STATES OF INDIA
India is the seventh largest country in the world. Its population is one billion (one thousand million), making it the second most populous country after China. It is more than three times the population of the United States though its area is only about one-third. It is the largest democracy in the world.
The distance from India's southern tip to its northernmost point is 3214 kms. Its distance from east to west is 2933 kms. It has 7,516 kms of coastline on three bodies of water: the Arabian sea off its western coast, the Indian Ocean to the south and the Bay of Bengal on its eastern side.
India is mainly an agricultural country, though it also has a large iron and steel industry and produces every type of manufactured goods. In the last few years India has gotten more and more involved in information technology and every year over 100,000 software professionals leave India to work in other countries, mainly the United States.
The two main religions are Hinduism (80%) and the Muslim religion (10%) but there are also small numbers of Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs, Parsees and Jains.
There are 25 states, six union territories and the National Capitol Territory (Delhi) in the Republic of India.
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STATES OF INDIA
Population : 66 million
Capitol : Hyderabad
Language : Telugu and Urdu
275,000 sq. km.
Andhra Pradesh is mostly plateau area - flat rocky land where some farming can be done - but its coastal area along the Bay of Bengal is
fertile lowland. Most people in the state (70%) are involved in agriculture, and rice is the main grain crop. About a quarter of the land area is forests and from these you get products such as teakwood,
bamboo, cashew nuts and eucalyptus oil (which is made by boiling the leaves of the eucalyptus tree). Andhra Pradesh has been moving into the information industry very quickly in the last few years especially in Hyderabad, the state's capitol. HITEC City, one of the largest Information Technology parks in all of Asia, is located here. Many of the software professionals who have come to the United States in recent years are from this state. Most towns and all cities in this and many other states now have cyber cafes, and the number of people with computers and internet connections in their homes, while still far behind North America, is growing at an amazing pace. Advanced Students...
Population : 86 million
Capitol : Patna
Language : Hindi
Area: 174,000 sq. km
The state of Bihar has many holy places of the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh and Sufi religions, but it is also one of India's poorest states. The north half of the state is a low lying area on either side of the great Ganges river where mostly agriculture takes place, and the south half is hillier with thick forests and more industry. At Bodhgaya, in central Bihar, is the sacred tree under which the Buddha was sitting in about 600 B.C. when he experienced 'enlightenment' - when he suddenly realized a great truth about how people should live. After understanding this truth, he began teaching about it and winning converts to what became the Buddhist religion. In 700 A.D. in this same area there was a Buddhist university with over 10,000 monks and students, many of them from other countries. Gaya, not far from Bodhgaya, is an important pilgrimage place for Hindus. They traditionally come here a year after their family member has died to say prayers and perform ceremonies so that their loved one's spirit will be released from the earth. Advanced Students...
Population : 1.2 million
Languages : Konkani, Marathi
4,000 sq. km
Goa is a state that is famous for its beaches. All along its coastline are palm trees, beautiful white sand and many many hotels. People from all over the world come here for beach holidays. Just inland from the beach it is hilly and forested with narrow roads running between the towns and a few big bridges across major river mouths. The main city is Panaji, but near it is Old Goa, with many old churches and monastaries left over from when the Portuguese were in control of this state.
The Portuguese arrived in the 1500s, soon took power away from local Muslim rulers and declared that from then on Goa would be part of Portugal. The Portuguese were Catholics and they set about making the Goan people change their religion to Catholicism. They believed that it was the only "true" faith and that only Catholics would go to heaven. They destroyed Hindu temples and Muslim mosques and punished people for following their own religions. So Hindus and Muslims had to perform their rituals and ceremonies in secret. Goa continued to be a Portuguese colony until 1961 when the Indian government made the Portuguese leave. By the time Goa stopped being a colony of Portugal and became a part of the newly independant India, many families had been Catholic for generations. Now about 40% of Goa's population is Catholic and there are many large and small churches all over this beautiful state.
Population : 41 million
Capitol : Gandhinagar
Language : Gujarati
Area: 200,000 sq. km
Mahatama Gandhi was born in this state. Here, also, he established an ashram, which is a place for people to come to live and learn from great Hindu spiritual teachers. Gandhi believed that British should leave India, as did many Indian people, but he taught that it should be done through civil disobedience, which meant Indians would refuse to obey the British laws but would not fight with weapons. The Salt March, which was a famous act of civil disobedience led by Gandhi, took place in Gujarat. The British law said that all Indians must buy salt from the British company and not from the village people who were making it, so Gandhi led a group of people to the coast where they defiantly collected their own salt. Through the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and others, most of whom were in the Congress Party, India finally became independant in 1947.
Gujarat is one of India's wealthiest and most industrialized states. Its textile industry and its oil industry are the largest in India. Most of the industry takes place in the eastern, mainland, part of the state whose major cities, Surat and Ahmedabad were once fine, handsome cities but are now crowded, polluted and noisy. The middle area of this oddly shaped state, called Saurashtra, is mostly barren and empty, with a huge lion sanctuary taking up one part of it. The soil of the western part, called Kutch, has such a high salt content that almost nothing will grow, but at certain times of the year flamingos and pelicans come here to breed. Advanced Students...
Population : 17 million
Capitol : Chandigarh
Area: 44,000 sq. km
Population : 20 million
Language : Punjabi
Area : 50,000 sq. km
Haryana and Punjab were one state until 1966. They still share a capitol - Chandigarh. Many of India's states were formed on the basis of the language the people spoke in each area, and Punjab and Haryana follow this rule: Punjab is a Punjabi-speaking area where most people are of the Sikh religion, and in Haryana the majority of people are Hindus and they speak the main language of North India, Hindi. Punjab is India's "bread basket", a very productive wheat growing area. It also produces one third of all India's milk and 10% of its rice. Agriculture here is very modern. In Punjab tractors and combine harvestors are common, while in other parts of India you most often see land being ploughed with a wooden plough and a team of oxen, and crops being harvested by groups of people walking through the fields. Income for most Punjabis is double what it is in the rest of India.
The Sikh religion was started here about 500 years ago and most Punjabis are Sikhs. Sikh men distinguish themselves from people of other religions by the "five K's" : Kesh (uncut hair, which they wear under a turban, and beards); Kangha (a wooden or ivory comb that they carry); Kachha (wearing shorts, though many Sikh men mostly wear long pants); Kara (a steel bracelet) and Kirpan (a sword that they carry, though usually this is just a small symbolic sword). Also all Sikh men are called "Singh", which means "lion" and every Sikh woman is called "Kaur", meaning "princess". In the state of Haryana agriculture is also very important with 80% of the people depending on it for their income. There is also a lot of industry in this state : four-fifths of India's cars, two-thirds of the country's motor cycles and tractors and one quater of its bicycles are made here. Advanced Students...
Population : 5 million
Languages : Hindi and Pahari
56,000 sq. km
The great Himalayan Mountains run through the northern half of Himachal Pradesh. Spectacular scenery, skiing, white water rafting and trekking bring lots of tourists to the state. Three quarters of the people of this state, however, still work in agriculture or related industries. The lower slopes of the Himalayan foothills are ideal for growing apples, plums, peaches and apricots because these fruits need cool temparatures to grow well. Mushrooms are also grown here in large quantities. Between the mountain ranges of Himachal Pradesh are several beautiful valleys. Pilgrims and tourists come here to visit very old temples or to soak in the waters of the sulphur hotsprings. On the slopes of the mountains are several towns called "hill stations". One of them is Shimla. During the days when the British controlled India, the government ran from Delhi during the cool months of the year. When it got hot (April, May, June) the entire government, all the politicians, their wives, children, servants (cooks, maids, nannies, clothers washers, house-cleaners) all moved up to Shimla where it was cool and comfortable. People still go up to Shimla to escape the heat. Advanced Students...
Population : 139 million
Languages : Hindi and Urdu
300,000 sq. km
Uttar Pradesh has the highest population of all India's states. At 139 million people it has almost half the population of the entire United States even though it is about the size of, say, Florida. Most of the eastern half of Uttar Pradesh is the flat area on the north and south sides of the Ganges River. It is poor and over crowded with most people farming tiny plots of land with no machinery. The southern area is rough hilly land where, in some parts, bandits hide and no laws can be enforced.
The north west part of the state is mountainous and it is in these mountains that the Ganges River starts, the water coming from melting glaciers. The Ganges is considered a holy river by Hindus and water from it is believed by many to have special powers. So the place where the Ganges comes down from the mountains is also a holy place. The Hindus most holy city of Varanasi also lies on the banks of this great river, and many people go to Varanasi on pilgrimage, to bathe in the sacred water and become spiritually clean. In the Hindu religion everyone must be cremated when they die and if their ashes can then be sprinkled into the waters of the Ganges it is considered a great blessing on the person who has died. Agra, in the far west of Uttar Pradesh, is where the famous Taj Mahal is, which some people consider to be the most beautiful building in the world. Near Agra is Fatepur Sikri, which is a city that was built 500 hundred years ago by a Moghul ruler called Akbar. He built the city to be the capitol of his great empire but after living there for about 15 years everyone, including Akbar, left. This was probably because there was not a good water supply. Today you can go to Fatehpur Sikri and wander around the abandoned buildings and imagine how frustrating it must have been for Akbar to have built his whole city and then not been able to live there! Advanced Students...
Population : 44 million
Languages : Hindi and Rajasthani
340,000 sq. km
Rajasthan is one of the most colourful and exotic states in India. Much of it is desert. There are beautiful palaces and huge stone forts all over the state built by the Rajputs who held power here for a thousand years. Rajput means "son of a prince", and the Rajputs were fierce and brave warrior clans who had a sense of honour and chivalry like that of the Knights of Old England. This led to many feuds and battles over the centuries, and because the Rajputs would rather die than surrender, many many lost their lives this way. Later the Rajput rulers became very friendly with the British and began going to Europe, often with the entire family, spending huge amounts of money shopping and staying in the fanciest hotels. In the meantime, they lost control of a lot of their lands in Rajasthan to the British. When India became independant in 1947 the Rajputs one by one were convinced to become part of the new India and signed away their lands and their lifestyles. Many families converted their palaces to museums or hotels in order to continue to have an income.
There are many colourful events and festivals in Rajasthan. Every year in November a huge camel fair is held in the desert when traders of camels, buffaloes and oxen come together to buy and sell their animals. There is singing, dancing and camel races and the traders and visitors stay in tents set up in the sand specially for this event. In March, in Jaipur, there is the Elephant Festival, when hundreds of elephants are decorated with beautiful fabrics and jewels and paraded through the streets. Rajasthan is a land of colourful festivals, history and traditions, and in some parts of the state you can almost imagine that not much has changed in hundreds of years. Advanced Students...
|Jammu and Kashmir|
Population : 8 million
Srinagar (Summer), Jammu (Winter)
Languages : Urdu, Kashmiri, Dogri, Pahari, Balti, Ladakhi, Punjabi, Gujri, Dadri
200,000 sq. km
Except for a small lower-lying part in the south west, all of this state is in the Himalayas - spectacular snow-capped mountains with valleys in between that have been called "paradise on earth". In the eastern part is the Tibetan plateau, a high rocky area which gets so little rain that almost nothing grows, making it look like a moonscape. When the Moghuls (Muslims) were in control of the north part of India they used to like to get away from the heat by coming up to Srinagar, the capitol, which is beside scenic Dal Lake. They built beautiful gardens and parks there, some of which still exist. British people also came up on their holidays but the Moghul rulers did not allow them to own land or build houses so instead they had large comfortable houseboats on the lake. Many more houseboats have been built since that time and tourists can rent them to stay on when they visit.
When British India became independant in 1947 it was divided into two countries, India (mostly Hindu) and Pakistan (mostly Muslim). At the time Kashmir had a Hindu ruler and a mainly Muslim populaiton. The Hindu ruler couldn't decide if he should go with India or with Pakistan or with neither, and , in the end, fighting broke out. In the years since then India and Pakistan have never managed to agree on where the border should be. There have been several wars and lots of smaller conflicts. The most recent fighting was in 1999 around Kargil, in the central area of the state, but again nothing was settled. Life could be good in this very beautiful state and there could be a very busy and profitable tourism industry if this conflict could be settled. Advanced Students...
Population : 45 million
Capitol : Bangalore
Language : Kannada
200,000 sq. km
Bangalore, the capitol of Karnataka, is sometimes called India's "Silicon Valley" because it has led the way in development of software companies. The rest of the state, though, has not seen similar development and 65% of Karnatakas workers are still involved in low-tech agriculture. People who are not working in agriculture or computer related industries are employed in manufacturing of airplanes, train coaches, telephones, electronic and telecommunications equipment and other products. In the south part of the state is Hampi, now in ruins but once a magnificent and wealthy city. It was built 600 years ago as the centre of the great (Hindu) Vijayanagar Empire. From 1509 to 1530 it was ruled by Krishna Deva Raya, a powerful warrior who also loved literature and poetry. The territory around the area controlled by the Vijayanagars was held by various Muslim rulers who were often fighting each other. After Krishna Deva Raya died his sons-in-law took over and were not such wise leaders as their father-in-law. They insulted the neighbouring rulers so badly, and so often, that finally those rulers got together and attacked the Vijayanagars. A huge battle took place which the Vijayanagars lost even though they were fighting with 600,000 foot soldiers, 100,000 men on horseback and hundreds of elephants. Two of the sons-in-law were killed in battle and the third, who was ninety years old, rushed back to the city with a few followers, loaded up 550 elephants with gold, diamonds and precious gems and the jewelled throne and escaped. A few days later the enemy armies arrived and spent five months tearing the city stone from stone looking for the treasure. They left the city, which had hugely impressed visiting European travellers, in ruins. Now you can only walk around the broken walls and wondered what it might have looked like in its heyday. Advanced Students...
Population : 29 million
Capitol : Thiruvananthapuram
Language : Malayalam
39,000 sq. km
When the British came to India they found some of the Indian names too hard, or too much trouble, to pronounce so decided to shorten them. So in those days Thiruvananthapuram was called "Trivandrum", Udagamandalam was called "Ooty" and Tiruchirappalli was called "Trichy". After Independence in 1947, Indians felt that the old correct names should be restored, with pride, to the towns and cities they belonged to. Thus Kerala's capitol became, once again, Thiruvananthapuram. Kerala's coast-line on the Arabian Sea is lined with coconut trees and white sand, and tourism is an important industry in this state.
Kerala is one of India's most well-off states. Unlike many other states, almost every person in Kerala can read and write and has basic education. People have better health care, and fewer children die during birth. The minimum wage that people earn is higher than elsewhere and working conditions are better. At least part of the reason for all this is the relatively enlightened land reform policies put in place more than a hundred years ago by the rulers of what was then the princely state of Travancore. More land reforms were made in the state in the 1960s by what was the first democratically elected Communist government in the world and Communist governments have been in power in Kerala many times since then. Christianity arrived in Kerala in 52 AD, about the same time it arrived in Europe, and today 20% of the population is Christian, 20% Muslim and 60% Hindu. Many people from Kerala go to the Gulf to work and send their earnings back to their families at home, which is also an important contributor to Kerala's wealth. Advanced Students...
Population : 56 million
Chennai (formerly Madras)
Languages : Tamil
130,000 sq. km
The southern tip of Tamil Nadu is also the southern tip the country. This point of land is special because it is where three major bodies of water meet: the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. The four southern states of India, including Tamil Nadu, have developed separately from the rest of India. This area was traditionally called "Dravidadasa" which means "land of the Dravidian peoples" and although these four southern states have four different languages all of these languages are similar to each other and very different from Hindi, the main language of the rest of India.
There are two small mountain ranges in Tamil Nadu and each has a "hill station", a town high up in the mountains where people go during the hot season to find cool comfortable temperatures. In the Nilgiri Hills is Udagamandalam (which people still call "Ooty" - the name the British gave it) and in the Palani Hills is Kodaikanal. Both places are reached by driving up and up long windy roads for a few hours. When you start out from the plains below you are sweaty and hot, and as you drive up it becomes cooler and cooler. At the top, where the hill stations are, it is often misty and always cool. From the top you can hardly imagine how hot it is down on the plains two kilometres down which you can see from the cliffs near the town. When the British were in India, parents used to spend the hottest month of the year up in these hill stations, and their children would live up here most of the year away from their parents, studying at the International schools that were set up in these hill stations. The schools are still there but now the children are mostly from wealthy Indian families. Advanced Students...
Population : 66 million
Capitol : Bhopal
Area : 44,000 sq. km
Most of Madhya Pradesh is a flat plateau, and through the state, running from east to west, is the mighty Narmada River. Much attention in recent years has been focussed on a huge dam that is being built on this river. When it is completed, the water that builds up behind the dam will flood hundreds of villages and cause many thousands of people to have to leave their homes and move to other areas. The government argues that the dam will provide water to irrigate large areas of land allowing them to become much higher yielding agricultural areas. They also claim that they have provided enough land in other areas for the displaced people. However, there are on-going protests from people who are against large dams and by villagers who will have to move because of the dam. These villagers claim that the government has not actually given them new land to move to. These protests are causing the project to continue to be surrounded by controversy. A growing number of people believe that using inexpensive water harvesting techniques at the local level to trap and conserve rain water are a much better way to improve the water supply then building large dams like the Narmada. Bhopal is the capital city of the state and it, also, is famous for very troubled reasons. In 1984 a large amount of poison gas was released from the American-owned Union Carbide factory there killing over 3000 people and damaging the health of thousands more. Even though Union Carbide has paid large amounts of money in compensation the reason for the gas leak has never been fully settled with no one wanting to take responsibility for what was the largest environmental disaster in history. Advanced Students...
Population : 80 million
Language : Marathi
Area: 300,000 sq. km
Maharashtra is the leading industrial state in the country, with Bombay, or Mumbai as it is now called, as its focal point. Mumbai is on the coast, and is a city of 13 million people. It is the wealthiest city in India with some of the most expensive real estate in the world. It also has the largest slum in Asia with something like one-third of the city's residents on the streets or in squalid crowded neighbourhoods with not enough water or space. It has enormous textile, pharmaceutical, car manufacturing and petrochemical industries and is the economic power house of the state and of the country. Its port is the largest in the country and its airport the busiest. Its film industry, nicknamed "Bollywood", is the biggest in the world. Despite all this, 61% of Maharashtra's people still depend on agriculture for their living.
The western side of Maharashtra is a 100-mile-wide low strip of land lying along the Arabian Sea. Inland from that is a range of forested hills called the Western Ghats. Between the 13th and the 18th centuries the Moghuls gradually took control in most of northern India, but despite all their efforts and many battles, they could never defeat the Marathas of Maharashtra. An important reason for this was that the forested hills of the Western Ghats were ideally suited for defense against invading armies. The Marathas used clever guerilla tactics which allowed them to attack quickly and then retreat back into the hills. It was not until the British came in the 18th century, and the Marathas had become much weaker, that they finally lost control of their territory. Advanced Students...
Population : 32 million
Capitol : Bhubaneswar
Language : Oriya
Area: 156,000 sq. km
One of the most amazing religious buildings in the world is found in this state. Konarak, uncovered by archaeologists a hundred years ago, is a 700 year old Hindu temple that is built like a huge chariot to the sun god, who is called Surya. This "chariot" is pulled by seven galloping stone horses (only one is still whole) which stand for the seven days of the week, and along the sides are twelve sets of huge beautifully carved stone wheels, representing the twelve months of the year. All over the sides of the temple are more elaborate carvings. There are many other beautiful temples in Orissa. They say that between the 7th century and the 12th century over 7000 temples were built in and around Bhubaneswar, the capitol.
Ashoka was a great emperor of India, who lived around 300 A.D. He was a fierce warrior and fought many battles to gain more and more land. One of these great battles happened in Orissa. Ashoka's armies won this battle but when Ashoka saw all the people who had been killed and all the wasteful damage that had been done he was so sick of himself that he converted to the Buddhist religion. After that he became a wise and peaceful ruler who made good laws and then had these laws carved on stone pillars all over India so people could read them and know their rights. Advanced Students...
Population : 68 million
Capitol : Kolkata
Language : Bengali
Area: 89,000 sq. km
West Bengal is famous for its philosophers, film makers, writers and artists and several Nobel Prize Winners have come from this state. Rabindranath Tagore is one of the most famous of these. He was a writer, poet , and artist, and he started a university. He was knighted by the British in 1915, becoming Sir Rabindranath Tagore, but four years later he gave up his knighthood because he was so against the way the British were behaving in India. There are still many writers, musicians, painters, dancers and film makers in West Bengal, especially in Calcutta. A huge book fair is held in Calcutta every year to which sometimes as many as 100,000 people come in one day.
West Bengal is wider in the north, very narrow in the middle, and again wide in the south. In the south part is the river delta of the Hooghly River. (A river delta is where a river spreads out wide before emptying into the ocean, and there are islands in the spread out part.) This river delta and its islands are called the Sunderbans, and this is where the ferocious man-eating Bengal tigers live. The whole area is a wild life preserve and the tigers can swim from island to island. Bengal tigers are known to attack people from behind so when local people go into the tigers' territory they wear masks on the backs of their heads in order to fool the tigers. If you drink Darjeeling tea at home, you might be interested to know that it comes from the place called Darjeeling, which is in the foothills of the Himalayas at the very very north end of West Bengal. Advanced Students...
Languages : Monpa, Miji, Aka, Sherdukpen, Nishing, Apatani, Tagin, Hill Miri, Adi, Tanqsa, Digaru-Mismi, Idu-Mismi, Khamti, Nocte, Miju Mishmi and Wanche
84,000 sq. km.
Arunachal Pradesh goes from the high snow covered Himalayan mountains on its northern side down to the low areas on its southern side, which border on the valley of the huge Brahmaputra River. Arunachal Pradesh is over half forest, so a lot of the industries are related to forestry (saw mills, plywood etc). There is some mining but most people who are not working in forestry are involved in agriculture. A lot of the people who live in this state are tribal peoples. Through India's history, when the lower parts of the country were invaded by people from outside the area the tribals moved up into the hills and carried on there with their traditional lifestyle, living off the land and moving from place to place amongst the forested hills. The situation of the tribal people in India varies a lot from place to place. Some of them are quite integrated into the mainstream population and some of them still very separate and living very traditionally. In many cases, tribals were very unprepared to mix with the general population and so lost access to their lands (often because they signed documents that they couldn't read) and many are living in conditions of poverty, poor health and illiteracy. Advanced Students...
Population : 22 million
Capitol : Dispur
Area: 74,000 sq. km
The state of Assam is mostly made up of the river valley of the Great Brahmaputra River which, when it leaves Assam, flows through Bangladesh and into the Bay of Bengal. Assam used to be a much larger state but in the last 50 years parts of it were split off to form the surrounding states because the tribal peoples in those various areas wanted their own states. Most of the people in Assam (80%) are involved in agriculture, with the main crop being rice. They also grow jute (from which rope is made), cotton and various fruits. Fifteen per cent of the world's tea comes from Assam, and there is a Tea Auction Centre in this state which is the biggest in the world. Kaziranga National Park is in Assam and it is home to the famous one-horned rhinos which used to be endangered but now, thanks to the protection given by the park, they no longer are. Lots of other wild animals, including tigers and elephants, wander freely through Assam's forests. Advanced Students...
Population : 2 million
Capitol : Imphal
Language : Manipuri
Area: 22,000 sq. km
Most of this small state is covered by forests and there are very few industries. Two thirds of the state's people are engaged in agriculture. Twenty different tribal groups live in this state and for the last 30 years there has been much violent unrest here. First this was because the tribal people were fighting for a separate state of their own, and later because they were engaged in a bloody war with the Naga tribe to the north. During the Second World War this area became important because the Japanese were on one side and the British, who controlled India, were on the other. The Japanese army, with help from soldiers of the Indian National Army who sided with the Japanese because they wanted the British to leave India, occupied most of what is now the state of Manipur, and from there they attacked the British who held Assam, just to the west. During the war years, a 430 km road was built through the forests of Manipur by the British at a cost of 137 million dollars. It was probably the most expensive road in the world but even so was abandoned a few months after it was finished and remains unused to this day. Manipur became a state of India in 1972. Advanced Students...
Population : 2 million
Capitol : Shillong
Languages: Khasi, Garo and English
22,000 sq. km
More rain falls in Meghalaya than anywhere on earth. Cherrapunjee, in the central part of the state, has a globally record breaking average annual rainfall of 1150 centimetres - eleven and a half METRES of rainfall per year!! Records report that in a single 24-hour period in 1876, 41 inches of rain fell. All this rain falls on the forested hills which cover 70% of the state, and crashes down their slopes in magnificent water falls. Near Cherrapunjee is Shillong, one and a half kilometres above sea level, with a beautiful climate and spectacular views. This town was a popular holiday spot for the British who administered Assam in the 1800s, and they finally made it the capital of that area (all of which was then called Assam) in the 1870s. You can still tell that at one time this was a charming and beautiful holiday retreat for the British - there are various buildings and some parks that are now mostly ruined - but the town and its surrounding areas are no longer nearly as beautiful as they once were. This is because the population has increased very quickly and there has not been proper planning of how this growth should happen. As a result, nearby forests get cut down and not replanted, new streets are not properly laid out, water systems and sewage treatment are not put in place and traffic is not controlled. A lot of the population increase has been from people moving across the border from neighboring Bangladesh because of problems there. This increase in newcomers has angered the tribal people of Meghalaya and created a climate of anger and violence. Advanced Students...
Population : 0.7 million
Capitol : Aizwal
Languages : Mizo and English
21,000 sq. km
The Mizo tribe fought for twenty years to be an independent country, till finally, in 1987, they became a state of India. Mizoram is mostly hilly and used to be covered with forests. The tribal people, though, carried on what is called a "slash and burn" form of cultivation - they burned down an area of forest and grew crops there for a few years till the soil was worn out, then moved on to a new place. When they left, bamboo trees took over very quickly and stayed, so now except for in the south part of the state which is still mature forest, most of the state is covered in bamboo trees. Most of the Mizo tribal people are Christian and many of them speak English, because in the 1920s many missionaries came into the area and converted them. Even so, they have kept many of their best traditions and as a group get along well with each other and with outsiders. Except for the village chief, every one is equal and they also consider women equal to men. Advanced Students...
Population : 1.2 million
Languages : Angami, Ao, Chang, Konyak, Lotha, Sangtam, Sema and Chakhesang
Area: 16,000 sq. km
Nagaland is a mostly mountainous state and on the slopes of these mountains are the villages of the sixteen different Naga tribes. The Nagas have a reputation for being fierce and until some time in the 1900s they were headhunters. They believed that a person's soul was in the nape of their neck and to set the soul free it was necessary to cut off the head. "A person's spirit was separate from their soul and lived in their head, and they belived that to own a head gave you good luck." Because they believed these things they would cut off the heads of their enemies and of their own fellow warriors who died in battle and bring them home to keep in their village. The heads of their enemies were kept like trophies and in some tribes warriors would tatoo their faces to show how many heads they had brought home.
Until early in the 1900s many areas of Nagaland had never been visited or mapped by outsiders. During the Second World War the Japanese planned to invade India through Nagaland and there were fierce battles over several months with the British which left many soldiers dead. More than a thousand Allied soldiers are buried in a military cemetary which overlooks Kohima, the capital city. Because Nagaland is on the outside border of India, and because for so many years the Naga tribes have been fighting the Indian government for a separate state and also fighting other tribes, there are many soldiers and much military equipment in Nagaland and visitors to the state cannot go to many areas. Advanced Students...
Population : 2.8 million
Capitol : Agartala
Languages: Bengali and Kik Borak
10,000 sq. km
Over half of Tripura is covered by forests. Tea, which grows best on high ground, is the main industry after agriculture. Tripura is surrounded on three sides by Bangladesh, which used to be called East Bengal. There were various groups in control of Tripura over the centuries but the person who made the biggest changes was a wise king who was known by the long name of Maharaja Birchandra Kishore Manikya Bahadur. He took power in 1870. Many leaders are selfish or lazy or not very smart or don't really care about their people, but now and again a leader goes to a lot of trouble to try to improve the lives of the people he or she leads. This king of Tripura was one of those, and he made many good changes in how things ran. He loved Bengali culture and language and was great friends with several wise and open-minded Bengalis, with whom he spent a lot of time talking about how things should go in his country. In the years since then many people from Bangladesh have come across the border into Tripura because of problems in Bangladesh. Things got more difficult in Tripura because so many new people started living there without anyone planning how to run things properly with so much larger a population. In 1972 Tripura became a full state of India though there are still some people who are fighting for Tripura to be an independant state and not part of India. Advanced Students...
|Andaman and Nicobar Islands|
Population : 280,000
Capitol : Port Blair
Language: Hindi, Nicobarese, Malayalam, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu
Area: 8000 sq. km
This group of 572 islands is a thousand miles east of India in the Bay of Bengal. In the 1700s a pirate named Kanhoji Angre lived on these islands, attacking and robbing passing merchant ships from England and Europe. That wasn't the only reason that sailors were nervous in that part of the ocean : the tribal people has a reputation for being cruel, and cannibalistic people. This idea about them is probably not true, though, because when European missionaries came to these islands later they were treated very politely. Christian missionaries came here to try to teach people about the Christian religion and convince them that they should give up their own tribal religions and become Christians. Some did but in the mean time, without meaning to, the missionaries spread germs among the tribals that in some places caused most of them to die. Diseases like chicken pox, flu and mumps that would only make Europeans sick, would be fatal to tribals who'd never had contact with such germs before. There are not many tribal people left - maybe 25,000 all together. Some of these still live in grass huts in the forest, gathering their food from what grows there, like nuts, roots and honey. Meanwhile many many people have moved there from India, so that there are a lot more Indians than tribals now on the islands. Also, there has not been enough care for the environment with so many more people living there. Too many trees are being cut down so there is less and less space for the tribal people to carry on their traditional life styles. Advanced Students...
Population : 51,000
32 sq. km
These 36 islands are about 300 km west of Kerala in the Arabian Sea. People live on only eleven of them. The biggest crop here is coconuts and the biggest industry is "coir" which is made from the fibres of the coconut that are between the green hard outside shell and the soft white inside part. Coir is made into rope and also pillows and mattresses. Foreigners are only allowed to go to one of the islands, where there are some hotels, because they don't want tourism on the other islands. They are worried that the tourists, and the hotels they stay in, will affect the local ecology and culture badly. Most of the people there are Muslims. They first came to the islands over a thousand years ago. When the Portuguese tried to take over the islands in the 1700s the islanders were able to resist them. Finally the British took control and in 1956 the Lakshadweeps became a Union Territory of India. Advanced Students...
Population : 0.5 million
Language: Lepcha, Bhutia, Nepali and Limbu
7000 sq. km
The highest mountain in India, Mount Kanchenjunga, is in this state. It is eight and a half kilometres high and is part of the Great Himalayan mountains which stretch across the north of India. With high snow-capped mountains and, in between them, deep valleys that are only a few hundred metres above sea level, Sikkim is spectacular. All through the mountains are quiet, remote Buddhist monasteries where monks live and pray, far from the crowds and rush of India's cities. Many of the people in Sikkim came from Nepal in the days when the British had huge tea plantations on the lower slopes of the mountains. These Nepalis came at that time to work on the plantations and stayed, becoming Indians. Besides tea, apples, oranges and cardamom, over 450 types of orchids grow here. Higher up the mountain slopes snow leopards and the red panda (an endangered species) live. Sikkim was a kingdom for many centuries, and the last king and his American wife, Hope Cook, reigned until the 70s when Sikkim voted to become a state of India. Advanced Students...
Bombay, or "Mumbai" as it is now called, is the most highly populated, the wealthiest, the most industrialized, most crowded and most westernized city in India. Its port is the largest in the country and its airport the busiest. It has the biggest film industry and some of the most expensive real estate in the world. Its film industry, nicknamed "Bollywood", and the film industry in the state of Andhra Pradesh, nicknamed "Tollywood" (because it makes Telugu-language films), are each much larger and produce many more films than Hollywood. These films are shown in every town and city across the country and tickets cost as little as 15 cents so even quite poor people can afford to go. Some parts of Mumbai are where the wealthy people live - with large beautiful houses, fancy cars and many servants. Other areas, a much much larger part of the city, are slums - tiny houses crowded together, dirt roads, not enough water, no proper sewage system, sometimes no electricity and too many people living in each small house.
Down town Mumbai which is on the ocean front has some large fine buildings including the magnificient Taj Mahal Hotel. This hotel was built over a hundred years ago by a wealthy Indian businessman named J.N.Tata. At that time there was also another luxury hotel on the water front called Watson's which had been built by the British. Many British people in India had a snobbish superior attitude towards Indians, and there were many places, including Watson's Hotel, where Indian people worked as staff but could never be guests equal to British people. Because of this Mr. Tata built his own hotel which was open to anyone who could afford it. Watson's Hotel is long gone from Mumbai's waterfront but the Taj Mahal Hotel is still there, standing proud and fine, over looking the Arabian Sea.
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