Colors of India

Bridal Procession

Women in bright saris crowd together as they walk in a bridal procession in Mandawa, Rajasthan. Rajasthan is the largest state in India—a land of extremes—encompassing steamy forests, dry plains, and the snowy Himalaya.

Photo: Brightly attired Indian women clustered together




Diwali, the Festival of Lights

Two women in Jaipur hold candles to celebrate Diwali, or the Festival of Lights. Observed over five days throughout India, it marks, among other things, the start of the new business year and the victory of light over dark.

Photo: Women holding candles in front of a lit palace




Varadarajaswamy Temple, Kanchipuram

A man steps through a doorway at the Varadarajaswamy Temple in Kanchipuram, “city of a thousand temples.” Kanchipuram is also known for silk saris—a thriving business here.

Photo: A man stepping through a blue temple door




Taj Mahal, Agra

The Mogul emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal in Agra as a tribute to his favorite wife, who died in childbirth in 1630. The white marble monument, with its sprawling gardens, took 20 years to build. A red sandstone mosque stands on one side.

Photo: People crowding the walkways of the Taj Mahal




Amber Palace and Jaigarh Fort, Jaipur

Decorated elephants carry tourists past the Jaigarh and Amber Forts in Jaipur, Rajasthan, constructed beginning in the 15th century. The marble-and-sandstone Amber Fort has intricate carvings; the immense Jaigarh Fort once served as a center of artillery production.

Photo: A man on a seat atop an elephant




Varanasi Train Station

Passengers peer out the windows of a train in a station in Varanasi, a 3,000-year-old holy city filled with religious statues and temples. Many Hindus journey here to walk down the ghats, or steps, into the Ganges River to be purified.

Photo: Photo: People staring out of the barred windows of a train




Ganges River Festival

Hindu pilgrims bathe in the Ganges hoping to wash away their sins. Every 12 years millions take part in the 45-day Kumbh Mela, or Grand Pitcher Festival, which includes ritual bathing in this and other rivers.

Photo: Crowds of people bathing in the Ganges





Munnar Hills

The rolling hills near Munnar, Kerala, are covered with tea plantations that were originally planted by a Scotsman in the late 19th century.

Photo: Mist between green hills





Akash Deep Puja

To honor the dead, lanterns are hung from poles stuck into the banks of the Ganges during Akash Deep Puja, the sky lantern festival.

Photo: Lanterns hanging from poles on a riverbank




Fishing in Kerala

Fishing is an important source of income in Kerala. People in the southwestern state also have the highest literacy rate in India and enjoy the best health.

Photo: Fishermen in a boat on a lake before dawn





Lamayuru Gompa Monastery, Ladakh

The Ladakh region, culturally Tibetan, is home to Buddhist temples andgompas, or monasteries, including Lamayuru. This arid Himalaya land was closed to visitors until the 1970s, and it remains sparsely populated.

Photo: A monastery atop a cliff in front of large mountains





Sacred Cows, Varanasi

Cows, such as these two in Varanasi, are a common sight on India’s congested streets. Hindus revere cows, believing that they offer sustenance and ask nothing in return.

Photo: Cows lying in a busy street





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