We think we know our country. And in a way, it’s good to think that we know our country like that back of our hand, but really. We don’t. Our country, like many countries I guess, is an enigma. Things are constantly changing and things that have been constant for centuries now seem to remain constant. Some things are nature’s mystery or nature’s miracle and others are man-made wonders.
So here I am, telling you 10 things that are weird AF about our country, the Sone ki Chidiya, India! -that rhymed-
1. Living Bridges
In Meghalaya, living root bridges are formed when the banyan trees attach themselves over to the other side of the river. (So the next time you’re in Meghalaya and you’re stepping over one of these bridges, they’re alive, just so you know.)
2. Equal to the Earth’s circumference
The cables used in the Bandra-Worli Sealink has wires that are equal to the earth’s circumference. It took a total of 2,57,00,000 hours of manpower and it weight is equal to 50,000 African Elephants. Talk about heavy.
3. The Single handed forest
Molai is a 1,360 acre forest that has been planted single-handedly by one man. One. Man. In 1979, 16-year-old Jadav “Molai” Payeng planted a few seedling trees on a sandbar. He continued to do that over the next four decades and it eventually became a forest reserve.
4. Champu = Shampoo
Shampoo is an Indian concept, did you know? The thing people ALL OVER THE WORLD DO is an Indian thing. But it didn’t began in the form of the commercialized products that we see today. It was initially done through the use of herbs. ‘Shampoo’ comes from the word champu in Sanskrit meaning to massage.
5. Roopkund Lake
The Roopkund Lake in Uttarakhand is weird. That’s because the lake is famous for having skulls on the floor of the lake. Skulls. Human f**king skulls. And bones as well. But these bones are only visible when the snow melts away. Stay long enough out in the cold there and maybe you’ll become a part of that lake too.
6. Water on the Moon
In September 2009, India’s ISRO Chandrayaan-1, using it’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper, detected water on the moon for the first time! Wow.
7. Underground fire
There is a coal mine in Jharkand that has an underground fire burning in it for hundreds of years now. First detected in 1916, the fire has been raging despite the efforts of the mining department and the railway authorities.
7. The Great Banyan
The Great Banyan Tree is one giant-ass tree that is located on the outskirts of Kolkata. The tree is 200-years-old and is supported mostly by it’s large number of aerial roots, occupying a giant area of 14,500 square meters. In 1925, the tree was excised after it was hit by a lightning strike, which left it as a clonal colony. The tree, fortunately, continues to grow and expand and there’s a 330-meter road that has been constructed along it’s circumference.
8. Second largest?
India is the second largest English speaking country, right after USA. There’s around 125 million people speaking the language, which is on 10% of the population. And it’s still somehow the second largest, would you know? This is expected to grow. Perfect.
9. Vegetarians everywhere
India is the country with the largest number of vegetarians. Be it religious reasons or a personal choice, or both, 20-40% of Indians are vegetarian, making the country the most vegetarian-friendly country in the world.
10. The Human Calculator
Thought I’d save the best for the last. Yes. The Human Calculator is Shakuntala Devi. She was named such when she calculated two 13 digit numbers – 7,686,369,774,870 × 2,465,099,745,779 – that were picked at random and she answered correctly within 28 seconds.