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Facts About India

"India is an abstraction.... India is no more a political personality than Europe. India is a geographical term. It is no more a united nation than the Equator." —Winston Churchill

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The name "India" comes from the River Indus, whose valleys were home to an early civilisation. These people referred to the river as the Sindhu, which Persians converted to "Hindu". (source)

Plastic surgery first took place in India around 600 B.C. It was first used to reconstruct the noses of criminals, which had been amputated as punishment, using skin from the forehead. (source)

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The oldest known repair surgery dates back to 49 B.C., when the Hindu surgeon Susruta carried out an operation to treat intestinal perforations and obstructions by joining together the damaged parts of the intestine after cutting into the abdomen. He sutured the segments by placing the freshly-cut heads of giant black ants on the edges of the opposing sections, demonstrating knowledge of the antiseptic properties of the formic acid that is secreted by the ant heads. (source)

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Arabic numerals are not Arabic. While Europe obtained this system from the Arabs, the Arabs in turn obtained this system from the Hindus around the middle of the eighth century. The Hindu writer Aryabhata first described the new system in the year 499. The invention of the sign for zero made arithmetic computation much easier. In contrast, calculation was more awkward in the Roman numeral system. (source)

View more facts about: Misnomers | Numbers and Measurement

Marco Polo reported a strict sense of justice in India. If a man would not pay his debt, the creditor would draw a circle around the debtor. If the debtor should try to step out of the circle, he would be liable to punishment by death. (source)

View more facts about: Laws and Customs

Babur, the first Moghul emperor of India, marched through the Khyber Pass onto the North Indian plain in 1526. The then North Indian ruler, an Afghan king, Sultan Ibrahim, leading an army of 100,000 men, attacked the invaders and lost, despite the nearly ten-to-one odds in manpower in his favour. The reason for Babur's triumph was an ancient Chinese invention that the Sultan had never heard of—gunpowder.

View more facts about: Weapons and Battles

The political unification of North India began with Akbar, the Moghul emperor (1556-1605). Prior to Akbar, the Muslim rulers of India regarded non-Muslims as second-class citizens who had to pay a poll tax (ziziya) to live in a Muslim land. Akbar, on the other hand, married women of royal Hindu families, gave Hindus access to the inner circles of his court, and abolished the ziziya and the Hindu pilgrimage tax.

Akbar, third Moghul Emperor of India (1556–1605), was not only a brilliant general and ferocious fighter, but also imported rare plants and grasses, grafted trees, crossbred doves, maintained zoological notebooks, commissioned translations of Aristotle and other Greek philosophers, wrote letters to the Pope and to two Spanish kings, and initiated the first Anglo-Indian diplomatic relationship when he corresponded with Queen Elizabeth I. (source)

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Persian poet Abul Feizi Hindi, personal tutor to the three sons of the Moghul Emperor Akbar, was paid annually for 15 years an amount of gold equal to the combined weight of his three students.

The fourth Moghul Emperor, Jahangir, who ruled from 1605 to 1627, had a harem of 300 royal wives, 5,000 additional women, and 1,000 young men. His stables contained 12,000 elephants, 10,000 oxen, 2,000 camels, 3,000 deer, 4,000 dogs, 100 tame lions, 500 buffalo, and 10,000 carrier pigeons. (source)

View more facts about: Animals | Royalty

The Taj Mahal in Agra, one of the world's most beautiful buildings, was built by the Moghul emperor Shah Jahan (1627–1659) as a mausoleum for one of his wives, Mumtaz Mahal, who, on her deathbed in 1631, extracted a promise from her husband to take care of her children and to build a suitable monument for her. Masons from northern India, calligraphers from Baghdad and Shiraz, and various specialists from all around the Muslim world designed and supervised building activities as well as planning the garden. The work was coordinated by Ustad Isa from Lahore. (source)

The first six Moghul Emperors of India ruled in an unbroken succession from father to son for nearly 200 years, from 1526 to 1707, a remarkable feat considering that there was no tradition of primogeniture and there was often a bloody contest for the throne.

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The Taj Mahal was scheduled to be torn down in the 1830s so that its marble facing could be auctioned off in London to the landed English gentry. Wrecking machinery was moved into the garden grounds and work was about to begin when word came from London to cancel the demolition. The first auction of marble facades of Indian buildings had been a failure, so tearing down the 200-year-old mausoleum would not be worth it. (source)

Over a period of 500 years, a secret religious sect in India called the Thugs ritually murdered about 12 million people. The term "thug" originally was Hindi for "swindler". Starting in the thirteenth century, the Thugs travelled about India in bands, preying on travellers, whom they would strangle and rob. The Thugs were fanatically devoted to Kali, the Hindu goddess of destruction. They lasted until around the 1830s, when the occupying British destroyed the destructive sect. (source)

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The first successful corneal transplant was performed as early as 1835 by a British army surgeon in India whose pet antelope, who had only one eye, had a badly scarred cornea. He removed a cornea from a recently killed antelope and transplanted it into his pet's eye. The operation was a success, and the pet was able to see. (source)

View more facts about: Animals | Medicine and Health

India has a bill of rights for cows.

View more facts about: Animals | World Countries

India is the world's second most populous country, with a population of more than 1,000,000,000. The world's third most populous country, the United States, has a population less than 30% of that of India. (source)

View more facts about: World Countries | United States

36% of NASA employees, 34% of Microsoft employees, 28% of IBM employees, 17% of Intel employees, and 13% of Xerox employees are Indians.

In the late nineteenth century, the Duke of Beaufort discovered a game in India called "poona." Attempting to introduce the game into England, he found Englishmen unwilling to play a game called "poona." He renamed the game "badminton", after his estate in Somerset, and it caught on.

View more facts about: Sports and Games

Four major religions were born in India: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Around 25% of the world's population follows one of these four religions. (source)

View more facts about: Philosophy and Religion

In 1907, the British Plague Commission in India reported an outbreak of bubonic plague that took six months just to move 300 feet.

As a gesture of contempt for a defeated monarch, the Rajah of Partabgarh crowned a jackal as ruler of Garwara. The jackal reigned for 12 years.

On July 7, 1973, in Alwar, India, a bus was swept into a river by a flash flood. 70 of 78 passengers drowned because they belonged to two separate castes, and did not share a rope that would have allowed them to climb to safety. (source)

View more facts about: Unusual Ways to Die

More mosques (300,000) are in India than in any other country. (source)

India is the world's largest democracy, with an estimated 550 million voters. (source)

In 1974, H. M. Chennabasappa, Public Works Minister for the state of Kamataka, India, informed the state legislature that his political enemies had hired witches and sorcerers to kill him. The state's chief minister ordered senior police officials to find the sorcerers. (source)

Although it has been illegal in India since 1961 to demand a dowry as a condition of marriage, in 1987 at least 1,786 Indian brides were killed by their husbands or their husbands' families because their dowries were too small. (source)

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In Pandhurna, India, the annual Gotmaar Festival is held. After a full moon in early September, all activity in the village ceases, and the males of the village divide themselves into two groups, spending the rest of the day attempting to injure or kill as many of the opposing group as possible by throwing rocks. Despite attempts by authorities to suppress the festival, it continues to this day. (source)

The first temple in the world made out of granite is the Brihadeswara Temple at Tanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India. The shikhara of the temple is made from a single 80-tonne piece of granite. The temple was built in just five years (1004–1009), during the reign of Rajaraja Chola.

In the 1980s, the Indian government built a fertilizer plant at Haldia that employed thousands of workers. Also built were a town with bungalows for managers and apartments for workers, a school, roads, and a hospital. For several years, the maintenance staff kept the factory in good order, the managers and workers came to work, and attendance was marked by the personnel department. However, the workers had nothing to do because the factory never actually produced any fertilizer. Once the factory was built, it was discovered that producing any fertilizer would result in losing large amounts of money and it was cheaper not to make any. However, closing the factory would be against the law, so it remained open without the workers doing any work. (source)

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