Yesterday there was an article in the Guardian, bakers and chefs in the southern state of Kerala had baked what they said was the world’s longest cake at (approx.) 6.5kms, I suppose the actual length depends on how many hungry people there wer around! But it got me thinking, where in the world can you find the tallest, highest, wettest, most gruesome, most haunted oh and most bizarre destinations? India of course!
Let’s face it, one thing that is guaranteed about India is that it will always surprise and never more so when it comes to the bizarre, it’s what is so fascinating and endearing about her, in spite of the chaos and frustrations, that she also throws out indiscriminately.
So, in a country, that has built the world’s longest cake, where there is a temple dedicated to a motorbike and where butterflies can be bigger than birds, what else can there be that is globally taller, higher and more bizarre? Well, dear readers, nip off and make a cuppa, come back, settle down and I’ll tell you…..
World’s Tallest Statue.
Yes, I figured I’d get the most controversial one out of the way first, the newly built 182m high bronze clad Statue of Unity in Gujarat. It is located between the Satpura and the Vindhya mountain ranges near Kevadia town in Gujarat. It towers over China’s Spring Temple Buddha statue by 29 metres and the world famous Statue of Liberty by 89 metres. The height alone of the base of Statue of Unity is 58 metres. Four high-speed lifts are fitted in the statue’s legs. Each lift can carry 26 people to the top in just above 30 seconds to the viewing platform. When I say that it’s controversial, it cost Rs 2,989 crore to build (421,449,000.00 USD or GBP323,462,107.00 which many people think is money that could have been better spent.
World’s tallest flying bird.
The beautiful and surprisingly graceful Sarus Crane is the world’s tallest flying bird, with an average height of 1.8m (5 ft 9). They are non-migratory and can be found in: Uttar Pradesh (they are even the state bird there!) including Chambal (near Agra), Corbett National Park and occasionally in Bhratatpur. However, they are not limited to parks as such and I have seen them whilst driving to Lucknow and Corbett from the highway.
World’s Highest Diversity of wildcats.
Yes, I love this fact! In India has 15, one five, fifteen species of wild cats, that’s more than double the species found in Africa (just over double, they have 7). These species are: leopard, snow leopard, clouded leopard, jungle cat, pallas’s cat, caracal, fishing cat, rusty spotted cat, Asiatic lion, Indian desert cat, Eurasian Lynx, Asian golden cat, leopard cat, marbled cat and last but never ever least, the Royal Bengal Tiger. Well done India!
World’s Highest Golf Course.
Yes, India also has what has been declared officially as the Yak Course in Kupup, East Sikkim, India. At 13,025ft (3790m) it is the highest 18 hole golf course in the world, officially measured on October 10 2006 by the Guinness World Records.
World’s Highest Tea Plantation:
The Kolukkumalai Tea Estate, around 38km from Munnar, just across the border in Tamil Nadu, is perched at 8,100ft above sea level which makes it the highest tea plantation in the world. Set up by the British back in the 1930s, its tea factory still uses the original equipment, and processes its tea the old-fashioned way, its orthodox not CTC making it the The World’s Highest Grown Orthodox Tea.
Highest Density of Tigers:
It is estimated that approximately 5500 tigers remain globally in the wild of which just under 3500 are in India scattered throughout its national parks. Kaziranga claims to have the highest density, Bandhavgarh is traditionally where the best sightings occur, I have to admit to Kanha being my favourite.
The Wettest Place on Earth!
Mawsynram and nearby Cherrapunji in India, both located in Meghalaya State are the two wettest places on earty. Mawsynram receives an annual rainfall of 11,871 millimeters making it now officially the wettest place in the world. Cherrapunji, located only 15 kilometers from Mawsynram, is now the second wettest place in the world receiving an annual rainfall of 11,777 millimeters. But, housing both of them, it’s safe to say that Meghalaya wins the accolade of being the wettest region of the world! Pack your brolly.
The World’s Most Buoyant Nature Reserve
In fact the world’s only floating nature reserve.
Located in Manipur, Keibul Lamjao is made up of 40 sq. km. of wetland interspersed with floating ‘islands’ called phumdi. These are created by mats of decaying vegetation which float on the lake and on which grow tall reeds, grasses and plants up to 15ft high. The area is home to the endangered brow-antlered deer or sangai, also fondly called Manipur’s dancing deer because of its delicate gait as it negotiates its way along these floating islets.
Moving on to just a bit of fun, we take a look at not the ‘worlds most; but some fun places unique to this fascinating country:
The Most Gruesome – Village of Headhunters
The tattood Konyak Tribe, of Nagaland, until as recently as 1969 had a reputation of being fierce warriors who often attacked nearby villages of other tribes and took the heads of opposing warriors. Those who returned home with the heads would be revered as it was believed that the human heads exuded a mystical force that would bring prosperity and benefit local crops. The elaborate tattoos are also an intrinsic part of the culture of this tribe; warriors received facial tattoos when they brought back a decapitated head and the women’s tattoos reflected the cycle of life where crucial life events were reflected by tattoos on the body. For more on this https://tattooedheadhunters.com/
Most Bizarre Temples:
The Rat Temple, also known as the Karni Mata Temple: is a Hindu temple, 30 km from Bikaner, in Rajasthan, India which is teeming with, and when I say ‘teeming’ I do mean teaming with over 20,000 rats. They are, quite simply, everywhere. Running, climbing, gorging, snoozing and generally running riot, at random wherever they see fit, and this can mean over your feet. Yes, it is a place to avoid if you are remotely squeamish or aren’t partial to hanging out with thousands of rodents, bearing in mind, this being a temple, you can only enter in bare feet!
Amitabh Bachchan Temple: Big B the god of Bollywood. If you have every seen the fervour with which Bollywood idols are revered in India, it will come as no surprise that there is a temple dedicated to Big B in Calcutta. This temple, built in 2001, is also considered a museum as it also has a collection of his belongings. Given that it is a temple in his honour, it should come as no surprise that the walls are also covered with pictures of the actor. If ever there was a place to go an immerse yourself in the aura of Big B, this is it!
Bullet Baba: A temple dedicated to a motorbike! Yes, you read that right…. For more on this: https://memsahibinindia.com/2019/11/20/snapshots-a-motorbike-temple/
Most Bizarre Museum:
The Toilet Museum, Delhi: A most unusual museum which has a unique and quite comprehensive collection of toilets, perhaps more toilet facts than you’ve ever wanted to know, pictures of toilets and objects detailing the historic evolution of toilets from 2500 BC to the present day. It provides a chronological account of developments relating to toilet technology, toilet related social customs and toilet etiquette through the ages. Why would you go anywhere else?
And while we’re on the subject of toilets, let’s take a look at a couple of bizarre restaurants:
Most Bizarre restaurants
Toilet Garden Cafe, Ahmedabad
Yes, if you can believe it? A restaurant with over 20 urinals and toilets which date back to the 1950s. Its not just a gimmick, the aim of its founder Ishwarbhai Patel, whose life’s mission was to promote the need for good sanitation and create awareness for the need for good personal hygiene, is to do just that! This is important in a country where (according to a study in 2015) more than half the rural population of India still don’t have access to toilets and therefore has to defecate in the open. The Toilet Garden is open two days a week and is manned by volunteers who will give you a guided tour of the different types of toilet, which is bound to cause an immature snigger or two, or is that just me?
A Graveyard Restaurant.
At the New Lucky Restaurant, Ahmedabad diners sit at tables placed around graves, I kid you not. According to the owner, Krishnan Kutti rather than disturb the graves, he chose to preserve the coffins and place his tables around them claiming it was good for business as ‘It gives people a unique experience.’ Around a dozen graves lay inside the restaurant and have been sealed off by iron grills. Every morning, the first job of the day for the waiters is to wipe the gravestones and decorate them with fresh flowers. ‘It is important to respect the dead,’ said Kutti. And for the rest of the day, diners enjoy chai and pakoras amidst this most unique restaurant setting.
Most bizarre sport:
Bull Surfing: There’s surfing, kite surfing and now, there’s bull surfing, though I think the latter may have been around the longest of all. It is a sport which take place in the village of Anandapally, southern Kerala immediately after the harvest season. A pair of yoked bulls are sent charging down a football field-sized paddy field soaked ankle deep in water. Their handlers balanced on a wooden plank (behind the bulls, in case I needed to clarify), hang onto the tail (oh, no I didn’t!) or onto a harness, encourage the bulls to take off at a rate of knots and proceed to ‘surf’ through the mud. It’s not just for fun, if clinging for grim death onto the backend of a cow whilst being dragged through knee deep mud and water can be considered fun, it also results, rather cleverly in ploughing the fields, ready for planting!
According to research, ‘’Just like the professional jockeys, these participants are trained experts in bull handling. The oxen are specifically fed and trained just for the competition. They are also well groomed and have their horns polished, so they look their best before jumping in the mud.’
And ending with a little bit of cuteness.
The Sloth bear, indigenous to India (Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan) is the only bear species to carry its cubs on its back! I’ve seen them, in Satpura, and once instantly forgets that they are one of the most dangerous of all India’s wild animals, particularly when carrying their young!
And if you haven’t had quite enough of the unexpected: https://memsahibinindia.com/2019/08/31/tea-uses-id-never-dreamt-of/
Philippa is founder of Indian Experiences and author of Escape to India
With over 25 years of experience in selling truly tailored tours to these destinations, my team and I would be delighted to help.
A BehlJanuary 18, 2020 at 2:14 pm
Nice article and thanks for posting. One thing that you missed out was the world’s highest cricket pitch ??? That’s in Chail near Shimla. One more paragraph for this write up
Philippa KayeJanuary 25, 2020 at 8:27 am
How could I miss out cricket? !!
arv!January 18, 2020 at 2:57 pm
A great list, Phillipa!