India is a land of rich Cultural Heritage and Geographic beauty. There are many places of tourist interests in India and every year many foreign tourists from different parts of the world come to explore the eternal beauty of this Nation.
Tourists come for different purposes such as Tourism, Business, Education, Family Reunions, etc.
Foreign nationals planning to visit India for Tourism, Vacations or Business, should check the travel advisory bulletins of their respective countries. Before finalizing your plans to travel to India it is advisable to check the travel advisory notifications of your country.
These travel advisories are posted with specific information regarding the health and safety for prospective travelers.
Cited below are some facts and points that can be really helpful to the tourist visiting to India.
The first thing one can notice about India is its rich culture and unique diversity. Truly India is a potpourri of various Traditions, Cultures, Rituals, Religions, Casts, etc. Read on further to explore other facts and information on India:
|Other facts and information on India
||India, also known as Bharat or Hindustan.
||3,287,263 sq. km
||1,028 million (as per 1 March 2001) (532.1 million Males and 496.4 million Females).
||India is a secular country where many religions co-exist.
||There are 22 different languages that have been recognized by the Constitution of India, of which Hindi is an Official Language. Article 343(3) empowered Parliament to provide by law for continued use of English for official purposes.
|States and Union Territories
||India has 28 states and 7 Union Territories
||Democratic form of Government
||Jan Gana Mana
||Replica of the Lion Capital of Sarnath
||The National Flag is a horizontal Tricolor of deep saffron (Kesaria) at the top, white in the middle, and dark green at the bottom in equal proportion. At the centre of the white band is a navy blue wheel, which is a representation of the Ashoka Chakra at Sarnath
||The Indian time zone, Indian Standard Time (IST) is 5.5 hours (5 hours and 30 minutes) ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
The Climate of India may be broadly described as tropical monsoon type.
There are four seasons:
1. Winter (January-February),
2. Hot Weather Summer (March-May);
3. Rainy Southwestern Monsoon (June-September)
4. Post - Monsoon, also known as northeast monsoon in the Southern Peninsula (October-December).
India's climate is affected by two seasonal winds - the northeast monsoon and the southwest monsoon. The north-east monsoon, commonly known as winter monsoon blows from land to sea, whereas south-west monsoon, known as summer monsoon blows from sea to land after crossing the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, and the Bay of Bengal. The south-west monsoon brings most of the rainfall during a year in the country.
To get a visa for India, you need to submit a number of documents, which are:
1. Visa application form
2. Passport, having a minimum validity of six months on the date of application.
3. Two identical passport sized photographs
4. Supporting documents, depending upon the type of visa
5. Visa fee
Visitors also need a valid permit to visit certain restricted/protected areas. They must fill up their Disembarkation/ Embarkation cards on arrival/departure. Foreigners visiting India, who hold long-term visas (more than 180 days), are required to obtain a Registration Certificate and Residential Permit from the nearest Foreigners' Registration Office (FRRO) within 15 days of arrival. The foreigners registered at FRRO are required to report change of their addresses. Certificates of registration issued by the Registration Officers should be surrendered to the immigration officer at the port/check post of exit from India. Passengers embarking on journeys to any place outside India from a Customs airport / seaport are required to pay a Foreign Travel Tax (FTT) of Rs 500 to most countries and Rs 150 on journeys to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
1. When applying for a visa for India, get a multiple entry visa.
2. The cost of a multiple entry visa or a single entry visa is the same. This way if you decide to visit a neighboring country. A multiple visa allows you to re-enter India.
3. Make photo copies of main pages of your passport (exclude blank pages) and take a copy with you. Leave one copy at home also as an added precaution.
4. Each visitor should carry photocopies of the face page of the traveler’s passport and the page which contains the Indian visa in order to facilitate obtaining new passports from their countries Embassy or Consulate and exit visas from the Indian government, in the event of theft or loss of the passport.
5. Take along with you a few passport size photographs. You will be surprised how handy these can be when traveling in India. If you need a permit to visit restricted areas etc you need a passport photo on the application form. Pack a few photos in your wallet if you plan on exploring many Indian destinations.
6. Do not plan to arrive in India without a prior hotel booking, at least for the day of your arrival. I would make sure that written confirmation is received also and keep the confirmation document with you.
7. If you do not have a local contact meeting you at the airport then ask your hotel to send a car for you. This is the safest way. Most international flights usually land in India late at night and taking private taxis is not advisable. It is safer to stick to a taxi provided by the hotel or your Tour Operator. If this is not possible then take a pre-paid taxi from the airport. Falcon Tours & Travels drivers have a placard in your name on the arrival exit.
Information for visitors arriving at Indian airports from abroad
The majority of foreign tourists arrive in India by air. The majority of tourists traveling to India land in New Delhi / Mumbai / Chennai / Bangalore.
English is spoken by almost all government officials present at Indian airports. If you speak the English language, then you should have no communication problems at the airport. All passengers arriving from abroad are required to fill in an 'Arrival Card' for immigration/customs clearance. When departing from India a 'Departure Card' has to be filled.
Before you leave the immigration counter, when the immigration officer returns your passport to you after examining it. Make sure that the immigration officer has stamped your passport with an arrival stamp. To avoid problems later when you are leaving India, ensure that your passports are duly stamped before leaving the immigration counter. The Indian Customs Department may sometimes x-ray luggage of arriving passengers. If this happens to you, do not be alarmed.
Luggage carts are available at the airport free of charge. On some occasions there are no carts available due to the volume of passengers in the terminal. However if you wait for a short time, carts are periodically brought in from outside.Carts are provided free by the airport authority of India and there is no need to pay someone for getting you a cart. Infact some workers are actually hired by the authorities to help passengers who may need assistance removing their luggage from conveyor belts and loading their luggage on the carts.
Currency exchange counters are available at the airports. If you wish to exchange currency at the airport. Do not go past customs, as currency exchange counters of a few banks are located inside the terminal and once you go past customs, you cannot go back to the currency exchange counters.When exchanging foreign currency for Indian Rupees keep the exchange receipt as this will help you to reconvert unspent Indian Rupees back to your original currency when you leave India. Always get a receipt when converting foreign currency
Clothes to wear
Indian summers are too hot, thus foreigners who plan their visit from March to July, they can carry light cottons. Wear clothes that are not very revealing. Winters fall in the months of October to February in India are quite cold, especially in the Northern India. Visitors who wish to come during this period are advised to carry sufficient warm clothing. Monsoons in India fall from July to September, and these months make the weather extremely humid. Some religious places in India have dress codes, like covering your head, being barefoot, etc. Tourists are advised to comply with them, so as not to seem offensive towards the religious sentiments of the concerned community.
Indian currency is known as Rupee abbreviated as INR. The Indian money is available in denominations of Re 1, Rs 2, Rs 5, Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50, Rs 100, Rs 500 and Rs 1000. One rupee consists of a hundred Paise which are in denominations of 10p, 25p and 50p. However, these Paise are rarely used. Coins are available for Re1, Rs 2 and Rs 5.
Changing money in India can be a very cumbersome process especially in small towns, thus the visitors are advised to change a substantial amount at one time. All the banks do not accept Travelers' Cheques. Make sure to change the money at accredited bureaus only; changing at any other place is illegal and also runs the risk of being counterfeit. Foreigners have no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency or travelers' Cheques and they can import any amount, provided he/she has filled a declaration form on arrival. This will help in exchanging your currency at the time of arrival as well as the taking back your unspent currency at the time of leaving. Money can be easily changed at the airport, some hotels and several branches of International foreign exchange providers
Before embarking on your India vacation, the foreigners must get familiar with different diseases that are common in Indian climatic conditions. Here is a comprehensive list of the most vaccinations for those visiting India.
» Hepatitis A: This vaccination is recommended for all travelers to India.
» Hepatitis B: Travelers who may have intimate contact with local residents should take this vaccination, especially if their period of stay is more than 6 months.
» Typhoid: All travelers are recommended to take Typhoid vaccination.
» Yellow Fever: Vaccination for this is required only for travelers arriving from or passing through any yellow-fever-infected area like Africa.
» Japanese Encephalitis: This vaccine is recommended for travelers staying for more than 1 month and travelling to rural areas or travelers engaging in extensive unprotected outdoor activities in rural areas, especially after dusk.
» Rabies: Any traveler who may have direct contact with animals should take this vaccination.
There are some health risks in India like Cholera, Dengue Fever, Dysentery, Malaria and Meningitis. Travelers are advised to take precautionary measures against the same
Travel insurance is necessary for travelling to India and it also acts as an additional security in the case of unanticipated contingences like cancellation or interruption of travel plans, lost or damaged luggage, travel delays, accident, etc.
Foreigners, who are not covered by travel insurance, shall be compounded by a financial burden in case of any personal tragedy. Though each and every mishap is not covered by travel insurance, still, it covers most of the unfortunate circumstances. Check the small print of your insurance policy carefully to see if there is any exclusion. If anything goes wrong, you need to file a claim. For the purpose, keep your boarding passes, ticket copies and receipts for expenses paid during your trip as a proof.
There are some Indian traffic rules you need to follow while in India. Given below is a list of some guidelines for ensuring traffic safety in India:
Indian government recognizes the International Driver's License (IDL) though it is safer to rent a car with a professional driver. If you are planning to stay in India for a long time and have a valid driver's license (not necessarily an IDL) issued by any competent authority in your country, then getting a driver license in India is no big problem. If your International Driver's License (IDL) has expired, you can easily get a local driving license in India by submitting your expired license, along with a letter of introduction from your country's Embassy. Traffic in India moves on the left side. So, be extra cautious while crossing the road, especially if your country follows right side driving.
The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act bans all forms of wildlife trade. Violations of the provisions of the Act are punishable with heavy fines and imprisonment. Foreigners are therefore, advised not to buy any wild animals or their products and derivatives like articles of ivory, fur and skin.
Tourists should seek permission from the authorities concerned before taking photographs of places of military importance, railway stations, bridges, airports, military installations, metro trains, tribal areas and sensitive border regions. It is prohibited to take photographs in some of the temples, historical monuments, forts, palaces, tombs and monasteries. Visitors are required to take special permits from the Archaeological Survey of India for photographing monuments with tripods and artificial lights. Camera fee is charged extra in some historical monuments.
Protected Areas in India
There are certain places in India where entry is restricted. Tourists are required to take special permits from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), New Delhi for visiting these places. These places include certain areas of Assam, North Eastern Frontier States (Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh) border areas of Jammu & Kashmir, selected areas of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, Union Territories of Andaman and Lakshadweep Islands. One can visit in person or inquire on phone the details of getting special permits:
Ministry of Home Affairs, North Block,
Central Secretariat, New Delhi - 110 001
Phone: 23092011, 23092161
Fax: 23093750, 23092763
Electric Voltage in India
Electricity Voltage in India is 220 volts AC, 50 cycles. Some upscale hotels in India do have provisions for 110 volt shavers, electric tooth brushes etc. However, it is still a good idea to take along a voltage converter if you have small electrical gadgets that you intend to use during your trip to India.
If possible buy an electric plug adapter as the electric plugs in India are rounded. Such adapters are available for about one dollar in stores such as Radio Shack or most department stores that sell electronic goods.
If you take a prescription regularly then always take your medication with you that will last the duration of your trip to India.
Nothing can ruin a holiday faster than a medical problem. While most medical prescription drugs are available in India. They may be named differently. For example 'Altace' a popular drug for Blood Pressure control in North America is available in India under the name of 'Condace'.
The manufacturer for Condace is Aventis Pharmaceuticals, who also manufacture Altace. Same manufacturer, different country, different name. This is the case with many other medicines. So instead of taking a chance, it is always better to take regularly used medicines with you.
Take a small amount of non prescription medication with you like Imodium, in case you fall into temptation and eat something that disagrees with your stomach. Unless you really get careless the chances are that you should be fine.
Water Safety in India
Make sure you avoid tap water and if bottled water is not available stick to soft drinks.
Many foreign tourists while drinking use only bottled water. Do not add ice to your drinks. Ice is usually not made from bottled water.
Be selective also as to where you buy your bottled water as people have been known to refill bottles and sell them to unsuspecting travelers. Check the seal on the water bottle and buy water from reputable stores.
Contrary to what some may tell you, foreigners have every right to pay with local Indian currency that they legally have. Foreigners do not always have to pay in foreign currency. Some people may want you to pay in foreign currency so they can profit by offering you a lower exchange rate than what is available at the banks.
Foreigners traveling in India are allowed to bring currency equaling up to $2500. If the total amount of foreign exchange (including $2500 in currency) exceeds $10,000, the amount must be declared upon entry on a Currency Declaration Form (CDF).
Foreign exchange can be in any form: Traveler's Cheques, Foreign Currency Notes, Coins, Drafts drawn on a bank in India, or letters of Credit. Banks, Hotels, and authorized money changers can exchange foreign money for Indian rupees.
Receipts (called "encashment certificates") should be retained, as these will enable the traveler to reconvert the balance into foreign currency at the time of departure from the country, if the last receipt is not more than 30 days old.
Do not accept any type of food from strangers while traveling by trains or busses regardless of how well dressed the person offering you the food may be.
Do not buy water bottles from street water selling stalls. Always buy water bottles from a reputable store, many drug stores also sell water bottles. Incase you are unable to buy a proper water bottle and really need a drink then it may be a better option to go for a soft drink.
When buying Pepsi or Coca Cola, if possible purchase the drinks in a can rather than a bottle. Refilling of old bottles by some small time crooks is common. Purchase food and drinks from proper shops.
When traveling on trains and busses try not use your laptop. It is always prudent to avoid displaying valuable items in public.
» India never invaded any country in her last 100000 years of history.
» When many cultures were only nomadic forest dwellers over 5000 years ago, Indians established Harappan culture in Sindhu Valley (Indus Valley Civilization)
» The name 'India' is derived from the River Indus, the valleys around which were the home of the early settlers. The Aryan worshippers referred to the river Indus as the Sindhu.
» The Persian invaders converted it into Hindu. The name 'Hindustan' combines Sindhu and Hindu and thus refers to the land of the Hindus.
» Chess was invented in India.
» Algebra, Trigonometry and Calculus are studies, which originated in India.
» The 'Place Value System' and the 'Decimal System' were developed in India in 100 B.C.
» The World's First Granite Temple is the Brihadeswara Temple at Tanjavur, Tamil Nadu. The shikhara of the temple is made from a single 80-tonne piece of granite. This magnificent temple was built in just five years, (between 1004 AD and 1009 AD) during the reign of Rajaraja Chola.
» India is the largest democracy in the world, the 6th largest Country in the world, and one of the most ancient civilizations.
» The game of Snakes & Ladders was created by the 13th century poet saint Gyandev. It was originally called 'Mokshapat'. The ladders in the game represented virtues and the snakes indicated vices. The game was played with cowrie shells and dices. In time, the game underwent several modifications, but its meaning remained the same, i.e. good deeds take people to heaven and evil to a cycle of re-births.
» The world's highest cricket ground is in Chail, Himachal Pradesh. Built in 1893 after leveling a hilltop, this cricket pitch is 2444 meters above sea level.
» India has the largest number of Post Offices in the world.
» The largest employer in India is the Indian Railways, employing over a million people.
» The world's first university was established in Takshila in 700 BC. More than 10,500 students from all over the world studied more than 60 subjects. The University of Nalanda built in the 4th century was one of the greatest achievements of ancient India in the field of education.
» Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to mankind. The Father of Medicine, Charaka, consolidated Ayurveda 2500 years ago.
» India was one of the richest countries till the time of British rule in the early 17th Century. Christopher Columbus, attracted by India's wealth, had come looking for a sea route to India when he discovered America by mistake.
» The Art of Navigation & Navigating was born in the river Sindh over 6000 years ago. The very word Navigation is derived from the Sanskrit word 'NAVGATIH'. The word navy is also derived from the Sanskrit word 'Nou'.
» Bhaskaracharya rightly calculated the time taken by the earth to orbit the Sun hundreds of years before the astronomer Smart. According to his calculation, the time taken by the Earth to orbit the Sun was 365.258756484 days.
» Algebra, Trigonometry and Calculus also originated in India. Quadratic Equations were used by Sridharacharya in the 11th century. The largest numbers the Greeks and the Romans used were 106 whereas Hindus used numbers as big as 10*53 (i.e. 10 to the power of 53) with specific names as early as 5000 B.C. during the Vedic period. Even today, the largest used number is Terra: 10*12(10 to the power of 12).
» Until 1896, India was the only source of diamonds in the world (Source: Gemological Institute of America).