About North India

Many of the images which the mind conjures up when confronted with the word ‘India’ are likely to be those associated with the north of the country- forts, palaces, magnificently turbaned men with even more luxuriant moustaches! And the Taj Mahal.

North India- generally consider to be that area of the country to the north of a Deccan Plateau, but excluding the north-east which is another realm altogether- is the part of India with the largest variety of cultural influences over recent millennia, given that it has long been on trade routes and the like. As a result, while Hinduism as a religion and way of life, and Hindi as a language, are dominant, you’ll also encounter enclaves with predominantly Muslim or Jain populations as well as pockets of Christianity and other religions.

The cuisine which most people know from Indian restaurants in the west is primarily that of the Punjab- ironically this is not typical of the ‘actual’ diet of most people in the North who generally consume much less rich food with fewer of the gravy-based curries and a lot less meat than is common in Punjabi food.

Certain areas of North India are extremely densely populated (the state of Uttar Pradesh has more people, around 205 million, than all but 5 other countries in the world!) and very sparse in human population- the mountainous regions of Himachal and Kashmir are most inhospitable for year-round occupation. The biggest cities- Delhi, Ahmedabad, Jaipur- are very cosmopolitan, and yet in the smaller towns and particularly in the countless villages across the North, life is still very traditional.

Like all of India, the North is full of contradictions- extraordinary wealth and grinding poverty, vast cities with major traffic issues and serene rural landscapes where camel-back is still the preferred way of travel, modern steel-and-glass skyscrapers and the most sublime centuries-old monuments, the landscapes, the weather and on and on. All of it presents a complex picture, but one which you can spend a lifetime trying to understand. One thing is for sure, the only people friendlier than people in North India are those in the south of the country!

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