History & Geography

Historically, India is regarded as one of the oldest surviving civilizations of the world and has been the subject of endless research and theories. Many theories (including the well known but now discredited Aryan Invasion Theory) have been put forward to measure the age of its civilization but there is no unanimity among the scholars. Based on satellite mapping, archaeological findings and backward calculation of astronomical positions described in the various scriptures and epics, it is now generally accepted that the present Indian society is continuation of the disrupted Sindhu-Sarasvati river civilization and has been around virtually unbroken for a minimum of 8000 years.

India is a peninsular country found in the Southern part of Asia. Its original name is Bharatham or Bharath named after the first known King of the same name. The name India was given by the Arabs and Jews living in the western part of Asia, to refer to the peoples living by the side of the river Sindhu. (Now known as Indus River). Even today, the country is referred to only as Bharath in the local languages. Because of its size and varied physical terrain, climates and an amazing mix of cultures, customs, languages etc, it is also often referred to as a Sub-Continent.

Geographically India’s mainland extends from 08o 04’ to 37o 06’entirely in the northern hemisphere while from west to east, it extends from 68o 07’ to 97o 25’ east of Prime meridian. In terms of distance it measures 3200 kms north to south and 3000 kms west to east, in all 32,74,600 square kilometers. In the west, north and east, it has land borders measuring approximately 15200 kms with Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Bangladesh and Myanmar while the southern peninsula is surrounded by the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal resulting in a coastline of approximately 5700 kms. Apart from this, two chain of islands known as Lakshadweep Isles in the west and the Andaman & Nicobar Isles in the east are also parts of India .The southern most tip of these islands called the Indira Point extends very much to the south of mainland. The Indian Standard Time (IST) is based on the mean local time at 82.50 deg east longitudes and is 5:30 hrs ahead of GMT.

The overall Climate of India is generally tropical with hot wet summers and dry cold winters. The country receives monsoon rainfall twice a year between April to mid November. However there is a wide variation between different regions with some areas also receiving snow fall and cold waves. While the coastal areas will be humid and sultry, the central part is extremely hot. The best season to visit India for the first time would be between December and February.

Politically India is a secular democratic republic with an elected parliament at the centre and legislative assemblies at the states. There are 28 states and 8 centrally administered areas called Union Territories. There are more than 1600 different dialects of which 14 languages are officially recognized. Hindi is the official language while English is normally used for legal and business correspondence. With a total population exceeding 100 crores, (1 billion) it is the second most populous country in the world. Hinduism along with its variants is the major religion while Muslims and Christians constitute about 15% of the population.