Western Ghat
8. The Islands.
When to visit India
Indian climate is divided into three seasons namely Monsoon, Winter and Summer. Possibly making it feasible to visit throughout the year. The time between March and June is of extreme heat making it unfavorable to visit. It is followed by the monsoon season when the rainfall brings out the scenic views of nature all around. The best time to arrive is between the months of October and February. Winter begins during this time and humidity is far lower than that during summers.
There are countless destinations to explore all over India during this time. The Northern and North-Western regions of the country are appropriate to look around during this period. The states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh offer the most prominent destinations for tourism. Skiing, Snowboarding, River Rafting, Snorkelling, Trekking, paragliding, and many adventure activities are the most sought after thrilling experiences. The terrains of Spiti, Leh, and Ladakh are conducive for motorists.
Festivals such as Holi, Diwali, Kite Festival of Kutch, Desert and Camel Fairs in Jaisalmer are a few intriguing attractions. Music, dance and traditional rituals are significant elements of these festivals. Heading towards south one can explore pristine beaches and waterfronts. A Carnatic touch to the journey, the various music and dance festivals across the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Goa are the most rejuvenating tourist experiences. Pongal, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and fascinating carnivals are the traditional festivities offered in Southern India. The Monsoon period is best to visit the western regions of the country. Maharashtra offers magnificent glimpses of Sahayadri hill ranges. Captivating landscapes of the prominent hill stations, trekking points, and numerous waterfalls merge well with the greenery around.
Hygiene in India
- With over 1 billion people inhabiting its land, Hygiene, and sanitation are the major problems in India. Lack of problem waste management, water scarcity, and pollution makes it quite difficult to enjoy the culture and heritage of the country. As a tourist visiting India, it is quite essential to maintain absolute hygiene and avoid getting sick in the process. Proper sanitation and lack of availability of public toilets is a huge problem in India. There are toilets built by the local governments in cities but the suburban and rural areas are still devoid of such benefits. It is advisable to stay careful regarding the cleanliness while using these public toilets since they are usually squat-type designs. If not comfortable, one must opt for restaurants or hotels for hygienic sanitation facilities.
- Temperatures in India can reach as high as 45 degree Celsius and so it is essential to stay hydrated at all times. The availability of proper and safe drinking water is hardly possible in India. Since the country faces water scarcity, the population mainly uses tap water. Tourists are advised to completely avoid tap water or water provided at local stalls and restaurants since it may carry harmful bacteria resulting in various diseases. Carrying properly intact packaged drinking water or mineral water is a must for tourists since they are safe and treated well. Natural electrolytes such as Coconut water also helps in staying hydrated. Waste management is poor in India and hence one may come across garbage everywhere around them. Lack of dustbins leads to open garbage disposal which may give rise to various epidemics. Tourists should only dispose of the waste when they encounter proper trash bins. Improper waste management leads to unhygienic conditions, highly unfavorable to consume street food.
- India is home to unparalleled street food paradise, and so it is vital to make sure it is clean before consuming it. Tourists should make sure the food is fresh and well-stored along with the utensils they are served in. It is important to avoid food prepared or stored in filthy surroundings. If possible eat light vegetarian dishes to avoid indigestion or dysentery.
- Major cities in India are prone to vast pollution. Metropolitan areas like Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata have dangerous air pollution levels which may be hazardous for health. It is advisable to carry appropriate medicine, face masks, and much more to avoid the harmful effects of pollution in India. There are many outdoor sightseeing across the country which means more exposure to scorching sunlight. Carrying sunscreens or UV lotions is a smart way to avoid getting sunburns. Also keeping your backpack full of hand sanitizers and clean wipes is a must while traveling across India.
How to travel locally in India?
India is the third-largest and second-most populous country in the world and thus need to cater transport to more than a billion people. Air, Water, Rail, and Road are the well-connected modes of transport in the country. There are countless ways to get around locally varying from place to place.
Rickshaws, also known as tuktuk, are three-tiered vehicles available across the country which help to move across regionally. They can usually accommodate up to three people even though more are fitted in eventually. Cheap, convenient and delightful, rickshaws are alternative to cabs and are either metered or have fixed fare. Cycle rickshaws and hand-pulled rickshaws are local versions available in the cities of Delhi and Kolkata respectively. Taxis and cab services are quite extensively used in India. They are either metered fixed faired. More comfortable than rickshaws, taxis move around quickly and efficiently but are expensive as their fare may vary according to the distance. App-based services like Ola and Uber also offer cab facilities which are based on electronically calculated fares. Bus services in India are prominent public transport alternatives. There are various types of bus services which include jampacked local buses to comfortable air-conditioned ones for intercity transfer. With fixed routes and times, buses are generally time-consuming but still a good option.
The majority of the Indian population uses the well-connected railway network. Spread across the entire subcontinent, railways could easily carry anyone from one point of the country to another. From luxury ‘Maharajas Express to Himalayan steam trains, the Indian Railways covers the broad spectrum of landscape across the country. Major cities have Metros to local transports whereas suburban areas such as in Mumbai, possess local trains that are always bustling with crowds. Fairly eventful journeys and a fascinating experience can be drawn out of rail transport. Other transport options include local alternatives such as boats and ferries to cruise across the water bodies, tempos and motorbike taxis, tractor-carts in rural areas and jeeps in hilly terrains.
What should women wear in India?
Things women should known regarding Clothing in India
India is a moderately conservative country and hence it is essential to be aware of the appropriate and suitable set of wardrobe. Since India is a culturally diverse country, clothing for women varies according to the occasion, religion, community, place, and weather. Therefore, it is important to know what to wear and when especially if you are a female tourist visiting India. The first and foremost rule to remember is any dress should not be off-shoulder or above knees. You might want to seriously consider this while visiting rural or suburban areas. Mini skirts, backless tops, crop-tops are not a good choice so you need to avoid them. Clothes that thoroughly revealing should be strictly avoided. India is fairly humid country where temperatures can go as high as 45 degrees and so it is important to carry light, breathable fabrics.
Types of Clothing for Women in India
The most common and comfortable wear for women in India is Kurtas or Kurtis. They are the long multi-colored cotton tunic worn over leggings. These can be worn during outings, visits and basically anywhere. You can also mix it up with jeans instead of leggings. Salwar Kameez and Churidar are alternatives to Kurtis but are also used during weddings or other special occasions. It is quite essential to carry scarves or pashminas while visiting India. Since India is home to countless religious places, it is traditional for women to cover their heads with scarves. Women in India tend to wear Sarees, which are long fabrics draped appropriately across the body in a traditional way. They use the helm of the sarees to cover their heads. Since it is not possible for you to adorn a saree all the time, scarves or pashminas may come in handy. Sarees are generally worn by local women everyday but more intricately designed and patterned sarees are donned by women during special occasions or festivities. The design and handiwork itched upon sarees vary according to region. In terms of footwear, high heels are not a comfortable option in India. Since most places involve moderate walking it is recommended to use footwear like flip-flops, low-platform sandals, flats, walking shoes and rubber bellies. It is completely fine to wear western clothes in urban areas and major cities where the atmosphere is quite liberal as compared to other regions. Traditional wear may vary according to the region. You can don iconic paithani or nauvari sarees in Maharashtra or the Kancheepuram of Tamil Nadu or the Banarasi saree from the North. Along with these, lehenga choli, anarkali suit or ghagra choli are worn during special occasions only.
What should men wear in India?
Overview of men's wardrobe in India
Male tourists visiting India generally don’t have to fuss much about conservative clothing style. Still, it is important to carry light and breathable fabrics to sustain in the humid climate of India. T-shirts or garments portraying profanities or inappropriate language are to be strictly avoided. Men too need to dress in a non-revealing and dignified way.
Types of Clothing for men in India
Kurtas for men are the best option to try traditional Indian outfit as well as being in an article of comfortable clothing. Kurtas can be worn not only on special occasions but also casually by opting for jeans instead of cotton pajamas. Light-weight pants, stretchable jeans, track pants, and button-down shirts are some of the best options for men to wear. Sherwanis and Pathani suits are traditional outfits used during weddings and other related functions. Men even wear formal suits during the reception. Flip-flops, sandals, flats, walking shoes and rubber bellies during monsoon, are types of footwear recommended for Men. Western clothing is perfectly fine while visiting urban areas or attending parties. While modest clothing is required for men when visiting any religious places.
How to travel by train in India?
Overview of train travel in India
With more than 25 million passengers every day, Indian railways are the second largest rail network in the world with a rail route spreading across 65,000 km across the country. Traveling through trains is a splendid experience and hence as a tourist, it is important to make sure that the entire process is hassle-free. Trains in India range from, fuel-driven passenger coaches, local trains, metro trains, mountain trains, and the popular luxury trains. Traveling in Indian railways consists of a simple but extensive process involving booking, reservation, safety precautions and much more.
Booking of train tickets in India
Passengers trains are the best option to travel across all the states of the country which requires pre-booking of tickets and reservation of seats. A simple way to book tickets for your journey is to use the official website of Indian Railways (www.irctc.co.in). This process requires you to have all the relevant documents such as visa, passport, identification proofs and a mandatory sim card with an Indian number. For those who wish to avoid the fuss can book tickets directly with travel agencies like cleartrip.com, makemytrip.com or 12go.asia. These sites help you to book your train tickets in return for some charges or compensation. The railway coaches have a class system to segregate the types of compartments available for travel.
Tier Division of Train Coaches in India
- The most expensive class, with two- or four-berth compartments with locking doors and meals included is called the Air-Conditioned 1st Class (1AC). The provisions of berths and other facilities eventually decrease with the increasing class.
- Two-tier berths arranged in groups of four with bunks that can be converted to seats by day. These coaches are called as Air-Conditioned 2-Tier (2AC)
- It is followed by Air-Conditioned 3-Tier (3AC), a three-tier berth coach with no curtains. AC Executive Chair (ECC) consists of comfortable, reclining chairs and plenty of space. AC Chair (CC) is similar to the executive-chair carriage but without any special sitting arrangement. Cheap and comfortable options are provided in Sleeper Class and 2nd Class compartments. Sleeper Class are non-AC coaches with open windows whereas the 2nd class coach also referred to as ‘general’ class is mostly crowded with no reservations and comfortable seating of any sort.
Seat Reservation System
The reservations system of seats is also simple where you have to fill a form with your details and check a list to find your name and number of the seat. A special tourist quota is also provided by the Railways. With some extra charges, tourists can book a train, reserve seats according to their choice beforehand. Coaches and seats falling under special tourist quota are exempted and do not include local Indian passengers. Luxury trains such as Palace on Wheels, Deccan Odyssey, and much more offer, luxurious and royal experiences to passengers devoid of any inconvenience. Let’s not forget the Himalayan Mountain Railway which also caters travelers who wish to travel the scenic hilly regions of North-East India. The local trains and the Metros in major cities are local transfer rail systems for the Suburban areas and regions.
How to travel by bus in India?
Traveling by bus is the cheapest mode of transport in India. Buses can be used generally to travel by roadways, highways, and expressways. It is the most convenient way to travel through hilly regions and uneven terrain. Bus services in India are both government-owned and private.
The government-owned buses are usually old box-type ones capable of carrying a large number of passengers and withstanding long-distances. These buses can be used for inter-city as well as transfers within the same state. These buses make frequent stops for food and toilet at various locations along the route. The cost of the ticket in these buses are usually very low and hence they are jam-packed at all times. Still they are quite reliable enough to take you to your destination safely and soundly.
Private agencies offer bus services which can either be pre-booked or may involve on-the-spot reservation. These buses are divided into class categories such as local, semi-deluxe, deluxe and super-deluxe. Ranging from normal seats to reclining seats with air-conditioning, the cost of these buses may vary according to the company, distance traveled or the state. It is important to make sure to keep your luggage safe and checking it time after time. Luggage in Indian buses are usually stored below the bus or on the roof. So, it is essential to make sure you don’t lose your luggage.
What to wear in Weddings of India?
Indian weddings are grand and extravagant affairs with marriage and related events lasting for over a week. More of a celebration of the marrying couple, the types of marriages differ according to communities and religions and so does the type of clothing. It also differs according to the occasion and gender. Weddings in India generally are divided into events of Sangeet, Mehendi, Haldi, Engagement, the final wedding day and reception party.
Wedding Wardrobe of Men
A different set of clothes are relevant for different occasions, Men across the country usually adorn Kurtas and pajamas. Sherwani, which is an intricately designed variation of Kurtas are especially used during weddings. They come in different styles and patterns. Jodhpuri suits, traditional coats, and jackets are also a part of the wedding wardrobe for men. Dhoti, Lungi, and Mundu are regional variants of the fabric worn around the waist during ritual practices. The majority of Hindu weddings follow this set wardrobe.
Wedding Wardrobe of Women
On the other hand for women, different patterns and styles of sarees, lehenga, ghagra choli, Anarkali suit, Odni bridals, and Salwar are some of the major wardrobe choices which can be either bought or tailored. Catholic or Parsi wedding follows western clothing such as suits and tuxedos for men and gown dresses for women. Receptions are the place where generally all the communities tend to adorn western clothing. Contemporary Indo-western clothing styles are emerging line of clothing during Indian weddings.
Cuisines of India
The cuisines of India are equally diversified as the culture of this country. It is believed that the variety of food changes every 20 km or so, India is the ultimate food hub and a paradise for food lovers. Countless dishes grace the long list of the gastronomy of India and hence it is essential to understand the uniqueness of each of them.
Owing to humid climate and proximity to the Arabian sea, the cuisine of Maharashtra mainly comprises spicy food and fishes. So people of Maharashtra especially master in the art of cooking vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian dishes. Some of the prominent dishes include Aamti, Rassa, Pithla Bhakri, Misal Pav, Puran Poli, Bharli Vanga, Shrikhand and much more. Due to the surplus production of rice, it is the staple diet. Moving on to the southern states, the pattern of rice and non-vegetarian diet is quite similar. Goan dishes, in particular, are spicy and tangy with heavy usage of coconut paste and fishes. Prawns, lobsters, and crabs are some of the prominent dishes which are cooked in a blend of Konkan and Portuguese styles. Pork Vindaloo is the most famous specialty of Goa which is cooked in red hot chili peppers and vinegar.
Southern and Eastern States
Coconut, tamarind, and rice are some major elements of cooking in Kerala. Puttu, Appam and Malabari Bahlora are some of the famous dishes of Kerala. One cannot miss out on the iconic Rasam and culinary specialties like banana and jackfruit chips. The Tamil style of food mainly consists of Idli, Dosa, Vada, and Uthappam which are rice-based items whereas various fish dishes like Hilsa are famous in West Bengal. The one thing Bengali cuisine is famous for is its sweet dishes mainly Roshgulla which are soft white sweet balls or Mishti Doi which are rich sweet yogurts.
Food gets stronger in ingredients as we move further up North where the usage of wheat and milk products increases as per the changing climatic conditions. The cuisine of Uttar Pradesh and neighboring regions is the blend of all the ancient cultures prevailing in early times. The vegetarian communities offer delish foods majorly using potatoes such as Kachoris, Samosas, and Aloo puri. Other communities with their Mughlai influences provide a wide range of dishes in the form of kebabs, biryani, pulao and much more. These dishes are cooked in either earthen pots or upon sizzling barbecues. Delhi is the food hub of the country with countless shops and places to offer a variety of food options. Chaat, Pani puri, Dahi Bhalle, Chole Bature, Kachori and an endless list of dishes are perfectly capable to set your taste buds on fire. Punjabi food is for the strong-hearted heavily comprising of wheat, corn and milk products. The wide range of flatbreads known as parathas, Makke Ki Roti (Corn Flatbread), Sarso da saag, and sweet lassi are the famous foods of Punjab. Rajasthan is known for its usage of milk in its food. Its famous dish of Dal baati churma is craved all over the country. Therefore, it is quite difficult to summarize the cuisine of India which changes in every state and region.
Salutations and Greetings in India
India is a land of numerous languages and hundreds of dialects and so it is difficult to study each and every of its form. But there are around 22 nationally recognized languages widely and commonly spoken across all the states of the country. Proper greetings and salutations for words like 'Hello or Hi' in each of these languages is given as follows:
- Hindi - Namaste
- Punjabi - Sat Sri Akal
- Urdu - As-salāmu ʿalaykum
- Gujarati - Namaste
- Assamese - Nomoskar
- Bengali - Nomoshkar
- Kashmiri - Aadaab
- Bihari - Parnaam
- Marathi - Namaskaar
- Sanskrit - Namaskarah
- Sindhi - Namaste
- Tamil - Vannakkam
- Telugu - Namaskaram
- Kannada -Namaskaara
- Brajbhasha - Radhe-Radhe
- Manipuri - Kurumjari
- Rajasthani - Khamma Ghani
What is Archaeology?
Archaeology is an extensive study of the old remains left by past civilizations. Remains are the physical things people made or used and includes everything from clothes to buildings. Archaeology can be segregated into categories pertaining with a particular time period, culture, geographical area, or material.
What is an artifact?
An artifact is any object that was created, modified, or even just used by a human being. It can be difficult to tell if a natural object, such as a stone, was actually used by a human or not. Generally, the term artifact is applied to portable objects. Structures created by humans that are immobile, such as buildings, walls, agricultural terraces, step wells, temples, etc are called features.
What is the Archaeoloical Survey of India?
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is the principal statutory body of the Government of India, working under the purview of the Ministry of Culture. It is responsible for archaeological research and the conservation and preservation of cultural monuments in the country. Founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham, all the monuments across India are maintained by ASI. With help of UNESCO, ASI strives to list and protect all the endangered and unparalleled structures throughout the country.
How many Archaeological sites are there in India?
India is home to 29 archaeological sites which consists of monuments, temples, rock shelters, caves, forts, tombs, palaces and much more. These 29 sites are verified, surveyed and excavated by the Archaeological Survey of India and are also designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Apart from these, there are 34 tentative sites which are submitted by the Indian government that are under consideration.