India is undoubtedly one of the oldest countries on Earth that has witnessed the rise and fall of numerous civilizations around. Today as we celebrate the 75th Independence Day here is a look at 10 lesser known incredible facts about India.
India was once a continent
India is one of the largest countries in the world with respect to the land area and currently shares borders with 7 different countries. But much before the Indian subcontinent came into existence India itself was a continent about 100 million years ago during the time of dinosaurs. It was a part of the supercontinent Gondwanaland. India then collided with Asia and gave rise to the youngest and highest mountain range – The Himalayas about 55 million years ago.
India has one of the largest lingual diversity with 1652 languages
India is the country with one of the largest lingual diversity in the world. The 1961 census states that there are 1652 different languages and dialects that are spoken, written or read in India. The tricky part is figuring out where one language ends and the other begins. For example there is a significant overlap between Bengali, Oriya and Assamese languages which might have given birth to multiple hybrid dialects. Whatever be the case most Indians possess multilingual proficiency in at least 3 languages or more. This is in sharp contrast with the rest of the world that barely manages to speak in two languages. Apart from the local languages and dialects India also has the second highest number of English speakers after the US.
India was the first to extract diamonds
Diamond which is one of the most precious stones was first discovered in India at around 4th Century BC. Since then till 1000 years India was the only known source of diamonds. References of diamond industry in India have been found in Chanakya’s Arthashastra which dates back to 3rd Century BC. Buddhist texts also contain references of Diamond extraction and industry from similar time periods. It was only recently in 1896 that Diamond was found and mined in South Africa.
Home to Sentinel Island – The last unexplored place on Earth
North Sentinel Island which is one the Andaman Islands, an archipelago in the Bay of Bengal remains as the last explored place on earth. The Indian government has strictly banned anyone from going near the island which is inhabited by the Sentinelese tribe and who are extremely defensive about the trespassers. In 2018 John Allen Chu a missionary who wanted to preach Christianity to the Sentinelese people, was killed by an arrow shot by the tribe after he tried to illegally enter the island.
Most Ancient City and Religion in the World
India has the most ancient city and religion in the world. The City of Varanasi which probably gets its name from the rivers Varuna and Assi is believed to have been created by Shiva who is one the holy trinity of Hindu religion. Archaeological findings in Ramnagar and Aktha have proved that the city was inhabited as early as 1800 BCE making it the oldest living city in the world. Other than being the oldest city it is also one of the most important places in Jainism and Buddhism faiths. Buddhism was said to be found in Varanasi by Gautam Buddha at around 528 BCE.
Other than the oldest city India is also the birthplace of Hinduism which is the oldest religion that predates back to 2300 BCE. Among the ancient Greek, Roman and Norse religions Hinduism is the only surviving Polytheistic religion. Hinduism is often termed as one of the most peaceful and tolerant religions and is the 3rd largest religion in the world with more than 1 Billion followers worldwide.