Traveler’s should hold valid passport and apply for a visa at their local Indian embassy or consulate, before they travel. They can apply directly by mail or in person, or through their local travel services company. India has recently implemented an online method for citizens of 40 countries to apply and receive an e-Tourist Visa. Nationals of Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal do not require a visa. Citizens of Afghanistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, DPR Korea, Jamaica, Maldives, Mauritius, Mongolia, Nepal, South Africa and Uruguay are not required to pay a fee when obtaining Indian visa.
A Protected Area Permit (PAP) is required to enter the states of Nagaland and Sikkim and some parts of the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Uttaranchal. A Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is required to enter the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and parts of Sikkim. Special permits are needed to enter Lakshadweep Islands.
In order to boost tourism numbers, the Indian Government decided to implement a new visa policy, allowing visitors to obtain a visa on arrival at 16 designated international airports by obtaining an Electronic Travel Authorization online before arrival without the need to visit an Indian consulate or visa centre.
The visa on arrival requires a tourist to apply online on a secure Government of India website, at least 4 to 30 days before the date of travel. If approved, the passenger must print and carry the approved visa with the travel documents. The visa allows holders of Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) to enter and stay anywhere in India for 30 days. The ETA can be obtained twice in a single calendar year. The visa on arrival facility is expected to be expanded to about 180 countries over time. In April 2015 the scheme was renamed to e-Tourist Visa in order to avoid confusion.
With most overland routes into India (except from Nepal) effectively blocked by closed or trouble-prone borders, the only practicable way of getting to India is by plane. There are numerous nonstop services from the UK, plus a few from North America and one from Australia. Most of these arrive at either Delhi or Mumbai, although there are also nonstop flights from the UK into Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru.
The Republic of India, whose capital is Delhi, is bordered by Afghanistan, China, Nepal and Bhutan to the north, Bangladesh and Myanmar (Burma) to the east and Pakistan to the west. It is the land of many diversities: A vast subcontinent with climate and customs varying from one region to the next.
It’s the seventh largest country in the world, covering more than three million square kilometres and is second only to China in terms of population, at more than 1.22 billion. Hindus comprise eighty percent of the population, Muslims 13 percent, and there are millions of Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains. Twenty-three official languages are spoken, along with more than a thousand minor languages and dialects. Hindi is the language of more than forty percent of the population; English is widely spoken.
The caste system is pervasive and although integral to Hindu belief, it also encompasses non-Hindus. It holds special sway in rural areas and may dictate where a person lives and what their occupation is.
About eighty-two percent of males are literate, compared to 65 percent of females.
India now boasts more than 400,000 millionaires, with a combined net worth of nearly US$2.5 billion.
Explore the wildlife in over 70 national parks, 400 wildlife sanctuaries and 17 biosphere reserves. The Indian tiger and the Asiatic elephant are still found in certain regions. Among the best known reserves are Keoladeo Ghana National Park (Rajasthan), Ranthambore National Park (Rajasthan), Kanha National Park (Madhya Pradesh), Corbett Tiger Reserve (Uttarakhand) and Sunderbans Tiger Reserve (West Bengal).
Visit the most romantic city in Rajasthan, Udaipur. Known as the ‘Venice of the East’, it is built around the lovely Lake Pichola and is famed for its breathtaking Lake Palace Hotel as well as being a key filming location for the James Bond film, Octopussy. The rest of Rajasthan is famous for its colourful people and fairy-tale castles and forts.
Brave the crowds that throng the sacred River Ganges. Along its bank is the wondrous city of Varanasi, one of India's holiest Hindu locations with its ghats which, at dawn, are mobbed with pilgrims and holy men performing ritual ablutions and prayers.
Taj Mahal and the Golden Triangle
Discover the area known as the 'Golden Triangle' with its many stunning attractions. Delhi sits at the heart of the area with Agra in the southeast with the iconic Taj Mahal. To the southwest, in Rajasthan, is Jaipur, the vibrant 'Pink City'. Visit the Amber Fort and the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds). To the southeast of the triangle lies Khajuraho with its famous erotic friezes.
Find out where your humble cuppa comes from with a tour of one of India’s tea plantations. Watch the tea pickers at work and learn how the leaves are processed. Head to the cool mountain town of Darjeeling, Assam or The Nilgris for the best brews.
Temples of Ajanta
Observe stunning rock-cut temples all over India including the Buddhist cave temples at Ajanta, which date back at least 2,000 years, and Khajuraho with its famous erotic friezes. The caves at Ellora depict religious stories and are Hindu, Buddhist and Jain in origin.
Weather in India is generally warm - though it can be bitterly cold in Northern states, particularly in winter months. Generally, clothes that ‘breathe’, and which can be worn in layers are a good idea; in winter, a sweater/cardigan and a windcheater are useful. Outside your hotels, it is generally best to be dressed somewhat conservatively, avoiding clothes that are too revealing, transparent or skimpy. A scarf, hat, or cap provides protection from the sun.
At some places of worship – temples and mausoleums – shoes are required to be removed before entering.
While there are no compulsory vaccinations for travel to India, we strongly advise that for all medical and health advice you consult your doctor and/or your appropriate Medical Centre / Health Advisory Service at least six weeks before your intended the date of travel. A valid yellow fever certificate is mandatory for anyone who has been, even in transit, in Africa, South America, or Papua New Guinea in the last six days.
International travellers these days are well aware of the importance and advantages of purchasing insurance to cover the maximum number of contingencies. Nevertheless, we feel duty bound to remind you that you should do so.
In India, the unit of currency is the Rupee (Rs.) divided into 100 paise. Banknote denominations are Rs.1000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5. Coins are Rs.10, 5, 2, 1. Most major credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, Amex etc. are accepted in most hotels, restaurants and shops, as are travellers cheques.
Foreign currency should be changed with Authorised Money Changers only - facility is available at most hotels, banks, international airports, and some large shops. Do make sure to obtain an ‘Encashment Certificate’ when you change money. It will help you reconvert any Indian money you might have left over back into your original currency at the time of departure.