Think you’ve seen everything? Welcome to India!
From a hill that seemingly defies gravity to a temple where rats are worshiped and a lake with human skeletons… India is a land full of surprises… and shocks! We list out these 10 places that are unique to India. (Show us a village with no doors anywhere else in the world!)
1. Magnetic Hill, Ladakh
A small stretch of road, located some 30 km from Leh is known as the Magnetic Hill of Ladakh. Every year, thousands of tourists visit this spot, also known as the Gravity Hill to witness the phenomenon of vehicles moving uphill all by themselves. This gravity-defying phenomenon has become something of a tourist attraction in the region. The locals will have you believe that the hill was once a doorway to heaven and only those who were worthy would make it through the path and those who didn’t deserve being in heaven wouldn’t make it through, no matter how hard they tried. But the unusual phenomenon can indeed be explained. And in two simple words: optical illusion! The layout of the hills obstruct the horizon and hence a hill that slopes downhill appears as an hill that slopes uphill. Since our brain is used to referring to the horizon to determine whether a slope is straight or slant, when it is obstructed there’s no way we can judge. So, if you find your self moving upwards on the Magnetic Hill of Ladakh, just know that it’s nothing but your mind getting tricked.
2. Karni Mata Mandir, Bikaner
Located in Deshnoke, some 30 km from Bikaner, the Karni Mata Temple also known as the Rat Temple houses as many as 20,000 rats within its premises. The rats are sacred to the temple and considered as holy, it is believed that when the youngest son of Kanrni Mata drowned in water, she prayed to Yama, the lord of death to bring him back to life. Despite the fact that Yama couldn’t do so, he granted her with a boon that all her relatives would incarnate into rats and ultimately die and be born as humans again. Others say that around 20,000 soldiers deserted a battle out of fear and escaped to Deshnoke to seek shelter, once Kari Mata heard of this, she spared their lives but turned them into rats. If a rat walks over your feet here, it is considered to be auspicious. Irrespective of the humungous population of rats here, the place is entirely plague free. If one kills a rat here, he or she has to replace it with a gold or silver one weighing the same as the dead rat.
3. Bullet Baba Temple, Rajasthan
Built to honor Om Singh Rathore, Om Banna, also known as the Bullet Baba Temple is perhaps one of India’s most unusual shrines. According to locals, on the night of December 2, 1988 when Om Singh was riding through the roads of Pali, he lost control over his bike and crashed into a tree, resulting in his death. The following morning, the local police took the bike into custody but every night, time and again, the bike would disappear from their custody and reappear at the accident site. Even after emptying its fuel tank and keeping it locked, the bullet would always return to the same spot before dawn. This came to be seen as a miracle and ever since then, the locals built a temple to honor the bike and the soul of Om Singh. It is believed that his soul helps distressed travellers and praying to the motorcycle, would keep travelers safe.
4. Land of Snakes, Shetpal
Photo Courtesy: Creative Commons
Located in the Sholapur district of Maharashtra, Shetpal is known as the ‘Land of Snakes’. Every house in this village has a resting place for cobras and yet there has been no reported case of a snakebite to this day. The cobras here move freely in the village, are worshiped and taken care of by the villagers in honor of Shiva.
Roopkund, also known as the Skeleton Lake is a high altitude glacial lake known for its numerous human skeletons found in and around the water body. The human skeletons date back to ninth century AD and were rediscovered around 1942. According to legends, the skeletons are of the king of Kanauj, Raja Jasdhaval and his entourage that was killed on its way to the Nanda Devi shrine. However, the remnants belonging to over 30o people have been found here indicate that 70 per cent of them have a kinship with Iran.
6. Living root bridges, Cherrapunji
Fondly known as the ‘double-decker root bridge’, the living roots of Cherrapunji can carry over 50 people at a time and is around 100 ft long. With a life span of over 500 years, these roots take around 15-20 years to become fully functional. Made up of rubber trees, the bridge is taken care of by the locals of Nongriat and is the only one of its kind around the world.
7. Village with no doors, Shani Shingnapur
In some places faith is stronger than logic. Shani Shingnapur, famously referred to as the village without doors, is located in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. Known for its famous Shani Devasthan, it is believed that lord Shani, the ruler of Saturn protects the village and his devotees. It is said that there hasn’t been a single reported incident of any major robbery in this village and anyone doing so is punished in some way or the other. To this day, not a single out of the 4,000-odd houses here has a door attached to its entrance. What’s more, the local branch of the United Commercial (UCO) Bank has chosen to not have any locks on their doors, making it the first lock-free bank in the country.
8. Sulabh International Toilet Museum, Delhi
Established in 1982 by the Sulabh International committee, The Sulabh International Museum is dedicated to global sanitation. Time magazine also counts it among the weirdest museums in India even as it exhibits the evolution of toilets in over 50 countries across the globe, with artifacts collected from 300 BC till the 21st century.
9. Sati Handprints, Mehrangarh Fort, Rajasthan
The practice of Sati dates back to ancient eras, when widows would voluntarily jump into fire to honor their dead husbands. On an iron gate of the Mehrangarh Fort, lie 15 hand prints belonging to the wives of Maharaja Man Singh that date back to 1843. The hand prints were inscribed right before the women performed Sati after the death of Man Singh. After years today, the imprints of time still remain embedded on the walls of Mehrangarh.
10. Loktak Lake, Manipur
The Loktak lake in Manipur is famously known as the ‘Floating Lake’ due to the large amount of floating Phumdis found on its surface. Phumdis is heterogeneous mass of soil, vegetation and organic material. The lake also houses the world’s largest floating national park, Keibul Namjao, and is an important source to generate hydropower.