VISAS AND PASSPORT :

A passport and visa are mandatory to enter India. The Indian consular offices around the world issue a standard six-month multiple-entry visa for tourists, which is convenient for visiting neighbouring countries as well such as Nepal and Sri Lanka.However, more and more countries are adopting and are now part of e-visa https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html, please consult it to see the list of countries and the process to fill e-visa.

With effect from 1st April 2017, with e-visa now foreigner tourist traveller can get double entry (earlier it was not available).

Foreigners who arrive in India on this visa donot need to register themselves with a local authority and can travel freely in all areas except the so-called "restricted area", which requires special permits.
Visa extensions are sometimes granted for 15 days or, in exceptional cases, for a longer period. The application process is complicated. In Delhi, collect an extension form from the Ministry of Home Affairs office, then submit it to the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) ; it will finally be issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs. In Mumbai, Chennai or Kolkata, contact the local FRRO.
Obtaining a visa extension, whether for 15 days or longer, is extremely difficult and extensions are only granted if at all, in special circumstances.

PERMITS :

In addition to a visa, you may need special travel permits to visit what are known as "Restricted Areas". Obtaining a permit, can be complicated, so it is best to ask a reliable travel agent, at home or in India, to do the arrangements for you. This can take up to four weeks, so plan ahead. Permits are also issued by Indian embassies and consular offices abroad,  from the FRRO in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai and from the Resident Commissioner's offices in Delhi. You will be asked to show these permits when travelling in restricted areas. You will also need trekking permits for the Himalayn regions bordering Pakistan, Tibet and China, and for treks in Uttranchal, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh and West Bangal and Sikkim. All visitors to Sikkim require 15-day travel permits, because of its proximity to a sensitive border with China.
 
Among the seven northern-eastern states, no permits are required for Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura. However, permits are required for Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland and can be acquired from any of the states tourist offices. In some areas, permits are issued only to groups of four or more - these are best organized by a travel agent.
Foreign nationals require a permit, valid for 30 days, for the Andaman Islands, but this excludes tribal areas and some islands, including Nicobar. Permits can be obtained on arrival at the immigration counter at Port Blair airport or at Kolkata and Chennai airport. If travelling by shop, a permit can be obtained on arrival at Port Blair, as well as from the FRRO offices in the four main cities.

INSURANCE :

It is advisable to take out an insurance policy for medical emergencies as well as theft before leaving home. Travel insurance is also essential to cover any adventure activity or sport that you may undertake on your trip.
 
BEST TIME TO TRAVEL TO INDIA

Travelling in India is largely determined by the weather. The best time is between Oct and Mar, when conditions are pleasant across the country. April to June are hot in the north, and very sultry in the south. The rainy season is from July to September. The Himalayan region can be cold from November to January. The foothills, which provide a welcome escape from the heat of the plains, are at their best between March and June, and again in September (after the rains).

CLOTHING

The cloths you need will depend on the time of year that you visit. In northern India, from November untillFebruary, you will need a warm jacket, sweater and socks, especially after sundown, whereas in the south, the weather is balmy at that time. In February and March, and again in October, bring light woolens. During the summer and monsoon season (Apr-Sep) only loose-fitting cotton clothes are comfortable. Bring footwear that is easy to remove, as you will heavy to take off your shoes in places of worship. A first aid kit is a must. A raincoat or umbrella, a hat to protect against the strong sun, and a torch are also useful.

SUITABLE DRESS :

Indians tend to dress conservatively and keep the body well covered. In small towns, most women wear saris or salwar-kameez. In cities, jeans, skirts and t-shirts are common, particularly among the younger generation, however, men do tend to stare at skimpily-clad women, so try to avoid short skirts, halter-neck tops, or anything that might attract unwanted attention.

It is best to dress formally when visiting Indian homes. In fact, wearing an Indian outfit for the occasion will probably delight your hosts. Inexpensive, readymade Indian cloths for men and women are widely available.
It is acceptable for men to go shirtless on the beach. Nude sunbathing is never allowed, and women are advised to wear full swimsuits, or sarongs over their bikinis. If you are going to out for the evening, remember that most nightclubs have a dress code, and you may not get in if you are wearing shorts or sneakers.

PLACES OF WORSHIP :

Whether you are visiting a Hindu temple, Buddhist monastery, Islamic mosque or Sikh gurdwara, make sure that you behave and dress appropriately. You should for example, always ask permission to take photographs. Women should wear dresses that cover the upper arms, and are lest mid-calf length, and take a scarf along to cover their head. It is acceptable for women to wear long trousers. Men should avoid shorts and may be asked to cover their heads with a hanky or scarf (rather than a hat).

Jain temples have strict rules, and will not allow leather items, even wallets or watch straps, inside. In some Southern Indian temples, men are expected to remove their shirts and wear a dhoti instead of trousers. These are often provided at the temple entrance. At most places of worship, shoes are taken off at the door, and you should sit with your feet facing away from the main shrine. In a temple or monastery, walk around in a clockwise direction. You may be offered prasad (sacred food) in most temples and gurudwars, which must be taken only in the right hand. The segregation of men and women is common.

In Hindu temples, it is usual for devotees and visitors to offer flowers and incense. Do not sit or lean against temple walls or shrines. Even those in ruins, as well as simple road side graves are considered holy. Some Hindus temples, especially in Kerala and few in Orissa, are out of bounds for non hindus. If you are barred from entering, donot take offence . Avoid entering a mosque during Fridayprayers and men should stay away from the women's enclosure.

ACCOMMODATION

Its rich history has bequeathed India with a wonderful choice of hotels, and our regular visits allow us to find the best accommodation to enhance your experience.

Many of the royal families of Rajasthan have opened their doors, and converted palaces in the cities as well as those throughout the Aravalli Hills allow you to absorb the regal atmosphere. Such has been their popularity, 'new palaces' have been constructed - largely by the Oberoi group - with an emphasis on luxury and high quality service.

As well as the luxury hotels there are boutique spas, converted tea planters’ cottages, hill station retreats and beach bungalows.

FOOD AND DRINK

There is a huge variety of dishes across India, with combinations of spices giving each region its own distinctive flavour. Seafood is a speciality in the coastal areas and coconut is used in many Keralan dishes in the south. A variety of European and Chinese dishes can usually be found at 4-5 star hotels. Local brands of drinks are widely available and international brands in larger hotels although these can be expensive, so you might like to bring additional duty free to combat this. Alcohol is not available in certain holy towns such as Pushkar and Hampi and the first day of each month is a 'dry' day in Cochin.

CURRENCY - MONEY & BANKS

The Indian currency is called the Rupee. It is available in denominations of 2,000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. One rupee equals 100 paise. Coins in common use are those of 10, 5, 2, 1. While the 50 and 25 paise coins have become almost redundant in bigger cities, they might still be in circulation in smaller towns. Credit cards have become increasingly popular in most cities but it is advisable to carry enough cash when visiting small towns, where ATMs and card-swiping machines may be hard to come by.
 
Most international banks have branches in major cities, so encashing travellers’ cheques or changing foreign currency is fairly simple. Indian state-run banks are open from 10 am to 2 pm Monday to Friday and open on 1st and 3rd Saturday. They are closed on 2nd and 4th Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays. However, privately-run Indian banks and international banks have longer and more flexible hours. While all major cities have a many banks, small towns are less equipped in banking services. It is thus advised to complete financial transactions from larger cities.

HEALTH & SECURITY

No particular vaccination is required for coming to India. However, visitors from designated countries in Africa, South America and Papua New Guinea, even if they are in transit, are required to bring valid Yellow Fever vaccination certificates. Precautionary medication is the best bet against common ailments like diarrhoea, dysentery and malaria. If you are not already vaccinated against Hepatitis B, get it done before travelling. While travelling, take care of what you eat or drink. Bottled mineral water, aerated drinks, hot tea and coffee are easily available and are a good substitute for casually available water. If you are travelling during the summer months, it would be useful to keep a packet of Electrol or any oral rehydration salts along with you to ingest with water at the first sign of any kind of fatigue or dehydration

SOCIAL CONVENTIONS & ETIQUETTE

The Prohibition Of Smoking in Public Places Rules came into effect from October 2, 2008; smoking is banned in all public areas of hotels including restaurants and bars. Anyone found violating the rule faces a punishable offence and is likely to meet with a monetary penalty.

Scant, tight clothing will draw unwanted attention and offend local sensibilities. Displays of intimacy are not considered acceptable in public. Visitors to all religious places should be dressed in clean, modest clothes; shorts and vests are inappropriate.

Always remove shoes before entering a temple or mosque (and all leather items in Jain temples) It is a good idea to carry a pair of socks to wear on hot stone floors.

In Buddhist shrines, turn prayer wheels in a clockwise direction. In Sikh gurudwaras, everyone should cover their head, even if it is just with a handkerchief. Tobacco and cigarettes should not be taken in.

Do not take pictures of people without asking permission. Photography within airports, of military installations, bridges and at "sensitive" border areas are not permitted.

TIPPING

Tipping for good service is expected in India and should preferably be paid in local currency. As a general rule we recommend the following tipping guidelines. All are per couple: guides around 300-500 Rs per half day tour, or 300-700 Rs per day. Accompanying tour escort 500-1000 Rs per day. For a driver who accompanies you throughout your tour we recommend 400-600 Rs per day and 200-500 Rs for a local driver.

In national parks: naturalist 200-500 Rs per game drive, driver 150 Rs per drive, government guide 100 Rs, mahout 200-400 Rs for a 30 minute elephant ride. All suggestions are per couple.

Hotel porters are usually given around 20-50 Rs per bag (more in luxury hotels).

A 10% tip is appreciated in restaurants and for room service, when no service charge is added to the bill. In some hotels, particularly in Kerala, and at homestays a communal Tip Box is often provided, usually in Reception. At homestays/camps house staff can be tipped around 500 Rs per day between a couple. Please give your tip to your host to distribute fairly if a Tip Box is not provided.

Obviously this is very much a rough guide and you are completely free to give whatever you feel is appropriate. You can also tip in US dollars if you need to, please check the exchange rate at time of travel.

ELECTRICITY

The electric current in India is 220-240 volts AC. The sockets here are of the three-round-pin variety, similar to the ones found in Europe or America, so three-pin electronic gadgets bought abroad can be used here.

TRAVEL ADVICE

Our destination specialists can advise on any safety concerns you may have. For current information, please refer to the
https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/india