It’s terribly difficult to pin down a mere 28 points for a country as vast, as majestic and as mysterious as India (it’s probably easier to write 28 points for every State in this country). But what is India famous for?
A better question might be what is India not famous for. India is known for many, many different aspects such as food, culture, its massive population, its natural landscapes, its languages, classical dances, Bollywood or the Hindi film industry (famous Indian figures such as Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai), birthplace of yoga, spirituality, natural beauty, its warm, welcoming citizens… the list can go on.
The country has something for everyone. Torn between beaches and mountains? India has both. You can partake in adventurous white-water rafting, or indulge in a tranquil paddle in a lake; ride a camel in a desert in Rajasthan or huddle beneath a blanket while you gaze at the stars in Ladakh.
It might sound cliche but it’s true: India is not a country. It’s an experience — an experience I guarantee you will not have anywhere else in this world. It is charming, chaotic, peaceful, bustling, tolerant, welcoming, open, friendly and proud, all at the same time. It’s a potpourri of sugar, spice and everything nice!
Without any further digressions, here are 28 things that India is famous for:
India is a populous country, there are no two ways about that. Second only to China, India has a population of 1.3 billion people.
India has, at different times, been ruled by the Dutch, the French, the Portuguese, the Mughals, and the British. What India is today is shaped to a large extent by these international interactions.
If you’re a history buff, you will never run out of things to learn here. Here are some fun facts about India. Did you know that even though India got independence in 1947, Goa was liberated from Portuguese rule only in 1961? And that Hyderabad State, which was ruled by the Nizam, was annexed to India in 1948? India’s history is as vast as it is deep and complicated.
3. Taj Mahal, monuments, architecture and influences
Needless to say, the influence of these interactions seeped into the architecture in India. Indian monuments have varied architectural designs that are unique because even colonial constructions have been made by weaving in local styles. For instance, the Mattancherry Palace, built by the Portuguese in Kerala, was built in traditional Kerala style. Similarly, some churches in Goa built by the Portuguese have Indian motifs on the facade.
Each State has something to offer: you could look at the Red Fort and Qutub Minar in Delhi, visit the havelis in Rajasthan, stay at a traditionally Goan house or traditional homes in Tamil Nadu, visit the Charminar and Chowmahalla Palace in Hyderabad. India is well-known for its most famous landmark, the Taj Mahal. This monument, built by emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, Mumtaz, has the distinction of being one of the seven wonders of the world.
4. Indian food
India is definitely known for its food: its rich and deliciously flavoured dishes are unique in every State!
For instance, there is a noticeable difference in the flavours of food cooked in the neighbouring States of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Similarly, the staple food in Goa is different from the food consumed in Maharashtra.
Each State is famous for its unique cuisine, and each State has lip-smacking good food — Butter Chicken, Idli, Sambhar, Poori-Chole, Rajma, Fish-Curry Rice, Appam and Chicken Stew, Naan, Prawns Fry, Poha… And this is just the food.
Sweets made in this country are to die for. The most famous sweets in India ones are Gulab Jamun, Kaju Katli, Ras Malai, Palkova, Pedhas, Jalebi, Kheer, Mysore Pak… all delicious, melt-in-your-mouth sugary goodness.
5. Mountains and natural rock formations
Imagine waking up to the sight of sun softly bathing the Himalayan peaks in shifting colours. And sipping warm tea as you take in snow softly falling. If you love mountains, then you must visit the North and North-East India. You can visit Shimla or Manali to view the breaktaking snow-capped Himalayan peaks, stay at Rishikesh to watch the Ganges flow in all her majestic beauty. Meghalaya is another State that is a must-visit. It has Mawlynnong, the cleanest village in India and two living root bridges that are absolutely fascinating. Other famous hill stations in India include Matheran, Panchgani (Maharashtra), Kodaikanal, Ooty (Tamil Nadu), Pachmarhi (Madhya Pradesh), Mount Abu (Rajasthan), and Shillong (Meghalaya).
There are also beautiful natural rock formations. For instance, a gorge in Gandikota in Andhra Pradesh has the monicker of the ‘Grand Canyon of India’ for its resemblance to its namesake in the US. Apart from this, there are breathtaking natural rock formations, such as Krishna’s Butterball (or balancing rock) in Mahabalipuram; Himalayan Rock Formation in Leh; Sholay Rocks in Karnataka.
Side note: The list mentioned in merely indicative and by no means, exhaustive.
Another side note: As long as we’re talking natural formations, you could also visit the Lonar Crater in Maharastra. The crater was formed due to an impact of an asteroid which collided with earth around 35,000 to 50,000 years ago!
With a coastline of around 7,517 kilometers, nine States and two Union territories have costal areas. While the most famous beach destination is Goa, other States offer equally good access to the seas.
Some scenic places include Gokarna, Varkala, Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, Visakhapatnam and Gopalpur, among others. You could also visit the island of Andaman and Nicobar, with its pristine beaches and tourism-friendly amenities.
7. Famous Indian people
Some famous Indian personalities include the likes of AR Rahman (who won the Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media and for Best Song Written for Visual Media), Pandit Ravi Shankar (who gave The Beatles’ George Harrisson Sitar lessons), Hariprasad Chaurasiya, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, Arundhati Roy, Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Vishwanathan Anand, and many, many more.
8. Scientific geniuses
India has no dearth of famous scientific geniuses: CV Raman (Nobel Prize awardee), Srinivasa Ramanujan (an Indian mathematician with no formal training), APJ Abdul Kalam, Shakuntala Devi (known as the Human Computer), Aryabhatta (among the first mathematician-astronomer), Amartya Sen, Homi J Bhabha (Nuclear Physicist) and others.
9. Origin of religions
In India, three of the world’s main religions originated: Hinduism is the most famous religion of India but did you know that Buddhism and Jainism also originated here? Gautam Buddha received enlightenment at Bodh Gaya under a sacred Bodhi tree. Roughly around the same time Buddhism originated, Jainism was also born.
Non-violence is an aspect associated with India. The principle of ahimsa, which is Sanskrit for non-violence, was made famous by Mahatma Gandhi when he protested against the British rule in a non-violent manner. In fact, this principle was so famous that Martin Luther King Jr took inspiration from the Indian Father of the Nation.
11. Tolerance and secularism
The Preamble of the Constitution of India starts thus: “We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic…”.
Secularism as a concept has been engraved in the preamble. In India, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Jainism coexist peacefully. In a number of places, different spaces of worship exist side-by-side with respect and tolerance for the other faith.
12. Largest democracy in the world
This makes sense. If India is the second populous country and a democratic one at that, it is unsurprising that it is one of the largest democracies of the world. Unlike some other countries, where universal voting was not a reality for long time, India gave its women the right to vote after gaining independence. Thus in the first general election that was held in 1951, women cast their vote.
India has two official languages: English and Hindi. There are 22 scheduled languages in India, but a census analysis has revealed that there are 19,500 different dialects spoken in the country!
It isn’t all that surprising when you consider the fact that the dialect of a language changes depending on the State’s geographical location. You encounter a new language or dialect every few kilometres in India! For instance, Malayalam spoken in Northern Kerala is different from the Southern dialect in the same State. And a significant number of people can speak at least two different languages.
14. Film industries
If there is one thing that is associated with India, it’s Bollywood. You’d be lying if you said you weren’t aware of Bollywood. With drama, over-the-top singing and dancing sequences, Bollywood films are a treat to watch. Some of the most famous Indian actors include Shahrukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Deepika Padukone, and Priyanka Chopra.
However, while Bollywood is definitely the most well-known film industry from India, it is by no means the only one. In fact, there are many other very impressive regional movie industries such as Kollywood (Tamil Cinema), Mollywood (Malayalam and Marathi film industries are called by this monicker), Tollywood (Both Telugu and Bengali film industries are referred to by this term), Bhojiwood (Bhojpuri films), and Sandalwood (Kannada film industry).
15. Indian festivals
One fact about India is that almost all major festivals, be it Diwali (festival of lights), Christmas or Eid, are a matter of great celebration, with families getting together, exchanging gifts, eating delicious food, wearing new clothes and just having fun. Cities light up and happiness seems to be in the air. The famous festivals apart from the ones mentioned above include Holi (festival of colours), Durga Puja, Dussera and Ganesh Chaturthi. Each festival has a fascinating mythological story so if you’re interested in tales and fables, you could look them up!
16. Postal network
Ah! The quaint activity of penning down your thoughts on a piece of paper and mailing it to the recipient. And anxiously then waiting for the response. This emotion is not one that is familiar to a lot of people today but there are still some who love doing things the old-fashioned way (yours truly included).
That unnecessary bit of trivia aside, did you know that India has the largest postal network in the world? It has more than 150,000 post offices spread across the country.
The world’s highest post office also happens to be in India — at Hikkim, in Spiti Valley. This post office is located 4,400 meters above sea level!
17. A spiritual haven
India is known for its spirituality. People from across the world travel far and wide to reach India and meditate on the banks of Ganges, stay at Ashram with minimal comforts, stay in silence to get in touch with their authentic selves, away from all sorts of distraction. So if a quiet, me-time is something you’re looking for, book a stay at an ashram.
Yoga is all the rage today with variations of the traditional yoga scattered across the world — such as Hot Yoga, Beer Yoga, Goat Yoga. These fads aside, yoga is actually a great way to slow down and stay grounded. Centered.
And where did yoga originate? You guessed it: India. India is famous for different schools of yoga as well — Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Sivananda Yoga, etc. There are numerous organisations and institutes that not only teach yoga but also have yoga teacher training courses. Popular yoga places include Kerala, Mysore, Goa, and Rishikesh.
19. A party hub
But just because India is spiritual does not mean Indians don’t know how to party. Nightlife in a number of cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore is buzzing with activity. Fashion-conscious youngsters show up after a week of hard work, let their hair down and paint the town red.
20. Adventure sports
If you’re looking for a dash of adventure in your vacation, India will not disappoint you with its array of adventure sports offerings. You can paraglide, parasail, scuba dive, bungee jump, jet ski, or partake in hot air ballooning.
If you visit Auli in winter, you can also ski down mountain slopes! You can do white-water rafting in the freezing Zanskar river in Ladakh, or the turbulent Ganges in Rishikesh. Zip-lining, camping, trekking, and snow-boarding are some other activities that you can experience in India.
21. Biodiversity hotspots
India is also known for its natural beauty. Across the world, there are 36 biodiversity hotspots. Of these, four of them are present in India — in the Western Ghats, the Himalayas, the Indo-Burma Region, and Sundaland, which includes the Nicobar islands.
22. Land of spices
Indian food is like a burst of flavour in your mouth. We love masalas and why not? After all, we are the largest producers (and consumers) of spices in the world! There are a number of spice gardens in India that give tourists and visitors a guided tour of their organic spice farms which then end in a sumptuous meal.
23. Largest producer of mango and banana
India is famous for its fresh, tropical fruits. It is little surprise then that it leads in the production of two of the most-loved fruits — mango and banana. India produces around 40 percent of the mangoes in the world.
24. Coffee vs. tea
Tea and coffee are both favourite beverages of Indians and though I hate to admit it, tea probably has an edge over coffee in our country.
Tea is grown in hilly areas such as Assam, Darjeeling, and Ooty. There is a strong tea culture in India, with small stalls being set up outside offices, selling tea to weary blue- and white-collar workers.
That said, coffee is also loved by many too. The story of how coffee came to India is fascinating. It is said that a Sufi saint from Karnataka, Baba Budan had gone to Mecca on a pilgrimage. On his way back, he tasted coffee and decided he wanted to grow it in his home. Since it was illegal for others to grow their own coffee, he smuggled seven coffee seeds and hid them in his beard and got them to India. He then planted them in Chikmagloor, in Karnataka, and today, the State is the largest coffee producer in the country!
25. Cricket — and other sports
Hockey is our national sport but if there’s one sport that unites India like no other, it’s cricket.
Right from childhood, we’re introduced to this famous sport in India. We play gully-cricket, played in by-lanes of our localities, because most people secretly harboured the wish of becoming the famous Indian sportsperson, Sachin Tendulkar. They say Indians ‘Bleed Blue’ — blue of course being the colour of the Indian cricket team’s uniform. And if there’s a match between India and Pakistan, you can feel the excitement in the air, and people walking by TV stores just to watch the match.
There are other sports that have today gained popularity — football, tennis, badminton, chess, boxing — with India representing itself in international tournaments. Its home-grown game, kabaddi, has also gained enormous popularity.
26. National parks
There are around 103 national parks in India, and each national park protects its inhabitants and offers something unique to its visitors.
For tiger spotting, Tadoba Tiger Reserve, Sundarban National Park, Jim Corbett National Park, Kanha National Park, Ranthambore National Park and Bandhavgarh National Park are good bets. Asiatic Lions find their only home in Gir National Park in Gujarat. One-horned rhinoceros can be found in Kaziranga National Park in Assam.
India is also famous for shopping because the bazaars here promise to give you everything you need, right from clothes, souvenirs and handcrafted jewellery to spices and beer! Some of the most famous shopping destinations include Jaipur in Rajasthan, Delhi, Goa (with its night bazaars), handicraft villages in Odisha, Kolkata in West Bengal and Kachipuram in Tamil Nadu (for silk sarees).
28. Railway network
It would not be a stretch to say that Indian Railways is the lifeline of India. Connecting to a majority of the towns across the country, the Indian Railways is the world’s fourth largest railway network. A vestige of the colonial rule, today, it is fully operated by the government of India.
Travelling in Indian railways is an experience — the soothing mechanical clicks and clacks of the train lulls one’s senses; the shouts of the sellers as they hawk their wares, the constant appearance of food items and the possibility of forming a short and sweet relationship with fellow passengers all make the prospect of traveling in trains an exciting possibility.
There you have it. We hope you learned some fun facts about India! Have you visited India before? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below!