Tourism | Culture
India is often described as a tourist paradise. From the mighty snow-capped Himalayas of Kashmir in the north to the shimmering seas of Kanyakumari in the south, the verdant deltas of Sunderbans in the east, the world's largest protected eco-and-game reserve to the historic forts and shrines of Rajasthan to the west – India has everything that the footloose traveller would like to sample.
Inbound tourism is booming and the country is going all out to lure more travellers from around the world.
Contrary to perceptions across the world that tourism in India is still confined to traditions – the country is opening up with trendy tour packages and affordable air travel deals to woo inbound visitors from every segment.
The Pacific-Asia Travel Association says international arrivals to destinations in Asia-Pacific grew by 2.6 per cent in 2008 despite the economic downturn. And it is still showing a healthy growth.
According to projections, inbound arrival figure is expected to jump the four million mark this year.
India, says the Asian travel trade fraternity, figures on the top of the most favoured destinations, primarily because of five reasons - affordability, cultural and entertainment diversity, heritage, the country's rich socio-cultural mosaic and the robust economy which has been able to withstand the recession. The country has adapted to change, fusing modernity with traditions.
According to World Travel & Tourism Council, the travel and tourism economy in India generates employment for 17.7 million people, some 5.6% of total employment in the year 2000. WTTC forecasts that, by the year 2010, global Travel & Tourism will generate 24.8 million jobs, accounting for 6.5% of total employment world-wide. If, by the year 2010, Indian Travel & Tourism were to generate the same level of employment as the world average, then a further 25 million jobs would be created in India over the next decade. Given India’s outstanding wealth of natural reserves and rich cultural heritage, its thriving business community and high levels of entrepreneurship, India can seize this opportunity.
In India, inbound tourist expenditure is the third highest in the world. The tourist influx to India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 22.65 per cent between 2007 and 2011.
Consequently, the country offers a eclectic mix of tourism from upend spa, golf, wine, skiing and shopping holidays, river safaris, health tourism to the traditional camel rides in Rajasthan, rural tourism in the hinterlands of Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh.
The traditional history and religious trails touch states like Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and the temple towns of Southern India.
This year, the government is providing incentives for repeat visitors. It includes special packages for those visiting India for the second time.
The most popular tourist circuits in the country are the northern Indian heritage packages that include Delhi-Agra and Rajasthan.
Delhi, the Indian capital, is like an archive- home to the modern and the old. It was the seat of the Mughal rulers, the British Raj and also the Indraprastha mentioned in the epic Mahabharata.
Every crumbling wall in Delhi has a story to tell. Every yesterday is replete with history. Rulers have come and gone. The city has lived through wars, resurrection, repeatedly rising from the ashes. It has cradled civilisations since times immemorial. Delhi goes back hundreds of thousands of years back into time.
Agra, which lies adjacent to New Delhi at a distance of 300 km, is one of the most important destinations on the world map with three heritage monuments- the Taj Mahal, Red Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.
A pleasant town with a comparatively slow pace, Agra is known for its superb inlay work on marble and soapstone by craftsmen, descendants of the Muslim artisans of the 15-16th century. The city is famous for its carpets, gold thread embroidery and leather shoes.
Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, is an abode of extensive boulevards and beautiful gardens. Founded by Sawai Jaisingh II in 1727 AD, the “pink city” still preserves its glory of rich history, pink sandstone architecture and culture.
The past comes alive in its impressive forts, majestic palaces and in its royal buildings, which for centuries were the abode of royal families. Rajasthani jewelry, art and fabrics from the city are in great demand in the international market. It is the gateway to the desert state of Rajasthan.
Mumbai formerly known as Bombay, is the capital city of Maharashtra state, and is the financial capital of the country. Situated on Salsette Island, Mumbai is made from a cluster of Seven Islands and derived its name from Mumbadevi, the goddess of the Koli fisher folk.
It has a deep natural harbour, which handles more than half of India's passenger traffic and a large amount of cargo. The city which never sleeps, is also home to the country's million-dollar movie industry. Mumbai and the beach resort of Goa- a 12-hour drive from the city, draws thousands of tourists every year.
Located on the slopes of the Himalayas, Shimla is the capital of Himachal Pradesh. It still retains the glory of colonial times, with its race tracks, lush golf ccourses and colonial British cuisine.
Hyderabad in the South Indian state of Karnataka, in contrast, is steeped in its Muslim heritage while Bangalore in the state of Karnataka is a free individual traveller (FIT)'s delight. It is the Silicon Valley of India, the face of contemporary India.
Atithi Devo Bhavah (Guest is like God)
'Atithi Devo Bhavah' is a social awareness campaign aimed at providing the inbound tourist a sense of being welcomed to the country. The campaign targets the general public as a whole, while focusing mainly on the stakeholders of the tourism industry. The main components of the campaign are training and orientation to taxi drivers, guides, immigration officers, tourist police and other personnel directly interacting with the tourists, while simultaneously creating a brand equity for the trained persons.
For more information visit http://atithi.org.in
Each and every stone in India has a story to tell about its past. Indian historical tourism sites are a timeless sojourn back in the by lanes of time to unravel untold mysteries of the past and explore the rare jewels of the glorious past of India. Historical tourism will help you get to know about India from the very beginning, and the splendor that this country once enjoyed. India has been ruled by many indigenous dynasties that have contributed a lot in growth of its rich culture and heritage. Due to its strategic positioning, various topographic features, fertile alluvial plains, long flowing rivers and six different seasons, India has been a source of constant attraction for foreigners who have sometimes conquered it and at others made it their permanent abode.
On its historical tourism, study the long and eventful history of the country that is as vast and as rich the country itself. Explore forts, palaces, temples, mosques, churches, schools, tombs, cemeteries, victory pillars and places built by various builders at various points of time during their rules. These monuments of the past have stood the vagaries of time to tell the story of their inception, beauty, grace, love, passion, art and architecture. Most of the famous Indian cities have a rich history worth knowing, and important sites worth visiting.
The city of Agra is known to be in existence since the period of Mahabharata when it was known as Agravan and believed to be the part of the Brij-Bhoomi. Made the capital by Raja Badal Singh, Sikander Lodi and Babur, the city rise to fame only after the Mughal Emperor Akbar ruled from here. Visit the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah, Akbar's Tomb, Fatehpur Sikri and other smaller monuments.
Aurangabad enjoys a strategic location in central India from where the north can have control over the Deccan. It's important positioning was first realized by Mohammed-bin-Tughlaq who established his capital at Deogir, and re-named it as Daulatabad. But the city has got its name from the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb, who made this city as his seat of power to control his vast empire. Visit the Ajanta Caves, Ellora Caves, Aurangabad Caves, Bibi ka Maqbara, Daulatabad Fort, Pithalkhora Caves, Paithan and other places.
Bodhgaya is the place where Prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment under the pipal tree and became 'The Buddha' or 'The Enlightened One'. 13 km from Gaya in Bihar, Bodhgaya is the place where the birth of Buddhism took place. Visit the Mahabodhi Temple, Mahabodhi Tree, Vajrasana, Ancient Railing, Lotus Tank, Chankaramana, Animeshlochana and Ratnagar.
The legendary city of romance and chivalry, Chittorgarh was brought in dowry by the last Solanki princess when she married Bappa Rawal, the legendary founder of the Sisodia dynasty in the middle of the 8th century AD. Spread over a 7-mile long hill, the city was sacked three times in history due to its strategic location. Visit the Chittorgarh Fort, Vijay Stambha, Kirti Stambha, Rana Kumbha's Palace, Rani Padmini's Palace, Kumbha Shyam Temple and other places.
Delhi has traveled a long way since it became the capital of the Pandavas becoming the capital of India eight times. If you pass through the city, you will come across various monuments big and small, some in good condition, others dilapidated, that will remind you about the glory that this city has seen. The modern structures are a reminder of the British rule and contemporary structures are there to indicate the progress that the city has made over the centuries. There are several places to visit in Delhi.
Hyderabad was established in 1591-92 AD by Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah on the banks of river Musi five miles from Golconda. Since then, the city has grown tremendously in size, economy and fame. Visit Charminar, Golconda Fort, Mecca Masjid, Qutub Shahi Tombs, Falaknuma Palace, Salrajung Museum and other places.
Jaipur is the brainchild of the Kachhwaha King, Sawai Jai Singh, who came up with the idea to build the first planned city of India in 1713 AD. His ideas were effectively complimented by a very talented Bengali architect, Vidhyadhar Bhattacharya, who planned the city on the basis of the principles laid down in ancient Indian treatises on architecture, Shilpa Shastra and ancient Indian science of architecture, Vastu Shastra. The foundation was laid in 1727 AD, and the work was accomplished in 1731 AD. Visit the City Palace and Museum, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar, Amber Fort, Nahargarh Fort and several other monuments.
Jaisalmer was established by Bhati Rajput Rao Jaisal in the year 1156 AD. The city was named after him. Visit the Jaiselmer Fort, Patwaon-Ki-Haveli, Nathamlji-Ki-Haveli, Salim Singh-Ki-Haveli, Gadsisar Lake and several other monuments.
Jodhpur was the capital of the Kingdom of Marwar. The foundation of the modern state of Jodhpur was laid down by Sir Pratap Singh and followed by Maharaja Umaid Singh. Visit the Mehrangarh Fort, Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jaswant Thada and several other monuments.
Khajuraho is a small village in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh. The village is celebrated the world over for beautiful stone temples that mark the culmination of temple architecture in India. Hidden deep in the forts, the temples were first discovered by T.B. Burt, a British engineer in 1838 AD. The temples were patronized by the Chandela kings between 950 AD and 1050 AD. The temples are significant for their perfect craftsmanship and refined sculpting. Out of the 85 temples, only 22 are left today. Visit the Western, Eastern and Southern Group of Temples.
Konark was the part of the Kalinga Empire and a busy harbour during ancient times. 65 km from Bhubaneshwar, Konark is better known for the Sun Temple. Some traditions believe that King Narshimadeva I of the Ganga Dynasty built the famous temple dedicated to Sun God. Local traditions say that Samba, the son of Lord Krishna, constructed the temple in honor of Sun God who had cured him of leprosy that occurred due to his father's curse after he underwent severe penance for 12 years.
Madurai is one of the oldest cities in India, as it history dates back to the Sangam Period. It is believed that Madurai derives its name from 'Madhuram' or 'Nectar' that fell from the locks of Lord Shiva when he came to bless the people of the city for construction of a Shiva temple. It was a glorious and prosperous city during the Sangam Age, as well as under the dominance of the Vijaynagar Empire. Visit the Meenakshi Temple, Thirumalai Nayak Mahal, Gandhi Museum, Vaniyur Mariamman Teppakulam and other smaller monuments.
Mahabalipuram was founded by the King Narsimhavarman I, son of King Mahendravarman. The city was named as Mahamallapuram meaning 'City of the Warriors' after his title 'Mahamalla'. Visit the Shore Temple, Arjuna's Penance, Ganesh Ratha, Trimurti Cave Temple, Five Rathas and other smaller monuments.
Better known as the Commercial Capital of India, Mumbai comprises of 7 islands, namely, Colaba, Mazagaon, Old Woman's Island, Wadala, Mahim, Parel and Matunga-Sion on the central-western coast along the Arabian Sea. Visit the Gateway of India, Elephanta Caves, Sir Pherozshah Mehta Gardens or the Hanging Gardens, Flora Fountain, Chowpatty Beach, Prince of Wales Museum of Western India or Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, and several other places.
Situated 140 km from Bangalore on the southern part of the Deccan Plateau, Mysore was the capital of the Wodeyar Dynasty. Also known as the 'City of Palaces', Mysore is lined with splendid palaces, well laid gardens, magnificent temples and striking buildings. Visit the Mysore Palace, Chamundi Hills, Brindavan Gardens, St. Philomena's Church, Mysore Zoo, The Art Gallery and other smaller monuments.
Udaipur was the capital of the Mewar Kingdom and established in 1567 AD. Mewar is the oldest surviving dynasty in the world. Visit the City Palace, Sajjan Garh or the Monsoon Palace, Sahelion ki Bari, Fateh Sagar Lake and several other monuments.
Varanasi is supposedly the oldest city in the world with a mention in the great epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Located on the semi-circular left bank of River Ganga, Varanasi derives its name from the two rivers that flow across the city, namely, Varuna and Asi. Visit the Kashi Vishwanatha Temple, Bharat Mata Temple, Durga Temple, Tulsi Manas Temple, Alamgir Mosque, Banaras Hindu University, Archaeological Museum, the Ghats and several other monuments.
Cultural and heritage tourism
From time immemorial, India has been considered to be a land with a rich cultural heritage. Centuries after centuries, this country has seen rulers like the Rajputs, Mughals, English and Portuguese. Besides, various religions also flourished at different times like Buddhism, Jainism etc. All these factors have played their role in making an impact on the culture of this country. One can find the traces of different cultures in music, dance, architecture, festivities, languages spoken, traditional beliefs and customs, food and many more like these. It is the development in these aspects of life that makes the heritage of India one of the most vibrant and exhaustive.
We believe in the continuity and dynamism of Indian cultural heritage and it is our endeavour to help people from the world over get acquainted with it. And there can not be a better way to understand this than to experience it. Travel to India with our cultural tour packages and understand why this heritage has withstood thousands of years and is still going strong.
India has the largest network of railways in the world. It is one of the most convenient and popular modes of transport for travelling in India. The Indian railways offer you a hoat of options when you choose to explore India by train. There is the most exclusive 'Palace on Wheels', which takes you into the world of royal life. Then there are fast and comfortable Rajdhanis and Shatabdis. Besides, there are hundreds of trains available which cover almost whole of India. We, therefore, offer you an exclusive opportunity to see and explore India with Indian Railways, which is the most enduring symbol of the British Raj.
Yoga and meditation
Modern life has also brought complexities and mental pressure. What we immediately do not realize is the impact of such a lifestyle on our health. For those who do care about their lives and want to live it the healthy way, what could be a better way to de-stress than to relax in the soothing and therapeutic balm Yogic and Meditational practices. India is internationally renowned for its ancient healing practices and alternative therapies. For thousands of years now, we have followed our own indigenous healing systems and medicinal practices such as Ayurveda, Naturopathy, and Pranic Healing to name just a few. It is no wonder then that people from all over the world are turning to the Indian sub continent for a more spiritually satisfying way of life.
Yoga and meditation are just such indigenous twin techniques of self-realization and purification. One incomplete without the other, they help an individual to develop a sense of physical, mental, emotional as well as spiritual well being. Yoga in all its forms tries to create harmony of the body with the mind and soul. It is a very general term that encompasses many different disciplines ranging from the purely physical to the purely spiritual, and is a truly original Indian concept.
Many people believe that yoga and meditation are mystic arts that demand complete devotion to the exclusion of everything else. However, the truth is that Yoga and Meditation are not the hard taskmasters they are often made out to be. Yoga and Meditation can easily be incorporated into our daily lives, requiring no more than a few minutes, everyday. Their benefits on the other hand are wide-ranging and restorative. For instance, meditation has proven to be highly effective in treating psychological conditions, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and anxiety, and Yoga is known to increase levels of self-confidence and memory.
We have designed special Yoga and Meditation tour packages that will allow you to combine your holiday and travel to India with a truly uplifting and revitalizing experience. What could be better way to spend a vacation than to go on an inspiring health holiday that will leave you physically, mentally and spiritually refreshed.
Ayurveda is the 'Knowledge or Science of Life'. According to Charaka, the ancient physician-sage, life is a unified state of the physical body, the cognitive organs, the mind and the soul, thus signifying a living being.
Inspired by the zeal, vision and human compassion of its great founder, Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala carried on with its noble mission. It sailed smoothly through two World Wars, the Great Depression of the thirties and several natural calamities and political upheavals. Today, it has grown into a mighty organisation unparalleled in South India.
The services of The Arya Vaidya Sala reach its patients through a nation-wide network of 14 branches and more than 1000 retail distributors that market its 500-odd formulations.
Thousands of patients visit Kottakkal every year, seeking succour at the healing hands of Arya Vaidya Sala. Ailing people from West European, Arabian, American and Far East countries also approach the institution. For thousands of years the wise men of India have applied natural medicine. Massage, herbs and oils are applied to the body aiming to restore the natural balance of the three doshas Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The diagnosis is based on the combination of Vata, Pitta, Kapha, which describes the constitution of each individual.
For more information on Indian tourism go www.incredibleindia.org
One of the world's oldest living civilizations, India has a rich and amazingly pluralistic culture. Nearly all religions in the world are thriving in India's secular state that guarantees freedom of expression and freedom to pursue religion and belief of one's choice. And at least a thousand languages are spoken by over one billion Indians. This diversity has spawned a unique composite and syncretic culture which is reflected in a dazzling variety of art forms, architecture, songs, dance, cinema, folk arts and literature. No wonder India is often called “a miniature of the world” and an “ethnological museum” where all creative forms of human expression can be found.
Contemporary Indian culture is an amalgam of the traditional and the modern. Go anywhere in India and one can find people chatting on their mobile phones or using modern gizmos while living a traditional life. Many people have ancient mantras or devotional songs as their mobile ringtone, underlining the intermingling of the spiritual in their contemporary existence. Family values and a sense of community continue to be central to Indian culture despite pressures of urbanization and modernity. Be it software engineers or entrepreneurs, who have put India on the knowledge map of the world, they deftly juggle native customs with technology and modern living.
The last six decades, reflecting progress in other areas of national life and India's emergence as a global player, have seen a revival and renewal of the five-millennia old Indian culture and an all-round flowering of Indian literature, music and dance. Indian paintings, sculpture and crafts, as well as Indian theatre and films, have experience great outbursts of creativity.
In the arena of the arts, there is a mind-boggling diversity of genres and traditions. Indian music displays a wide array of traditions and regional styles. Classical music largely encompasses the two genres – North Indian Hindustani, South Indian Carnatic traditions and their various offshoots in the form of regional folk music. Regionalised forms of popular music include film and folk music; the syncretic tradition of the bauls is a well-known form of the latter. Two main schools of classical music — Hindustani and Carnatic - continue to survive through oral tradition being passed on by teachers to disciples. This has led to the existence of family traditions called gharanas and sampradayas. In tune with the syncretic spirit of Indian culture, a new fusion music blending Indian musical traditions with western instruments, has emerged and has found a following not only in India but in other parts of the world as well.
Dance in India has an unbroken tradition of over 2,000 years. Its themes are derived from mythology, legends and classical literature, two main divisions being classical and folk. Classical dance forms are based on ancient dance discipline and have set rules of presentation. Important among them are Bharata Natyam, Kathakali, Kathak, Manipuri, Kuchipudi and Odissi. Bharata Natyam, though it derives its roots from Tamil Nadu, has developed into an all-India form. Kathakali is a dance form of Kerala. Kathak is a classical dance form revitalised by the Mughal influence on Indian culture.
Manipur has contributed to a delicate, lyrical style of dance called Manipuri, while Kuchipudi is a dance form that originated in Andhra Pradesh. Odissi from Orissa, once practiced as a temple dance, is today widely performed by artistes across the country. Folk and tribal dances are of numerous patterns. Both classical and folk dances owe their present popularity to institutions like Sangeet Natak Akademi and other training institutes and cultural organisations. The Akademi gives financial assistance to cultural institutions and awards fellowships to scholars, performers and teachers to promote advanced study and training in different forms of dance and music, especially those which are rare.
Theatre in India is as old as her music and dance. Classical theatre survives only in some places. Folk theatre can be seen in its regional variants practically in every region. There are also professional theatres, mainly city-oriented. Besides, India has a rich tradition of puppet theatre, prevalent forms being puppets, rod puppets, glove puppets and leather puppets (shadow theatre). There are several semi professional and amateur theatre groups involved in staging plays in Indian languages and in English. Theatre in India often incorporates music, dance, and improvised or written dialogue. Often based on Hindu mythology, but also borrowing from medieval romances, and contemporary social and political events, Indian theatre shows a wide array of regional forms including the bhavai of the state of Gujarat, the jatra of West Bengal, the nautanki and ramlila of North India, the tamasha of Maharashtra, the burrakatha of Andhra Pradesh, the terukkuttu of Tamil Nadu, and the yakshagana of Karnataka.
The Indian film industry is the largest in the world. Bollywood, based in Mumbai, makes commercial Hindi films and is the most prolific film industry in the world. Bollywood, with its trademark mix of drama, emotion, music and dance, has cast its spell not only in India but the world over. Cinema in a slew of regional languages like Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu is also thriving.
The Ministry of Culture plays a vital role in the preservation and promotion of art and culture. Its aim is to develop ways and means by which basic cultural and aesthetic values and perceptions remain active and dynamic among the people. It also undertakes programmes for the promotion of contemporary art. The department is a nodal agency for commemorating significant events and celebrating centenaries of great artists.
For more information on Indian culture, go to www.indiaculture.nic.in
To promote and propagate understanding of Indian art, both within and outside the country, the Government of India established Lalit Kala Akademi (National Akademi of Arts) at New Delhi in 1954. The Akademi has regional centres called Rashtriya Lalit Kala Kendras at Lucknow, Kolkata, Chennai, Garhi in New Delhi and Bhubaneswar with workshop facilities in painting, sculpture, print-making and ceramics.
The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR)
The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) was founded on April 9, 1950 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the first Education Minister of independent India. ICCR is about a communion of cultures, a creative dialogue with other nations. To facilitate this interaction with world cultures, the Council has strived to articulate and demonstrate the diversity and richness of the cultures of India, both in and with other countries of the world.
The ICCR continues to encourage improvisation and experimentation with the new, while it pays homage to the classical as well as the folk forms of India's cultural expression.
The ICCR prides itself on being the pre-eminent instrument of cultural diplomacy and the sponsor of intellectual exchanges between India and partner countries. It is the Council's resolve to continue to symbolize India's great cultural and educational efflorescence in the years to come. The ICCR already has 18 cultural centres abroad and it is now planning more in places as diverse as Washington, Tokyo, Kathmandu and Dhaka.
For more, go to www.iccrindia.org
LALIT KALA AKADEMI
To promote and propagate understanding of Indian art, both within and outside the country, the Government of India established the Lalit Kala Akademi (National Akademi of Arts) at New Delhi in 1954. The Akademi has regional centres called Rashtriya Lalit Kala Kendras at Lucknow, Kolkata, Chennai, Garhi in New Delhi and Bhubaneswar with workshop facilities in painting,sculpture,print-making and ceramics.
Since its inception, the Akademi has been organising national exhibitions of contemporary Indian art with 15 national awards, each of Rs 50,000. Every three years, the Akademi also organises Trienniale India, an International exhibition of contemporary art in New Delhi. The Akademi honours eminent artists and art historians every year by electing them as Fellows of the Akademi. To propagate Indian art outside, the Akademi regularly participates in International Bienniales and Trienniales abroad and also organises exhibitions of works of art from other countries. To foster contracts withartists from outside, it sponsors exchange of artists with other countries under the various Cultural Exchange Programmes and Agreements of the Government.
The Lalit Kala Akademi accords recognition to art institutions/associations and extends financial assistance to these bodies as well as State Academies. It also gives scholarships to deserving young artists belonging to its regional centres. Under its publication programme, the Akademi brings out monographs on the works ofIndian contemporary artists in Hindi and English and books on contemporary, traditional, folk and tribal arts authored by eminent writers and art critics. The Akademi also brings out bi-annual art journals, Lalit Kala Contemporary (English), Lalit Kala Ancient (English) and Samkaleen Kala (Hindi). Apart from these, it brings out large size multi-colour reproductions of contemporary paintings and graphics from time to time. The Akademi has started a regular programme on research and documentation. Scholars are given financial assistance to undertake projects in contemporary projects on various aspects of Indian society and culture.
SANGEET NATAK AKADEMI
Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama, may be regarded as a pioneer in the process of creation of modern India that led politically to India’s freedom in 1947. The ephemeral quality of the arts, and the need for their preservation led to the adapting of a democratic system in which a common man had the opportunity to learn, practice and propagate the art. Within the first few decades of the twentieth century, public perception of responsibility for both preservation and development of the arts had started inclining towards the state.
The first comprehensive public appeal to government in this direction was made in 1945, when the Asiatic Society of Bengal submitted a proposal for the creation of a National Cultural Trust consisting of three academies - an Academy of Dance, Drama, and Music, an Academy of Letters, and an Academy of Art and Architecture.
The entire question was reconsidered after independence, in a Conference on Art held in Kolkata in 1949, and two Conferences, on Letters, and the other on Dance, Drama, and Music, held in New Delhi in 1951. These Conferences convened by the Government of India finally recommended the creation of three national academies: an Academy of Dance, Drama, and Music, an Academy of Letters and an Academy of Art.
Sahitya Akademi is the Indian National Academy of Letters meant to promote the cause of Indian literature through publications, translations, seminars, workshops, cultural exchange programmes and literary meets organised all over the country. The Akademi was founded in March 1954 as an autonomous body fully funded by the Department of Culture. It was registered as a Society in 1956 under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. The Akademi has recognised 24 languages. It has an Advisory Board for each of the languages that suggests various programmes and publications in the concerned languages. There are four Regional Boards to promote regional interaction among the languages of the North, West, East and South. Besides its Head Office in New Delhi, it has four offices : in Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai.
The Akademi has two Translation Centres at Bangalore and Kolkata, besides a Project Office at Shillong for promotion of oral and tribal literature and an Archives of Indian literature in Delhi. It maintains a unique multilingual library in New Delhi and at its regional offices at Bangalore and Kolkata, having about 1.5 lakh books in over 25 languages.The highest honour conferred by the Akademi on a writer is by electing him its Fellow. This honour is reserved for the ‘Immortals of Literature’ and limited to 21 at any given time. So far 66 writers have been elected Fellows of the Sahitya Akademi. It has so far recognised 850 authors and 283 translators with its Awards and Translation Prizes for distinguished contribution to literature, and given 31 Bhasha Sammans, awards meant to promote peripheral languages and Honorary Fellowships for foreign
scholars who have done significant work in Indian literature. The Akademi publishes books in 24 languages including translations of Award-winning works, monographs on the great pioneers of Indian literature, histories of literature, Indian and foreign classics in translation, anthologies of fiction, poetry and prose, biographies, Register of Translators, Who’s Who of Indian Writers, National Bibliography of Indian Literature and Encyclopedia of Indian Literature. So far, the Akademi has published over 4,000 books in these different categories. It has three journals, Indian Literature (bi-monthly in English), Samkaleena Bharatiya Sahitya (bi-monthly in Hindi) and Samskrita Pratibha (half-yearly in Sanskrit). Every year the Akademi publishes 250-300 books on an average. It has certain special projects like the Ancient Indian Literature, Medieval Indian Literature and Modern Indian Literature together constituting ten volumes of the best of Indian writing over five millennia.
Sahitya Akademi holds a number of regional, national and international seminars every year on various topics in literature, literary history and aesthetics.The Akademi also regularly holds Translation Workshops.The Akademi holds an annual week-long ‘Festival of Letters’, usually in February with Award-giving ceremony, Samvatsar Lecture and a National Seminar. The Akademi also introduced a new series of programmes entitled Sur Sahitya as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2004-05.
RAMAKRISHNA MISSION INSTITUTE OF CULTURE, KOLKATA
The Institute was conceived in 1936 as one of the permanent memorials to Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886) on the occasion of his first birth centenary. It was formally established on 29 January 1938 as a branch centre of the Ramakrishna Mission founded by Swami Vivekananda to propagate the message of Vedanta as propounded by Sri Ramakrishna whose basic teachings stressed: (i) the equality of all religions; (ii) the potential divinity of man; and (iii) service to man as a way of worshipping God - a new religion for mankind.
Dedicated to promote the ideal of the unity of mankind, the Institute has endeavoured over the years to make people aware of the richness of the cultures of the World and also of the urgent need for inter-cultural appreciation, understanding and acceptance of each other’s points of view - an approach which is conducive to international understanding at the global level and national integration at home.
The key note of everything the Institute does is thus respect for others point of view and its assimilation and acceptance for one’s own enrichment.
ANTHROPOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA
The Anthropological Survey of India is a premier research organisation under the Ministry of Culture. It has completed 59 years of its existence and has adhered itself to its commitments to carry out anthropological researches in the area of bio-cultural aspects of the Indian population in general and on those who are referred to as the ‘‘Weakest of the Weak’’ in particular. Besides this there are other pertinent activities of the Survey, which include collection, preservation, maintenance; documentation and study of ethnographic materials as well as ancient human skeletal remains. Over the years the Survey generated information from the grass-root level through sustained research by its Head Office at Kolkata and also its seven Regional Centres, one Sub-regional Centre, one permanent field station and eight other field stations located in various parts of the country, besides a Camp Office at New Delhi.
During the Tenth Plan following, the National Projects are being studied namely, Cultural Dimension of Tourism in the Biosphere Reserve in addition to the locations of tourists interest.