Unveiling India: 15 Intriguing Facts You Never Knew

Explore India's hidden gems, from ancient plastic surgery to the world's largest vegetarian population, as we uncover the nation's remarkable contributions and vibrant traditions that captivate the world.

Unveiling India: 15 Intriguing Facts You Never Knew

India, the seventh largest country in the world, holds a rich cultural history spanning over 4,500 years. With a population exceeding one billion, India is an influential powerhouse teeming with fascinating facts that are relatively unknown to many. This article delves into 15 lesser-known yet intriguing facts about India that demonstrate its remarkable contributions to the world.

  1. Bollywood's Dominance

Bollywood produces nearly 1,000 films annually, dwarfing Hollywood's 600. The highest-grossing Bollywood film, "3 Idiots," made a whopping $76.81 billion, in contrast to Hollywood's "Avatar," which earned $2.8 billion.


2. Shampoo's Indian Origins

Invented in 16th-century India, the concept of shampooing originated from the Sanskrit word "Champu." Ancient Indians used natural ingredients such as gooseberry, soapnuts, and fruit pulp as shampoo.

3. India's Diamond History

India was the world's most productive diamond mining country until the 18th century when diamonds were discovered in Brazil. The renowned Kohinoor diamond, which now belongs to Queen Victoria, was also found in India.


4. Elephant Spa Days in Kerala

Punnathoor Cotta Elephant Yard Rejuvenation Centre in Kerala offers spa services to elephants, including baths and massages. These pampering sessions are a way to appreciate the sacred animals that play a significant role in the region's temple processions.

5. Kumbh Mela: The World's Largest Pilgrimage

Kumbh Mela, a Hindu pilgrimage taking place every 12 years, attracts 75 million devotees, making it the most significant religious gathering on Earth. This massive event is so vast that it can be seen from space.

6. Ancient Indian Civilization: The World's Oldest

Indian civilization, dating back to 2400 BC, is the oldest in the world. It has significantly contributed to various fields, including the invention of the number zero and the creation of ancient Hindu texts.

7. India's Religious and Linguistic Diversity

India is home to every major world religion and boasts 1,652 dialects spoken across the country. This rich diversity is a testament to the nation's cultural complexity.

8. The Lone Voter of Gir Forest

In Gujarat's Gir Forest, a single polling station is set up for Mahant Bharandas, the region's only resident. Mahant, the caretaker of the forest's temple, has been voting in Indian elections since 2004.

9. Taj Mahal's Scaffolding Secret

During WWII and the India-Pakistan Wars, the Indian government used scaffolding to conceal the Taj Mahal from potential airstrikes. The monument has also faced threats from the rising Yamuna River, which has caused structural damage.

10. Indian Innovations

India has been the birthplace of navigation, yoga, the world's cheapest car (Tata Nano), and thorium-based nuclear power. These innovations have significantly impacted global progress.

11. Royal Accommodation

India's opulent palaces, once home to Maharajas, now offer luxurious accommodations to guests. One such palace is the Kumarakom Lake Resort, which hosted Prince Charles's 65th birthday.

12. King Jai Singh's Rolls-Royce Revenge

Insulted by a Rolls-Royce salesman in London, King Jai Singh of Alwar ordered a fleet of Rolls-Royce cars and used them as garbage trucks in his city.

13. Indian Millionaires

Despite 35% of the population living below the poverty line, India is home to more then one million millionaires. The nation's richest man, Mukesh Ambani, has a net worth of $93 billion, having made his fortune in the oil and gas industry. Ambani's 27-story skyscraper home in Mumbai has garnered much attention.

14. Ancient Plastic Surgery in India

The Sushruta Samhita, an ancient Sanskrit medical text dating back to the 6th century CE, is one of the first documents to discuss surgery, incisions, skin grafts, and nose reconstruction. Interestingly, the first nose job in Britain was performed in 1814, centuries after the Sushruta Samhita was written.

15. Extravagant Indian Weddings

Indian weddings are often lavish affairs, but one particular wedding in 2016 sparked controversy for its opulence. The $74 million, five-day event featured a $2.5 million wedding sari, Bollywood stars, and a gold Bangalore palace setting. Critics deemed the celebration an obscene display of wealth in a country where millions live in poverty.

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Photo by AMISH THAKKAR / Unsplash

India's captivating history and numerous contributions to various fields make it a remarkable country. India's influence on art, literature, science, and medicine is undeniable from ancient civilizations to modern innovations. Whether you're exploring a Maharaja's palace in the countryside or navigating the bustling streets of Mumbai, India's rich cultural tapestry offers countless opportunities for discovery and wonder.

Bonus Fact: Vegetarianism in India

vegan aloo palak
Photo by Pille R. Priske / Unsplash

India has the largest vegetarian population globally, with around 40% of its residents following a vegetarian diet. This widespread practice has prompted fast-food chains such as KFC, McDonald's, and Pizza Hut to offer vegetarian menus in India. In contrast, Portugal has the fewest vegetarians, with only 1.8% of the population abstaining from meat.