India in a Nutshell
The seventh largest country by geographical area, second-most populace country in the world and world’s biggest democracy-India is indeed an enigma that is to be visited, experienced and seen to be believed. For many it is difficult to fathom that a country pulsating with steaming streets, crammed with people and vehicles has a soul that needs to be explored and felt. As hidden amidst this chaos lays:
- Warmth and hospitality that is incomparable
- Natural diversity, the variety of which is difficult to find it all together anywhere
else on the globe
- Spiritual solace that touches every heart and soul
- Historical foundation that highlights country’s incredible heritage
- Cultural diversity that is beyond comprehension
For a first-timer the experience of India tour is a cultural shock to begin with. Many find it difficult to comprehend how so many people can exist and survive and yet become a force to reckon with that world is today looking up to. Everything in the country seems unexpected and beyond words, but over a period of time, the same chaos grows on you and seeps in your soul. As a result, the same India tour package becomes the journey of a lifetime and the traveller ends up having a liking for the country to such an extent that it never ever ends with just one visit. People describe India as mesmerising, beckoning, mystical, frustrating, confusing and chaotic-all in one breath. But as time progresses, the country enwraps every traveller in its warmth and what unfolds and unravels is a unique soul-searching experience aptly described in the words of Mark Twain as “one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the world combined.”
Some of the fast facts of the country are as given below:
- Capital- Delhi
- Population- 1,191,686,000
- Area- 3,287,270 square kilometers (1,269,221 square miles)
- Language: Hindi, English, 14 other official languages
- Religion: Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain and Parsi
- Currency: Indian rupee
- Life Expectancy: 63 years
- GDP per Capita: $3.862 trillion
- Literacy Percent: 60
- International dialing code: +91
- Time: GMT + 5 hrs & 30 min
If planning to visit the country in near future here are some helpful Visa facts:
Do I need an Indian Visa to travel to the country?
Mostly all foreign tourists travelling to India, barring nationals of seven countries, need to possess a valid visa. Government of India has started the practice of visa on arrival for Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Singapore on experimental basis; whereas the nationals of Nepal and Bangladesh don’t require a visa to travel to India. Visa is given to citizens of these countries on arrival by the immigration officers at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata airports (on arrival) for a maximum period of 30 days with single entry facility.
What is the cost of visa?
The cost of the visa is approximately:
- US$ 30 for a visa up to six months,
- US$ 50 for up to one year and
- US$ 100 for more than a year and up to five years.
What documents are required for visa issuance?
Kindly contact the Indian Embassy/ consulate in your country for document requirements as these may vary from country to country.
What is the duration for which a tourist visa is granted?
A tourist visa is usually valid for three to six months, whereas a Transit visa is granted by the Indian Missions abroad for a maximum period of 15 days. A multiple entry Tourist visa on the other hand simplifies your visits to the neighbouring countries.
Is there any special provision if we are a group of travellers planning a trip to India via a recognised travel agent?
Foreign tourists in groups of four or more arriving by air or sea, sponsored by recognised Indian travel agencies and with a pre-drawn itinerary may be granted a collective landing permit for a specified period of time on the written request of the travel agencies at least 06 months prior to the proposed date of travel. In such cases the Immigration Officer needs to have the complete details-personal and passport of the group members, the itinerary, an undertaking to conduct the group as per the itinerary and an assurance that no individual will be allowed to drop out from the group at any place.
Can I get extension for my tourist visa?
As a rule, no extension of stay is granted on a Tourist Visa. Tourist visas are available for a maximum period of 180 days. No charges are levied for visa extension within this period.
However, in the case of an extension beyond 180 days, which is allowed only in exceptional cases, an extension fee (varying for different nationalities) is charged. In case a foreign tourist has obtained extension beyond three months of stay in India, the tourist need to surrender Certificate of Registration and Residential Permit before leaving India.
Do I need to register with any authorities on landing in India?
To begin with, like any other country, you need to submit a disembarkation card on arrival, which is submitted at the Immigration counters at the port of entry.
Once in the country, foreigners on a 180 days visa, or a shorter period are not required to register anywhere. They can move about freely in the country, except to the restricted/protected areas and prohibited places unless and until a special permit is obtained to visit these (restricted) areas.
Only Nationals of Bangladesh are exempt from registration for up to six months. If their stay exceeds six months, they have to register themselves with the concerned authorities.
How to reach India?
India has major international airports in different parts of the country and depending on area to be visited one can enter India from either Mumbai (Bombay), Delhi, Kolkata (Calcutta), Chennai (Madras), Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore and Kochi.
It may also help to know that travelling from India to neighbouring countries can be at times very cheap.
Tips for travelling smart
- International flights tend to arrive in India in the early hours of morning. It is not a very good idea to go looking for accommodation after arrival. It is better to arrive with advance hotel bookings.
- On airports two types of cab services are available-government and private operators. These days some of the radio-cab services are also in operation and are as reliable (though expensive) as the government cabs. But invariably it is better to go for the government cabs.
- All expensive electronic equipment/s must be declared at the Customs on arrival – which will be re-checked on departure. Take care to obtain an Export Certificate for these items if you are travelling to the neighbouring countries and intend a multiple entry.
- Weapons brought into the country should be licensed and declared.
- Any cash or travellers cheques over US$ 10,000 or equivalent must be declared.
- Possession of narcotics is strictly prohibited. Personal effects which are not used during your stay must be carried back with you.
- Gift worth Rs. 4,000 for tourists of foreign origin and Rs. 12,000 for tourists of Indian origin, 200 cigarettes, or 50 cigars, or 250 gm of tobacco and one litre each of wine and spirits is allowed free of duty.
When to Visit India?
Unlike other countries, it is difficult to give a specific best time to visit India. This is primarily because different parts of the country have different climates. But broadly speaking any period between October to March is pleasant to visit the country; whereas, in the southern India, owing to the monsoon pattern, January to September are more preferable.
Some other region specific most suitable time periods are as follows:
- March and August are more suitable to visit Sikkim and north eastern India
- May and September are apt to visit Kashmir and the mountainous regions of Himachal Pradesh
- Monsoon and winters are good for visiting the deserts of Rajasthan and the north western Indian Himalayan region
- Trekking season in the Indian Himalaya starts from April till November
- Ski season is between January and March