“If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India!”
– Romaine Rolland
India has been considered the land of dreams since a long long time. People are mesmerized by the natural beauty of this land, the simplicity of life of its people, the vibrant colors of culture and creativity. The spicy food and mystic spirituality pulls people from around the world to come here and explore. As most tourists say India is not a country it is an experience. Take your time to find out about the country and discover yourself in the process.
From the mighty Himalayas to the merged waters of the Arabian sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Pacific ocean. From the dry desserts of Rajasthan to the lush green forests of Arunachal Pradesh. There is a treasure trove of places to explore and experience. Every place has its unique cuisine, its own art forms, a different cultural and linguistic identity and its own religious flavor.
In this book we have tried to put together the bare essentials you need to know before travelling to this country. The people who have travelled to India have all left richer. Some have come to love the country so much that they keep returning at every opportunity.
Hope to meet you soon on some road in India.
People from most of the countries are required to have a valid visa to enter India. This is a lengthy paper work process and need to be finished before travelling. Recently however, India has expanded visa on arrival for 43 countries including US, for tourist who are visiting for less than 30 days. Crosscheck your travel dates and the visa requirements properly before travel to avoid unnecessary bureaucratic trouble.
To travel to certain parts in India like Arunachal Pradesh, one is required to get special permission. The visa on arrival might not qualify you to get these permits. If you have plans for visiting any place that requires special permission then you should get a regular visa.
The Indian currency is the Indian Rupee. The largest bank note is for ₹.1000 followed by ₹.500, ₹.100, ₹.50, ₹.20 and the smallest is ₹.10. Earlier there were smaller denomination notes for ₹.5, ₹.2 and ₹.1 which are no longer printed but some of the old issues ones are still in circulation. The smaller denominations are available as coins starting from 50 paise, then ₹.1, ₹.2, ₹.5 and also ₹.10.
ATMs are widely found in the cities and towns. However, if you are travelling to remote places like hills and villages check with the locals about the availability of ATMs. Some places have hour long queues at the ATMs!
Credit Cards are accepted at all big hotels and shops. If you are staying at budget hotels find out from the reception if they accept credit cards else pay by cash.
India experiences extremes of weather changes. Being such a huge country the weather differences across the country varies a lot as well. While northern India gets extreme of heat and cold the southern part experiences intense heat all round the year. The rains or the monsoons hit the western Kerela coast by end of May then continue to move inland to cover the rest of the country for the next few months. During this time many areas in the East, North East and some bigger towns are flooded, landslides are common together leading to a communication standstill. By around September the monsoons start receding from the northern parts of India. Rains continue on the south eastern coast caused by the retreating monsoons. November to March are the dry months with pleasant weather across the country. This time of the year even the southern states experience a relatively less intense heat. The peak trekking season in the Himalayas are however in August September while the rest of the country experiences rain.
This very huge country has only one time zone. The time difference is 5.5 hours ahead of GMT/UTC. The concept of day light savings does not apply here.
- Plan Your Holiday
India is a very vast country offering a variety of travelling options. Choose wisely what you would like to explore, cramming too much in too little time will only exhaust you. There are mountains, rivers, seas, desert, rainforest and much more. Then there are religious places, spiritual places, fun places, business places. Figure out what kind of holiday you are looking for and then make the choice of places.
Once you have the list of places to visit chart out your travel path. Find out about the means of travel and time required to travel. You can do this with help from the various travel websites – lists of useful website given at the end. You can also find out from traveler accounts of people who have already travelled to that part of India – just Google.
You will find a number of high-end hotels with international amenities in the four metropolis and other big cities in India. In other parts you will find cheaper stay options, which will also provide with basic necessities. Of late there has been a rise in the number of resorts in all the major tourist attractions. Many places also offer guest houses and even home-stay facilities now-a-days. Apart from these, there are also the YWCA and YMCA has hostels in different locations across India.
A good idea is to always book in advance the hotels or any of the other places you want to stay in. The travel websites often have good deals for hotels as well which you can make use of. A list of travel websites are given at the end.
There are no guarantees that you will find toilet papers in the toilets around the country. The bigger hotels, airports and lounges might have them but other places you can never be sure. So if you have to use toilet paper then carry some with you always. Also, remember not to dispense the paper in the commode, instead use the bin next to the toilet for that as these toilets get clogged by papers.
The Indian alternative of using water to clean up is good but then again at most places you won’t find soap to clean your hands afterwards. If you are happy using the water then carry some soap with you.
Though the situation is changing, squat toilets are the most common ones found in India. The western commode is slowly making its way in, however use your discretion to use one. If you are uncomfortable using the squat toilet then enquire about the type of toilet before booking your accommodation.
Read all 50 Tips by author Manidipa Bhattacharyya in the book 50 Things To Know About Traveling To India: Be Prepared for the Trip of a Lifetime available at Amazon.