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By: Malvika

My name is Malvika. I am 12 years old and live in India. India is a land of different cultures and religions. The capital of India is New Delhi. India is the 7th largest country in the world and the largest peninsula. It is surrounded by The Arabian Sea in the west, The Bay of Bengal in the east and the Indian Ocean in the south. The Tropic of Cancer divides India into two halves. I live in the southern part of India in a city called Bengaluru [Bangalore].

The Great Himalayas lie in the North. The Himalayas are among the largest mountain ranges in the world. Mt. Kanchenjunga is the highest mountain in India and the second highest in the world. Mt. Kailash is said to be the abode of the gods.

Even though India is a secular country, Hinduism is the main religion, followed by Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism and other religions. Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism originated in India. In the west, bordering Pakistan, lies the Thar desert. The Deccan Plateau lies towards the south. It is bordered by the western and the Eastern Ghats.

India has a long and diverse history. India gained its independence from the British in 1947. The architecture is amazing and the most notable of the monuments is The Taj Mahal in Agra. It is one of the 7 wonders of the world. The monuments of Belur and Halebid in Karnataka are of historical significance. The 'Golden age of Indian history' or 'The classical age of Indian culture' stretched from the 4th - 6th century AD under the Guptas because there was development in every field. Art, architecture, literature, trade and commerce flourished.

The people of India are nice, but each state has a different sort of niceness. The people of Karnataka are laid back and casual but are helpful. The people of Tamil Nadu are pushy in a nice way. The people of Delhi are extremely helpful but in a rude sort of way.

The cuisine is excellent. There are some interesting combinations like Indo - Chinese cuisine. The North Indian dishes are neither too hot nor too sweet while the South Indian dishes are usually hot. A typical South Indian meal is incomplete without curd. South Indians are sometimes called 'fire eaters' because of their love for very spicy things. The north is famous for its sweets: Each place has its own special sweet.

The capital of India is New Delhi. It is a big, bustling and historic city. It has many historic monuments like the Qutab Minar. Mumbai is another important city. It is big, noisy and friendly. It has a homely sort of feel. Bangalore is known as the garden city of India and the Silicon Valley of India. It is also called the 'air conditioned city'. It has many beautiful gardens and lakes. Mysore, which is a short distance away from Bangalore, is slightly smaller than Bangalore but is of great historic significance. Chennai is a hot, humid and crowded city, but is one of the fastest growing cities. Hyderabad is famous for the Charminar. It is also famous for its pearls and diamonds. Jaipur is called 'the pink city'. Most of the buildings in Jaipur are painted pink. It is a very colorful place.

The people of India love color. Each place has its own dress style, but India has still not abandoned the nine yard Saree. The salwar kameez [long top with baggy pants] is a popular dress. For the south Indian men, there is always the dhoti. The men of the north prefer the sherwanis. Rajasthan is famous for its bandhini Ghaghra's [skirts studded with mirrors and beads]. In the south, the pattu pavadai [a silk skirt and top] is popular.

The southern half of India lies in the torrid zone, while the northern half lies in the temperate zone. It gets very hot during summer. The temperature in the south is moderate with no great variations in temperature. The temperature in the north is very hot in summer with temperature ranging from 25 degrees to 45 degrees Celsius. It is the opposite in winter. The temperature ranges from 0 degrees to 15 degrees Celsius. There is plenty of rain in the north, except for the drought-hit areas of Rajasthan. The rainfall is moderate in the south.

Indians love movies. India is the largest producer of movies in the world. Indians also love music and dance. Bharatnatyam is the classical dance form of Tamil Nadu. It is very difficult to learn Bharatnatyam as it includes many complicated hand gestures and facial expressions. Kuchipudi is the dance form of Andhra Pradesh. It is also very complicated. The dance performances were mainly presented at temples. Kathak originated from the north. It mainly focuses on footwork. Kathak underwent a lot of change during the 15th century. It was influenced by Mughal dance. Kathakali originated in Kerala, one of India's most beautiful states. Kathakali is probably one of the most interesting dance forms. The performers are men. They try to tell a story as they dance. Their attire is interesting. They wear grand masks and long skirts.

Long ago, the Harrappan civilization in India was one of the most advanced civilizations of the world. During the reign of the Guptas, India emerged as one of the most scientifically developed countries of the world. The great scientist, astronomer and Mathematician Aryabhatta was an Indian. He came to the conclusion that the Earth is a sphere and that the Moon revolves around it long before Galileo! Aryabhatta also invented the numeral zero. Sushruta was an ancient surgeon who knew about test tube babies hundreds of years ago!