India

INDIA
Map of the Indian sub-continent where India is marked in the green colour.

One country : an infinite feast of opportunities and experiences to truly captivate travellers of all ages, interests, and aspirations. India is a vibrant and colourful country with a vast range of landscapes, history and culture. From the northern states with their highlands and snow-capped mountains, to the central plains of the vast river systems, to the desert of the west, and to the green tropical forests, new vistas await you at every stage of your journey.India is steeped in history and reflects the eras of small nation states in its fortress and palaces, as well as the turbulent times when European nations (France, Holland, Portugal, Britain and others) established colonies and vied for supreme influence.

Beneath these cultural layers are those of far older civilisations, their existence preserved in the sculpture and architecture of the ruins of historical kingdoms of southern India, or in the magnificent carved white marble of the Taj Mahal – an enduring monument to love. India is the birthplace of four major world religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism – which peaceably co-exist alongside Islam, Christianity and others. Each religion has imprinted its own characteristics on local culture and architecture. Aside from cultural opportunities for the traveller, India offers unrivalled opportunities for wildlife tourism, trekking, and novel adventures (eg. camel safaris, white water rafting).

India-map

From the Himalayan foothills to the southern tip of India an extensive network of national parks and reserves abounds. Here you will encounter areas brimming with flora and fauna, with the sight of larger mammals (eg. elephants, tigers) and the birdlife, providing lifetime memories. So, with our country offering such a vast menu for travellers, where will it take you?

  • To taste the relaxation and therapies of yoga and ayurveda, some of the ancient natural remedies of past cultures?
  • For day walks, or longer treks, in the Himalayan foothills or in the hills and spice plantations of the south?To the royal state of Rajasthan, with its palaces and forts, its wildlife and national parks, and, perhaps above all, the vibrant colours so appealingly reflected in its national dress?
  • To spending nights in a treehouse surrounded by wildlife, or a luxury hotel in a maharajah’s palace, or a lodge in a national park, or a camel safari, or a camp?
  • To joining a naturalist – by elephant or jeep – to track tigers in a national park?
  • To the beaches, sun and merrymaking of the former Portuguese colony of Goa?
  • To watch the ancient religious ceremonies on the banks of the holy Ganges river at Varanasi?
  • To visiting the tribal lands of the Naga and others near the border of Myanmar?
  • To visit the abounding markets and buy the handicrafts that are as varied regionally as the country itself?

Our experts, all born and bred in the country, and with India engraved in our hearts, await to help you to turn your wish list into a truly enjoyable travel itinerary that matches your choices. Above all, we shall work to make your visit an enduring memory that refreshes your life, and your soul.

Getting there

By Air
Most major international carriers fly to India. The main international airports are at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. Choice of entry and exit airport will be partly dependent on the areas of India you wish to visit.

Visas and Passports
A passport valid for a minimum of 6 months is essential. The TVOA (Tourist Visa on Arrival) scheme operates for nationals of Cambodia, Finland, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Luxembourg, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam, allowing stays of up to 30 days. For all other countries, including Britain, nationals must apply for a tourist visa before departure.

Weather
Despite much of India lying north of the tropics, the climate is dominated by the tropical monsoon, giving relatively high temperatures and dry winters. Winter months (October to February) generally have pleasant, stable weather.

Customs
Duty free alcohol allowance is one bottle of spirits and two bottles of wine (or twelve cans of beer). Personal items such as cameras, binoculars, mobile phones and other modern technologies are permitted.

When to go

The winter season (October to February) is the best time to visit (Average temperatures 10°C in the far north; 20°C in the south). In summer (March to June) temperatures in central and southern states can reach 35 – 40°C. However, the weather remains pleasant in the northern hill states, Ladakh and other regions close to the Himalayas. The monsoon months (July  – September) are hot (35°C) and humid. During the monsoon season, unpredictable weather can delay flights and sometimes other forms of travel. Travellers at this time of year are advised to include a buffer day into their itinerary. For your enjoyment and convenience.

Local customs
Indian people are friendly by nature and, like other countries in the sub-continent, warm to friendliness that is reciprocated. The caste system remains important in Indian society, especially outside major cities. This, together with strong traditions, means certain customs and protocols should be kept to, including:

  • In public places, please wear sensible clothes that cover arms and legs.
  • Do not photograph Indian people without seeking their approval.
  • Still and video photography are permitted at all monuments. However, a licence is required (From the Archaeological Survey of India) for any flash photography.
  • Always ask formal permission before entering a Hindu temple.
  • Always remove your shoes when entering a temple.
  • Do not take photographs within Hindu temples.
  • In wildlife reservations the state will charge you a fee for photography.
  • In tribal areas photography is not permitted.
  • It is customary to tip most persons providing services – waiters, guides, doormen, porters, private drivers, etc.

Clothing
Choice of clothing will be dependent upon the areas you wish to visit, the season and any outdoor activities. Cotton clothing is suitable for most of the year. For the northern hill states, warm woollen clothing and protection from wind and rain eg. anorak, hat, etc – as well as stout walking boots are recommended at all times. During the monsoon season good waterproof clothing (anorak, trousers and hat) is essential.

Currency
Indian (Rs). Nepalese rupees (NRs or Rs) are not an acceptable equivalent. The Indian rupees is made up of 100 paise. However, most costs and bills are in whole rupees.

Credit cards
All international credit cards (Mastercard, Visa, etc) are accepted in leading hotels, shopping centres, bars and restaurants in all major towns and cities. In the countryside many payments will need to be made in Indian rupees.

Banks
ATMs are common throughout towns and cities. You are advised to convert cash or travellers’ cheques into Indian currency only at banks or official exchanges, and to retain the receipts. Receipts allow for re-conversion at the end of your visit; it is illegal to export Indian currency on departure.

Electricity
India uses 220 volt, 50Hz mains electricity similar to the United Kingdom supply. A few areas have DC supplies. Plug sockets are round pin (2-pin or 3-pin) as in most Asian countries. We recommend you purchase a travel adaptor before leaving your country of residence.

Vaccinations and health requirements
India does not require tourists to have any specific immunisation. The principal exception is for travellers from countries where yellow fever is endemic, where a vaccination certificate is essential. Your doctor can advise you on appropriate vaccinations. Please obtain advice a few months in advance of your travel so there is adequate time to complete any course of injections.

Insurance
We advise you to take out a medical/accident insurance policy in your country of residence. If you are trekking in the more remote regions insurance should include cover for helicopter evacuation.

Skin and eye protection
Always good to protect your skin and eyes from the sun. In the summer months the temperature can go high and we recommend to stay as much in the shade as possible, especially during mid day hours (10am – 4pm). Wear clothing to protect exposed skin. Wear a hat with a wide brim to protect your face, eyes from the heat. Apply sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher).

Communications
Indian telephone system is very good and cheap!!!  On every street corner in cities and villages there are yellow signs reading S.T.D./ISD … these are public telephone booths where without a surcharge (which is payable at hotels) you can make internal / international calls with absolute good clarity.  You can also get local Mobile GSM Phone SIM Cards on arrival at the airport. However you need to carry passport size photography to stick on the application form for SIM card.

Frequently-asked questions

Is English spoken?

Hindi is the official language; in certain remoter areas local languages persist. English is widely spoken across the whole country.

Do I need a permit to trek in northern India?

Permits are only required in certain restricted areas. Before trekking anywhere, you should register your intention and general plans with your country’s embassy or local consulate.

Are there some regions that I should avoid?
Caution should be exercised if you plan to visit some of the most remote areas of India. These areas may have a low-level insurgency. More Up-to-date information is available on the Foreign Travel Advice India Section or the consulate of India.

 

Wild Asiatic Elephant herd

At Corbett Tiger Reserve (North India)

Community based Tourism Initiatives

North-Eastern state of India

Desert Safari on Camel Back

At the Thar Desert, Rajasthan (West India)

Jaisalmer Rajasthan

Western India

The Udaipur lake

Rajasthan. India

Wilderness does a walk in the park

Indian Jackal on a mystery run at Kanha National Park (Central India)

The Tigress captures the tourist's eye

At Ranthambhore National Park - Rajasthan. India

The Taj

at Agra

Stay at Luxury

The Leela Palace (New Delhi) India

Romantic Paradise

Luxury houseboats on the backwaters of Kerala (Southern India)

Dine with the Kings

Baradari Dining at Jodhpur Palace - Rajasthan

 

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