India cultural landscape depicts a number of striking contrasts. The northern region comprises of extensive ranges some of which are the tallest in the world e.g. the Himalayas. The original areas were forest covered though in the recent past, environmental degradation has deprived these areas their natural beauty. This has affected the ecological welfare of the place and the communities living around. Areas around these hills are more scarcely populated as compared to the southern plains. Many Scholars have studied the landscape of the Himalayas. It is believed the landscape formed from the process of folding. Continents crushed on each other resulting to a raised land at the edge. Continuous pressure forced the land to rise higher and higher resulting to the formation of ranges. When continents move in each other’s direction as a result of tectonic forces, land along the contact point crumbles and bends to form Fold Mountains.
Ethnic Makeup of Its People
India is a great country that comprises of people from different communities and religions. They all live together in unity. Indian population can be described as polygenetic as it consists of various races and cultures. It is difficult to determine the exact origin of Indian People. Some species such as Ramapithecus are believed to have originated from the foothills of North western Himalayas. According to researchers, the existence of these species dates back to 14 million years ago. There are several tribal groups in India; Austrics, Negrito, Dravidian, Aryans and Mongoloids. We will look into the two main ethnic groups i.e. Negritos and Pro- Austroids.
Research shows that they had their roots in Africa. They are the first people who came to India. This group consists of sub groups namely; the Jarawas, Onges, Sentinelese and the Andamanese. Other tribes like and Kurumbas live in areas found to the South of the Himalayas
These were the second group to come to India after the Negritos. They have unique characteristics like wavy hair that is distributed all over their brown bodies, are long headed with thin foreheads and unique eye ridges. The group represents a race of medium height, long heads, dark complexion and flat noses. The Austrics were vital to Indian civilization. They were competent farmers who cultivated rice and vegetables. They are found in some parts of India, the islands of South East Asia and Mynamar.
Role of Religion in Forming Places
2.3% Christians (over 20 million),India is well known as the land of spirituality and philosophy. The country considers religion as an integral part of its day to day life and as a way of preserving its traditions. They belong to different religious groups and their worship of various gods together with rituals performed play a significant role in every aspect of their human life. Hinduism and Buddhism owe their emergence to the Indian people. The country is the birthplace of the oldest religions of the world e.g. Zoroastrianism and Jainism. Religion has always been part of the Indian people, it has shaped the way their lifestyle, their minds and interaction with the outsiders. India is a religious country and almost everyone belongs to a certain religious group. Apart from the popular religious groups, Buddhism and Hinduism, other groups which are found in this country are Islam and Christianity. Hinduism is the dominant religious group. According to 2001 Census, 81.5% of the population of the country is Hindus (Wallach, 2005). It is the oldest form of religion in the world, which began about 6000 years ago. Muslims are the second largest prominent religious group and forms an integral part of Indian society. It consists of approximately13.4% (over 100 million followers). Other groups are (Wallach, 2005);
1.9 % Sikhs (18 million)
Buddhists (6 million)
Settlement/ Land Use Patterns
The total geographical area of India is 3.28 million sq. km. Land use data that has been recorded is only for 93% of the total area as some land use reporting for most of the North-East States has not been done fully. Recent research has shown that land under permanent pasture has tremendously decreased. Majority of the pastoralists have opted for Agriculture. Most fallow land is left without cultivation far one or less than one agricultural year. This results to land degradation and loss of fertility.
Land use characteristics in India relates to the physical patterns of land, the departmental and other resources framework like labor, capital available. All the above features are associated with the economic development. Hampi, the capital of Vijayanagra has experienced the conflict of time between cultural values and modernization. There is pressure on economic development while the residents wish to conserve their ancient structures. As a world heritage area, Hampi enjoys the protection of its culture by world activists and the government. This is to the disadvantage of developers who see the city as a potential hub of business. The challenge being cultural conservation and investment is seen in most cities in the country. Land planning and use poses challenges to planners who have to consider all aspects of the stakeholders.
Role of Water
Water is an important resource to the India’s population. The country has plenty of fresh water. Most of the fresh water is received during the rainy season around the monsoon months. Its availability varies from place to place and time to time. The main rivers in the Himalayan region are Indus, the Brahmaputra and Ganga. Their waters are derived from both the rainfall and the snow-melt. This ensures that they flow throughout the year. Most of its water about 70% is discharged into the Indian Ocean while the rest is either used for agriculture or human consumption (India, 1979). Water is sacred to some Indian communities. They ensure its well used. It is seen as an element of beauty and wealth. Its used to cleanse those that have committed sins after its mixed with special substances. Water is vital to the survival of any given society. Along the big rivers such as the Ganga river, small dams are constructed to reserve water. During the dry season, this water is used to cultivate, for livestock and domestic use.
Important Landscape Traits
The Himalayas forms a formidable feature in India. It has the highest peak in the world. Other features are the Gangetic plains which comprises of a variety of streams and rivers. Civilization began around these rivers and as a result they are elemental to the culture of the Indian people. Recent initiatives by the government to construct a number of reservoirs across the rivers have faced a lot of criticism from the locals. They regard such features as monumental to their culture and traditions. The central regions are covered by forests and thus sparsely populated. It is here that you find ancient temples. Some of which date back to 18th century. Their strong base and unique design has enabled them to stand for that long. The valley formed by Tungabhadra river has huge boulders of rocks which appears to lie upon each other. They provide a visual experience that is undoubtedly amazing. Along these valleys is the banana and coconut plantations that spread over a very wide area. They are exciting to watch as they complement the natural scenery. The golden era of the Hindu was associated with unique architectural structures. Some of these structures and ruins continue to be landmarks in this valley. The World Heritage Site found in Hampi extends for more than 25 sq.km. It’s a source of the hard granatic rocks that have been in use for all those years.
India is a land of amazing geographical landscape. The mix of mountainous and plain areas makes the region’s landscape unique. Its home to the highest fold mountains and an extensive plain. The mountainous landscape complements the needs of the plain areas by supplying water to facilitate agricultural activities when the glaciers melt and as a windbreaker resulting to rainfall formation. The plain region was the origin of civilization which later spread to other countries of the world. The rich landscape and availability of raw materials such as the granatic rocks is believed to be the motivational factor towards civilization.
The rivers form a crucial part of the Indian community. It is from them that they derive water for domestic use as well as for irrigation. The plain region is fundamental to the existence of the country as most of its agricultural produce comes from this region. The diverse culture of India faces growing threat from investors who wish to build modern houses and transform the agricultural industry through the use of machinery.