The subcontinent of India lies in south Asia, between Pakistan, China and Nepal. Tothe north it is bordered by the world's highest mountain chain, where foothill valleyscover the northernmost of the country's 26 states. Further south, plateaus, tropicalrain forests and sandy deserts are bordered by palm fringed beaches .Side by side with the country's staggering topographical variations is its culturaldiversity, the result of the coexistence of a number of religions as well as localtradition. Thus, the towering temples of south India, easily identifiable by their ornately sculptured surface, are associated with a great many crafts and performingarts of the region.In the desert of Kutch, Gujarat, on the other hand, a scattering of villages pitthemselves against the awesome forces of nature, resulting in Spartan lifestylesmade vibrant by a profusion of jewelry and ornamental embroidery used to adornapparel and household linen. In the extreme north is the high altitude desert of Ladakh. Local culture is visibly shaped by the faith -Buddhism -as well as by theharsh terrain. Yet another facet of Indian culture is observed in the colorful triballifestyles of the north eastern states of Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura and Manipur with their folk culture.In the central Indian states of Orissa and Madhya Pradeshtribal village life has resulted in a variety of artistically executed handicrafts.