I wonder how many of us realize that there is a treasure of ancient and modern day artifacts all around us, how many of us really know India. India is a country that will mesmerize you with its intriguing history and fascinating past. India has always been a land of great achievements, people, fables, anecdotes and what not. It goes without saying that it is indeed very difficult to understand and define India in one go. Other than the beauty, culture, rich history, diversity in nature so on and so forth, we have some mind boggling things that continue to awe people all over the world. Let’s see how each one of us fairs this small test. I am going to give you some of the fascinating facts about India. The drill is, you just have to mark the ones you already knew and give your score in the comments to boast about it. Are you ready?
1. India is the largest democracy in the world, the 7th largest Country in the world, and one of the most ancient civilizations.
2. Indians established Harappan culture in Indus Valley Civilization, at a time when many cultures comprised of nomadic forest dwellers over 5000 years ago.
3. Varanasi, also known as Benaras, was called "the Ancient City" when Lord Buddha visited it in 500 B.C., and is the oldest, continuously inhabited city in the world today.
4. Indians started cultivating cotton during the 5th – 4th millennium BCE in the Indus Valley Civilization and introduced it to the ancient Greeks who used to wear animal skins and were not even aware of cotton.
5. The birth of Algebra, Trigonometry and Calculus happened in India.
6. The Decimal and Place Value system originated and developed in India.
7. Quadratic equations were propounded by Sridharacharya in the 11th century. The largest numbers the Greeks and the Romans used were 106 whereas Hindus used numbers as big as 10*53(10 to the power of 53) with specific names as early as 5000 BC during the Vedic period. Even today, the largest used number is Tera: 10*12(10 to the power of 12).
8. The value of "pi" was first calculated by the Indian Mathematician Budhayana, and he explained the concept of what is known as the Pythagorean Theorem. He discovered this in the 6th century, long before the European mathematicians.
9. The correct time taken by the earth to revolve around the sun was calculated by the famous astronomer Bhaskaracharya. His calculation showed that the earth takes around 365.258756484 days to go around the sun once.
10. In 700 BC, the world's first university was established in India, in Takshila. It was one of the biggest achievements in the field of education, as more than 10,500 students came from all over the world to receive education in over 60 different subjects.
11. The University of Nalanda was another milestone that was achieved in the field of education in 4th century BC.
12. The oldest written Text – Rigveda: The existence of the Vedas goes beyond recorded history and are said to be passed down from the Gods to the great seers of Bharat. For many human generations the Vedas were passed on through word of mouth, until finally documented by the great Rishis and Swamis. And if the Vedas speak of the Sarasvati River, then it would seem clear that they were written before about 2000 BC, and not later than 1500 BC, as scholars originally believed.
13. First Poetry of the World: The Ramayana is the first poetry of the world. It is a glorious Sanskrit epic written by the Divine Sage Valmiki. It has 24,000 Sankskrit verses. It was later translated by Kamban and Tulsi Das.
14. Longest Poetry of the World: The Mahabarata is the longest poetry ever written. Its 100,000 verses encompass all facets of Dharma or human way of life. It narrates the story about the great Mahabarata war between the noble Pandavas and their evil cousins the Kauravas.
15. The earliest school of medicine known to mankind was Ayurveda and it originated in India. Ayurveda is the indigenous system of medicine in India. Ayurveda literally means 'the science of living' (longevity). Unique quality of Ayurveda is that it uncovers and cures the root cause of illness, it is safe, gentle and inexpensive, it sees 6 stages of disease development (where modern medicine only sees the last two stages), it treats people in a personalized manner according to their dosha or constitution and not in any generic manner.
16. Charaka Samhita: World’s first Medical Textbook: In 500 BC Maharishi Charaka wrote the famous Charaka Samhita or Physicians’ Handbook. The Charaka Samhita went into great detail to describe human anatomy, pathology, diagnostic procedures, and treatment for various diseases. Charaka also described the functions of the heart and the circulatory system in great detail.
17. Surgery existed in India even 2600 years ago, when Sushruta, known as the Father of Surgery, conducted many complex surgeries. Sushruta as early as 600 BC used cheek skin to perform plastic surgery to restore and reshape human nose, ears, and lips with incredible results. Shushruta describes the details of more than 300 operations and 125 kinds of surgical instruments . The valuable ancient scriptures have detailed information on Cataract, Artificial Limbs, Cesareans, Fractures, Urinary Stone Surgery, Plastic Surgery and Brain Surgeries. Usage of anaesthesia was well known in ancient Indian medicine. Detailed knowledge of anatomy, embryology, digestion, metabolism,physiology, etiology, genetics and immunity is also found in many ancient Indian texts.
18. The art of Yoga that is now popular worldwide originated in India only and was performed by highly revered sages, in the ancient times.
19. The four religions born in India - Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, followed by 25% of the world's population originated in India.
20. Jainism and Buddhism were founded in India in 600 B.C. and 500 B.C. respectively. Sikhism originated in the Holy city of Amritsar in Punjab. Famous for housing the Golden Temple, the city was founded in 1577.
Engineering and Architecture
21. Adam’s Bridge or Rama Setu: Various theories have been proposed that prove that it was actually an engineering marvel and not just a godly creation. I believe it is a bit of both.
22. As a world heritage site, Ellora caves is a perfect example of magnificent design, architecture, structure and individuality. The entire temple has been carved out of a huge mountain, a technique so unique and hard to accept from that period. It remains one of its kinds in the entire world. Looks like a well contemplated result of a very advanced civilization.
23. Hand Carved Sundials (clock ) at Konark Temple: This temple is dedicated to the Sun god Surya, and no wonder that it embodies an accurate clock, which dates back to 1250 A.D. The whole sanctuary is a flawlessly adorned chariot mounted on 24 wheels (for day clocks and night clocks), each around 10 feet in measurement and drawn by 7 strong stallions. The 7 steeds speak to the times of the week and the 12 sets of wheels speak to the 12 months of the year.
24. The World's First Granite Temple is the Brihadeswara Temple at Tanjavur, Tamil Nadu. The shikhara of the temple is made from a single 80-tonne piece of granite. This magnificent temple was built in just five years, (between 1004 AD and 1009 AD) during the reign of Rajaraja Chola.
25. The Baily Bridge is the highest bridge in the world. It is located in the Ladakh valley between the Dras and Suru rivers in the Himalayan mountains. It was built by the Indian Army in August 1982.
Mining and metallurgy
26. Worldwide, India was the only source of diamonds until the discovery of mines in Brazil in the 18th century. Almost 5000 years ago, diamonds were first recognized and mined in central India.
27. India was the world-leader in Metallurgy. Gold jewelry is available from 3,000 BCE. Brass and bronze pieces are dated back to 1,300 BCE. Extraction of zinc from ore by distillation was used in India as early as 400 BCE while William Campion patented the process some 2,000 years later. There is an iron pillar in Delhi dating back to 400 CE that shows no sign of rust or decay. The earliest known book on metallurgy was written by sage Nagarjuna in 10th century.
28. More than 54 crore people voted in the 2014 General Election – more people than the population of USA, UK, Australia and Japan combined.
29. Number of births in India every year is more than the total population of Australia, and many other nations.
30. India has the largest English speaking population in the world, yes with that literacy rate.
31. The 2011 Kumbh Mela was the largest gathering of people with over 75 million pilgrims. The gathering was so huge that the crowd was visible from space.
32. The world’s largest road network is in India—over 1.9 million miles of roads cover the country.
33. India also has the largest number of Post Offices in the world.
34. The Indian Railways has the largest network of railways with the largest work force employed in its various departments.
35. The Indian Army is the largest voluntary force in the world with a combat trained cavalry regiment. The Indian Army protects the highest combat zone on planet earth, Siachen glacier. The Army training school at siachen is one of its kind.
So, How much did you score out of 35?
I mostly focused on historical achievements but India is scaling new heights every day, making new records each hour and reaching new milestones each second. There are innumerable modern day accomplishments but enumerating all of them in just one post may not be possible but what you can take away from this one is that India is much much more than you and I can ever imagine. Just embrace the greatness around you and always be proud to be Indian.
P.S. This is just a representative list and not an exhaustive one. You may add your own inputs to add to the greatness.