Faq India Tour
India welcomes visitors from aboard and strives to send them back as friends. The following information could help the people willing to tour India. The below mentioned information help them to avoid those common pitfalls which might mar a visit rather than make it memorable. A little attention to following information, mostly called as 'frequently asked questions' (FAQs), turn out to be a great help to plan a seamless India trip.
Accommodation: Most cities have excellent to average hotel accommodation. Advance booking is essential particularly during the tourist season. Good, clean eating places are available in most of the towns of India. But villages and remote places may not be able to provide food to ones choice. Many railway stations have decent retiring rooms which could be hired for a short stay by bona-fide railway passengers. All foreigners, except those specially exempted, are required to settle their hotel bills directly in foreign exchange. Indian rupees are accepted if a certificate of encashment in India of foreign currency or travelers' cheque should be produced. Tipping is expected for most hotel and restaurant services in India. About 10% of the bill is a reasonable tip. In many of the large cities, the big hotels include a service charge in their bills but an additional tip is generally expected.
Air Air India is India's domestic carrier and flies to over 66 destinations within the country and to several destinations abroad. The Air India has the largest fleet in South Asia and operates Boeing 737's and A300 airbuses. Indian Airlines also offers some other seasonal travel schemes. Vayudoot is India's feeder airline and connects several small towns to the cities. Helicopter services are also available to Gangtok from Bagdogra and to Schillong and Tura from Guwahati. Details are available from travel agents or the Air India offices on request. All payments of foreigners, however, have to be made in the foreign exchange. There are many homegrown India air carrier companies like Jet Airways, Indigo, Spice Jet etc and connect may tier-II cities with the metro cities.
Banks There are 14 banks owned and operated by the public sector in India. Beside this, there is a State Bank of India which has branches all over the country and several smaller banks. Almost all towns and important tourist centers have bank branches. Apart from these public centre banks, private Indian banks like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Yes Bank, Vysya Bank. IndusInd Bank etc have also expanded into many clusters. Certain international banks operate in the four metropolitan cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. The international airports and many five star hotels also have bank counters to help visitors. Nowhere in India are you far away from a bank.
Cigarettes, cigars, tobacco, liquor Visitors may bring into India: duty-free, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco and up to 0.95 liters of liquor. Prohibition (the banning of alcoholic drinks) is a matter of nation policy and is in force in some form or another in most states in India. Foreign visitors can get an All-India liquor permit from Indian diplomatic missions or tourist offices in their respective countries. Or, they can obtain such permits from the government of India Tourism offices in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata or Chennai. The permits will be valid for the period of stay indicated in the visa. Rules regarding prohibition differ from state to state and the tourist in India is advised to check with the nearest local tourism office of the state they are traveling in. Even in a state that may be considered liberal, possession of a permit might be essential or there might be dry days.
Clothing Light and loose cotton clothing will be comfortable for travel during summer and warm woolens are required in winter. Most towns have good laundry and dry cleaning facility with 6 to 12 hour delivery services.
Credit cards Credit cards (American Express, Diners Club, Master Card and Visa Card) are usually accepted by Indian hotels, Indian travel agencies, Indian tour operators, Indian tourist car and coach operators , Indian airlines , Indian restaurants, Government handicraft emporia, boutiques, jewellery stores, big departmental stores, shops selling handicrafts and tourist artifacts. However, it is advisable to carry some Indian currency when visiting places where credit cards are not accepted.
Currency The Indian Rupee, the Indian monetary unit, consists of hundred paisa.USD1 is approximately INR 60 and British Pound 1 approximately Rs 80. Indian coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 5 and 10 rupees. Currency notes are in denomination of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 rupees. Storage of small change is a problem from time to time in India. So, it is advisable to carry a generous supply of coins and small currency. There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency of travelers, cheques that may be brought into the country .A declaration of such amounts, however, should be made in the currency declaration form given to the tourist on arrival.(An exemption up to 5000 is allowed. But such money should be in the form of currency notes, bank notes and travelers cheques only). The CDF is necessary for a tourist to take out India and unspent currency brought in, for India's currency regulation stipulates the amount of currency that may be taken out of the country should not exceed the amount brought in and declared to the customs on arrival.No India currency can be brought in or taken out of the country. This does not apply to Rupee Travelers' cheques. All money in the form of drafts, bills or cheques should be changed into Indian currency only through authorized money changers and bank. Changing money through unauthorized person is illegal and is an offence under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1973. All banks, most big hotels and big shops are authorized to exchange travelers cheques. When exchanging your money, always insist on a receipt. Keep all your exchange receipts with you as, without them, you cannot reconvert your unspent money when leaving India. International credit cards are accepted at select places. Even through shops and banks accept travelers cheques in major cities and tourist towns, it would be advantageous to carry Indian currency also.
Customer Formalities Beside cigarettes, alcohol, and photography equipment, which have been dealt with under separate heads, a tourist enjoys duty-free concessions for reasonable qualities of perfumes and clothes, personal jewallery, a pair of binocular, a portable musical instrument, a portable wireless receiving set, a portable gramophone with 10 records, a portable sound-recording apparatus, provided it is not a two-in-one, a portable typewriter and a perambulator. A tent and other camping equipment and one piece of sport equipment, form a choice of fishing tackle, a sporting fire-arm with 50 cartridges, non-powered bicycle, canoe or kayak less than 5 ? metres long, a pair of skis and two tennis rackets, may also be brought into India, besides travel souvenirs not exceeding Rs 500/- and professional equipment brought in for purposes of educational tours. But all the items listed above have to be endorsed on the passport and taken back by the tourist when leaving India. Tourists of foreign origin who are visiting India for a period of over 24 hours are permitted to bring articles up to a value of Rs 2,000/- for personal use or to be given as gifts. Tourist of India origin can bring in articles worth Rs 2000/- to be given as gift. Vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles with motor and trailers imported under a trip-to-que or carnet, issued by an Automobile Association or Club that is internationally recognized and that belong to the Alliance International De Tourism, Geneva, are allowed duty free for a period of six months. Articles, the import of which totally prohibited/restricted, include: live plants, gold and silver bullion, gold coins and silver coins not in the current use, and dangerous drugs. If a visitor does not want to pay duty on any dutiable article he is bringing in but will not need while in India. He may leave it bonded with the customer authorities, provided it is not too bulky. He may then clear it from bond when departing.
Electricity 220 volt 50 cls, single phase, is the standard domestic supply. For industry use, the supply requirement is, by and large, 415-430 volt 50 cls three phase. But voltages tend to fluctuate tremendously, especially during summer power shortages.
Export Regulation Re-export of all articles which are entered in the TBRE (Tourist Baggage Re-Export) form is obligatory. Other articles which the tourist may taken out of India include god jewallery valued at not more than Rs 2000 and precious stone and other jewallery of not more than Rs 10,000 in value, and souvenirs. Arms and ammunition for personal use and articles made of peacock-feathers may also be taken out of the country in reasonable quantities. Certain antiquities and art objects more than 100 years old may not be exported. The Director of Antiquities, Delhi, or the superintending archaeologist of the Archaeological Survey of India's Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata or Srinagar branches will advise the tourist on whether their purchases are considered antiquities or not. The export of ivory articles and skins of all animals, in whatever form they may be, is banned.
Food Supplies Bread, butter, cheese, biscuits and fruits are available in plenty and it would be advisable to carry a small stock of supplies to take care of emergency situations. Milk powder or condensed milk, tea bags, instant coffee, sugar and a thermos of hot water will enable one to have a regular supply of tea or coffee.
Health Regulations No vaccinations certificates is required to entre into India but a valid International certificate of vaccinations against yellow fever is to be provided by persons arriving from areas considered infected with yellow fever. They may otherwise be detained in isolation for six days from the day of last possible exposure to infection.
Hunting Hunting is generally frowned on and the shooting of several species of animals and birds is prohibited. For the latest information on what may be hunted and what may not, the offices of the Government of India Tourism Development or the state offices of the Wildlife Department may be approached.
Languages Hindi is the language spoken in many parts of India. It is understood almost in all parts of India. English will get you around most urban and tourist centre in India.
Leaving India When leaving India by rail or road, all persons, expect nationals of Bhutan and Nepal, have to fill in an embarkation card. Before departure, all visitors other than tourists who have registration certificates, have to get their certificates endorsed by the appropriate authorities. For holders of the tourist or transit visa, there are no exit formalities. Holders of entry visas having Registration certificates, however, have to obtain, before departure, exit endorsements from the Registration Officer of the district in which they were registered. The Superintendents of Police in all district headquarters are also foreigner's registration officers. An Income Tax Clearance Certificate from the foreign sections of the Income Tax Department in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata or Chennai is also necessary for visitors who were employed in India and whose stay exceeded 90 days. Foreign Travel Tax of Rs 500/- has to be paid by passengers leaving India from a custom airport/seaport. The tax is Rs 200/- for journeys of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. All the taxes are subject to change as per new rulings of the government.
Lost Property In case of loss due to theft, a complaint must be filed at the nearest police station. At the same time have an endorsed copy of FIR to avoid problems when leaving the country. Do not sell any equipment if it is endorsed on your passport.
Media India has a number of English-language dailies and magazines catering to varied interests of tastes. The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Telegraph and The Statesman are the leading news papers in the north India and The Hindu is the leading daily in the south India. The south India based Indian Express, however, is the only paper that is published in all parts of India except in the east India. Frontline and India Today are the leading news magazines and Sunday and The Week are good feature magazines. International editions of Times and Newsweek are available in news-stands in all major book-stalls. There are also several newspapers and magazines that are published in vernacular languages and available throughout the country. India also has a wide network of radio and television stations. TV programs are on almost throughout the day. Most programs are in Hindi and the regional languages though newscasts are also in English and a few English programs are telecast after peak viewing hours. Satellite TV is a new entrant on the India media scene and it provides entertainment throughout the day and night.
Medicines It is advisable to carry personal medicines for common ailments and anti-allergens. Most towns have good doctors and hospitals. All towns in India have an adequate number of medical shops and pharmacies which are fairly well stocked. In major towns at least one drug store remains open 24 hours of the day. Every town has a government hospital with basic essential facilities. Apart from this there are several nursing homes in all towns.
Numbers and Measurements India has now fully adopted the metric system. Weights, distances and volumes are measured in the grams, kilograms, metres, kilometers and liters. But it is not uncommon for 'mile' or 'feet' or 'pound' to crop up in conversion, for people still refer to the foot, pound and mile system. Temperature in India is officially measured in degree centigrade but is spoken in both measures- (100C=212F; 0C=32F). Indians talk of large number in term of lakhs and crores. A lakh is one hundred thousand and is written 1,00,000, while a crore is 100 million or 100 lakhs and is written 1,00,00,000.
Photography Films, black and white, and colour, is available in the large towns and cities and competent and quick developing of both is undertaken. Now-a-days, digital cameras are in vogue. Mobile phones are also being used to capture photographs. Rules for photography are exhibited at the gate of the most of the monuments to be visited on sightseeing tour. A prescribed fee for taking photographs may be charged in some temples, sanctuaries and monument sights. Where the monuments have been taken over by the State Archaeological Department or the Archaeological Survey of India, the permission of the respective department-in-charge might have to be sought for taking photographs. Those wishing to use tripod and artificial lighting to take photographs have to get sanction from the Archaeological Survey of India. Permission also has to be obtained for movies cameras other than 8 mm cameras and handheld VHS videos cameras. Photographs at airport, railway station and bridges are prohibited. Signboards prohibiting photography are displayed at vital installation and certain religious places. Observe these rules strictly to avoid confiscation of camera and films. One camera with 12 plates or 5 rolls of films and one miniature cinematograph camera with two reels of films may be imported into the country, duty-free.
Police Each state in India has its own police force and police stations are located at all important places. The police may not be fluent in English but they know enough of the language to understand your problems and be the help.
Rail Indian Railways, the fourth largest rail network in the world with a route length of 62,486km spread over 7,076 stations connections various part of India. It offers an 'Indrail Pass' facility to foreign nationals and non-resident Indians, holding valid passport. Railways have air-conditioned First Class, A.C. Sleeper, First Class and Second Class Sleeper apart from unreserved First Class accommodation. However the purchase of Indian rail passes does not guarantee rail reservations, which have to be made separately for each journey. As some train do not have A/C First Class coaches, passengers should check if this class of travel available to the places selected before buying the tickets. Circular Journey Tickets that cover several stations save you the bother of buying tickets at every stage. These are issued by each zonal railway.
Restricted Areas Certain areas are restricted to international visitors and Indians. These are border areas and would require special permits to visits. Restricted areas' permits are issued by all Indian Diplomatic or Consular offices abroad or while in India, they may be obtained from the Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs (f1), Government Of India, Lok Nayak Bhawan, Khan Market, New Delhi 110003. Check with the local tourist authority for details regarding the local officers authorized to issue permits if you are in close proximity to a restricted area. The states that have restricted areas are: Nicobar Island, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Lakshadweep, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and the hill district of West Bengal.
Road Buses are preferred means for travel to the suburbs of Indian cities. Bus services are frequent in cities but are almost always crowded during peak hours. Taxis are not economical but autos (three-wheeled scooter-rickshaws) are. Either insist to go by meter or negotiate the price before hand with the drivers. While taking services, ride seeing the latest fare charts which all taxi and auto drivers should carry, and pay accordingly. Rickshaws are available everywhere. Tongas (horse-pulled carts) are available in many places but are time-consuming. The drive-yourself facility has still not been introduced in India, though international firms have begun to operate in India renting cars with drivers. Luxury cars and taxis without meters are also available on hire from cab companies in all major cities. Organized tours are conducted by government organizations in most tourist centers. India boasts of having many world class India tour operators and you can hire their services. Most of the roads are quite good, however, link roads leading to National Parks and wildlife sanctuaries may not always be good.
Sales Tax A local state tax is levied on many products as well as on services.
Communication Over 700 centres in India are connected by Direct Dialing Telephones (STD), and 204 countries around the world are connected by International Subscriber Dialing (ISD) facilities. Other modes of communications lake telex and fax are also available. But India has made rapid strides in communication technology. There are 980 million mobile phone users in India. Internet density is on the rise. Almost all good hotels have wi-fi and internet connectivity. Internet cafes are modern rage in smaller towns.
Time Indian standard Time follows 82 ?E longitudes. IST is 5 ? hours ahead of GMT, 10 ? hours ahead of American Eastern Standard Time (New York), 12 hours behind Australian Eastern Standard Time and 3 ? hours behind Japanese Standard Time (Tokyo).
Toilets Public toilets are few and far between and rarely well-kept. So prepare yourself in advance for a day out.
Traffic Rules Two-wheelers are very popular and cycles and mopeds are numerous in the larger cities. Traffic is heavy in the morning when people are hurrying to their schools, colleges or offices. The evening rush that begins with the office-goers and students getting back home lasts till late in the night. At all hours of the day, bullock carts and hand-drawn carts carrying heavy loads may be seen on the roads, moving at a leisurely pace, paying little heed to the rule of the road, with automobile blaring horns or enlarged drivers. Wandering cows and stray dogs add their bit to the traffic, making driving on the India roard that bit more difficult. Driving is on the left. Public parking facilities are available, but it is also safe to park your vehicle in other convenient places. Look out for 'No Parking' zones. Always carry a valid driving license endorsed for India.
Vehicle Repair Most towns have good vehicles repair facilities. Spares for imported vehicles are not easily available, so it is better to carry sufficient spares which will be fitted by recognized workshops. However, certain spares may be available in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai. For India vehicles there are several service centres scattered all over the country, where all types of repairs can be attended to.
Visas Citizens of all countries, except Nepal and Bhutan and South Africans of Indian origin, need visas. While the first two need no passports either, South African Indians should possess passports or certificates of identity, endorsed for India. The Government of India issued three kinds of Visas-Tourist, Entry and Transit- depending on the purpose of the visit. All Visas are issued by Indian Diplomatic missions abroad. If a country has no Indian Representative or consular officers, the nearest British Diplomatic Mission may be approached. A Tourist Visa entitles the visitors to stay in India for three months. The visitors, however, must arrive within six months of the date of issue of the visa. The visa may be extended by another three months through application made to the foreigners' Regional Registrations Office at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata or Chennai, or to the Superintendent of Police at the headquarters of the district. An Entry Visa, issued for three months and extendable for a further of three months, is issued to a foreign national visiting India for business or professional purposes or to set up permanent residence here. A Transit Visa, valid for 15 days, is issued to travelers passing through India, en route some other foreign destination, on presenting 'through tickets' for the onward journey. However, Transit Visa holders must enter India within three months from the date of issuance. It is also possible to obtain a two-way transit visa which will allow the travelers two journey through India with a maximum stay of 15 days on each visit. A passenger in Direct Transit, not wishing to leave the airport, does not require a transit visa.
Water In good hotels and restaurants, water is safe to drink. In other places, it is always advisable to ask for bottled drinking water. Extra care should be taken during the monsoon months. When in doubt, it's best to stick to bottled mineral water or, when not available, bottled soft drinks and soda if they are branded. It is also safe to use chlorination tablet or a water purifier which are available at most drug stores.
Working Hours and Holidays Sunday is the weekly holiday. Many officers are also closed on Saturday or work half-a-day. Other than these, the Indian calendar is replete with festival holidays, but these tend to vary from state to state. The only four national holidays are : 26 January-Republic Day, May 1- May Day; August 15- Independence Day and October 2- Gandhi Jayanti. Office hours are generally 10 am to 5 pm, though they may vary with the nature of the work and from state to state. Most Government of India officers work 5 days a week. Government officers work from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. Most shops are open from 9 am to 8 pm with a long lunch break from noon or 1 pm to 3 pm. Smaller Shops and pavement traders keep flexible hours.