Many people do not know it, but India is one of the world's oldest civilisations. It has been the birthplace of many fundamentals recognised by today's society, in science and in the arts. After traveling tirelessly around India and immersing myself in its flavours and traditions, I wanted to bear witness to its incredibly rich cultural and spiritual heritage. If this website sparks a desire to pack your bags and set off for an Indian adventure, it will have achieved its purpose. Have a good trip around the website and pleasant wanderings in the sacred land of Bharat!
Indians love snacking and there are snack stalls on every street corner. Here are a few examples of the infinite variety you can find.
The chaat variants are all based on fried dough, with various other ingredients.
There are common elements among these variants including potaoes, dahi, or yogurt; chopped onions and coriander; Sev (small dried yellow salty noodles); and chaat masala, typically consisting of amchoor (dried mango powder), cumin, Kala Namak (rock salt), coriander, dried ginger.
Pakora also called pakoda, is a fried snack (fritter).
Pakoras are created by taking one or two ingredients, such as onion, eggplant, potato, spinach, plantain, paneer, cauliflower, tomato, or chili pepper and dipped in a batter of gram flour and then deep-fried.
Pakoras are usually served as snacks or appetisers complemented with tamarind chutney, brown sauce, or ketchup.
Its size and consistency may vary, but typically it is distinctly triangular in shape.
Indian samosas are usually vegetarian, and often accompanied by a mint sauce or chutney.
Kachori is a spicy snack popular in various parts of North India.
It is usually a round flattened ball made of fine flour filled with a stuffing of baked mixture of yellow moong dal or Urad Dal (crushed and washed horse beans), besan (crushed and washed gram flour), black pepper, red chili powder, salt and other spices.
Kachoris are often served with a chutney, often made from tamarind, mint, or coriander.
Paneer tikka is an Indian dish made from chunks of paneer (kind of cottage cheese) marinated in spices and grilled in a tandoor.
It is a vegetarian alternative to chicken tikka and other meat dishes.
It is a popular dish that is widely available in India. It is sometimes accompanied by salad and mint chutney.
Mirchi Bajji is a spicy Indian snack consisting of chili (Mirchi) and potato stuffing.
The mirchi bada of Jodhpur, Rajasthan is very famous combines well with another Jodhpur speciality, ‘Mawa Kachori’ dipped in sugary syrup.
It served hot with tomato sauce or occasionally with mint and tamarind chutney.
The English meaning of Panipuri is “water bread”. It consists of a round, hollow puri, fried crisp and filled with a mixture of flavored water (pani), tamarind chutney, chili, chaat masala, potato, onion and chickpeas.
The croquette was originally a French invention that gained a world-wide popularity as a fast-food with the advent of burgers.
In India, it is known as “cutlets” or “aloo-tikkis”. They are served with ketchup or green chutney (coriander chutney).
Pav bhaji is a fast food dish from Maharashtra, India, consisting of a spicy curry of mixed vegetables (bhaji) cooked in a special blend of spices and served with soft buttered pav (bread bun shallow fried in butter).
Pav bhaji is more than a mere snack, it’s a quick meal that can be grabbed on the go.
Dhokla originates from the Indian state of Gujarat. It is made with a fermented batter derived from rice and split chick peas.
Dhokla can be eaten for breakfast, as a main course, as a side dish, or as a snack. It is usually served with deep fried chillies and chutney made of coriander.
It is garnished with coriander and often with grated coconut.
It is derived from the word Namak (meaning salt). Namkeen is also used as a generic term to describe savory snack foods.
Namkeens are usually a mixture of spicy dry ingredients. There is an infinite variety of them and are known by different names according to the states.
The namkeens are most often made from gram flour (besan) but also puffed rice, potatoes or legumes.
The “Pancha Bhoota Sthalas” refers to the five temples dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, each of these temples representing the five prime elements of nature; water, air, ether, fire and earth. “Pancha” means five, “Bhoota”, elements and “Sthalas”, place.
The five temples associated with the five elements are:
Ekambareswara, a superb temple on the north side of town, is is the largest temple in Kanchipuram.
Its gopuram (entrance tower) stands nearly 60m tall, which makes it one of the tallest in India.
The temple’s earliest foundations date from about 600 CE; successive dynasties such as the Pallavas, Pandyas and Cholas, and later the Vijayanagar kings, all remodelled or added to the building.
The sanctum sanctorum houses a Prithvi Lingam representing Earth (prithvi means “earth”).
The hall with 540 pillars and 1008 Shiva Lingams is particularly impressive. Another of the temple’s particularities is a mango tree said to be 3500 years old and to produce four different kinds of mango.KNOW MORE ABOUT IT
Two kilometres from famous Sri Rangam temple is Jambukeswarar, one of Trichy’s most revered temples. Its Shiva Lingam is an Appu Lingam, representing water.
The sanctum receives a constant flow of water from an underground source. Jambukeswarar temple is also one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams, temples glorified in the songs of praise of the four greatest Shaivite saints or Nayanars.
And as Shiva is never far from his female counterpart, another temple in the same complex houses and idol of the goddess Devi Akilandeswari Amman. Akilandeswari means “Ruler of the Universe”. Non-Hindus are not usually allowed into the sanctum.KNOW MORE ABOUT IT
Arunachaleswarar (or Annamalaiyar) temple, at the foot of Arunachala Hill, is dedicated to Shiva.
As Shiva is believed to have appeared in this place as a column of light, he is represented here by a fire lingam or Agni Lingam.
Annamalaiyar symbolises duty, virtue, self-sacrifice and liberation by means of ascetic renunciation.
The temple is one of the largest in India, covering six hectares. The initial structure dates from the 9th-century Chola dynasty. Later extensions are attributed to the Vijayanagar Sangama dynasty of the 14th and 15th centuries and the Saluva and Tuluva dynasties of the 15th and 16th centuries.KNOW MORE ABOUT IT
The Kalahasti temple is located 36 km away from the famous temple of Tirupati. The interior of the temple was built around the 5th century and the outside during the 12th century by the Chola and Vijayanagar kings.
Lord Shiva is worshiped here as Kalahasteeswara symbolizing the salvation and the death of the ego. Shiva is embodied by a white Vayu Lingam that is said to be self-manifested (Swayambhu). This lingam can not be touched by the devotees, not even by the Brahmins (priests).
It is said that a lamp in the sanctuary keeps flickering even when no air flow is observed.
The temple complex covers 20 hectares in the heart of the city. This is an ancient and historic temple dedicated to Shiva Nataraja (dancing Shiva) but also to Lord Govindaraja Perumal (Vishnu). This is one of the few temples where both Shaivite and Vaishnavite deities coexist.
The word “Chidambaram” derives from “chit”, which means “conscience”, and “Ambaram”, “heaven” (or aakasam aakayam); This refers to the chidaakasam, the sky of consciousness, which is the ultimate goal to be achieved according to the Vedas (old scriptures). According to a second interpretation “Ambalam” would mean “stage show.” A third theory states that Chidambram derives from “chitrambalam” meaning “dances of God.”
The unique feature of this temple is the idol of Nataraja. It represents Lord Shiva as Lord of the Bharata Natyam dance (Indian classical dance). This is one of the few temples where Shiva is represented by a murthi (anthropomorphic image). The cosmic dance of Shiva Nataraja symbolizes the movement of the universe sustained by Lord Shiva.
Char Dham, meaning ‘four abodes’, is the pilgrimage circuit around the four most revered pilgrimage sites in all India. These are in Badrinath, Dwarka, Puri and Rameshwaram, located at the four cardinal points of the Indian sub-continent.
Hindus believe that a pilgrimage or yatra around the Char Dham cities opens the way to moksha, liberation from the cycle of deaths and rebirths. They also think that every believer should try to visit each of these places at least once in their life.
Chota Char Dham: Over time, another Char Dham pilgrimage circuit has developed, in Uttarakhand state in North India. Its importance has increased considerably since the 1960s, with improvements in roads and other infrastructure. It is known as Chota Char Dham, ‘the four small abodes’ or ‘Himalayan Char Dham’.
Most pilgrims start their Chota Char Dham pilgrimage at Haridwar. Others set off from Rishikesh, or from Dehradun, capital of Uttarakhand. From there, the tradition is to visit Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath in that order.
Badrinath stands on the river Alaknanda, 3000m above sea level in the Garhwal Himalayas.
According to the sacred Bhagavata Purana texts it is at Badrinath that Vishnu, in his incarnation as Narayana, performed a great penitence for the wellbeing of all living beings.
The town’s main attraction is Badrinath temple. Legend has it that the sage Adi Shankara found a figurine of the god Badrinarayan (Vishnu) made of holy black saligram stone in the river Alaknanda. It was kept in a cave near the Tapt Kund hot springs until the 16th century when the king of Garhwal had it moved to its current temple.
KNOW MORE ABOUT IT
Dwarka is one of the seven oldest and most holy towns in India (the Sapta Puri).
Puri, in Odisha, a major Hindu pilgrimage town, is the abode of residence of Jagganath, “lord of the universe”, one of the aspects of god Vishnu. The town is entirely dedicated to him.
Devotion here reaches its peak at the Ratha Yatra (chariot festival), when the statues of Jagannatha, his brother Balabhadra and his sister Subhadra are paraded through the streets in chariots…KNOW MORE ABOUT IT
Ramanathaswamy temple is a major pilgrimage site for Hindus, for several reasons. It contains one of the 12 Jyotir Lingams or “lingams of light”.
It is also one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams, the Shiva temples glorified in the verses of the three most venerated Nayanars (Shivaite saints), Appar, Sundarar and Tirugnana Sambandar…KNOW MORE ABOUT IT
Yamunotri, 3300m up in the Garhwal Himalayas, marks the source of the Yamuna, one of seven India’s most holy rivers.
Yamuna temple, on the left bank of the sacred river, was built by Pratap Shah, a 19th-century Maharaja of Tehri Garhwal. The idol is made of black marble. For Hindus the Yamuna, like the Ganges, has the status of a holy mother.
Gangotri is a town near the source of the Ganges, more than 3000m above sea level in the Garhwal Himalayas.
India’s holiest river is called Bhagirathi at its source and Ganga (Ganges) after it reaches Devprayag, where it is joined by the Alaknanda river.
The actual source of the river is at Gaumukh on the Gangotri glacier, 18km from the town. Gangotri temple was built by the Gurkha general Amar Singh Thapa in homage to Mother Ganges.
Kedarnath is situated about 3583 meters above the sea level near the Chorabari Glacier. It is the abode of one of 12 Jyotirlingam dedicated to Lord Shiva.
According to legend, the five Pandava brothers wanted to meet Shiva to ask him the absolution of their murders committed during the war against the Kauravas. Shiva decided to test them and went from town to town to finally arrive at Kedarnath in the form of a buffalo. Bhima, one of the Pandava brothers recognized him. Shiva decided then to sank into the ground, leaving only his hump on the surface. It is this hump that is worshiped in the temple of Kedarnath.
Due to the extreme weather, the temple is open only late April until November. During the winter, the vigrahas (deities) of Kedarnath temple are transported to Ukhimath.
The temple is not directly accessible by road. It is reached by a trek of 19km.
see aboveKNOW MORE ABOUT THE CHOTA CHAR DHAM
The name Kumbha Mela means “festival of the jar”. It is probably the world’s biggest pilgrimage; gathering up to 100 million people in one place, to bathe in the sacred waters of four holy cities.The belief is that it opens the door to moksha (liberation) and spiritual awakening. A surprising and spectacular event that leaves no visitor unmoved, whether they are believers or not.
Attukal Pongal is a special version of the Pongal harvest festival that takes place each year at the Attukal Bhagavathy temple, 2km from Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) in Kerala.
Mahashivaratri literally means “the great night of Shiva”. It is one of the major Hindu festivals of India when Lord Shiva is glorified, worshipped and honored with sanctifying rituals throughout the night.
Kanyakumari, formerly called Cape Comorin, it the southern tip of India where the Arabian Sea meets the Indian Ocean. The place is named after the goddess Devi Kanya Kumari, a form of Parvati. The town is mainly a holy place for Hindus because of its Bhagavathy Kumari temple and its connections with Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi and the sage Agastyar.
It can be reached by ferry across a rather rough stretch of sea. It was built in 1970 in honour of Swami Vivekananda’s visit to Shripada Parai in 1892.
The story goes that he swam to the rock and meditated there. It is said that is here that he attained enlightenment and became a great philosophical reformer.
“You have to grow from within. No one can teach you, no one can make you spiritual. There is no teacher but your own soul” Swami Vivekananda
Next to the Vivekananda memorial, on a second rock, is a huge stone statue of the Tamul poet Thiruvalluvar, author of the Thirukkural, a work in rhyming couplets setting out various teachings on how to live a harmonious life. It can be reached by ferry from the Vivekananda memorial.
The statue was inaugurated on 1 January 2000. Twenty-nine metres tall, it stands on a 12m plinth on which the Thirukkural‘s 38 chapters on virtue are carved. The combined height of plinth and statue is 133ft (40.5m), representing the 133 chapters of the Thirukkural.
She is the goddess of sannyas (renunciation) and penitence. The Goddess is believed to be the one who removes the rigidity of our mind,
This highly revered temple is also one of the 51 Shakti Peethas; it is said that the spine of the goddess Sati’s body fell here.
Near the Kumari Amman temple stands a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, who visited Kanyakumari in 1925 and 1937.
Some of Gandhi’s ashes were kept here before being scattered at sea.
The memorial is built in the Odisha architectural style and designed so that each year on 2 October, Mahatma’s birthday, the sun’s rays fall exactly on the spot where the funerary urn stood.
The height of the building’s centre is 79 feet, representing the age at which Mahatma died.
Thanu is a reference to Shiva, Mal to Vishnu and Aya to Brahma. The temple was built in the 17th century and its 40m gopuram is remarkable for the intricacy of its carvings of Hindu deities. This place is also called Suchindrum in sacred scriptures.
Legend has it that Indra, king of the Devas, came to pray at the temple to be released from a curse. Suchi comes from a Sanskrit word for “purify”. It is also said that Indra visited the temple at midnight every night to perform an Ardhajama Puja (night ritual).