India Travel Facts

1. Passport Requirements:

Visas are required by all visitors except those from Bhutan and Nepal. Visas are available for the following durations:-

  • Transit visa
  • 03 month visa
  • 06 month visa
  • 01 year visa
  • 05 year visa

1. Each passport should be accompanied by the completed application form and three passport photographs.
2. There should be at least three clear pages on the passport before the visa is issued.
3. When applying for the visa at the Indian Embassy/High Commission, payment should be made in cash or postal order (cheques are normally not accepted) and a stamped self addressed envelope should be included. One month should be allowed for postal applications
4. Certain parts of India (mainly in the North East) are “restricted areas” and require special permits.
5. Personal applications may be made to the Indian Embassy/High Commission.

2. Health requirements:

Yellow Fever - Vaccination Certificate is required if arriving from an infected area.
Cholera/Typhoid - Inoculation recommended.
Malaria - No certificate required, but advisable to have a course of pills.
Medical treatment in India is comparatively inexpensive, though India has a pool of some of the best doctors in the world. Most hotels have a doctor on call.
Strong sunshine, heat, digestive upsets and insect bites can spoil one’s trip, so it is a good idea to take a few basic precautions:
Avoid eating ice creams sold by roadside vendors, undercooked meat, unpeelable fruit or vegetable, drinking tap water or having un bottled drinks or even ice in drinks outside the hotel.
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.
Be careful about mosquitoes when outside in the evenings - use an insect repellent, socks and a long sleeve shirts are good deterrents.

3. Currency

Rupee (Re.) Rs.1 = 100 Paise
Coins are in denominations of 50 Paise and 1,2,and 5 rupees.
Notes are in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 rupees.
Exchange Rate: US$1 = Indian Rupees 46.00 approx
Exchange Rate: EUR €1 = Indian Rupees 65.00 approx
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 of 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

4. Food & Drink

Indian food is as varied as the country itself, with every region having its own mouth-watering specialities. It therefore, does not always have to be "hot" nor can any one dish be labelled a "curry". Most dishes with a gravy are normally called curries but are prepared with a different 'masala' or combination of spices containing among other things coriander, cumin, garlic, onions ginger, turmeric. Additional seasoning which adds to the flavour and richness of meat dishes is called "garam masala" and is made from different combinations of a variety of spices like cardamom, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, saffron, mace and nutmeg. The various aromas and flavours drew the West to the Indian shores.
A traditional meal all over India is usually served in large metal plate called a 'Thali' with a number of small bowls used to hold the gravy dishes. The meal is normally accompanied with Indian bread (which varies from region to region) and rice.
Notes are in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 rupees.

North Indian food has been strongly influenced by Mughal cuisine and is broadly non-vegetarian characterised by the use of yoghurt fired onions, nuts and saffron. Outstanding dishes worth trying would be biryani, gushtaba, tandoori dishes and kababs.

East Indian specialities include freshwater fish (especially hilsa) cooked in a variety of sauces, sweetmeats made from sweetened cream and cheese is also a speciality around West Bengal. The areas further east are influenced by Tibetan cuisine, with 'momos' (delicious chicken or pork dumplings) being a popular dish.

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 delicious meat and seafood dishes of Portuguese origin such as Sorpotel, Vindaloo and Xacuti.

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 pancakes. The hot food has to be tempered with pappadums, yoghurt and buttermilk. Coconut is extensively used in the preparation of south indian dishes which are predominantly vegetarian, with the exception of Chettinad (from the area around Madurai) and cuisine from Kerala. All good hotels in India provide continental meals as a matter of course, for those who are looking for a respite from spicy Indian cuisine. Many hotels and restaurants, atleast in the major cities, specialise in specific international cuisine like Italian, Chinese, Indonesian, Mexican, Thai, Japanese etc. For an Indian, a drink with a meal usually means water! Imported wines and liquors are now available reasonably easily though not in great variety. The quality of Indian wines are improving steadily and are almost of international standards. Indian beer and rum are considered excellent, while gins and vodkas are good, the Indian whisky is an acquired taste. 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. Tourists can bring in either one regular size bottle of wine and one quarter litre of spirits or one quart of spirits free from Customs Duty at the time of arrival into India.

Drinking water could be a problem in India, and apart from the flasks of water in the hotel rooms, tea/coffee, mineral water and bottled aerated drinks, one should use purifying tablets. If one is out sightseeing or on an excursion it may be a good idea to carry a bottle of mineral water or to consume aerated soft drinks through a straw.

5. Time

GMT + 5 hours and 30 minutes

6. Shopping

Extraordinary patience, talent and imagination goes into the making of Indian products, whether dazzling silks, hand knotted carpets, bronze statues of Hindu gods, jewellery, shoes/sandals, handbags, men’s and women’s clothing, musical instruments or perfumes. The list is inexhaustible and the prices reasonable. Each region of the sub-continent has its own specialities. The bazaars are the places to find the best bargains, but one must be prepared to haggle. It would be prudent to remember that if the shop/emporia undertake to export purchased goods, it invariably takes a much longer time for them to reach than indicated at the time of purchase.
It is forbidden to export recognised antiques over 100 years old. It is advisable to keep the sales receipts to convince the customs officers. Exports of wildlife and products made from them, is banned. Insist on getting a proper certificate for the legitimate sale of a particular animal product to avoid inconvenience at departure.
7. Climate

Hot and tropical with variations according to the region, coolest months from mid-November to mid-March are also the best to visit India. The monsoons, in the majority of India, occur between the months of June and September. The summer, which is the really hot weather, is usually between the months of May and June.

It is usual to tip waiters, porters, guides and drivers. An approximate guideline would be as follows:
Restaurants - 10 % of the bill
Porters - Rs.10/- per piece of luggage
Drivers/Guides - Rs.300 per day
Tips are not included in the bill and are solely based on each person’s discretion.

9. Language

English is widely spoken, though the accents may vary considerably, making it a bit difficult to understand at first. The official language is Hindi but there are totally 15 major languages 544 dialects spoken in India in addition to English.

Telephone calls to most countries are now direct, with quality service comparable to international standards. Direct dialling is possible also between cities/towns within India.
Email facilities are now ubiquitously available. Postal services in India are good and stamps can be bought at hotels.