India is on the bucket list for many travelers, and it’s no mystery why! The diverse landscape, colorful festivals, and spicy-hot cuisine are already reasons enough to pack your bags to visit Mumbai or Varanasi.
Whether you’ve been to India before or are just fascinated with this country, here are 40 interesting facts about India that might surprise you.
1. Cows are considered sacred
If hamburgers are a regular part of your diet, you’ll need to make some adjustments before visiting India! Cows are protected by their own set of rules in the Constitution, making killing a cow a crime.
Even on crowded city streets, cows have the liberty to roam where they please without fear of being harassed by humans.
2. India is the wettest inhabited place on Earth
Meghalaya village has won the Guinness world record title for the wettest place on Earth, with about 11,873 milliliters of rain annually. The monsoon season lasts six months, so make sure you pack an umbrella!
3. India has over 300,000 mosques and over 2 million Hindu temples
Get ready to be awed and amazed by all the stunning architecture India has to offer. About 15% of India’s population is Muslim.
The mosques across the country range from small village buildings to immense famous ones, like the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad or the Jama Masjid in New Delhi.
The same can be said about India’s Hindu temples, which surpass two million to serve the 79.8% of India’s Hindu population.
Just the holy city of Varanasi has over 23,000 temples. It is safe to say India is the land of temples!
4. Chenab Bridge is the highest rail bridge in the world
Not all of India’s famous monuments are religious. The jaw-dropping bridge spanning the Chenab river in Jammu is 1,178 feet above the water. If you’re afraid of heights, you might want to skip this one!
5. Rajasthan has a Temple of Rats
The animal wonders of India continue. Although rats might not be the first species you think of to worship, there is a temple in Rajasthan dedicated to rats.
Thousands of rats call the temple home, making it one of the country’s most unique attractions.
Many pilgrims visit the temple every year on their own religious journeys, so make sure to be respectful of local customs when visiting.
6. You can drive on the world’s highest motorable road
At over 19,300 feet, the Ladakh road is the highest motorable road in the world. Make sure you pack a warm jacket on before embarking on this particular adventure!
7. Home of a mysterious skeleton lake
Located in the Himalayas at about 16,470 feet, the glacial Lake Roopkund has become famous for the human skeletons found in the lake and surrounding areas.
It is thought that the skeletons are the remains of people from the 9th century who perished during a severe hail storm.
You can visit the Roopkund skeleton lake with this seven-day hike tour.
8. The popular game “Snakes and Ladders” originated in India
Now sold across the world (sometimes adapted to “shoots and ladders”), this board game traces its roots back to India.
It was first created to teach morals and lessons about karma in a way that young children would understand and remember.
9. India was the first country to mine diamonds
From the 4th century BC for around 1,000 years, India was the only source of diamonds in the world. The original diamonds were found in the Krishna River Delta.
In the 18th century, more diamond deposits were discovered in Brazil, and soon after, in South Africa, adding to the market of diamonds.
10. Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world, and it’s not a true polytheism
With documents dating back as early as 5,500 BCE, Hinduism is considered the oldest religion in the world.
There is not a known founder of Hinduism, and no one cares to know who started Hinduism since Hinduism is a way of life.
Currently, Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world, serving more than 1 billion people.
Regarding gods, Hinduism is not a pure polytheism. Hindus believe in one god, Brahma, who is manifested in thousands of other gods.
Along with Brahma as the main god, two other gods make up The Trimurti. Brahma is the creator of the universe, Vishnu is the preserver of the universe, and Shiva destroys the world to recreate it.
It is up to each Hindu to decide which god they worship.
And here’s another fun fact about Hinduism; the number 108 is the most sacred number for Hindus.
It is the ratio of the Sun’s distance from Earth to the Sun’s diameter, as well as the ratio of the Moon’s distance from Earth to the Moon’s diameter.
11. India has 22 recognized languages
The numerous languages spoken across India include Santali, Kashmiri, Bengali, Tamil, and Urdu. However, the official languages are English and Hindi.
India also has the world’s second-largest population of English speakers (first is the United States), since most Indians speak their own regional language as well as English for easier communication.
Sanskrit is considered the oldest language in the world, the “mother of all languages.” Every Hindu book is written in Sanskrit, and it is said that Sanskrit is the language of the demi-Gods.
12. Ranked the second-most populous country in the world
Second only to China, India has roughly 1.37 billion people… and the number keeps climbing. It’s estimated that by the year 2050, India will have surpassed China to become the most populated country in the world.
13. Most Indians eat with only their fingers
It’s customary in India to eat food with your fingers, including rice, sauces, meats, and vegetables. Some people argue that to truly enjoy an authentic Indian curry, it’s a requirement to eat the dish with your hands!
Don’t be afraid to forgo the use of a fork, knife, and spoon while you’re in India; just watch how the locals do it and try finger food out for yourself.
14. A village with no locks and doors may be the safest on Earth
The village of Shani Shingnapur is famous for not having a door or lock on a single house. Beyond that, there has not been a recording of a criminal act for almost 400 years.
Many people think that the shared vulnerability has created a neighborly trust between the residents, which has formed a protection stronger than a deadbolt or heavy gate.
15. “Indian food” has become one of the most widespread cuisines in the world
From London to New York City, Indian food has spread across the world and continues to gain popularity. Many argue that authentic flavor and spice is lost in many of the restaurants outside of India itself.
If you’re about to visit India and are starting your trip in Delhi, then this food tour is the best and safest way to introduce your palate to authentic Indian food!
16. India has the highest population of vegetarians
It’s estimated that between 15% and 30% of India’s population follow a strict vegetarian diet, while many others will only consume fish and no land animals.
Vegetarianism is so widely spread that even western food chains like KFC provide a vegetarian menu for restaurant patrons.
17. There are A LOT of holidays
In 2019, India recorded 26 official holidays, including Independence Day, Deepavali, Holi, and Christmas.
The wide range of celebrations comes from the fact that so many different cultural groups are blended in the Indian population, leading to a plethora of holidays and festivals.
18. Holi is much more than a colorful powder festival
Holi, also known as the festival of colors, is the popular Hindu spring festival celebrated across India and Nepal.
Holi’s name comes from “Holika”, the sister of demon King “Hiranyakashyap,” and it signifies the victory of good over evil. It also marks the end of the winter season, welcoming the spring.
While the festival is well known for its colorful powders, water also is a big part of the event as many people use water balloons to engage in water fights with family and friends.
Beyond being a national festival in India, these days, Holi is celebrated by Hindus all over the world.
19. The world’s largest sundial is located in India
The town of Jaipur is home to the largest sundial in the world, which is a towering 27 meters (90 feet) tall!
If that’s not impressive enough, the sundial is constructed from beautiful polished stone to create an awe-inspiring work of architecture.
The sundial has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Every year, it attracts thousands of visitors, who come to witness the shadow moving at about six centimeters per minute.
20. The Taj Mahal is slowly changing color
Perhaps the most iconic landmark in India, the majestic white walls of the Taj Mahal are something almost every traveler dreams of seeing.
However, due to pollution and contaminants in the air, the marble walls are slowly transforming from white into a yellow color.
I highly recommend visiting the Taj Mahal on this private day trip from Delhi (which also includes the Agra Fort and Baby Taj).
21. During World War II, the Taj Mahal was disguised as a bamboo stockpile
Even if the color is changing, the Taj Mahal is still one of the most beloved and important monuments in the country.
To protect the building during World War II, the entire palace was covered with bamboo scaffolding, completely hiding the true structure from bomber planes flying overhead.
The trick seemed to work because the Taj Mahal was never struck during the war.
22. In some places in India, Coke and Pepsi are used as pesticides
In the Chattisgarh state of India, which is one of the world’s largest rice-producing areas, farmers began to spray their fields with Coke and Pepsi products, since it was cheaper than traditional pesticides and seemed to work just as well.
On looking more closely at this method, it’s thought that the sweet syrups attract ants to the field, which eat the eggs and larva of insects that commonly destroy crops.
23. North Sentinel Island is one of the last “untouched” places on Earth
The Indian government has prohibited anyone from going within three miles of North Sentinel Island, home of the Sentinelese people.
In 1991, the anthropologist Madhumala Chattophadhyay had several peaceful encounters with the Sentinelese, but in subsequent years, the people made it very clear (sometimes violently) that they did not want to be disturbed.
It is now considered one of the last places untouched by the outside world.
24. The Kumbh Mela is visible from space
The Kumbh Mela is an important festival and pilgrimage site, and the largest gathering on Earth. While a celebration takes place each year, there is a festival of greater significance at four-year and twelve-year intervals.
The number of people attending the festival is so large that the crowd is visible in satellite photos taken from space.
25. India has one of the lowest divorce rates in the world
According to statistics, the divorce rate in India is about 1 out of every 100 marriages, making it much lower than most countries.
This may be partly due to cultural customs and the fact that arranged marriages still occur in India.
26. Frogs Are Married Off
Speaking of marriage, frogs are married in India! Well, at least in Varanasi.
Varanasi goes back to its old traditional beliefs and rituals, so when the rains are delayed, the frogs there are caught and married to each other to please the rain gods.
27. The Hindu calendar has six seasons
Instead of the typical four-season cycle most countries recognize, India follows a six-season calendar, recognizing spring, summer, monsoon, autumn, prewinter, and winter.
28. Varanasi is the most ancient surviving city in the world
A few countries around the world claim they have the oldest living city in the world, and India is no exception.
The holy city of Varanasi, also known as Banaras or Kashi, is believed to be one of the oldest living cities in the world. In fact, it is believed that this place was once the home of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
As Mark Twain puts it, Varanasi is “older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.”
This city’s connection with eternity doesn’t end here, for it is believed that the person who inhales his final breath here actually attains salvation.
This is why so many devout Hindus pilgrimage to Varanasi to spend their last days on Earth. At the same time, many other devotees flock to the city throughout the year to experience its divinity.
If you’re visiting the city for he first time, I highly recommend this private half day tour to immerse yourself into Varanasi’s culture, history, and (tourist-friendly) street food!
Also, Varanasi is a visually stunning city. From its architecture, its people, and rituals, every moment and every corner present a photo worthy capture. Make the most of this rich experience with this photo tour across the city.
29. The Origin of Ayurveda and Yoga
In addition to being well known as the holiest city in India, Varanasi is also known as the birth-place of Ayurveda and Yoga and their ancient healing systems.
30. India is divided into 29 states
Not many foreigners realize that India is subdivided into states. Some of these states – like Assam, Kashmir, and Goa – are more easily recognized thanks to products like Assam tea, Kashmir silk, or the popular tourist destinations in Goa.
31. Tea is the national beverage of India
It’s no secret that Indians love tea; the beverage is served throughout the day and with meals in every household. India is the second-largest producer of tea in the world, following closely behind China.
32. Around 70% of the world’s spices come from India
India is by far the largest producer of spices, which are shipped across continents to restaurants and kitchens worldwide. Some of the best-known spices are turmeric, cumin, saffron, and chili powders.
33. India has the current tallest statue in the world
Measuring 600ft (182m) in height, the Statue of Unity is currently the tallest statue in the world.
The statue, which is a tribute to the independence leader Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, is located in the western state of Gujarat, where Patel was born.
For comparison, this statue is almost twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty (305ft or 93m). It is made with more than 12,000 bronze panels and weighs about 67,000 tonnes.
The easiest way to visit the statue is with this day tour from Ahmedabad.
34. The Amritsar Golden Temple serves free meals….for thousands
The Amritsar Golden Temple is one of the most dazzling architectural monuments in India, but it is also a site of generosity and compassion. This Sikh temple is open to people of all religions.
Every day, it serves a simple vegetarian meal, often to over fifty thousand people. What’s even more impressive is that almost all the ingredients are donated.
This private day tour to the Amritsar Golden Temple and Wagan Border is one to not be missed.
35. India was the first country to refine and consume sugar
If you have a sweet tooth, you have India to thank for it. India was the first place were sugar was extracted, refined, and used in cooking – although once people got a taste of the delicious stuff, sugar production quickly spread around the world.
36. Shampoo originated in India
The word “shampoo” comes from the Sanskrit word “champu,” which means “to massage.”
Ground herbs mixed with water were the very first forms of shampoo. Not until later, when the idea caught on were commercial bottles produced.
37. India is Famous for its Iconic Step Wells
India’s abandoned step-wells, known as vavs in Gujarat and baolis (or baoris) elsewhere in northern India, are an important part of its history and architecture.
While information about them is scarce, they’re believed to have started appearing mostly between the 2nd and 4th centuries to supply water from the country’s deep water tables – especially in the hot, dry states in northern India.
Beyond their primary use, they were often used to provide shade, as temples, community centers, and layovers on trade routes.
Among the most stunning step wells is the Rani ki Vav (the Queen’s Step Well), which is undoubtedly India’s most awe-inspiring step well.
It’s crazy to think that this UNESCO World Heritage site was just recently discovered.
These step wells are best explored on a tour. Here are some of the best step well tours in the region.
38. The steel wires in the Bandra Worli Sealink could stretch around the world
Completed in 2010, the incredible Bandra Worli Sealink bridge required 90,000 tons of cement to build. To hold that all up, enormous steel cables – each with the ability to hold up 900 tons of weight – were put in place along the bridge.
If they were laid out end to end, the cables could reach around the circumference of the globe.
39. Gandhi is one of India’s most famous icons
Revered the world over for his nonviolent philosophy of passive resistance, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was known to his many followers as Mahatma, or “the great-souled one.”
He was also commonly referred to as “Bapu,” which means father.
In the years following World War I, he became the leading figure in India’s struggle to gain independence from Great Britain.
After Partition in 1947, he continued to work toward peace between Hindus and Muslims until his death, when he was fatally shot in Delhi in January 1948 by a Hindu fundamentalist.
Gandhi’s face has appeared on all denominations of Indian Rupees printed since 1996.
40. There’s a floating post office in India
Not only does India have the largest network of postal services in the world, but it also has some very unique post offices, including one that floats on the water.
Located in Dal Lake, Srinagar, the post office has begun to serve as a tourist destination for curious visitors who hope to photograph the unique site. Trust me, Srinagar is one of the most beautiful places in India!
These amazing facts about India are just the tip of the iceberg; this country has so many surprises in store for travelers!
There’s nothing quite like real-life experience, so if these fun facts about India have piqued your curiosity, get ready to have your mind blown when you travel there in person!
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