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India Guide

India is a vast South Asian country with diverse terrain – from Himalayan peaks to Indian Ocean coastline – and history reaching back 5 millennia. In the north, Mughal Empire landmarks include Delhi’s Red Fort complex and massive Jama Masjid mosque, plus Agra’s iconic Taj Mahal mausoleum. Pilgrims bathe in the Ganges in Varanasi, and Rishikesh is a yoga centre and base for Himalayan trekking.

Facts about India

Capital: New Delhi
Dialing code: +91
Area: 3.287 million km²
President: Ram Nath Kovind
Population: 1.324 billion (2016) World Bank
Prime minister: Narendra Modi

Entering India

India is well connected and you can enter the country via land or air. There are numerous international airways entering various regions of the country. Additionally, if you are doing a multi-country tour that includes Nepal and/or Bhutan, entering India via land is also very common.

Indian Visa

A valid passport and tourist visa are required to visit India. The passport must be valid for a period of 6 months minimum at the time of entry to India. Visa can be obtained from Indian Consulates / Embassies in the country of your origin. Visa fees may vary from country to country.

It is recommended to obtain a multiple Entry Tourist Visa since this simplifies the procedure for visiting neighboring countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka.Some nationalities can obtain a 30-day visa on arrival. For longer trips, most people obtain a six-month tourist visa, valid from the date of issue.Indians holding foreign passports would also have to obtain an Indian Visa before entering India You can find further information about how to apply on the Indian High Commission website.

Foreign nationals arriving in India on long term multiple entry visas must register with the nearest Foreigners Regional Registration Officer within 14 days of arrival.Travelers must leave India on or before the expiration of their visa.

The Indian government has relaxed the rules on re-entering the country while on a tourist visa. The previous rule of no re-entry on the same visa for 2 months after leaving India no longer applies to foreign nationals coming to India except in case of nationals of Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, Bangladesh, foreigners of Pakistan and Bangladesh origins and stateless persons.

To transit through India you will need a transit visa.

Travel Permits

A permit known as an Inner-Line Permit (ILP) or a Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is required to visit Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and certain parts of Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Uttarakhand that lie close to the disputed border with China/Tibet. Nagaland and Mizoram have reintroduced Restricted Area Permits (RAP) for foreign travellers (and Meghalaya and Manipur are considering doing so). Permits are also necessary for travel to the Andaman and Lakshadweep Islands, and some parts of Kutch in Gujarat.

Banking and Foreign Exchange

India’s unit of currency is called Rupee, which is divided into 100 paise. You can exchange small amount of your money to the Indian Rupees (IRs) at the airport. There are Authorized Foreign Exchange dealers in most big cities, and banks will also change your currency at a fair rate. A good way of getting your travellers currency is via an ATM but the bank providing the ATM and the card-issuing bankwill charge you a certain amount. ATMs are found in most towns and are recommended for cash withdrawals. The average daily limit for withdrawal of money from an ATM is Rs 10,000.

Visa, MasterCard and American Express are usually accepted in hotels and shops that get a lot of tourists. Debit cards are also widely accepted. Travelers’ cheques are cashed at almost all money exchange counters, but avoid hotels and airports as they do not give the best rates.

Drinking Water

Drinking Water and trying street food is highly recommended. There are many water borne diseases prevalent in India so it is wise to carry bottled water at all times and especially if you are traveling to smaller villages and towns. You can easily buy bottled waters in almost all convenient stores. For other instances when it is not available, please carry water purifiers like SteriPEN which uses ultraviolet light to kill all bacteria and other amoebas in the water. It’s fairly pricey but worth it to prevent getting sick from waterborne illnesses.

Electricity/plugs

For the most part, electrical sockets (outlets) in India are the “Type D” 5 amp BS-546 sockets. This is actually an old British standard. If your appliance’s plug doesn’t match the shape of these sockets, you will need a travel plug adapter in order to plug in. It’s best to not to bring any plug adapters and instead buy them in India itself. You get good adapters at a much cheaper price at any convenience stores in major cities and tourist locations.

Best time to visit India

India is large with diverse weather patterns. Generally, the best time to visit for warm, dry and sunny weather is between October and March. The majority of India is tropical and is affected by three main seasons; summer, winter and monsoon. Between October and March , the northernparts of India offers clear blue skies; however, December and January are much cooler with potential fog, while the higher Himalaya can be very cold, but with clearer mountain views. Most parts of India are very hot during the summer season so not many tourists visit during this time. Increasing temperatures in April and May result in excellent value trips, but you can expect high humidity and thunderstorms.

The best time to travel to India’s southern states is from November onwards when the monsoon has ended. Whereas to travel to Ladakh, India’s northern tip, June to September is the best time.