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 finalising 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 travellers.
Cited below are some facts and points that can be really helpful to the foreign visitors:
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:
|Name||India, also known as Bharat or Hindustan.|
|Area||3,287,263 sq. km|
|Population||1,028 million (as per 1 March 2001)|
|Religion||India is a secular country where many religions co-exist.|
|Coastline length||7,600 km|
|Languages||There are 22 different languages that have been recognised 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.|
|Climate||India experiences three major seasons - winters, summers and Monsoon.|
|States and Union Territories||India has 28 states and 7 Union Territories|
|Government||Democratic form of Government|
|President||Shri Pranab Mukherjee|
|Prime Minister||Dr. Manmohan Singh|
|National Anthem||Jan Gana Mana|
|National Emblem||Replica of the Lion Capital of Sarnath|
|National Flag||Horizontal tricolour in equal proportion of deep saffron on the top, white in the middle and dark green at the bottom. In the centre of the white band is a wheel in navy blue colour.|
|National River||The Ganga or Ganges|
|National Aquatic Animal||River Dolphin|
|National Calendar||The national calendar is based on the Saka Era, with Chaitra as its first month and a normal year of 365 days.|
|National Song||Vande Mataram|
|National Currency||Rupees, denoted by symbol Rs.|
|Time Zone||The Indian time zone, Indian Standard Time (IST) is 5.5 hours (5 hours and 30 minutes) ahead of the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).|
To get a visa for India, you need to submit a number of documents, which are:
- Visa application form
- Passport, having a minimum validity of six months on the date of application.
- Two identical passport sized photographs
- Supporting documents, depending upon the type of visa
- 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.
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 Rs.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 Rs.1, Rs.2, Rs.5 and Rs.10.
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 Travellers' 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 travellers' 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 travellers to India.
- Hepatitis B: Travellers 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 travellers are recommended to take Typhoid vaccination.
- Yellow Fever: Vaccination for this is required only for travellers arriving from or passing through any yellow-fever-infected area like Africa.
- Japanese Encephalitis: This vaccine is recommended for travellers staying for more than 1 month and travelling to rural areas or travellers engaging in extensive unprotected outdoor activities in rural areas, especially after dusk.
- Rabies: Any traveller 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. Travellers 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 recognises 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