India has an elusive quality that is part myth and part legend. Its enigmatic persona invites curiosity and incredible inquiry. It is in India that one can fully appreciate the meaning of Rousseau's axiom, 'The life which is unexamined is not worth living," for India answers every question that is raised and raises new questions for every answer.

Utter the name India and images of mystery and adventure are conjured up. Thinking of India is an emotional experience that has an incredible capacity to awaken dormant compassion and humility in its onlookers. Being in India is the closest thing to spirituality one can find on earth. Mystical and mythical, India is an engaging experience of sense and sensibilities; beyond space and time.

Providing an array of sights; its profound beauty truly lies "in the eye of the beholder." It has been said that India remains unchanged while it has changed others. Those who witness its beauty are undoubtedly changed forever. Overwhelming. India impresses like no other culture.

India is a mirage of infinite horizon-the closer one gets, the farther it moves. Like a wanderlust journey of an undetermined destination, it is a mythical land of perceptive depths and expansive dimensions. For millenniums it has cradled ancient civilizations, witnessed celestial configurations, constructed prodigious monuments, experienced benevolent and ruthless traders, invaders and rulers and acquired a unique petrified personalitv that is impossible to duplicate.

Some 5,000 years ago when much of the world was still unexplored, India was alive with the advanced Indus Valley Civilization at Mohen-jo-Daro and Harappa. The advanced civilization that had multistory brick houses with bath and sanitation drainage, wide roads, a rich philosophy of life and a fully developed script that, like a mystery, remains un-deciphered even to this day !

In earlier times, India was known as the golden bird. Innumerable tales of her wealth and opulence gravitated traders, travelers, raiders and rulers toward her who came either for jewels, ivory, silks and spices or for vast open land. The majestic stories told by returning visitors gave an aura of mystery and excitement about India to the rest of the world. Serving as an important link to the trade routes between East and West, it brought the Persians, the Greeks, the Arabs,

the Mughals and the Europeans, including the English, to her door step. India embodies the idea of amelting pot that has welcomed, nurtured and assimilated many

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human races in the course of her 5000 year history. It is a land of variety, pulsating and alive where landscape, people and palaces permeate innate beauty to transform it into a splendid mosaic of interesting patterns and vibrant colors.

India is breathtaking. Attracting old and young alike, it is therefore a curious blend of diverse religions, languages regions, art, cuisine, costumes and customs. The diverse Indian tapestry has maintained its brightness in spite of its existence of 5000 years. The medieval India was ruled by the Mughal Dynasty For over three hundred years. For another two hundred years it was colonized and ruled by the English. On August 15, 1947 India became an independent democratic nation.

Mahatma Gandhi championed the philosophy of non-violence and non-cooperation to energize and mobilize the freedom movement. Among thousands who participated in the freedom struggle were: Motilal Nehru and his son Jawaharlal Nehru, Sri Aurobindo Ghosh, Subhash Chandra Bose and Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. Gandhi's efforts to gain freedom through peaceful measures have been adopted and practiced by many others: Nelson Mandela and Late Martin Luther King, Jr., etc. For comparison, Gandhi is respected in India as the Father of the Nation, like George Washington in America.

As the land of the Vedas; knowledge and wisdom, India has long been linked to the philosophical wisdom and eternal spiritual quest of human kind. Many scholars came from far away to study at the Indian Universities of Nalanda and Taxila with some 10,000 pupils. The Chinese Scholars, Hiuen Tsang and Fahien visited in sixth and seventh CE, Vasco De Gama and Marco Polo anchored their ships in 1400 and 1500 CE and Mark Twain, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, Jr. came in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

One of the questions that is most often asked is about the source of the terms Hinduism and India. Interestingly, their origins are geographical in nature. In ancient times, people inhabited mainly the Northwest Sindh River region. In the Persian Language, Sindh became Hind. The people living in this region were called, Hindus and their philosophy, Hinduism. In Greek, Sindh became Indus and from it came India and Indian. With the passage of time; the terms Hindu and Hinduism, India and Indians were extended to the entire sub-continent.

India is a vast country, a subcontinent, a land of sun, sand, snow and sea. Here, the snow-covered Himalayan ranges stretch fifteen hundred miles from North to East and some 4200 miles of luscious and sandy beaches line the South. To the East, it has hilly tea gardens and the town of Chirapunji, which receives the highest rainfall in the world, while the West houses a blazing desert of roaming camels and nomads.

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