Notizen/ Notes

Indien-Informationen aus dem GEO-Themenlexikon

Vor etwa 20 Mio. Jahren traf in Asien eine riesige Insel auf den Südrand des Kontinents und drückte ihn im Laufe der nachfolgenden Jahrmillionen immer weiter ein – der Vorgang dauert bis in unsere Zeit an. Bei der Insel handelt es sich um den größten Teil des Indischen Subkontinents, der neben Indien noch Sri Lanka, Bangladesh und Pakistan umfasst. Der Zusammenprall hat ein eindrucksvolles Zeugnis hinterlassen: den Himalaja.

Westlich des Himalaja schließt sich das Karakorum an. An beiden Gebirgsketten hat der Norden Indiens Anteil. Mit dem 8586m hohen Kangchendzönga im Himalaja liegt der dritthöchste Berg der Erde auf indischem Gebiet. Die Inder selbst entdecken diese für indische Verhältnisse relativ dünn besiedelte Region zurzeit selbst neu. In den im Winter verschneiten Hochgebirgsregionen profilieren sich immer mehr Siedlungen als Skiorte.

Südlich der Gebirge schließen sich weite, dicht besiedelte Ebenen an, die von zahlreichen Flüssen durchzogen werden. Der mächtigste Strom Indiens ist der Ganges, aber auch der Brahmaputra, der Hauptfluss von Bangladesh, sowie der Indus, der überwiegend durch Pakis­tan fließt, strömen zum Teil durch indisches Gebiet. Brahmaputra und Ganges bilden an der Grenze zu Bangladesh mit einem riesigen Delta eine bemerkenswerte Naturlandschaft: Die so genannten Sundarbans sind der größte Gezeitenwald der Erde.

Im Nordwesten hat Indien Anteil am Pandschab, dem überwiegend zu Pakis­tan gehörenden Fünfstromland. Es ist Indiens ältester Kulturraum und einer der ältesten der Erde überhaupt. Nach Süden geht diese Ebene in die Wüste Thar über, ein kaum be­­­wohn­tes Gebiet, in dem auch Indiens Atomtestge­lände liegt.

Eingerahmtes Südindien Südlich der Millionenmetropolen Bhopal und Indore steigt das Gelände an. Das Vindhyagebirge und das Satpuragebirge sind Mittelgebirge. Sie verlaufen von Osten nach Westen, und zwischen ihnen liegt das Tal des Flusses Narmada, der als Landschaftsgrenze zwischen Nord- und Südindien gilt.

Der Süden wird überwiegend vom Hochland von Dekhan eingenommen. Diese rund 500.000 km² umfassende Landschaft ist vulkanisch geprägt, die etwa 800 bis 1.000 m ü.M. gelegenen Ebenen sind sehr fruchtbar. Eingerahmt wird der Dekhan von zwei Gebirgen, den Ghats, was auf Sanskrit »Stufen« bedeutet. Die Westghats fallen in einer einzigen steilen Bruchstufe zum Arabischen Meer ab. Die Ostghats senken sich über mehrere Stufen zum Golf von Bengalen. Jenseits der Gebirge erstrecken sich Küstentiefländer, die schmale Malabarküste im Westen und die breitere, durch viele Buchten und Flussdeltas kompliziert gezeichnete Koromandelküste im Osten.

Gefährliche wie gefährdete Natur In den feuchten Gebieten entlang der Westküste, aber auch am oberen Gangesdelta sowie im südlichen Südindien gibt es noch tropische, immergrüne Regenwälder. Die Monsunwälder Nordindiens hingegen sind fast verschwunden, da fast die gesamte nordindische Ebene Kulturland ist. Insgesamt ist nur noch ein ­Viertel des indischen Territoriums bewaldet. Im Himalaja soll die Abholzung mit allen Mitteln eingedämmt werden. Die häufigen katastrophalen Überschwemmungen in den nordindischen Ebenen und in Bangladesh sind Folgen der Rodungen: Mit den Bäumen verschwinden die Wurzeln, die den Boden festhalten, der normalerweise Wasser speichert. Das überschüssige Wasser lässt dann die großen Ströme in den Ebenen über die Ufer treten und bringt so Vernichtung und Tod.

In den weiten Savannen des Dekhan kommt noch der Indische Elefant vor, Affen sind im Süden zahlreich. Indische Löwen leben in Schutzgebieten im nordwestindischen Gujarat, den Königstigern ist ein großes Rettungsprojekt gewidmet.

Quelle: GEO-Reisecommunity — Indien

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Off the Tourist Trail — 1,000 unexpected travel alternatives

JANTAR MANTAR OBSERVATORY, JAIPUR, INDIA
From the pyramids of Egypt to the standing stones of Stonehenge and the Bighorn Medicine Wheel, man has always studied the heavens. This astronomical observatory in west central India, however, is a real curiosity. Jantar Mantar is the largest and best preserved of five similar ensembles built by Maharajah Jai Singh II between 1727 and 1734. It consists of a series of 16 stone and marble structures which act as instruments for measuring time and the movement of celestial bodies. They were designed on a large scale for greater accuracy, and its Great Sundial, the world’s largest, can tell the time to within 2 seconds. Some of the instruments are still used to forecast how hot the summer months will be, as well as the expected duration and intensity of the monsoon.

THIKSE MONASTERY, LEH, INDIA
Spectacular both from a distance and at close quarters, the 15th-century Thikse Monastery perches on top of a hillock high in the Himalayas. This is a gompa, a fortified monastery and education center for followers of the Dalai Lama’s Yellow Hat Sect (Gelugpa). The complex is a dozen stories high, comprises many temples, and is considered an architectural highlight of Ladakh – this region of India, which is sometimes called “little Tibet” after its neighbor. Inside the monastery is a fine collection of paintings and a huge golden Buddha. Monks and nuns still live here.

CURZON TRAIL, UTTARAKHAND, INDIA
Skirting the western edge of the Nanda Devi Reserve, this challenging hike follows the route taken by Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, in 1905. One of the best views of the Himalayas is visible from the Kuari Pass. You’ll travel through local communities and past a number of ruined temples. The high meadow of Bedni Bugyal must be one of the world’s most spectacular picnic spots.

ARAMBOL BEACH, GOA, INDIA
The atmosphere at Arambol is distinctly laid back: wake up in a bamboo hut just footsteps from the shore and share the sunrise with a few scuttling crabs. Don’t miss the beach’s freshwater lake and mud baths with purported healing properties.

COCHIN, INDIA
Cochin (also known as Kochi) is a melting pot of the many colonial cultures that have flourished in Kerala. There’s a fascinating Jewish quarter and an English village green, as well as Portuguese and Dutch mansions and palaces. Keralan culture is vibrant and there are plenty of chances to see colorful Kathakali theater and dance. Ferries ply the lovely harbor, allowing you to discover the many facets of the city’s peninsulas and islands. Go for a tour of the tranquil backwaters in an elegant wicker rice boat and see traditional life continuing along the banks

SHIMLA, INDIA
The best way to travel to the mountain retreat of Shimla is the way British officers and their wives did during the Raj: aboard the panoramic narrow-gauge steam railway. Clinging to spurs way up in the northwest Himalayas, Shimla (then Simla) was the summer headquarters of the British government in India, a place to escape the intense heat of the plains. The Viceregal Lodge and Gaiety Theatre are reminders of those days, as are The Ridge and Scandal Point on the Mall – a road and a crossroads, respectively. The latter is still the town’s main strolling and meeting area.

UDAIPUR, INDIA
Resplendent with a score of maharajas’ palaces, the “City of Lakes” in Rajasthan is one of the most beautiful, tranquil places on the whole subcontinent. Anybody who stays in one of the former palaces that are now hotels is liable to feel like a maharaja, too. City Palace is the largest in Rajasthan and dominates the town. Part museum, part hotel, it’s full of artworks and antiques. Lake Palace, made entirely of white marble, has a magical setting on Lake Pichola. The impressive building has been a setting for film shoots, including the James Bond film Octopussy.

GANGOTRI
High in the Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand, the small town of Gangotri sits at the heart of the sacred region of Garhwal. One of the most physically beautiful and spiritually important areas in northern India, Garhwal is revered as the source of both the Ganges and Yamuna, India’s two mightiest rivers. Gangotri is traditionally regarded as the spiritual source of the Ganges, and its small but vibrant temple attracts a steady stream of pilgrims and colorfully attired sadhus (holy men), who mingle with the few western tourists and trekkers who make it this far into the mountains. Much of the town’s appeal is drawn from its magnificent setting. The surrounding countryside offers beautiful walks through deodar cedar forests, with dramatic views of snowcapped peaks. Two of the most rewarding trails are those that lead to the spectacular (though steadily retreating) Gangotri Glacier and the highaltitude oasis of Chirbasa. There are also longer hiking routes leading deeper into the mountains, including an overnight trek to the ice-cave of Gaumukh (“Cow’s Mouth”), the official source of the Ganges, which is best visited at sunrise.

Practical Information
Getting There and Around: Gangotri is beautifully remote and the journey requires several changes. Travel by air to Delhi, then by bus 140 miles (225 km) to Rishikesh, in Uttarakhand. You can take a further bus, or arrange a jeep, to travel the last 155 miles (250 km) to Gangotri.
Where to Stay and Eat: Accommodations in Gangotri are very limited, but the GMVN Tourist Bungalow (www.gmvnl.com) is a comfortable place both to stay and to eat.
When to Go: Between May and October.
Budget per Day for Two: US$35

SHEKHAWATI
Just a few hours’ drive from Jaipur and other Rajasthani tourist hotspots, the magical region of Shekhawati offers all the attractions of its more famous neighbors, with a fraction of the visitors. In the latter days of the Raj this was one of the richest regions in India, thanks to enterprising local traders who made vast fortunes in places like Bombay and Calcutta, and sent the profits back to Shekhawati’s dusty little towns. Their riches funded the construction of hundreds of extravagant havelis (mansions), each flaunting elaborate façades and flamboyant painted exteriors. Though some have been restored, most are now falling into slow decay, an atmospheric memorial to the wealth and fashions of a past era. Many of the havelis are also notable for their remarkable murals, their walls covered in a quirky array of eclectic paintings depicting traditional religious subjects alongside the latest European fashions and inventions – anything from representations of Krishna to images of newfangled railways and hot-air balloons.

Practical Information
Getting There and Around: Travel by air or rail to Jaipur, from where there is a good bus service to Shekhawati, 95 miles (150 km) away. There are also direct train services to Shekhawati from Delhi, 155 miles (250 km) away.
Where to Stay and Eat: Among the nicest options is Apani Dhani (www.apanidhani.com), a gorgeous, eco-friendly rural retreat in the town of Nawalgarh, offering well-equipped rooms and delicious vegetarian cuisine.
When to Go Between: October and March.
Budget per Day for Two: US$85

ORCHHA
Hidden away in peaceful wooded countryside in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, the abandoned city of Orchha is one of the country’s most atmospheric attractions. Capital of the local Bundela rulers for over 200 years, the city was founded by Raja Rudra Pratap, but his untimely death in 1531 (while allegedly trying to rescue a cow from the claws of a tiger) prevented him from completing his grand designs. His successors took up the challenge, adding embellishments until Mughal and Maratha attacks forced them to abandon the city in the 18th century. Most of its magnificent buildings have lain empty ever since. Many survive in remarkably good condition – a fascinating tangle of temples, palaces, havelis, and cenotaphs. Among the highlights are a pair of sumptous palaces: the Raj Mahal, adorned by rich murals, and the Jahangir Mahal, built as a present to welcome the great Mughal emperor Jahangir, its fanciful roofline topped with dozens of domes and cupolas. Nearby soar the towers of the great Chaturbhuj temple, while a stately line of 14 royal cenotaphs, constructed for successive rulers of the city, stand imposingly alongside the banks of the tranquil Betwa River.

Practical Information
Getting There and Around: Travel by train from Delhi to the town of Jhansi. From here local buses make the 16-mile (25-km) journey to Orchha.
Where to Eat: The restaurant in the Sheesh Mahal hotel (tel. +91 7680252624), set in Orchha’s old fort, is particularly atmospheric.
Where to Stay: Try Amar Mahal (www.amarmahal.com), an elegant, Mughal-style resort set amid spacious gardens.
When to Go: Between November and February.
Budget per Day for Two: US$75

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