We at ‘Surfing 28 States: India’, were contacted by Rohit Agarwal, a young travel writer from India who wanted to write a blog for our website. We said, “If it is about all 28 states of India, then we would love you to”. So he did….and we think it’s pretty darn good! Thanks so much Rohit – Lots of Love from Jonno, Stefan, Campbell and Smriti!
Why are 28 States of India a Whole World in Itself?
What do you expect to see when you want to go around the world? Different cultures, religions, customs, traditions, races, dishes, monuments? It is amazing how every region in the world harbours a diversity of its own. India is one such country that is known for an immense diversity! It is the seventh largest country in the world belonging to the Asian continent. India with 28 states is like a whole new world in itself and we tell you why.
If you were to search the list of all the states in India, you’ll find a list on Wikipedia that compares the size of a single Indian state to a whole country! As you move from north to south, you can actually witness unique traditions and cultures almost every few 100 kilometres! There is a noticeable difference in the way people dress, talk, eat, lead their lives etc. For instance, people of Punjab love to grab a bite of the delightful chola-bhaturas while those living in Andhra Pradesh fill their bellies with the mouth-watering biryani. Well, that is just a mini comparison of how varied each state is from the other, despite being part of the same country! These differences have probably arisen due to the geographical location of the place and how people adapted to the prevailing conditions. And India is a hub of every geographical aspect you wish to see in the world. There are mountains, beaches, plains, plateaus, backwaters, hills, lakes, ponds, waterfalls. Yes, India is blessed with each and every one of these. In fact, a single state too may have all these!! So, let’s move from north to south and discover this world within the world.
States of India (region-wise)
- North India: Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
- Central India: Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
- Eastern India: Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa.
- North-Eastern India: Sikkim, Meghalaya, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
- Western India: Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa.
- Southern India: Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Northern India is home to the tallest peak in the world, the mighty Himalayas and the agriculturally rich Indo-Gangetic plain. Almost the entire northern belt is shielded by the Himalayan ranges that are adorned with snow throughout the year. This is why you will find many hill stations in the northern region. Main hilly regions include the northern states of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and the north-eastern states of Sikkim, Meghalaya, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
Well as we move down south, it is the plains that dominate the land. States of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh lie in the Great Deccan Plateau. All the southern Indian states are located on a triangular piece of land flanked by endless stretches of ocean on all three sides. This is called the Indian Peninsula.
Indian coastline lining the peninsular region on both western and eastern sides is adorned with spectacular beaches and hilly terrains called the Western and Eastern Ghats. It is the courtesy of these Ghats that even southern India has hill stations!!
Rajasthan on the western end is a desert clad region. Vast stretches of sand extend in all directions and seem to sooth your soul with a spectacular view of monochrome.
India is a hub of major religions. This is where you find followers and influence of so many religions of the world as well as Indian religion! While as much as 80% of Indian population follows the Hindu religion, other major religions such as Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam are also widely followed. Thus religious heterogeneity is reflected throughout the country. Even so, each and every religion is equally respected and celebrated by all. It is a perfect example of harmony in unity! An interesting aspect of this “multi-religiousness” is that as you travel across the country you get to experience a bit of all the religions.
Alongwith religious diversity, cultural diversity is the tune India dances to! It is absolutely amazing how a single country allows for so many cultures and religions to coexist! Cultural diversity of a state encompasses the different festivals celebrated, the different styles of art and architecture prevalent, and the way the state functions, different forms of music and dances followed and so on.
As you tread down the mighty Himalayas, you’ll observe more of northern culture. While in Kashmir, there is prevalence of Muslim culture; Punjab is more about Punjabi culture and Rajasthan for the Rajput. Over the entire northern India, you can see an influence of Mughal Empire in their architectural monuments. In Rajasthan though, the Rajput kings ruled predominantly and influence of Rajput culture is quite visible all throughout. Dance and music varies from region to region. For instance, Bhangra and Gidda are major forms of Punjabi dance and involves quite energetic movements of hands, upper torso and feet, while Ghoomar is the traditional Rajasthani dance that involves movements of waist, hands and feet and sometimes includes props such as the mud-pot and fireworks!
In the western India, a prevalence of Gujarati and Marathi culture can be observed in Gujarat and Maharashtra respectively. Gujarat boasts of an upbeat and dynamic culture. People here worship lord Krishna and seem to follow his ways of life. A major dance form of Gujarat called Dandiya Raas is based on Lord Krishna and his beloved Radha. Maharashtra boasts of the Marathi culture with a touch of Bollywood. Maharashtra includes the oldest form of rock-cut architecture in India.
As we move further down south, South Indian culture predominates. South India is completely different from north India in terms of languages spoken, dance forms, musical influence, architectural forms, cuisine etc. Southern India is adorned with sun-bathed beaches and hilly terrains. Influences of Portuguese, Dutch, French, European and British styles can be seen in the architectural monuments. So there you go! A glimpse of the world within a few states.
In eastern India, influence of Bengali culture can be observed which involves a yet another new way of doing things. Goddess Durga is worshipped and many customs and traditions revolve around this.
Linguistic diversity is observed on a massive scale. From predominance of Urdu in Kashmir, to Punjabi in Delhi and Punjab, to Gujarati in Gujarat, to Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada in South India and Bengali in West Bengal, there are 22 officially recognised languages and as many as 1600 languages actually spoken throughout India! Such differences add up to the enormous diversity that makes India.
Clothing styles also differ from state to state. While the basic Indian attire states that men may wear dhoti and kurta and women may wear saree or salwar-kameez, the styles of clothing differ! Rajasthani attire is brightly coloured and includes a bunch of accessories! South Indian attire includes beautiful silk sarees while Punjabi attire includes the traditional salwar-kameez.
There is much more diversity from region to region. This is just an overview.
Now this is the best part. Every place that you visit will present a unique delicacy that get all those hunger hormones pumping right away! Here we tell you region-wise about what you can eat and where.
In northern India, you can find mouth-watering preparations such as the Kashmiri dum aalo, Punjab’s Chole-Bhature and Paranthe with an accompanying sweet-lassi to send your taste buds on a joyous ride, Delhi’s super-awesome combos of street-food including the appetizing gol gappas, pani puri, aaloo chaat and Rajasthan’s blend of sweet & spicy dishes! In western India, Gujarat offers the splendid dhoklas and khakras, Maharashtra presents a platter full of the world famous Pav-Bhaji and Vada Pav. Southern India is famous for the south Indian delicacies such as the dosa, idli, sambhar and so on. Andhra Pradesh is famous for the mutton biryani that will literally turn your hunger sensors on. Bengali cuisine is famous for the finger licking non vegetarian stuff and some delicious sweet dishes.
Yes sir, you’re in for a gastronomical delight!
Festivals of India
The very essence of diversity is captured in the festivals of India which bring the nation and spread the message of unity. Well, of course there is diversity in festivals too! But many festivals such as the festival of lights-Diwali, the festival of colours- Holi, the nine day fest of Navratri, the Bengali festival of Durga Puja, the festival of Dusshera celebrating the triumph of good over evil, the festival of Eid, Christmas and the National Festivals are celebrated throughout India with an almost contagious enthusiasm that would make you wanna dance to the rhythm of the nation! There’s dance, music, delicious food and multiple traditional rituals brought together at one place!
Talking about diversity, there are a number of festivals celebrated majorly by each state according to the primary culture and religion followed. Many fairs are also organised to showcase the cultural diversity by means of folk dances and music. Men and women dress up traditionally to participate in the celebrations. Prayers are offered to the deity as a part of the grand celebrations.
The Goa Carnival in Goa, the Jaisalmer Desert Festival in Rajasthan, The festival of Lohri in Punjab, The festival of Pongal in Southern India, Boat race festival in Kerala, Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra, Tea Festival in Assam, Navratri Festival in Gujarat are just a few festivals and fairs from many states to give you an idea about the festivals celebrated in India. Every day is a celebration of this incredible diversity and of life. Now, where in the world will you find that?
Having described the immense diversity this country has to offer, we tell you about the places you must visit on your India tour. From the picturesque beauty of snow-capped Himalayas and marvellous gardens and lakes in Kashmir, to architectural splendours of Delhi, to royal yet enigmatic kingly palaces of Rajasthan, to never-before-seen-something-like-that Sanchi Stupas of Madhya Pradesh, to sprawling tea plantations of North East, to adventurous jungle safaris of Gujarat, to the Hollywood of India in Mahrashtra, to sun dipped rejuvenating beaches and the most happening parties of Goa, to the mesmerising backwaters of Kerala, to a rendezvous with nature in Chhattisgarh & Jharkhand, to the homeland of the majestic Taj Mahal in Uttar Pradesh and into the dense forests of Sunderbans in West Bengal, you’ll be left with fascinating experiences and stories.
As you travel across the country, you will begin to notice the uniqueness about each place. Each state with its own set of cultures, traditions, cuisines, languages add up to the diverse culture of this country. Many variations, but one nation. Incredible India!
Author Bio: An explorer at heart, a traveller by profession and a writer by choice, Rohit Agarwal is a man with so many feathers in his hat! He’s like the three kings who follow the star around the globe, and here the star is his passion. As you go through his articles describing stories of his journeys, you’ll be amazed by the marvellous experiences of distant as well as neighbouring lands! So follow this wandering soul and learn things about places you never knew before. You’re sure to pack your bags and get on the road to experience it for yourself!