With a civilization that is over 5000 years old, India's cultural heritage is diverse, rich and unique. What is unusual is that it has absorbed, adopted, adapted, and yet maintained its unique identity. India has always attracted visitors, be it invaders or traders. Over the years, each have left behind their unique traditions which are reflected in every aspect of Indian culture, be it art, dance, drama, music, architecture, language, cuisine or religion. The West coast was visited by the Persians and the Europeans, who came to trade in spices and textiles. In the North, rulers from Central Asia plundered India for her wealth and stayed back to savour her many pleasures and beauty. The Mughals came as invaders, later the British came as traders. Both stayed on to rule for many years and left a lasting impact on Indian culture and traditions.
The many influences reflect in the mix of races and religions found in the country. The birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, India has gracefully embraced Islam, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Judaism. The influence of each religion and race is reflected in the sculpture, architecture, monuments, art, and languages (over 100 dialects) of the sub-continent.
Today modernisation and tradition co-exist, making Indian culture opulent, complex, magical and truly cosmopolitan. The country has seen a revival of the arts. Age-old crafts are being resurrected. In dance and music the ancient guru-shisya concept - whereby students live with and serve the teacher - is still followed. Indian festivals, associated with mythology and the seasons, are moments of gaiety, fun and celebration. In architecture and crafts, trained Indian designers are seeking out old masters to recreate old techniques to revive traditions that have been losing out because of the use of modern materials. Indians are rediscovering the quality and sensibilities of local art forms which are best suited to its climate. Also seeing a revival is India's rich medical heritage. Yoga and Ayurveda - both ancient sciences are today acknowledged as beneficial forms of alternative medicines.
To enjoy India's rich and diverse culture take a heritage tour. You could visit the temple towns of Kanchipuram, Tanjore, and Madurai in South India, which are also famous for their dance heritage. You could admire the splendor of Buddhist architecture in Sanchi, or the magnificent forts and palaces of Rajasthan. Or you could simply soak in the gracious confluence of Mughal and Indian craftsmanship, best exemplified by the Taj Mahal.
Experiencing the rich Indian heritage also means enjoying classical music from gharanas all over the country, finding peace in the spirituality of the many faiths, celebrating the many festivals and melas, including the magnificient Kumbh Mela, relaxing in the lush and gentle backwaters of Kerala also known for its ancient Ayurvedic spas, or delighting in the fascinating textile heritage.