Those who visit India say that it is an experience for all of the senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. There are so many aspects of Indian culture that is so unique to the country that it would be hard to sum it all up. However, these images give a great glimpse of insight into just how colorful and interesting life in India truly is.
Wedding Toe Rings
The Tamil Nadu region of India has an interesting wedding tradition that is wildly different from Western cultures. The wedding ring is not placed on the hand, as is done in many other cultures, but rather on the toe instead.
Two silver rings are given to the bride and are meant to represent a promise for healthy pregnancies. Traditionally, gold rings are not used. This is due to the fact that gold represents the goddess of abundance, and it would be inappropriate to place a gold ring on a foot, which is the humblest part of the body.
Tangled Electricity Lines
India’s population is at over 1 billion people at this point, so that fact poses many unique issues for the country. Electricity is not available everywhere in India, but where it is, things can get a bit complicated to work out.
So many wires are needed to make everything work for so many people, that these wires truly get overwhelming. Imagine being an electrician in this neighborhood, having to figure out the problem anytime something goes wrong in this tangled mess.
Fully Packed Train
Speaking of the country’s massive population, that significantly impacts public transportation as well, especially when it comes to making sure everyone can fit. That means that sometimes creative solutions are the only option when it comes to overcrowded busses and trains.
Here, people have made the decision to stand ON the train instead of inside. While this is a solution, it is quite dangerous. On the other hand, if this is the only choice for transportation, we can understand why people chose to take the risk.
Having a name brand is a powerful tool in the competitive market, but sometimes people take things too far. These shop owners recognize that having a recognizable name and logo can help drive customers to their stores.
But sometimes, people miss the mark. While Google and Whatsapp are massively successful and recognized names, they really don’t have anything to do with men’s clothing or fashion. Maybe they could have chosen other brand names that have something to do with fashion instead.
In the Indian village of Anandapally, there is a fascinating local sport that it quite exciting for athletes and spectators alike. Bull surfing involves a pair of yoked bulls, which usually plow rice fields, tied together and linked with a wooden plank.
The surfer then hangs on to the bull’s harnesses (or sometimes their tails) and they cling on to dear life as the bulls begin to run. The surfers and bulls race against others. The sport is absolutely exhilarating.
Unfortunately, flooding has become more common all around the world. India has experienced an increase in floods and many families don’t have the resources to deal with them properly. Sometimes people don’t have a choice but wade around in murky ankle-deep water.
It seems like this family has accepted their fate of having a flood in their home that they don’t even seemed perturbed at all and continue to watch their TV program. Hopefully these floods can be controlled in the future.
In many places around the world, friendship between men means that there are rules about how displays of affection are allowed to expressed. Unfortunately, sometimes showing friendly affection can be misconstrued to something more romantic as opposed to platonic.
Interestingly enough, in India not unusual to see two male friends holding hands in order to signify their friendship. Conversely, you will not see a lot of public displays of affection between men and women, as that would be considered immodest.
Most people would never think of building their own cars. While some are knowledgeable about putting car parts together, making one from scratch is a totally different story. This man has somehow cobbled together a car that is probably as precarious as it looks.
It’s safe to say that this car, while it looks like it works, is certainly unsafe and would never be allowed in many other countries. However, it looks like he’s free to drive around in it.
Tower Of Silence
In the Zoroastrian religion, fire and Earth are considered sacred, therefore burying and burning bodies is forbidden. The solution to this issue was to build a Dakhma, or a Tower of Silence, which is a circular structure that is raised from the ground.
There, bodies were taken and left exposed so that vultures and other carrion birds can come to help dispose of the bodies. There are also similar structures to this that are found in Iran, but they are not used there.
While Hollywood is known around the world, India’s film industry, called Bollywood, is actually bigger than its US counterpart. Based in Mumbai, the industry churned out 1813 films just in the year 2018. Bollywood and Bombay surpassed the American film industry in 2012.
Bollywood films are known for their elaborate and colorful costumes, intricate and expansive dance choreography, catchy songs, and dramatic storylines. Many successful Hollywood films are remade into Bollywood versions, but there are endless original Bollywood films that are huge hits.
Magnetic Hill of Ladakh
The Magnetic Hill of Ladakh is an incredible location that is known for its magnetism. It is so strong that airplanes must avoid the area. It even creates an optical illusion of cars traveling upwards rather than horizontally.
For these reasons, the spot is quite a popular tourist destination. While many people come here hoping to see gravity turned on its head, that fact is it is merely an optical illusion. However, it’s still undeniably amazing to witness, especially in person.
White For Mourning
While in many countries it is customary to wear black in order to mourn someone who has passed away, in India that is not the case. Instead, white is worn, as it represents purity. A person who has lost their spouse will often wear white for years.
Widows wear white saris while widowers will wear white turbans. This is especially true in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It is important to know that just because a large amount of people follow a certain tradition, it cannot be assumed that it is followed everywhere.
Tallest Statue In World
Another incredible attraction to visit happens to be the world’s tallest statue. It is called the Statue of Unity and immortalizes Indian independence leader Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, also known as Sardar Patel, and it stands 597 feet tall.
The statue stands erect and towers over the nearby highways. If you take a close look, you can see the cars in the background and how tiny they look in contrast to the statue. It’s no wonder why this statue is such a popular tourist site.
80 Year Fast
Spirituality is extremely prevalent in India, which is why so many Westerners tend to come to India in order to try to “find themselves.” Indian monk Prahlad Jani has made headlines for saying that he has lived without food or drink since 1940.
The monk says that he is being sustained by the goddess Amba. Some studies have shown that he could survive the time period of the study without nourishment, but these were not published studies. Believe what you want, but his spirituality is impressive.
330 Million Gods
Of the entire population, about 80% identify as Hindu. There are about 330 million Hindu gods, and understandably, most Hindus cannot name all of them. The most well known gods are Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma, which make up the Hindu Trinity.
Of course, Hindus live in places other than India as well, but it is the place that Hinduism is most prominent. 14% of the population are Muslim, 2.3% are Christian, and 1.7% are Sikh. Other religions each make up less than 1% of the population.
16 Adornments of a Married Woman
Wedding are a very big deal in India, and there are plenty of traditions that take place when a couple gets married. There are special adornments that only married women can wear, and the collection of 16 are called the Sola Shringar.
The two most well known are the large circular nose ring called the Nath as well as the Bindi, the red dot that is placed on the forehead. These adornments are both beautiful and also significant.
Richest Hindu Temple
The richest Hindu temple in the world is the Padmanabhaswamy Temple and it also is the richest place of worship. In 2011, many secret areas of the tempe were discovered, and inside were many items made of gold, silver, and precious gems.
The temple is located in the capital of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram. The elaborately decorated place of worship is a popular place for tourists to visit. Many are eager to see the ornate building in person.
It might look like this is an outtake from a fantasy film, but believe it or not, it’s actually a real place. These bridges located in the state of Meghalaya are constructed entirely of roots in order to help prevent them from rotting.
Traditional bridges are ruined from moisture in the air, so these were constructed from roots in order to avoid this damage. These took years to create, but they are very sturdy and happen to be very visually pleasing as well.
Highest Gold Consumerism
Interestingly enough, India is one of the highest consumers of gold in the world. Over the past decade, the country has consumed about 838 tons every year. Just in 2018, India consumed about 760.4 tons of gold total.
A lot of this gold is used for wedding jewelry and festivals. You might not think of India when you first think about gold, but the country has a huge demand for the chemical element.
When it comes to endangered animals, you’ll find several species that are native to India. These won’t be found in zoos around the world.Two of the most well known animals are Asiatic lions as well as purple frogs.
Purple frogs are especially noteworthy due to their interesting appearance. They don’t resemble what most of us think of when it comes to frogs, but this is also what makes them stand out. They actually look more like fish than frogs.
Very Unusual Post Offices
One thing that (literally) connects every country is the fact that we can send letters and packages around the world via a post office. When most Westerners think of post offices, they probably imagine a small building that’s probably in a strip mall.
Meanwhile, in India you can find all sorts of post offices, including ones that float like boats. There’s also a post office that’s the highest up in the world located at 15,500 feet. There even used to be mobile camel post offices.
First Book on Plastic Surgery
The Sushruta Samhita is an ancient important Sanskrit medicinal text that is considered by many to be one of the earliest texts on surgery and medicine in history. It was written by Sushruta at about the 6th century BCE.
Some say that modern surgery can be traced back to the Sushruta Samhita. In the text, you can find descriptions of nose and lip reconstructions that involves using flaps of skin from the cheek. That certainly sounds a lot like modern plastic surgery.
One of the World’s Largest Pilgrimages
Kindu pilgrimage Kumbh Mela takes place every 12 years and is considered to be the largest human gathering found on the globe. Some say you can even see it from space. The last Kumbh Mela took place in January through March 2019.
It was located in Ardh of Allahabad and there were an estimated 130 million people present. The festival dates back to the 8th century and is said to have been founded by Hindu philosopher and saint Adi Shankara,
Hijras, The Third Sex
While many Western countries are now turning focus to trans rights, in India, the Hijras, or third sex, have been around for centuries. The term Hijra refers to a person who considers themselves transgender. This concept has been documented by the Kama Sutra.
In a progressive ruling, India’s Supreme Court recognized transgender people as a “third sex” by law in April 2014. This meant that the third sex would be added to official legal documents as an option.
Traditionally, cows are considered highly respected and endeared animals according to sects of Hinduism, Skihism, Jainism, as well as Buddism. Conversely, cow meat is considered acceptable to eat in Muslim and Abrahamic traditions, causing cattle slaughter to be controversial in India.
Cattle slaughter is especially controversial as cows are associated with the Hindu god Krishna and they are considered an integral part of rural livelihoods. There are laws forbidding cattle slaughter in a majority of states in India except for Kerala, Goa, West Bengal, and Northeast India.
Elephants are very intelligent and emotional beings. They are commonly found throughout India and are used for many purposes around the country. It is not uncommon at all to see elephants roaming around the streets or being used as modes of transportation.
These gentle creatures are quite lovable and so it is understandable why so many people grow to have a close and special bond with elephants. When treated with kindness, elephants are very friendly animals that do not need to be feared.
While many of us find snakes absolutely terrifying, there are people who have completely mastered their fear and even keep them as beloved pets. It is very common to see snake charmers around India, putting on enchanting shows that are incredible to see.
It makes sense that many snake charmers are around since the animals are quite commonly found throughout the country. If you’re ever visiting India, make sure to take an opportunity to watch one of these enchanting performances.
Old World & New World
One of the most fascinating aspects of India is the melding together of the old world and the new, more modern aspects of society. That can be extended to modes of transportation as well. There is a wide variety that can be found.
You can find Indian billionaires driving around in some of the world’s most impressive vehicles and very shortly after witness somebody using a donkey as a mode of getting around. There is quite the eclectic mix of vehicles found in India.
Cows Passing McDonald’s
As we already discussed, it is very normal to see cows roaming freely around India, since in most areas they are considered endeared and sacred animals. This is why many Indians are vegetarian or vegan and refrain from eating beef.
In other regions, the consumption of cows is actually allowed. However, in the regions where it is forbidden, you won’t be able to see beef burgers even at McDonald’s! Hopefully they’ve perfected the veggie burger option by now.
While the rickshaw is not exclusive just to India, but they do have a very prominent role in India, as they offer another alternative option for transportation. Roads are typically so full that people get creative in order to get around.
It is quite common to see people being pulled around by this amazing contraption. Of course, there are other uses for the rickshaw, like hanging on while riding a longboard! That’s actually a pretty brilliant idea if you ask us.
In most places, mannequins placed in clothing stores will typically represent the fashion world’s idea of the idealistic body type for both men and women. While this trend is starting to change in places like the United Staes, things are different in India.
You can very typically find mannequins that are much more realistic of most people’s body type, and it really seems much more helpful for customers to see a representation of what the clothes will most likely look like.
Many people take their dogs for extravagant grooming sessions. The same is done in India, but instead of dogs, it is done for camels. These intricate designs are incredible to see, and there are even camel festivals where you’ll see many adorned camels.
These animals have been used by humans for centuries, and it seems like it is well deserved to have festivals that honor these hard working creatures. Besides, these amazing designs are absolutely worth looking at.
Sardar’s Fish n’ Chicken
If you take a look at the sign for Sardar’s Fish n’ Chicken, you might be reminded of an American fast food chain. Of course, it looks very similar to the Kentucky Fried Chicken logo, and that is certainly not an accident.
However, Sardar’s Fish n’ Chicken can only be found in India. While the logo is pretty much a copy of KFC’s, who’s the say that the food is any better or worse? We guess a trip to India is in order so we can find out.
There are many elephants living in India, and sometimes they also need to get around. Often, when elephants need to be transported but a large body of water is in the way, this is the solution that is used. Yes, that’s an elephant on a boat.
You might have expected a larger boat to carry such a massive animal, but it looks like this one is doing the job just fine. We must admit that this is not a sight you see every day.
World’s Largest Family
A lot of families around the world have many more children than the average Western family. While in the West, families typically have between one to three children, in many other places, it is normal to have six, seven, eight, or more.
In the Baktawng Village in India, there is a family that consists of the head of the house, Ziona, his 39 wives, 94 children, 14 daughters in law, and 33 grandchildren. They are the largest family in the world and they live in a house with 100 rooms.
Mustaches have gone in and out of fashion for centuries now. They’ve most recently had a comeback in the West amongst the hipster subculture. In Madhya Pradesh, policemen can potentially receive extra pay by having a mustache. But what for?
It is believed that mustached (or any facial hair in general) men garner more respect. While it has yet to be proven, you can not deny that these curled ‘staches are still quite impressive.
While wedding celebrations are extravagant in many places around the world, Indian weddings are absolutely impressive spectacles. They are an explosion of bright colors, textures, dancing, and of course, non-stop celebrations. Some of the parties are even public, so non-guests can join in.
There are many customs and traditions that go along with weddings in India, and of course each wedding follows the traditions dictated by the couple’s religion, region, and personal preferences. What they have in common is that they are very festive occasions.
In India, arranged marriages are still very much considered to be normal and accepted. While things are not as strict as they used to be, many still turn to matchmakers to find them their perfect significant other.
Wedding detectives are sometimes hired to do some research on a potential suitor so that the bride or groom to be’s family can be sure that this person is an appropriate match for their child. It might seem crazy to some, but it is perfectly normal in India.
Religion Specific Warnings
There are many different religions that are practiced throughout India, but the majority of people practice Hinduism. Reincarnation, or being born again as a new lifeform after passing, is an important belief in Hindiusm. That would explain signs such as these.
The sign reads: “only those who strongly believe in rebirth should risk going near,” meaning that this is quite a dangerous area ahead that involves a high risk of death. They’re implying that if you think you’ll be reincarnated, maybe dying won’t be as bad.
This Is My Bus Stop
Due to the fact that India has a massive population, it is quite normal to see public transportation that is absolutely jam packed. That means that sometimes it’s so crowded that it is quite difficult to get off at your stop.
Therefore, you’ll sometimes see being getting off at their stop via the window. It seems like this is a much easier solution than trying to wriggle through masses of people in order to reach the door.
Spiritual belief is very powerful for many people in India. Many believe that they are being protected by a deity and therefore there is no need to lock their doors. Some people do not even have doors at all.
This also extends to businesses, even ones with ATMs inside. It’s pretty incredible that people are this trusting and faith-filled that they do not use locks. It’s safe to say that most businesses in the United States would never follow this concept.
Freedom of Movement
Those who are living in India who then suddenly have the desire to visit Nepal are actually allowed to do so without any addition cost. There is a special agreement between the two countries that allows for free movement between the two for Indian nationals.
They do not even have to worry about any kind of visa or paperwork. All they need is a passport or form of identification and they’re free to visit between the two countries.
Meals For Everyone
Religion is a guiding force for many people living in India. Religion is well respected and helps bring people together despite their socio-economic backgrounds. At the Golden Temple, any visitor is greeted warmly and is offered a free delicious meal.
The meals are offered at the Langar, a community kitchen that provides the meals to the visitors. The kitchen is run by volunteers who help keep the operation running smoothly. People volunteer to help cook the food and clean the place.
The Wagah-Attrai Border in India offers an incredible spectacle every day. The National Beating Retreat ceremony takes place daily when the border guards lower the flags and also partake in a special ceremonial dance that is absolutely incredible to watch.
The Wahah-Attari border is the boundary demarcation line that divides India and Pakistan by the Partition of British India. The flag ceremony is conducted by the Indian Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers. The ceremony dates back to 1986 as a symbol of peace.
There are plenty of incredible and unusual species living all around India. While it would be impossible to see them all while visiting, you should absolutely try to catch a glimpse of a South Asian river dolphin in the Ganges River.
These adorable and unique creatures are known for their long, flat beaks and their bony teeth that are visible even when their mouths are closed. Unfortunately, the South Asian river dolphins are considered to be endangered species, with a 2017 estimate of only about 5000 total.
Educational Toilet Museum
Whenever traveling around, in addition to exploring the local culture through cuisine, markets, and shops, you can also learn a lot by visiting local museums. While in India, you can also experience the world’s only toilet museum. Yes, that’s right.
It’s meant to show visitors how sanitation has evolved. You can take a look at many different toilet seats and how they’ve evolved over time and also learn about the history of sanitation. That is certainly a unique museum tour.
Pepper is one of the most important spices in every culture’s cuisine, but it is especially important in India. While many of us are used to pepper shakers, early generations in India popularized the use of long pepper, which has evolved over time.
The spice traveled around the world through the Silk Road and now the use of pepper is common in almost every kitchen around the glove. Long peppers aren’t used everywhere, but they’re still commonly found in India today.
While India is known for its diverse wildlife, one of its most famous are the wild cats. India is known for being the habitat of several cat species including Asiatic lions, snow leopards, Bengal tigers, Indian leopards, and clouded leopards.
They are so common here that it is the only place in the world where both lions and tigers can be found together in the same habitat where they’re actually from the same country. No zoos outside of any can boast the same.
Yoga has become one of the most popular and beloved forms of physical activity around the world. It is known for its many health benefits, and of course for being created in India. Rishikesh is the world’s capital city of yoga.
The city, which is also known for being incredibly beauty, tranquil and overall very spiritual, sees endless visitors from around the world who want to learn more about the authentic practice of yoga straight from the source.
Most of us have never had a glimpse of fireflies and may only know them from children’s stories of catching them in a jar. However, if you visit Purushwadi, which is about 180 kilometers from Mumbai, you’ll find a mind-boggling amount of these glowing insects.
The best time to visit the village is a dusk time, as millions of fireflies sparkle around, creating a fairy0tale like atmosphere that is unbelievably breathtaking.
Agrasen Ki Baoli Monument
The Agrasen Ki Baoli Monument monument is a steep well that is found in Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. It is believed that it was built by king Agrasen and it considered by many to be full of ghosts.
The location has also had many films shot there, including films PK and Mom. In 2012, it was featured in an episode of The Amazing Race Australia 2 and even appeared in a photo shoot for Formula One models.
A Building For One Family
If you were a billionaire, how big would your home be? This is the question that one man decided to answer with: as big as a whole building. Billionaire Mukesh Ambani is the owner of this entire building where he lives with his wife and three children.
The 27-story building cost $1 billion and is considered at the time the most expensive residence in the world. He has a staff of 600 people to maintain it and it includes a 160–car garage, three helipads, a movie theater, swimming pool, and a fitness center.
Henna Body Art
Henna tattoos are found in many countries including India, where the paste is referred to as Mehndi. This paste is used in order to adorn the skin with intricate designs, often before or during celebrations like weddings.
Henna tattoos are not permanent and can also be used as hair dye. In addition to India, henna is popular in countries found in the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.
As we well know by now, elephants are very commonly found in India and they are well respected animals in the country as well. They’re so well treated that they even have their very own spa treatment centers.
The Punnathoor Cotta Elephant Yard Rejuvenation Centre focuses solely on elephants and offer massages and treatments for the animals. The center is located at the Guruvayurappan Hindu Temple, where elephants have a key role in the temple’s procession. The center can host 59 elephants at a time!
Which Way To Kottayam?
If you get easily confused by street signs, you’re in for a tough time if you choose to visit India. While this sign might be pointing to different locations within the same place, it is still extremely confusing to say the least.
So which is the way to Kottayam? Also, it’s strange that it has not been changed yet. We’re sure that many drivers have been led astray by this sign already. Hopefully you have a lot of time to make wrong turns.