India is a land of several contrasts. The diversity of its landscape – from high, cold Himalayan peaks to steamy tropical forests, from desolate deserts to fertile agricultural plains – has earned India the name “Country of a Thousand Faces”.You may know the fact that India is the second most populous country in the world, but there are many other interesting facts about India that will surprise you!
Here are some interesting facts about India you might be unaware of:
Fact No. 1: India is the second most populated country in the world.
India is the second most populated country in the world. With a population of 1.2 billion people, it is also one of the most densely populated countries in the world. People have been migrating to India for centuries and this has resulted in a diverse cultural landscape.
India Fact No. 2: ‘India’ is derived from the river Indus.
The name ‘India’ is derived from the river Indus. The Indus Valley Civilization flourished in the Indian subcontinent from around 3300 BC to 1300 BC. It was an ancient civilization extending from what today is northeast Afghanistan to Pakistan and northwest India.
The Indus River is a major river that flows through the northern part of South Asia, especially in the Indian subcontinent. The total length of the river is 3,180 km (1,990 mi) which makes it one of the longest rivers in Asia and among the longest river systems in the world.
India Fact No. 3: In India, wedding invitations are printed on a banana leaf!
In India, wedding invitations are printed on a banana leaf!
The custom is called vadu kanavu and it’s an old Hindu tradition.
A couple of days before the wedding, the bride’s family will go to their priest (known as an “astrologer” in many parts of India) to find out which day would be auspicious for the wedding. The astrologer will tell them what time is best for the ceremony and then they’ll pick a date that falls within those parameters.
Once they know when they’re getting married, they’ll print the banana leaf invitations and send them out to their friends and family members who are invited to attend.
This is an ancient practice that dates back thousands of years. Back then, people didn’t have paper or envelopes so they would use palm leaves or banana leaves instead.
Fact #4: India has more vegetarians than the rest of the world put together.
India has more vegetarians than the rest of the world put together!
It is estimated that there are over 200 million vegetarians in India and this number is growing rapidly. In fact, surveys show that around 30% of Indians are vegetarian.
India’s vegetarianism can be traced back thousands of years through its literature, art, and culture. The first mention of vegetarianism is found in some ancient Hindu scriptures like the Rig Veda (c. 1500 BC) and the Upanishads (c. 500 BC). These texts mention not only fruits and vegetables but also honey as food items.
Fact #5: Harrods is owned by an Indian company – Tata Group.
Harrods is owned by an Indian company – Tata Group.
In 2009, the iconic department store Harrods in London was sold to the Tata Group for £1.5 billion ($2.4 billion). This made it one of India’s most expensive acquisitions of a foreign company. The deal also marked a historic milestone in UK-India bilateral trade relations, as the first time a major British brand had been acquired by an Indian company.
Harrods’ origins can be traced back to 1803, when Charles Henry Harrod opened his grocer’s shop in Brompton Road, Knightsbridge. The store went on to become one of the world’s most famous luxury retailers and continues to attract shoppers from all over the globe today.
The Tata Group has been around since 1868 when Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata founded India’s first industrial conglomerate — Tata Sons Limited — which now owns more than 100 companies either directly or through holding companies such as Tata Investment Corporation and Tata International Limited.
Fact #6: The world’s largest family lives in a 100-room, four-story house in northern India and is headed by Ziona Chana with 39 wives, 94 children, and 33 grandchildren.
Ziona, who has been married seven times, has had three of his wives die during childbirth. The family is scattered over several floors of their mansion in the north Indian state of Mizoram.
The youngest wife is just 15 years old while her eldest daughter is 35 years old. The oldest son is 40 years old while the youngest is just two years old.
The Chanas are Christians but they still follow some practices that are considered pagan such as polygamy and polyandry — when a woman has multiple husbands at once.
Polyandry is illegal in India so the couple has to hide their marriage from authorities by registering as man and wife with only one spouse listed on official documents.
Fact #7: 2 of every 10 living humans live or were born in India!
The number of Indians born or living abroad has increased by 250% in the last decade—from 8 million to 28 million—and it is expected to reach 50 million by 2025! It is interesting to note that 2 of every 10 living humans live or were born in India!
Fact # 8: 1,500 varieties of bananas are cultivated in India!
There are about 1,500 varieties of bananas cultivated in India. The banana plant is native to Southeast Asia, but it is now grown throughout the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world, including Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Australia, and Oceania.
Bananas have been cultivated in India since ancient times and were first mentioned by Kautilya in his Arthashastra (written between the 4th century BC and 2nd century AD).
Fact #9: India has a population of more than 1.2 billion people.
India has a population of more than 1.2 billion people. This makes it the second most populous country in the world after China with over 1.3 billion people. India is also one of the youngest nations with over half of its population under the age of 25.
India’s current population growth rate is around 1.2% per annum, which is below the replacement rate of 2.1%. The median age for Indians is 27 years and life expectancy at birth is 66 years for males and 68 for females.
Fact #10: There are 24 formal languages and over 1,600 dialects.
India has 24 formal languages and over 1,600 dialects. The national language is Hindi, with English as an additional language. There are 22 official languages in India, including English and Hindi.
The most spoken language in India is Hindi, which is spoken by about 45% of the population. It is followed by Bengali (8%), Telugu (7%), Marathi (6%), Tamil (5%), and Urdu (4%). Tamil is spoken by around 70 million people in southern India, while Telugu is spoken by 65 million people in central and south India.
India has a number of other languages that are used as primary languages in certain regions or states: Assamese, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Oriya, Punjabi, and Kashmiri among others.
Fact #11: The name “India” derives from the Indus River.
The name “India” derives from the Indus River.
The name “India” derives from the Indus River, which was known to the Hindus as Sindhu and which is still called by that name in Persian and Arabic. The ancient Greeks called it Indos and the Romans Indus.
In English, the word has been used since at least 1577. It was popularized by Henry Blount’s 1621 book Travels in India, which was written in Latin but translated into English by R. Newberie (1622).
Fact #12: Taj Mahal is one of the seven wonders of the world.
Taj Mahal is one of the seven wonders of the world. It was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal.
Taj Mahal is a large white marble structure, surrounded by water and gardens, with four minarets at each corner. It took about 22 years to complete, which is an incredible achievement for its builders.
The Taj Mahal stands on the south bank of the Yamuna River, on a site that overlooks Agra’s Old City. Built in 1631-1648 by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as the final resting place for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, it is considered one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture.
Fact #13: India is home to over 300,000 mosques.
India is home to over 300,000 mosques. The country has a rich history of Islam and Muslims in India, which dates back to the 7th century when Arab traders settled down in the coastal regions of Kerala and Gujarat.
The first and oldest surviving mosque in India is the Cheraman Juma Masjid (or Cheraman Perumal Juma Mosque) in Kerala’s Kodungallur town. It was built in 629 AD by Malik Deenar, an Arab merchant who had arrived on a pilgrimage to Makkah from Arabia.
Fact #14: It has the largest postal system in the world with 155,015 post offices (as of 2016).
The Indian Postal Service is the largest postal system in the world, with 155,015 post offices (as of 2016). It has a large network of branches and offices, which deliver mail to people’s houses and businesses. The Indian Postal Service has its headquarters in New Delhi and operates under the Department of Post (DOP), Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.
The history of postal service in India dates back to 1837 when the first post office was opened in Calcutta. In 1854, British India had about 6,000 post offices.
Fact #15: The largest employer in India is the Indian Railways, employing over a million people!
Fact #16: India is one-third the size of the United States.
It is one-third the size of the United States.
India is three times as large as France and twice as large as Japan.
India is 1,287,263 square miles, which is about one-third of the size of the United States.
Fact #17: There are more than four times as many people in India than there are in the United States.
India has a population of 1.3 billion people, according to 2019 estimates from the World Bank. That’s about four times larger than the U.S., which is home to about 327 million.
The reason for this difference? India’s population growth rate is significantly higher than that of the U.S., which is why it’s expected to overtake China as the world’s most populous country soon.
80% of Indians are Hindus. Most of the rest are Muslims with a small number of Christians and Buddhists mixed in.
Fact #18: The Ganges River is considered holy by most Hindus.
There are a few reasons why the Ganges River is considered holy by most Hindus. First of all, it is the longest river in India, and its waters are said to have healing properties. The river is also seen as a symbol of life and fertility, and its banks are considered sacred ground. Shillings (stones that represent the Hindu god Shiva) can often be found on the banks of the Ganges, and many Hindus believe that bathing in the river will cleanse them of their sins.
The Ganges is an important part of Hindu mythology and is associated with several gods and goddesses, including Vishnu, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.
The Ganges River starts in west-central India and runs through Bangladesh before emptying into the Bay of Bengal on the Indian Ocean side of India.
Fact # 19: The oldest European church and synagogue in India are in the city of Cochin.
The St. Francis Church on Mattancherry Palace Road is said to be more than 450 years old and is one of the best examples of European architecture in India.
The Paradesi Synagogue was built by the Malabari Jews who fled persecution and settled in Cochin during Portuguese rule. The synagogue also has a museum that showcases Jewish life in Kerala.
Fact #20: India is the seventh largest country in the world in terms of area.
India is the seventh largest country in the world in terms of area. It covers an area of 3,287,263 sq km (1,269,913 sq mi), making it slightly smaller than the continent of Australia. The country has a total population of 1.2 billion people and its capital city is New Delhi.
Fact #21: India is the second most populous country after China.
The country is home to 1.3 billion people. India has a population density of 382 people per square kilometer.
Fact #22: The national language is Hindi, with English being an official language, as well.
Hindi is spoken by about 40% of the population. It is an Indo-Aryan language and is derived from Sanskrit. It is the most popular language in India and is used by all Indian languages except Tamil, Kannada and Telugu.
English is also an official language of India. It is used in different forms in different parts of India. For instance, in the north, it is used as a spoken language while in the south it is used as a written one.
Fact #23: India has the third-largest standing army in the world and boasts a robust space program.
The Indian military is the world’s third-largest standing army, with more than 1.3 million active personnel and 2.5 million reserves. The Indian Air Force (IAF) is the fourth-largest air force in the world, with about 1,500 combat aircraft and another 180 in reserve. It has some of the most advanced fighter jets like Sukhoi Su-30MKI, Dassault Mirage 2000s, and Mig 29s
Fact #24: India is home to more than 1,000 different languages.
India is home to more than 1,000 different languages.
India’s 29 states and seven federally-administered territories have their own official languages, and many of these also have numerous local dialects. As a result, there are hundreds of thousands of different languages spoken in India.
The country’s national language is Hindi, which is spoken by about 40% of Indians. However, English is also an official language and is widely spoken in urban areas.
Fact #25: India’s Flag is called tricolor
The Indian flag has three horizontal bands of color with a blue wheel in the center. The top band is saffron, the middle one white, and the lower one green. A wheel with 24 spokes appears on the white band and is known as Ashoka Chakra
Fact #26: Kolkata is home to Mother House, where Mother Teresa lived and worked most of her life.
Today it houses a museum dedicated to her life.
Section: The Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth. Construction began in 1632 and took 20,000 workers around 20 years to complete. It’s regarded as one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Fact #27: India has 2 million Hindu temples
India has 2 million Hindu temples. There are more than 30,000 temples in Tamil Nadu alone. In Kerala, there are over 10,000 temples. And in Karnataka, there are more than 8,000 temples.
The vast majority of these temples were built before the 12th century CE (Common Era). The oldest temple in India is at Tirupati and is estimated to be nearly 4,000 years old.
The first temple was constructed by Lord Rama at Rameshwaram after he killed Ravana, who had abducted Sita Devi.
Fact #28: India has 30,000 ancient Buddhist temples
Buddhist Temples in India
There are 30,000 Buddhist temples in India that were built during different periods like Kushan Empire (1st century CE), Satavahana dynasty (2nd century CE), Gupta Empire (4th century CE), and Pala Empire (8th-12th centuries CE), Chola Empire (10th-13th centuries CE), etc.
Fact # 29: India has ancient 8,000 Jain Temples India
There are approximately 8,000 Jain temples in India. They were built during different periods like Rashtrakuta Dynasty (8th-9th centuries CE), Chalukya Dynasty (6th-8th centuries CE), Kutch Gurjar Kshatriyas (11th-14th centuries CE), etc.
Fact #30: The country has the highest rail bridge in the world
The Chenab Bridge, India’s highest rail bridge, is a railway bridge across the Chenab River. It is located in Reasi district in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The bridge was built by Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) at a cost of $160 million. The project was completed in March 2017 and dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 26, 2017. The inauguration was attended by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Governor NN Vohra.
The bridge is 565 meters (1,854 ft) long and has a height of 540 meters (1,770 ft), making it the highest rail bridge in the world.
Fact #31: There is a temple for rats in India
The Temple of Rats, also known as the Temple of the White Rats, is an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to the worship of rats. It is situated in the village of Deshnoke, near Bikaner in Rajasthan, India.
The temple was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh (1876–1930) to commemorate his victory over a plague that ravaged his state in 1899. The rats worshipped here are said to have been responsible for saving his kingdom from the plague.
The temple complex consists of 108 temples and is built on a raised platform, each structure representing a different species of rat.
Fact # 32: It has the world’s highest motorable road
In the Himalayas, you have the world’s highest motorable road. It’s called the Khardung La Pass, and it’s located in Ladakh, which is the northernmost region of India. The pass lies at an altitude of 5,359 meters (17,582 feet), which makes it the highest point on a motorable road in the world.
The pass was built in 1976 and opened to traffic in 1977. It connects Leh with Srinagar via Manali and Chandigarh. The road was built as part of India’s strategic highway network to access Ladakh from the Kashmir valley, which is separated by high mountainous ranges.
The road has several hairpins turns and steep inclines that make it dangerous to traverse during monsoon season or after heavy snowfall.
Fact # 33: India has the world’s largest sundial
The world’s largest sundial is located in India. The tallest sundial in the world is located in Jaipur and stands at a height of 27 meters (90 feet).
The giant timepiece was constructed in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, and it stands on the grounds of his palace. It’s made from red sandstone, and it weighs more than 5 tons (about 4,500 kilograms).
Fact #34:India has one of the lowest divorce rates in the world
The global average divorce rate stands at 45%, according to this UN report. In India, we have one of the lowest divorce rates in the world, at just 1%.
Fact #35: Hindu calendar has six seasons
These seasons are:
1. Winter (Shishir) season
2. Spring (Grishma) season
3. Summer (Varsha) season
4. Rainy (Varsha) season
5. Autumn (Sharad) season
6. Winter (Hemant) season
Fact #36: India has the most ancient surviving city in the world
Varanasi is the most ancient surviving city in the world. The city is mentioned in the Hindu Scriptures and it has been continuously inhabited since antiquity. It is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, along with Jerusalem, Jericho, Beirut, and Cairo.
The city has been a center of learning for Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains for centuries. It was an important center of Hinduism from about 500 BC to 1200 AD; and also from 800 to 1000 A.D., when Buddhism flourished here along with a number of other religious sects such as Jainism and Ajivikas. During this time, many saints and mystics came here to study religion at its source or practice their own beliefs in solitude; hence it is known as the city of sages (munisuvrata).
Fact # 37: Yoga and Ayurveda originated in India
Yoga and Ayurveda originated in India. The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, meaning to yoke or unite. Yoga refers to a variety of physical and mental disciplines that originated in India thousands of years ago. The word Ayurveda means knowledge of life or medicine. Ayurveda developed as a medical science sometime between 2500 and 1500 B.C.
Yoga is one of the six Indian philosophical systems, known as darshanas. The other five are Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Mimamsa, and Vedanta (also called Uttara Mimamsa). The earliest known yoga text is the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (200 B.C.-200 A.D.), which include 196 aphorisms or sutras on meditation practice and spiritual development
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are considered authoritative by most classical yoga schools today
Ayurvedic medicine is an ancient healing system that focuses on maintaining balance in mind, body, and spirit through diet, exercise, and lifestyle choices
Fact # 38: India is the land of spices
India is the largest producer and exporter of spices in the world. Around 70% of the world’s spices come from India. The country produces around 1,800 different types of spices, which are exported to over 100 countries across the globe.
The global market for spices is estimated at $4 billion per year, with India accounting for around $2 billion of this figure. Spice exports from India account for a quarter of its total agricultural exports.
The Indian spice industry employs around 3 million people and contributes more than 6% to the country’s GDP. It also provides employment opportunities for another 3 million people who work as small farmers, traders, and agents involved in the transportation and processing of spices.
Fact # 39: The production and consumption of sugar were first introduced into India.
Sugar cane cultivation started in Bengal in the 16th century and later spread to other parts of India. The British used sugar as a substitute for money and exported it to England for making rum.
Fact #40: Shampoo originated in India
Shampoo originated in India. It is believed that the first shampoo was made by a man named Keshavji Naik, who lived in the 17th century. He was an Ayurvedic practitioner who used herbs to make shampoos for his patients.
A recipe for herbal shampoo can be found in the Charaka Samhita, an ancient Indian medical text dating back to the 1st century AD.
Fact #41: India is the largest democracy in the world.
It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country (with over 1.2 billion people), and the most populous democracy in the world.
Fact #42: India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world
India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world because it has an unbroken continuity of culture and traditions from ancient times to the present. India is also unique in that it has never been subject to foreign domination for more than three hundred years at a stretch.
India is home to some of the world’s earliest traces of human life, including prehistoric paintings dating back to 30,000 BC and a 7,000-year-old city.
India is one of the oldest and most culturally diverse civilizations in the world. It is home to the world’s first writings, which appeared on cave walls over 30,000 years ago. India also boasts one of the world’s oldest religions, Hinduism, which originated in the Indian subcontinent more than 4,000 years ago. Additionally, India has a rich literary and artistic heritage that spans thousands of years. From ancient Sanskrit epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata to modern works of fiction and poetry, Indian writers and artists have left an indelible mark on global culture.
India is a country like no other. Imagine a place with busy cities and a lot of rural farmers. Imagine a place with colorful festivals, grand celebrations, and a celebration for everything in between. Now, Imagine a country with an impressive amount of history, diversity, architecture, and culture. I’m sure you are now imagining India!
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