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“India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of

history, the grandmother of legend, and the great-grandmother of tradition. Our most

valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.

So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make

India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to

have been forgotten, nothing overlooked. One land that all men desire to see, and having

seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give up that glimpse for all the shows of all the rest

of the globe combined.”

Mark Twain, 1835-1910



Dimitra Stasinopoulou


Unity in Diversity


Unity in Diversity

“Since at the beginning and end of our lives we are completely

dependent on the kindness of others, how can it be that in the

middle we would neglect kindness toward others?”

The Dalai Lama


Unity in Diversity


Dimitra Stasinopoulou

Copyright© Athens, March 2010

Dimitra Stasinopoulou

e-mail: dimitra@imedica.ro

To my husband, Yiannis.

PHOTOGRAPHY/ TEXT: Dimitra Stasinopoulou

TEXT EDITING: Dimitris Ananiadis

BOOK DESIGN: Phoebe Skotida


PRINTING: Epikoinonia LTD

BOOKBINDING: G. Iliopoulos

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or

transmitted in any form or means without the permission of the copyright © holder.


Τhe Dharmachakra symbol, “the Wheel of Law”, is one of the oldest known

Buddhist symbols found in Indian art, appearing with the first surviving

post-Harappan Indian iconography, in the time of the Buddhist king

Ashoka. The wheel (Sanskrit chakra) represents the teachings of the Buddha. The wheel

also represents the endless cycle of samsara or rebirth. It symbolizes the Noble Eightfold

Path that Lord Buddha taught: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right

livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.


Dimitra Stasinopoulou was born in Athens, Greece in 1953. After

completing her studies, she worked in the banking sector for 20 years,

and later on, in the family business in Romania. She discovered her

love for photography in the last few years. Her fist book “Romania

of my heart”, published in December 2005, was awarded with the

Romanian UNESCO prize. Her second book “Bhutan, smiling faces

from the roof of the world” was published in October 2008. Her pictures

have been awarded in international photo-competitions and

have been displayed in Greece and abroad.



THE HIMALAYAS - Jammu & Kashmir • Ladakh 20 - 71

THE NORTH - Amritsar • Haridwar • Rishikesh • Dharamsala 72 - 135

RAJASTHAN - Jaipur • Udaipur • Pushkar • Deogarh • Ranakpur 136 - 201


MAHARASTRA - Mumbai • Goa 276 - 359

THE SOUTH - Tamil Nadu • Kerala 360 - 447


My interest in photography came late in my life. Nevertheless, my love

for this means of expression I believe, comes from the past, in those

years where my eyes were stunned by the gleaming world and they

craved to share it, turning it into something real by giving it to others. I

began traveling and photographing places and people that were distant

from the “modern” western way of life, and were traveling in the pages of

history following another, different, course. I am most excited by people,

places and cultures that have not been overtaken yet by the homogeneity

of the west. I love the color and texture of those places, the vitality of

life and their rituals and symbolisms. Ι shoot what moves me; I shoot

from my heart to tell the visual stories I love and care about, discovering

what it means seeing rather than merely looking. Photos are emotional

experiences. I hope these pictures will move you the way I was moved

when I took them.

“…Sometimes my camera acts as a mirror. With it I can collect light and

express what can’t be described with words. With it I can free myself from

the world. In these images you can see my heart, these images are a ladder

to my dreams”, as quoted from Gregory Colbert’s “Ashes and Snow“. I

believe he is expressing poetically and with great accuracy every amateur

and professional photographer, every person who has sensed the magic

of capturing in a frame a little something from the light of people and


Ever since childhood I have felt a strong bond with India. First was

with Rudyard Kipling’s “Jungle Book”, the story of Mowgli, the lost boy,

who was raised by wolves in the jungles of India, learning not only the

ways of the jungle, but also moral lessons from animals which could talk

and reason. Gandhi followed. In my eyes, his teachings of non-violent

resistance “wherever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him

with love”, posed immense meaning, a way of life that illuminated the

greatness of humility in every action I saw around me. Enchanted by this

uncharted new world, I didn’t know then I was signing a special check

–with an open date-, for a debt so fundamentally personal, that it was

bound to be redeemed at some future time by something truly mine.

India was bound to be a priority destination in my travels. Although

its territorial vastness, its huge population and the sometimes difficult

conditions that prevail rather prevent one from its culture, the beauty

of the landscape and the sweetness of the people, urge the visitor

not to abandon the exploration, but to try and penetrate as deep as

possible into this odd way of life with its deafening colors and mythical

spiritual universe. There is an admiration for the magical coexistence

of traditional culture, customs, and values with high technology and

foreign infused values. In India you see rich and poor, but what you see

more than anything else is an entire nation embracing life.

I was privileged to visit India several times. I covered great distances

starting from the high peaks of the Himalayas and the province of

Ladakh - ‘The land of high passes’, ‘The land of lamas’ - and the Indus

valley. To the North, the holy cities and famous pilgrimage centers of

Rishikesh, Haridwar, Amritsar and Dharamsala known also as the “Little

Lhasa”. Here the Tibetans are in exile since 1959, and is known all over

the world from the teachings of the Dalai Lama. To the West, I visited

Rajasthan, that represents the romance of India’s forts and palaces, with

the cities of Jaipur, Udaipur, Ranakpur and Pushkar. Further down I

encountered Delhi, the capital, Agra with the world famous Taj Mahal,

and Varanasi, the holiest city of Hindus. I also «discovered» Mumbai,

the metropolis and the financial center of India and Goa with its emerald

coasts. To the South, Tamil Nadu with its great history and 2000 years

old language and the city of Madurai, and finally Kerala and the port of

Cochin, famous for their heritage and culture, arts, dance.

I always felt I was just beginning my journey and had merely touched

this glorious world and the way it perceives reality. The succession of

images is so fast, that one can barely assimilate them. No cities or towns

can represent the stereotype of India. All are unique. But the peculiar

thing is that you can feel the presence of a strong and widely- spaced

common cultural net encompassing all the individual Indian cultures.

The blood circulating is common. Indians feel proud, calling this

phenomenon ‘Unity in Diversity’.

Especially in the Himalayas, where the following photographic journey

begins, the natural beauty as well as the unique cultural scenery astounds

the visitor. It is a landscape different from the image of the Indian world

that we have in our minds: ancient Buddhist temples, boulders molded

over the ages and ascetic clay-built settlements. Here we find populations

that live in isolation, devoted to their Buddhist faith and cultivating the

land in almost the same way their ancestors did thousands of years ago.

Everywhere I went, I met an unparalleled cultural heritage and

magnificent people, sometimes sad in their poverty, but always positive

and peaceful within. Hindu people are the most compassionate, sweet

and calm people anyone can come across. Violence is never part of

their emotions. It is these people, with their disarming innocence, in

reality, that represent the biggest treasure of the country, being carriers

of the ancient yet still vibrant traditions and religious practices. I could

of course meet only a fraction of the population of over one billion.

Yet there is a common factor. These people have a natural dignity and

pride, qualities which I hope will outlast the inevitable tide of change

that comes with the increasing globalization. I have tried to capture the

indomitable spirit and unique beauty which shines through their faces.

It is amazing to see that even the poorest people in India respond

with a warm smile. This reflects the inherent strength of the rich

Indian civilization and culture. It was the smile of the poor Indians that

Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Nation, translated into power and

finally obliged the British to leave the country, without any bloodshed

and war on the part of India. This smile is the strength of Indian

democracy which allows millions of Hindus to live with Muslims,

Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs and others. They have lived for centuries

in harmony, despite the existence of a caste system, different languages,

ethnic and religious groups. It is this smile that brought in people from

other countries to make India their home. India, a country that is

already crowded with sorrows and needs of its own, has accommodated

hundreds of thousands of refugees from Tibet, Iran, Afghanistan, Africa

and Bangladesh. India’s generosity is best described by the Dalai Lama

“…Tibet and India enjoyed a profound and centuries-old religious and

cultural relationship. The Tibetan people’s deep sense of reverence for

India is borne out by our reference to her as the Holy Land. We, Tibetans,

have been living as refugees in India for fifty years now. Despite her own

difficulties, India has been exceptionally generous in her assistance to

us: resettling Tibetan refugees, preserving and promoting our religion

and culture and providing educational facilities for our children. India’s

generosity to our people must be clearly written in the history of Tibet.

India serves as an example of religious tolerance, mutual respect and

understanding among the followers of different faiths”.

I recently read somewhere that once someone sets foot in India he

immediately realizes how up until that moment he was colorblind and

suddenly he discovers how colorful the world really is. Indians know and

control color through intuition. The Indian view of life resonates with

optimism. Even at death white is the color of mourning but it is also the

color of life – it is the color that bonds life and death.

You will not find another place on the face of earth, where creative

passion is expressed as compellingly and where so many different

cultures, races, languages and religions harmoniously coexist. Maybe it is

this exaggerated element in their faith that grants them this Unbearable

Lightness, this deeper, almost organic understanding, that bestows

upon them this gracious and primeval wisdom. A very characteristic

description is that of Apollonius Tyanaeus, the Greek Neopythagorean

Philosopher, who visited India in the 1st century AD. He wrote “In

India, I found a race of mortals living upon the Earth, but not adhering to

it, inhabiting cities, but not being fixed to them, possessing everything, but

possessed by nothing”.

Whatever you come across in this country is exceptional and

impressive. Because of that, you are obliged to take a decision right away

and choose a topic. Wandering about different areas of India, I found

myself tempted to photograph all that tolerance: the faces, the endless

plains, and the ramshackle camps. After I got over my first impulse, I

concluded that to portray the poverty of a poor country was, indeed,

the easiest thing to do. Instead of that, I decided to attempt to capture

with my lens, the humble breath hidden below all that wretchedness: the

human dignity of the Indian people, their sweetness and their optimism.

The qualities of these people are so strong that conditions of life are a

secondary matter.

One of the more powerful experiences of my trips was when I visited

Mumbai’s Dharavi slum where millions of people live. Gregory David

Roberts, in his book, Shantaram, in a gorgeous, humane description of

India, describes what he felt seeing the slums of Mumbai where millions

of economically-ravaged people try to make a life for themselves:

“… For the first sight of the slums, clutched at my heart with talons of

shame. The miserable shelters were patched together from rugs, scraps of

plastic and paper, reed mats, and bamboo sticks. They slumped together,

attached one to another and with narrow lanes winding between them.

Nothing in the enormous sprawl of it rose much above the height of a

6 7

man. My first impression was that some catastrophe had taken place,

and that the slums were refugee camps for the shambling survivors. I

learned, months later, that they were survivors, of course, those slumdwellers:

the catastrophes that had driven them to the slums from their

villages were poverty, famine and bloodshed. And five thousand new

survivors arrived in the city every week, week after week, year after year.

As the kilometers wound past, as the hundreds of people in those slums

became thousands and tens of thousands, my spirit writhed. I felt it at

all; it is a lacerating guilt, that first confrontation with the wretched of the

earth. Then the smolders of shame and guilt flamed into anger, became

fist-tightening rage at the unfairness of it: What kind of a government,

I thought, what kind of a system allows suffering like this? But the slums

went on kilometer after kilometer, relieved only by the awful contrast of

the thriving businesses and crumbling, moss covered apartment buildings.

A kind of wonder possessed me. I began to look beyond the immensity of

the slum societies and to see the people who lived within them. A woman

stopped to brush forward the black stain psalm of her hair. Another

bathed her children with water from a copper dish. A man led three goats

with red ribbons tied to the collars at their throats. Another man shaved

himself at a cracked mirror. Children played everywhere. Men carried

water in bucks. Men made repairs to one of the huts. And everywhere that

I looked, people smiled and laughed. I looked at the people then, and I

saw how busy they were-how much industry and energy described their

lives. Occasional sudden glimpses inside the huts revealed the astonishing

cleanliness of that poverty. The spotless floors and glistening metal pots in

neat, tapering towels. And then, last, what should’ve been first, I saw how

beautiful they were: the women wrapped in crimson, blue and gold; the

women walking barefoot through the tangled shabbiness of the slum with

patient, ethereal grace, the white toothed, almond eyed handsomeness of

the men; and the affectionate camaraderie of the fine limbed children,

older ones playing with younger ones, many of them supporting baby

brothers and sisters on their slender hips. And half an hour after the bus

ride began, I smiled for the first time...” ”…I love Bombay. To my eyes, the

city was beautiful. It was wild and exciting. Buildings that were British

Raj-romantic stood side to side with modern, mirrored business towers.

I heard music from every ship and passing taxi. The colors were vibrant.

The fragrances were dizzyingly delicious. And there were more smiles in

the eyes on those crowded streets than in any other place I’d ever known.

Above all else, Bombay is free-exhilaratingly free. I saw that liberated

unconstrained spirit wherever I looked and I found myself responding to

it with the whole of my heart. Even the flare of shame I’d felt when I first

saw the slums and the street beggars dissolved in the understanding that

they were free, those men and women. No one banished the slum-dwellers.

Painful as their lives were, they were free to live them in the same gardens

and avenues as the rich and powerful. The city was free. I loved it.”

When friends ask me for a good reason to visit India, I give them over

a billion: the people. Every visit to India offers an alternative viewpoint

on the personal ambition and material priorities of the western world.

This book is a tribute to the eternal spirit of India and its people, their

democratic temperament, generous hospitality, disarming openness,

tolerance and inclusiveness, and the amazing ways by which these

differences and diversity are accommodated and celebrated.

I am grateful and deeply indebted to the authors of the books I used

for my research. Their deep knowledge has granted me precious input

regarding the way of life, the religion and the culture of India – in fact

the completion of this book would have been impossible without their



The Republic of India officially known as ‘Bharat’, is referred to in the

Indian scriptures as ‘Bharatvarsha’, and its inhabitants are known as

‘Bhartiya’, meaning the descendants of Bharata, the king who ruled the

whole of India.

The ancient civilization of India evolved in a sub-continent bounded

on the north by the world’s largest mountain range – the chain of the

Himalayas which separates India from the rest of Asia and the world.

The basin of the Indus is divided by that of the Ganges by the desert

of Rajasthan. South is the Vindhya mountain range that separates

Hindustan from the peninsula of Deccan. From Kashmir in the north to

Cape Comorin in the south, the sub-continent is about 2000 miles long.

The north, the south, the east and the west, all are distinctively different.

The barrier of the Himalayas was at no time an insuperable one and at all

periods both settlers and traders have found their way over the high and

desolate passes into India, while Indians have carried their commerce

and culture beyond their frontiers by the same route. The “silk road”, as

it is known, saw the movement of thousands of people carrying India’s

products to the east. The importance of the mountains to India is that

they are the source of her two great rivers, Indus and the Ganges. Water

has always played a sacred role in the Indian life, and the waters of the

Indus river system were to become the cradle of North India’s culture.

Submersion into water symbolizes total rebirth as it means the dissolving

of all forms, the cleansing from sin.

Of the two river systems, that of the Indus had the earliest civilization

and gave its name to India. The Indians knew this river as Sindhu

(in Sanskrit it means ‘like an ocean’), and the Persians, who found

difficulty in pronouncing the initial “S”, called it Hindu and the country,

Hindustan. From the Persians the word passed to the Greeks who

invaded northwestern India under Alexander the Great in 326 BC. They

designated the inhabitants of the banks of the Indus River as Indoos,

hence, the whole of India became known by the name of the river. Over

the years, India has witnessed the rise and fall of many empires and

invasions by people of various races and cultures. There was conquest,

but one in which the foreign invaders adapted, changed and became


About 1500 BC, powerful nomadic warriors known as Aryans

appeared in northern India. The warriors were from Central Asia,

but managed to bypass the Himalayas by finding lower passes in the

mountains, such as the Khyber Pass in Pakistan. They conquered the

Dravidians of Central India and imposed their social structure. Although

the Aryans were a conquering people when they first spread into India,

the culture of the Aryans would gradually mix with indigenous cultures,

and the war-religion of the Aryans, still preserved in parts of the Rig

Veda, slowly became more ritualized and more meditative. By 200 BC,

this process of mixing and transforming was more or less complete and

the culture we call «Indian» was fully formed. From 550-528 BC, the

Persians conquered part of India. The Arab Muslims began invading as

early as 712 AD. But the main Muslin invasion was from the Turks who

conquered the biggest part of India, except the South where the Tamil

developed their great civilization.

In the 15 th Century AD the Mongols invaded India. From the 15th

century the Europeans arrived: namely, The Dutch, English, French,

Danish and Portuguese. The “spice route” to India was one of the most

influential commercial activities in history and directly affected the

course of world events. Christopher Columbus’ desire to find an Atlantic

sea route to the East Indies led him to the discovery of America. The

British East India Company, formed in 1600 to compete with the Dutch

spice trade, resulted in the colonization of the Indian subcontinent.

Politically the British ruled India for most of the 19 th century and the

first half of the 20 th century, until the country’s independence in 1947.

There is a strong imprint of British philosophy and culture in India.

There are phases of Indian history which are bright, but there are also

phases which are dull and dark. India’s subjugation by foreign imperial

powers deeply marked the country. According to some historians, at the

time India was conquered by western colonial powers it was one of the

wealthiest nations in the world. References to India’s cultures are found

in the Bible and in ancient Greek, Roman and Chinese literature. Yet,

from its myriad upheavals, a vibrant, diverse and thoroughly modern

nation has emerged, as enduring as it is dynamic and increasingly

well-equipped to meet the challenges of the future. India is the largest

democracy on earth, with one billion three hundred million people

with, freedom, equality and the rule of law as fundamental principles.

It has emerged as the largest middle class in the world history after

two hundred years of poverty. It is still overwhelmingly rural, and its

economy is predominantly agricultural, but it has become self sufficient

in food and has already embarked on a new life of economical stability

and development. Now India is a leading player in the world. The use

of computers and cellular phones has become so common that they are

even found on roadside rickshawalas. There is Bollywood challenging

Hollywood. Still, there is a paradoxical contrast. On the one hand,

India has advanced in nuclear power and space technology, but on

the other, millions are still living in the clusters of shanty towns. But

things are changing. It’s been only 60 years since the British left India.

The number of millionaires in India has crossed the one million mark,

while 40 Indians are included in the 2010 Forbes list as multibillionaires.

Contrary to the expectations, India’s millionaires are concentrated more

in the rural areas than in urban centers. The extremely wealthy and the

unimaginably poor live almost side-by-side, sharing the same common

landscape. The cultural co existence of these classes for a lifetime is an

unexplainable miracle. In any case, Indian culture would be entirely

different without the fundamental impact of Hinduism, that is not only

a religion, but also a philosophy and a way of life.

The Caste System: A very important part of India’s social structure,

difficult for us to understand, is the ancient hierarchical caste system

which arose during the Vedic period, when Hindu-influenced law, or

Dharma, was created to regulate society. India has been living with this

dharma for three millennia. It is this that shapes its people’s logic and

behavior. Hindus believe that a person is born into one of four castes.

8 9

The existence of rigid ranking is supernaturally validated through the

idea of rebirth according to a person’s karma, the sum of an individual’s

deeds in this life and in past lives. After death, a person’s life is judged

by divine forces, and rebirth is assigned in a high or a low place. Those

born as Brahmans are priests and teachers; Kshatriyas are rulers,

warriors, landowners; Vaisyas are merchants and traders; and Sudras

are artisans and laborers. Within the four castes, there are thousands

of sub-castes, defined by profession, region, dialect, and other factors.

The Untouchables were literally outcasts who were so unworthy that they

were excluded from the caste system. The untouchables call themselves

Dalit, meaning depressed. Until the late 1980s they were called Harijan,

meaning Children of God, a title given to them by Mahatma Gandhi who

wanted them accepted in the society.

Historically, the caste system offered several advantages and served

as an important instrument of order in a society where mutual consent

rather than compulsion ruled. A well-defined system of mutual

interdependence through a division of labor created security within a

community. It has kept a sense of order and peace among the people.

The caste system has been illegal in India for more than fifty years,

outlawed by the Constitution of 1950, but it continues to shape people’s

lives, although it has declined significantly. The Indian government has

provided the Harijan, with specific employment privileges and granted

them special representation in the Indian parliament. In general, the

urban people in India are less strict about the caste system than the

rural. In cities one can see people of different castes mingling with each

other, while in some rural areas there is still discrimination based on

one’s caste. The joint family has been the strength of Indian society. It

includes everyone descended from a common ancestor living under one

roof, united not only in its common home but in most aspects of life,

and with the strong sense of responsibility that people show for their

parents and all the members of their extended family.

Numerous were the times when all these things surprised me,

especially the strong attachment of the Hindus to their tradition, even

when it dictated a torturous fate they must tolerate patiently. However,

there were other times when I could identify those links that bind their

lives with the past: a cultural universe made up of simple philosophy,

myths, legends and historical facts, all blended in a way, that even the

simple and illiterate people could understand and follow. Maybe it is all

these powerful elements that influence their day-to-day lives and give

them their dignity and grace.


The Indus Valley Civilization started around 5,000 BC. By 2600 BC,

early Harappan communities had been turned into large urban centers.

Such urban centers include Harappa, Ganeriwala, Mohenjo-Daro and

others. In total, over 1,052 cities and settlements have been found,

mainly in the general region of the Indus Rivers and their tributaries.

Around 1800 BCE, signs of a gradual decline began to emerge, most

probably due to changes in the climate conditions, and by around 1700

BCE, most of the cities were abandoned. However, this civilization did

not disappear suddenly, and many elements of the Indus Civilization

can be found in later cultures. Ever since then, nothing was able to

halt the continuation of this cultural evolution. This is an energy that is

channeled to all members of Indian society, who live according to their

tradition and religious faith.

The culture of India has been shaped by its long history, unique

geography, and the absorption of customs, traditions and ideas from

some of its neighbors as well as by preserving its ancient heritages.

It is the home of well-known religious gurus and yogic preceptors.

Innumerable monuments, exquisitely carved temples, stupas, mosques,

churches, forts and palaces dot the country’s landscape. Its colorful

religious festivals, age-old art forms in music, dance, architecture,

distinct geographic attributes and the-existence of ancient and modern

cultures, symbolize its creativity of centuries. It has been home to the

cultural heritage of people from almost every religion and philosophy,

who have lived together harmoniously for thousands of years, giving

India its unique identity.

The concept of Dharma underscores the identity of India. It is a

complex idea with a multitude of implications. The acceptance of

universal and eternal principles of righteousness governing all creation

means that, all are obliged to live by these principles. Within the

community, each person is expected to function according to the moral

and social implications stemming from the philosophy of dharma, and

this is most clearly seen in the villages.

One of the fundamental teachings of Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-

Gita is the necessity of Non-attachment to material things. It is the

soul rather than the ego which has to be spiritually cultivated and thus

draw the individual away from the dangerous attraction to things of an

ephemeral nature. The things of the world are temporary; whereas the

soul, can return to God.

Written records about India’s culture are vast and varied. The earliest

records are known by the name of Vedas and were comprised by

thousands of hymns. Veda means knowledge, all that is worthy of

being known, all that distinguishes men from animals. Vedas were

sung by priests in praise of gods and kings. The gods themselves were

representing natural forces rain, wind, fire and thunder, very much like

the Greek gods. Vedas were secret and for 2000 years were passed down

orally to the Brahmin families only. The first texts were written down on

palm leaf in the middle ages and later on paper.

India’s culture heritage was based on experimentation. Many of the

branches of knowledge that have survived today, were rooted in India

and in her spiritual traditions. The intellectual achievements of Indian

culture lay scattered across several fields of study in ancient Indian

texts, ranging from the Vedas and the books of ‘self-knowledge’ i.e.

the Upanishads, to a whole range of scriptural, Gnostic, scientific and

artistic sources. India’s contribution to the world has not gone unnoticed

by those who know about her ancient civilization. It’s not just about

Gandhi, Tagore, Nehru and others, nor is it just about monuments to

her heritage, like the mysterious Ajanta caves or the Taj Mahal. It’s about

India’s very character and her treasure of tradition and knowledge that

have contributed to the refined civilization that exists today.

Indian culture specialized in many sciences. First place may be

given to the science of language that was analyzed in such a depth

that has evoked the admiration of the 20th century philologists. India’s

constitution recognizes 18 languages. But there are over 1650 that are

considered as mother tongues, while most of them have their own

script. Hindi has been designated as India’s official national language. It

is the primary tongue of fewer than one third of the people, is spoken

predominantly in the north, having little similarity to the Dravidian

languages of the south. The absence of a common Indian language

partially accounts for the fact that English, introduced into India by the

British, is still widely used.

India has been among the leaders in many intellectual pursuits,

particularly in the fields of medicine, cosmology and geography,

astronomy, the calendar, physics and chemistry. It was Indian

mathematicians and astronomers who calculated the orbit of the earth

around the sun with astonishing accuracy. Special note should be taken

of mathematics, developed in Gupta times to a more advanced stage

than reached by any other nation in antiquity, in which India initiated

the decimal system of numerical notation, early in the Christian era.

These scientists had a clear concept of the abstract numbers, as distinct

from the numerical quantity of objects and, with the aid of a simple

numeral notation, they devised a rudimentary algebra which allowed

more complicated calculations and led to the study of number for their

own sake. The earliest inscription recording dates by a system of nine

digits and a zero, with place notation for the tens and hundreds, comes

from Gujarat and is dated 585 AD. For long it was thought that the

decimal system of numerals was invented by the Arabs, which, however,

is not true. The Arabs called mathematics “the Indian art” (hindisat)

and it appears that the decimal notation was learnt by the Muslim world

either through travelling merchants or from the Arabs who conquered

Sind in 712 AD. Most of the great discoveries and inventions of which

Europe is so proud would have been impossible without a developed

system of mathematics. The debt of the Western world to India is huge.

The achievement of the unknown man who devised the new system was

the work of an analytical mind and he deserves much more honor than

he has so far received.

In the field of music, as early as 350 BC, India gave to the world her

system of notation, with the seven cardinal notes and the diatonic scale.

In philosophy, there are similarities between the teachings of western

philosophers and mystics from Pythagoras to Plotinus and those of the

Upanishads. The 5th century BC seekers after truth in the cities of the

Ganges plain were as varied and numerous as their contemporaries in the

pre-Socratic societies of Greece. We can only say that there was always

some contact between the Hellenic world and India, mediated first by

the Achemenid Empire, then by that of the Seleucids, and finally, under

the Romans, by the Indian ocean traders. In philology, the Sanskrit

language is now universally acknowledged to be the foundation of all

European languages. In literature, its epics, poems and dramas rank as

high as those of any language. Nalanda, the first university in the world

was founded in India in the 5th century BC, with over 10,000 students

and 2,000 teachers. Nalanda was an extraordinary centre of learning

for seven centuries. In manufacture, India was the first to make cotton

and purple [dye], and it was proficient in all works of jewelry. India has

also given many practical blessings to the world at large; notably, rice,

cotton, the sugar cane, many spices, domestic fowl, the game of chess

as well as playing cards and dice. Greater than any of these influences,

10 11

however, has been the influence of ancient religious literature through

philosophy. The sages who meditated in the jungles of the Ganges valley,

six hundred years or more before Christ, are still forces in the world.

This greatness of India’s culture is clearly reflected in the lives of two of

the most important figures of worldwide meditation, Mohandas Gandhi

and Rabindranath Tagore.

Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, the architect of Indian’s freedom

after 200 years of British rule, was the central figure of the Indian civil

rights movement and the pioneer of resistance to tyranny, through

mass civil disobedience, which led India to independence. R.Tagore

named him “Mahatma”, meaning “great soul”. “In a gentle way, you

can shake the world” he used to say, summarizing, with just a phrase,

a religious practice and a political ideology. His teachings inspired the

worldwide movement of peace, and, together with his ascetic life, made

him an international symbol and landmark of the philosophical and

sociopolitical meditation of the 20 th century. He was one of the greatest

souls of all times, who lived a life dedicated to the cause of advancing

justice and showing tolerance to all. He became the symbol of the dignity

of all human beings. The world still needs his philosophy.

He was born on October 2, 1869, at Porbandar, in Gujarat. After

university, he went to London to train as a barrister. He returned to

India in 1891 and in 1893 accepted a job at an Indian law firm in

Durban, South Africa. Gandhi was appalled by the treatment of Indian

immigrants there, and joined the struggle to obtain basic rights for them.

During his 20 years in South Africa he was sent to prison many times.

Influenced primarily by Hinduism, but also by elements of Jainism and

Christianity and the writings of Tolstoy and Thoreau, Gandhi developed

the satyagraha (‘devotion to truth’), a new non-violent way to redress

the wrongs and injustice.

In 1914, the South African government conceded many of Gandhi’s

demands. Returning to India, he was a dominant figure in politics.

He transformed the Indian National Congress, and his program of

peaceful non-cooperation with the British included boycotts of British

goods and institutions, leading to the arrests of thousands. In 1922,

Gandhi himself was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. He was

released after two years and withdrew from politics, devoting himself to

trying to improve Hindu-Muslim relations. He was replaced as leader by

Jawaharlal Nehru.

In 1945, the British government began negotiations which culminated

in the Mountbatten Plan of June 1947, and the formation of the two new

independent states of India and Pakistan, divided along religious lines.

Massive inter-communal violence marred the months before and after

independence. Gandhi was opposed to partition. On January 30, 1948,

he was assassinated in Delhi by a Hindu fanatic, less than one year after

India’s independence. “Just an old man in a loincloth in distant India: Yet

when he died, humanity wept”. This was the observation of a newspaper

correspondent at the death of Mahatma Gandhi.

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was an offspring of a noble family,

born in 1861 in Calcutta. He was among many things a musician and

a painter, but it was his poetry that gave him in 1913 the Nobel Prize

in Literature being the first Asian to be awarded with Nobel “because

of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with

consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own

English words, a part of the literature of the West”.Even though he never

got involved actively in politics, he tried though his life as well as his

work, to contribute rather in our inner improvement and to bridge the

gap between the East and the West. Gandhi was his devoted friend.

Tagore was knighted by the ruling British Government in 1915, but

within a few years he resigned the honor as a protest against British

policies in India. For the world, he became the voice of India’s spiritual



India gave birth to four of the world’s religions: Hinduism, Jainism,

Buddhism and Sikhism.

Hinduism, the world’s oldest continually existing religion, is a

conglomeration of religious, philosophical, and cultural ideas and

practices and originated in India. It evolved from the Vedic religion

of ancient India. The earliest scriptures of Hinduism are the Vedas,

which were brought to India by the Aryan invaders after 1200 BC.

The philosophical Vedic texts, called the Upanishads, explored the

search for knowledge that would allow mankind to escape the cycle

of reincarnation. Fundamental to Hinduism is the belief in a cosmic

principle of ultimate reality called Brahman, and its identity with the

individual soul, or Atman. All creatures go through a cycle of rebirth,

or samsara, which can be broken only by spiritual self-realization,

after which liberation, or moksha, is attained. The principle of karma

determines a being’s status within the cycle of rebirth. The gods and

goddesses of Hinduism amount to thousands or even millions, all

representing the many aspects of Brahman. The most fundamental of

Hindu deities is the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva - Creator,

Preserver and Destroyer respectively. Hindus also worship spirits, trees,

animals and even planets. The basic scriptures of Hinduism were passed

on from generation to generation orally for centuries before they were

written down, mostly in the Sanskrit language. The major and most

popular Hindu texts include the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, and

the epics of Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas. Especially

Mahabharata, just as Homer’s Iliad, became their national epic.

Unlike other religions, Hinduism is a way of life, a Dharma, that is,

the law that governs all action. It prescribes truth, honesty, non-violence,

cleanliness, contentment, prayers, austerity, perseverance, penance, and

pious company. It has its own traditions, advanced system of ethics,

meaningful rituals, philosophy and theology. The religious tradition

of Hinduism is responsible for the creation of such original concepts

and practices as Yoga, Ayurveda, Karma, etc. Vedic civilization was

developed in the broad and open spaces of the primeval forests of the

valleys of Ganges and Indus. It did not represent an urban view of life

which seeks to protect itself by high walls.

Vedic thinkers were followed by Buddhist thought. Buddha, the

Prince, the Thinker and the Revolutionary, started a new age in the

history of humanity. Buddha developed human values which advanced

mankind beyond anything that had been achieved until then. Buddhism

gave art and sculpture, mythology and philosophy to the whole of Asia.

Buddhist thought was accompanied by other movements in India.

Jainism was the discipline of infinite austerity and purity of action. It

flourished side by side with Buddhism in India. Sikhism, the 5 th largest

religion in the world, emerged in the 16th century, influenced by reform

movements in Hinduism, as well as by Sufi Muslim influences. Sikhism

preaches a message of devotion and remembrance of God at all times,

truthful living, the equality of mankind and denounces superstitions

and blind rituals.

Today Hinduism, 80% of the people in India, and Buddhism are the

world’s third and fourth largest religions respectively, with around 1.4

billion followers altogether. Other major religions, such as Islam and

Christianity, also flourish in this country, Islam being the second religion

in India, with 140 million people. The followers of these religions have

full freedom to teach and practice according to their own traditions. A

huge nation, India serves as an example of religious tolerance, mutual

respect and understanding among the followers of different faiths.

Different religious traditions and cultures spread from India and brought

light to the people of many countries around the world. The idea of nonviolence

and compassion run very deep in Indian thought. It was an idea

so powerful that it would transform half the world and be spread not by

war and violence, but by respect, mutual understanding and the thirst

for knowledge.

The role of religious faith is so crucial in shaping Indian culture that

away from its imposed “shackles” Indian culture, in fact, looses all its

essence. Religion is also a way of life, a means of social organization

that ensures tolerance and harmony, and a factor contributing to the

continuity of Indian culture. It is no coincidence that I often felt I was

traveling not only in the place but in time as well. Habits, customs,

festivities, religious ceremonies unchanged over thousands of years,

carried my soul away into the past.

Jawaharlal Nehru, Gandhi’s friend and the first Prime Minister of

India after Independence, describes in a unique way this feeling, in his

monumental book The Discovery of India:

“I stood on a mound of Mohenjo Daro in the Indus Valley in the NW

of India and all around me lay the houses and streets of this ancient

city, that is said to have existed over five thousands years ago, and even

then it was an old and well-developed civilization. This civilization had

a continuity of five or six thousand years or more, and not in a static,

unchanging sense, for India was changing and progressing all the time.

She was coming into intimate contact with the Persians, the Egyptians,

the Greeks, the Chinese, the Arabs, the Central Asians and the people of

the Mediterranean. But though she influenced them and was influenced

by them, her cultural basis was strong enough to endure. What was the

secret of this strength? Where did it come from?”

Very interesting is the thought of Nehru for the similarities between

Ancient Greece and ancient India, despite the big differences of their


“Ancient India, like ancient Greece, was a collection of small states.

Ancient India and Greece, although different in many ways, have so

12 13

much in common that I am led to believe that their background of life

was very similar. Every country and people has had individuality, a

message, and has attempted to solve life’s problems each in its own way.

Greece is something definite, superb in its own way; so is India. Ancient

India and ancient Greece were different from each other and yet they were

akin, in spite of great difference. They all have the same blood, tolerant,

outlook, joy of life and belief in the surprising beauty and infinite variety

of nature, love and art, and the wisdom that comes from the accumulated

experience of an old race. Each of them developed in accordance with its

racial genius, influenced by its natural environment, and emphasized

some aspects of life more than others. This emphasis varied. The Greeks,

as a race, may have lived more in the present and found joy and harmony

in the beauty they saw around them, or which they themselves have

created. The Indians found this joy and harmony also in the present, but,

at the same time, their eyes were turned towards deeper knowledge and

their minds trafficked with strange questions. History has shown that

India had stronger foundations and greater staying power; they have

thus far survived, though they have been badly shaken and have greatly

deteriorated, and the future is obscure. Old Greece, for its brilliance,

had a short life; it did not survive except in its splendid achievements,

its influence on succeeding cultures, and the memory of that short bright

day of abundant life. Perhaps because it was too much engrossed in the

present, it became the past. India is far nearer in spirit and outlook to

the old Greece than the nations in Europe are today, although they call

themselves children of the Hellenic spirit. Life was accepted as it was and

lived fully both in Greece and India; nevertheless, there was a belief, in the

supremacy of some kind of inner life. This led to curiosity and speculation,

but the spirit of inquiry was not so much directed towards objective

experience as to logical reasoning fixed on certain concepts which were

accepted as obviously true.”

And later on he continues: “… How amazing is this spirit of man! In

spite of innumerable failings, man, throughout the ages, has sacrificed

his life and all he held dear for an ideal, for truth, for faith, for country

and honor. That ideal may change, but that capacity for self-sacrifice

continues, and, because of that, much may be forgiven to man, and it is

impossible to lose hope for him. In the midst of disaster, he has not lost

his dignity or his faith in the values he cherished. Whatever Gods there

be, there is something Godlike in man, as there is also something of the

devil in him. The burden of the past, the burden of both good and ill, is

overpowering and sometimes suffocating, more especially for those of us

who belong to very ancient civilizations like those of India, China and

Greece. As Nietzsche says, ”not only the wisdom of centuries – also their

madness breaketh out in us. Dangerous it is to be an heir”. What is my

inheritance? To what am I an heir? To all that humanity has achieved

during tens of thousands of years, to all that it has thought and felt and

suffered and taken pleasure in, to its cries of triumph and its bitter agony

of defeat, to that astonishing adventure of man which began so long ago

and yet continues and beckons to us. To all this, and more, in common

with all men. But there is a special heritage for those of us of India, not an

exclusive one, for none is exclusive and all are common to the race of man,

one more especially applicable to us, something that is in our flesh and

blood and bones, that has gone to make us what we are and what we are

likely to be. It is the thought of this particular heritage and its application

to the present that has long filled my mind. What could we not do with

these people under better conditions and with great opportunities opening

out to them?”


The first Europeans to arrive in ancient India, even before Alexander,

were the Greeks, who are referred to in the ancient Indian history as

“Yavanas”, in Sanskrit language, and “Yonas” in Pali language. Both

names were based on the Greek state of “Ionia”. Many Greeks arrived in

India for scientific research, especially in astronomy and mathematics.

According to the Greek historian Herodotus one Greek, Scylax, who

lived in the 6th century BC, travelled from the Indus, around Arabia, to


In 327 BC, Alexander the Great, after defeating the Persian King

Darius, entered into India through Kyber Pass. His desire was to conquer

the entire world within the boundaries of the river Ocean (the Greeks

believed that a great river, called Ocean, encircled all the land of the

world). He had conquered Bactria at the foot of the western Himalayas,

gained a huge Bactrian army, and married a Bactrian princess, Roxane.

Porus, the King of Punjab, challenged Alexander at the Battle of the

Hydaspes River, but was defeated. Alexander was so impressed by the

courage and the charisma of his enemy that treated the brave man in

a knightly manner and made him his new ally. Then he moved east

through Punjab and stopped outside Amritsar. He was eager to reach

the river Ganges and conquer the people there. But his men had grown

weary of the hardships of the way, and they didn’t want go further, so

Alexander turned back. As Alexander marched through India he fought

battles, built altars, and founded cities. One city he called Boukephala

in honor of his favorite horse, which died and was buried there. Other

cities he called Alexandria in honor of his own name and Nicaea (victory

town). During this trip, Alexander sought out the Indian philosophers,

the Brahmins, who were famous for their wisdom, and debated with

them with philosophical issues. The works of Greek philosophers, and

Plato in particular, were quite popular with Brahman philosophers. The

Brahmans were reading these works either translated, or in the original,

as many Hindus had learned to read and write Greek. The Hindu

people were culturally advanced by the time they met the Greeks and

their culture was very much centered around humanistic ideals, as was

the Greek culture. The mixture of Greek and eastern influences that is

now called ‘Hellenism’ was to remain a cultural force in the region for

centuries to come. Alexander became legendary in India for being both

a wise philosopher and a fearless conqueror; for ages the deeds of the

great «Sikander», as they called him, lived in the memory of the Indians,

and even today many male children are named Sikander, after him, and

communities in Kashmir that claim to be of Greek origin.

The Greeks did not take the same route to return to their land. They

came down the rivers Jhelum and Indus, reached the Ocean and half

of them sailed back, while the other half together with Alexander

crossed the desert and went to Persia. One of his captains, Nearchos,

who commanded the fleet, was the first to realize the importance of the

monsoon winds for sailing in this region of the world. Returning from

India to the Persian city of Susa, Alexander had with him his Indian yogi

teacher and advisor, named Kalyana who, being old, wanted to die in

an appropriate manner. A big funeral pyre was erected, and he burned

himself alive, which was the Indian way to complete one’s spiritual

journey. The Greeks were amazed to see that he had no fear for pain

or death. He embraced many of his friends before, but not Alexander,

to whom he simply said: “Alexander, we shall meet again in Babylon”.

Nobody understood why he said this, but the words proved true when

Alexander died in Babylon a year later.

It’s rare in history that human events become so focused on a single

individual; rarely is that focus justified, Alexander however, is one of

the notable exceptions. The age of Alexander was the age created by

Alexander, and he would permanently stamp world culture with a Greek

character. He was most brilliant military leader in human history. With

a small army, little or no supplies, he conquered the greatest, wealthiest,

and most powerful empire in the world. He never lost a battle, not once,

and he flung himself into battle with intense bravery.

Alexander’s empire was split apart after his death and divided among

his generals. One of them, Seleucus, became the ruler of the Asian

part and introduced the Seleucids dynasty. The establishment of Indo-

Greek Kingdoms covered various parts of the northwest and northern

Indian subcontinent during the last three centuries BC and was ruled

by more than thirty Hellenistic Kings. The mixture of Greek and eastern

influences that is now called ‘Hellenism’ was to remain a cultural force

in the region for centuries to come.

The most famous Indo-Greek king was Menander, who reigned from

160-135 BC. He apparently converted to Buddhism and is presented

in the Mahayana tradition as one of the great benefactors of the faith.

Menander’s coins bear the mention «Savior King» in Greek, and «Great

King of the Dharma» in Kharoshthi script. Upon his death, the honor

of sharing his remains was claimed by the cities under his rule, and they

were enshrined in stupas (Plutarch).

During the Roman Period the Greeks from Egypt were responsible

for the sea route, Alexandria in Egypt being the center of geography

and science. Around the mid 1st century BC, Hippalus, an important

Greek explorer from in Egypt, discovered a new route to India: Instead

of following the Arabian coast, as had been usual up to then, he went

from the Red Sea to India over open sea. This route was shorter and

had less risk of Arabian pirates, but it’s real importance was that in this

way, the monsoons could be used to make the crossing a lot faster than

before. Others followed his example, and soon it became the major sea

route. The geographic knowledge of this time was written down by the

first century Alexandrian astronomer and geographer Ptolemy. The use

of Hippalus’ direct route greatly contributed to the prosperity of trade

contacts between the Roman province of Egypt and India from the

1stcentury onwards.


Periplus, literally “a sailing-around” in Greek”, was a manuscript

document that listed in order the ports and coastal landmarks, with

distances between, that the captain of a vessel could expect to find

along a shore. “The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea” is a Greek periplus,

describing navigation and trading opportunities from Roman Egyptian

ports along the coast of the Red Sea, and others along Northeast Africa

and India. The author was an unknown Greek living in Egypt. Periplus

was unique in providing accurate insights into what the ancient world

14 15

knew about the lands around the Indian Ocean. Although Erythraean

Sea literally means «Red Sea», to the Greeks it included the Indian Ocean

and the Persian Gulf. From Red Sea large ships crossed the Indian Ocean

to the Tamil kingdoms in present day Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It also has

detailed information about the Pandyan Kingdoms of South India and

the intense trade with the Indian town of Muziris. The description of the

Indian coast mentions the Ganges River clearly. The Periplus describes

in detail how Hippalus first discovered the direct route from the Red Sea

to southern India, as well as the trade goods from India, the Indo-Greek

towns and monuments, the coins of King Menander and numerous

Greek buildings and fortifications.


Chandragupta (340 BC- 298 BC), the founder of the Maurya Empire

and one of the greatest leaders and organizers in Indian history, had met

Alexander and was inspired by his power charisma and glamour. He

expelled the remaining Greeks and in 302 BC became the ruler of the first

Indian Empire conquering most of the Indian subcontinent. He married

Seleucus’s daughter, a Greek princess, which was a gift from Seleucus to

formalize an alliance. In addition to this treaty, Seleucus dispatched an

ambassador, Megasthenes, to Chandragupta’s court, who stayed there

for 7 years and wrote a detailed description of India. Chandragupta II

was the greatest of the Gupta kings; called Vikramaditya «The Sun of

Power», he presided over the greatest cultural age in India.

In 268 BC, Chandragupta’s grandson, Ashoka came to power. He was

one of India’s greatest emperors and reigned from 273 to 232 BC, most

of present-day India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Ashoka

was a devotee of Ahimsa (non violence), love, truth and tolerance. He

established an empire on the foundation of righteousness, a reign which

makes the moral and spiritual welfare of his subjects its primary concern.

After adopting Buddhism, Asoka started propagating its principles

throughout the world, even as far as ancient Rome and Egypt. In fact,

he can be credited with making the first serious attempt to develop a

Buddhist policy, is considered just after Gautama Buddha. The stunning

ability of Indian culture to tolerate competing religions throughout its

history begins with Asoka. An emblem excavated from his empire is

today the national Emblem of India. The British historian H.G. Wells has

written: «Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd

the columns of history ... the name of Ashoka shines, and shines almost

alone, a star.»

The Gupta Empire existed approximately from 320 to 550 AD and

covered much of India. Founded by Maharaja Sri-Gupta, the dynasty

was the model of a classical civilization. The peace and prosperity

created under the leadership of Guptas enabled the pursuit of scientific

and artistic endeavors. This period is called the Golden Age of India

and was marked by extensive achievements in science, technology,

engineering, art, literature, mathematics, astronomy, religion and

philosophy that crystallized the elements of what is generally known

as Hindu culture. Chandragupta, Samudragupta, and Chandragupta

II, were the most notable rulers of the Gupta dynasty. The high points

of this cultural creativity are magnificent architectures, sculptures and

paintings. Strong trade ties also made the region an important cultural

center and a base that would influence nearby kingdoms in Burma, Sri

Lanka, Malay Archipelago and Indochina. The earliest available Puranas

are also thought to have been written around this period. The empire

came to an end with the attack of the Huns from Central Asia in the 6 th

century AD.


Akbar (1556 to 1605 AD) was the greatest ruler of Indian history

according to Muslim, Indian and Western historians. When his father,

Humayun, died in 1556, Akbar became “ruler of the empire» at the

age of thirteen. Under the guidance of Bairam Khan, Akbar instantly

began seizing more territory throughout Hindustan. By the time he died

in 1605, his Empire included almost all of northern India. In order to

govern this territory, Akbar developed a bureaucracy that was among the

most efficient in the world and a system of autonomy for the imperial

provinces. From a religious standpoint, Akbar’s state was built on the

principle of «universal tolerance».

The central theorist of Akbar’s reign was Abu’l Faz’l, who is considered

one of the greatest political theorists in Islamic history. He was deeply

influenced by Platonic philosophy, as it had been handed down by

Muslim philosophers. In particular, he argued for Plato’s concept of the

«philosopher-king,» who, by virtue of his talent, wisdom, and learning,

deserved to be obeyed by all others. He saw Akbar as the embodiment of

the perfect philosopher-king. Akbar sponsored a series of debates at his

court between representatives of the various religions, which included

Christianity, Hindus, Zoroastrians, and Jains. His wife, Jodhabai, a

Hindu Rajput princess, became the Mughal Empress and she gave birth

to his successor, Jahangir.


“... Our only fault is that we cannot: fight to conquer; but we trust

in the eternity of truth. India’s message to the world is first of all, her

blessing; she is returning good for the evil which is done her, and thus

she puts into execution this noble idea, which had its origin in India.

Lastly, India’s message is that calm goodness, patience and gentleness

will ultimately triumph. Thanks to the morality of her children, the

kinder race will never perish, and she will yet see the hour of her

triumph.» Brooklyn Standard Union, USA, February 27, 1895, lecture

by the Hindu monk, Swami Vivekananda

India gave to the world many gifts. Buddhism and the theory of Non

Violence are best known, but also the essence and message of “Mystic

India”, that there can be Unity in Diversity, that we are a single human

family, capable of living together and loving one another.

Buddhism: the religion that preaches peace, tolerance and nonviolence,

one of the world’s great religions that originated in India. The

whole of the Far East is in India’s debt for Buddhism, which helped to

mould the distinctive civilizations of China, Korea, Japan and Tibet. As

Mr. Hu Shih, former Ambassador of China to the USA, stated: «India

conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever

having to send a single soldier across her border.»

Non Violence: as expressed by The Dalai Lama: “The theory and

practice of Ahimsa, or non-violence, originated in India. Many Indian

leaders of the past worked hard to ameliorate the plight of their people

–on both a local and national level-through the great path of non violence.

The legacy of those great leaders is alive even today. Nowadays, we see

growing interest in non-violence in many parts of the world. And, indeed,

non-violence is India’s gift to the world.”

The influence of Mahatma Gandhi has been felt all over the world,

through the many friends of India in the West who were impressed by his

burning sincerity and energy, and by the ultimate success of his policy of

non-violence in achieving India’s independence. His lesson of leadership

is the greatest lesson the world can learn. His message of non-violence

continues to inspire people and political movements across the globe,

creating change through non violent resistance.«…His life is a legend.

And it is this legend that is Gandhi’s great contribution to today’s

people. Modern people, who see everything around them in ruins, will

once more come close to a utopia, one that they have been convinced

to ignore and mistreat. They will have their trust in the strength of the

human spirit renewed, a strength they have long stopped considering

important. That is where the great Hindu leads us. With the simplest

and most convincing of ways he tells us that which we call a victory

of his people is the most unlikely of triumphs, it is the triumph of the

strength we stopped believing in, it is the triumph of the utopia.» Petros

Haris, Nea Estia magazine, December 1969.


Dimitra Stasinopoulou

Athens, March 2010

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WORLD CIVILIZATIONS, 1996, Richard Hooker, Washington state University

INDIA UNVEILED - Robert Arnet – Atman Press


Top 10 Quotations of Gandhi, by Subhamoy Das

Quotations of RABINDRANATH TAGORE Compilation by Alana Smolowe

SΗANTARAM, by Gregory David Roberts, St Martin’s Press



INDIA EXPOSED, Text and photographs by Clive Limpkin Abbeville press Publishers NY&Ldn

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TO INDIA WITH LOVE FROM N.Y. TO MUMBAI, Waris Ahluwalia,T.Bhojwani, M.Singer, Assouline Press 2009

MOTHER INDIA Chris Drakos & Myrsini Aristidou, ATHENS VOICE BOOKS




INDIA’S CULTURE, Asia Transpacific Journeys

WORLD CIVILIZATIONS, Richard Hooker, 1996, Washington State University

INDIA’S GIFT TO THE WORLD Brooklyn Standard Union, February 27, 1895-Swami Vivekananda, the Hindu monk

INDIA’S GIFT, INDIAN WEEKENDER NEWSPAPER- December 03, 2009-Ram Lingam-India’s gift

INDIA’S SPIRITUAL GIFT TO THE WORLD, Hindustan Times, May 11, 2006 Buddhism: Sujoy Dhar

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THE ART OF HAPPINESS,10TH Ann.Edition, by Dalai Lama and C.Cutler, Riverhead books,publis.by Penguin

LIVE IN A BETTER WAY, Reflections on true love and Happiness, Dalai Lama, Penguin Compass

AN OPEN HEART, Practicing compassion in everyday life, Dalai Lama and Nicholas Vreeland

THE WHITE TIGER, Aravind Adiga, Free Press

INDIA, Lonely Planet Guide

MODERN INDIA: The origins of an Asian democracy, Judith Brown, Oxford University Press

A NEW HISTORY OF INDIA, Stanley Wolpert, Oxford University Press

TIBETAN PORTRAIT, The power of Compassion - Photographs by Phil Borges, Text by the Dalai Lama , Rizzoli

International Publications Inc, 1996 – USA

GHANDI AND TODAY’S WORLD, Petros Haris, NEA ESTIA, Published by ESTIA, Athens, Christmas 1969,Volume 86

INDIA THE MOTHER OF NATIONS, Nina Tsekou, 1992, Stefanos Vasilopoulos Publisher

INDIA OF THE GREEKS, Marios Varetas Publication

MAHATMA GANDHI 1869-1969, NEA ESTIA, Published by ESTIA, Athens, Christmas 1969,Volume 86

INDIA OF THE GREEKS, Marios Varetas Publication, Athens


16 17



“Poverty is the worst form of violence.”

“An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

“Gross utility kills beauty. We now have all over the world huge production of things, huge organizations, and

huge administrations of empire - all obstructing the path of life. Civilization is waiting for a great consummation,

for an expression of its soul in beauty. This must be your contribution to the world.”


Karamchand Gandhi

b. 2 October 1869

d. 30 January 1948

“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction

devised by the ingenuity of man. Non-violence requires a double faith, faith in God and also faith in man.”

“All the religions of the world, while they may differ in other respects,

unitedly proclaim that nothing lives in this world but Truth.”

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

“The tendency in modern civilization is to make the world uniform...

Let the mind be universal. The individual should not be sacrificed.”

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service.

I acted and behold and service was joy.”

“Happiness is not in getting anything but in giving himself up to what is greater than himself,

to ideas which are larger than his individual life, the idea of his country, of humanity, of God.”

Rabindranath Tagore

b. 7 May 1861

d. 7 August 1941

“I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and Non-violence are as old as the hills. All I have done is to try

experiments in both on as vast a scale as I could. My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God.

Non-violence is the means of realizing Him. Non-violence and truth are inseparable and presuppose one another.”

“The most important lesson that man can learn from his life is not that there is pain in this world,

but that it depends upon him to turn it into good account, that is possible for him to transmute it into joy.”

“We come nearest to the great when we are great in humility”.”

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean;

if a few drops of theocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”

“There are seven sins in the world: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character,

Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice and politics without principle.”

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants,

and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always.”

“This is the ultimate end of man, to find the One which is in him,

which is his truth, which is his soul;

the key with which he opens the gate of the spiritual life, the heavenly kingdom”.

“Love’s gift cannot be given, it waits to be accepted.

Love gives beauty to everything that touches”

“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough”

“We must become the change we want to see.”

“Life, like a child, laughs, shaking its rattle of death as it runs”

“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction

is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?”

“This world is inhabited by all kinds of people. They are isolated by land and water, religion, customs, habits.

The minds and hearts of these people are much alike. Under sudden or stressed emotions, they blossom forth or

explode in riots, fights, dance, song, prayer. At such times, they become one mind, one heart. And the world vibrates

with the intensity of their feelings, emotions, angers, laughters. I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides

and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible.

But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.”

“Love does not claim possession, but gives freedom. Not greed and utility;

they produce offices, but not dwelling houses. To be able to love material things, to clothe them with tender grace,

and yet not be attached to them, this is a great service. Providence expects that we should make this world our own,

and not live in it as though it were a rented tenement. We can only make it our own through some service,

and that service is to lend it love and beauty from our soul.”

“Love is the only reality and it is not a mere sentiment.

It is the ultimate truth that lies at the heart of creation.”

THE HIMALAYAS Jammu & Kashmir • Ladakh


distance of 45 km south of Leh. On the way to Hemis, hundreds

Gompa in the 1655, in memory of his father. The Shakyamuni

Potala, in Lhasa. The palace was built in the 17th century and

The Himalayas

Ladakh Valley

Thiksey Monastery

Hemis School Monastery

Lamayaru Monastery

‘The land of high passes’, ‘the land of lamas’, ‘the moon land’,

‘the jewel of the Himalayas’, is the crown of India and forms the

northern province of Jammu and Kashmir. The Trans-Himalayan

zone borders the peaks of the Western Himalaya and the vast

Tibetan Plateau, is also known as ‘Little Tibet”, and ‘the last

Shangri La’. Ladakh is one of the most important places in the

whole of Central Asia. Only after1974 were foreigners permitted

to visit this region. When there, one feels like being in some

ancient town. From times immemorial, it has remained a very

important spot on the Silk Route. It has strategic cultural and

political significance, as it borders with Pakistan, China and the

Central Asian states.

Unlike the rest of Jammu and Kashmir, which is mainly Islamic,

most Ladakhis in Leh District, as well as in Zangskar Valley of

Kargil District, are Buddhists. While most of the people in the

rest of Kargil District are Shia Muslims, there are also minorities

following Hinduism and Sikhism religions. Most Buddhists follow

the tantric form of Buddhism, known as Vajrayana Buddhism.

Ladakhis are generally of Tibetan descent and there are about

3,500 Tibetan refugees in Leh District. There is a large number of

Gompas belonging to ancient and medieval periods. The living

culture of Tibetan Buddhism exists here even today.

The famous monasteries of Ladakh are Hemis, Shey, Thiksey,

Spituk, Stakna, Chemrey, Stock, Taktok, Shankar, Lakeer, Phyang,

Alchi and Lamayuru.

Hemis Gompa: Hemis, the largest monastery in Ladakh, was

built in 1630. It belongs to the red sect, Brokpa, and it lies at a

of white stupas and rock engravings dating back to 11th century,

dot the land. Inside, there is a giant statue of Padmasambhave.

Impressive and intriguing, Hemis is different from the other

important monasteries of Ladakh.

Thiksey Monastery: About 20 kms from Leh, Thiksey is an

imposing monastery and one of the finest examples of Ladakhi

architecture. This Gompa is situated on the top of the hill and

forms a part of the Gelukpa order. The 12-storey monastery

complex contains numerous stupas, statues, thankas, wall

paintings, and a large pillar engraved with the Buddha’s

teachings. There are also sacred shrines and many precious

objects to be seen. In the main prayer hall the Maitreya statue

of the Future Buddha is located, standing at 12 m in height. He

is sitting cross-legged in a lotus position, which is unusual, since

normally he is depicted as sitting in a chair.

Lamayuru Monastery: Spectacularly set, founded in the 10th

century, it is about 125 klm west of Leh. As the legend goes,

Lamayuru was a lake. It was blessed by a Lama, after which the

water of the lake receded up to the mountains, leaving place

for the monastery to be built. Now mostly in ruins, only the

main hall exists and houses numerous tankhas. Lamayuru has

fascinating caves carved out of the mountainside. Also known as

Yung Drung (Swastika), it overlooks the village and valley.

Shey Palace & Shey Gompa: Situated on a hillock, 15 km south

of Leh, this palace was once the residence of the royal family

and was constructed by the first king of Ladakh. According to

the tradition, it was the seat of power of the pre-Tibetan kings,

back in the 10th century. King Deldon Namgyal, constructed the

Buddha’s statue, a two-story high image of the seated Buddha, is

located inside. The image is worked out of copper sheets, gilded

with gold, and is the biggest metal statue and the second largest

Buddha statue in Ladakh. It also contains sacrificial offerings

such as grain, jewels, holy symbols and mantras inside. Stone

carvings and many stupas are scattered around the Dresthang


Alchi Gompa: On the banks of the Indus is the Alchi Gompa,

dating thousand years back. One of its walls features thousands

of miniature sized pictures of the Buddha. Three large sized

images made of clay and painted brightly, are its focal attraction.


Leh is the capital town of the Ladakh region and is one of central

Asia’s most scenic towns. The Indus River flows through this

region. The people speak the Ladakhi language, which comes

from the Tibetan stock, and it has its own script. Ladakhis are

simple, yet beautiful, kind, caring and at the same time very

tough too. If one walk through the Bazaar of Leh, it is wonderful

to see the Ladakhi women in their traditional dresses selling

vegetables. They are fun-loving people and are fond of music

and dance. The majority are followers of Tibetan Buddhism.

Having great respect for Lamas, the Buddhist monks, they offer

one son to the monastery in keeping with the Lama tradition. In

some monasteries there are nuns, known as Chomos.

Leh Palace: The captivating Leh Palace, built for King Singge

Namgyal, rises from the edge of a hill overlooking the town and

stretches out towards the sky. It is a miniature version of the

had nine floors, but it is now dilapidated and deserted. It was the

home of the royal family, until they were exiled to Stok, in 1830.

Above the palace, at the top of the Namgyal hill, is the Victory

Tower, built to commemorate Ladakh’s victory over the Balti

Kashmir armies, in the early 16th century.


This is a large valley formed by the main channel of the Indus

River, as it flows across Ladakh. It includes parts of the Leh

district, the Skardu region and the vast cold desert beyond. This

valley consists of large stretches of undulating lands interspersed

by high mountains, across which, there are many passes.

The Indus Valley is the soul of Ladakh and is strategically the

most important part. It borders with Pakistan, Afghanistan and

China. The mountain ranges in this region were formed over a

period of 45 million years by the folding of the Indian plate into

the more stationary Eurasian Plate. The drift causes frequent

earthquakes in the Himalayan region. The peaks in the Ladakh

range are at a medium altitude close to the Zoji-la (5,000–5,500

m), increasing in altitude towards south-east, reaching a climax

in the twin summits of Nun-Kun (7000 m).

The Indus River is the backbone of Ladakh which is greatly

venerated in Hindu religion and culture. Most major historical

and current towns — Shey, Leh, Basgo, and Tingmosgang, are

situated close to the Indus River. After the Indo-Pakistani War of

1947, the stretch of the Indus flowing through Ladakh is the only

part of this river which still flows through India.

Alchi Monastery

Indus River

Indus River Valley

Leh Town

Leh Palace

Shey Palace

Leh Market



Shey Gompa


Monastery 27

Thiksey Monastery 29

Thiksey Monastery 31


Ladakhi woman, Indus Valley

Alchi Monastery, Ladakh 35

Lamayaru Village, Ladakh 47

Lamayaru Monastery, Ladakh 49


Indus River, Ladakh


Shey Palace - Shey Gompa - Stupas, Ladakh

Indus Valley 53



Tibetan Refugees, Leh

Leh Market 59

Leh Market 61

Leh Victory Tower 63

Leh School 65



Leh, Ladakh 69

Leh Market, Ladakh 71

NORTH INDIA Amritsar • Haridwar • Rishikesh • Dharamsala

Golden Temple, Armitsar

Golden Temple Lake

Communal Food Hall

Jallianwala Bagh, Armitsar

Haridwar Ghats


Amritsar is a city in the northwestern part of India and is the

administrative headquarters of Amritsar district in the state of

Punjab. It is 32 klm east of Lahore, Pakistan and therefore, very

close to India’s western border with Pakistan. Amritsar is home to

Golden Temple, or Harmandir Sahib (1585-1604), the spiritual

and cultural center of the Sikh religion. This important Sikh shrine

attracts more visitors than the Tah Mahal in Agra and is the number

one destination for non-resident-Indians in the whole of India. The

Golden Temple was founded by Guru Ram Das Ji, the 4th guru of the

Sikhs and is surrounded by a large Sarovar (manmade lake), known

as “the Amritsar” (Lake of Holy Water or Immortal Nectar), giving

its name to the city that grew around it. There are four entrances to

the temple, signifying the importance of acceptance and openness,

showing that every religion or faith is allowed to go in to meditate,

or just listen to the prayers for peace. It was mainly intended as a

place of worship for men and women from all walks of life and all

religions, to come and worship God. All pilgrims visiting the Golden

Temple, can eat free lunch or dinner in a communal hall, where up

to ten thousand such meals are prepared daily by volunteers, the

Sikh Guruwapas. Most Sikh people visit Amritsar and the Harmandir

Sahib at least once during their lifetime, particularly during special

occasions, such as birthdays, marriages and birth of children. Sikh

men are never seen in public without their turbans.

Amritsar is world known for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

Brigadier Dyer is known for the orders which he gave on April 13,

1919 in Amritsar. He opened fire on a gathering of unarmed civilians,

including women and children, gathered at the Jallianwalla Bagh

garden in what came to be later known as the Jallianwala Bagh

massacre. The civilians had assembled there to participate in the

annual Baisakhi celebrations, which are both a religious, as well as a

cultural festival of the Punjabis. Not being residents of the city, they

were unaware of the martial law that had been imposed. Upon

entering the park, the General ordered the troops to fire directly

into the assembled gathering. Firing continued until his troops’

supply of ammunition was exhausted. The crowd was not given

any warning to disperse. Figures from government civil servants in

the city cite numbers well over 1000 dead, with more than 1,200

wounded. The Westminster Gazette wrote, «No British action,

during the whole course of our history in India, has struck a severe

blow to Indian faith in British justice, than the massacre at Amritsar,

and the attitude of official Anglo-India to it». The anti-British feeling

among Indians greatly grew as a result of this incident. Gandhi

had returned, only to find the radicals already wide spread and he

commented «We do not want to punish Dyer. We have no desire for

revenge. We want to change the system that produces Dyers». The

Punjab, once the most reliable of the provinces, was no longer so.


The holy city of Haridwar, lies where the Ganges emerges with

torrential force from her mountain wall to flow across the plain

of Uttar Pradesh. It is the first of many sacred cities, including

Rishikesh and Varanasi, that line the Ganges’s path to the Bay of

Bengal, in the East. In the Hindi language, Haridwar stands for “Dwar

of Hari”, or, “Gateway to God”. It is regarded as one of the seven

holiest places for Hindus. According to Hindu scriptures, Haridwar

is one of the four sites where drops of the elixir of immortality,

Amritsa, accidentally spilled over from the pitcher carried away

by the celestial bird Garuda. Thousands of devotees and pilgrims

flock here from all over India, to bathe in the holy waters. This act

is considered to be the equivalent of washing away one’s sins to

attain Moksha. Lord Vishnu is said to have left his footprint on the

stone that is set in the upper wall of Har-Ki-Pauri, where the Holy

river Ganges enters.

Hindu genealogy registers exist at Haridwar. In an ancient custom,

detailed family genealogies of Hindu families for the past several

generations, are kept by professional Hindu Brahmin Pandits,

commonly known as Pandas. These records are updated on each

visit to the city, and are a depository of the vast family trees of

families in North India. For centuries, Hindus have visited the holy

city. These visits were for pilgrimage purposes, cremation of their

dead, or for the immersion of ashes of cremated relatives in the

holy river Ganges, in accordance Hindu religious custom.


Rishikesh or Hrishikesh, is another holy city for Hindus, a famous

centre of pilgrimage, and is the name of Vishnu, that means “Lord

of the senses”. It is also known as the gateway to the Himalayas.

Historically, Hrishikesh, has been a part of the legendary

‘Kedarkhand’ (the present day Garhwal), the abode of Shiva.

Legends state that Lord Rama did penance here for killing Ravana,

the demon king of Lanka. Lord Rama meditated on the bank of

the River Ganges, but the flowing water of the river was disturbing

him, so out of rage, Lakshmana, Rama’s brother, shot an arrow in

the river where the Bridge stands today. On the western bank of

the bridge stands a Lakshmana temple, and on the eastern bank a

temple dedicated to Lord Rama.

It is here that the sacred river Ganges leaves the Shivalik mountains

in the Himalayas, and flows out into the plains of northern India.

Several temples can be found along the banks of the Ganges. The

city attracts thousands of pilgrims and tourists each year and is

sometimes called «the world capital of Yoga» for its numerous

yoga centers. It is believed that meditation here brings one closer

to attainment of moksha, as does bathing in the holy river that

flows through it. It is also home to the 120-year old Kailas Ashram

Brahmavidyapeetham, an institution dedicated to preserve and

promote the traditional Vedantic Studies.

In February 1968, the Beatles visited the now closed Maharishi

Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in Rishikesh. John Lennon even recorded

a song here titled, ‘The Happy Hrishikesh Song’. The Beatles

composed nearly 48 songs during their time at the Maharishi’s

ashram, many of which appear on the White Album.


Dharamsala is a beautiful city in the upper reaches of the Kangra

Valley, divided into three parts – Upper Dharamsala, called McLeod

Ganj, the middle and the lower one. In common Hindi usage, the

word dharamshala refers to a “shelter” or a “rest house” for spiritual

pilgrims. Dharamsala has been connected with Hinduism and

Buddhism for a long time. Many monasteries have been established

there in the past by the Tibetan immigrants in the 19th century.

The town of McLeod Ganj, in Upper Dharamsala, is known

worldwide for the teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama that

take place every year. It is also his residence and is memorably

called “Little Lhasa”, after the Tibetan capital.

Dharamsala is the closest one can get to Tibet while still in India.

The Tibetan settlement began in 1959, when His Holiness the Dalai

Lama fled Tibet and the Prime Minister of India allowed him and

his people to settle there and establish the «government-in-exile»

in 1960. Several thousand Tibetans in exile have now settled in the

area. With H.H. own words “… for those of us in exile, I said that our

priority must be resettlement and the continuity of our cultural

traditions. As to the future, I stated my belief that, with Truth,

Justice and Courage as our weapons, we Tibetans would eventually

prevail in regaining freedom for Tibet”. In 1970, The Dalai Lama

opened the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, which houses

over 80,000 manuscripts and other important resources related

to Tibetan history, politics and culture. It is considered one of the

most important institutions for Tibetology in the world. The exiled

Tibetans have also built monasteries, temples, schools, the famous

Tibetan Cultural Institute and orphanage houses.

The town is also known for the world famous soldiers the Gurkhas,

the so-called ‘Bravest of the Brave’. The 21st Gurkha Regiment

performed heroic feats during World War I and II, when the

battalions from Dharamsala made history. They not only made

a major contribution to India’s defense, but many of them were

freedom fighters for the Indian National Army.

Ganges River, Rishikesh

Hindu Temple, Rishikesh

Rishikesh Town

Upper Dharamsala

Dharamsala Temple

Haridwar Ghats

Orphanage, Dharamsala


The Golden Temple


Sacred Tank (Amritsa), Golden Temple 77


The Golden Temple, Armitsar

Communal Food Hall, Golden Temple, Amritsar 81


Communal Food Hall, Golden Temple, Amritsar


Communal Food Hall, Golden Temple, Amritsar


Sikhs, Amritsar


Jallianwala Bagh Monument


India - Pakistan Attari Border Ceremony


Bathing Ghats, Haridwar 95

Bathing Ghats, Haridwar 97

Haridwar Ghats 99


Lakshman Jhula Bridge



Night Puja, Ganges, Rishikesh



Color Festival, Rishikesh 107

Color Festival, Rishiskesh 109

Ganges River, Rishikesh 111

Pilgrims, Rishikesh 113

Sadhus, Rishikesh 115

Sadhus, Rishikesh 117




Tibetans, Dharamsala 123

Tibetan Orphanage School, Dharamsala 125

Tibetan Orphanage School, Dharamsala 127

Tibetan Orphanage, Dharamsala 129

Tibetan Artists, Norbulingka Institute, Dharamsala 133

Rock Garden, Chandigarh 135

RAJASTHAN Jaipur • Udaipur • Pushkar • Deogarh • Ranakpur



Udaipur has the prestige of housing the best miniature

schools in the country. Being a mountainous region and


Rajasthani Women

The City Palace, Udaipur

Rajasthan, the land of Kings, the land of chivalry, romance,

bravery, art and architecture, is the home of the Rajputs, the

warrior clans, who had ruled this region for many years and

who are proud of their martial reputation and heroic past.

According to the Hindu Mythology, the Rajputs of Rajasthan

were the descendants of the Kshatriyas, the warriors of Vedic

India period.

The Indus Valley civilization, one of the world’s first and

oldest, was located in a part of what is now Rajasthan. Rajputs

resisted against the Islamic invasions and protected this land

Jaipur or The Pink City, is the capital of Rajasthan state and

the former capital of the princely state of Jaipur. It was

founded in 1727 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, the ruler of

Amber, the region’s previous capital. The city is remarkable

among pre-modern Indian cities for the width and regularity

of its streets. The Palace quarter encloses a sprawling palace

complex (known as the Hawa Mahal, or Palace of Winds), formal

gardens, and a small lake. Nahargarh Fort crowns the hill in

the northwest corner of the old city.

Another noteworthy building is Sawai Jai Singh’s astronomical

unsuitable for heavily armored Mughal horses, Udaipur

remained untouched from Mughal influence, in spite of

much pressure.

This fierce sense of independence earned them the highest

gun salute in Rajasthan. Udaipur is referred to as the «Venice

of the East», the «Most Romantic City of India» and the

«Kashmir of Rajasthan».


Deogarh village is situated on the right bank of the river

Betwa, on the western end of the Lalitpur range of hills.

The chief of Deogarh, known as ‘The Rawat’, was one of

sixteen feudal barons entitled to wait upon the Maharani of

Udaipur, the capital of Mewar. These type of feudal estates,

called ‘Thikanas’, were awarded by the ruling Maharani to

a nobleman, either due to blood relationship, or for an act

of valor. Deogarh is also famous for its school of miniature


Rajasthani Dancer

Pushkar Lake

Amber Fort, Jaipur

Palace of Winds, Jaipur

Astronomical Observatory

with their warfare and chivalry for more than 500 years. Later

the Mughals were able to set firm grip on northern India, but

the fighting spirit and valor of the Rajputs impressed them to

such an extent, that they started treating their Rajput aides as

the backbone of their Kingdom. Even after their defeat, the

Mughals held Rajput valor and value in the highest esteem.

It is a place of glory and splendor, with its vibrant traditions,

awe-inspiring monuments, and vigorous customs. The Rajputs

were excellent builders and have dotted the landscape with

their legacy and with some of the most imposing forts and

palaces in the world. Today, the structures defy time, and tell

a story of gallantry, courage and tragedy of a bygone era, a

story of survival in the harsh Thar Desert.

The state gained its independence in 1949, with the town of

Jaipur, as its capital. It is often portrayed as one vast open-air

museum. The dance, music & art forms have been consciously

cultivated and patronized by the royal courts. Rajasthan is also

home to some of India’s most romantic cities.

observatory, named Jantar Mantar. Sawai Jai Singh was a

mathematician, an astronomer, an astrologer, and a great

musician of his era. He built five observatories throughout

India: in Jaipur, Ujjain, Varanasi, Mathura and Delhi but only

the one at Jaipur is functional. In 1853, when the Prince of

Wales visited Jaipur, the whole city was painted pink to

welcome him. Today, avenues remain painted in pink and

provide a distinctive appearance to the city.


Udaipur, The City of Lakes, is the historic capital of the former

Kingdom of Mewar, and the administrative headquarters of

Udaipur District, known for its Rajput-era palaces. The Lake

Palace, which covers an entire island in the Pichola Lake, as

well as the City Palace, the richest palace museum in the

entire Rajasthan and stands on the east bank of Lake Pichola,

are of particular fame. City Palace is actually a massive series

of palaces, built at different times from 1559.

Pushkar is one of the oldest cities of India, and lies on the

shore of Pushkar Lake. It is a sanctified spot and one of the

five pilgrimage sites for devout Hindus. It is considered as old

as creation, and has been a place of pilgrimage for the Hindus,

since time immemorial. It has five principal temples, among

which, one dedicated to Brahma, the Hindu God of Creation.

Today, there are very few temples dedicated to Lord Brahma

anywhere in the world. The date of its actual founding is not

known, but legend associates Lord Brahma with its creation.

Pushkar means, born due to a flower. Hindus believe that the

gods released a swan with a lotus in its beak and let it fall on

earth, where Brahma would perform a ritual. The place where

the lotus fell was called Pushkar. The lake has 52 ghats, where

pilgrims descend to bathe in the sacred waters. Pushkar is

world famous for its cattle fair (especially camels), one of the

world’s largest, held there each year. Men buy and sell their

livestock, which includes camels, cows, sheep and goats. The

women set up their stalls, full of bracelets, textiles and fabrics.


Ranakpur is located between Jodhpur and Udaipur. It is widely

known for its marble Jain temple, which was nominated as

one of the top Seven Wonders of the World and is dedicated

to Adinatha. It is also known for a much older Sun Temple,

which lies opposite the former.

The dating of this temple is considered to be around the

15th century. Over 1444 marble pillars, all differently carved

in exquisite detail, support the temple. There is one beautiful

carving, made out of a single marble rock, with 108 heads of

snakes and numerous tails. The image faces all four cardinal

directions, north south , east and west. The temple is designed

as caumukha, with four faces. The construction of the temple

and the quadrupled image, symbolizes the Tirthankara’s

conquest of the four cardinal directions and, hence, it

symbolizes the cosmos.

Pushkar Cattle Fair

Deogarh Mahal

Jain Temple, Ranankpur

The City Palace, Udaipur

Jain Temple, Ranankpur



Amber Fort, Jaipur 141

Amber Fort, Jaipur 119

Amber Fort, Jaipur 121

Amber Fort, Jaipur 123


Amber Palace, Jaipur

Handicraft Artists, Jaipur 127

City Palace, Jaipur 129

Jantar Mantar, Astronomical Observatory, Jaipur 155



City Palace, Udaipur


Lake Pichola, City Palace - Lake Palace



Camel Fair, Pushkar

Camel Fair, Pushkar 167

Camel Fair, Pushkar 169

Camel Fair, Pushkar 173

Camel Fair, Pushkar 175


Camel Fair, Pushkar

Camel Fair, Pushkar 179

Camel Fair, Pushkar 181

Pushkar Lake 183


Deogarth Village 187


Deogarth Village

Deogarh 191

Train, Deogarh 195


Jain Temple



Jain Temple, Ranakpur





and it was called Agreva, or ‘the border of the forest’. Legend

Jahān’s time, and reworked extensively with marble and pietra

the names of the two rivers Varuna and Assi, for it lies between

Gate of India, Delhi

The Red Fort, Delhi

Jama Masjid Mosque, Delhi

Taj Mahal Entrance, Agra

The Taj Mahal, Agra

Located on the banks of the river Yamuna, Delhi, the capital

of India, is divided into the ancient city of Old Delhi and the

modern city of New Delhi, planned by leading 20th century

British architect Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker. The legacy

of the past survives in the city’s many monuments, each a

chronicle of the glory of its time. The Red Fort, the Humayun’s

Tomb, the Cutab Minar, the Jama Masjid Mosque and the

impressive government buildings, typify the soul of the

country. In time, the city conceals within its bosom the history

of civilizations that flourished for more than three thousand

years. According to legends, the city was founded in the times

of the epic Mahabharata, about 1500 BC and it was located near

the Old Fort. Since those early days, many dynasties and rulers

flourished on its soil. Today, the city is a blend of the modern and

the traditional with skyscrapers, beautiful gardens and wide,

tree-lined avenues, showing the Mughal passion of landscaping

and architectural excellence. More important, however, is that

Delhi blends within its folds the great cultural variety of India.

Hinduism is the religion of 82% of Delhi’s population. There are

also large communities of Muslims (11.7%), Sikhs (4.0%), Jains

(1.1%) and Christians (0.9%). Other minorities include Parsis,

Buddhists and Jews. Hindi is the principal spoken language

while English is the principal written language of the city.


describes the founding of the city to Rājā Badal Singh (around

1475), who’s fort, Badalgarh, stood on or near the site of the

present Fort. It achieved fame as the capital of the Mughal

emperors from 1526 to 1658 and remains a major tourist

destination because of its many splendid Mughal-era buildings.

The most notable are the Tāj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpūr

Sikrī, all three are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Taj Mahal stands as an ultimate Mughal extravagance and

sophistication. It is described by R.Tagore as “a tear in the face

if eternity”, but its appeal lies in the knowledge that it was built

for love. It is one of the most famous buildings in the world.

Completed in 1652, this mausoleum was built by the Mughal

King Shāh Jahān as the final resting place for his beloved wife,

Mumtāz Mahal. Finished in marble, it is perhaps India’s most

fascinating and beautiful monument. This perfectly symmetrical

monument that took 22 years of hard labor and 20,000 workers,

masons and jewelers to build, is set amidst landscaped gardens

and was planned by the Persian architect Ustad Isa. It is an

acknowledged masterpiece of symmetry and is also noted

particularly for its elegant domes, intricately carved screens and

some of the best inlay work ever seen anywhere in the world,

incorporating semi-precious stones. Verses of the Koran are

inscribed on it and at the top of the gate there are twenty-two

small domes, signifying the number of years the monument

took to build.

Agra Fort (sometimes called the Red Fort), was commissioned

dura inlay having a total perimeter of 2.4 kilometers. The fort

is a typical example of Mughal architecture, showing how the

North Indian style of fort construction, differentiated from

that of the South.

Fatehpur Sikri: It was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar as

his capital, in the the 2nd half of the 16th century, about 35

km from Agra Later abandoned, the site displays a number

of buildings with historical significance. Fatehpur Sikri was

built by Akbar after Jodhabai, his beloved Hindu wife, blessed

by the famous Sufi Saint Salim Christi, gave birth to the long

awaited son.


Varanasi, also commonly known as Benares and Kashi, is

situated on the west bank of the River Ganges, in Uttar Pradesh

and is regarded as a holy pilgrimage site by Hindus, Buddhists

and Jains. It is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in

the world. American writer Mark Twain wrote: «Benares is older

than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and

looks twice as old as all of them put together”.

The city’s culture is closely associated with the River Ganges

and its religious importance to the Hindu people. People often

refer to it as «the city of temples», «the holy city of India»,

«the religious capital of India», «the city of lights», «the city of

the confluence of Varuna with the Ganges being to its north,

and that of Assi and the Ganges to its south.

According to legend, the city was founded by the Hindu deity,

Lord Shiva, around 5,000 years ago, thus making it one of the

most important pilgrimage destinations in the country. It is one

of the seven sacred cities for the Hindus. It has many temples

along its banks and attracts about 1,000,000 Hindu pilgrims

each year, who regard Ganges itself as Goddess. Most of the

100 Ghats, that are steps leading to the river, are bathing Ghats,

while others are used as cremation sites. Hindus believe that

bathing in the Ganges absolves sins and that dying in Varanasi

ensures release of a person’s soul from the cycle of reincarnation.

Varanasi is one of the holiest places in Buddhism too, being one

of the four pilgrimage sites said to have been designated by

Buddha himself.

In the residential neighborhood of Varanasi lies Sarnath, the site

of the deer park where Gautama Buddha is said to have given

his first sermon about the basic principles of Buddhism.

Sadhus: Holy men who renounce all worldly goods, comforts

and sex, in a lifelong bid to find enlightenment and gain

moksha (liberation from the eternal circle of reincarnation).

There may be five million Sadhus in India. Some of them live

in Ashrams, temples forests or caves, while others spend their

lives roaming the subcontinent on foot or rail. All of them

survive on donations and goodwill. The sadhu is not to be

Fatehpur Sikri, Agra

Ganges River, Varanasi

Night prayers, Varanasi

Sarnath, Varanasi

Shadu, Holy Man

by the great Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1565. It had been

learning» and the «culture capital of India». Many Hindus believe

confused with the Indian guru. Viewed more as teachers or

On the banks of Yamuna River, in the State of Uttar Pradesh, is

built before 1000 AD, but it was later renovated by Akbar. The

that Varanasi is the ‘Center of Universe’, and it is called “Universal

mentors, gurus can come from any walk of life and they are

the famous city of Agra. It is mentioned in the epic Mahābhārata

red sandstone fort was converted into a palace during Shāh

Capital Benares”. The name Varanasi has its origin possibly from

always at hand to offer advice on any conceivable subject.

Agra Fort

Varanasi Ghats


Presidential Palace



Red Fort - Humayun’s Tomb - Cutab Minar, Delhi


Henna artwork (mehndi) symbolizing the love between husband & wife

Wedding Ceremony, Delhi 209


Arts & Crafts Museum, Delhi

Arts & Crafts Museum, Delhi 213




Sikhs, Bangla Sahib Temple, Old Delhi


Communal Food Hall, Bangla Sahib Temple, Old Delhi

Jama Masjid Mosque, Old Delhi 223


Jama Masjid Mosque, Old Delhi

Jama Masjid Mosque, Old Delhi 229


Central Railway Station, Delhi


Central Railway Station, Delhi


The Taj Mahal


Agra 237

Agra Fort 239

Agra Fort 241

Agra 243


Taj Mahal, Agra


Palace Complex, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra


Bathing Ghats, Varanasi 251

Ganges River, Varanasi 253

Bathing in the Ganges, Varanasi 255


Bathing Ghats, Varanasi


Bathing Ghats, Varanasi


Shadus, Varanasi

Varanasi 267


Aarti - Night Puja, Varanasi

Diya lamps, Varanasi 271

272 Street Sellers, Varanasi

Varanasi 273

Sarnath, Varanasi 275



images carved into them. Designed by Frederick William

dabbawallah)from each house, color-code the office addresses

famous for their architecture. Feast and festivals, traditional

Stevens and decorated by local art students and craftsmen,

onto the lids, thread them on to long poles and cycle off to

folk arts and music is a way of life for the hospitable people

Mumbai Port

Gateway of India, Mumbai

Victoria Terminus, Mumbai

Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is a cluster of seven islands and

derives its name from Mumbadevi, the patron goddess of

the Koli fishermen, its oldest inhabitants. Once a Portuguese

princess’ dowry, who named the city “Bom Bahia” or “Good

Bay”, and later an adornment of neo-gothic British architecture,

Mumbai is more than a metropolis. It is in fact a mix of mud

huts and sky- scrapers, age old traditions and high fashions,

the industrialists’ heaven and movie makers’ Bollywood. A

lovely natural harbor and winding creek set off the city of

Mumbai from the long, narrow coast of Western India. Mumbai

pulsates with activity. It is a city that is disciplined by no time

frame-neither by day nor night. Mumbai is also the country’s

financial powerhouse, the nation’s industrial and economic

heart. The city has numerous famous landmarks including

the Gateway of India, Haji Ali’s Mosque, Mani Bhavan Gandhi

Museum, and India’s most beautiful railway station Chhatrapati

Shivaji Terminus or Victoria Terminus, a masterpiece of Gothic

architecture and stained-glass windows.

it was completed in 1888 and named to commemorate

Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Now it is the headquarter

of the Central Railway with over 1,000 trains and two million

passengers passing through the station daily. In 2004 it was

declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Dharavi Slum, the largest slum in Mumbai and in all of Asia,

is a micro-cosmos of Mumbai life with more than 1,000,000

inhabitants. Established in 1933, it incorporates 1.7 sq. km

sandwiched between Mumbai’s two railway lines. While it may

look a bit shambled from the outside, the maze of alleys and

streets of this city within the city are actually a collection of

various settlements. In each part of the slum inhabitants from

different parts of India, and with different trades, have set up

homes and various factories, such as potters, Muslim tanners,

embroidery workers, metal-smiths, workers recycling plastics.

Some of these industries even export their wares, making the

annual turnover of business from Dharavi US$650 million.

the nearest station. Here the dabbas are handed over to other

dabbawalls, who deliver them to the right offices, while empty

dabbas are delivered back home by late afternoon. This is one

of Mumbai’s most efficient services.

The Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat: This is a 136-years old dhobi

ghat (place where clothes are washed) where two hundred

dhobi families live and work. Workers here beat laundry in

a series of 1026 open air concrete wash pens, immerse it in

giant vats of boiling starch, hang it to dry, and finally press

the garments with wood-burning stones before delivering it

for a few rupees. It is the oldest and biggest human powered

washing machine.

Elephanta Island, also called Gharapuri Island or place of

caves, is one of a number of islands six miles southeast of

the coast of Mumbai. Known in ancient times as Gharapuri,

the present name Elephanta, was given by 17th century

Portuguese explorers, after seeing a monolithic basalt

who live here. Goa’s distinct culture is a legacy of its colonial

past. Goa, the ancient Gomanchala of Vedic fame, was liberated

from the Portuguese after nearly 451 years of colonial rule

and was annexed to India in 1961. As a result of this dichotomy

in its history, Goa is an exotic mix of both eastern and western

cultural influences.

Panaji, is one of the most beautiful towns in India, a town

of pastel shades and narrow streets. In old Goa, there are

two World Heritage Sites, the Bom Jesus Basilica and a few

designated convents. The Basilica holds the mortal remains

of St Francis Xavier, regarded by many Catholics as the patron

saint of Goa. Vasco de Gama is Goa’s largest city while the

historic city of Margao still exhibits the cultural influence of

the Portuguese, who first landed in the early 16th century as

merchants, and conquered it soon thereafter.

Goa’s known history stretches back to the third century BC,

when it formed part of the Empire ruled by the Buddhist

The Dabbawallas, Mumbai

Dhobi Ghat, Mumbai

Elephanta Island Caves

Dharavi Slum, Mumbai

The Gateway of India: Mumbai’s most famous landmark,

was the first sight to greet travellers to Indian shores during

the British Raj. It also became the exit point for British

troops after India gained independence in 1947. It was

built to commerorate the visit of King George V and Queen

Mary in 1911 and it was designed by the British architect

George Wittet.

Versova Village & Fish market: It’s a fishermen village in the

suburb of Mumbai facing the Arabic Sea. A large population

of Mumbai’s fishing community, the Kolis, resides there. The

fishermen bring in their catch twice a day and a wholesale fish

market is set up by the sharp tongued Koli fishwives. These

fisherwomen, colorfully dressed, sort the catch unloaded from

the fishing boats at the quay and sell the fish. The fish that dry

in the sun are bombil, the fish used in the dish Bombay duck.

sculpture of an elephant found near the entrance. The

Elephanta Caves, dating back to the 7th century, are a

complex of Shiva temple caves and was made a UNESCO

World Heritage Site in 1987. The worship of Shiva inspired the

building of these temples. The carving of the 18 foot tall 6th

century Lord Shiva, in his trinity of manifestations, is especially


emperor, Ashoka. Buddhist monks laid the foundation of

Buddhism in Goa. In 1510, the Portuguese defeated the

ruling Bijapur kings, leading to the establishment of a

permanent settlement in Old Goa. The Portuguese converted

a large portion of their subjects in Goa to Christianity. The

repeated wars of the Portuguese with the Marathas and

the Deccan sultanate, along with the repressive religious

policies of Portuguese, led to large migrations of Goans to

Goa beach

Versova Fishing boats

Victoria Terminus (renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus): A

The Dabbawallahs of Mumbai: There are men who pick up


neighboring areas.

Panaji, Goa

masterpiece of Gothic architecture and stained-glass windows,

this is India’s most beautiful railway station. It has towering

spires, domed arches and buttresses and pillars of animal

freshly cooked lunches from over 100,000 suburban homes

and deliver them to offices all over the city. They pick up

the meals packed in Tiffin boxes (or dabbas hence the name

Goa is a tiny, emerald land on the West Coast of India, with

natural scenic beauty and attractive beaches. It’s temples are

Koli Women, Mumbai

Women of Goa


Taj Mahal Hotel - Gate of India


Mumbai 281


Mani Braven Gandhi Museum

Dharavi Slum, Mumbai 285

Dharavi Slum, Mumbai 287

Dharavi Slum, Mumbai 289

Dharavi Slum, Mumbai 291


Street Seller, Mumbai

Dharavi Slum, Mumbai 295

Dharavi Slum, Mumbai 297


Slum, Banganga Tank Area, Mumbai

Dharavi Slum, Mumbai 303

Mahalahmi Dhobi Ghat, Mumbai 305

Mahalahmi Dhobi Ghat, Mumbai 307

Mahalahmi Dhobi Ghat, Mumbai 309

Versova Beach, Mumbai 311

Versova Fishing Boats 313

Versova Fishing Boats 315

Versova Fishing Boats 317

Versova Fish Market, Mumbai 319

320 Elephanta Caves

Versova Fish Market 321

Koli Fishermen, Versova 323

Versova Fishing Village 325


Versova Fishing Village

Versova Fishing Village 329


Versova Fishing Village


Crawford Market, Mumbai


Thieve’s Market, Mumbai

Crawford Market, Mumbai 337


342 Elephanta Island Caves

Bonnet Macaques, Elephanta Caves 343

344 Elephanta Caves

Lord Shiva’s Trinity Manifestation 345


Goa 349

Spices Plantation, Goa 351

Street Sellers, Panaji, Goa 353

Panaji School, Goa 355

Margao Market, Goa 357

Goa 359

THE SOUTH Tamil Nadu • Kerala


Prior to the Christian era, the Cheras, Cholas and Pandias ruled

Tamil Country. This was the golden period of Tamil literature, the

At the end of the day all usable remains are taken home for family


Coconut water and the milk produced from the coconut fruit are

both popular drinks, while the husk fiber is converted to coir for

Kerala, Backwaters

Garupa Detail, Madurai

Sri Meenakshi Temple

Devotee, Madurai

Street Market, Madurai

South India is a region of vast cultural wealth and lush beauty

where the Dravidian culture flourished, without the cultural

invasions that characterize northern India. It has an important

place in the history of India, since the trade along this spice route,

was one of the most influential commercial activities in history,

and directly affected the course of world events. The colonization

of America, as well as the Indian subcontinent, was largely a result

of the European attempts to find sea routes to the East. Columbus’

desire to find an Atlantic sea route to the East Indies, led him

to America. The British East India Company, formed in 1600 to

compete with the Dutch spice trade, resulted in the colonization

of the Indian subcontinent. Pepper, or ‘Black Gold’ as it was

known, was exported from this coastal city to Greece as far back

as the fourth century BC, but the real flood of trade began in the

first century AD.


Perched in the Southern most part of the Indian Peninsula, the

state of Tamil Nadu is situated between Bay of Bengal in the

east and Indian Ocean in the south. It is blessed with all the

geographical landforms, ranging from beaches and hill stations,

to forests and plains. The Tamils were, and are still considered, the

best creators of temples and monuments.

The history of Tamil Nadu is very old and it is believed that

human endeavors to inhabit this area began as early as 300, 000

years ago. It is also suggested that the first Dravidians of Tamil

country were part of the early Indus Valley settlers and moved

south during the advent of Aryans around 1500 BC. The proximity

Sangham Age. Dravidian, the language still dominant in South

India, is a unique mode of communication, quite distinct from the

Indo-European, Indo-Aryan languages of North India.


Madurai or the «City of Nectar», the “Athens of South India”,

is the oldest and second largest city of Tamil Nadu. This city is

located on Vaigai River. Dating about 2500 years back in time, it

is one of southern India’s oldest cities, and has been a centre of

learning and pilgrimage for centuries. It is also the home of one

of the most sacred temple towns of India, the Meenakshi Temple,

around which the city evolved. In 300 BC, Megasthenis, the Greek

historian, wrote about Madurai that the city was a delight for

visiting Greek traders.

Sri Meenakshi Temple: The complex is huge and the construction

dates back to more than 2000 years, it was funded by contributions

from many dynasties that once ruled over Madurai. There are four

gigantic gateways enclosing two shrines, that contains splendid

art and sculpture works. Undoubtedly one of the most important

features of the temple is the thousand-pillared hall in which each

pillar has a big and brilliant statue sculpted on it, telling the story

of the beautiful princess of Madurai and her marriage to Lord

Siva. These 985 richly carved pillars are decorated with scenes

from the wedding and each one surpasses the other in beauty.

They are entirely covered in thousands of stucco figures of deities,

mythical animals and monsters and painted in vivid colors.

Market trading is available to anyone, while the absence of


The State of Kerala or “God’s Own Country”, is famous for its

heritage and culture, and for its festivals which are celebrated

here since ancient times. When humans first migrated from Africa

70,000 years ago, some settled on the lush Kerala coast. Waves

of migrants from North India added to the mix. Later Greek and

Roman traders made their way to the coast, at the port of Muziris,

the most important of 20 ports on the west coast of India. The

Periplus, a Greek merchant’s guide to the Indian trade from

the 1st century BC, notes these ports. All along its coast, exotic

backwaters (chains of lagoons and lakes), canals and inlets create

an intricate maze that stretches for 1900 km across the land, lying

parallel to the Arabian Sea coast, known as the Malabar Coast. The

network includes five large lakes linked by canals, man-made and

natural, fed by 38 rivers that flow down from the Western Ghats

range. Kerala’s most distinctive feature is probably its matrilineal

society. Unique to South Asia, property in Kerala is passed from

mother to daughter. Kerala also has the highest literacy rate in

India, about 90%.

The Keralan Rice Boats are a reworked model of Kettuvallams

which, in earlier times, were used to carry rice and spices to the

Cochin port (in the Malayalam language, Kettu means “tied with

ropes”, and vallam means “boat”. It was the important mode of

transportation in coastal Kerala, because of its accessibility to the

most remote areas.

rope and matting. In Sanskrit the Coconut palm is called “The tree

providing all life’s necessities”.

The port of Cochin or Kochi at the lake’s outlet to the Arabian

Sea, is situated on one of the world’s finest natural harbors. At

the entrance of the harbor you can see the shore-based Chinese

fishing nets, (from the Court of Kublai Khan 1.400 AD). It was built

in British, Dutch and Portuguese styles reflecting the architectural

planning of the colonists. The Church of St. Francis, where Vasco

de Gama was buried in 1524, is also located here.

Kathakali Dance Performance is considered to be one of the

oldest theater forms in the world. It is a dance drama with colorful

makeup, elaborate costumes, detailed gestures and well-defined

body movements presented in tune with the music. It originated

in the state of Kerala during the 17th century AD and tells the

stories of the Hindu gods, Rama and Krishna. The actors never

speak, but only use hand gestures, expressions and rhythmic

dancing to tell the story. Their intensive training can often last for

10 years.

Kalady is a village located east of the Periyar River, near

Cochin. Notably, it’s the birthplace of the Indian philosopher

Sri Adi Sankara (788- 820 AD). Sri Adi Sankara Keerthi Sthampa

Mandapam is an eight-story memorial signifying the love of an

innocent child for his beloved mother and the blessings of Lord

Krishna. This shrine is open to all pilgrims, irrespective of religion

and caste. Legend holds that one day, the widowed mother of

Little Sankara, fainted after walking three kilometers for her daily

bath in the Periyar river. Feeling helpless, the boy prayed to Lord

Krishna. His tears moved Krishna, who blessed him thus: «the

Backwaters Village, Kerala

Fort Cochin, Kerala

Coconut Trees, Kerala

Chinese Fishing Nets

Kathakali Actor

to the sea established the Tamil Country on the maritime map of

price tags provides the opportunity to charge different price to

Coconut Palm: Important for the Indian economy, serving many

river will flow where your little feet are”. The river began flowing

the world even before the dawn of Christian era. The Tamils were

friends, gurus, strangers, village elders etc. Stock is constantly

functions. Palm fronds are used for thatching and weaving. White

through little Sankara’s garden and he installed Lord Krishna into

bonded through trade links with ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome.

rearranged to give the impression of freshness and abundance.

coconut meat can be eaten raw, and is often used in cooking oil.

the present temple.

Madurai Slum

Kettuvallams, Kerala


Garupa detail, Temple Gateway


Offerings, Sri Meenakshi Temple 365

Sri Meenakshi Temple 367

Sri Meenakshi Temple, Pillar Hall 369


Sri Meenakshi Temple, Madurai

Sri Meenakshi Temple, Madurai 373


Sri Meenakshi Temple, Madurai

Street Tailors 377

Madurai 381

Mariamman Teppakulam, Temple Tank, Madurai 383




Flower Market, Madurai

Madurai Slum 389

Madurai Market 391



Madurai Slum 397

Madurai Street Market 399

Madurai Street Market 401

Madurai Market 407

Madurai Town 409

Madurai School 411


Madurai School

Church School, Madurai 415


Madurai Street


Kerala Backwaters 421

Kerala Backwaters 423

Kerala Backwaters 425

426 Making rope out of coconuts

Kerala Backwaters Village 427

Kerala Backwaters Village 429

Keralan Rice Boats - Kettuvalams 431


Chinese Fishing Nets

Rice fields, Kerala 433

Fort Cochin, Kerala 435


Cochin Harbor, Kerala


Chinese Fishing Nets, Cochin Harbor

Kathakali Dance Performance, Cochin 441

Kalady Temple 443

Bonnet Macaquas, Kerala 445


Tea Plantation, Kerala



THE NATIONAL FLAG OF INDIA is in tricolour. The saffron stands for courage, sacrifice

and the spirit of unity; the white, for purity and truth; the green for faith and fertility. In

the centre of the white band, there is a wheel in navy blue to indicate the Dharma Chakra,

the Wheel of Law in the Sarnath Lion Capital, dating back to 200th century BC and to

show that there is life in movement and death in stagnation.The design of the National

Flag of India was adopted by Indiaʼs Constitutional Assembly on 22nd July, 1947, and it

symbolizes freedom.












Wikipedia: attribution=PHGCOM


It was written in the middle of the 1st century AD describes navigation and trading opportunities

from Egypt along the coast of the Red Sea, and others along Northeast Africa and

India. The author was an unknown Greek living in Egypt. Periplus was unique in providing accurate

insights into what the ancient world knew about the lands around the Indian Ocean.

Although Erythraean Sea literally means “Red Sea”, to the Greeks it included the Indian Ocean

and the Persian Gulf.







The dots in this map represent the sites

where the photographs of the book

“India, Unity in diversity” were taken.

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