Fact no. 5
Tea had been growing in India for centuries before the British began its commercial cultivation. The first recorded mention of tea in the country dates back to 750 BCE, and it was reportedly also consumed as a vegetable dish, fried in oil with garlic. When the British arrived in the 18th century, they began growing tea on a commercial scale to reduce their reliance on buying tea from China.
Fact no. 6
White tigers are only found among Indian tigers. White tigers a type of Bengal tiger created through a variant in pigmentation. They often grow into larger animals than their orange-coloured cousins.
Fact no. 7
The Himalayas contain nine of the world's ten highest peaks. Covering almost 75% of Nepal, the Himalayas are known as Samgarmatha in Nepalese, which means ‘Goddess of the Universe’ or ‘Forehead of the Sky'.
Fact no. 8
A woman may be forbidden from housework while any colour from the bridal mendhi is on her hands. Indian weddings are often colourful extended occasions that can last for anything from 3 days to a full week. The ceremonies start with the ganesh pooja, usually a private ceremony that takes place with the couple and their close families, followed by the mendhi ceremony the next day where henna patterns are painted on the bride and her female friends and family. That evening, there's often the sangeet a meal to welcome all the wedding guests, with the main ceremony and reception happening on the third day.
© A List Photography/Shutterstock
Fact no. 9
India now boasts 400,000 millionaires with a combined net worth of nearly US $2.5 billion. Mumbai is home to the country's largest concentration of millionaires, with some 46,000 residents claiming to be worth millions.
Fact no. 10
Indian cuisine may be the oldest continuously prepared cuisine in known human history. Of course, what we know at home as "Indian food" varies widely from place to place in the country itself. From the Portuguese-inspired dishes of Goa to the tandoori ovens of the Punjab, there's a wealth of different dishes to discover on a trip to the country.
Fact no. 11
Alcohol consumption is banned in five Indian states; the drinking age varies from 18 to 30 in the others. If you're travelling to Gujarat, Bihar, Nagaland or the Union Territory of Lakshadweep know that you wont be able to buy alcohol. In addition, many states practice "dry days" on major religious holidays, when it's forbidden to sell alcohol.
Fact no. 12
In terms of purchasing power, India is the world's third largest economy.
Fact no. 13
The jalfrezi has overtaken tikka masala as Britain's favourite Indian dish. It dates from the days of the British Raj when it started to appear on menus as a way to use up cold cooked meats fried with chillies and plenty of onion. The name comes from the Bengali word jhālpharezī which means 'spicy food'.
Fact no. 14
It is illegal to take India's currency, the rupee, out of India. Instead, visitors must arrive with cash or dollars or pounds and exchange their money at the airport or bank currency booth, or use an ATM to withdraw rupees once in the country.
Fact no. 15
Bollywood is the world's largest film industry, followed by Nigeria's Nollywood and Hollywood. India's film industry is based in the city of Mumbai and last year produced a staggering 1,986 feature films.
Fact no. 16
Eight percent of India's population are Hindu, 13 percent are Muslim and millions more are Sikh, Jain or Christian.
Fact no. 17
In Indian law, only men can be punished for adultery. In recent years, lawmakers have been considering scrapping the law but no final decision has been made.
© evgenii mitroshin/Shutterstock
Fact no. 18
It is claimed that the game of chess originated in India. One of the most fascinating facts about India, the game of chess can be dated back some 1,500 years.
Fact no. 19
In India 23 official languages are spoken, along with over a thousand minor languages and dialects. While Hindi is the most widely spoken, no language is more official than the others – according to the constitution, each of the 22 local languages (plus English) are of equal importance.
Fact no. 20
In rural Bihar, Nalanda, one of the world's most ancient universities is being rebuilt. It was first established as a centre of learning in the 5th century CE, when a large Buddhist monastery stood on site. Now a new Nalanda International University is being built nearby offering post-graduate courses on a wide variety of subjects.
Fact no. 21
Half of the world's outsourced IT services come from India. Industries including banking, healthcare, financial services and accounting are outsourcing in ever greater numbers.
Fact no. 22
India has an adult literacy rate of around 70%. Recent reports suggest this percentage is on the up, as the country tries to meet the worldwide average literacy rate of 84%.
Fact no. 23
India produces a staggering4700 daily papers in over 300 languages, plus 39,000 journals and weeklies.
Fact no. 24
Indian railways is the largest employer on the planet. With 1.4 million employees, India's state-owned railway network operates a huge, extensive network that extends across the country for hundreds of thousands of miles. Over 8 billion passengers travel on the railways each year.
Fact no. 25
The Bengal tiger is India's national animal. It was adopted as India's symbolic animal in 1972. Bandipur National Park in Karnataka has the largest population of wild Bengal tigers for visitors hoping to catch a glimpse.
Fact no. 26
The sari dates back to at least 100 B.C. Sari wearers often choose the colour of their garment based on the occasion. Red is considered auspicious for celebrations such as weddings and is often worn by the bride.
Fact no. 27
Khari Baoli in New Delhi is Asia's largest wholesale spice market. It's been in operation since the 17th century and is named after the street on which its situated.
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