Amazing India Facts
Amazing India Facts

64 Interesting Facts about India

By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published June 28, 2017
  • India is about 1/3 the size of the United States, yet it is the second most populous country in the world, with a population of 1,166,079,217.[11]
  • India is the seventh largest country in the world, at 1.27 million square miles.[11]
  • More than a million Indians are millionaires, yet most Indians live on less than two dollars a day. An estimated 35% of India’s population lives below the poverty line.[18]
  • India is the largest democracy in the world.[14]
  • Traditionally, Indians found toilet paper repellent and considered it cleaner to splash water with the left hand in the appropriate direction. Consequently, the left hand is considered unclean and is never used for eating.[8]
  • Interesting Hindu Fact
    India's sacred cows
  • Cows can be found freely wandering the streets of India’s cities. They are considered sacred and will often wear a tilak, a Hindu symbol of good fortune. Cows are considered one of humankind’s seven mothers because they offer milk as does one’s natural mother.[17]
  • India has one of the world’s highest rates of abortion. Time magazine reports that in 2012, the number of abortions in India could be as high as 7 million, with 2/3 of abortions taking place in unauthorized health facilities. Due to unsanitary conditions, a woman in India dies every two hours. Additionally, there are more men than women in India due to the high rate of abortions performed on female fetuses, a practice known as "gendercide."[7]
  • Rabies is endemic in India. Additionally, “Delhi Belly” or diarrhea is commonplace due to contaminated drinking water.[8]
  • India is the birthplace of chess. The original word for “chess” is the Sanskrit chaturanga, meaning “four members of an army”—which were mostly likely elephants, horses, chariots, and foot soldiers.[5]
  • The Indian flag has three horizontal bands of color: saffron for courage and sacrifice, white for truth and peace, and green for faith, fertility, and chivalry. An emblem of a wheel spinning used to be in the center of the white band, but when India gained independence, a Buddhist dharma chakra, or wheel of life, replaced the spinning wheel.[19]
  • Indians made significant contributions to calculus, trigonometry, and algebra. The decimal system was invented in India in 100 B.C. The concept of zero as a number is also attributed to India.[19]
  • India may be a land of over a 100 problems, but it is also a place for a billion solutions.

    - Kailash Satyarthi

  • The earliest cotton in the world was spun and woven in India. Roman emperors would wear delicate cotton from India that they would call “woven winds.” Mogul emperors called the fabrics “morning dew” and “cloth of running water.”[14]
  • In ancient and medieval India, suttees, in which a recently widowed woman would immolate herself on her husband’s funeral pyre, were common.[2]
  • The Himalayas—from the Sanskrit hima, meaning “snow,” and alaya, meaning “abode”—are found in the north of India. They extend 1,500 miles and are slowly growing taller, by almost an inch (2.5 cm) a year. Several ancient Indian monasteries are found nestled in the grandeur of these mountains.[19]
  • The Kumbh Mela (or Grand Pitcher Festival) is a huge Hindu religious festival that takes place in India every 12 years. In 2001, 60 million people attended, breaking the record for the world’s biggest gathering. The mass of people was photographed from space by a satellite.[4]
  • Interesting Kumbh Mela Fact
    Kumbh Mela is one of the largest human congregations on the Earth (Daniel Berehulak / Staff / Getty Images)

  • India is the world’s largest producer of dried beans, such as kidney beans and chickpeas. It also leads the world in banana exports; Brazil is second.[18]
  • With 150,000 post offices, India has the largest postal network in the world. However, it is not unusual for a letter to take two weeks to travel just 30 miles.[8]
  • Indians hold prominent places both internationally and in the United States. For example, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems (Vinod Khosla), the creator of the Pentium chip (Vinod Dahm), the founder/creator of Hotmail (Sabeer Bhatia), and the GM of Hewlett-Packard (Rajiv Gupta) are all Indian.[13]
  • Alexander the Great of Macedon (356-323 B.C.) was one of the first important figures to bring India into contact with the West. After his death, a link between Europe and the East would not be restored until Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama (1460-1524) landed in Calicut, India, in 1498.[18]
  • Every major world religion is represented in India. Additionally, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism all originated in India.[8]
  • Interesting Bengal Tiger Fact
    Bengal tigers live in India and are sometimes called Indian tigers
  • The Bengal tiger is India’s national animal. It was once ubiquitous throughout the country, but now there are fewer than 4,000 wild tigers left.[19]
  • The British Raj, or British rule, lasted from 1858 to 1947 (although they had a strong presence in India since the 1700s). British influence is still seen in Indian architecture, education system, transportation, and politics. Many of India’s worst famines are associated with British rule in India.[14]
  • India has the world’s largest movie industry, based in the city of Mumbai (known as the “City of Dreams”). The B in “Bollywood” comes from Bombay, the former name for Mumbai. Almost all Bollywood movies are musicals. The term "Bollywod" refers to just a part of the larger Indian film industry, which includes other film companies operating in other languages.[18]
  • Mumbai (Bombay) is India’s largest city, with a population of 15 million. In 1661, British engineers built a causeway uniting all seven original islands of Bombay into a single landmass.[18]
  • Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948) is known around the world as Mahatma, which is an honorific title meaning “Great Soul” in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit. He devoted his life to free India from British rule peacefully and based his campaign on civil disobedience. His birthday, October 2, is a national holiday. He was assassinated in 1948.[19]
  • The lotus is sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists. The Bahá’í house of worship in Delhi, known as the “Lotus Temple,” is shaped like a lotus flower with 27 gigantic “petals” that are covered in marble.[14]
  • The banyan, or Indian fig tree, is considered a symbol of immortality and is mentioned in many Indian myths and legends. This self-renewing plant is India’s national tree.[19]
  • Introduced by the British, cricket is India’s most popular sport. Hockey is considered the national sport, and the Indian field hockey team proudly won Olympic gold in 1928.[14]
  • Interesting Tower of Silence Fact
    A Zoroastrian Tower of Silence in Mumbai
  • To avoid polluting the elements (fire, earth, water, air), followers of Zoroastrianism in India don’t bury their dead, but instead leave bodies in buildings called “Towers of Silence” for the vultures to pick clean. After the bones dry, they are swept into a central well.[8]
  • Marigold flowers are used as decoration for Hindu marriages and are a symbol of good fortune and happiness.[14]
  • The official name of India is the Republic of India. The name "India" is the corruption of the word Sindhu. Because neighboring Persians and Arabs pronounced "s" as "h" they called the land Hindu. The Greeks called it Indus. Sindhu is the name of the Indus River, which was mentioned in the Rig-Veda, one of the oldest existing Indo-European texts.[19]
  • The national fruit of India is the mango. The national bird is the peacock, which was initially bred for food.[19]
  • Most historians agree that the first recorded account of plastic surgery is found in ancient Indian Sanskrit texts.[2]
  • Hindi and English are the official languages of India. The government also recognizes 17 other languages (Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Nepali, Manipuri, Konkani, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu). Apart from these languages, about 1,652 dialects are spoken in the country.[18]
  • Rivers have played a vital role in India’s popular culture and folklore—they have been worshipped as goddesses because they bring water to an otherwise dry land. Bathing in the Ganges in particular is thought to take away a person’s sins. It is not unusual to spread a loved one’s ashes in the Ganges.[8]
  • India’s pastoral communities are largely dependent on dairy and have made India the largest milk-producing country in the world.[18]
  • Weird India Fact
    The carvings range from self-pleasuring acts to sexual orgies to bestiality
  • The temples of Khajuraho are famous for their erotic sculptures and are one of the most popular tourist attractions in India. Scholars still debate the purpose of such explicit portrayals of sexual intercourse, which sometimes involve animals.[1]
  • India has the world’s third largest road network at 1.9 million miles. It also has the world’s second largest rail network, which is the world’s largest civilian employer with 16 million workers.[8]
  • Raziya Sultana (1205-1240) was the first woman leader of India. She was considered a great leader, though she ruled for only three years before being murdered.[2]
  • It is traditional to wear white, not black, to a funeral in India. Widows will often wear white in contrast to the colorful clothes of married or single women.[17]
  • All of India is under a single time zone.[11]
  • On India’s Independence Day, August 15, 1947, the country was split into India and Pakistan. The partition displaced 1.27 million people and resulted in the death of several hundred thousand to a million people.[11]
  • In recent years, Indian authors have made a mark on the world with such novels as Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses (1988), Vikram Seth’s Suitable Boy (1993), and Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things (1997).[14]
  • The Taj Mahal (“crown palace”) was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (1592-1666) for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal (1593-1631). This architectural beauty has been called “marbled embroidery” for its intricate workmanship. It took 22,000 workmen 22 years to complete it.[19]
  • Dancing is one of India’s most highly developed arts and was an integral part of worship in the inner shrines of every temple. It is notable for its expressive hand movements.[8]
  • Interesting India Dance Fact
    The origins of dance in India go back into the ancient times

  • India experiences six seasons: summer, autumn, winter, spring, summer monsoon, and winter monsoon.[19]
  • India is the world’s largest tea producer, and tea (chai) is its most popular beverage.[8]
  • The first and greatest civilization in ancient India developed around the valley of the Indus River (now Pakistan) around 3000 B.C. Called the Indus Valley civilization, this early empire was larger than any other empire, including Egypt and Mesopotamia.[18]
  • Alexander the Great invaded India partly because he wanted to solve the mystery of the “ocean,” which he had been told was a huge, continuous sea that flowed in a circle around the land. When he reached the Indian Ocean, he sacrificed some bulls to Poseidon for leading him to his goal.[19]
  • After the great Indus Civilization collapsed in 2000 B.C., groups of Indo-Europeans called Aryans (“noble ones”) traveled to northwest India and reigned during what is called the Vedic age. The mingling of ideas from the Aryan and Indus Valley religions formed the basis of Hinduism, and the gods Shiva, Kali, and Brahma all have their roots in Aryan civilization. The Aryans also recorded the Vedas, the first Hindu scriptures, and introduced a caste system based on ethnicity and occupation.[18]
  • India produces 70% of the world's spices.[6]
  • Interesting Indian Spices Fact
    India produces 70% of the world's spices

  • Greek sculpture strongly influenced many portrayals of Indian gods and goddesses, particularly after the conquest of Alexander the Great around 330 B.C. In fact, early Indian gods had Greek features and only later did distinct Indian styles emerge.[19]
  • Chandragupta Maurya (340-290 B.C.), a leader in India who established the Mauryan Empire (321-185 B.C.), was guarded by a band of women on horseback.[1]
  • When the first independent prime minister of India, pacifist Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964), was featured in Vogue, his distinctive close fitting, single-breasted jacket briefly became an important fashion statement for the Mod movement in the West. Named the Nehru jacket, the prime minister’s coat was popularized by the Beatles and worn by such famous people as Johnny Carson (1925-2005) and Sammy Davis Jr. (1925-1990).n[22]
  • London has more Indian restaurants than Mumbai or Delhi. Britain also has the largest Indian restaurant in the world, The Aakash, which can seat up to 750 people in one sitting.[10]
  • It is illegal for foreigners to import or export Indian currency (rupees).[8]
  • India is home to the world's biggest family. A man named Ziona Chana has 39 wives, 94 children, and 33 grand children. They all live together in a 100-room mansion.[21]
  • India has the lowest meat consumption per person in the world; Luxembourg eats the most.[20]
  • Interesting Hindu Fact
    Hinduism grew out of cultural and religious changes in India
  • About 80% of Indians are Hindu. Muslims are the largest minority in India and form approximately 13% of the country’s population. In fact, India has the third largest population of Muslims in the world, after Indonesia and Pakistan.[14]
  • The Golden Temple in India feeds a vegetarian meal to over 100,000 people a day regardless of race, religion and class.[3]
  • Farmers in India use Coca Cola and Pepsi as an inexpensive form of pesticide.[16]
  • Over 14 million adults and children are trapped in modern slavery in India today, which is the most of any country in the world.[15]
  • New Delhi’s air is the most polluted in the world.[9]
  • Significantly more people in India have access to a phone than they do to a toilet. [12]
References

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