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Land & land scapeLand & land scape

 



Land & Landscape`

THE GRACEFUL FORM of the land stands poised just north of the Equator, the waters of the ocean lapping around her feet. Firmly anchored in the east, she looks westwards, the streaming mass of her crowning glory reaching back towards the rising sun. The impassable heights of these, the highest mountain ranges in the world, define in their majestic sweep a distinct subcontinent.
 
The three parallel ranges of the Himalaya include as many as 30 of the world’s highest peaks and some of the most spec­tacular high altitude landscapes in the world. In the valley of Kashmir wildflowers bloom in glorious bursts of colour even as clouds play hide and seek amongst the trees. Moving east­wards, through the valleys, hill stations with magical names conjure up idyllic images of gracious bungalows, friends and rambles, tea estates and days filled with leisure.

Amidst the snowcapped peaks tumble icy streams that mature, into the legendary rivers of the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra. Stepping out of the lush valleys they nurture the fertility of the vast Indo-Gangetic Plain that skirts the foothills. Here can be found the hustle and bustle of India – crowded urban centres that range from the cosmopolitan cap­ital of Delhi to Lucknow and Varanasi and sleepy little towns that hide a wealth of amazing heritage.

To the west the sands of the Thar shift restlessly in search of moisture. This is the semi -arid home of proud warriors, chivalry and romance. While haughty camels gaze disdainfully at you through heavy, curled eyelashes, wizened retainers will tell you of fearless, just about adolescent princes who inspired armies of grown men with their valour. As you listen, the dry expanse of the country­side seems to come alive around the defended-unto-death forts that dot the land.

In the central belt, the heart of the country at the base of the Deccan plateau, pristine forests are home to some of the many tribal people of the country. This area boasts almost one-third the forest cover of India, a large amount of which is reserve and protected forest under the national parks. In these dense jungles large herds of majestic wild elephants tread noiselessly through the undergrowth, while wild dogs and jackals wait for the tiger to eat his fill
 
Sloping east from the Western Ghats, the Deccan Plateau comprises hard crystalline rock and black volcanic soil. Abundant rainfall makes for a verdant countryside, complemented along stretches of the coast by sandy beaches shaded by coconut palms. On the southwest coast is the commercial and financial centre of Mumbai, capital of Maharastra and the most populated city in the country. A little to the south, Goa still retains a distinctly Portuguese charm, while the rich historic and cultural heritage of Karnataka offsets the fast growing reputation of the capital, Bangalore, as heart of India’s IT revolution. Though often clubbed together with Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu as South India, this generalisation does not do justice to the very different experiences offered by any of these very distinct states.  

 

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