22 Amazing and Surprising Facts About India

India is a land full of surprises. This ancient and continuous civilization has seen many millenniums and has imbibed innumerable lessons from various historical transformations. Home to the world’s second largest population and one of the oldest religions of the world (Hinduism), India keeps to surprise people with its wit and charm. Sea exploration started with one of the motives to find the way to travel to the east, with Columbus trying to find a way to India which accidently led to the discovery of U.S.A. In this article let us discover 22 amazing things about this culture and amaze ourselves of what we read.

1. World’s Highest Motorable Road is in India

Earlier the record of World’s Highest Motorable Road was held by Khardung La or Khardung Pass at nearly 17,900 ft. It is located in India’s Union Territory of Ladakh. Now this record has been bagged by another road, but the main title still remains with India.

Now the record of World’s Highest Motorable Road is held by Umling La Top in the Ladakh Region of India. It is at the height of 19,300 ft built by Border Roads Organisation under the “Project Himank”. This road connects Chisumle and Demchok villages.

2. Indian Brands that Many People Thought were Not Indian

Many Indian Brand and Corporates has made their name on international platforms. These include Jaguar Land Rover, Royal Enfield Motor Bikes, Peter England, Louis Philippe, Allen Solly, American Swan, Monte Carlo, Old Monk Rum, Van Heusen, HiDesign, Colorbar, La Oppala, East India Company (now owned by an Indian, Sanjiv Mehta), Munich Polo, Havels, Flying Machine, Café Coffee Day etc.

Some of these brands are global hits and some were acquired by Indian business tycoons. Such brands include Tetly Tea which was acquired in 2001 by Tata Consumer Products. Tetly was  largest tea company in the UK and Canada, and the second largest in the United States by volume.

3. World’s Oldest University

World’s oldest university was Takshila University established in India in 700 B.C. It had more than 60 subjects and was catering to a little more than 10,000 international students. While Nalanda University in India established in 5th century A.D. was world’s first residential university.

Contrary to the popular belief, University of Karueein of Morocco is not the first university in the world. It was founded in 859 AD. But it is the continuous and surviving old university, none other prior to it made to the modern world.

4. Snakes and Ladders Game was Invented in India

Want to learn about Karma? Yes, this game was invented to teach children about certain principles of life. Often adapted as “Shoots and Ladders”. This board game is quite popular globally. This game was invented by poet saint Gyandev in 13th century. In the game virtues are represented by ladders and vices are represented by snakes. The original name of the game was ‘Mokshapath’.

5. Houses with No Locks and Doors

In India, there is a city known as Shani Shingnapur where houses does not have locks or doors and the city has not recorded any crime for past 400 years. The religious belief relating to Lord Shani (Saturn God) who punishes people as per their karma is the guiding factor.

6. Shampoo Technique was Developed in India

Yes, that’s true. The Sanskrit word ‘Champu” is the source word for shampoo. This method was developed under Ayurveda system to wash one’s hair using herbs and their mixtures. Western civilisation took it to global heights by commercialising the concept.

7. World’s First and Only Floating Post Office

Yes, that’s true, the World’s First and Only Floating Post Office is located or floated on Dal Lake in Srinagar in Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. It is one of the major tourist attractions apart from boating in the Dal Lake.

8. India Started Mining Diamonds

As per Gemological Institute of America, India was the only source of diamonds until 1896. They were mined in southern part of India near Krishna River Delta.

9. World’s Largest Film Industry

A little more than 1000 movies are produced in India annually, This number more than twice of America and ten times of what is produced in Britain. And the fun part is that it is just not all in Bollywood or the Hindi cinema. Bollywood accounts for nearly 200 mover per annum. The bulk comes from Tamil and Telugu movie industries based in Chennai and Hyderabad. Though when it comes to box office receipts value then India stands globally at sixth position. The top post is held by USA and second by China. Then the third is Japan, UK is fourth and France is Fifth.

10. Indian Economy is the 5th Largest Economy in the World

As per IMF (International Monetary Fund), Indian economy in October 2019 became the world’s 5th largest economy when ranked in terms of nominal GDP, it overtook United Kingdom and France. The first rank is held by USA, second by China, third by Japan and fourth by Germany.

11. World’s Tallest Statue

India’s Statue of Unity dedicated to the “Iron Man of India”, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel is the world’s highest statue measuring 182 metres (597 ft). It is also included in  8 Wonders of SCO’ list of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. It is located in the state of Gujarat and is located on Narmada river. It was inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 143rd birth anniversary of Sardar Patel. The daily average tourist footfall at Statue of Unity during November 2019 reached 15,036, outpacing the Statue of Liberty (which attracts around 10,000 daily visitors on average).

12. Madhopatti Village is a Village of Officers

A village which only 75 houses has given 47 officers in Indian Administrative Services (IAS) and many more in Bhabha Atomic Research Center and other state level civil services. This village of Uttar Pradesh is located in Jaunpur district. This village has also made a unique record where all the four siblings of a house were selected as civil servants. The story started from 1914 when Mustafa Hussain cleared one of the most difficult exams and became IAS officer. Since then it is no looking back.

13. World’s Highest Rail Bridge

 The Chenab railway bridge constructed by Indian Railways in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is said to be the world’s highest railway bridge which is 35 mts taller than Eiffel Tower of Paris (France). It is considered as one of the “engineering marvel”. It can withstand the wind speeds of up to 260 kmph. The construction was declared as a national project on 2002. It is built to connect the towns of Udhampur and Baramulla. It will connect Kashmir valley to rest of India by train.

14. Switzerland Celebrates Science Day in Honour of Indian Scientist and Ex-President

Science day in Switzerland is celebrated on 26th May every year. It is celebrated to commemorate the visit of an ex Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam in 2006, who was a distinguished scientist and developed India’s nuclear weapons. The great thing about this man was that when India was denied of all the technology, he invented everything from the scratch.  Moreover, as a President, he donated all his salary towards scholarships of students. When he died, while giving lecture on science and in all his legacy he left only BOOKS. What all he had earned throughout his life, he has kept donating.

15. Arabic Numeral System, Algebra, Calculus, Quadratic Equations and Trigonometry, Yes Zero Too

 Aryabhata, Brahmagupta, Bhaskara II, and Varāhamihira were the giant of mathematicians whose contributions have reverberated across centuries and are still used widely. The concept of “zero” was invented in India and it is not just mathematics but the world of binary stands on it which gave birth to modern computers. Not to forget the decimal system which is used globally which has enabled mathematics to do large calculations. Bhaskaracharya was the first person on the planet to calculate exact time taken by earth to orbit the Sun. It was 365.258756484 days. The modern numeral system which is known as Arabic Numeral System was passed to Western Civilization by Arabs, was originated in India.

Budhayana an Indian mathematician in 6th Century calculated the value of “pi” and also explained the concept what was later known as Pythagoras Theorem. Sridharacharya in 11th century, documented the use of Quadratic Equations.  Apart from this there are proven contributions with the invention of Trigonometry, Algebra and practical geometry. The highest calculative numbers used by Hindu mathematicians was as large as 10 to the power 53 (1053) while even in modern world the highest calculation is 10 to the power 12 (1012) i.e. terra.

16. Indian Hockey Wizard Dhyan Chand Defied Adolf Hitler

India celebrates National Sports Day every year to mark the birth anniversary of hockey wizard Dhyan Chand, who led India to Olympic Gold medal thrice (1928, 1932 and 1936) and has a record of 400 international goals. It was in 1932 Olympics when India crushed USA to a 24-1 defeat in Los Angeles. During 1936 Berlin Olympics, Dhyan Chand defeated German Hockey Team in the presence of Hitler and Dhyan Chand himself scored a hattrick. Germany was defeated by 8-1. Hitler was so upset that he left the stadium before the match could finish. Later during medal presentation, Hitler offered German citizenship to Dhyan Chand and a high-ranking post in German Army. The patriotic Indian defied Hitler and not only this, Indian Team was one of the few teams that refused to give Nazi salute to the Fuhrer Adolf Hitler.

17. Rabindranath Tagore a Shining Nobel Laureate

He was the first Asian as well as the first non-European to win Nobel Prize. And from his prize money he built a school known as “Visva-Bharati”. He was invited by Albert Einstein and their discussion is documented in “Note on the Nature of Reality”. He was given the Knighthood status by King George V of Britain in 1915. He surrendered his knighthood in protest of Jallianwala Bagh massacare in 1919.

He composed India’s national anthem, “Jana Gana Mana”, Bangladesh’s national anthem, “Amar Sonar Bangla” and also is said to be the major inspiration for Sri Lanka’s national anthem. He was a poet, painter, writer, musician, philosopher, internationalist and many more, he composed more than 2,000 songs and many poems, dramas, novels and stories. His works are published in “Gitanjali” and “Jeevan Smriti”.  And Y.B. Yeats wrote the preface of “Gitanjali”.

18. India’s own Napoleon

Indian Emperor Samudragupta (335-375 AD) of Gupta Dynasty was called as Indian Napoleon by historian A.V. Smith. He was more famous than King Ashoka. Samudragupta never lost a battle, though Napoleon himself lost his last battle. He was referred to as “Charkravartin” i.e. “King of Kings”. His great military conquests are well documented by court poet Harisena in ‘Prayag Prashati’. Though his conquests were larger than Napoleon and his military genius and strategy were far more deadlier and he covered more geographical area than Napoleon, many historians has held the opinion that the Napoleon cannot do justice to this magnificient figure who united people and was also known as “man of culture” as he gave patronage to arts and music too.

19. Kamala Harris, Norah Jones, Freddie Mercury , Sir Ben Kingsley have Indian grandparents

You must have seen Ben Kingsley playing Gandhi and also featuring in the famous movie ‘Prince of Perisa: Sands of Time”. Also some of his famous movies for which he won awards are Iron Man-3, Schindler’s List, Hugo and many more. Sir Ben Kingsley was born as Krishna Pandit Bhanji to an English mother (actress and model Anna Lyna Mary) and father of Indian Gujarati descent from Kenya (Dr. Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji).

Also, the famous British singer Freddie Mercury of the band Queen was born as Farrokh Bulsara.

Coming to Norah Jones, who is a renowned singer, song-writer and a pianist is also of Indian descent. Her birth name is Geethali Norah Jones Shankar. Her mother is American concert producer Sue Jones and father is Indian musician Ravi Shankar.

Kamala Harris also known as Kamala Devi Harris,  is daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father. Her mother  Shyamala Gopalan arrived in USA in 1958 and graduated from  University of California and worked as a biologist.   While one of her mother’s sisters (Dr. Sarala Gopalan), lives in Chennai (India), their other sister is based in Canada. Her father, Donald J. Harris arrived in USA from Jamaica in 1961 and is professor emeritus of economics in Stanford University . Kamala Haris is the first female Vice-President, Female African-American Vice-President, First Indian-Origin American Vice-President in USA.

20. Martial Arts Invented in India, Not China

An Indian sage Bodhidharma, invented martial arts. He travelled to China for the spread of Buddhism and there he laid the foundation of Shaolin martial arts in 5th Century BC. It is not that humans have not been fighting before that. But the first system of fighting with technoques and knowledge of human physiology was laid in India. The oldest martial art is Kalaripayattu from Kerala in Southern India. It has refrences in Sangam literature belonging to 4th Century BC. This school of martial art is so old that it is believed to be invented by Lord Parshuram.

21. India’s Medical Wonders

Astonishing and unbelievable but it is true that Ayurveda system of medicine has been dated back to 1 millennium i.e. 1000 B.C. Also the ‘Father of Surgery’, Shushruta in his book dated 6th Century BC has laid down detailed procedures as well as tools for conducting surgery for cataract, incisions, probing, extraction of foreign bodies, alkali and thermal cauterization, tooth extraction, excisions, and trocars for draining abscess, draining hydrocele and ascitic fluid, removal of the prostate gland, urethral stricture dilatation etc. Apart from this he has listed 6 types of dislocations and 12 types of fractures. Also has given procedures to fit prosthetics. Use of anesthesia has been well documented in ancient Indian medical records and details has been provided for anatomy, embryology, immunity etc.

22. Yoga was Invented in India

Yoga is one of the 6 orthodox schools of Hindu philosophical traditions. Yoga has been mentioned in Rig Veda (ancient and most sacred book of Hindus belonging to a set of four canonical texts) and also Upanishads. Sage Patanjali documented the aphorisms of Yoga in 5th -4th Century BC. He opined in his sutras that yoga is much older tradition. It is believed that ancient Harpappan Civilisation has also been practising Yoga.

Rajat Jhingan

16 thoughts on “22 Amazing and Surprising Facts About India”

  1. Wow these facts are really cool! Chutes and Ladders was one of my favorite board games growing up 😄 and I didn’t know that about the history of martial arts! Really informative post.

    1. Hi

      Am very nice that you loved the facts. Those childhood games, gosh I miss them soo badly. For martial arts, ouch ! even I used to think about China, but lol… seems a lot to learn. 🙂

    1. Thanks a ton Shelly, very encouraging.
      Yup ! even I neve had clue about Land Rover 😀
      And my friends are still in the world where they think Royal Enfield is a British Brand. I love to see their shocked faces when I tell them about it. And most funny is about Peter England! (only the name has England) 😀

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