India: overflowing with history dating back five millennia, a melting pot of cultures and religions, dramatic contrasting landscapes from the Himalayan peaks to Indian Ocean coastline, intoxicating smells and sights and sounds dazzling the senses, clamouring crowded cities and spiritual retreats, and some of the most iconic monuments in the world – a trip to India is an unique travel experience which is more than just a holiday. Spot Gangetic dolphins on the Brahmaputra, watch the mists swirls at dawn on the Ganges, listening to the priests’ chants echo across the waters. Take a memorable train ride on the Toy Train to Shimla, and go on the tiger trail in one of India’s National Parks. The classic Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur encompasses some of the best known sites: the eclectic hub and cacophony of Delhi, including its historic Red Fort Complex and the massive Jama Masjid mosque, the iconic testament to love, Taj Mahal, and the Fort in Agra, and Jaipur, the ‘Pink City’ which still evokes the old royal family that once ruled the region, and home of the lavish City Palace complex. But there are other great cities to be seen and experienced too: Amritsar and its golden temple, Kolkata, once the home of Mother Teresa, and the sprawling Mumbai on India’s West Coast, where the heart of the Bollywood film industry can be found and on which waterfront the iconic Gateway of India proudly stands, to name but a few.
Julie has been to India, and Amy has experienced the famous Golden Triangle (you can read her blog about her trip here). Rachel has been twice, including the remote Brahmaputra up in Assam, but Bella is our India specialist, having visited many different destinations many different times, and escorting two groups to Kerala and Tamil-Nadu, and the Himalayan foothills (you can read her blog about the Himalayan Foothills and Kashmir trip here).
Key Facts Before You Go
- Capital: New Delhi
- Currency: Indian rupee
- Time Difference: The whole of India observes India Standard Time throughout the year. India is 4.5 hours AHEAD of BST and 5.5 hours AHEAD of GMT.
- Flight Time: Delhi takes 8.5 hours, 9 hours and 5 minutes for Mumbai, 10 hours to Chennai - all direct. For Kolkata, indirect flights take almost 12 and a half hours, while indirect flights to Goa take 11 and a half.
- Official Language: There is no national language, but the Constitution declared that Hindi (in Devanagari script) would be the official language of the Union, but each State could appoint its own official language. There are 22 regional languages which are officially recognised.
- Entry Requirements: A visa is required for entry to India, but there are many different types, including transit visas or e-visas. It is imperative to ensure that you get the correct visa for your duration and purpose. Failure to get the correct visa could result in denial of entry, deportation, or blacklisting from entering India again. You can find further information on visa requirements on the Indian High Commission website or the Indian Immigration Bureau website. If you’re applying for an e-visa, check you meet the eligibility criteria - you can find out more about this on India’s e-visa website. The Foreign Office advises that your passport must have a minimum of 180 days' validity from date of entry, and your passport must also be machine readable and have at least two blank pages. For further information about what else to consider and up-to-date advice, please look at the Foreign Office website.
- Vaccinations and Health: You should always ensure that you travel with adequate travel health insurance. For up-to-date information, please check this website (as recommended by the Foreign Office): https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/country105/india/#Vaccine_recommendations. If vaccinations are required, it is generally advisable to arrange an appointment with a health professional four to six weeks before departure.
General information on travel vaccinations can be found on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/travel-vaccinations/
To find out more, and for the most up-to-date advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/india
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