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12 cool facts about India that I didn’t know
Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

By Sudha Mathew

As I grow older and hopefully wiser, I find myself reading more about the history of the world. I recently bought Sanjeev Sanyal’s book Land of the Seven Rivers because the blurb promised an interesting mix of history and geography. I quite liked it because of his unique slant of using geography to explain history and the impressive research that has gone into the book. Land of the Seven Rivers had several interesting facts about India that I didn’t know and that you may not either. This post is a compilation of some little known facts about India from the Land of Seven Rivers. Though I have done some cross-verification, I am basically relying on the research done by the author.

12 facts about India
Land of the Seven Rivers by Sanjeev Sanyal

Disclaimer: I am not connected to Sanjeev Sanyal or the publishers in any way.

Did you know that

1. India is the only country where the lion and the tiger co-exist.

2. The oldest discernible geological formation in the world is located in India – the Aravalli Mountains.

3. The game of chess originated in India.  Ancient chess pieces found during excavations at Harappan sites look quite similar to the modern chess set.

4. Chandragupta Maurya’s empire at its peak was bigger than that of Alexander the Great or the Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huangdi.

5. Kautilya’s Arthashastra had rules against meddling in the affairs of your neighbour. The Arthashastra written in 4th century BC is a political treatise on how to run a state.

6. Hussaini Brahmins A group of Brahmins originally from Mohyal in Punjab observe Muharram, the mourning period of the Shias. Legend has it that they fought in the battle of Karbala (680 AD) on Prophet Mohammed’s grandson, Imam Hussain’s side. They are now known as Hussaini Brahmins. Sunil Dutt, a well-known Indian actor of the Fifties was from this sub-group.

7. The Romani people of Europe, popularly known as gypsies, originated from India, probably Rajasthan. As a child, you may have read about gypsies as people who travelled with the circus in Enid Blyton’s books.

8. The ostrich was once a common bird in India. Beads and ornaments made from ostrich eggshells have been found in parts of Central and Western India. The remnants have been dated to more than 25000 years of age.

9. Genetically Indians have more in common with Eastern Europeans than rest of Asia.

10. There is an ancient legend that Cleopatra had planned to escape to India to escape death.  But she couldn’t get away in time when Octavian, Emperor of Rome attacked Alexandria in 30 BC. The rest of her story is well known. She committed suicide by snakebite to avoid being captured or killed.

11. Gurgaon was a village that belonged to Dronacharya who was the martial arts teacher to Pandavas and Kauravas. The modern name is derived from Guru ka Gaon – village of the teacher.

12. A princess of Ayodhya was the mother of Korea’s first royal dynasty. The princess’s Korean name was Heo Hwang-ok and she was the first queen of Geumgwan Gaya Dynasty. Former president Kim Dae Jung is descended from this line.

I hope that was a fun read. Please add any cool facts about India that you know.



I plan to use these nuggets of information at the next intellectual gathering I am invited to sound very knowledgeable. :)  What about you?




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About me

The wise man travels to discover himself - JR Lowell


My name is Sudha Mathew. I'm an ex-banker who quit the rat race after a decade to follow my passion for travel and to combine it with my experience in understanding client requirements and exceeding their expectations.


While our content is mostly about the holiday experience, the accommodation and services, there's so much more to a journey. I have discovered a whole new me through travel. So I've reserved this corner of the website to share the unexpected aspects of travel. This space is also to hear from you about your journeys and discoveries. Bon Voyage!

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