Exploring the Beauty of India

by Ed Forteau /
Ed Forteau's picture
Jul 11, 2012 / 0 comments

If you’re anything like me, you’re entranced by the beauty of India. Reading Sarah MacDonald’s Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure spurred me on to reading and learning more about this extraordinary country.  For it is not only home to one of the world’s most enduring romantic buildings (the Taj Mahal), but India is also home to riotous colors, extravagant feasts, and magnificent landscapes. With so much to see, learn, and experience in India, where to start? First, make your travel plans! There are cheap flights to India that can get you started on your journey exploring the beauty of India. But once you’re there, what to see?

Here are my top tips for finding the beauty of India:

  1. Natural Beauty – search for the landscape you love best – you’ll be sure to find it in India. From mountains to deserts, beaches to fields, India has it all. One place that is truly incredible is the Valley of Flowers, located in Uttarakhand.
  2. Spiritual Beauty – there are many religions practiced in India, and many places of worship that show the incredible workmanship and skills of the builders. From Varanasi – the city of temples and ghats – to the Grishneshwar Jyotirling Temple, one of the holiest and most ancient shrines in India, you can be sure to be entranced by the beauty in these religious places.
  3. Wildlife – if seeing the beauty of wildlife is your thing, India is definitely the place to go. You can see lions, tigers, leopards and snow leopards, black panthers, crocodiles, rhinos, camels, monkeys of all sorts, the sinuous Indian cobra, and, of course, the gigantic Asian elephant. There are seventeen biosphere reserves, which protect large tracts of land. You can also visit the many National Parks and Preserves to learn about the wildlife in India, or take a wildlife safari.
  4. Monuments – who can imagine visiting India without visiting the Taj Mahal? But there are many other beautiful buildings and heritage sites in India, including Agra Fort, Ellora Caves, the Khajuraho group of monuments, and Humayun’s Tomb. If you wanted to plan a whole trip around the beauty of India’s heritage and monument sites, you’d have to schedule at least a month off.
  5. Mental/Physical/Spiritual - yes, I am talking about Yoga, the ancient discipline that includes movement and meditation for health and spiritual insight. There are many yoga centers in India to explore, from drop in centers to more in-depth courses and retreats. It’s not only the Eat, Pray, Love thing – this goes much deeper into the culture and history of India.
  6. Flora – one visit to a flower market will convince you of the beauty of India, from the glorious colors to the deep scents.
  7. Food – you knew this one would come up! The cuisine of India is remarkable – and varied by geographic location! You CAN count on utter deliciousness, and a beauty in the colors, tastes, and scents of this ancient cuisine.
  8. People – look around, while you’re in India. Friendly people and meaningful interactions will bring you back to India , more than any other factor in this list of beauty. For isn’t the beauty of any place inherent in its people and culture?

Now you’ve got to get there! Visiting India is an exciting and beautiful experience.

India -  Photo courtesy of flickr creative commons: flickr.com/photos/mckaysavage/

Photo courtesy of flickr creative commons: flickr.com/photos/mckaysavage/. Here's what the photographer noted:

India - Pondicherry

Beautiful and quiet Laxshmi the elephant is stationed outside the Manakula Vinayagar Temple in Pondicherry in the morning and after lunch where she gives blessings to devotees and tourists alike.

She will deftly take an offered coin and softly lay her trunk over your head in blessing. Even as a non-Hindu devotee, I can attest, there is something magical with such a connecting gesture from such a noble beast.

Laxshmi like many elephants in India are highly sought after in temples and arguably are well cared for. I struggle seeing them chained and employed in a 9-5 grind for coins, but she arguably lives longer and healthier than some of her wild family and either way, the practice remains engrained in Indian society.