15 Intriguing Facts About India You Should Know About

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Aside from the Bollywood imagery of India as a land of passionate lovers, enchanting musicals, and colorful festivals, how much do you truly know about this incredible nation? Beyond the lively dances and romantic songs, there’s more to India than meets the eye. With over a billion people, India’s true beauty lies in its endearing history, diverse cultures, and deep traditions. Here are 15 intriguing facts about India you should know about.

Second-largest English Speaking Country

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English became prominent in India during the colonial period under British rule, lasting nearly two centuries until India gained independence in 1947. During this time, English was established as the language of administration, education, and governance. After independence, English retained its official status alongside Hindi as one of the two official languages of the Indian Union. This ensured its continued usage in government and public institutions, and with India’s population, attaining the second-largest speaker came easily.

Highest number of vegetarians

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According to the USDA, as many as 40% of Indians are vegetarians. Vegetarianism has deep cultural and religious roots in India. Hinduism, which is the most practiced religion promotes a vegetarian diet as a way to practice nonviolence (ahimsa) and respect for all forms of life. Many Hindus believe in karma, where actions, including diet choices, have spiritual consequences. Jainism, another prominent religion in India, also advocates strict vegetarianism as a way of minimizing harm to living beings.

First Diamond-mining Country

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India has a long history of diamond mining, dating back to at least 296 BC. The regions of Golconda, in present-day Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh states were particularly known for their diamond mines. Diamonds were also found in other regions, such as the Krishna River delta. One of India’s most famous diamond mines was the Kollur Mine near Golconda. It was active during the medieval period and was known for producing some of the world’s most famous diamonds, including the Koh-i-Noor and the Hope Diamond.

The Taj Mahal is Beyond Architecture

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Due to its grandeur and architectural splendor, the Taj Mahal is often misunderstood as a palace, but it is actually a mausoleum. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan constructed it in memory of his late wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died during childbirth in 1631. It symbolizes enduring love and is seen as one of the most remarkable instances of Mughal architecture. Its architectural style blends elements from Persian, Islamic, Ottoman Turkish, and Indian architectural traditions.

Cows Are Sacred

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Cows hold a special and sacred status in India for religious, cultural, and historical reasons.In Hinduism, cows are exalted as sacred animals and are considered symbols of motherhood, especially Lord Krishna, who is often portrayed as a cowherd (Gopala) known for his love and protection of cows. In several states of India, laws are in place to protect cows from slaughter and cruelty. non-violence (ahimsa), and prosperity. They are associated with several Hindu deities,

Tiger Capital of the World

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As the habitat of 75% of the world’s tiger population, India takes the lead in global tiger conservation efforts. Its efforts benefit its own tiger population and spearhead  the global goal of conserving this iconic species. Following a significant decline in tiger numbers in the 1970s, India has implemented rigorous conservation measures. This includes the establishment of tiger reserves under Project Tiger, which started in 1973 to protect tiger habitats, control poaching, and monitor tiger populations.

Pioneers of Snake and Ladder

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Next time you play a game of snakes and ladders, remember India. Snakes and Ladders, known as “Moksha Patam” in ancient India, have a fascinating history dating back thousands of years. The board was designed to reflect life’s journey towards enlightenment (moksha). The ladders (or “stairs”) represented virtues such as faith and humility. Climbing these ladders symbolized progress towards spiritual liberation or higher realms. Conversely, the snakes symbolized vices and negative actions such as lust, anger, greed, murder, and theft.

Staggeringly Diverse in Tongues

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India officially recognizes 22 languages under the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, with Hindi as the official language at the national level. Each language’s script and literary tradition contribute to India’s linguistic diversity. Beyond the officially recognized languages, India boasts an incredibly vast array of languages and dialects. A 2018 census shows over 19,500 languages and dialects are spoken as mother tongues nationwide. Despite its diversity, India has adopted English as a significant link language for communication.

Largest Film Producer

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Between 1500 and 2000 movies are produced in India annually. Bollywood, centered in Mumbai, is the most prominent and globally recognized segment of Indian cinema, known for its vibrant musicals, elaborate dance sequences, and dramatic storytelling. Beyond Bollywood, India’s film industry encompasses various regional cinemas, each with its own distinct style and cultural influences. Regional film industries such as Tamil cinema (Kollywood), Telugu cinema (Tollywood), and Bengali cinema (Tollywood) also add up to this statistic.

 A Magnetic Hill

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Situated on the Leh-Kargil-Baltic National Highway, the Magnetic Hill is known for creating a strong optical illusion. When vehicles are parked at a specific spot on the hill, they appear to roll uphill against gravity, even though the slope is actually downhill. This phenomenon occurs due to the layout of the surrounding terrain, which creates a deceptive incline. The Magnetic Hill is easily accessible by road, making it a popular tourist attraction to see the rugged landscapes of Ladakh.

Inventors of Chess

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The precursor to modern chess, Chaturanga, originated in ancient India around the 6th century AD (some sources suggest even earlier, around the 2nd century AD). Chaturanga was a strategic board game played on an 8×8 grid, similar to the modern chessboard. A known literary reference to Chaturanga is found in the Indian epic, the Mahabharata, which dates back to around 400 BC to 200 AD. This game spread from India to Persia, where it evolved into Shatranj and then to the Arab world and Europe.

World’s Highest Cricket Ground

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Situated at an elevation of 2444 meters (8000 feet) above sea level, the cricket ground in Chail holds the distinction of being the highest in the world. It was built in 1893 by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala after leveling a hilltop to create a suitable pitch for cricket. The construction of the cricket ground in Chail was part of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh’s ambitious plan to develop Chail as his summer capital, away from the heat of the plains.

Largest Postal Network in the World

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India holds the title of having the largest postal network in the world, with about 154,965 offices as of March 2017. These post offices serve urban, rural, and remote areas, ensuring widespread access to postal services even in the most far-flung corners of the country. The origins of India’s postal system date back to the British colonial era when the East India Company established the first post office in Kolkata (then Calcutta) in 1774. Financial services are also provided by these post offices.

Wettest Place in the World

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Guinness World Records recognizes Mawsynram for having the highest average annual rainfall. The town receives approximately 11,873 millimeters (467.4 inches) of rain annually, making it significantly wetter than any other place on Earth. The exceptional rainfall in Mawsynram is primarily due to the influence of the southwest monsoon. An intense monsoon season characterized by heavy rainfall is experienced from June to September. Winter months are spent in preparation for the monsoon, which dominates life and agriculture in the region.

One of the Most Significant Religious Pilgrimage

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The Sri Venkateswara Temple is dedicated to a form of Lord Vishnu—Lord Venkateswara. This temple complex, situated in the hill town of Tirumala in Andhra Pradesh, India, is believed to have been built in the 10th century AD. It has since grown in scale and prominence, becoming a central pilgrimage site for Hindus globally. It attracts an astonishing number of visitors yearly, with daily footfall often exceeding 100,000 devotees during peak times. Recent February 2024 statistics peg it at 57,338 per day.

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