Before You Go
Based on our years of travelling in the vast Indian subcontinent, we have compiled information which a traveller will find most useful. Even though not intended as a complete list of everything you need to know, this will take you a long way in `Getting Ready'. You can easily down-load the PDF onto your computer and make a print-out for your reference.
When choosing to travel in India, remember that you will be in a country quite different from where you come from. For India, as most other developing countries, a right attitude is essential for you to appreciate culture in order to enjoy your holiday to the fullest. The ability to go with the flow will be called upon many a times. This ability will be the single most important thing, yes, even more than a map!
You may be faced with delayed trains and flights, facilities may be quite different than what you are used to back home and the attitude towards time may be far more relaxed. In all those cases, relax and remember that you are in another country to experience the very difference in culture!
Traveller's Palm strives for the highest standards, so be confident that coupled with a right attitude, you will get the best of your holiday experience.
All travellers to India must possess a valid passport. Do ensure that your passport is valid for a minimum of six months.
If your passport has only a few months remaining or only a few pages remaining, it may be necessary to apply for a new one before you set off. Your passport needs to be valid for a minimum of six months beyond the date of intended departure from India. Bear in mind as well as the visa itself, entry and exit stamps can be large - some even take up a whole page. If you need to apply for a new passport, make sure you do this well in advance of your travel date. It usually takes several weeks for a new passport to be issued.
Your passport is an important travel document. Every hotel that you will check into will require your passport for registration purposes. The passport will also be required for buying airline tickets and for changing money. It is advisable therefore to carry your passport on your person all the time while in India.
It is highly recommended that you carry a photocopy of your passport showing the relevant details like: passport number, place and date of issue, visa number, place and date of issue. Keep this information separate from your passport. If you loose your passport you must report it at once to our office, the local police station and the nearest embassy or consulate of your country. You will find it useful to carry a few spare passport sized photographs with you.
All visitors need a visa for India, except citizens of neighboring Nepal and Bhutan.
India is currently trialing a Visa on Arrival facility for those tourists who are citizens of Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Laos, Myanmar and Indonesia.
This facility is effective at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata airports. Single entry tourist visas, valid for 30 days, are available at a cost of $60 or equivalent amount in Indian rupees per passenger, including children.
Citizens of the countries listed above can get visas on arrival, irrespective of where they fly into India from. Such citizens can also apply for their Indian tourist visas through the normal channels.
The scheme is allowed for a maximum of two times in a calendar year to a foreigner with a minimum gap of two months between each visit. The visa is non-extendable and non-convertible, an official statement said.
The foreigners of the above mentioned countries may also avail of the visa on arrival scheme for up to 30 days for medical treatment, for casual business or to visit friends and relatives.
If you're from any other country, your Indian visa must be obtained before arriving in India.
The Government of India has changed the rules regarding visas frequently over the last few years. They may change again, so it is essential to check details and cost with the Indian embassy or consulate in your country.
In the case of US citizens, it has recently become a requirement that even tourist visa applications must now be accompanied by a photocopy of the applicant's birth certificate and proof of address. The most reliable source of information is the official website of the company to which Indian visa applications in the US have been outsourced: www.travisaoutsourcing.com.
Here's what you need to know to prepare your India visa application.
Visitors staying in India for less than 72 hours can obtain a Transit Visa, otherwise an Indian Tourist Visa is necessary.
Six-month multiple-entry tourist visas (valid from the date of issue) are granted to nationals of most countries regardless of how long you intend to stay. You can enter and leave as often as you like, but you can only spend a total of 180 days in the country, starting from the date of issue.
Other types of visas that are available for visitors to India include Business Visas, Employment Visas, Research Visas, Student Visas, Journalist Visas, and Yoga Visas.
An onward travel ticket is a requirement for most visas, but this is not always enforced (check in advance), except for the 72-hour transit visa.
You will be required to fill in a disembarkation card on your way to India which will have to be submitted to the Immigration counters at the entry airport.
The processing duration depends on the type of visa applied. Be aware that whilst a few embassies and consulates will issue visas the same day or within 48 hours, it is more usual for visa applications to take several days, sometimes even weeks. Allow yourself sufficient time to obtain any visas you will require.
Be very cautious about applying for visas by post. Postal applications tend to be given the lowest priority of all and some embassies have a huge backlog of postal applications. If you make a postal application, we recommend that you send your passport by Recorded Delivery.
A large number of our travellers have found it beneficial to use a specialist `Visa Service'. Because it is their business to obtain visas every day, these companies build up good working relationships with the various embassies and consulates. They are usually able to obtain a visa more quickly than you would and are particularly useful for some of the more awkward visas. If you need to get a visa for somewhere that is not represented in your home country or if the embassy is many hours away from your home town, a `visa service' can be invaluable. Visa service companies do charge, but you should weigh this up against the convenience and the amount of your own time you will save. Please contact your travel agent for details of a suitable visa service.
Check your visa when it has been issued. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a valid passport and visa for your travels. Visa costs are NEVER included in the price of the holidays featured on our web site. We regret that no refund can be given if you are refused entry to a country as a result of incorrect visa.
Be aware that possession of a visa does not guarantee you entry into a country. The final decision on whether or not you may enter a country rests with the immigration official to whom you present your passport on arrival.
We can accept no responsibility for clients who are refused entry to a country because they lack the correct documentation or as a result of the Immigration Officer declining them entry.
Some areas in India - usually border districts - are out of bounds for normal travellers due to political and security reasons. However, some of these are extremely beautiful and fascinating places, their remoteness lending them a special quality, and we can procure the special permits for you on your behalf.
Access to certain parts of India - particularly disputed border areas - is controlled by a complicated permit system. A permit known as an Inner-Line Permit (ILP) is required to visit northern parts of Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim that lie close to the disputed border with China/Tibet. Obtaining the ILP is basically a formality, but we need to apply on your behalf for certain areas, including many trekking routes passing close to the border.
Entering the northeast states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram is much harder. Foreigners require a Restricted Area Permit (RAP), and must travel in groups of four or more people, or a married couple. Note that you can only travel to the places listed on the permit, often by set routes, and this is hard to change after the permit is issued.
Contact us at least 6 weeks prior to your planned departure in order to enable us to arrange your permit. Go to Top
There are two customs clearance channels. The green channel is for travellers carrying non-dutiable items while the red channel is for travellers carrying dutiable items.
Any cash or travellers cheque over US$ 10,000 or equivalent must be declared. Possession of narcotic drugs is strictly prohibited.
Rupees are not allowed out of India. You must exchange them before you depart. Banking facilities for the conversion of rupees into foreign currency are usually located in the same airport hall as the check-in counters. You have no access to these facilities once you pass through immigration.
All animal products, wild plants or seeds, and trophies are not allowed to be taken out of India and the same applies to skins of protected wildlife species. Generally, items more than 100 years old cannot be exported without a permit from the Archeological Survey of India. Go to Top
India's currency is the Rupee, abbreviated as Rs. One Rupee is equal to 100 Paisa, but paise coins are increasingly rare. Coins are in denominations of 10, 25 & 50 Paise and l, 2 & 5 Rupees. Notes are in denominations of Rs. 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000.
Remember, you must present your passport whenever you change currency or travellers cheques. Commission for foreign exchange is becoming increasingly rare; if it is charged, the fee is nominal.
Officially, you cannot take rupees out India, but this is laxly enforced. However, you can change any leftover rupees back into foreign currency, most easily at the airport. You may require encashment certificates or a credit-card receipt, and you may also have to show your passport and airline ticket.
During your stay in India you will notice a general lack of small change. We recommend maintaining a supply of small denomination notes. Torn notes are not accepted by most people in India.
Modern 24-hour ATMs are now found in most large towns and cities. The most commonly accepted cards are Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus, Maestro and Plus. Banks in India that reliably accept foreign cards include Citibank, HDFC, ICICI, UTI, HSBC, the Punjab National Bank and the State Bank of India.
Away from major towns, it is recommended to carry cash or travellers cheques as backup, though changing these into local currency can be time consuming.
Credit cards are accepted at a growing numbers of shops, upmarket restaurants, and midrange and top-end hotels, and you can also use them to pay for flights and train tickets. MasterCard and Visa are the most widely accepted cards; for details about whether you can access home accounts in India, inquire at your bank before leaving.
Always keep the emergency lost-and-stolen numbers for your credit cards in a safe place, separate from your cards, and report any loss or theft immediately.
Generally we recommend that you carry some cash or travellers cheques as backup in case the power goes down, the ATM is out of order, or you lose or break your card.
It is a good idea to change at least some money into the local currency before you leave the Arrival Hall at the airport.
Both travellers cheques and cash should be in a major currency: US Dollars are the easiest currency to change; Pounds Sterling and Euros are also widely accepted.
You should try to carry at least some of your money in small denomination travellers' cheques or cash so that you can change only the amount you will actually need. This is particularly important near the end of your holiday, as it is sometimes difficult to change back surplus local currency.
If you run out of money, someone at home can wire you money via moneychangers affiliated with Moneygram (www.moneygram.com) or Western Union (www.westernunion.com). You'll need to call someone at home to transfer the money, and a hefty fee is added to the transaction. To collect cash, bring your passport, and the name and reference number of the person who sent the funds.
Take along a little bit more money than you think you will actually need, just in case. You don't have to spend it.
Remember that hardly any insurance policies will provide you with instant cash in an emergency. So therefore, it is good idea to take along a little bit more money to cover for any emergencies. Go to Top
In general India is a very safe country for travellers. However, care is necessary in some places, and basic common sense needs to be used with respect to looking after valuables.
Some parts of India are subject to political violence. It is therefore not advisable to travel to Kashmir and tribal areas in the north-east.
Theft is not uncommon in India but crime levels are a long way below those of Western countries, and violent crime against tourists is extremely rare.
It is highly recommended that you carry valuables such as cash, travellers cheques, passport, tickets etc. in a money belt or a pouch around your neck or store them in a hotel safe.
Most countries have Foreign Offices that produce up-to-date travel information to help travelers make informed decisions about travelling abroad. For instance, the British Foreign Office gives detailed travel advice on their web site www.fco.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo. The Australian Foreign Office have a similar site called www.smartraveller.gov.au.
Even after taking all possible precautions, it is still possible that your valuables get lost or stolen. In such a case, the first thing to do is to report the theft to the local police. You need a report from them in order to claim the theft on your travel insurance.
To get lost or stolen documents replaced, it will be extremely helpful if you have kept a record of vital documents (copy of passport data and visa page, credit cards, numbers of travellers cheques, contact number of insurance company). Leave one copy with someone at home and keep another with you, separate from the originals. Go to Top
Given the fact that people's requirements differ greatly, it is always difficult to advise on how much money to bring. You should, however, bear the following in mind.
The prices quoted on our web site are for arrangements in India. This means that the international flight to the start and from the end points are not included.
You will have to protect yourself against financial loss by taking out a comprehensive travel insurance.
We require you to have a comprehensive travel insurance whilst booking your holiday with us. Travel Insurance is a cost effective way to protect yourself and your equipment in the event of problems due to Canceled Trips, Delays, Medical Problems, Baggage Loss or Damage. Travel insurance is easily and cheaply available online. We recommend www.worldnomads.com
We strongly recommend that you carefully review your travel policy's terms and conditions and ensure it covers you for repatriation cost should you become too ill to continue the tour and must above all, cover the evacuation of yourself from remote regions should the need arise. The insurance should also cover for any cancellations including against theft, personal accident, personal liability, cancellation due to force majeur and terrorist activity.
Tipping is a way of life in India as in many other developing countries. Locals themselves will always tip someone who has provided them with a service. Indeed, in many cases people the potential tips are taken into account whilst a person's salary is being decided! We are giving below a rough guide to help you make up your mind what amounts you may tip for what service. Do remember that these are just guide-lines. If you find any service unsatisfactory, you definitely do not have to tip!
It is appropriate to give 10% of the restaurant bill to the waiter. Bell boys and bell captains should be paid Rs 25 per bag. Railroad and airport porters should be paid Rs 25-50 per bag, depending on the weight. Set the rate before you let him take your bags. If you travel with a chauffeur driven car, tip him about Rs 200 per day. If you have a local guide, tip him or her Rs 100 for four hours, Rs 200 for a full day.
Where ever you are travelling. It is always a good idea to take more money than you think you will need. You may not visit a region again so it would be a shame to miss out on something you really like, just because you did not bring enough money.
India is often called a Shoppers' Paradise. You will surprised at the number of beautiful things on sale. For more details, please look up our `Shopping' section. Go to Top
You require a Yellow Fever certificate incase you originate from or have travelled through endemic yellow Yellow Fever countries (Africa, South America, Papua New Guinea). Any person (including infants) arriving by air or sea without a certificate is detained in isolation for a period up to 6 days if arriving within 6 days of departing from an infected area.
No other vaccination certificate is mandatory but you may like to consult your doctor for inoculation against typhoid, polio, tetanus and cholera, Hepatitis A and meningitis. Moreover, it may be a good idea to take a supply of preventative medicine (e.g. Malaria tablets).
If you need to arrange vaccinations or a supply of preventative medicine, you should contact your GP at least two months before you depart. Some inoculations require more than one visit and can take several weeks to administer. In most cases it is cheaper to arrange vaccinations and medicines through your GP, though they may require a few days advance notice to obtain the necessary vaccines.
You should be issued with an International Certificate of Vaccination for each vaccination. Always carry these with you on your travels; they could provide essential information for doctors in the event that you do fall ill whilst travelling.
A few careful precautions will make sure that even if you don't take the inoculations, you are protected.
Always make sure about the water you drink If it is not boiled or filtered, ask for mineral water which is readily available all over the country. Make sure that the seal of the bottle is not broken. Stay away from ice, uncooked food, and unpasteurized milk and milk products.
Avoid raw vegetables and fruit that have been peeled before they are brought to you. Never over-eat on a cuisine you are not used to - even at a good eatery. If you are forced to eat at a doubtful place, make sure the food is served hot. Keep in mind, however, that stomach upsets often are due as much to the richness of Indian food as to the lack of hygiene.
The most effective protection against Malaria is to avoid being bitten. Mosquitoes mostly bite at dusk and dawn so one of the best ways to minimise the chance of being bitten is to wear long trousers, long sleeves and socks at these times. You should take a good insect repellent and apply it liberally - but remember, not every Indian place is mosquito infested and the winter cold (when most tourists come to India) kills most bugs in the northern plains and hills.
If you decide to come to India during the summer, the tropical climate in the plains can take you by surprise. Make sure that you drink lots of liquid and don't venture out in the mid-day sun. Also use sun-screens, hats and dark glasses to avoid sunburns. Wash often and dry yourself throughly to avoid any other skin ailments in hot and humid conditions.
If you are taking any form of medication, please make sure that you bring with you an adequate supply to last the duration of your holiday. You might not be able to obtain suitable medication in the places you are visiting. If you need to carry certain drugs with you for purposes of medication, please ensure that you also carry a copy of your prescription.
It is also advisable to take a personal supply of basic medical items like Band Aids, Aspirins, insect repellent etc. Some travellers like to take their own emergency medical kit containing: needles, syringes and other items which can be used by the local medical staff in case of accident or illness.
Health facilities are good in the main cities but basic pharmacies or chemists are available in every little town and village and you can easily buy over-the-counter medicines, condoms or tampons. In case you need to refer to a doctor for a specific condition, ask for help from your hotel (most have doctors on call). The cost of visiting a doctor is fairly low compared to western countries.
It is our condition that travellers are fully insured for any medical expenses they might incur while travelling. The policy should cover all medical costs, hospital benefits, permanent disabilities and the full flight home - all four seats if you are unfortunately lying flat out.
If your tour involves certain adventurous activities - like trekking or white water rafting - you will need to make sure that your policy specifically covers these activities.
We also recommend a comprehensive travel insurance policy that also covers cancellation and curtailment as well as baggage and valuables. You may also need specific cover for expensive camera equipment. Go to Top
The first thing to remember when you are packing for your trip is that your airline baggage allowance is not more than 20 kg in economy class (30 kg in business and 40 kg in first class). The next thing to remember is that, apart from a few occasions when hotel porters will take your bags from the hotel to your taxi, or vice versa you will have to carry your own luggage. Don't pack more than you can comfortably carry. Most people bring far more than they really need. Remember also that on the way back, you almost certainly will have souvenirs to take home - keep some place for them!
For ease of use, the best type of bag is either a sports bag, preferably with some sort of shoulder strap or a soft suitcase. Travel is rarely kind to luggage. You can expect your bags to suffer wear and tear during your travels. As well as your main bag, we also recommend that you bring a day pack to carry things you may need during day excursions or an bus journeys; e.g. camera, water bottle, sun cream, hat. A money belt or waist pouch is a secure way to pack your travel documents and your money.
As a general guideline, clothing should be lightweight, hard wearing and easily washed. Loose cotton clothing generally is your best bet. Take some very lightweight long sleeve cotton shirts and trousers for evenings as they also give some protection against mosquitoes. Pack a couple of warmer clothes if you travel in north India between December and February as nights can be cold with temperatures dropping to just a few degrees. Also remember to pack one waterproof jacket or umbrella if you travel during the monsoon.
When selecting clothing that you will take with you, you should bear in mind that many places in India have a much more conservative attitude towards dress, particularly in remote areas. Do remember therefore to dress accordingly especially when visiting places of worship. Sleeveless dresses and shorts are to be avoided on the days when you may be visiting a temple or a mosque. Also remember to carry a lightweight scarf around, which may come in handy in places where they expect your head to be covered.
Dress in India is rarely formal. In the larger cities short-sleeved shirts and ties are often worn for business. However, if you have dinner in a palace hotel, you will feel more at ease if you have packed some `smart' clothes too.
Passport : Take a photocopy of your passport and keep it separately.
Cash and /or Travellers Cheques (keep a note of the serial numbers of your cheques and also the emergency contact numbers and keep these details separately).
Travel Insurance, take a photocopy of your policy with you or make sure you leave a photocopy at home.
Vaccination Certificate if applicable
Travel Documents /Vouchers
Your Travel Agent's Phone Number
A sleeping-bag is essential for any trekking tour you have chosen.
A sleeping-bag liner will come in handy when you are travelling on over-night trains.
Towel, necessary for camel safaris or trekking tours
Lightweight Hiking Boots, which are essential if you are going trekking
Inflatable Travel Pillow is of great help on long drives and train journeys.
Money Belt or Pouch
Water Bottle, with strap
Torch and batteries
Personal washing / shaving kit
Camera and film
Travel Plug / International adapter
Walkman & Cassettes
Playing cards / travel games
Moist 'handy wipes'
Universal bath plug
Medicines, Lotions Etc.
Insect Repellent , (with a high DEET content)
Suntan Lotion & Sunblock
Moisturiser / After Sun Lotion
Personal Medical Supplies (Aspirins, Band Aids, Antiseptic Cream, Tampons, Condoms etc.)
Calamine Cream, if you react badly to insect bites
Ongoing Medication. If you are taking any medication or have a condition that needs specific medicines (e.g. Asthma) you MUST take all necessary medicines with you.
Contact Lens Solution
A Spare Pair of Glasses. If you wear contact lenses, dust can be a big problem. If you are on a long trip you should also take the prescription for your glasses. A safety cord for your glasses is also a good idea.
Travellers to India find ample themes with varied subjects for photography from faces to monuments, wildlife, festivities, scenic beauty, etc. However, formalities in respect to protected monuments and the wildlife sanctuaries are:
For many travellers, photography is an important part of their holiday. Here are a few tips that should ease potential frustrations.
Before photographing any locals, always ask for permission. At times people may not be willing to be photographed. In some cases, people may expect a `tip' for being photographed.
At most of the main historical sites there is a charge for taking your camera 'on site'. Other sites prohibit the use of flash, even if you have paid for a camera pass.
Photography in the wildlife sanctuaries is allowed on payment of a prescribed fee.
Special permission of the Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi, is required for use of tripod and artificial light.
It may sound obvious, but DO NOT take photographs of (or near) any military installations or military personnel during your travels as you'll get yourself into trouble. In addition, many bridges and other government buildings may also have a `No photos' sign. Always pay heed to that. Photography from an aircraft as well as at the airports is also not allowed in India. Photography is also prohibited in tribal areas.
Rules for video cameras are usually more restrictive than for still cameras. Video cameras must be declared to customs on arrival in India. You may have to pay a stiff fee at many of the monuments or wildlife parks to do video shooting.
Make sure you are familiar with your camera before you leave home, particularly if it is new. Better still, bring along the manual. It can be immensely frustrating to miss out on pictures because you're trying to understand the workings of your camera.
Most cameras are now sold with a small zoom lens as standard (35mm-70mm). This will be adequate for most of the photography during your travels. If you are going to visit a lot of ancient sites and buildings you'll find that a wide-angle lens of 28mm or 24mm is really useful. Similarly, if you will be taking pictures of wildlife or wish to take pictures of people without getting close to them a 200mm telephoto lens is ideal. A good lens combination is to take a 28mm-70mm lens and an 80mm-200mm lens. This offers a very flexible and leightweight combination.
Disposable panoramic or waterproof cameras are now readily available and not expensive. Although the picture quality cannot match that of serious photographic equipment, they can be very handy when rafting or faced with a magnificent panorama that is difficult to capture on convential cameras.
Take an ample supply of your favourite film. Though film is generally available in most major towns, you cannot rely on its quality - it is quite common to see it being stored in direct sunlight - and you may not be able to find your preferred brand. Slide film can be particularly hard to find and expensive when you do.
It is advisable to keep your camera and lenses in a bag or case that will protect them from dust.
Don't forget to take out adequate insurance for your camera equipment, if your camera is a good one, it is unlikely that your standard travel insurance will cover its value. Specific camera insurance is often prohibitively expensive. A more viable option is to make sure that it (and other valuables) is covered under your home contents insurance policy. Go to Top
There are a great number of excellent guidebooks on India, some also with separate editions on specific areas of India:
- India Handbook (Footprint Guides)
- India - A Travel Survival Kit (Lonely Planet)
- India - The Rough Guide
- Fodor's India
- Louise Nicholson's India Companion
- India (Insight Guides)
- Indian Wildlife (Insight Guides)
- Rajasthan (Everyman Guides)
- India by Rail (Royston Ellis)
- Window on Goa (Maurice Hall)
As well as guide books there are some terrific travelogues, historical accounts and historical fiction. The list grows every year. Many of these make excellent reading at any time but are even more fascinating if you happen to be travelling through the country in question. Most good book shops have a section dedicated to travel writing. Most books are also widely available in India, often at a lesser price.
- Karma Cola (by Gita Mehta)
- Desert Places (by Robyn Davidson)
- Slowly Down the Ganges (by Eric Newby)
- India File (by Trevor Fishlock)
- Chasing the Monsoon (by Alexander Frater)
- A Million Mutinies Now (by V S Naipaul)
- No Full Stops in India (by Mark Tully)
- A Passage to India (by E.M. Forster)
- Heat and Dust (by Ruth Prawer Jhabwala)
- Midnight's Children (by Salman Rushdie)
- A Suitable Boy (by Vikram Seth)
- Are you Experienced? (by William Sutcliffe)
- A Fine Balance (by Rohinton Mistry)
- Freedom at Midnight (by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre)
- City of Joy (by Dominique Lapierre)
- May You Be The Mother Of A Hundred Sons (by Elizabeth Bomiller)
- A Son Of The Circus (by John Irving) Go to Top
When you book a tour with Traveller's Palm, your arrangements start with an arrival transfer. Please therefore ensure that you fill in the correct arrival details when you book your holiday with us.
A representative carrying a Traveller's Palm signboard with your name on it, will await you outside the arrival hall. This representative will escort you to the taxi which will take you to your hotel.
It may happen that you have not been able to spot our representatives for any number of reasons. If this happens, then please go back into the Arrival Hall and engage a `Pre-Paid taxi' after mentioning the name of your hotel.
If you discover upon arrival that your luggage has not arrived, or has arrived incomplete, it is important that you follow certain procedures in order to recover the missing items of luggage as quickly as possible.
Firstly you should immediately obtain a PIR form from airport officials. Completing this form is an essential first step to recovering your luggage. You must complete it before leaving the Arrivals Hall and make sure that you get it stamped for customs purposes. You must also make a copy of the completed form and retain it. Lost luggage is a matter between you and the airline / airport authority. The recovery of your luggage is your own responsibility.
Re confirmation of your international flight ticket is your responsibility. Most international airlines do not require re-confirmation anymore though. Go to Top
Official Name: Republic of India
Capital: New Delhi
Population: 1,166,079,217 (July 2009 est.)
Total Area: 3, 387, 782 sq km
Languages: The official language is Hindi in the Devanagri script. The States are free to decide their own regional languages for internal administration and education, so there are 18 official languages spoken throughout the country. English is widely spoken.
Religions: Hindu 80%, Muslim 15%, Christian 2%, Sikh 2%, Buddhist 1%
Government: Parliamentary democracy
Geography: India stretches from the Himalayan mountains in the north to the Indian Ocean in the south. Between these two extremities India includes almost everything! The north west part of India, Ladakh, is part of the Tibetan plateau. In the south mountains known as Ghats separate the interior from the seas that surround India on the three sides.
Economy: Since independence India has largely been self-sufficient. Although it remains largely a predominantly agriculture country, it has also become one of the world's major industrial powers. Along with the more traditional industries such as textiles, mining, iron & steel works etc., India is fast developing new industries such as computer technology.
Voltage: 23-240 Volts. Sockets are of European two pronged round pin variety. Power cuts are common in more remote regions and occur occasionally in major cities too.
Time: GMT + 5 1/2 hours (EST +10 ½ hrs). Conception of time is different in India, being rather vague. Some say that India applies IST (Indian Stretchable Time). Since unpunctuality is common, patience is needed.
Communications: The country code for India is 91. When dialling an Indian number from abroad, drop the initial 0 from the local area code.
Public Holidays: There are many festivals and special events in India, but only a few of these are full public holidays. These are: 26 Jan Republic Day, 15 Aug. Independence Day, 2 Oct. Mahatma Gandhi's Birthday. For dates of other holidays and festival please contact Tourist Offices in India. Go to Top
Due to its size and varied topography, India experiences great extremes of climate. Most of India has 3 seasons:
- October to April (north India)
- November to March (south India). The most pleasant time to travel in sub Himalayan India. Generally warm clear sunny days and cool nights.
- April to June Hot and humid by day and night.
- July to September (north India) July to October (south India) Humid and wet. The main exception is the Himalayan foothills and Ladakh, which are best visited from May to September when it is warm by day and cool by night. From October to April the nights are VERY COLD don't forget to pack for this! Go to Top
Shopping in India can be great fun. The time spent haggling for souvenirs in the bazaars can be among the most memorable of your trip. Each region in India is renown for a particular handicraft. Luckily most items are on sale at Government Emporiums in main cities where the prices are fixed. Prices are marginally better in the region of origin, and the range on offer more varied of course.
A speciality of Kashmir and Jaipur a range of high quality hand made carpets is difficult to surpass unless you visit Central Asia, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey.
Varanasi is the silk centre of India. Saris are a major product line, but few non Indians really carry themselves well in these beautiful garments. More common purchases for travellers are wall hangings, scarves or table covers.
Usually on silk these are a speciality of Udaipur. Often of traditional symbols, gods or battle scenes, these are easy to pack away and can be framed at home.
Textiles have always been a major industry in the region and printed materials are excellent and cheap. Many travellers buy material to take home. Others take advantage of the low prices charged by tailors in some countries to have shirts, trousers made to measure.
A product traditionally from Mysore in South India, figurines carved from
this wood are beautiful in colour and give off the most gorgeous scent. Just visiting a Sandalwood shop is a wonderful experience for your senses.
The variety of jewellery available across the region is immense, and designs vary tremendously. Gold and silver are sold by weight, with a small amount being added for the workmanship involved. This generally makes it very easy to compare what you see in different stores. Go to Top
It is becoming increasingly common for travellers to use e mail as a means of keeping in touch during their travels. In most places in India you will find cyber-cafes which offer email facilities.
The country code for India is 91. When dialling an Indian number from abroad, drop the initial 0 from the local area code.
Cellular service is available in most areas of India and is active in all metropolitan cities.
If someone wishes to contact you whilst you are on tour, the best method is for them to contact our office, and we will pass on the message.
We'd appreciate your feedback after you have finished your tour. For this purpose, you will be given Holiday Assessment forms at the start of the tour. Please do spare us a few moments to let us know how you enjoyed your holiday and your comments/suggestions on the different aspects of the tour. Go to Top
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- Getting Ready
- Custom Regulation
- Money Matters
- What to take
- Suggested Reading
- On Arrival
- General Information
- When to go
- Keep in Touch