20 amazing historical facts about India that you probably didn’t know

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India, officially known as the Republic Of India, is the world’s largest democracy. It is a country known for its rich heritage, culture, and history. A country that has such a vast culture and history is bound to have many historical facts. The below list is a compilation of some important historical facts about India.

Here are 20 amazing historical facts about India that you probably didn’t know.

1) Indian Peppercorn in the Pharoah’s nostrils!?

When archaeologists were studying the tomb of Pharaoh Ramesses II,  they found peppercorn in the pharaohs nostrils. They were linked to having come from the Southern coast of India. Peppercorn has its roots in present-day Kerela. The discovery of it in the tomb dating back to 1214 BCE indicates that this spice had been making its way as far as Egypt even in the 13th century BCE.

2) Did you know that Indians discovered zero?

Aryabhata, an Indian mathematician and astronomer, discovered zero. He also worked out the value of Pi and made notable contributions in the fields of Trigonometry and Algebra. The compilation of his works is ‘The Aryabhatiya’.

A picture of Aryabhata, an Indian astronomer and mathematician- historical facts about India
Aryabhata, an Indian astronomer and mathematician

3) India has a reputation for being peace-loving and in her 10,000 years of history, India never invaded any country.

However, there have been accounts that the Chola Dynasty of India invaded South Asian countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Southern Thailand, but the invasions were done to stop piracy.

4) The world’s oldest formal university was in India.

Dating back to 700 BCE, the university of Taxila was the world’s oldest formal university. Once upon a time, students from all over the world came to study there. Taxila has greatly influenced Hindu culture and the Sanskrit language. Notable alumni of Taxila are Chanakya the great teacher, Charaka, the ayurvedic healer and Panini, the renowned grammarian. It is a World Heritage Site since 1980.

A picture of The university of Taxila, the oldest university in the world
The university of Taxila, the oldest university in the world

5) Another important historical facts about India is that the popular game of snakes and ladders is from India.

Gyandev, a 13th-century poet-saint allegedly invented the game. And its original name was ‘Mokshapat’. It was first introduced to children to teach them lessons about morality. The ladders signified all the good deeds that we do and the snakes signified the evil deeds. The good deeds took us higher to Moksha (salvation) and the evil ones resulted in us being reborn as a lower life form.

A picture of Snakes and Ladders Game, 1800 version, India
Snakes and Ladders Game, 1800 version, India

6) The unfriendliest island in the world is located in India. Yes! that’s correct.

The Sentineli island located in the Bay of Bengal holds the title of the unfriendliest island in the world. The inhabitants of the island allegedly kill people who approach the island.
In 1956, the Indian government had to prohibit travel within 3 km of the island and it is guarded constantly to prevent any intrusion.

7) Contrary to popular belief Pingali Venkayya is not the man behind the Indian flag.

It was Surayya Tyabji, who was behind the final design of the Indian Flag. Initially, it was decided that the Swaraj flag of the Indian National Congress would be the National Flag of the country. However, there were major oppositions for a party flag being the National Flag.

Surayya Tyabji and her Husband Bahruddin Tyabji were approached for the design of the flag. They took the Ashok Chakra and put it on the tricolour. It was Surayya who specified the exact shade of the tricolour and the fabric. She also oversaw the sewing of the first flag which was presented to Jawaharlal Nehru. The flag was unanimously accepted on July 22, 1947.

Surayya Tyabji who designed the National Flag- historical facts about India- historical facts about India
Surayya Tyabji who designed the National Flag

8) Indians invented the game of chess

It originated in Northern India in the 6th Century AD. From there it spread to Persia. When the Arabs conquered Persia, chess was introduced to the Muslim world. It then subsequently spread to Southern Europe. In Europe, there was a change in the moves of the pieces in the 15th Century. The modern game starts with these changes. In the second half of the 19th century, the modern tournament play started.

A picture of The game of Chess played in Ancient India- historical facts about India
The game of Chess played in Ancient India

9) Another historical fact about India is that Calcutta which is present-day Kolkata was the capital of British India from 1772 to 1911. After 1911, the British Empire moved the capital to Delhi, which is also the present capital of India. They believed that ruling India from Delhi was easier.

10) One of the oldest churches in India, St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is located in Palayur, Kerala. St. Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ established it in 52 AD.

According to a legend when St. Thomas first arrived in Palayur, he witnessed Hindu Brahmins offering prayers to the Sun God by throwing water up at the sun. Subsequently, the water was falling back. Amused by this sight, he told the Brahmins that the Sun God was not accepting their offerings. He stated that he would do the same activity; however, in his case, the offering will be accepted by God. And if this happened they were to convert to Christianity. St. Thomas performed this miracle and converted a number of Brahmins and Jews of Palayur to Christianity.

A picture of St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Church, Palayur
St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Church, Palayur

11) India was the only source of diamonds in the world up to the 18th century.

12) Indians were pioneers in Plastic surgery.

Sushruta is the father of surgery. He authored the “Sushruta Samitha”; one of the most important surviving treatises on medicine and the foundational text on Ayurveda.

A picture of Sushruta - the father of surgery
Sushruta- the father of surgery

13) Indians had discovered the formula at least 1000 years before Pythagoras.

According to a treatise by the name of Sulbasutra (book of cords) dating back to 300 BCE, there are formulas regarding values of π and √2 and include areas of circles and figures. The book also contains the formula of which is the modern-day Pythagoras Theorem.

14) India’s most important historical fact is that it has the oldest ancient civilisation in the world i.e the Indus Valley Civilisation.

It is located in what is now Pakistan and northwest India on the flood plain of the Indus River. It lasted from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE, and in its mature form from 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE.

Harappa and Mojenjo-daro were the major cities of civilisation. The civilisation’s cities are famous for their excellent town planning, elaborate drainage and water systems and new techniques in handicrafts and metallurgy.

A picture of Mohenjo-daro- historical facts about India
Mohenjo-daro (Photo credit: suronin / Shutterstock.com)

15) Bhaskaracharya, an Indian mathematician and astronomer, calculated the accurate time taken by the earth to revolve around the sun.

He did this years before Astronomer Smart. Bhaskaracharya’s calculations showed that it takes 365.258756484 days to complete one revolution. Today’s accepted measurement is 365.2564 days. Therefore, assuming that today’s figures are correct, it means that he was off by only 0.0002%.

16) The Indians invented Shampoo.

Ancient Indians used the pulp of a fruit called soapberries combined with some herbs and hibiscus flowers as early as the 1500s as Champo(Sanskrit word for massage). That’s when the British colonial traders came to know about it and introduced the idea of shampooing one’s hair to Europe.

17) Another historical fact about India is that it is the first country to develop extraction and purifying techniques of sugar.

They developed these techniques about 2500 years ago. Sanskrit literature from ancient India provides the first documentation of the cultivation of sugar cane and the manufacture of sugar. It took place between 1500-500 BCE in the Bengal region of India. The Sanskrit name for a crudely made sugar substance was guda, meaning “to make into a ball”.

A picture of a spoonful of refined sugar
A spoonful of refined sugar

18) The Art of Navigation & Navigating originated in India.

It was born on the Indus River over 6000 years ago. The word Navigation comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Navgatih’. The word navy is also from the Sanskrit word ‘Nou’.

19)  The oldest inhabited place in the world is in India; the holy city of Varanasi dates back to 5000 years ago.

A picture of the holy city of Varanasi- historical facts about India
The holy city of Varanasi

20) Final fact in our list of historical facts about India is about the Lonar Lake in Maharashtra. 52,000 years ago a meteor fell, thus forming the current lake.

A picture of Lonar Lake Maharastra (Photo Credit: Vivek Ganesan)
Lonar Lake Maharastra (Photo Credit: Vivek Ganesan)

You cannot talk about the History of India without mentioning Mahatma Gandhi. Read 5 Facts about Mahatma Gandhi

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