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. No matter how much you learn about India, there’s always more. The country’s diversity has tons of incredible but true facts. So, today’s blog is taking a different twist. We’ll primarily be revealing fun facts to introduce you to this astounding country.
Second only to China, India has nearly 1.5 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.
There are numerous languages spoken in India. These include Santali, Kashmiri, Bengali, Tamil, and Urdu. The official languages are English and Hindi. India 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.
India has stunning architecture to offer. It is safe to say India is the land of temples! With about 15% of India’s population being 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 nearly 80% of India’s Hindu population.
Just the holy city of Varanasi alone has over 23,000 temples. 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.
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.
The Taj Mahal is still one of the most beloved and important monuments in the country. And here’s s fun fact most of us don’t know. During World War II, the Taj Mahal was disguised as a bamboo stockpile. 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.
Beyond temples, India also is home to an interesting wide variety of monuments, structures and landmarks that reflect the country’s long history.
Not all of India’s famous monuments are religious. The jaw-dropping bridge spanning the Chenab river in Jammu is nearly 1,200 feet above the water. Those afraid of heights might want to skip this one!
The town of Jaipur is home to the largest sundial in the world, which is a towering 90 feet tall! The sundial is constructed from beautiful polished stone to create a truly impressive work of architecture.
Measuring 600 feet 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. It is made with more than 12,000 bronze panels and weighs more than 60 tons.
India’s abandoned step-wells, known as vavs in Gujarat and Baolis in northern India, are an important part of its history and architecture. They are believed to have started appearing in the early 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.
Located in the Himalayas, 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.
India houses a diverse range of bustling destinations and can't-miss attractions – from majestic temples to striking natural landmarks to superlative beaches and lively cities. For a look at classic India, head to the Golden Triangle, which touches three of the country's most famous destinations: Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Or, spend time in India's southern states to explore stunning beaches along Goa's coast or visit Mumbai's vibrant city center. You can also head to India's northern and central regions for some of the country's most fascinating religious relics and sites, like the marble temples of Rajasthan or the carved edifices of Khajuraho.
Meghalaya village has won the Guinness world record title for the wettest place on Earth with a monumental amount of rain annually. The monsoon season lasts six months here.
The village of Shani Shingnapur is famous for not having a door or lock on a single house. In addition, 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.
Varanasi is the most ancient surviving city in the world. The holy city of Varanasi, also known as Banaras or Kashi, is believed to be one of the oldest living cities in the world. It is also 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.
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.
A plethora of additional objects and concepts originated in India. These include the mining of diamonds, starting in 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.
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. In addition, a worldly popular board game Shoots and Ladders 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.
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 a “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.
Many animals are revered and considered sacred in India. The main one being the cow. Cows are protected by their own set of rules in the Constitution, making the sale and slaughter of cows a crime. Even on crowded city streets, cows have the liberty to roam where they please without fear of being harassed by humans. From the moment an Indian's born, he has two mothers. One, his birth mother and two, Gaumata. Cows are believed to be holy in Hinduism.
Although rats might not be another 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.
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!
From Europe to North America and beyond, 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.
It’s estimated that nearly 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 operating in the country, like KFC, provide a vegetarian menu in their restaurants.
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. Speaking of beverages, India is the largest milk-producing country in the world.
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.
Festivals are also well-known and much-anticipated part of the experience in India. 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.
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.
Beautiful, chaotic, colorful, inspiring. India is a place unlike any other, offering an incredible contrast of sights, smells, sounds and tastes. It's a country that will undoubtedly get under your skin – one way or another. India can be a little overwhelming, very busy and somewhat confusing at times. Although India is not the easiest place to visit – it is one of the most rewarding. It offers some truly remarkable and amazing sights that are unlike anything else in the world.