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India is about 1/3 the size of the United States, India is the seventh largest country in the world, the second most populous country in the world. ● ● India is the largest democracy in the world. ● ● The Kumbh Mela (or Grand Pitcher Festival) is a huge Hindu religious festival that takes place in India every 12 years. In 2001, 60 million people attended, breaking the record for the world’s biggest gathering. The mass of people was photographed from space by a satellite. ● ● To avoid polluting the elements (fire, earth, water, air), followers of Zoroastrianism in India don’t bury their dead, but instead leave bodies in buildings called “Towers of Silence” for the vultures to pick clean. ● ● India has one of the world’s highest rates of abortion. ● ● Most Indians live on less than two dollars a day. ● ● Cows are considered one of humankind’s seven mothers because they offer milk as does one’s natural mother. ● ● Dancing is one of India’s most highly developed arts and was an integral part of worship in the inner shrines of every temple. It is notable for its expressive hand movements. ● ● Many Indian wives will never say their husband’s name aloud, as it is a sign of disrespect. When addressing him, the wife will use several indirect references, such as “ji” or “look here” or “hello,” or even refer to him as the father of her child. ● ● The Indian flag has three horizontal bands of color: saffron for courage and sacrifice, white for truth and peace, and green for faith, fertility, and chivalry. An emblem of a wheel spinning used to be in the center of the white band, but when India gained independence, a Buddhist dharma chakra, or wheel of life, replaced the spinning wheel. ● ● ● ● ● The temples of Khajuraho are famous for their erotic sculptures and are one of the most popular tourist attractions in India. Scholars still debate the purpose of such explicit portrayals of sexual intercourse, which sometimes involve animals. ● ● The earliest cotton in the world was spun and woven in India. ● ● The Himalayas—from the Sanskrit hima, meaning “snow,” and alaya, meaning “abode”—are found in the north of India. They extend 1,500 miles and are slowly growing taller, by almost an inch (2.5 cm) a year. Several ancient Indian monasteries are found nestled in the grandeur of these mountains. ● ● With 150,000 post offices, India has the largest postal network in the world. ● ● The Bengal tiger is India’s national animal. ● ● Alexander the Great of Macedon (356-323 B.C.) was one of the first important figures to bring India into contact with the West. After his death, a link between Europe and the East would not be restored until Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama (1460-1524) landed in Calicut, India, in 1498. ● ● The British Raj, or British rule, lasted from 1858 to 1947 (although they had a strong presence in India since the 1700s). British influence is still seen in Indian architecture, education system, transportation, and politics. ● ● Every major world religion is represented in India. Additionally, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism all originated in India. ● ● India has the world’s largest movie industry, based in the city of Mumbai (known as the “City of Dreams”). The B in “Bollywood” comes from Bombay, the former name for Mumbai. Almost all Bollywood movies are musicals. ● ● Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948) is known around the world as Mahatma, which is an honorific title meaning “Great Soul” in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit. ● ● ● ● ● The lotus is sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists. ● The Bahá'í house of worship in Delhi, known as the “Lotus Temple,” is shaped like a lotus flower with 27 gigantic “petals” that are covered in marble. ● ● The banyan, or Indian fig tree, is considered a symbol of immortality and is mentioned in many Indian myths and legends. This self-renewing plant is India’s national tree. ● ● Marigold flowers are used as decoration for Hindu marriages and are a symbol of good fortune and happiness. ● ● The name “India” derives from the River Indus, which most likely is derived from the Sanskrit sindhu, meaning “river.” The official Sanskrit name of India is Bharat, after the legendary king in the epicMahabharata. ● ● Indians made significant contributions to calculus, trigonometry, and algebra. The decimal system was invented in India in 100 B.C. The concept of zero as a number is also attributed to India. ● ● The national fruit of India is the mango. The national bird is the peacock, which was initially bred for food. ● ● Hindi and English are the official languages of India. The government also recognizes 17 other languages (Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Nepali, Manipuri, Konkani, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu). Apart from these languages, about 1,652 dialects are spoken in the country. ● ● India has the world’s third largest road network at 1.9 million miles. It also has the world’s second largest rail network, which is the world’s largest civilian employer. ● ● Bathing in the Ganges in particular is thought to take away a person’s sins. It is not unusual to spread a loved one’s ashes in the Ganges. ● ● Most Indians rinse their hands, legs, and face before eating a meal. ● ● It is traditional to wear white, not black, to a funeral in India. Widows will often wear white in contrast to the colorful clothes of married or single women. ● ● India is the world’s largest tea producer, and tea (chai) is its most popular beverage. ● ● The Taj Mahal (“crown palace”) was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (1592-1666) for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal (1593-1631). Made of marble it has intricate workmanship. It took 22,000 workmen 22 years to complete it. ● ● The first and greatest civilization in ancient India developed around the valley of the Indus River (now Pakistan) around 3000 B.C. Called the Indus Valley civilization, this early empire was larger than any other empire, including Egypt and Mesopotamia. ● ● After the great Indus Civilization collapsed in 2000 B.C., groups of Indo-Europeans called Aryans (“noble ones”) traveled to northwest India and reigned during what is called the Vedic age. The mingling of ideas from the Aryan and Indus Valley religions formed the basis of Hinduism, and the gods Shiva, Kali, and Brahma all have their roots in Aryan civilization. The Aryans also recorded the Vedas, the first Hindu scriptures, and introduced a caste system based on ethnicity and occupation. ● ● Chandragupta Maurya (340-290 B.C.), a leader in India who established the Mauryan Empire (321-185 B.C.), was guarded by a band of women on horseback. ● Sanskrit is the mother of all the European ● languages. Sanskrit is the most suitable language for computer software reported in Forbes magazine, ● July 1987. ● Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to humans.Charaka, the father of medicine consolidated Ayurveda 2500 years ago. ● India never invaded any country in her last 10,000 years of history. ● India invented the Number System. Zero was invented by Aryabhatta. ● India never invaded any country in her last 10,000 years of history. ● India invented the Number System. Zero was invented by Aryabhatta. ● ● India never invaded any country in her last 10,000 years of history. ● India invented the Number System. Zero was invented by Aryabhatta. ● ●
Valley of Flowers

High in the Himalayan ranges of Garhwal hills of Uttaranchal lies an enchanted Valley. About 600 kilometers from Delhi, in the Chamoli district of Uttaranchal can be found The Valley of Flowers, a breathtaking array of over 500 different species of wild flowers spread over an area of 87.5 km².  It is situated a height of 11,000 feet to 14,000 feet above the sea level in the Western Himalayas.

This mysterious valley was hidden from the outside world, with only locals frequenting the place. Initially, it was avoided by the shepherds who believed this magical valley to be the celestial playground of the Gods, nymphs and fairies.

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The Valley was discovered by Frank Smith, a mountaineer, botanist and an explorer who came across it quite accidentally in 1931. He was so captivated by its outstanding beauty, which was in its full bloom at the time that he wrote a book about it called “Valley of Flowers”. Thus, the Valley remained a secret no more much to the delight of nature enthusiasts all over the world.

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The Valley itself is flanked on either side by imposing peaks, capped with snow. It is divided into two sections due to the Pushpawati River which cuts through the valley. The major portion of this valley is on its right bank and is every trekker’s dream come true. The entire trek from Govindghat to the valley via Ghangharia is a feast to the eyes. The Valley of flowers changes color almost every day, as it blooms with hundreds of new different flowers along with the changing shades of the old flowers as time passes by. It has been acknowledged by botanists, mountaineers and nature lovers as one of the most picturesque high altitude valleys in the world.

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It was only in 1982 that an area of 8,950 hectares of the valley was declared a National Park. In July 2005, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This is mainly due to the fact that the valley contains so much rich diversified fauna within its area especially as it is a meeting point of Zanskar, Himalayan ranges and Eastern and Western Himalayas. The importance of this beautiful valley is furthered as many endangered flower species and medicinal plants can be found here.

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From November to May, the valley is covered in a bed of snow but the flora here is well adapted to the harsh climatic conditions. The best time to visit the Valley of Flowers is in the months of July and August after the snow has melted. The flowers are in full bloom during this time, giving you ample opportunity to enjoy the never ending charm of this place.

 
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