India is a massive country. It’s got the second-highest population of any nation on earth, with over 1.4 billion people. It’s also home to the wettest village on Earth (Mawsynram in northeastern India), the great Taj Mahal, a unique history, and a multitude of rich cultures.
India’s flag is also full of meaning, and its history is closely tied to the history of the country it represents. Read on to learn how the flag of India came to be and what its colors and symbol stand for.
India Flag Map
Below is an Indian map that has been filled in with the colors and shapes of the Indian flag. The northern third of the country has been colored in the orange saffron color of the flag, the middle third is white and features the blue wheel from the country’s flag, and the southern third of the country is green.
While the above flag map is a nice depiction of India’s general shape and the colors of its flag, the exact borders of the country have actually been in dispute for many years. In the northernmost reaches of the country, Pakistan and China claim pieces of land that India also claims as its own. The above flag map of India does not include these contested areas.
Below is a political map of India that depicts the country’s international borders; the contested areas with Pakistan and China have been filled in with diagonal lines.
Below is the Indian Flag Map including the disputed areas:
India/Pakistan Border Dispute
The partition of India in 1947 created two independent nations of what was once British India: India and Pakistan.
The partition line was based primarily on the distribution of Hindu and Muslim peoples in the region. The Muslim-majority northeast became Pakistan, and the Hindu-majority central region became India. Pakistan originally included what is now Bangladesh as East Pakistan.
The northern part of the border between present-day India and Pakistan has been in dispute ever since the partition of India because both countries claim control of the area that was formerly the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Below is a map with a closer look at the disputed areas between India and its neighbors.
India/China Border Dispute
Various portions of the border between India and China have been in dispute for many years. One of the regions where there have been military clashes over the exact location of the border is near the Indian state of Sikkim, between Nepal and Bhutan. Another region, Aksai Chin, is currently administered by China, but India claims that it is part of its Ladakh territory. This area can also be seen in the above image.
Colors and the Meaning of the Indian Flag
The Indian flag consists of three equally sized horizontal stripes. The top stripe is orange (also referred to as saffron), the middle stripe is white, and the stripe at the bottom is green. This type of flag is called a tricolor, and this is the word used most often within India to describe the country’s flag. The Netherlands was the first country to use a tricolor, and many countries have since followed suit — it represents a shift to republicanism from monarchism.
A blue wheel with 24 spokes known as the Ashoka Chakra can be seen in the middle of the flag’s white stripe. It represents dharma and law, as well as motion and progress. The symbol of the chakra is deeply symbolic in Buddhism.
Initially, it’s sometimes said that the different colored stripes on the Indian flag represented the religious groups that lived in the region: the saffron stripe represented Hindus, the green stripe represented Muslims, and the white stripe represented all other religions. This is no longer the case.
The most widely accepted interpretation of the different colors on the flag today is the following:
- The saffron stripe represents strength and courage
- The white stripe represents peace and truth
- The green band represents fertility, growth, and auspiciousness
History of the Indian Flag
From 1526 to 1857, the flag of the Mughal Empire was flown in the skies of India. The color of the flag was green and there were two yellow swords in the middle which were a symbol of Islam.
In the early 19th century, the country came under the rule of the British East Indian Company, and the Indian Rebellion in 1857 brought the country under direct imperial rule. During this time, England’s Union Jack, the current flag of the United Kingdom, was flown.
Independence movements began at the beginning of the 20th century, and these movements created the need for a national flag. One of the first flags to come from these movements was the Vande Mataram flag that was used as part of the Swadeshi nationalist movement.
Over the next thirty years, a variety of flag designs were proposed, but none of them succeeded in becoming adopted and used. In fact, the use of a flag as part of the Home Rule Movement in 1916 led to a government initiative prohibiting the use of nationalistic flags. This led to further debate on the need and function of a national flag.
In the 1920s, national flag discussions gained prominence across British-controlled territories, especially after a peace treaty was signed between Britain and Ireland. A flag was designed to represent India at the Indian National Congress in 1921, and it consisted of an image of a spinning wheel and three horizontal stripes in white, green, and red.
The spinning wheel was chosen to represent progress in India, and the colors represented different religions: red represented Hindus, green represented Muslims, and white was for all other religions practiced in the country. These design ideas would carry into future versions of the flag.
The Swaraj flag eventually became the symbol of the nationalist movement and became the official flag of Congress in 1931. This flag was identical to India’s current flag except that a spinning wheel is depicted in the center of the flag as opposed to the Ashoka Chakra.
The Ashoka Chakra was chosen to represent dharma and law and because it is symmetrical, and in 1947, just days before India gained independence, the current flag was accepted as the official flag of India.
Indian Flag FAQs
How old is India’s flag?
The current national flag of India has been in use since the country gained independence in 1947. This flag is almost identical to the one that was designed for India in 1931, but it features the Ashoka Chakra as the symbol in the center instead of a spinning wheel.
The first flag of India was raised in Calcutta in 1906. This flag consisted of yellow, red, and green stripes and had the words “Vande Mataram” in the center.
What do the three colors of the Indian flag mean?
When the first iteration of the Indian flag’s current design was proposed in 1921 by Pingali Venkayy, it was suggested that two bands, one red and one green, would represent the two majorities in India: Muslims and Hindus.
When this idea was communicated to Ghandi, he suggested that a third color, white, be added to represent either peace between these two communities or all other religions in the country.
Today, it is agreed that three colors do not have associations with any specific communities in India. Instead, the saffron represents courage and strength, white signifies peace and truth, and green stands for growth and auspiciousness.
Who first designed the Indian flag?
There have been many versions of the Indian flag in addition to the one currently used as the national banner. The first design of an Indian flag is attributed to Sister Nivedita who was a disciple of Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu monk and philosopher.
This flag consisted of only two stripes: one red and one yellow. The flag also displayed a Vajra (the weapon of Lord Vishnu) and the words “Vande Mataram” in Bengali.
The first designer of what is now the official flag of India was Pingali Venkayy, though his initial designs have been changed slightly.
What is the national flag of India called?
The national flag of India is called the Tiranga, which means “tricolor.” It is called by this name because of its three stripes of different colors. There are many other countries that use a tricolor as their national flag, some of which are: Italy, France, Bulgaria, Ireland, and Latvia. The first country to use a tricolor was the Netherlands.
What are the rules for the Indian flag?
There are various rules and codes of conduct for using the flag of India properly, and they were detailed in the Flag Code of India in 2002. Before this date, citizens of the country were only allowed to fly the flag on national days.
Some activities that are not permitted when handling the Indian flag are: intentionally letting the flag touch the ground, using the flag for commercial gains or on clothing, draping the flag on vehicles, or placing any other flag higher than the national tricolor.
Neighboring Countries of India
India is a country in South Asia that shares borders with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. It also has a long coastline, bordering the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Bay of Bengal. The Maldives and Sri Lanka are two island nations that are geographically close to India.
The region of India, its neighboring countries, and the nearby islands is often referred to as the Indian Subcontinent or simply the subcontinent. The designation of the subcontinent is based on its geographical features that make it distinguishable from the rest of the Asian continent. It extends from the Himalayas to the south.
Main Characteristics of India
India is probably best known for being extremely populous (the second most populous in the world after China), Bollywood cinema, its many festivals, and its special cuisine, but there are plenty of reasons to visit India in addition to these.
The country is massive — the seventh-largest country in the world — and its weather and physical geography vary greatly across its territory. This also means that cultures and cuisine vary quite a lot from one region to another.
The capital of India is New Delhi, which is home to more than 11 million people and has a high level of demographic diversity. It is one of the largest cities in South Asia and is an important economic and political hub for India.
While the official languages in India are Hindi and English, there are over 850 different languages spoken in the country, each representing a different region and culture in India. In addition to the two official languages, the Indian constitution officially recognizes 22 other languages.
In India, the rupee is used as currency, and the history of this currency stretches back to the 16th century when it was standardized by the Mughal Empire. Other countries with currency called rupees are Nepal, Mauritius, Pakistan, Seychelles, and Sri Lanka.
India’s considerable size gives it a diverse range of climates. Though the majority of the country has a tropical climate, there are areas that experience extreme heat and those that experience extreme cold.
An area of the middle portion of the country is arid and can be quite dry, the northern reaches of the country near the Himalayas are freezing, and monsoon seasons throughout much of the country bring dramatic rainfall which sometimes leads to serious flooding.
India’s cuisine is famous for containing a multitude of spices. Curry, black cumin, mustard grains, cinnamon sticks, and ginger are among some of the most used spices, but food varieties and cultures differ from region to region. Most of the Hindu population in India does not eat beef because cows are considered sacred, and the Muslim population does not eat pork.
Key Facts About India
|Capital City||New Delhi|
|Currency||Indian Rupee (INR)|
|Highest Point||Kangchenjunga (8,586 m / 28,169 ft)|
|Population (2022 estimate)||1,417,173,173|
|Total Area||3,287,260 km2 (1,269,218 ft2)|
Also see: Political Map and 28 States of India