Wild, Interesting, and Unusual Things You’ll Only Find in India
India is an ancient civilization that’s currently the world’s largest democracy. Within its borders – which stretch from Gujarat in the west to Arunachal Pradesh in the east – are more than 1.3 billion people. Those people live everywhere from the crowded megacities of Mumbai and Delhi to the empty villages of Shansha and Nitoi.
They are Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, and tribal peoples with their own folk beliefs. India has managed to accommodate all of them to create a land full of wild, interesting, and unusual sights, sounds, and creations. This ranges from blood rain to high bridges and everything in between. Let’s take a look!
Temple for Man’s Best Friend
In Channapatna, a city in the southwestern state of Karnataka, there lies a unique temple dedicated to “man’s best friend.” Built to honor two dogs who vanished mysteriously one year, the Dog Temple features big statues paying tribute to the canines.
Each year, the folks of Channapatna hold a special festive celebration for these lost dogs. During the rest of the year, it provides a nice little spot for the dogs to take a nap, meet with friends, and get a snack or two.
In the southwestern district of the southern state of Kerala, there are stunning beaches, open oceans, and miles upon miles of black sand. Also, there is the occasional spout of “blood rain.”
This creepy sounding form of rain has fallen somewhat randomly over the region since at least 1818. What causes it is unknown, but there are plenty of possible explanations. These range from meteor bursts, to religious explanations, to the fairly mundane government explanation of algae causing airborne spores.
Lots of Power Lines
China is the most populous country on earth with 1.37 billion people. India, with its 1.31 billion people, isn’t too far behind. To provide electricity, TV, and internet to all those people (or even a fraction of them) requires a heck of a lot of cables.
Those who live in the dense urban centers are well aware of this. Congested power lines hanging from pole to pole are an everyday sight – one they’re willing to put up with for the benefits that electricity provides.
World’s Highest Rail Bridge
India is full of architectural wonders. Most of these – the Taj Mahal, the Karla Caves, and the Ruins of the Vijaynagar Empire – are hundreds or thousands of years old. However, not every wonder is so ancient. Some, in fact, have only been around for a few years.
That’s the case with the Chenab Rail Bridge, considered the highest rail bridge in the world. Located in Jammu and Kashmir, this bridge stands 1,178 feet above the ground. Construction began in 2004, and (hopefully) by December 2022, it will be open to passengers.
Amritsar Golden Temple
In the Punjab region of northern India lies the most famous (and revered) temple in the Sikh religion. Known as the Amritsar Golden Temple, its construction began in the 1500s, and it continued to be built and rebuilt over the centuries.
In the early 1800s, however, it was outfitted with 880 pounds of 24-carat gold leaf (hence the name “Golden Temple”). Alongside being a holy site for Sikhs, it has an open-door policy for all faiths, and provides free meals for over 50,000 people every day.
River Boats for Elephants
Whether it’s at the head of a long parade at the Kumbh Mela festival or enshrined as the god Ganesh, elephants play a big role in Indian life. These majestic (and massive) creatures are known for their intelligence and sensitivity.
What they’re not known for is the ability to run fast over long distances. That presents a problem when elephants are meant to appear at multiple parades and festivals. Buying a train ticket for an elephant doesn’t work, so people have opted for boats to transport them around.
Land of Snakes
The small village of Shetpal in Maharashtra state is home to a few thousand villagers. Also, it’s home to a few thousand snakes! No, it’s not some kind of plague thrown on the unlucky villagers. Instead, it’s something they actively welcome.
The brave villagers view the venomous cobras as divine beings with deep connections to Shiva. Rather than fearing them, villagers build special “cobra huts” in each and every house to allow the snakes to relax. Supposedly, they cohabit peacefully and no villager has received a fatal bite yet.
Google and WhatsApp Clothing Stores
Intellectual property laws differ from country to country. Nowhere is that more apparent than in India. In villages, towns, and cities scattered across the country’s 28 states, you’re bound to see the name of famous brands on storefronts.
However, these stores are knock-offs that sell something very different from what the brand is known for. For example, Google is a massive technology company. However, the “Google” store above only sells clothes. Likewise, the same applies to the “WhatsApp” store. Clever owners have tapped into the power of a familiar brand to draw in the customers.
Hammocks on the Bus
India is a very crowded country. It’s also, generally speaking, a very chilled-out country. People like to go with the flow, accommodate others, and make the best of an overcrowded situation – whether that’s on the streets, on a train, or on a bus.
Buses all around the country have these special hammocks that not only allow more people to fit onto the bus, but provide a bit of respite from the chaos of urban life. Rather than standing uncomfortably, you can comfortably sway from side to side.
Well Made Wells
In the western state of Gujarat, there are over 120 step wells. The earliest wells were built around the 6th century CE, and the latest one was in the 19th century. Although 1,200 years separate them, they both have the same function: to provide water.
They acted as storage tanks and irrigation tanks for thousands (if not millions) of people over the centuries. Alongside gathering water for home use, the wells were used for laundry, bathing, and important religious ceremonies. Chand Baori, the largest one, has 3,500 stairs!