Although technically one country, India is a nation that is divided culturally, linguistically, religiously and historically between it’s northern and southern parts. Everything from the food, the dress, the politics and even the cinema differ across the great divide.
Of course, as a result some families prefer one half over the other, but in order to truly experience the complete India, it’s highly recommended you go to both the northern and southern parts. To highlight the importance of visiting both sides of this vast country - the world’s biggest democracy - we’ve taken a closer look at some of the differences between the two destinations.
A kitchen of delights
Southern Indian food is spicier and consumed more with rice, often combined with lentils to create dosas, idlis and vadas. In the north, the staple is more based around wheat flour, with chapatti, puri and rotis being common on most dinner tables. As you might expect, there is delicious food and culinary surprises to discover all over India, often varying between regions and even cities and towns.
From the mountains to the ocean
The northern part of India is of course dominated by the vast Himalaya that rise up in the northernmost provinces of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and regions bordering Nepal. Historic Rajastan and Punjab are teeming with culture, and New Delhi, one of India’s largest urban areas is a must visit. From here, it’s not too far to the iconic Taj Mahal at Agra and the Keoladeo National Park in Jaipur - the classic Golden Triangle of north India. In the south, experience the lush tropical vegetation of Kerala and stunning Indian Ocean coastlines, home to some incredible beaches like that at Mararikulam with palms and thatched huts to enjoy.
North and south style
One difference you will immediately notice between the north and south is the style of dress. Women in the south prefer the half-sari, seldom seen in the north where they favour the salwar kameez and chudidaar. For men, the brilliant white dhoti and colourful lungis on the southerners are unusual in the north. The music and dance is equally distinctive. In the north, the sitar, santoor and sarangi create the perhaps more familiar sounds of India. But the violin and veena of the south are not to be outdone, especially when accompanying the legendary Kathakali Dancers.
Come rain or shine
Of course, for such a vast country, the climates can vary hugely between northern and southern extremes. As mentioned above, the tropical south sits surrounded by the warming Indian Ocean as you can see trekking through the Periyar National Park. The broader northern part of the country is affected by the towering mountains which bring cold weather and even snow. As in all places, it is often the climate which has the greatest effects on culture, cuisine and most other aspects of life.
As you can see, India is far from a homogenous mass. From living on a houseboat in the tropical waters of Kerala to ornate finery of Rajastani palaces, India is a country of contrast and contours that need to be explored in full to understand, absorb and enjoy.
Families can enjoy the delights of both north and south India on our Family Indian Discovery holiday.