25+ Things You Didn't Know Were Invented in India

Everyone knows India for its rich and varied heritage. Every Indian is proud of it. India has some of the oldest civilisations in the world so it only makes sense that there are some things which India and Indians created and gifted to the world. Creations that have contributed to our everyday lives and have been instrumental in the progress of mankind. Indians have been promoting progress from the inception of mankind and continue to do so. It is a matter of pride that some basic inventions from centuries ago are now important in the study and evolution of so many concepts.

Here is a list of 30 things that were invented in India!


1. Buttons

The origin of buttons goes back to the Indus Valley Civilization in 2000 BCE. They were made out of seashells and made into geometric shapes with tiny holes bored into them. Back then they were primarily used for ornamental purposes and eventually people started using it to fasten clothes. It has become such an intrinsic part of the fashion industry and the daily lives of every person across the globe.


2. Chess

Chess is the game whose inventor is anonymous. Many stories are there for the invention of the game chess. Some say that the Indian mathematician named Sessa invented the game chess. Chess originated in Eastern India back in 280- 550 CE in the Gupta empire. Back then it was called Chaturanga. This game uses intellect and skill to carefully plan the opponent’s move and play accordingly to be the last man standing.


3. First University of TakshaShila

The massive University of TakshaShila was present as early 700 BC and was located in northwest region. It had 300 lecture halls and a library. It also had an astronomy tower for astronomical research. A Chinese traveller, Hien Tsang wrote in his diary that it had 10,000 students and 200 professors. It was an important Vedic/Hindu and Buddhist centre of learning. The campus accommodated students who came from as far as Babylonia, Greece, Arabia and China and offered over sixty different courses in various field such as science, mathematics, medicine, politics, warfare, astrology, astronomy, music, religion, and philosophy. Generally, a student entered TakshaShila at the age of sixteen. It was wrongly spelt as ‘Taxila’ lately.


4. Ruler

Rulers were first used by the Indus Valley Civilization prior to 1500 BCE. Made of ivory, the rulers found during excavation, reveal the remarkable accuracy of decimal subdivisions on it. It was primarily used to make measurements in a straight line and some excavated rulers were often made from wood as well. The first known rulers appeared to have markings that had similar meanings to our currently used imperial and metric systems. Rulers are used by every school going child right to professionals in the work field.


5. Shampoo

This was created back in 1762, in the era of the Mughals. It comprised of herbs and oils and was used to give a special head massage. As early as the 1500s, India’s innovators used the pulp of soapberries combined with herbs and hibiscus flowers to keep their hair looking shiny and strong. The English word ‘shampoo’ derives its name from the Hindi word ‘chāmpo’, which comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Chapayati’, meaning massage or knead. Multiple variations of the humble shampoo have been created now by different companies and it has become a part of everyday life and hygiene.


6. Cure for Leprosy

India has been contributing to the medical field for centuries now. Indians first identified and cured leprosy by using ancient remedies mentioned in the Atharva Veda (1500–1200 BCE), though its inventor’s name remains unknown. Lithiasis refers to the formation of stones in the body, and India was the first to treat this disease in a treatment described in the Sushruta Samhita (6th century BCE), a textbook on ancient surgery. Leprosy is a long-term infection which can lead to damage to nerves, respiratory tract, skin and eyes. The damage of the nerve leads to other issues as well.


7. Cotton Cultivation

Cotton has been in use in India since 1800 B.C., and from 1500 B.C. to A.D. In 1500, India was the centre of the industry. The Hindus were the first people to weave cloth. This was first grown in the United States soon after the first settlements were made and it was only then that cotton was introduced to Europe as well. There are multiple blends made with cotton in the current industry. Cotton is loved across the globe because it creates very light and airy clothing.


8. Snakes and Ladders

We’ve all played Snakes & Ladders as kids. This game was originally called ' Mokshapat' or ‘Moksha Patamu’ and it was based on morality. The ladders signified good deeds while snakes represented all the evil we do. During British rule of India, this game made its way to England, and was eventually introduced in the United States of America in 1943. This game focused on the role of fate or karma in one’s actions and the corresponding reactions. It was widely accepted as a children’s game after and is one of the most loved board games of all time.


9. Ayurveda

This literally means ‘the science of life’ and if you have ever received an ayurvedic treatment, you have the Indians to thank for it. Ayurveda is said to be an eternal science that first existed in the universal consciousness (Brahma) before it was passed from the creator to the ancient Indian mystics through meditation. The origins of Ayurveda stretch deep into antiquity. It was a traditional school of medicine that was practised for more than 5000 years. It eventually gained popularity across the world as contemporary medicine.


10. Fibonacci Numbers

It is a wide misconception that the French mathematician Edouard Lucas is the one who identified this series. However, thanks to the awareness spread by Indian scientists worldwide about this fact & evidence, almost all the Mathematicians, and the Scientific Community in general, have started acknowledging this, and are giving credit where it is due, by mentioning Fibonacci numbers as “Hemachandra-Fibonacci numbers”, which is the first step in the awareness process, with the hope that it will some day in future be referred to as “Pingala-Hemachandra numbers” who in fact were the true founders of the sequence.


11. Quadratic System, Decimal System

The decimal system was invented by Hindu mathematicians in India between the first and sixth centuries A.D. This system is sometimes also called the Hindu-Arabic numeral system because it was first introduced to Europeans by Arabs, who had acquired the system from the Hindus earlier. Both the above forms originated and developed in India; mentions of the same had already been done in the Rig Veda.


12. We Calculated the Time Taken by the Earth to Orbit the Sun

Using an astronomical model developed by Brahmagupta in the 7th century, Bhaskara accurately defined many astronomical quantities, including the length of the sidereal year, the time that is required for the Earth to orbit the Sun. this eventually led to the discovery of various other astronomical aspects. This discovery was instrumental in the field of physics, astronomy and space travel.


13. The Game of Suits

The popular game of cards originated from India & was known as Krida-patram which literally means “painted rags for playing”. It was one of the favourite pastimes of Indians in ancient times. This game was patronized especially by the royalty and nobility.  In medieval India, playing cards was known as Ganjifa cards which were played in practically all royal courts. The cards were made of cloths and the motifs depicted the Ramayana and Mahabharatha.


14. Cataract Surgery

The Indian physician, Sushruta developed this operation in 3rd century CE. He performed this surgery using a curved needle that first loosened the lens and then pushed the cataract to the back of the eye. The doctors used warm butter to soak the eyes and placed bandages until it was healed. It spread to China from India. Greek scientists would visit India to get operations done and also to learn the nitty-gritties. Sushruta had the ability to manage numerous eye conditions of the time with limited diagnostic aids. This was the evidence to his technique.


15. We were the First to Find Water on the Moon

ISRO’s Chandrayaan-1 made the startling discovery that our moon is not a dry ball of rocks. The discovery of lunar water is attributed to the Chandrayaan mission. We must not forget that our space missions have been of tremendous success. The space organisation has created history with its developments and India is among the leading countries in this field as well.


16. Buddhism and Jainism

These two religions are known to have originated within the sub-continent of India. Buddhism is a path of practice and spiritual development leading to Insight into the true nature of reality. Buddhist practices like meditation are means of changing yourself in order to develop the qualities of awareness, kindness, and wisdom. Jainism is an ancient Indian religion that traces its spiritual ideas and history through a succession of twenty-four leaders or Tirthankaras, with the first in current time cycle being Rishabhanatha. There are followers and believers all over the globe and these are one among the major religions of the world.


17. Diamond Mining

As of today, the diamond is among the most expensive and most sought after stone in the world. Worldwide, India was the only source of diamonds until the discovery of mines in Brazil in the 18th century. The diamonds have been first recognized and mined in India. For centuries, India was the only place one could find these precious stones. The earliest known reference to diamond is a Sanskrit manuscript, dated from 320-296 B.C. It is widely used in jewellery and antiques.


18. Flush Toilets

The history of toilets has come a long way with the development of humans and hygiene. The concept of flush toilet initially originated in the Indus Valley Civilization. These were present in a majority of the houses in that era and was connected to an elaborate and sophisticated sewage system. The people of this civilization were fluent in hydraulic engineering and hence the creation. Every house at that time had a private squat type toilet which could be flushed by simply dumping water into the toilet.


19. Cashmere Wool

Cashmere wool, usually simply known as cashmere, is a fiber obtained from cashmere goats, pashmina goats, and some other breeds of goat. It has been used to make yarn, textiles and clothing for hundreds of years. The founder of the cashmere wool industry is traditionally held to be the 15th-century ruler of Kashmir, Zayn-ul-Abidin, who employed weavers from Central Asia. The mention of woolen shawls made from this wool in Kashmir are found in several books between 3rd century BCE and the 11th century CE. People now try to get this exotic, exquisite wool to add to their collection!


20. Radio and Wireless Communication

Sir Jagdish Chandra Bose was the first person who demonstrated the use of wireless radio in 1895. This was two years before Marconi who gave a similar demo in England. This has revolutionised the way we communicate and the effects of it as visible even today. It is sad that Marconi received the Noble Prize for this when the original creator was someone else. The fact remains that this discovery truly shaped the face of modern wireless communication.


21. Binary Code

Pingala was the first to describe the Binary numbers back in 200 BCE. This is a code that was eventually used to create computers and other software which now run the world.  These are also used to generate the digital signals in response to the movement which are classified into shaft encoders and linear encoders. It is a matter of immense pride that India was the birth place of the number zero as well as the binary code. It is only fitting that the best software hubs are situated in India!


22. USB (Universal Serial Bus)

Ajay V Bhatt, an Indian American computer architect was the mastermind behind the USB. A little removable storage device changed the way of data collection and sharing. It is easy to use and carry. He has also invented the AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port), PCI Express, and has conducted various chip improvements. Bhatt completed his graduation from the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India. He holds 132 international and U.S. patents as well, dozens of others are in filing stages.


23. Ink

Writing with ink has been famous in southern India from 4th century BC. Many ancient cultures and civilisations independently discovered and prepared ink for writing purposes. The source of carbon pigment used in Indian Ink called Musi was found in India itself. Ink was later created by the Chinese and Egyptians who mixed carbon and gum to get a liquid. Musi is a simple black or coloured ink once widely used for writing and printing and now more commonly used for drawing and outlining, especially when making comic book and comic strips. India ink is also used in medical applications.


24. Steel and Metal Works

Ancient Indians were pioneers in metallurgy. High quality steel was produced and this was almost two thousand years before the West did. Metallurgy is one of the most remarkable feats we have achieved over time and a seamless celestial globe, was invented in Kashmir. It is not news that metals and steel works are the backbone of every industry. It is used in construction, in manufacturing of automobiles and machinery, in medicine, in decorative pieces and these are just few examples.


25. Jute Cultivation

Jute has been cultivated in India since ancient times. India also exported raw jute to the western world, where it was used to make ropes and cordage. The Indian jute industry was later modernized during the British Raj in India. In the present, jute is used widely in a variety of products, items and clothing apparel. It is widely found around the Bengal region. In India, Ganga delta region is excellent for jute cultivation as this region has fertile alluvium soil & favourable temperature along with sufficient rainfall.


26. Fibre Optics

Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany is widely recognized as the ‘Father of Fibre Optics’. He created the piece of technology that assists in transfer and sharing of data. The internet we all use today travels at super speeds due to these fibre optics. It is the science of transmitting data, voice, and images by the passage of light through thin, transparent fibres. In telecommunications, fiber optic technology has virtually replaced copper wire in long-distance telephone lines, and it is used to link computers within local area networks.


27. Pentium Chip

Vinod Dham is also known as the Father of the Pentium chip, for his contribution to the development of highly successful Pentium chip processors from Intel. The Pentium was the first Intel chip for PCs to use parallel, or superscalar, processing, which significantly increased its speed. He believes that Intel's ability to 'focus and execute' while maintaining full compatibility of application with its previous generation micro-processors was the key reason for its success over dozens of these big competitors.


28. Candied Sugar

The process of producing crystallized sugar from sugarcane was discovered by the time of the Guptas, and the earliest reference of candied sugar comes from India. The process was soon transmitted to China with traveling Buddhist monks. It was readily accepted by the world for the sweetness it imparted to all sorts of foods. It is also considered as a healthy variation of regular sugar.


29.  Zero

Aryabhatta was the mastermind behind the number zero, who used it in the decimal system. There is not much to it but the mathematical world is nothing without it. Zero was an important part of the number system in India. Even in the past, mathematical equations were chanted in poetry. Without this, there would have been no binary system and subsequently no computers as well! The number zero has been instrumental in ever field of study.


30. Yoga

Yoga is a way of life that has been adopted by millions across and it has its origins rooted in Indian. Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India. The word yoga came from the Sanskrit language which means, to unite or join, or just union. The Sanskrit word yoga has many translations and can be explained in many ways. It comes from the root ‘yug’ that initially meant “to tie up”. It is said that Lord Shiva was the first yogi who originated the concept of yoga. The practice of Yoga is believed to have started with the very dawn of civilization.


There are many more inventions that Indians take pride in. We are the pioneers of change and we are the leaders of tomorrow. It is our duty to keep this legacy. We can do this by coming up with new innovations and using them for good. We at Deshpee are doing our part for just that.

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