India is a vast country with unique geographical diversity and this diversity has led to cultural diversity. Adding to this is rich heritage of being a land of the confluence of people – from the Dravidians to our European colonial masters. India had accepted all with warm hearts and assimilated them into herself. Such is the variety that India is often called a sub-continent. In every respect, it is one – be it culture, biodiversity or geographical features. Here we are discussing some of the best cultural hot spots of India – showcasing its Unity in Diversity.
Tiruchirappalli, Madurai, Tamil Nadu
Madurai, a city dating back to the Sangam age is a rich cultural hot spot in India, especially Tamil Nadu. The city takes its name from the word “madhura” which means “sweetness”. It is also known as the Thoonga Nagaram, meaning “city that never sleeps”. This 2500years old city finds its place in Megasthenes, ancient Greek history. Not only the city but its nearby areas Tiruchirappalli and Thanjavur boasts of unique traditions and culture. Here one will find temples dating back to the 17th and 18th century like the Meenakshi Temple which is a must visit tourist destination in Madurai, Brihadeswarar temple in Thanjapur. Apart from these temples, one can see the great Maratha Palace in Thanjavur. A unique culture of this region is the Tanjore paintings. An interesting feature is the Rock Fort Temple in Tiruchirappalli which overlooks the city. Madurai is well known for their Jallikattu (bull taming) festival during Pongal and Chittrai festival (marking the arrival of Lord Vishnu on the wedding of Meenakshi and Lord Shiva)
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Known as the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, Varanasi or Banaras showcasing a cultural heritage rarely visible in any other city in the world. The city is a blend of colors and showcases the confluence of different kinds of people. It is considered to be a holy place for in Hindu religion. The city is bustling with people from all walks of life priests, travelers, foreigners, students, shop owners, businessmen everyone. The city has a range of temples and lined with Ghats along the river, which is used for a variety of purposes – from religious purposes to burning Ghats. The life cycle begins and ends here – both life and death live side by side here. A unique tradition which attracts thousands of tourists to visit Varanasi is the evening ritual of Sandhya aarti performed along the Ghats, where the river Ganges decks up in several floating Diyas.
Kolkata, West Bengal
How can we leave out the Cultural Capital of India while speaking of its culture? Kolkata or Calcutta is the city of joy. This cosmopolitan city has a blend of all – tradition, architecture, food, art and history. The city has a rich colonial as it was the capital of the British Empire in India, prior to its shift to Delhi. The biggest attraction of this place is the Bengali festival Durga Puja, a five-day long worship of Goddess Durga’s. The festival marks the return of goddess Uma to his paternal home with her 4 children along with the killing of the demon mahisasur by the goddess. Bengalis deck up in their traditional attire (red and white sari) and celebrate the festival with pomp and grandeur. The festival occurs in Bengali season of Sharad, signifying spring and occurs around late September to early October. Another unique celebration for which this place is very famous and many tourists visit Kolkata is during the annual book fair and literary festivals held in late January.
The city of palaces, Udaipur is a city with showcases the Mewar history of Rajasthan. The city is calm, peaceful and colorful. The city palace, one of the most well-known palaces of Udaipur, is situated in the middle of the Udaipur lake. Due to its numerous lakes, it is known as the lake city. Considered to be the best romantic gateway of Rajasthan, the city has some unique features- like the 100 roomed Bagore Haveli in Ganguar Ghat. The beauty of Udaipur is in its folk lore, the various types of folk dances like Ghoomar, Bhavai, Dandi Gair, Kachhi Dhodi, Terahtali etc. Similar Jaipur here too one will find local music of instruments like sarangi, morchang, naad etc.
Kurukshetra is the Karma Bhoomi for the Hindus. It is the place where the Kurukshetra war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas was fought. The place holds significant importance in religion and history. Hieun Tsang visited this place and Emperor Ashoka is thought to have a cultural center here. People take holy dips in the Bramha Sarovar. The place also hosts a Krishna museum. Kurukshetra also has connections to Sufism as it has the mausoleum of Sufi poet Sheikh Chaheli. Asthipura, Bhagwanpura, Bhor Saidan are some of the sought-after places.
Thus, India – the land of cultural confluences can be found in every nook and corner of this nation. But these 5 places trap the essence of Indian cultural in its truest sense. So, go explore India!