With its 28 states, each with its own unique culture, India has an abundance of things it’s famous for. You may already have heard about the Taj Mahal and Bollywood but there’s a lot more this country is known for. For example, India is home to one of the world’s last untouched places on earth!
India is definitely the most diverse country I’ve ever visited. I’ve been travelling around it for over a month as I’m writing this, and it keeps surprising me.
From the Taj Mahal and other famous monuments to one of the last untouched places on earth, here are 28 interesting and famous things about India.
28 interesting and famous things about India
1. Many temples
India is crawling with religious temples and monuments, and these are visited by both locals and foreigners from all over the world. Some of the most famous temples in India are Meenakshi Temple, Golden Temple, Virupaksha Temple, Brihadeeshvara Temple, Shri Jagannath Temple, Kashi Vishwanath Temple and Virupaksha Temple.
It’s estimated that there are around 2 million temples in India, and the number is still growing every year. You’ll find plenty of Hindu Kovils, Buddhist temples, Jain temples, Sikh temples, Churches and Mosques across the country.
Bollywood, a mixture of ‘Bombay’ and ‘Hollywood’, is India’s Hindi-language film industry, which is based in Mumbai (previously known as Bombay). This is the largest film industry in the world, and it produces three times more films than Hollywood.
The Indian film industry originated in 1913, and it’s characterized by its song-and-dance scenes, melodrama and vibrant colours. Bollywood has produced many famous movies like Dangal, Salaam Bombay! and Chhichhore.
3. Famous monuments
One of the things India is most known for is its abundance of famous historical monuments. The Taj Mahal is the most popular one but there are many more! Mysore Palace, Hawa Mahal, Red Fort, Amer Fort and Humayun’s Tomb are just a couple of examples.
One thing is certain: if you’re travelling around this country, there won’t be a shortage of impressive monuments to visit!
4. Origin of Yoga
The origin of yoga can be traced back to the north of India. Yoga focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body while building strength and awareness. It’s said to have originated in India over 5,000 years ago and the word ‘yoga’ was first mentioned in the Rig Veda, the earliest of the four sacred books of Hinduism.
This spiritual discipline is now known and practised almost all around the world and it’s definitely one of the things India is most famous for. You’ll find plenty of yoga schools in India, and many yoga lovers flock to this country to practice this discipline.
5. Largest postal network in the world
With a network of 156,721 post offices, India has the largest postal network globally. Kashmir’s famous Dal Lake even has a two centuries old floating postal office, which is the only floating postal office in the world. And as if that wasn’t enough – Spiti Valley in the Indian Himalayas is home to the world’s highest postal office!
6. Many languages
More than a whopping 19,500 languages or dialects are spoken as a mother tongue in India and 121 of these languages are spoken by more than 10,000 people. That’s A LOT of languages if you’re asking me!
The most spoken languages are Hindi (43.63%), Bengali (8,03%), Marathi (6.86%), Telugu (6.70%) and Tamil (5.70%).
7. Home of the Dalai Lama
As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in a little café in McLeod Ganj (Dharamshala), which is where the Dalai Lama lives. I haven’t seen him in person but if you’re lucky, you may actually catch a glimpse of him at his personal temple!
But how did the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, end up in India?
After the failed Tibetan uprising of 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama was fearing for his life, and that’s when he fled to India. He first lived in Mussoorie for a year and then moved to McLeod Ganj, which is often called ‘Little Lhasa’. Tibetans in exile have been given asylum in India ever since.
8. Ayurvedic medicine
One of the world’s oldest holistic medicines, Ayurveda, originated in India over 3,000 years ago. Holistic medicine focuses on the whole body, including mental factors, instead of just the symptoms of a disease. This type of medicine seeks to treat the body, mind and spirit while preventing disease through diet and lifestyle regimens.
Today, Ayurveda medicine is practised in many parts of the world. However, having its roots in India, this is where the best Ayurvedic treatments can be found.
9. Large population
With over 1.1 billion people, India is the second most populated country in the world, right after China. In fact, India makes up for 1/6th of the population in the world! This country is also the largest democracy in the world, with around 912 million people eligible to vote.
When you’re walking around the streets of cities like New Delhi, it becomes clear how populated the country is. There are approximately 18.6 million people living in this city alone, which is more than the population of Belgium, my home country (I do admit Belgium is super small, but still).
10. Mehndi tattoos (henna)
It’s estimated that mehndi (or henna), originated in the Indian subcontinent at least 5,000 years ago. Mehndi tattoos are temporary and they’re made using a paste created with the powdered dry leaves of the henna plant.
This form of body art is popular among women both in South Asia as well as in North Africa, where it’s called ‘henna’. In India, mehndi is traditionally applied on the hands and on the feet during Hindu weddings, festivals and other celebrations. It’s believed to bring prosperity and good luck.
11. Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, better known as Mahatma Gandhi (‘Mahatma’ means great soul), was an Indian lawyer and the primary leader of India’s independence movement. Gandhi led India to freedom from British colonial rule in 1947. Unfortunately, he was assassinated in New Delhi just five months after India’s independence.
Gandhi is known all around the world for his philosophy of non-violence and equality for all.
12. Ganges River
Nearly 80% of the Ganges River is in India. You can find the rest in Nepal, China and Bangladesh. This river is the most sacred river to the Hindus, and it’s worshipped as the Goddess Ganga.
The Ganges is believed to cleanse the sins of the faithful and it’s also considered to be a gateway to heaven, so the ashes of the deceased are laid in this river.
This river flows through several towns and cities but most Hindus visit it in Varanasi, as this is city is considered the holiest.
13. Indian food
Indian cuisine is one of the most well-known cuisines in the world. It’s known to be flavourful and often spicy. From biryani and tikka masala to dosa, naan and paneer, Indian food is famous all across the world. The country is a real paradise for foodies!
Perhaps the most famous Indian dish is curry, but there’s actually no such word in any of the many languages in India. The term ‘curry’ was introduced by the British and refers to a dish prepared with spices from India.
Of all the countries I have visited so far, India is definitely the most diverse one. Not only is it a country with many different religions, languages and cultures, but the country’s landscapes also offer a lot of variation. From the many beaches and waterfalls to the Himalaya mountains and the Great Indian Desert, India truly has it all!
15. Famous inventions
We can thank India for many famous inventions. For example, Indians were the first people to use the number zero. They also invented the USB, wireless communication, yoga (#4 on this list), shampoo, buttons, chess and Snakes & Ladders.
India also greatly contributed to the medical field. This is the country where Ayurvedic medicine (#8 on this list) originated and we can thank the Indian physician Sushruta for developing cataract surgery. The latter was already developed in the 6th century BC.
With some of the world’s greatest architectural wonders like the Taj Mahal and the Lotus Temple, architecture is another thing India is famous for.
India is one of the oldest civilisations in the world and it has a great variety of architectural styles. Some of the most famous examples are the country’s Mughal architecture, Sikh architecture, temple architecture and cave architecture.
17. Wettest place on earth
The rainiest spot on earth is located in Mawsynram, a town in India’s Meghalaya state. Although it doesn’t rain all day, it does rain every day here. This popular hill station receives an average of 11861.8 mm (467 inches) of rain per year.
18. Highest population of vegetarians
With 38% of the total population being vegetarian, India is the country with the highest population of vegetarians worldwide.
Vegetarianism became popular in India thanks to the introduction of Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. All three religions believe in the ethical principle of Ahimsa, which aims not to cause harm to other living things.
India is a true paradise for vegetarians, as vegetarian food can easily be found everywhere here, and nearly every dish has a vegetarian version. This is another thing I love about India!
19. Colourful festivals
Being culturally rich, India is home to some of the world’s most spectacular festivals. The most famous ones are Holi – the festival of colours, and Diwali – the festival of lights.
But there are many, many more festivals in India – when I was exploring the South of the country in April, I accidentally found myself in the middle of a festival twice! One of these was Chithirai – an annual Tamil Hindu celebration in Madurai. It was a beautiful and very authentic experience to celebrate Chithirai with the locals, as this part of India is not very touristy.
This being said – I don’t recommend visiting the South of India in April unless you can handle the scorching heat. I’ve honestly never been so hot in my life!
20. The Kama Sutra
The Kama Sutra is an ancient Northern Indian Sanskrit text on erotic love. It was written somewhere around the 3rd century but except for his name, nothing is known about its author, Vatsyayana Mallanga.
Contrary to what many people think, the Kama Sutra is not just a sex manual. It’s also a guide on the nature of love, finding a life partner and maintaining one’s love life.
21. Colourful clothes
One of the things I love the most about India is the beautiful colours that you see nearly everywhere. Traditional Indian ensembles feature bright colours like yellow, red, green, orange, purple, etc.
Though mostly colourful, traditional clothes vary from one part of the country to another. Depending on where you’re going, you’ll see people wearing sarees, panches, salwar kameez, langa and many more ensembles.
22. Highest population of tigers
India is known for being home to the highest population of tigers. According to the National Tiger Conservation Authority, there are 2,967 tigers in the country, which is 76% of all the tigers in the world.
After a century of decline, the population of this endangered species is slowly going upward again but there’s still much work needed to secure this beautiful animal’s future.
23. Tallest statue in the world
With its 182 m (597 ft), the Statue of Unity is the tallest statue in the world. This statue is located in the state of Gujarat on the western coast of India and it was completed in 2018.
The Statue of Unity is an ode to the Indian statesman Vallabhbhai Patel who is also called the ‘Iron Man of India’. Patel was the first Deputy Prime Minister of India (1947 – 1950), and he played a big role in uniting the country.
24. North Sentinel Island
North Sentinel Island, located in the Indian Ocean, is one of the last untouched places on earth. India has banned people from visiting this island or making contact with its inhabitants.
There’s a tribe of indigenous people living on North Sentinel Island and they’ve made it very clear that they don’t want to interact with outsiders. People who attempted to approach the island have either been attacked or killed.
According to anthropologists, the Sentinelese have lived in seclusion on the island for more than 60,000 years. They’re also the most vulnerable people on earth, as they haven’t built up immunity to diseases like the flu.
25. The Himalayas
The Himalayas are one of the most famous landmarks in Asia, and they’re known for being the highest mountain range in the world. These astonishing mountains stretch over six countries: India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Bhutan and Nepal.
You can find the Indian Himalayas in 13 of the country’s states, and this part of India is a true paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.
26. Largest producer of spices
India is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices in the world, and it’s often called the ‘Land of Spices’. This country alone contributes 79% of the global spice production.
Some of the most produced Indian spices are pepper, chilli, ginger, cumin, fennel, cardamom and celery.
27. Origin of religions
India is called the land of unity in diversity and it’s the birthplace of four of the world’s most important religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Hinduism is the religion that’s followed by most of India’s population today, but depending on the region, the other ones are also very present.
For most Indians, religion is very important and, no matter where you are in the country, you’ll find plenty of religious monuments in the streets. Although these didn’t originate in the country, Christianity and Islam are also practised in India.
With so many important religions originating in India, it speaks for itself that this country is a very popular destination for people seeking spirituality. Many visitors book a stay in an ashram to learn about yoga and enlightenment.
28. Brilliant scientists
India has been scientifically advanced since ancient times, and some of the world’s greatest contributions to science have been made by Indian scientists. Some of the country’s greatest contributions are atomism, the modern decimal system and the Chandrasekhar Limit.
But India is also famous for its pharmaceutical industry, and it’s the world’s largest provider of generic medicine.
28 famous things about India – Final thoughts
I hope this post gave you an insight into what is famous about India. This enormous country is known for many things, it’s a unique place in the world with so much to discover. India is one of these places you could keep exploring for years, as there’s so much to see.
Are there important things India is known for that I’ve missed in this post? Let me know in the comments as I’m updating this article frequently!
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