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India

India is the seventh largest country in the world, covering more than three million square kilometers, and is only second to China in terms of population at more than 1.22 billion. It is also the largest Democracy in the world.

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  • India is the seventh largest country in the world, covering more than three million square kilometers, and is only second to China in terms of population at more than 1.22 billion. It is also the largest Democracy in the world.
  • Being a multi-ethnic and multi- religious country, Hindus comprise eighty percent of the population, Muslims being thirteen percent, and millions of Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains; with Atheists as well.
  • Twenty three official languages are spoken, along with more than a thousand minor languages and dialects of particular regions. Hindi is the language of more than forty percent of the population; India is the second largest English speaking country in the world, yes, with ten percent of the population speaking English which is about 125 million people.
  • Eighty two percent of males are literate, compared to sixty five percent of females, seventy four percent of the total population.
  • India now boasts of more than 4,00,000 millionaires, with a combined net worth of nearly US $2.5 billion.
  • Indian Railways is the largest employer on the planet, with around one million workers.o Producing 1100 movies each year and turning over US$ 4 billion, India’s film industry is the largest in the world, in terms of ticket numbers if not box office receipts.
  • ‘Namaste’ is a traditional way of saying ‘hello’ and greeting strangers or guests, which means ‘my soul recognizes yours’.
  • India provides safety for more than 3,00,000 refugees originally from Sri Lanka, Tibet, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who escaped to flee religious or political persecution.

VISA

  1. Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVOA)Tourist Visa-on-Arrival can be granted to citizens of 11 countries, whose sole objective of visiting India is recreation, sight-seeing, casual visit to meet friends or relatives, short duration medical treatment or casual business visit etc. and no other purpose/ activity and who holds a passport with a minimum validity of six months and a re-entry permit, if that is required under the law of the country of nationality of the applicant
    Countries whose citizens are eligible for TVOA
    • Finland
    • Japan
    • Luxembourg
    • New Zealand
    • Singapore
    • Cambodia
    • Vietnam
    • Philippines
    • Laos
    • Indonesia
    • Myanmar
    Indian airports Offering TVOA Facility
    • Delh
    • Mumbai
    • Chennai
    • Kolkata
    • Kochi
    • Thiruvananthapuram
    • Hyderabad
    • Bengaluru
  2. Traditional Tourist Visa & eTV (e-Visa)
    All visitors to India are legally required to hold a valid visa. A traditional visa is obtained through a lengthy application process, the traveler must submit their original passport along with application materials in order for the visa to be approved, and stamped inside the passport. While the process itself takes longer and requires more paperwork, the visa that is issued has a longer validity and allows multiple entries. 
    Now eligible citizens traveling for leisure/tourism purposes have the option to apply for an Indian visa online, and have their visa granted electronically. When the Indian government implemented this new electronic process, they called it Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), and because the visa sticker was placed inside the traveler’s passport at the airport upon arrival to India, the application form also referred to this process as 'Visa on Arrival'. This could be confusing to travelers; it is very important to understand that the visa must be applied for and approved before traveling to India. This cannot be done simply upon arrival. 
    The official name for this process has changed to ‘e-Tourist Visa (eTV). The online process has not changed, and the traveler's biometric information will still be taken at the airport and the visa stamped inside the passport upon arrival in India.Presently eTV is available over 77 countries. Otherwise the tradition visa norms apply (along with few country specific stipulations).

    Indian airports allowing eTV

    • Ahmedabad
    • Amritsar
    • Bagdogra
    • Bengaluru
    • Calicut
    • Chennai
    • Chandigarh
    • Cochin
    • Coimbatore
    • Delhi
    • Gaya
    • Goa
    • Guwahati
    • Hyderabad
    • Jaipur
    • Kolkata
    • Lucknow
    • Mangalore
    • Mumbai
    • Nagpur
    • Pune
    • Tiruchirapalli
    • Trivandrum
    • Varanasi

    For further information, may click here

GETTING THERE

Flights from Europe, Africa, Middle East, North East Asia and Australia all have direct flights to any Indian Internation airport. Flights from The United States however has to take a hault at some European city and then resume their journey. Airlines that fly currently to India include Emirates, Lufthansa ,British Airways, Swiss International Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Turkish Airlines, Qantas Airways, Korean Air, Air New Zealand, China Southern Airlines, Air Asia, FinnAir, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, Air France and Asiana Airlines.International Airports in India include Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi ; Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai ; Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata ; Kempegowda International Airport, Bangaluru ; Chennai International Airport, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, Ahmedabad ; Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Hyderabad; Goa International Airport and some more, with ample options to land there.

AIRPORT TAX

An airport tax for international and domestic flights is included in the airfare

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS

Free import by non-residents, is only permitted if they enter India for a stay of not less than 24 hours, not more than 6 months, and not more than once a month.a. Persons of 17 years of age and older: 100 cigarettes or 25 cigars or 125 grams of tobacco; 2 liters of alcoholic liquor or wine;b. Medicines in reasonable quantities;c. 2 ounces of perfume and 1/4 liter of toilet water;d. Jewelry, up to a combined value of INR 50,000.- for male travelers or INR 100,000.- for female travelers; e. Travel souvenirs imported by:- nationals and residents of India or if being of Indian origin and being over 9 years of age:- if returning from Bhutan, China (People's Rep.), Myanmar or Nepal: up to INR 6,000.- if stayed outside for more than 3 days. If stayed outside up to 3 days: nil.- if returning from other countries: up to INR 45,000.- if stayed outside for more than 3 days. If stayed outside up to 3 days: INR 17,500.-.For persons under 10 years of age:- nationals of, or being of origin, Bhutan and Nepal and coming from respective countries: nil. If coming from other countries: up to INR 8,000.-- nationals of, or being of origin, Pakistan and coming from Pakistan: up to INR 6,000.-. If coming from other countries: up to INR 8,000.-.- all other nationals: up to INR 8,000.-. If coming from Pakistan: up to INR 6,000.-.f. goods for personal use. Goods in excess of the maximum permitted amount will be subject to an import duty of 60%.

CURRENCY AND EXCHANGE

There is no such upper limit in importing foreign currencies to India. However, amounts exceeding USD 5,000.- (or equivalent) in cash, or USD 10,000.- (or equivalent) in traveler's cheques must be declared;Local currency (Indian Rupee-INR): Import of INR is prohibited, except for residents of India importing up to INR 7,500.   Foreign currencies include currency notes, traveler's cheques, cheques, drafts etc. (Re)exchange only through banks and authorized money exchange points.Export of foreign currencies, up to the amount imported and declared.Local currency (Indian Rupee-INR): INR 7,500.- for residents of India, except when departing to Bhutan and Nepal. For residents departing to Bhutan and Nepal: no limit in amount of INR but notes no bigger than INR 100.- may be carried.Foreign currencies include currency notes, traveler's cheques, cheques, drafts etc. (Re)exchange only through banks and authorized money exchange points.

GENERAL ADVICE

Avoid drinking tap water, taking ice in drinks and having milk products. Stick to bottled water (or boiled or UV treated water available at the hotels or good shops) and ensure that the seal is opened by you or in your presence. Aerated water (bottled soft drinks) is fine. Eat moderately for the first few days. Allow your system to get used to the changes as Indian Cuisine is comparatively spicier.It is recommended to carry with you a small supply of basic healthcare medication such as allergy tablets, cold and flu tablets, travel sickness tablets, fever tablets, anti-diarrhea tablets, insect repellent, sun screens and general purpose antibiotic, though most of these items are available in India. Also, personal hygiene is a must; one must wash hands often, especially after coming back from somewhere or before having a meal.Public display of affection is not perceived in a very open manner and would be frowned upon and even can draw harassment. Same goes for homosexuality, which is mostly not accepted, especially openly. There are strict laws against use of unprescription hard drugs and cannabis, and can be jailed for upto 6months, if proven for personal usage. Only use of bhang is legal. It is recommended to be alert and cautious about one’s money and personal belongings, especially in crowded areas. 

CLIMATE

India consists of six major ecological climate, comprising a wide range of weather conditions across a vast geographic scale and varied topography, generalizations being difficult. They range from arid deserts in the west, alpine tundra and glaciers in the north, and humid tropical regions supporting rainforests in the southwest and the island territories.The nation has four seasons: Winter – December, January and February; summer – March, April and May; Monsoon or rainy season – June to September; and a post-monsoon period or Autumn – October to November.The best time to visit India is in the cold, dry season, that is from October to March.  Delhi, Agra, Varanasi, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are ideal at this time, and temperatures in Goa and central India remain comfortable. The heat of the south is never less than intense, but it becomes stifling in May and June; so aim to be in Tamil Nadu and Kerala between January and March. From this time onwards, the Himalayas grow more accessible, and the trekking season reaches its peak in August and September while the rest of the subcontinent is being soaked by the rains.

CLOTHING

Traditionally, the dress for Indian women devoid of caste, creed and culture is saree. Though sari is thought to be the most common and popular form of dressing, there are other attires that are either region specific or culture specific, and also depends on climatic factors. The next most popular traditional attire is the salwar kameez, followed by ghagra choli or lahenga. Then sari and skirts itself is wore in different styles in different parts of India. Also, Muslim women wear burqa and hijab as part of their tradition.Both seasonal as well as weather factors are to be kept in mind while dressing for and at a particular region. The northern parts of India demands warm clothes depending on which area one is at, while loose fitting light coloured clothes to let the breeze in and the sun out in the western parts as they are hot and dry, and average coverage and moderate dressing in the east and middle which is hot and humid, and so in the south. 

ELECTRICITY

Power is adequate in metro cities and is also available at most villages or towns across India. Power shortages are rare in the cities, though cannot be made certain. Remote areas always do not have electric supply or even if they do, power cuts do happen. Although most standard hotels have the backup of generators. It is always a good idea to carry a power with you.

CELLPHONE NETWORK & INTERNET

Even if compared to some of the European countries, India scores better in cellular and internet connectivity. The major mobile phone network operators in India are Vodafone, Idea, Airtel, Jio, BSNL, Aircel and Reliance, according to preference and popularity. Tower and network availability depends on which place one is at; issues arise at altitudes and remote areas or deserts, whereas it is smooth and going in major cities and towns, and even at some villages. Getting a SIM is not an issue here, but the activation takes some time. It’s not an instant connection like most of the Asian countries offer.   Similar goes for internet connections. Any mobile network operator provides for internet services also. Coverage is same as phone network. Wifi is available in some hotels and restaurants. Don’t expect bullet train speed everywhere, at many locations internet still runs on KBPS!

DRINKING WATER

It is recommended that travelers consume bottled mineral water only, or that of a filter treated one. Change of water might disrupt one’s entire system, so it is better to be on the safer hand.Check the source of water in case having a beverage outside, or even in case of any food stuff that contains water. Do not accept water offered in a bottle that is not sealed. 

FOOD

India is a multiethnic country, and naturally her food cannot be one-dimensional. There is no such single dish which you could iconize Indian cuisine with. Rather it’s an array of otherness. In some parts of India vegetarian cuisine is more popular, but vegan food is still an alien word to Indians. Non-veg are available throughout the country, a few exceptions apart. Varieties of fishes are more cooked over coastal states. Numerous dishes are made out of chicken and mutton, beef or pork is not that easy to available everywhere, although those are consumed in India. Veg dishes and desserts are surly some delights with wide variation and distinction of local cooking peculiarities.     

Almost all tourist standard hotels in India serve American or Continental breakfasts, some neutrally ‘global’ items like ‘bread, butter and omelet’ are easily available over smaller eateries too. All metro cities have restaurants catering to cosmopolitan palate, but truly authentic foreign culinary practices are still confined within a few big city limits only. Some Indianised version of outlandish dishes like soup, stew, chow mien, fried rice, cutlet, chop or French toast are available even on roadside eateries, thanks to foreigners’ invasion or migration to India. With some noteworthy exceptions, essentially Indian food is spicy (for a Western palate particularly). It is not advisable to go too much of ‘local’ upon the first days of your arrival, it may cause a ‘Delhi Belly’. Becoming adventurous with food may give you an awesome experience here, but be noted that street foods or eateries often do not follow the standard parameter of hygiene. So it is always better to avoid the stuff which may have a chance of contamination. But at the end of the day, if you are wise, rational, foodie and exposed enough to alien foods (today worldwide Indian food is not that alien though), you will leave India certainly with a fascinating culinary experience.        

HEALTH REQUIREMENT

Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before the trip. Visit your doctor (ideally, 4-6 weeks) before your trip to get vaccines or medicines you may need. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.Most travelers also need hepatitis A and typhoid vaccines. Ask your doctor what vaccines and medicines you need based on how long you are staying, what you will be doing, and if you are traveling from a country other than the US, then the vaccines you need include Cholera, Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis and Rabies. One must carry medicines for malaria.

LANGUAGE

As varied as it gets, the Indian tongue is diverse with no surprise. Languages spoken in India belong to several language families. The major ones being the Indo-Aryan languages, spoken by 75% of Indians; while the Dravidian languages, spoken by 20% of Indians. There are twenty two major languages spoken in India, with seven hundred and twenty different dialects. Hindi, which uses the Sanskrit-based Devanagari script, is the most widely spoken language with approximately four hundred and twenty million speakers, which is almost same as Urdu, which is coming from Perso-Arabic script; and English, which is spoken by about one hundred and twenty five million people. The language spoken depends on which part of India one is in. Like in south India, the main languages are Malayalam, Tamil, Telegu and Kannada. The north east has their own set of languages. Others include Marwar from Rajasthan, Bengali or Bangla from Bengal, Odia from Orissa and Marathi from Maharashtra.It would be best to interact with locals in either English or Hindi.

RELIGION

Religion in India is characterized by a diversity of religious beliefs and practices. The Indian subcontinent is the birthplace of four of the world’s major religions, namely, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Throughout India’s history, religion has been an important part of the country’s culture. Religious diversity and religious tolerance are both established in the country by law and custom; the Constitution of India has declared the right to freedom of religion to be a fundamental right.Eighty percent of the population of India practices Hinduism, fourteen percent adheres to Islam, while the remaining six percent adheres to other religions (Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism and various indigenous ethnically bound faiths). 

LOCAL TIME AND WORKING HOURS

UTC + 5.30 hours.

Usual Working Hours/ Public Sector: 1000 to 1700 & Private sector: 0930 to 1830 hours

Recess: Usually between 1300 to 1430 hours

Working days: Monday to Friday

Mostly half or full closure: Saturdays

Fully closed: Sundays

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has given the go-ahead for all the banks in the country – public, private, foreign and co-operative – to keep their branches closed on second and fourth Saturdays of the month, effective from September 1, 2017. In exchange, bank branches will have to be open for full working hours every first and third Saturday. So far, Banks used to work half-days on Saturdays.

RESTRICTED AREAS, PROTECTED AREAS AND OVERLAND BORDER CROSSING

The restricted areas are as follows:o Whole of Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islandso Part of the state of Sikkim

The Protected areas are as follows:o Parts of state of Manipuro Parts of state of Mizoramo Parts of state of Arunachal Pradesho Whole of state of Nagalando Whole of state of Sikkimo Parts of state of Uttaranchalo Parts of state of Jammu and Kashmiro Parts of state of Rajasthano Parts of state of Himachal Pradesh

Generally speaking when a foreigner is in India then Power to issue permit to foreigners for visiting R/P areas vests with the Ministry of Home Affairs (ADDRESS: Ministry Of Home Affairs, Foreigners Division, NDCC-II Building 1st Floor, Jai Singh Road, Near NDMC Palika Kendra, New Delhi-110001).

However, FRROs have been delegated powers in respect of some specified areas for a specified period and in some specific conditions.For a group of foreigners i.e. 2 or more for "Tourism" purpose only.However, the Ministry of Home Affairs can issue such permit to an individual.FRROs can issue these permits (for certain areas) only for groups of 2 or more foreigners. The foreign tourist should be accompanied with a recognized travel agent who would act as an escort. A fee of Rs. 1395/- is levied on issuance of Restricted/Protected Area Permit.

SHOPPING

With the diverse range of artistry and craftsmanship, we find India to be one street shopaholic’s paradise. Millions of types of products, be it various regional or global garments, shoes or sandals, accessories, home products, home decorations, jewellery, talismans, paintings, sculptures, there seems to be no end to what exquisite beauty Indian culture and tradition can provide.The major shopping hubs are Commercial street, Bangalore; Arpora Saturday Night, Goa; Fashion street, Pune; Pondy Bazaar, Chennai; Coloba Causeway, Mumbai; Baapu Bazaar, Jaipur; Sarojini Market, Delhi; Lajpat Nagar, Delhi; Tibet Walk, Ooty; Charminar shopping, Hyderabad; New Market, Kolkata; Law Garden, Ahmedabad; Hazratganj, Luchnow and so many more difficult to mention. Every state or a location has their own sort of items, that cannot be compared to other areas. Shopping malls are also largely available with global shops at metro cities.

TIPPING

Although tipping is much of a Western practice imported to India, today a major number of hospitality service providers not only look for tips, their salary/recompense often been fixed upon a probable tip calculation.

Tipping after meals at a restaurantIf eating a small meal, breakfast or snack with a bill total less than 300 INR, then a 10% tip is expected/appreciated. If you have small bills handy you can tip in multiples of 10 INR notes.On totals ranging from 300 to 1000 INR, you can tip anywhere from 7 to 10%. On bill amounts above 1000 INR, tipping 5 to 7% is sufficient. Restaurants in Delhi and Mumbai often charge a ‘service charge’, not to be confused with ‘service tax’ (which is a government levied tax). When a ‘service charge’ is levied upon, no tip is expected.

Tipping at hotelsTipping at hotels in India is slightly confusing and can be annoying at times. Often bellboys or room service staff may wait outside your room expecting a tip, and more so when there is no central tip box at the hotel. We don’t recommend tipping individually, but rather offer a polite ‘thank you’ with a smile and turn/walk away. If in an uncomfortable situation, small 10 to 30 rupee notes are a good tip for small tasks.

We encourage tipping to a central tip box. These tips should be between 5 to 7% of the hotel tariff per night, divided by the number of days you have stayed. Note that when staying at expensive or 5-star hotels you can reduce this to between 3 to 5%.

As an example, if you are at a hotel that is 3000 per night and staying for 3 nights, then tip about 300 overall.

Tipping a GuideTipping a Guide or a Driver should not be less than INR 300 (or INR 150 per person) daily in case of FIT/Small group, for larger groups it might be between INR 150-100 per person depending on a group size. The above is the bare minimum level, not compulsive though. Tipping with much higher amount is practiced as well depending on the status, experience or the performance of the Guide.

Tipping a DriverTipping a Guide or a Driver should not be less than INR 200 (or INR 100 per person) daily in case of FIT/Small group, for larger groups it might be between INR 100-50 per person depending on a group/vehicle size. A large coach operator often earns usual tip of INR 1000+ along with another 500+ for the helper accompanying him, not stimulatory though.

In both cases, if services are taken for multiple days, daily tips are not expected; a lump sum on the end of the tour will be a proper gesture rather.

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