When you think of India, like me you’re probably struck with colourful images of festivals, stunning landmarks and of course delicious food! It’s a country that has a rich history and unique culture (or cultures), recognised all over the world. But what is India known for specifically, and what makes it so famous?
Located in the heart of South Asia, a lot of people are able to pick out India on a map due to looking a bit like an elephant’s ear. It borders China, Pakistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, which no doubt play a role in India’s diverse and vibrant cultural heritage.
Different religions, philosophies, customs and languages have co-existed in India for centuries, making it one of the most fascinating countries to explore in the world. Every corner of India has a unique story to tell, every region has its distinct flavour, and every festival offers a glimpse into the country’s rich cultural tapestry.
If you’ve ever travelled to India, you’ll no doubt start to witness just how influential the country is just about everywhere. I’m not just talking about the incredible cuisine and Indian restaurants we’re lucky to have here in the UK, but everything from yoga to cricket and materials, fabrics, patterns, textures. That’s why I wanted to break down just what India is famous for and known the world over for in celebration of the awe-inspiring nation.
20 things India is famous & known for
As a country rich in culture, landscape, architecture, food and much more, there are so many wonderful things that India is famous for. But here are 20 of the most iconic things India is known for.
1. The Taj Mahal
What is India known for? The Taj Mahal has to come in on top, surely?
An iconic symbol of love and an architectural marvel, the Taj Mahal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts millions of visitors each year. Its perfect symmetry and intricate designs are a testament to the architectural prowess of the Mughal era. According to some, the palace in Princess Jasmine in Disney’s Aladdin was inspired by the Taj Mahal, showing just how famous the Indian landmark is across the world.
The real history of the Taj Mahal is a little darker though, check out my post on the brutal story of the Taj Mahal here to learn more.
2. Yoga in India
India is the birthplace of Yoga, an ancient practice known for promoting physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. Yoga really became famous in Western culture in the 70s onwards, but arguably even more so as celebs promoted it. You can embark on a transformative journey through a variety of yoga programs, such as the renowned 200 hour yoga teacher training in Rishikesh.
It’s clear to see how popular yoga is in the UK, with the number of yoga festivals dedicated to it. The International Day of Yoga, celebrated on the 21st June each year, also shows just how popularised the Indian practice is.
Bollywood is India’s largest film industry as well as one of the largest across the globe. The industry produced ‘Sholay’, one of the most famous and renowned films in the world, featuring a great cast including Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Hema Malini, Sanjeev Kumar, and Amjad Khan.
Bollywood movies from India are instantly recognisable, known for their vibrant storytelling, colourful costumes, and unforgettable dance sequences.
4. Spices from India
India is known as the land of spices, and rightly so. Indian cuisine is characterised by a variety of flavours, thanks to the plethora of spices used, such as turmeric, cardamom, and coriander.
These spices enhance not just the taste but also the health benefits of the food. Turmeric is a great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory spice, which is also what inspired the likes of Turmeric lattes.
5. Indian Cuisine
From the aromatic biryanis of Hyderabad to the savoury dosas of the south, Indian cuisine is delicious and well-loved by many around the world. Each region boasts its unique culinary traditions, making Indian food a delicious journey through the subcontinent.
Additionally, the fiery curries of Rajasthan, sweet rosogullas of Bengal, and piquant seafood of Goa showcase the diversity of Indian food.
Street food culture is another hallmark of Indian cuisine, with treats like pani puris, samosas, and vada pav relished by both locals and tourists. Vada pavs are a great fast food option for vegetarians and generally a must-try for anyone visiting, made with potato dumplings in a bread bun and served with chilli and/or chutneys.
If you’re asking what is India known for – it’s amazing food has to be up there!
6. Festivals, mainly Holi and Diwali
The country’s cultural diversity shines through its range of vibrant festivals in India. From Holi, the festival of colours, to Diwali, the festival of lights, Indian festivals are full of colour, joy, and camaraderie.
Each festival is steeped in mythology and traditions, involving prayers, rituals, music, dance, and a feast of traditional delicacies. These festivals stem from India but today are world-famous, with many visitors coming to India to join in the celebrations.
7. Cricket in India
Cricket in India is more than just a sport – it’s a religion. The country’s passion for the game is unmatched, and one of the things India is most known for around the world. The victory of the Indian cricket team in any match turns into a nationwide celebration. It brings together people from all walks of life, and if you’re around after they win, you’ll notice the sense of unity and national pride in all their celebrations!
The Indian Premier League (IPL) further promotes this cricket frenzy, attracting global attention with its mix of sports, glamour, and entertainment.
8. Diverse landscapes in India
From the Himalayas to the backwaters of Kerala, India’s diverse landscapes really are impressive. This geographical diversity makes India a popular for all different kinds of adventures and activities such as trekking and watersports.
The deserts of Rajasthan, dense forests of Madhya Pradesh, and the valleys of Kashmir are more examples of India’s interesting and completely different landscapes, showing off its natural beauty.
The landscapes aren’t just great for travellers either, but they also nurture lots of different flora and fauna, making India one of the world’s most bio-diverse countries (see the next point).
9. Wildlife in India
India is home to a rich biodiversity, with numerous national parks and wildlife sanctuaries like Corbe tt National Park and Ranthambore National Park. The Royal Bengal Tiger, Asiatic Lions, and Indian Elephants are just some of the species you can spot here. These places are also great for bird-watchers, with numerous endemic and migratory bird species.
There are lots of conservation projects in India to help protect animals, such as the successful Project Tiger, which has helped to increase the tiger population in recent years. You can often visit the project sites and volunteer at some if this is something you’re interested in!
10. Textiles and handicrafts
The country’s rich tradition of textiles and handicrafts, such as Kanjeevaram silk, Pashmina shawls, and Rajasthan’s block printing, is another facet India is known for. Each state has its unique style of weaving, dyeing, and printing, so if you love handicrafts and looking for trinkets, cloths and jewellery, India is like a haven.
You can find everything from hand-woven carpets of Kashmir to terracotta crafts of Bengal, showcasing the skill and creativity of Indian artisans.
India is not only the birthplace of Yoga, but also Ayurveda, a holistic healing system that has been practised for over 5,000 years. Ayurveda’s focus on natural remedies and a balanced lifestyle continues to gain global popularity.
Today, Ayurveda has evolved into a complete healthcare system, encompassing diet, yoga, meditation, massage, and herbal medicines. Its principles of harmony and balance have influenced global wellness trends, with Ayurvedic spas and retreats becoming popular worldwide.
12. The Ganges
What is India known for? The Ganges River of course.
The Ganges River, considered sacred by Hindus, is an integral part of Indian culture and spirituality. The Ganges also hosts the Kumbh Mela, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world. Pilgrims from across the country and abroad come to take a holy dip in the river, believed to cleanse sins and grant salvation.
You can also find the Ganges River Dolphin here, India’s national aquatic animal, adding another layer of significance to this mighty river.
13. Tea Gardens
India is one of the largest tea producers globally and is famous around the world for flavours such as Darjeeling and Assam. The lush tea gardens are beautiful to visit if you’re in India, usually set against the backdrop of the Himalayas in Darjeeling, or the expansive tea estates of Assam, which definitely add to the experience.
The tea industry is pretty important to India too as it provides employment and a source of economic income.
14. Monuments and Palaces
Beyond the Taj Mahal, India is dotted with historical monuments and palaces that tell tales of its grand past. From the intricate carvings of Khajuraho to the palaces of Rajasthan, the architecture in India is something people from around the world come to see.
They all have different designs and histories, and although it will be difficult to see them all on a single trip, are all worth seeing. Visit Lucknow for some of the most impressive buildings I’ve seen in India.
15. What is India known for? Diverse languages
India’s linguistic diversity is astounding, with over 1,500 languages spoken across the country. It’s actually the 4th country in the world for having the most languages.
Every state and every region has its own language or dialect, each with its unique phonetics and script. This linguistic diversity reflects in the country’s literature, cinema, music, and arts, which makes Indian pop culture so interesting.
16. Indian Railways
Indian Railways are one of the world’s largest railway networks and are a lifeline for millions of Indians. The train journeys cross diverse landscapes and cultures to connect different cities and can be a great way for tourists to travel too.
From the Palace on Wheels to the quaint toy train of Darjeeling, the Indian Railways stand out in the country. They’re also definitely needed given the size of the country!
Read more on my experience of the Rajdhani Express from Alleppey to Madgeon.
17. Spirituality in India
India is famous for being the land of spirituality, with its multitude of religions, temples, and spiritual practices. The country attracts spiritual seekers from around the world, looking to embark on a journey of self-discovery and head to these temples (or often retreats and spas).
From the serene monasteries of Ladakh to the holy city of Varanasi, India offers diverse spiritual experiences to suit. Meditation is common here too, which is another thing India is known for.
18. Indian dance forms
From Kathak to the very energetic Bhangra, India has a wide range of classical and folk dance forms. Some include masks like Chhau and others are storytelling, like Odissi.
These dances are both a form of expression as well as India’s cultural diversity – each dance form is intricately linked with the region’s history, folklore, and tradition, so there are many different forms.
19. IT Industry
India’s booming IT industry has put the country on the global map. It might not be the first thing you think of when asking what is India famous or known for, but the IT sector in India has definitely been world-impacting.
With its tech hubs like Bangalore being dubbed as the ‘Silicon Valley of India’, and many Indian IT companies emerging as global players, the IT industry provides services to some of the world’s largest corporations.
20. Space research
Ok it may not be as famous as NASA, but India is known for making huge strides in space research, spearheaded by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Results and ongoing research have garnered international acclaim, such as the successful Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan). In addition, the successful launch of a record 104 satellites on a single rocket and the planned Gaganyaan mission, India’s first manned space mission, highlight the country’s ambition in space exploration.
This progress in space technology also fuels innovations in various other sectors, reinforcing India’s position as a global scientific power.
What is India famous for?
So after asking what India is famous for, these 20 different factors will no doubt show you just how special and unique the country is! The people are gentle and kind, the food is outstanding and the scenery and culture is so diverse yet unique. If you were thinking of visiting, I hope I’ve convinced you!
Quicklist of what India is known for
- The Taj Mahal
- Indian cuisine
- Diverse landscapes
- Textiles and handicrafts
- Sacred Ganges
- Tea gardens
- Monuments and palaces
- Diverse languages
- Indian railways
- Indian dance forms
- IT industry
- Space research
What is India’s nickname?
India has several nicknames, each with historical and cultural significance. The country is often referred to as “Bharat” in several Indian languages, a name derived from the ancient Vedic tribe of Bharatas mentioned in the Rigveda. Another common nickname for India is “Hindustan”, which was popular during the Mughal rule and is still used in certain contexts, particularly when Indians speak among themselves.
What is India known as the land of?
India is often referred to as the “Land of Diversity” due to its vast cultural, linguistic, and geographical diversity. It is also known as the “Land of Festivals” because of the numerous religious and cultural festivals celebrated throughout the year across the country.
What is India’s full name?
The official name of India, as per the Indian Constitution, is the “Republic of India”. In several Indian languages, it is also referred to as “Bharat”. The first article of the Indian Constitution reads, “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States”.
What is India best at in the world?
India is home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is known for its contributions to art, literature, music, and dance. India is also recognised for its advancements in technology and space exploration, with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) being one of the leading space agencies in the world. Additionally, India is the world’s largest producer of films and has a vibrant and globally influential film industry, popularly known as Bollywood.