The Archaeological Survey of India(ASI), established in 1861 is responsible for the survey of archaeological remains and excavations, and maintaining the centrally protected monuments sites and remains. As of 2008, the ASI has declared three thousand six hundred and fifty six monuments to be of national importance, of which twenty one properties are inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO.

To visit the website of the Archaeological Survey of India please click here.

Archaeological and historical pursuits in India started with the efforts of Sir William Jones, who put together a group of antiquarians to form the Asiatic Society on 15th January 1784 in Calcutta. Since independence various agencies like the Archaeological Survey of India, State Departments of Archaeology, Universities and other research organisations have conducted archaeological excavations in different parts of the country. Each state has a number of sites which are excavated by the appropriate Central and State department. For a complete list of excavation sites in India please click here.

For more details on the Monument of India, and its historic importance please visit this website: Monuments of India

The Archaeological Survey of India also has a Underwater Archaeology Wing (UAW), which The UAW is engaged in documentation of underwater sites and ancient shipwrecks, training of professional archaeologists, young researchers and students,  conduct of seminars to discuss various aspects and to bring awareness, and Protection of underwater cultural heritage. For more details please click here.


Heritage Sites

According to the UNESCO there are 30 recognized world heritage sites in India. 24 of the 30 are cultural sites, while the remaining 6 are natural sites. Additionally, India has also submitted a list of 34 properties for the tentative list. In 2013, UNESCO placed six hill forts of Rajasthan on its new list of heritage sites. Click here to read more.

For a video introduction of the World Heritage sites of India please click here

For a comprehensive look into India’s heritage sites please visit the India page of the World Heritage Sites.

Photo Source: Archaeological Survey of India


The languages in India are divided into 4 main language family: Indo-European, Dravidian, Austro-Asiatic, and Sino-Tibet; of which Indo-European and Dravidan languages are sopken by a majority.

The languages of India can also be understood, in general, in accordance with its geography. The people in the Northern Himalyan region and near the Burmese border speak Sino-Tibetian languages, the Northern and central region usually speak languages that fall under the Indo-European family, people in southern India speak languages from the Dravidan group, and some ethnic groups in North Eastern India speak Austro-Asiatic.

Photo Source: Central Institute of Indian Languages

For more information on Indian Languages please visit this comprehensive site of the Central Institute of Indian Languages.

The Eighth Schedule of Indian constitution allows for the “progressive use of the Hindi language for the official purposes of the Union

Traditions & Rituals

Touching of feet: Touching the feet of elders is a tradition that is very common in South Asia. In India this gesture indicates that the one touching the feet is seeking for blessings from the person whose feet are touched. While the origin of the tradition is not well established touching the feet of your parents, grandparents or a religious figure is a sign of reverence, devotion and love. For a detailed look into this tradition please click here.

Ayurveda: Ayurveda is the system of medicine that evolved in India and continues to be practiced  has in the present day. Ayurveda is a combination of two words, Ayur meaning Life, and Veda meaning wisdom. According to Narayanaswamy references to a “systematic and comprehensive treatment of medicine is to be found only in the Atharva Veda. The Atharva Veda is considered to have originated later than the Rig Veda, and contains a description of diseases and the cure of them.

To read V. Narayanaswamy’s full paper on the History of Ayurveda please click here.

To view a video of Ayurveda please click here.

Traditional Sports: A live tradition of India are traditional sports. Ancients texts suggest to a number of games played and practiced by people. Manas Olhas  describes at length about bharashram ( weight – lifting), bharamanshram ( walking ), and Mall – Stambha, a peculiar form of wrestling, wherein both contestants sit on the shoulders of their ‘seconds’, who stand in waist – deep water throughout the game.

Of the traditional games, sports like Gilli-Danda, Malla Yudha, Kho-Kho and Kabaddi are still very popular, especially in rural area.

To watch a video of children playing Gilli-Danda please click here.
To watch a video of Kabaddi match between Iran and India please click here.

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Cultural Festivals & Events

Festivals are very important aspect of the cultural ethos of a diverse country like India. Each festival has an unique form of celebration , and the diversity is compounded as each festival is celebrated in an a unique fashion by the different communities. Because of the rich diversity, festivals are known  by different names in different region. Here are some of the more widely celebrated festivals. For a more detailed look into the various festivals of India, please click here.

Diwali: Deepawali, also called Divali, is the Festival of Lights. Deepawali is the occasion of joy and is celebrated with great pomp throughout India and the Hindu world. The legends of that go with the festival are different in different parts of India. Even though, Deepawali is a festival that lasts 5 days people start preparing for Diwali weeks ahead by cleaning and decorating their households.  It is also the beginning of the new financial year for the business community.

For more information on Diwali click here.

Holi: The full-moon day in February-March is celebrated as Holi, the festival of colors. Holi also welcomes the spring and the harvest season.  There are a number of legends that sorround Holi. The festival is one of unrestricted joy and celebrated with dancing, singing, and throwing of powder paint and coloured water. To read more about Holi please click here.

Photo Source:
The festival has a two parts to the celebration. At night bonfires are lit and some grains burnt as an offering to the fire. The next day, people of all ages go into the streets for fun and paint-throwing. Special food and sweets are prepared during the day. However, over the years the celebration of Holi has taken an ugly turn with people forcing themselves and the festivities even on those who do not wish to partake. Unfortunately the celebration has become an excuse for harassment.

Dusehra: Dussera or Vijayadashami, is the anniversary of the victory of Goddess Durga over the buffalo-headed demon, Mahishasure. The festival also commemorates the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana of Lanka. The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.  It is also during Dusehra that people engage in the Ramlila, a play of the epic Ramayana. The play narrates the acts and deeds of the Lord Ram. To read more about the Ramlila please click here.

In Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, families arrange dolls (Bommai Kolu) and arte facts with decorative displays of lamps and flower. Women traditionally exchange gifts of coconuts, clothes and sweets. For more details on Dusehra please click here.

Kumbha Mela: Kumbha Mela is the biggest congregation of humans in the world. It takes places at the banks of the “Sangam

Cultural Identities

What makes a diverse nation like India a unified country? With a population of over one billion people, with a history spanning over 5000 years, and cultural and ethnic diversity of such a vast scale, it is difficult question to answer. Perhaps the answer lies in that often repeated creed: Unity in Diversity.

The 1.2 billion people of India are divided by a number of cultural, social, linguistic, religion and economical signifiers. Yet these differences bring with it its own unique sense of identity and culture to the larger identity of being an Indian.

According to the 2011 census 80.5% of the country follows the Hindu faith. While Muslims (13.4%), Christians (2.3%) and Sikhs (1.9%) make up the largest religious minorities. These religions are further divided into a number of sects. The connectors and dividers in modern India are too vast to keep account of. Every region, every ethnicity has its own values, practices, eccentricities and tradition. For more details please click here.

To read about the ethnic composition of India please click here.