As for all international travel, the visitors to India are required to be in possession of a valid passport and visa. Travelers from all countries need a visa. All travelers planning to stay more than 180 days are required to register, generally within 14 days of arrival, with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) where they will be staying. The FRRO maintains offices in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai (known as the “Chennai Immigration Office), Calcutta, and Amritsar. In smaller cities and towns, the local police headquarters will normally perform this function. General information regarding Indian visa and immigration rules can be found at the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs website for its Bureau of Immigration at http://www.immigrationindia.nic.in.
A certain fee is charged for issuing a visa. Visitors who intend to travel to India’s neighboring countries and back are advised to apply for multiple entry visas.
Each visitor should carry photocopies of the bio-data page of the traveler’s passport and the page containing the Indian visa in order to facilitate obtaining an exit visa from the Indian government in the event of theft or loss of the passport.
Visitors are generally required to make an oral baggage declaration in respect of baggage and foreign currency in their possession. They are also required to obtain the Currency Declaration Form from the Customs. They should fill in the Disembarkation Card handed to them by the airline during the course of the flight. There are two channels for Customs clearance:Green Channel: for passengers not in possession of any dutiable articles or unaccompanied baggage. Red Channel: For passengers with dutiable articles or unaccompanied baggage or high value articles to be entered on the Tourist Baggage Re-Export Form.
The unit of currency in India is the Rupee where Re.1 is made up of 100 paisa. Bank notes are in denomination of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000. Please exchange your money for Indian money only from banks or recognized foreign currency exchange organizations.
There are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency or travelers checks a tourist may bring into India provided he makes a declaration in the Currency Declaration Form given to him/her on arrival. This will enable him not only to exchange the currency brought in, but also to take the unspent currency out of India on departure. Cash, bank notes and travelers checks up to US$ 10,000 or equivalent, need not be declared at the time of entry. Any money on the form of travelers checks, drafts, bills, etc. in convertible currencies, which tourists wish to convert into Indian currency, should be exchanged only through authorized money changers and banks who will issue an encashment certificate that is required at the time of reconversion of any unspent money into foreign currency. Exchanging of foreign exchange other than through banks or authorized money changers is an offence under the Foreign Exchange Regulations Act 1973.
Visa, American Express, Diners Club and MasterCard are honored by most restaurants, stores, hotels and other points of sale and service. Proof of identity may be requested in some instances and it is therefore useful to carry a passport or some form of photo identification at all times. Credit cards are not acceptable at petrol stations. U.S Dollar traveler’s cheques are handy to have. Please note that taxation value is different in the various states of India.
Please be careful with your card. Wherever you use it please do ensure you collect it back and keep it in a safe place.
There are great contrasts in climate within the subcontinent. The extremes range from the almost rainless Great Indian or Thar desert to the wet evergreen forests of the Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, where an annual rainfall of 1300 cm has been recorded at Cherrapunji (one of the wettest places on Earth), and to the arctic conditions of the Himalayan peaks, where only alpine flowers and cushion plants flourish at over 4900m. There are similar contrasts in temperature ranges. In the Thar Desert, summer temperatures soar as high as 50°C while winter temperatures drop to 0°C. On the Kerala coast, the annual and daily ranges of temperature and humidity are small; the average temperature is about 27°C. and the average relative humidity is 60-80%. Despite these variations, one feature dominates the subcontinent’s climate and that the monsoons. Most of the rain in the region falls between June and September, during the south-west-monsoon season. Typically, the monsoon begins in Kerala and the far northeast in late May or early June and moves north and west to extend over the rest of the area by the end of June, although it starts rather earlier in Sri Lanka and the Andaman’s Islands. In the Himalayas, the monsoon rains reach the east first and leave this area last. The monsoon begins to retreat from the northwest at the beginning of September, and usually withdraws completely by mid October.
There are no compulsory inoculations. However, foreign tourists should be in possession of their Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate conforming to International Health Regulations, if they are originating or transiting through Yellow Fever endemic countries.
Anti-Malaria prophylactics are recommended for travelers to India. Precautions such as Lariago are available at Indian chemists but you are advised to consult your local doctor/pharmacist and ask him to prescribe you the correct prophylactic.At the risk of stating the obvious, please do not underestimate the effects of the sun. It would be a pity to lose days of your trip to sunstroke, by over indulging in the Indian sun. Plenty of sun cream, a good sun hat and gradual adjustment are recommended.
Medical services in India are readily available. Visitors are advised to secure medical cover on their medical insurance before arriving in the country. Major hotels have contracts with physicians and dentists. Visitors are however advised to bring along supplies of specialized medication they may require. Otherwise, medicine may be purchased at pharmacies. Some emergency pharmacies in cities and towns are open all night.
Health insurance is advisable. The health services are of a high standard in India but a private system is in operation for which you would require medical insurance. Insurance is also recommended to cover baggage loss as we cannot be held responsible for the loss of or damage to passengers’ belongings.
Casual, comfortable wash and wear clothing is most useful. Jackets and ties are may be worn in city hotel restaurants and golf clubs. Most hotels offer quick laundry turnaround, usually within a few hours. It is certainly not necessary to bring a separate change of clothing for each day and evening, and it is recommended that you keep luggage to a minimum for your own comfort and ease of transport, especially if you are using light aircraft transfers.
Voltage in India is 220 to 240 volts, 50Hz. You will need an adaptor, which can be purchased in India. Hotels usually provide dual voltage razor sockets, 110 to 210 volts or 220 to 250 volts. Please ensure that you bring multi voltage chargers rather than 110 chargers with step-up/step-down transformers. These transformers get too hot and there is a high chance of them exploding. India mostly has round pinholes so please do ensure that you bring a flat to round pinhole converter. This is very important as otherwise you will have a problem in getting your phone and other electrical items charged.
A direct international dialing service is available from the major hotels in India. Both local and long distance calls are metered on a time basis and every second counts in terms of cost. Major hotels have a fax and internet service. Remember that hotels levy a substantial surcharge on all calls.
In order to make a call to some other places in India from your hotel please dial the city code (provided below for all places of visit) and then the number. If you want to dial from the mobile phone or cellular phone then please dial the country code - +91 followed by the city code without ‘0’ and the number. If you want to dial a mobile from your own mobile then please just dial the country code followed by the number.
There are 23 official languages and 752 dialects spoken in India. The most commonly spoken language is of course Hindi and English. Visitors to this country have been able to cope even without even knowing the local language. Most guests will be accompanied by English speaking guide or escort. Below are a few words and phrases which have been translated into Hindi – they should be helpful (and fun to use) in most regions:
| Good morning
My name is...
What is your name?
Where is the nearest telephone?
Mera naam .... Hai
Aapka naam kya hai?
Sabse kareeb telephone kahan hain?
Most types of film cards are readily available in all major cities, as are fast, reliable processing services. However a data back and a charger are advisable as some times these can go corrupt.
Stamps can be purchased from post offices. Post cards to be sent abroad require stamps (please ask at concierge), while standard letters differ from country to country and need to be weighed at a post office.
The tap water in India is not safe to drink. Bottled water is available at almost all places including resorts in wilderness areas.
Tipping varies from place to place and depends on your duration of stay and the amount of baggage and the number of places that you are travelling to when in India. Also if you are unhappy with the service of the person one of the easiest ways of letting him know is to not tip him. Please note that a tip can always be paid within an envelope if being paid to the tour manager or any other senior personnel. Tips range between Rs 300 – Rs 500 per day.
A range of Indian souvenirs are available: from handicrafts to garments. As you would expect from a country rich in gold and diamonds, there is an excellent selection of jewellery and the opportunity to watch goldsmiths in action. Also many articles of handiwork like souvenirs made of marble with precious stone inlay (known as pietradura), crafted woodwork, garments made of special quality silks, handcrafted jewellery etc are available.