In addition to the Nile Valley of Egypt and the Tigris and Euphrates rivers of ancient Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), the Indus River that now flows through parts of Pakistan and India was the third “cradle of civilization.” India is the home of a many-layered culture because civilization has flourished and evolved here for millennia. Today, India is the second largest country in the world with the second largest population, more than 1.2 billion, and is the largest democratic state on the globe.
For the traveler, the rich, colorful and thick tapestry of India can be overwhelming, but it is also a land of understated beauty, natural wonders and life-changing opportunities to connect with the individuals steeped in tradition as well as those creating the 21st century India. Of course, India boasts some of the world’s great architecture: the famous Taj Mahal, Lotus Temple, Agra Fort, Mysore Palace, Meenakshi Amman Temple and countless others.
These sites should certainly be a part of any traveler or photographer’s Indian itinerary, but a more compelling experience may be to penetrate to the heart of India by exploring its rural countryside. Thadiyankudisai in the state of Tamil Nadu in south India is a major spice producing center as well as the home of the ancient Pandiya Tamil culture. India is also an extraordinary destination for eco-tourism: the jungle resorts of Karnataka, the houseboats of Kerala and the tree houses of Vythiri.