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The Republic of India is the seventh largest and second most populous country, which is located in Southern Asia. India is identified by its cultural and commercial wealth in its history. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism are the religions, which were commenced in the country. Besides these four religions, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam arrived in the country in the 1st millennium CE. All these beliefs have important roles in the shaping of the country’s diverse culture. India became an independent country in 1947 after a non-violent struggle led by Mahatma Gandhi. Before its independence, India was the colony of Great Britain. India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The country is known as the seventh-largest GDP and third-largest by purchasing power parity.

According to estimates prepared by the National Council for Applied Economic Research, tourism contributes as much as 6.77% to India’s total Gross Domestic Product through direct and indirect impact.

Nowadays, tourism is the largest service industry in the country. The tourism industry has a contribution of 6.23% to the national GDP and providing 8.78% of the total employment. 5 million annual foreign tourists are visiting the country as well as the 562 million domestic tourist visits. The tourism industry in India has generated 100 billion US dollars and it is expected to increase to 275.5 billion US dollars with a 9.4% annual growth rate.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, India will be a tourism hotspot from 2009-2018, having the highest 10-year growth potential. As per the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, 2009 by the World Economic Forum, India is ranked 11th in the Asia Pacific region and 62nd overall, moving up three places on the list of the world’s attractive destinations. It is ranked the 14th best tourist destination for its natural resources and 24th for its cultural resources, with many World Heritage Sites, both natural and cultural, rich fauna, and strong creative industries in the country. India also bagged 37th rank for its air transport network. The India travel and tourism industry ranked 5th in the long-term (10-year) growth and is expected to be the second largest employer in the world by 2019. The 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi are expected to significantly boost tourism in India further. []

Moreover, India has been ranked the “best country brand for value-for-money” in the Country Brand Index (CBI) survey conducted by Future Brand, a leading global brand consultancy. India also claimed the second place in CBI’s “best country brand for history”, as well as appears among the top 5 in the best country brand for authenticity and art & culture, and the fourth best new country for business. India made it to the list of “rising stars” or the countries that are likely to become major tourist destinations in the next five years, led by the United Arab Emirates, China, and Vietnam. []

Top 5 World Heritage Sites in India

Taj Mahal:

Taj Mahal is located on the right bank of the Yamuna River in a vast Mughal garden, which is nearly 17 hectares, in the Agra District in Uttar Pradesh. It was built in the memory of Mumtaz Mahal, wife of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Construction of the Taj Mahal was started in 1632 AD and completed in 1948 AD. Taj Mahal is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Qutub Minar:

Qutub Minar is 120 meters tall and It is the tallest brick minaret in the world. Qutub Minar, along with the surrounding monuments, forming the Qutb Complex, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Qutub Minar is situated in New Delhi.

Sun Temple:Besides being in UNESCO World Heritage Site List, Sun Temple has also featured on the various list of Seven Wonders of India. Carved stone wheels, pillars, and walls construct it. King Narasimhadeva I built the temple complex at Konark in Odisha, which is in the shape of a gigantic chariot.

Monuments of Khajuraho:Monuments of Khajuraho are a group of Hindu and Jain temples in Madhya Pradesh, India. Monuments are famous for their nagara architecture style and sculptures.

Mahabodhi Temple:Mahabodhi Temple in Patna, Bihar state, India. Mahabodhi Vihar, which means Great Awakening Temple, is a Buddhist temple. It is said that Buddha attained enlightenment in Mahabodhi Temple.