What are the Indian symbols and their meaning?

Indian symbols define the history and culture of the country. Each symbol has significance and explains about the Indian culture. A list of National Symbols of India depicts the pride of the country.

When it comes to the national animal’s symbol, it chooses to be a tiger, which symbolizes power. Lotus is the national flower, which is known for its purity. On the other hand, the banyan tree is the national tree, which symbolizes immortality, and the bird is the peacock, which depicts the world about your elegance. Above all, mango is the national fruit, which represents the climatic condition of India. 

The country’s national song and anthem would draw inspiration for the freedom struggle that the country fought to get independence from the British rule. The national emblem where the four lions are standing back to back would represent the power, courage, pride, and confidence. The national game hockey is at its peak, and everyone loves this game in the country. 

How many national symbols of India are there?

The Republic of India has 17 national symbols. These symbols will depict the national identity and culture of India. Whenever people see these symbols, it reminds of India and the meaning of the symbol. There is a lot of pride that is filled in the heart of India by seeing the symbols. It evokes patriotism in everyone’s heart.

The significance of the Indian national symbols includes:

  1. Rich cultural fiber that is in the heart of the country
  2. Sense of pride in the heart of every citizen in the country
  3. Depict the unique qualities of Indian
  4. Delicious India cuisine which is loved by people globally
  5. Preserve the national symbol that passes this from one generation to another generation
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Ancient Indian Symbols

The ancient symbols represent the philosophies, teachings, Hindu gods, and goddesses. The National symbols of India’s images would have some hidden beliefs about the cosmos and mysteries that happened in the past, which may occur in the future. Here is the list of ancient Indian symbols and meanings. 

Kalachakra (Wheel of time)

It is the wheel of time and mostly used in Buddhism to represent the teachings of Buddha. It is the symbol of the creation of the world.

There are a total of eight spokes that you find in the Kalachakra, which would illustrate the direction of time. Each direction has a ruler, and there is a unique quality.

The powerful symbol will promote healing and peace in the world. The beautiful pattern is tough to understand but has a lot of hidden meaning in it. 

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It is the ancient Indian symbols, and their meaning gives the actual reality of the universe. It is the symbol of ancient times used by Hindus. When it was first created, it has three letters, AUM. The sound of this word would spread out to the whole universe.

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It is the mantra for the high power and is the blend of many Syllables in Sanskrit. Everyone will use OM in the prayers and recite loudly. The meaning of the mantra is MA means the soul, and TRA means protection or the lead.

Out of all the Mantras, OM is the critical one. It represents three crucial aspects of Gods, A (The Brahma), U (The Vishnu), and M is (the Shiva). It is the symbol used in Tantra Yoga and Ashtanga yoga


He is the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati. It is another ancient symbol which is considered as the Elephant God by Hindus. He is power in every human being and is the God who helps you to get rid of obstacles and drive you towards Dharma.

He is the Lord of schools and scribes and has also fought many demons and negative forces. Ganesha helps you to take a smooth path without any obstacles on your way. Everyone bestows the blessings of this God in every work you do, to attain success. 

Banyan tree

You can find this tree in every temple. It is divine and sacred that lasts longer and is fertile. Devotees worship Braham in this form. The Lord Vishnu is found to be in the bark of the tree. It is also known to be the tree of all the three Gods. 

The Brahma would live in the roots and Shiva in branches. The origins of the tree would grow in different directions, which can survive longer and even for centuries. Many saints are enlightened by sitting under this tree. This tree is immoral in scriptures. 

Sri Chakra

It is the sacred geometry used for devotion, mediation, and worship from thousands of years. Nine interlocking triangles would have a central point. The four upright triangles would depict the masculine side, and the five inverted triangles would represent the feminine, which is Shakti.

These nine interlocking triangles will have 40 small triangles. This is the home for each deity, which has a specific reason for existence.

The Sri Yantra would depict Mount Meru, which is known to be the Cosmic Mountain and is the center of the universe. It is also a place where everything becomes one in the world. 


It is one of the ancient symbols in India and is also scared of Hindus. The four directions of the Swastika would represent four points of a compass. It relates to life, peace, and good luck and revolves around the sun and fire.

You can find this symbol in the rock and cave paintings in India. The emblem would also represent purity, stability, honesty, and truth. It is the mark that one would draw on the new homes and new account books.

The merchant mark

The East India Company did not trade much in East Indian but dealt with the Indian sub-continent and China in different commodities such as salt, tea, dye, opium, silk, and cotton. The government has no share in the East Indian Company and has very little control over its business operations.

The London trading in the East Indies has developed a series of symbols to showcase their identity.

They designed the Balemark, which allows one to identify the parcel when it arrives at the port and is sold on the trading floor.

The symbol has been evolving since the 1700s. It is in the heart shape and has the initial letters of the company.

The merchant mark of East India company
The East India Company's Merchant's Mark

The symbol is called the chop, which means stamp. It shows the products of the East Indian Company and is also a symbol of quality. It is one of the famous Indian signs and symbols.

The Coat of Arms

The Coat of Arms if East India company

It is another symbol of the East Indian Company, which was designed under the guidance of Queen Elizabeth. It is the symbol of confidence and would represent the royal patronage. 


Garuda is the emblem that is chosen by the Gupta rulers. You can find this on the Dhwajas. It also shows that they are the followers of Lord Vishnu.

Besides, Garuda is the chariot of Lord Shiva. Later, Dhwaja has become the royal symbol that is put by the troop while battling.

Garuda symbol of India
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Dhwajas and Patakas

Dhvaja, roof of Sanga monastery, Lhasa, Tibet.

These are the two symbols used by the Maurya dynasty in 322 BC, which originated from Magadha. The army used these symbols.

The Patakas are used in festoons. The Dhwajas are found on the chariots of the warriors.

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Famous Indian symbols

National bird

Peacock is the national bird of India and is also its pride. The bird is declared the national bird of India in 1963 as it is a part of Indian culture.

The grace and beauty depict what the country is about. Another reason for choosing peacock as the national bird is to witness this bird in many places across India.

On top of it, many people are familiar with this bird. There is no other country that has peacock as their national bird. It met all the requirements and, therefore, is declared as the national bird. 

Peacock symbol in India
Peacock in Hindu mythology
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National animal

Tiger is the Lord of the Jungle, and this showcases the wildlife treasure of the country. It has all the crucial aspects, such as strength and power.

The Bengal tiger is known as the country’s national animal in 1973 to protect tigers in India. Before this, Lion was the national animal of the country. 

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A tiger in the wilds of India

National anthem

Rabindranath Tagore composed the national anthem in the Bengali language on January 24, 1950. However, this song has received a massive backlash from the other non-Hindu communities. Yet, finally, Jana Gana Mana is embraced as the national anthem. 

Lotus, the national flower

The lotus flower has a significant impact on Hindu mythology and is the symbol of the goddess Laxmi. It also represents wealth and prosperity. The best thing is that this flower would grow in the murky water with the long stalk beyond the water, and the flower would be on the top

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Lotus in India
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The lotus is known for its purity, and despite staying in the impure water, it remains pure. It is the symbol of fate, purity, and achievement and is the National flower of India.

National fruit

Mangoes are the national fruit of India. There are many places where this fruit is cultivated across India. Many poets in ancient times described the deliciousness of this fruit in their poetry. Indeed, the Mughal emperor Akbar has planted around 1,000,000 mango trees in the country and near Lakhi Bagh. 

National song

Bankimchandra Chatterjee writes the national song of the country. The writing of the song is inspired by many of the freedom fighters who fought for the country. It has become the national anthem of India, i.e., Vande Mataram.

However, there is a lot of backlashes that are received from the non-Hindu community in India. The communities were in the assumption that Durga Maa in the song would represent the whole nation. Due to this reason, it is made as to the national song rather than the national Anthem.

National flag

The national flag is rectangular and has three colors: deep saffron, white, and green with the Ashoka Chakra, a wheel. The same was announced as the National flag on July 22, 1947, due to the assembly meeting. It is the tricolor flag, which was designed by Pingali Venkayya. It is hoisted on Independence and Republic days. These are also the India holidays.

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National gane

The national game of India is hockey, and is quite popular in the country. It is the national game that is played globally. The game has huge popularity in the country and was played from 1928 to 1956.

This period is the golden era for this game. There is no distinction in the talent, so it is named the country’s national game. India has played hockey 24 times in the Olympics and won all of these games. 

National tree

The Banyan tree, which was already mentioned in this article, is the country’s national tree, and its branches are spread across neatly. Its branches and roots would represent the unity of the country. It is a massive structure and has roots across. 

Another name, i.e., Kalpavriksha, also call it. It is the tree that fulfills all your wishes. The tree has rich medical value and will stay for a longer period.

The tree also gives shelter to many animals and birds. It also represents different religions, castes, and races in the country. 

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National Emblem

The capital of Ashoka is made as to the National Emblem of the country. Four lions are standing back to back in a circular manner. The abacus is etched with the Elephant, horse, bull, and a lion. The wheels segregate these all. It stands on the inverted lotus flower that is bloomed. 

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Ashoka chakra in India
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National river

The national river of India is Ganga. It is considered the sacred river on the planet, and that is in India by Hindus. Many rituals are performed on the banks of this river. India’s famous cities, such as Allahabad, Varanasi, and Hardiwar, have this river flowing over 2510 km of mountains, valleys, and plains. It is also known as the longest river in the country.

National currency

The India rupee is the national currency of India. The flow of the currency is governed and controlled by the Reserve Bank of India. The symbol of Rupee is derived from the Devanagari consonant. The Rupee got its name after the silver one called rupiya. This is made under the rule of the Sultan Sher Shah Suri in the 16th century, and the Mughal Empire follows the same. 

National Heritage animal

The national heritage animal of India is an Elephant. The Elephant sub-species in the Asian region are listed as an endangered animal by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. You can spot this animal in four different areas of the country.

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Elephants in India live in both wildlife and human service

National Aquatic animal

The national aquatic animal is Dolphin that is known as the Ganges River Dolphin. It is found living in the Ganges, Meghna, and Brahmaputra. You can also spot this aqua animal in Sangu and Kamaphuli of India. The Dolphin is blind and would live only in the freshwaters. 

National Reptile

The national reptile of the country is King Cobra, which is of length 18.5 to 18.8 feet. You can find this poisonous snake in the forest areas of Southeast Asia. It feeds on lizards, snakes, and rodents. However, it is considered sacred by Hindus. You can find Indian national symbols images with ease online. 

India religion symbols


OM is the symbol of Hinduism. It is made using the Sanskrit letters, a, u, and m. These all letters come together to make the sound of OM, which is infinite. The music would represent all the three Gods, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. 

These would, in turn, represent heaven, earth, and the other critical traits. It is the word that is used by many Hindus while offering prayers. They also use this in every task or every task or their journey. It is also an Asian craft.

The Khanda

It is the symbol used by Sikhism. It is known as a coat of arms. Three critical components are used to represent the concept of Sikhism. The double-edged sword in the symbol would represent the divine knowledge that would separate trust from the false. 

The Khanda is in the form of a circle with no beginning and end, symbolizing God. The two curvy swords are known as Kirpans, representing the two concepts of Meeri and Peeri that are introduced by Guru Hargobind. 

The cross

It is the symbol of Christianity, and it indicates salvation. The cross would remind everyone of the resurrection and on which Jesus is nailed. It tells all of the sacrifice made by Jesus.


It is the symbol in Islam, which visually represents Islam, which is Allah’s sacred name in the Arabic script. Allah is God in Arabic.

Indian cultural symbols

Many sacred symbols have a lot of hidden meaning in India. These symbols took birth from Hindu philosophy, Vedas, and epics. It is also the epitome of Indian culture. The symbols have remained the same for years together. You can find the Indian national symbols pictures online. 


OM is sacred and is the gateway for all religions and scriptures. Everyone would utter the sound Om, which is the sound through which the universe is born. When you chant this word, it gives immense power and quivering sensation from within. It is used in Yoga to reap Yoga benefits


It is the religious symbol in India that has four legs bent at the 90-degree angle. It is the auspicious symbol that is used in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. It is born from the Sanskrit word lucky and auspicious.


It is a non-verbal type of communication and a way to express oneself with the figures’ hand gestures and postures. The gestures are widely used in Buddhist sculptures and paintings. These are used by the monks while carrying out the meditation rituals and concentration, and it is considered the force that would evoke the deity.

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Rudraksha Mala

It is the sacred beads that Hindus uses, and the meaning of the word Rudra in Sanskrit is fearsome, and Aksha is teardrops. The trees from which these beads are produced are found in the Himalayan region and the coastal areas. These are in spherical shapes and have many faces.

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It is the weapon of Lord Shiva and has three spears. It is a weapon that is made using iron or brass. The outer spears are curvy, and the middle one is sharp and longer than the other two. Trishul is one of the Buddhist symbols.


Deepam or oil lamps made of clay or metal will have a cotton wick that is dipped in the oil. The Jain, Hindus, Sikh, and Zoroastrians would light diyas during the festivals and ceremonies. 

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India site symbols

There are many Indian iconic symbols that you find in this majestic country in every nook and cranny. The ancient structure and monuments are India’s pride and depict its strength, battles, and bravery. When you see India through the eye of a foreigner, it makes you feel nostalgic. 

Taj Mahal

It is the historical site symbol of India and is the epitome of love. There is a lot of history behind the construction behind this wonder. The marble structure was constructed way back in 1632 by Shah Jahan for his late wife, Mumtaz. It is the best place to travel to India

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Agra fort

It is another India site symbol that explains the rich history of the Mughal dynasty. It is built with the red sandstone in 1565 by Akbar, and today is one of the prominent tourist and historical places in the country. There are many palaces, mosques, and courts in this fort. You must travel to India to visit this beautiful place with a great history. 

Red fort

It is constructed for around ten years and is one of the Indian site symbols. The construction was done from 1638 to 1648. Shah Jahan also constructs it. The octagonal fort is the place where the President would give a speech on every Independence Day.

Qutub Minar

It is the first Muslim Kingdom in North India and is the best symbol of Indo-Muslim architecture made of red sandstone. There are verses from the Quran on this Minar, and it would be in Arabic and Nagari. You must travel to India to witness the beauty of this place. 

India political party symbols

There are many political parties in India. Each party has a logo that represents their values and origin.

The Indian election symbols and parties’ names would base on their objective criteria. It also helps the voter identify the party to which they can vote on the Electronic voting machine.

All India Trinamool Congress (TMC)
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
Indian election symbols and parties names
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)
India National Congress (INC)
Communist party of India (CPI-M - Marxist)
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)
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Communist Party Of India (CPI)

India flag symbol

Every country has its national flag, which signifies that it is a free country.

Colors of the flag

The national flag has three colors, while the top band of the flag is saffron, which would represent the strength and courage. The middle group is white, representing peace and truth, and the last band has a green color, which would symbolize fertility, auspiciousness, and growth. 


The wheel of the law is made in the 3rd century by Mauryan Emperor Ashoka. The Chakra will clearly state that there is life in the movement of the wheel and death resembles stagnation

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India Animal symbols


It is considered to be sacred, and Hindus worship the cow. This animal is hugely respected in the country and is considered as the Bhoomi, the Hindu goddess. The cow would represent the earth. Many respect these animals for the kind nature and strength. It is one of the Hindu symbols.


The Bengal tiger is the national animal of India. It is the most famous and widely found cat species in the country. These can kill animals with their powerful paws and are known for their strength and courage.


There are different species of birds you can see in India. Many are Indian roller, stunning little birds, which are a part of the roller family. You can also find owls, woodpeckers, and water birds.


The elephants in Asian are in different sizes compared to the ones in the African countries. You can spot the elephants in the Corbett national park.

India vegetation symbols

The Indian vegetation has flowers, fruits, and vegetables. When it comes to the flowers, it has religious significance. The popular flowers in India include:


It is the flowering plant that you can find in India and used for worship.

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India Lotus

India’s national flower is grown in the murky water and is also the state flower of many states in India. One can use this flower for ornamental and medicinal purposes. 

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Lotus, India national symbol


It is the edible flowering plant that is used for worship in the Indian temples. It is grown in different colors.

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Hibiscus, flower symbol of India
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India fruits symbols

India is the second-largest producer of fruits globally. There are a wide variety of fruits grown in different parts of India. 

Nagpur Orange

These oranges are widely grown in Nagpur and twice every year. The harvesting is done in December.

India fruits symbols
Nagpur Orange

Nanjanagud Banana

It is grown in Karnataka and is known for its aroma and taste.

India fruit symbol
Nanjanagud Banana

Ratnagiri Alphonso mango

India’s national fruit is mango, and it is one of the varieties that is grown in India in various districts of Maharashtra. 

India vegetable symbols


The pumpkin is the national vegetable of India that is used to prepare savory and sweet dishes. It is suitable for health and heart. The popular dish that is made in India with this vegetable is Petha. 


It is the fiber-rich vegetable that is widely had in India, and there are different varieties of dishes prepared with it. It is available in various sizes and colors.

India vegetables symbol
Brinjal/Baingan - Fiber-rich vegetable


It is the root vegetable with white layers and will be in white, red, and yellow. People eat it raw or are cooked and made into several dishes.

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Indian onion in the market

India warriors

India is known for its courage and strength when it comes to fighting with the enemies. Many great rulers made our head high in front of others. Many kingdoms have ruled different parts of India and introduced the best administrative system, tax system, and other innovative things. It is the Ancient history of India.

Chandragupta Maurya

He is the founder of the Maurya dynasty and is known to be the greatest warrior. Chandragupta Maurya ruled from 340 BC to 298 BC. He is a famous warrior in India. The man successfully conquered many subcontinents in India, except the Tamil regions and the latest state Odisha. He ruled Bengal to Afghanistan to Himalayas and Kashmir and also the Deccan Plateau.


He is the great warrior, and when one thinks of a warrior, the first name strikes for everyone are Shivaji. Shivaji successfully implemented civil rule with the help of the military, and his administration department is well-organized. He is powerful and has defeated many larger kingdoms and powerful enemies. He is the inspiration to the Indian military.

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Maharana Pratap

He is the Mewar Kingdom ruler, who fought many wars and conquered the powerful Kingdoms in the country. Every time Akbar sends people for the diplomatic alliance, he never accepted the suzerainty of Akbar.

Prithvi Raj Chauhan

He is known to be the greatest warrior of India and so the world. He took over the throne at the age of 13 in Ajmer in 1179 after this father’s death in a battle. After knowing Prithvi’s courage and bravery, his grandfather, who was the ruler of Delhi, declared him the King of Ajmer. 

India wedding symbols

Different symbols are used at the wedding, starting from the wedding card to the bride, who will adorn different things after getting married.

Lord Ganesha

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The symbol is printed on the wedding card, which symbolizes happiness and prosperity. God is known to be the head of knowledge, wealth, and education.

He will remove all the obstructions that one would experience on occasion, even on Diwali

Mangal Ghat

The symbol represents purity and sanctity. It has a water pot that is covered with the coconut upside down with mango leaves. It indicates a good omen. 


The pallbearers would carry the Doli on the shoulders. It indicates harmony and would represent the sacred style of the Indian wedding. 

India wedding symbols
Reminiscences of Imperial Delhi Bridal Dohleh


It is the garland ceremony that is celebrated in the Hindu culture. It gives a grand welcome for the new couple to the new life.

India death symbols

Death is the end of one’s life. There are different traditions followed in every culture. The symbols of death include skull, tombstones, grave, and coffin.

If some family member dies, Christians will use the cross symbol on the grave; it reminds of Jesus’ crucifixion. In Buddhism, the wheel symbol would represent the death and rebirth in the Samsara. You can find the symbols of India pictures of death online. 

India currency symbols

The symbol of the Indian currency is Rupee. It is internationally recognized to carry out the money transactions and holds economic strength. The emblem is the blend of Devanagari Ra and Roman Capital R with two horizontal and vertical stripes representing the national flag and the equal sign. The Indian government embraced this sign on July 15, 2010. Udaya Kumar designs it. 

India currency symbols
Indian Rupee

India sport symbols

Hockey is the national sport of the country. Cricket is another game everyone will play in their streets, ground, and stadiums in the country. More than hockey, people show interest in watching cricket matches.

Indian symbols for peace

From the ancient to the modern times, a white dove is used as a symbol of peace. In India, people will fly the dove to represent that they want peace in the country. The dove symbol is thought to be the symbols for protection and peace

India symbol of peace
India's symbol of peace

Indian Symbols for love

These are the symbols for India used for love. 

Taj Mahal

It is considered as the symbol of Love in India. Shah Jahan constructs it for his beloved wife, Mumtaz. It has gained the privilege of the international emblem of love. It is a glorious monument representing how the king has kept the promise made to the queen for a lifetime. 

India symbol of Love, the Taj Mahal


The aroma produced by these beautiful flowers is considered to be the Hindu symbol of love. It is believed to be originated in the Himalayas and is sacred. Many Hindu goddesses would adorn this garland where the white petals would signify the purity. 

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The young boy holding the bow with an arrow is used to pierce the heart of the people so that they fall in deep love. It is used as a symbol of love.

India symbols of good luck

Every culture has a different good luck charm. Few charms are lucky and bring a lot o good fortune for them. There are animals to buttons and coins being used as good luck symbols of India images. 


When a sparrow builds a nest in the home, it gives a sign of good fortune. You do not have to worry about the clutter created by the sparrow as it will bring you a lot of luck.

India symbol of good luck
Sparrow, brings good luck


There is a belief that if you spot the Elephant when you are on a journey, it will bring you a lot of success. Many people consider the Elephant to be the Hindu deity, Ganesha. The symbol of the Elephant is intelligence, strength, and solitude.

Shooting star

When you see a shooting star, you can wish for something, and it is going to fulfill for sure. Shooting stars indicate that Gods are paying attention to hear your wishes.

Four Leaf Clovers

The four-leaf clovers are rare to find, and it brings a lot of luck to the people. You can do this Handcrafted mandala in your free time

Laughing Buddha

The laughing is a belief that brings Good luck at home. It also relieves you from the stress in relationships and promotes professional growth. 

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India all state symbols

Andhra Pradesh

  • Blackbuck
  • Indian Roller
  • Neem
  • Water lily

Arunachal Pradesh

  • Mithun
  • Great Hornbill
  • Hollong
  • Foxtail Orchid


  • Indian One-horned Rhino
  • White-winged Wood Duck
  • Hollong
  • Foxtail Orchid


  • Gaur
  • Indian Roller
  • Peepal
  • Kachnar


  • Wild Buffalo
  • Hill Myna
  • Sal
  • Indian Laurel


  • Nilgai
  • House sparrow
  • Gulmohar
  • Alfalafa


  • Gaur
  • Black Crested Bulbul
  • Matti
  • Plumeria Rubra


Asiatic Lion

Greater Flamingo


Marigold (Galgota)


  • Elephant
  • Great Hornbill
  • Coconut
  • Kanikonna/Golden Shower Tree


  • Giant Squirrel
  • Green Imperial Pigeon
  • Mango
  • Jarul


  • Blackbuck
  • Northern Goshawk
  • Sheesham
  • Gladious


  • Chinkara
  • Indian Bustard
  • Khejri
  • Rohira

Tamil Nadu

  • NilgiriTahr
  • Emerald Dove
  • Palmyra Palm
  • Kandhal


  • Spotted Deer
  • Indian Roller
  • Shami
  • Tanner’s Cassia

West Bengal

  • Fishing cat
  • White-throated King Fisher
  • Devil’s Tree
  • Shephali

Uttar Pradesh

  • Swamp Deer
  • Sarus Crane
  • Ashok
  • Brahm Kamal

Indian alphabet symbols

Devanagari is the alphabet name and is used in Hindi, Sanskrit, and other languages in India. The Devanagari is pronounced as ‘Dave a nuggery.’ It is the most common language from which many other languages have originated. The letters are round and squared over being rectangular. 


It is the alphabet that is used by Punjabis. It looks similar to Devanagari, but there are a few letters that would look like mechanical claws.

Assamese and Bengali

These languages will have the letters that would point towards the left and would have squiggles. The Assamese language has a triangle having a second line inside.


The script looks like the free flow of Devanagari but does not have a cross line on the top. The hook would flow like a letter G on the top with an upside-down letter J.


This language has a lot of circles. It is the south Indian language that looks like the Latin alphabet. Many letters would be symmetrical in shape with lots of loops and bumps.

India symbols malayalam
Collage malayalam letters


The symbol ಠ is like the letter T. many other letters would have an eyebrow on the top.


It is the script language with letters like balloons, and some would be in the shape of m.


The letters would be in the box shape and have loops. Many letters look like they have a T letter in them.


There are echoes on each letter, and there is a curved line right to the curved letter.

Indian symbols tattoo

The most widely tattooed symbols in India include:

  1. Ohm
  2. Sri Yantra
  3. Henna
  4. Lord Shiva
  5. Ganesha
  6. Lotus flower
  7. Hamsa
  8. Mandala 
  9. Unalome
  10. Elephant 
  11. Tribal design
  12. American Indian warrior
  13. Peacock feather
  14. Feathers with birds
  15. Floral 
  16. Feathers
  17. Flag
  18. God 
  19. Gautama Buddha
  20. Trishul of Shiva

The motivation for Action in Rural India

“No Matter Where We Are Born We All Have Equal Rights to Dreams, Achieve & Prosper “

Can you think of a world where children are not able to have a two times meal a day, a woman still uses cloths on their menstrual days and young school goers are not given a quality basic education.

India vs China—Who’s going to be the number one?

India and China – the two Asian giants – are world famous for their ancient architectural wonders, population, lead influence in the worldwide trade war, greatest military powers, and the front-line racers in the evolving phase of global supremes.

The Uniqueness of India Culture

"India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great-grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only."

Mark Twain, American author Tweet

As an Israeli who has visited India several, both for business and for sightseeing purposes, and as someone who has studied India’s history and Indian culture in-depth, I have a different perspective than Indians living there. Surely, Indians ask themselves what our India is famous for, so this list represents India’s outsider perspective.

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You can consider some of it as Indian cultural facts. India is a very unique and complex civilization, one of the main pillars of East Asian Cultures. One that is not easy to understand but very easy to experience.

One can experience India for a few life cycles without really getting to the bottom of everything..

It’s a huge sub-continent with a wonderful landscape, a huge population, a very ancient history, and an amazingly rich culture.

India is one of the most special places in the world. Anyone who has visited India feels it as soon as he/she lands in it. The uniqueness is expressed in many forms: through the people, their culture, the landscape, their customs, and the festivals.

I chose some of the most prominent attributes that make the Indian culture special. The list of what makes India so special is neither absolute nor is it final. I would love to hear other people’s comments, ideas, and feedback; then, I will update the list accordingly

Most Unique Things In India Culture

Please note that the features in the list are not prioritized according to their level of importance or uniqueness. Let’s get started, shall we?

1. Spoken languages in India

India is the country with the highest number of languages in the world. Studies have shown that there are about 1,000 languages that are spoken in India. There are relatively small geographical land cells that contain dozens of different languages.

An interesting example of the language variations can be found on the 2000-rupee bill, which contains the words “2000 rupees” in 15 different languages.

about India culture
15 Languages on one bill

It’s worth noting that English is more prevalent in India than in other East Asian countries, making it more convenient for tourists and business travelers. The high prevalence can be attributed to due to the previous British colonial regime.

2. Cows everywhere

This is part of Indian traditions and unique phenomena that do not exist anywhere else in the world. The cow symbolizes the land and the solvency. It is also a symbol of the mother of all gods. According to Hindu belief, the body of the cow contains 330 million gods.

Cows and kids, the best combination

This symbolism makes the cow a very sacred animal whose consumption is forbidden. Cows roam freely in India. They can be seen in the courtyards of the peoples’ houses, in the squares, and some resting in the highway center.

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3. Vegan food

Vegan food can be found in many food joints. In other countries, vegan dishes are usually the side dishes and not as the main meal. If someone orders a dish of roast potatoes or salad, it will usually be vegan, but the main course will usually consist of meat, a combination of meat with milk.

My boy enjoying Dhal Bat

In India, vegan food is the norm in Indian Cuisine. Here there are very many vegan dishes that are very nutritional despite being devoid of any animal products. This, of course, makes India a haven for vegetarians and vegans.

4. The oldest cities in the world

In the Hindu valley, which is the cradle of Hindu culture, ancient cities are as old as 3500-4000 years.

Harappa ruins, most ancient cities in the world

The two most famous cities are Harappa and Mohenjo Drew. These cities contained tens of thousands of inhabitants and were incredibly advanced. The construction of the houses, the drainage of the water, the sewer systems, the urban planning, and the public facilities have been ahead of their time for many years.

Even though the Indus Valley is now not part of India, it definitely played an integral part in the Hindu culture. Today it is part of Pakistan, but for about 4,000 years, it was part of India, and it should be considered part of Indian culture uniqueness.

5. Marijuana-flavored Cigarettes

India smoking culture - Dibi cigarets

I can’t guarantee that these cigarettes only exist in India, but I have never seen them anywhere else globally, and trust me, I have been to many different countries.

Bidi cigarettes look like handmade cigarettes with a taste of marijuana.

They’re quite affordable, with each ranging between 15-20 rupees.

6. Huge markets

I have been to many markets worldwide and noticed that the largest ones are usually in East Asia. The largest of them all is in Chinatown. Bangkok’s Chinatown is a huge marketplace with endless stalls and people.

Of course, there are big markets in China (sure, I have not seen them all), London, Tokyo, New York, and other places.

what makes India unique
Most unique in India

Still, I have not seen a market come close to Chandni Chowk regarding density and diversity. This market is in old Delhi.

When I checked Google for the largest or most crowded markets globally, Chandni Chowk did not make it to the top 10 list, yet of all the markets of Istanbul, Bangkok, and Tokyo that I visited, none of them reached the density and load of Chandni Chowk.

7. Dhobi Ghat - The largest laundry in the world

Dhobi Ghat can be described in many words, but until you visit it, you wouldn’t understand the description well enough.

This laundromat in Mumbai was built in 1890 and is the largest laundry in the world. The laundromat operates between 18 and 20 hours a day and has about 7000 employees in various departments related to laundry and ironing.

Indian cultural objects
what makes Indian culture unique
why India is unique

Foreigners who come to visit can hire a local guide for a few hundred rupees and take a tour around the place. Dhobi Ghat’s main clients are hotels, clubs, and neighboring laundries. It is an incredibly amazing place to visit.

8. Indian culture food - Eat using your hands

Most people are keen to use forks and knives when they dine at their homes.  Eating using your bare hands is not considered hygienic, and so it rarely happens.

Well, in India you do not need to struggle with a fork and knife. In local restaurants, it is acceptable to eat using just your right hand.

All you’re required to do is to trim the fingernails of your right hand and in a sweeping motion, take rice, together with some sauce or dish, and then put it in your mouth. Some adults, find this technique quite difficult to get master but for children, it is as easy as a-b-c.

9. Special head movement

When you ask an Indian a question to which the response is positive, they answer “yes” as they shake their head as though they’re dancing using their head.

Anyone who sees this for the first time might get confused because while the response given by mouth is positive, the head’s movement looks like “no.” This head movement is tough to imitate.

The shaking of the head would make you think that the answer given was “no.” Some Westerners are really caught unawares and tend to repeat the question, to be clear. Again, they get a “yes” response accompanied by the “weird” head movement. With time, most foreigners eventually get used to it.

10. Buses and trains loaded with masses of passengers

The trains or buses in India are always crowded with people from all sides and directions. Funny enough, even in all the commotion, everyone still finds their own place and space. There is no tense atmosphere of urgency or argument. It seems that everyone is sitting together well. I can’t quite imagine a similar situation in another country. There would be chaos.

Let’s not forget the enormous luggage that goes on these buses and trains beyond what is acceptable.

11. Indian culture values - You are not being judged

It’s not something you see in India. This is something experienced in India. You feel it. I believe that Indians are the least judgemental people on earth.

Westerners usually grow up in a society that judges them, criticizes them. The society always dictates what is right and what is not.

In India, this is very different. The people here are filled with respect and do not judge. The atmosphere here allows you to be what you choose to be and do what you feel is right for you.

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12. Affection to small children

When you travel in Europe, you feel a sense of indifference towards the little children and apparently, this is not by chance. This population sees children as a burden and, therefore, they avoid having many babies (Europe’s population is shrinking and getting older) so the kids do not attract much attention.

good things about Indian culture
In Manikaran, kids are a competitive attraction

In the United States, there is a little more affection shown towards the children. However, it’s the polite affection which sometimes feels more of “politically correct” behavior.

East Asia has a great affection for children, a lot of attention. A feeling that they love little children.

In India, they take it up a notch higher. We walked around Himachal Pradesh and New Delhi with two small children for a month. In some of the places we visited, we barely made any progress due to the children’s attention.

Friendly Indian people

So many people wanted to hold and hug them. While some visitors may be bothered by this, it was the complete opposite for us- we did not see anything wrong with it. For us, it was part of the trip, the experience. I personally prefer a society that loves small children. From my point of view, these societies tend to be happier.

13. People of India 

The people of India have good vibes. They smile a lot and always seem happy around visitors. This is a way of showing you that you are welcome and should feel comfortable. It’s not a show-off, and neither is it hypocrisy; it’s real and genuine behavior. This is something you feel everywhere around you, whether it’s in local transportation, in the marketplaces, in the parks, or at the tourist spots.

things that represent Indian culture
The locals are always smiling and welcoming

The Indians always give you a feeling that you are welcome and invited to their country. The welcome everywhere is warm and embracing. This is not something you experience every day in the western countries. It’s definitely not at the same level.

14. Many Hindu gods

In Hinduism, there are 330 million gods. In practice, there is a little less … The worship of gods in India is more common than in any other religion across the world. The various Hindu gods are scattered all over the place: they can be in the mountainous roads, in the temples, in houses, workplaces, on the main roads, etc. You cannot miss it.

traditional things in india
Nandi, the gate guardian deity of Kailasa, the abode of Lord Shiva

The most common gods are Shiva, Vishnu, Kali, Krishna, Ganesha, their vehicles, the Nandy bull, the Garuda eagle, and many more.

15. Cremation in India and Nepal

For those accustomed to burying their dead in the ground, the sight of burning the dead body is extraordinary and thought-provoking. It concerns an intense place and cultural habits that are embedded in us.

Everyone understands that the dead person does not feel anything, but when they place him in the ground, the decomposition of the corpse takes place secretly, deep underground.

what makes India so special
Cremation in Varanasi, all day long

The photos below are from Pashupatinath, Nepal, the little sister of India.

best things about Indian culture
Preparing a man for cremation
what is unique in India
Lighting the fire
describe three of India's unique cultural qualities
The fire begins
Cremation in Pashupatinath Nepal
The flowers are a sign that the man was affluent
what is the unique feature of indian culture
Participants in the cremation ceremony
The face first
unique of india
Additional combustible materials and the fire getting stronger
Death and life, side by side

During cremation, the fire consumes the body of the dead person before our very eyes. This makes it really difficult to take in and digest. Cremation illustrates the finality of death.

In the Hindu culture, reincarnation is accepted as a part of the cycle of life and death that can continue in a loop unless we find a way of breaking it, after which death becomes more peaceful than Western culture.

16. Sadhu

Sadhu is one of the most prominent characteristics that make the Indian culture to be unique. People are always dressed as minimum as can be. Some wear the dress of Lord Shiva. Some wear iron underpants, with charity bowls, long hair, carrying canes as they walk around India’s roads, homeless, moving from city to city, and from one pilgrimage site to another.

The Sadhu cut themselves off, in their actions, from the material physical world. They cut themselves off from the usual human appetites and desires that concentrate on sex and accumulate money, property, and other forms of material wealth.

interesting things about Indian culture
Sadhu, From Karma and Samsara to Nirvana

According to Hindu belief, the cease of desires, canceling the karma (karma is the result of your actions coming back to you in all sorts of ways and binds you to Samsara), and eliminating karma, frees one from samsara, which is the cycle of life and death.

And that’s the key to nirvana- the peak of ambition.

The Sadhu has the statues of saints. They can travel freely on buses and trains. These men undergo an irreversible medical procedure that neutralizes their penis and prevents it from the sexual function.

17. Ashram

An ashram is a dwelling place for people who want to grow spiritually. It’s a place of meditation and study. Guru is the teacher who leads the students of the ashram.

The Ashram is scattered throughout India. While a few of these places are very famous, like Pune’s ashram, most of the Ashrams are not famous. The ashram is also used by the sadhu who travels around India. They can freely get in and sleep there.

There are various limitations in the West for the Indian Ashram, some are good imitations, and others are not as good. It’s the spiritual concept of Ashram that attracts tourists in the West.

18. Holy sites and places of pilgrimage

I live in Israel, a country with a history of thousands of years and many holy sites and pilgrimage sites. And yet, compared to India, this is almost nothing. India has thousands of holy sites and pilgrimage sites. Apparently, there is no country in the world with as many holy sites as India.

19. Indian Festivals

One can find festivals in different parts of the world, but they’re not as many as India’s. Here’s a partial list of the major festivals of India:

  • Diwali
  • Navrati
  • Holi
  • Durga Puja
  • Dussehra
  • Kumbh Mela

Click here to read in more detail about India holidays and their meaning. 

Kumbh Mela Festival
indian cultural items
Holi, the festival of colors

Most of these Indian festivals are celebrated as public holidays such as Diwali and Holi. Other festivals that are held in specific locations and attract millions of participants, like the Kumbh Mela.

20. Sari - Indian traditional dress 

The sari is a traditional Indian dress which is very colorful and unique. While it can be described as revealing since it exposes a large part of the wearer’s stomach, it also represents Indian conservatism.

Traditional clothing can be found in many countries across the world. However, traditional clothing that is so common in people’s daily life is not a common sight.

15 unique cultural aspects of India
Sari, An Indian culture symbol

Think about Japan as an example; the kimono is the traditional dress, but how many women walk around with a kimono on Japan’s streets? I visited Tokyo many times, rarely did I see someone wearing a kimono. On the rare chance that I spotted someone rocking one, it was related to some business display.

In India, however, you can see the sari almost everywhere you look.

21. The Indian dance

I would be surprised if anyone did not recognize the special movements of the Indian dance. The Indian dance is a mirror and a true reflection of India itself, happy, very colorful, rhythmic, and hypnotizing.

Indian dance is one of the trademarks of the Indian film industry and India as a whole. It is always accompanied by rhythmic music, and the dance is loose, open, and flowing. From the moment you begin to see it, it is hard to get your eyes off the dancers until the dance ends.

22. Origin of Buddhism

Indian culture and tradition include Buddhism, as well. Siddhartha Gautama, who became a Buddha, was born in the 6th century BC, in a small village called Lumbini, a once part of Hindu civilization. Today it is part of Nepal.

Buddhism’s uniqueness, which combines strong influences from Hinduism, stands out among the monotheistic religions and the pagan religions of those days. It reflects a focus on the person himself and the internal processes he has to reach the truth, which is the Nirvana, the Moksha.

things related to Indian culture
Buddhist monks, at Mcleod Ganj (Himachal Pradesh), at the entry of the Dalai Lama's dwelling

India gave birth to Buddhism, spread it through the world through King Ashoka (third century BC), who became a Buddhist and finally separated from it. Today Buddhism is present mainly in Himachal Pradesh, and the non-formal capital is Mcleod Ganj, the home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan exiles who fled to India in the 1950s and took shelter from the Chinese.

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This article answers a question published in Quora: What is the general perception about India and Indians, before and after a visit to India?

Many years before I first came to India, I met many Indians under different circumstances. 

The first time I met Indians was in my work as an Engineer in the semiconductor industry. I worked at an international company, one of the world’s largest equipment manufacturers for this industry.

About India

As part of my work, I spent a year and a half in Taiwan and after returning to Israel, I continued flying to East Asian countries.

The company needed more engineers to support its customers mainly in Taiwan and therefore recruited more engineers from a recruitment center in India. Indian engineers, as opposed to Israelis, were willing to spend months on customer sites without going home. 

India experience

My first meetings with Indians, naturally, were meetings with people from my field of work, engineers and managers, and some of them very senior. My personal acquaintance was with the engineers. I did not know the senior managers personally, but the impression was that they were similar to American managers. It was an indirect and superficial impression. 

After that, I lived for a while in Thailand for business and then I met Indians who had business in Thailand, mainly restaurants. Some of them had their restaurant nearby so a friendship was formed. 

In addition, I lived in California for a few months where I met other Indians from the semiconductor industry and doctors at one of the hospitals in the bay area.

After years of meetings with Indians, I visited India for the first time in Mumbai for business purposes. After that, I had a few more business trips and then a big trip to Himachal Pradesh with my family. 

India experience

I think I have a very good perspective to answer the question: What is the general perception about India and Indians, before and after people visit in India? 

Before visiting India

Many years ago, when I was a child there were very few programs and movies on television but there was one series which I remember well, “Elephant Boy”. I was thrilled by Tumai, the Elephant Boy, who rode an Elephant and helped everyone in the village. Another well-remembered series was “Around the world in 80 days”.

About India

These are my visual “memories” from India, so to me, India was a very distant country, closed to Israelis, hostile, very mysterious, with elephants, skinny people, very colorful, with a lot of rural area and Krishna, Krishna from the Hippies who used to sing Hari Rama. 

This collection of associations created a mysterious and romantic image of India. 

Over the years, I accumulated more and more knowledge, India was opening, and there were meetings with Indians.

India has almost 1.3 billion people and I met a few of them. Of course, my impression is very subjective, but it is also very consistent. The same impression did not change when I met with other Indians.

The people 

The people I met were always very gentle, decent, and friendly.

The engineers were industrious, they always did the work, and they could be trusted. I really enjoy working with Indians, to this very day, when it happens.

India people

Indian engineers were less spoiled than Israelis and were willing to spend more time on client sites, which gave them an edge and was a good reason to recruit Indian engineers.

This advantage was balanced by something else. Among the Israelis, it was known that an Indian engineer who was married, was very likely not to return from the wedding, but would “disappear” 🙂 But no one is perfect.

The food 

In Israel, there were very few Indian restaurants and for some reason, there are still only a few today. I was introduced to Indian food mainly when I started to travel to East Asia.

Indian food

It was love at first taste. Indian food was my favorite food. It’s very nutritious and hot and spicy as I like.  

History and culture

Unfortunately, I knew only the history and culture of the Christian countries in the West and of course my own people and country’s history. I had almost no knowledge of the history and cultures of East Asia, including that of India.

India gods

A place to visit 

India was not the first choice for me or even a second. It was just a natural result of being unfamiliar with India. And since I did not know, I also did not have specific plans to visit India. In the 1990s, when India began to open up to the world and also allowed Israelis to enter, India became an attractive tourist destination for Israelis looking for something else.

India travel

After the visit to India

The people

Has anything changed compared to the initial impression? Well, India hits you hard. The number of people, the smells, the colors, the size of the towns, the slums, and people living in the streets alongside people with great wealth.

Those who arrive with a narrow, critical, and arrogant mindset, will not feel the heart of India or any other place they are visiting. They won’t be influenced by the power of India. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should become Hindu but definitely have a deeper understanding of India.

India experience

The worship of the gods can also be seen as something that incites internal resistance for someone who grew up in a monotheistic religion, even if he is not religious. 

The way to enjoy India is through a kind of personal cleanliness. You have to shed your critical, cynical, and arrogant nature and be completely open, ready to absorb, to see, and to learn. This is really the only way to enjoy India.

And that’s also what’s beautiful about visiting India. As if India demands that you change to be able to contain it. 

India experience

I believe that this is how I came to India. I was open to see, listen, and absorb, and I think that’s also why my impression of India has not changed after the visit. The opposite. 

I know people who visited India once who say, “I’m not going to India anymore” or “I’m not coming back to India anymore.”

I am. I think they’re losing something very big.

I will return to India. There is so much to see and learn.

So was the impression changed after the visit to India?

Yes of course. I want to go back there. We want to be in India again. I want to see more areas of India, to learn more about its culture, and to enjoy the people, the landscape, and the food.  

Of course, on a visit to India, I was exposed to a lot of people in hotels, in the streets, in restaurants, and at work.

The experience is always good with very nice people who want to help you, who are happy to see you as a tourist visiting India, and who smile at you. 

It was a great experience that left a good taste and a desire to return to visit India again. 

About India

The food 

This of course only got better 🙂 In India I could eat Indian food without a break. Here, too, nothing in my impression before or after the visit to India has changed. I loved the street food before and when I was in India I loved it even more.

I also became much more aware of the dangers of indigestion that could ruin an entire trip to India. No matter what the culinary temptation was, I was careful to follow the rules I set for myself.

The markets in India and the street food are amazing, but those whose belly is not used to Indian food from an early age are not advised to take risks.

History and culture 

It was a very big change for me. The visit to India prompted me to read, study, and dive into the history and culture of India. I have been exposed to the long History of India, the various gods, Hindu mythology and literature, to the philosophy underlying faith in so many gods, and many more aspects of India.

About India

A place to visit 

In recent years I have been very busy with East Asian cultures and India is one of the pillars of East Asian cultures. I have no doubt that I will come back to India many more times to deepen my acquaintance with Indians and Indian culture.

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