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South Asia is a mystical and spiritual region better known as the Indian Subcontinent. India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives, and Pakistan come under the region’s ambit. It is an exquisite blend of traditions, spirituality, art, architecture, and landscapes. Paddy fields in all shades of green, bustling cities filled with chaos, colorful markets lined with street food stalls, and the welcoming locals make exploring this corner of the world an absolute joy. With its glorious history dating back to almost 10000 years and the plethora of cultures and cuisines flourishing here, travelling the lands of South Asia is an affectionate experience.
The Great South Asian Outback
South Asia is a land of extreme landscapes. The highest peaks of the world give way to the largest mangroves and the deepest lakes; lush forests, and wetlands brimming with wildlife lead to arid, scorching deserts and sun-kissed beaches open up to the blue waters filled with coral reefs and marine ecosystems. Majestic rivers and basins harbour great many varieties of animals including tigers, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and other endemic species. Bordered by the Himalayas to the North and the vast Indian Ocean to the South, the sweeping panoramas of South Asia will leave you wanting for more. From the mountainous slopes of Bhutan to the vivid hues of blue in the Maldives, almost every landscape and climate of the world can be found in this little corner of the globe. Amidst all this, South Asia also houses the world’s highest rail bridge and the world’s highest motorable road.
A Melange of Cultures, Traditions and Festivals
South Asia has witnessed many empires rise and fall, many battles being fought, and contributed many heroes and villains of world history. From the Mauryas to the Mughals, the Marathas to the British, every empire has left behind an everlasting essence on the Indian subcontinent. From the Rajput forts of Rajasthan to the ruins of the Nalanda University and fortified town of Galle near Colombo, the historical impact is visible on almost every street. The numerous religious destinations encompassing Hindu, Islam, Sikh, and Buddhist sites among many others stand as a testament to the spiritual devotion and the architectural prowess of the empires that once ruled these lands. Countless ancient rituals are still practiced in South Asia, from the famous Aarti ceremony of Varanasi to the Buddhist chants of Thimpu. Then there are the festivals. The region has an abundance of celebrations of culture and religion - from well-organized city affairs to small scale village gatherings; the festivals are heralded and cherished by locals and travellers alike.
Another facet of the cultural diversity is the fact that there are over 25 recognized languages spoken here, and most locals are multilingual, fluent in more than 2 or 3 dialects.
South Asian Cuisines: A Mixture of Magic and Masala!
South Asian food is magical – so much that its culinary arts have been exported the world over. From hot curries to the biryani, from dumplings like momos and samosas to a wide range of desserts, South Asian cuisine is unmatched and instantly recognizable by a burst of flavours and aromas. The cuisines of South Asia date back more than 5000 years and many dishes have been influenced by Persian, Portuguese, French, Chinese, and Burmese culinary styles. The cuisines of the region are generally hot and spicy, though sweets are also found in abundance. The word masala has become synonymous with the Indian subcontinent. The region grows and exports the famous bhoot jolokia or ghost pepper – considered one of the hottest chillies in the world.
Cuisines and food habits change with micro-regions – coconuts are sacred in Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and South India whereas North India and Bangladesh swear by their parathas while Nepal, Bhutan, and North East India love Himalayan and Tibetan treats. South Asia also has an undying love for the humble chai – which the British fell in love with the minute they landed on the shores of the subcontinent. Here, a steaming cup of tea is a delicacy, an energy booster, and a drink to grab while you unwind.
The many forms of country wines found here also contrast the region’s reputation for alcohol consumption. Toddy and feni are popular in the coastal regions of India and Sri Lanka, while chaang and apo are adored in the Himalayas. From vegetarian delights to scrumptious seafood, from Mughal feasts to rice cakes, from the hottest to the sweetest, the foods of South Asia will always leave you wanting more.
Nowadays, with almost all the major cities in the region becoming cosmopolitan metropolises, cuisines of the whole world can be found in the region. Walk around New Delhi or Colombo, and you will find many joints serving up Italian, Japanese, South-East Asian, and American cuisines. New Delhi is now considered as an International Food Destination, where you can almost taste the world on your platter.
Discover South Asia with DOOK
South Asia is a haven for travellers from solo backpackers to families, from friend groups to business travellers. This corner of the world has something for everyone. Filled with adventure, spiritual journeys, historical trails, and lip-smacking food, the Indian subcontinent is a feast for the senses. Travelling in this chaotic part of the world can be a bit overwhelming with the sheer number of places to see, things to do and eat. Every traveller needs a reliable friend before beginning their journeys into South Asia. With headquarters in New Delhi, Dook offers extensive customizable tours to every part of this region. Whether you wish to go on adrenaline-inducing treks in the Himalayas or swim with Manta Rays in the Indian Ocean, whether you want to see the Taj Mahal in all its glory or see an Aarti unfold before your eyes, there is a South Asian Tour tailor-made for you. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags for the adventure of a lifetime in South Asia.