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Useful Information

Passport & Visa

You require a valid passport from your country and a visa from an Indian mission abroad to enter India.

E-Visa Facility

E-Visa facility is available to nationalities of 166 countries.

For the complete list of nationalities covered under the e-Tourist visa scheme, please visit https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html

E-Visa Validity

The validity of e-tourist and e- business visas is one year with multiple entries.

On e-tourist visa, continuous stay during each visit should not exceed 90 days in case of nationals eligible for grant of e-visa except US, UK, Japan and Canada.

In case of nationals of US, UK, Japan and Canada, continuous stay during each visit should not exceed 180 days.

Travellers who do not require a visa:

Citizens of Bhutan and Nepal, who do not require a visa.

Nationals of Maldives do not require a visa for visits of up to 90 days.

Persons of Indian Origin and Non-Resident Indians who possess either an OCI or a PIO card, which are the equivalent of a long India visa.

India issues the following types of visas

Tourist Visa: Up to 6 months. Apply with: documents supporting your financial standing.

Business Visa: One or more years. Apply with letter from the sponsoring organisation.

Student Visa: For the duration of the academic course of study or for a period of five years whichever is less. Apply with: proof of admission to recognised Universities / Institutions in India

Transit Visa: Maximum period of 15 Days. Apply with: Evidence of onward travel to a destination outside India.

Conference Visa: For the duration of the conference or seminar. Apply with: letter of invitation from the organiser of the conference.

When you apply for a visa at an Indian Embassy or High Commission you must include the following:

Your passport valid for at least 6 months.

Visa fee in cash or by postal order (cheques are normally not accepted).

Two passport-size photographs.

Supporting documents, where necessary.

Duly completed application form.

Note: Allow one month’s processing time for postal applications.

Some parts of India are “restricted areas” and require special permits.

Climate

India is a tropical country. Nevertheless, there are huge variations according to the region and the season. The coolest months are from mid-November to mid-March, which also happens to be the tourist season. In the south, and on the coasts, day time temperatures even in the cool months can be in be the mid-20s centigrade, though the nights are cool. In central India, and in the hills in the southern part of the country, night temperatures can drop to under 10°C in winter. In the north, winter temperatures can approach 0°C even in the plains, and of course it drops below freezing in the Himalayan region. Summers are very hot, with some parts of south and central India, and the plains in the north, getting temperatures over 40°C. The monsoons, the rainy season, stretch from June until October, with different levels of intensity in different parts of the country. The West Coast and the north-east get the heaviest rain (two towns in Meghalaya vie for the title of the place with the most rainfall in the world).

Clothing

Winter – In the south, in the hills, you may need a light jacket in the evenings and early morning, or on overcast days. In the north, you may need to dress warmer, with light woollens even during the day. Consider dressing in layers and carrying a small day-pack to stow away some clothes as the day gets hotter.

Summer – Light cotton tropical clothing, sun hats or caps, and sunglasses are recommended. For those travelling in the hills or mountainous areas light woollens may be needed for the nights.

Monsoon – Light, quick-drying clothing, and either a raincoat or an umbrella or both (especially in places where there is a heavy monsoon).

Airport & Customs

International airports operate the conventional green and red channels, with officials liable to carry out sudden spot check on passengers passing through the green channel.

If carrying items of high value such as cameras, laptops and the like for your personal use during your trip, you may be asked to fill in a Tourist Baggage Re-export Form (TBRE) when you enter the country, which allows you to bring items into India free of duty, provided you take them back with you when you are leaving.

Personal allowances are one litre of spirits, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 gms of tobacco per passenger over the age of 18 years.

Security

In domestic flights in India, penknives and other sharp objects, liquids, matchboxes and lighters, batteries and some electronic items are not allowed in your cabin baggage, so pack them into your check-in luggage, or they will probably be either confiscated or taken away from you only to be returned at the other end of the flight.

As with airports all over the world in this era, security checks are stringent, and you and your luggage may be searched more than once before you get on the plane. It may be necessary to identify your baggage on the tarmac before it is loaded on to the aircraft.

Baggage Allowance

The normal free allowance while flying he government-owned Indian Airlines is 30 kg in Economy and 40 kg in First Class. For the private airline operators it is 20 kg in Economy and 30 kg in First Class, where available. You can carry only a single piece of hand baggage (within certain size specifications) on domestic flights.

Airport Departure Tax

Airport departure tax is usually included in your international tickets and does not have to be paid at the airport.

Currency

The Rupee, which is divided into 100 paise.
Rupee symbol:
Currency code:INR
Coin denominations: 1, 2, 5 and 10 rupees.
Note denominations: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 2000 rupees.

There are no restrictions on the importation of foreign currency by tourists, provided a Declaration Form is completed on arrival. The import and export of the Rupee is, however, prohibited and may not be spent in Duty Free Shops or on board aircrafts. Receipts for all currency must be kept, as it may be reconverted on departure.

It is advisable to carry money in the form of travellers’ cheques, preferably in US Dollars, as it is widely recognised and accepted.

Changing money through unauthorised persons is illegal as well as risky in respect of receiving counterfeit money.

Credit cards

Most hotels, restaurants and some shops accept major credit cards such as American Express, Diners Club, Visa and Mastercard. They will usually display signage to that effect.

Time

UTC + 5 hours and 30 minutes.

Health

Yellow Fever – Vaccination Certificate is required if arriving from an infected area.
Cholera/Typhoid – Innoculation recommended.
Malaria – No certificate required, but advisable to have a course of pills.

Medical treatment in India is inexpensive by European or North American standards, though India has a pool of some of the best doctors in the world. Most hotels have a doctor on call.

Sunshine stronger than you are used to, heat, especially if you are travelling in India’s summer months, digestive upsets, insect bites for which you have developed no immunities, all these can spoil your trip. So please take a few basic precautions.

Carry a kit containing sunscreens and other lotions for protection from the sun, insect repellents and sting relief creams, water sterilising tablets and medicines for possible stomach upsets or indigestion.

To protect yourself from mosquitoes when outdoors in the evenings, use an insect repellent on exposed skin, and wear socks, trousers and long-sleeved shirts.

Eating and drinking

Tap water is not purified for drinking. Unless you have access to a water filter, or are sure water has been boiled, it is safer to stick to bottled water. Avoid ice in your drinks outside your hotel.

Avoid ice cream or food sold by roadside vendors, uncooked or undercooked foods, fruit or vegetables that cannot be peeled.

Electricity

The majority of India works on 220 volts AC 50 Hz. However, it is possible that certain areas have DC supplies and it may be a good idea to check before using electical appliances. Socket sizes vary, so it is well to take along a set of plug adaptors.

Note: You will probably need to get an adapter for your devices. It’s pretty easy to get “all-in-one” adapters that you can use to plug your device’s power chord into before plugging into the power supply.

Language

English is widely spoken, especially in areas that are used to tourists, though accents and grammar may vary considerably. Hindi is the most widely spoken language in the country, but it also has regional variations and accents. There are totally 15 major languages 544 dialects spoken in India in addition to English.

Note that we always ensure that our clients are paired with guides who can speak their language.

Communication

India has both GSM and CDMA cellular phone systems. Reception is usually clear in urban areas, but can get patchy or non-existent in remoter parts of the country. If you plan to use international roaming, check with your phone service provider on whether they have tie-ups with any Indian providers that will give you favourable roaming rates. If you use a GSM phone, you may want to consider buying an Indian phone card to use for your trip. We can help you choose a good plan for your stay.

Landline telephone calls to most countries are now direct. Fax and Telex facilities are now ubiquitously available. Internet facilities are also easily available in most cities and tourist centres, in cybercafes and business centres, but free wireless connectivity is rare.

Connectivity – wireless or conventional broadband – in five-star hotels tends to be many times more expensive than cybercafes in the same areas though some hotels are now wi-fi.

The Indian postal service is huge; you’re likely to find post offices in the most remote towns. You can usually buy stamps and leave letters for posting at most hotels.

Cuisine

Indian food is as varied as the country itself, with every region having its own specialities. It therefore, does not always have to be “hot” nor can any one dish be labelled a “curry.” (That said, many Indian cuisines can be pungent to those unaccustomed to it. Even if you have eaten at Indian restaurants outside India, remember that many such establishments tone down the spice quotient for local tastes.)

Most dishes with a gravy are normally called curries but are prepared with a different masala (a combination of spices and seasonings) containing among other things coriander, cumin, garlic, onions ginger, turmeric, chillies, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper, cloves cinnamon, bay leaves, saffron, mace and nutmeg; all the aromas and flavors that brought traders to India for centuries.

A traditional meal in large parts of India is usually served in large metal plate called a ‘Thali’ (when you see the word in a menu, usually prefixed with a region name, it means you’re getting a full traditional meal from that region) with a number of small bowls used to hold the gravy dishes. The meal is normally accompanied with unleavened bread, usually wheat-based, in the North, or rice in the South.

The more upmarket hotels also provide a fair selection of international cuisine as well, and in the major cities, you’re also very likely to find Italian, Chinese, Indonesian, Malaysian, Mexican, Thai, Japanese, and Lebanese speciality restaurants. Aside from international fast food franchises, which are making inroads even into smaller towns.

While India is by no means teetotal, in most parts of the country people do not usually drink alcohol with a meal. (More likely is a glass of salty or sweet or spiced buttermilk, a soft drink, or water!) But most large hotels, and restaurants with liquor licenses, will be happy to serve you a drink at your table should you want one. The Indian wine industry is still a young one, but it is improving steadily, and is close to international standards on some counts. Imported wines and liquors are usually reasonably easily available, and tend to be much more expensive than local beverages.

North

North Indian food has been strongly influenced by Mughal cuisine and is broadly non-vegetarian characterised by the use of yoghurt, fried onions, nuts and saffron. Outstanding dishes worth trying would be biryani, gushtaba, tandoori dishes and kababs. Beef is rarely eaten in the North, since many Hindus consider the cow sacred. Pork, forbidden by Islam, is a rarity in areas with a substantial Muslim population.

South

Southern India is renowned for its spicy curries, rasam (millagu tannir or literally pepper water, before it was anglicised to mulligatawny), masala dosai or crisp potato pancakes and a variety of rice-based dishes. The hot food has to be tempered with pappadums, yoghurt and buttermilk. Coconut tends to be extensively used. Places well known for their non-vegetarian cuisine are the Chettinad area in Tamil Nadu, and large parts of Kerala. And of course the coastal areas get you some very good fish.

East

Southern India is renowned for its spicy curries, rasam (millagu tannir or literally pepper water, before it was anglicised to mulligatawny), masala dosai or crisp potato pancakes and a variety of rice-based dishes. The hot food has to be tempered with pappadums, yoghurt and buttermilk. Coconut tends to be extensively used. Places well known for their non-vegetarian cuisine are the Chettinad area in Tamil Nadu, and large parts of Kerala. And of course the coastal areas get you some very good fish.

West

Western India is a very diverse area in terms of cuisine. Gujarat with its strong Jain traditions is almost entirely vegetarian with a sweetish touch to all its dishes. Goa is famed for its Portuguese-influenced meat and seafood dishes. Maharashtra’s coastal regions also have their traditional seafood cuisine.

Note:

Gujarat is the only dry state in India at present. However, foreigners visiting India can obtain liquor permits either from embassies/missions/tourist offices abroad or at a Government of India Tourist office at Bombay, Delhi, Madras or Calcutta.

India grows some of the finest, most in-demand tea in the world, and though in many parts of India what you get served is milky, oversweet tea made from powdered leaf that has had its antioxidants boiled out of it, in the better hotels tea is still served as it should be. India also grows good coffee, and the people of the South drink a lot more of it than North Indian tea lovers.

Water from the tap is not purified for drinking in India. To be safe, apart from the flasks of water in your hotel rooms, tea, coffee, mineral water and bottled drinks, you should carry around and use purifying tablets. If you are away from your hotel for an extended period, it may be a good idea to take along a bottle of water or, if you’re buying bottled drinks, to use a straw.

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