India, that is Bharat, is really incredible
India is an incredible country, a land of paradox and extreme diversity. The second most populous country in the world represents one-sixth of the humanity and is the largest democracy in the world.
Just like the climate which varies to extreme levels depending on the topography, the Indians follow different religions, have diverse lifestyles and even their facial features and colour differ based on which part of the country they hail from.
Here are some of the interesting facts one should know about this incredulous geographic entity called India:
- India has 1650 languages - 30 of which are spoken by more than a million speakers and 122 of which are spoken by more than 10,000. There are 6 distinct language families that go beyond India.
- India has 1,200 million people. That is more than the combined population of US, Russia, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Japan, UK, Germany, Australia, Italy, Spain and New Zealand! In fact, India's population is larger than any other continent in the world, outside Asia.
- India has the world's largest attended events. The biggest of which is Kumbha mela of 2001 - attended by 60 million people and was seen from space.
- Indian laws make it illegal to carry more than Rs. 5000 inIndian currency out of Indian territory except Nepal and Bhutan.
- Himalayas are growing taller at a rate of 2.5 cm per year.
- India invented the game of chess.
- The whole region of Kashmir was "bought" for a measly 7.5 million rupees in the mid-19th century by the Hindu rulers. It even had a bill of sale.
- Although widely accepted and definitely deserved, Mahatma Gandhi is never officially designated as the father of the nation by the Indian government.
- India has the wettest place on Earth - Cherrapunji receiving 463 inches of rain every year. Sometimes its neighbour Mawsynram is also claimed as the wettest place.
- The official name of India in local languages is Bharat and written as such in all Hindi communications of the government. This name is 1000s of years old and is named after the mythical emperor Bharat of Ramayan fame.
- Indian railways carrys 20 million people every day on short and long distance transport.
- Since Independence in 1947, India has fought 8 main wars - 4 with Pakistan, 1 with China, 1 with Portugal (to take Goa), 1 with Hyderabad Nizam to take the territory into India and 1 in Maldives to put out a rebellion against its government.
- India's cinema industry is more than US and Canada combined in terms of ticket sales of 3.2 billion per year. And if you include the pirated movie industry, the movie industry is the biggest in the world.
- The Kashmir dispute is a tri-party dispute between India-Pakistan-China with 5 distinct territories of Kashmir -- India held Kashmir, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit with Pakistan, Shaksgam Valley and Aksai Chin with China.
- Four of the world's major religions - Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism - originated in India.
- Yoga has its origins in India and has existed for over 5,000years.
- Most populous democracy in the world- 1.2 billion people.
- Taj Mahal of India has been described in the UNESCO WorldHeritage List as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage."
- India has the world's highest concentration of vegetarians.
- The 'Place Value System' and the 'Decimal System' were developed in India in 100 B.C.
- The world's first granite temple is the Brihadeswara templeat Tanjavur, Tamil Nadu. The shikhara of the temple is made from a single 80-tonne piece of granite.
- India has the largest number of Post Offices in the world.
- The game of Snakes & Ladders was created by the 13th century poet saint Gyandev. It was originally called 'Mokshapat'. The ladders in the game represented virtues and the snakes indicated vices.
- Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to mankind. The Father of Medicine, Charaka, consolidated Ayurveda 2500 years ago.
- Bhaskaracharya rightly calculated the time taken by the earth to orbit the Sun hundreds of years before the astronomer Smart. According to his calculation, the time taken by the Earth to orbit the Sun was 365.258756484 days.
- The value of "pi" was first calculated by the Indian Mathematician Budhayana (6th century) and he explained the concept of what is known as the Pythagorean Theorem.
- There are 300,000 active mosques in India, more than in any other country, including the Muslim world.
- Sushruta is regarded as the Father of Surgery. Over 2,600 years ago Sushruta and his team conducted complicated surgeries like cataract, artificial limbs, caesareans, fractures, urinary stones, plastic surgery and brain surgeries.
- Lord Venkateswara temple in Tirupathi built in the 10th century, is the world's largest religious pilgrimage destination. Larger than either Rome or Mecca, an average of 30,000 visitors donate US $6 million to the temple every day.
- His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, runs his government in exile from Dharmashala in Himachal Pradesh.
- Martial Arts were first developed in India, and later spread to Asia by Buddhist missionaries.
- The langar or kitchen at the Golden Temple in Amritsar is said to be the biggest free eatery in the world.
- The world's first university was established in Takshila or Taxila or Takshashila (now in Pakistan) in 700 BC. It was an important Hindu and Buddhist centre of learning, but was not a well organised university like Nalanda.
- Nearly 5,000 dabbawalas cover around 70 sq. km in and around Mumbai and carry out 400,000 transactions every day.
Forbes magazine has appreciated their efficiency despite the complexity of the process. Their results are spectacular: one error in every 8 million deliveries, or 16 million if you include the return trip.
- 'Bangalored', a word which came up after heavy outsourcing to India took the world by storm.
- Navi Mumbai, a planned satellite township of Mumbai, was developed in 1972 and is the largest planned township on the planet.
- The 61st Cavalry Regiment and the President's Bodyguard (PBG) of the Indian Army are one of the few remaining horsed cavalry army regiments anywhere in the world.
- In 1928, when the Indian Hockey team was on its way to Amsterdam, they played a series of exhibition matches in England. Seeing its calibre England decided not to field a team for the Olympics as "they did not want to lose to a slave country."
- Security at Tihar jail is managed by Tamil Nadu special police force.
- India has three Antarctic stations -- Dakshin Gangotri, Maitri and Bharathi.