Music and Dance
Indian music (Hindustani
in the north and Carnatic in the south) has been evolving as part of
India’s culture for centuries. Aspects of musical from such as tonal
intervals, harmonies and rhythmical patterns are the unique products
of a wealth of musical traditions and influences; they are also very
different from those familiar in the west. Much of the music recalls
Indian fables and legends, as well as celebrating the seasonal rhythms
of nature. Indian dancing, similarly unique and timeless, is also
widely performed throughout the country, either at major festivals and
recitals, or at the many cultural shows which are staged in hotels.
The following is a list of the major music festivals in India :
Sangeet Natak Akademi - New Delhi.
Tyagaraja - Tiruvayyaru, near Thanjavur.
Shankar Lal - New Delhi.
Vishnu Digambar -New Delhi.
September: Bhatkhande - Lucknow.
Sadarang - Calcutta.
Sur-Singar - Bombay.
Tansen - Gwalior. Music Academy - Madras.
Shanmukhananda - The Music, Dance, and Drama Festival, Bombay.
The visitor may also be lucky enough to witness dancing at a village
festival or a private wedding.
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The unforgettable aroma of
India is not just the heavy scent of jasmine and roses on the warm
air. It is also the fragrance of spices so important to Indian
cooking - especially to preparing curry. The world "curry" is
an English derivative of "kari", meaning soice sauce, but curry does
not, in India, come as a powder. It is the subtle and delicate
blending of spices such as turmeric, cardamom, ginger, coriander,
nutmeg and poppy seed. Like an artist’s palette of oil paints, the
Indian cook has some twenty-five spices (freshly ground as required)
with which to mix the recognized combinations or "masalas".
Many of these spices are also noted for their medicinal properties.
They, like the basic ingredient, vary from region to region. Although
not all Hindus are vegetarians, you will probably eat more vegetable
dishes than is common in Europe, particularly in South India. Indian
vegetables are cheap, varied and plentiful and superbly cooked.
Broadly speaking, meat
dishes are more common in the north, notably, Rogan Josh
(curried lamb), Gushtaba (spicey meat balls in yoghurt), and
the delicious Biriyani (chicken or lamb in orange flavoured
rice, sprinkled with sugar and rose water). Mughlai cuisine is rich,
creamy, deliciously spiced and liberally sprinkled with nuts and
saffron. The ever popular Tandoori cooking (chicken, meat or
fish marinated in herbs and baked in a clay oven) and kebabs are also
south, curries are mainly vegetable and inclined to be more hot.
Specialities to look out for are Bhujia (vegetable curry),
Dosa, Idli and Sambar (rice pancakes, dumplings with
pickles and vegetable and lentil curry), and Raitas (yoghurt with
grated cucumber and mint). Coconut is a major ingredient of South
Indian cooking. On the West coast there is a wide choice of fish and
shellfish; Bombay duck (curried or fried bomnloe fish) and
pomfret (Indian salmon) are just two. Another specialty is the Parsi
Dhan Sak (lamb or chicken cooked with curried lentils) and
Vindaloo vinegar marinade. Fish is also a feature of Bengali
cooking as in Dahi Maach (curried fish in yoghurt flavoured
with turmeric and ginger) and Malai (curried prawn with
One regional distinction
is that whereas in the south rice is the staple food, in the north
this is supplemented and sometimes substituted by a wide range of flat
breads, such as Pooris, Chappatis and Nan. Common
throughout India is Dhal (crushed lentil soup with various
additional vegetables), and Dhai, the curd or yoghurt which
accompanies the curry. Besides being tasty, it is a good "cooler";
more effective than liquids when things get too hot. Sweets are
principally milk based puddings, pastries and pancakes. Available
throughout India is Kulfi, the Indian ice cream, Rasgullas
(cream cheese balls flavoured with rose water), Gulab Jamuns
(flour, yoghurt and ground almonds), and Jalebi (pancakes in
syrup). Besides a splendid choice of sweets and sweetmeats, there is
an abundance of fruit, both tropical - mangoes, pomegranates and
melons - and temperate apricots, apples and strawberries. Western
confectionery is available in major centres. It is common to finish
the meal by chewing Pan as a digestive. Pan is a betel leaf in
which are wrapped spices such as aniseed and cardamon.
Another custom is to eat
with your fingers but remember only of the right hand ... Besides the
main dishes, there are also countless irresistible snacks available on
every street corner, such as samosa, fritters, dosa
and vada. For the more conservative visitor, western cooking
can always be found. Indeed, the best styles of cooking from
throughout the world can be experienced in the major centres in India.
Tea is India’s favourite drink,and.many of the varieties are famous
the world over. It will often come ready brewed with milk and sugar
unless "tray tea",is specified. Coffee is increasingly popular..Nimbu
Pani (lemon drink), Lassi (iced buttermilk) and coconut
milk straight from the nut are cool and refreshing. Soft drinks
(usually sweet) and bottled water are widely available, as, are
’Western alcoholic drinks. Indian beer and gin are comparable with the
world’s best, and are not expensive. Note that Liquor Permits are
required in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.
The variety of Indian
cooking is immense, it is colourful and aromatic, it can be fiery or
not as desired and it is inexpensive even at the top class hotels. No
wonder, then that it is now the third most popular cuisine in the
world nor will it be any more surprising when it becomes the first.
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Indian craftsman has been perfecting his art for centuries, passing
down traditions and techniques from generation to generation. Each
region has its own specialities, each town its own local craftsmen,
its own particular skills. The results is a consummate blend of
ancient skills and modern aesthetics. Silks, spices, jewellery and
many other Indian products have long been famous and widely desired,
and merchants would travel thousands of miles, willingly enduring the
hardships and privations of the long journey in other to make their
purchases. Nowadays, the marketplaces of the subcontinent are only 9
hours away, and for fabrics, silverware, carpets, leatherwork,
antiques the list is endless India is a shopping paradise. Goods are
exotic, attractive, beautiful hand-crafted and excellent value for
money. Half the fun when buying goods in the bazaars is the
bargaining, and you can always check for reasonable prices at
state-run emporiums. Below are some of the best buys, either for the
souvenir hunter or the connoisseur.
FABRICS : One of India’s main industries, silks, cottons, and
wools rank amongst the best in the world. Of the silks the brocades
from Varanasi are among the most famous variety; other major centres
include Patna, Murshidabad,Surat and Kanchipuram. Rajasthan cotton
with its famous "tie and die" design is usually brillantly colourful,
while Madras cotton is known for its attractive "bleeding" effect
after a few washes. Throughout the country may be found the "himroo"
cloth, a mixture of silk and cotton, often decorated with patterns.
Kashmir sells beautiful woollens particularly shawls.
CARPETS : India has one of the world’s largest carpet industries,
and many examples of her ancient and beautiful craft can be seen in
museums throughout the world. Kashmir has a long history of carpet
making, influenced by the Persians. Pure wool and woven and silk
carpets are exquisitely made, and can be bought for a fraction of the
cost that one would pay in the west. Each region will have its own
specialty; such as the distinctive, bright coloured Tibetan rugs,
available mainly in Darjeeling.
CLOTHES : Clothes are very cheap to buy, and can be tailor made in
some shops, usually very quickly. Choose from an unmatchable range;
silks, cottons, himroos, brocades, chiffons, chignons, touched with
streaks of silver and gold thread, set with sequins or semi-precious
JEWELLERY : Particularly of Rajasthan (Kundan), is traditionally
heavy and stunningly elaborate. Indian silverwork is world-famous.
Gems can be bought and mounted. Apart from diamonds, other stones
include lapis lazuli, Indian star rubies, star sapphires, moonstones
and aquamarine. Hyderabad is one of the world’s leading centres for
HANDICRAFTS AND LEATHERWORK : Once again, each area will have its
own specialty; the vast range includes fine bronzes, brasswork (often
inlaid with silver), canework and pottery. Papier Mache is a
characteristic Kashmir product, some decorated with gold leaf. Marble
and alabaster inlay work, such as chess sets and ornamental plates,
are a specialty of Agra. Good leatherwork buys includes open India
sandals and slippers.
WOODWORK : Sandalwood carvings from Karnataka, rosewood from
Kerala and Madras, Indian walnut from Kashmir. These are often
exquisite and make excellent presents.
OTHER BUYS : Foods such as pickles, spices and Indian tea,
perfumes, soap, handmade paper, Orissan playing cards, musical
instruments- anything that takes your fancy.
NOTE : It is forbidden to export antiques and art objects over 100
years old, animal skins or objects made from skins.
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Department of Tourism. Ministry of Tourism and Culture.
Government of India.