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* '''Do not mock or insult the national anthem or any local traditions'''. Indians are proud of their national symbols and would take such actions with serious offence.
* '''Do not mock or insult the national anthem or any local traditions'''. Indians are proud of their national symbols and would take such actions with serious offence.
==== Religion: ====
* '''Be very respectful when discussing religion'''. Religion plays a strong role in Indian society, and it is commonly used as a tool of political indoctrination. Some more conservative Indians may not be tolerant of other religions, and if you criticise or speak badly of their religion, it could result in harsh words, or at worst, violence.
==== Sensitive Issues: ====
==== Sensitive Issues: ====
* '''Be very respectful when talking about the Punjab Insurgency in [[Punjab]]'''. Although the worst of the insurgency has gone away, many people in Punjab, especially the Sikh community, have an incredibly emotional stance on the Punjab Insurgency as well as '''Operation Blue Star''', widely regarded as one of India's most controversial military operations. . Jokes, even made innocently about the matter, is ''absolutely the wrong way'' of approaching the matter.
* '''Be very cautious when talking about Pakistan'''. The two countries have had a hostile, strained, often violent history, which has culminated in more than millions of deaths and refugees. Attempting to compliment or say anything that could be percieved as positive about Pakistan can evoke a strong response from some Indians. Don't be afraid to inquire about the Indo-Pakistan relationship, but bear in mind that it can result in a very heated, often emotional, conversation.
* '''Be very respectful when talking about the Punjab Insurgency in [[Punjab (India)]]'''. Although the worst of the insurgency has gone away, many people in Punjab, especially the Sikh community, have an incredibly emotional stance on the Punjab Insurgency as well as '''Operation Blue Star''', widely regarded as one of India's most controversial military operations. . Jokes, even made innocently about the matter, is '''absolutely the wrong way''' of approaching the matter.
* '''Steer clear of discussing issues in the North East'''. The North East has largely been isolated from the rest of India, and many residents there have endured a great degree of social problems such as racism and discrimination. Media coverage of the region is virtually non-existent, and many of the more well-aware Indians regard this as an incredibly embarrassing issue. Although much work has gone into integrating the region into the rest of the country, some North-Easterners may react with hostility and/or fierce debates depending on your views.
* '''Steer clear of discussing issues in the North East'''. The North East has largely been isolated from the rest of India, and many residents there have endured a great degree of social problems such as racism and discrimination. Media coverage of the region is virtually non-existent, and many of the more well-aware Indians regard this as an incredibly embarrassing issue. Although much work has gone into integrating the region into the rest of the country, some North-Easterners may react with hostility and/or fierce debates depending on your views.
* '''Avoid using terms like "Chinki" and/or "Chinese" in the North East'''. They are regarded as racial slurs, and many in the North East would find you ignorant if you use such terms.
* '''Avoid using terms like "Chinki" and/or "Chinese" in the North East'''. They are regarded as racial slurs, and many in the North East would find you ignorant if you use such terms.
* '''Do not criticise or patronise someone for their profession or vocation'''. Someone’s occupation is usually an important part of one’s personal identity, and most Indians will react with big anger if you criticise their occupation or vocation.
* '''Be very cautious when talking about the Kashmir conflict'''. Most Indians regard Kashmir as a part of India, and inquiries into the subject can be met with fierce, passionate, or even hostile debates depending on your views.
* '''Be very cautious when talking about the Kashmir conflict'''. Most Indians regard Kashmir as a part of India, and inquiries into the subject can be met with fierce, passionate, or even hostile debates depending on your views.
* '''Be very cautious when talking about Pakistan'''. The two countries have had a hostile, strained, often violent history, which has culminated in more than millions of deaths and refugees. Indians in general aren't against individual people from Pakistan, but the Pakistani government. Inquiries into the Indo-Pakistani relationship won't be met with offence as Indians are happy to explain, but it can result in a heated, often emotional, conversation.
* '''Take care about the food that you eat'''. Some Indians are intolerant of non-vegetarians and you may be met with puzzled looks and/or hostile comments. This form of hostility has often extended to the workplace and/or the local government, where groups often encourage the banning of non-vegetarian food. This is largely common around Central India, although people in the South, North, and North East do not mind as much.
* '''Take care about the food that you eat'''. Some Indians are intolerant of non-vegetarians and you may be met with puzzled looks and/or hostile comments. This form of hostility has often extended to the workplace and/or the local government, where groups often encourage the banning of non-vegetarian food. This is largely common around Central India, although people in the South, North, and North East do not mind as much.

Revision as of 15:18, 4 April 2020


India Banner.jpg


Taj Mahal, Agra
Flag of India.svg
Quick Facts
Capital New Delhi
Government Federal Parliamentary Republic
Currency Indian Rupee (₹, INR)
Area total: 3,287,263km²
water: 314,070km²
land: 2,973,193km²
Population 1,324,171,354 (according to the 2017 revision of the World Population Prospects)
Language Hindi, English and 21 other official languages
Religion 79.8% Hindu, 14.2 Islam, 2.3 Christianity, 1.7% Sikhism, 0.7% Buddhist, 0.7% Other religions, 0.4% Jain, 0.2% Religion not stated (2011 Census)
Electricity 230V/50Hz, Indian (Old British) and European plugs
Country code +91
Internet TLD .in
Time Zone UTC+5:30
Emergencies dial 100 for police

      101 for fire
      102 for medical
      108 for emergency disaster

India is the largest country in the South Asia Region, located primarily in the center of South Asia. The country shares land borders with Pakistan to the northwest, China and Nepal to the north, Bhutan to the northeast, and Bangladesh and Myanmar are to the east. Maritime borders in the Indian Ocean exist with Sri Lanka to the south, Maldives to the southwest, and Indonesia to the southeast.

The Republic of India is the seventh largest country in the world by area and, with over a billion people, is second only to China in population, although its much higher birth-rate makes it likely to reach pole position in less than ten years.

It is an extremely diverse country, with vast differences in geography, climate, culture, language and ethnicity across its expanse, and prides itself on being the largest democracy on Earth and a hub of trade in Southeast Asia.india provides a vast canvass for touring whether it may be cultural , adventure, religious, history ,beach, wildlife or other forms.


"So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or Nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his round. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked." — Mark Twain, Following the Equator

Indians are known for their greeting to their guest in Sanskrit "अतिथि देवो भवः" Atithi devo bhava meaning "Guest is like God". India's culture and heritage are a rich amalgam of the past and the present. This vast country offers the visitor a view of fascinating religions and ethnography, a vast variety of languages with more than 438 living languages among 1600 languages and thousands of dialects, and monuments that have been present for thousands of years. As it opens up to a globalised world, India still has a depth of history and intensity of culture that awes and fascinates the many who visit there.

India remains to be one of the world's fastest growing economies and one of the fastest developing countries. It is considered to be an emerging superpower. Therefore, your visit will indeed be an interesting one.


Hindu pilgrims bathing at Varanasi.
"Nothing should more deeply shame the modern student than the recency and inadequacy of his acquaintance with India.” — Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage

Mesolithic sites include the Bhimbetka rock shelters in Central India, Madhya Pradesh, which are 300,000 years old. One of the three cradles of civilizations the Indus Valley Civilization flourished in Northern India. The oldest archaeological site attributed to this civilization is Bhirrana(7570 BCE), located in mordern day Indian state of Haryana and the largest site being Rakhigari, Haryana[7]. In the east this civilization extended as far as the mordern day city of Alamgirpur,Uttar Pradesh[8].Other important sites excavated in India include Lothal, Dholavira, Kalibangan and so many more [9]. This civilization came to an abrupt end around 1700 to 1500 BCE. This was followed by Vedic Period. Indians date the Vedic Period as one of the significant role in Indian Society, which scholars place in the second and first millennia BC continuing up to the 6th century BC, based on literary evidence. This is the period when the Vedas, one of the oldest and important books of Sanatan Dharma, were compiled.

The Vedic civilization influences Republic of India to this day. Present-day Hinduism traces its roots to the Vedas, but is also heavily influenced by literature that came afterwards, like the Upanishads, the Puranas, the great epics; Ramayana and Mahabharata, and the Bhagavad Gita. By tradition, these books claim to only expand and distil the knowledge that is already present in the Vedas. Some rituals of Hinduism took shape during that period. Most North-Indian languages come from Sanskrit, the language that the Vedas were first written down in, and are classified as part of the Indo-European group of languages. In the 1st millennium BC, various schools of thought in philosophy developed, enriching Hinduism greatly. Most of them claimed to derive from the Vedas. However, three of these schools - Sikhism , Buddhism and Jainism - questioned the authority of the Vedas and they are classified as separate religions in western discourse.

Many great empires were formed between 500 BC and AD 500. Notable among them were the Mauryas and the Guptas. This period saw major mathematical and astronomical advancements, many of which were ahead of their time and were rediscovered later in the West. In particular, Aryabhata theorised that the earth was a sphere that rotates about its axis and revolves around the sun. He also developed a calendar that is followed to this day. This period also saw a gradual decline of Buddhism and Jainism. The practice of Buddhism, in particular, disappeared from India's heartland, though Buddha himself was incorporated into the Hindu pantheon. Jainism continues to be practiced by a significant number who are ambivalent about whether they consider themselves Hindus or not. Hinduism itself went through significant changes. The importance of Vedic deities like Indra and Agni reduced and Puranic deities like Vishnu, Shiva, their various Avatars and family members gained prominence.

Akshardham Mandir, One of the biggest temples in India, Photo Courtesy : Wikipedia
Jamia Masjid, Delhi.

The Islamic conquest of India started in the 8th century. Historian Will Durant famously wrote: “The Islamic conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history". This would be difficult to prove, but it is generally accepted that Muslim raiders irrevocably changed the character of parts of northern and western India. Around the twelfth century, Muslim settlers from Afghan tribes began to occupy Indian territory, fending off attacks from other invaders, and establishing kingdoms that stretched all the way to Bengal in the east of the subcontinent, and to the Deccan in the south. The most powerful and influential of these foreign occupiers were the Turkic Mughals, originally from modern-day Uzbekistan. They established an empire that at its peak covered almost the entire Indian subcontinent between Kashmir in the north, Gujarat in the west, Hyderabad in the south, and Bengal in the east. The first six Mughal kings ruled from Agra, Lahore and Delhi for nearly three centuries, altering the political economy, the social fabric and the art and aesthetics of India forever. The fusion of Islamic and Indian architecture, and literature and politics resulted in wonders like the Taj Mahal. Urdu (the camp language of the Mughals's diverse soldiery) also took root in medieval North India, and Persian became the language of the court. Local Hindu rulers became Mughal vassals and courtiers, and some castes, such as the martial Rajputs, grew in riches and influence, becoming indispensable to the strictly Muslim but culturally heterodox Mughal kings. Sikhism, a major religion that purported to resist the oppression inflicted on the powerless in both Hinduism and Islam, was established in Punjab during the Mughal period. Relations between Sikhism and the Mughals varied over the time. The Golden Temple at Amritsar was built by the fourth guru, Guru Ram Das Ji. By the time of its tenth Guru - Guru Gobind Singh, however, relations were hostile. Conflict between the Sikhs and the Mughals was one of the causes for the eventual decline of the Mughal empire. Mughal rule continued, in forms both formal and nominal, until the mid-nineteenth century, but in reality, military overreach had spelt its downfall at least 150 years prior to that. By the start of the eighteenth century, the Mughal empire was simply too unwieldy to be controlled successfully. The challenge of the 'Marathas in Maharashtra, which was started by Shivaji and carried on by the Peshwas, helped destroy it in all but name by the nineteenth century. The Marathas established an empire that was almost as large as the Mughal empire until they, too, lost their claim to subcontinental overlordship after the third battle of Panipat, which in turn paved a way for British Colonialism.

Shore Temple (c. 700;AD), Mamallapuram.

South India followed a different trajectory. The period from 500 AD to 1600 AD is called the classical period dominated by great South Indian Kingdoms. Prominent among them were the Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas and Vijayanagara empires who ruled from present day Karnataka and the Pallavas, Cheras, Pandyas and Cholas who ruled from present day Tamil Nadu; Kerala. Among them, the Cholas are widely recognised to be the most powerful of the South Indian kingdoms, with their territory stretching as far north as Pataliputra and their influence spreading as far east as Sumatra, Western Borneo and Southern Vietnam at the height of their power. Some of the grandest Hindu and Jain monuments that exist in India were built during this time in South and East India.

Islam came to South Indian shores through commerce, not military expansion, as did Christianity. Southwestern India is home to some of the earliest Muslim and Christian communities established outside western Asia, and the diverse and pluralist culture held fast through centuries of momentous political change elsewhere on the subcontinent. Then, European traders started visiting India beginning in the late 16th century. Prominent among these were the British, French and the Portuguese. The British East India Company made Calcutta their headquarters in 1772. They also established subsidiary cities like Bombay and Madras. Calcutta later went onto to become 'the second city of the empire after London'. By the 19th century, the British had, one way or the other assumed political control of virtually all of India, though the Portuguese and the French too had their enclaves along the coast.

There was an uprising by Indian rulers in 1857 which was suppressed, but which prompted the British government to take over from the Company and make India a part of the empire. Many Indians converted to Christianity during the period, for pretty much the same reasons as they converted to Islam, though forcible conversions ended in British India after 1859, and Queen Victoria's proclamation promised to respect the religious faiths of Indians.

Resistance movements, the most powerful of which was led by "Mahatma" Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, and the reshaping of the global order after the Second World War, played their part in India freeing itself from British rule. An independent, modern nation was established on 15th August 1947, and the republic of India established soon after, in 1950. However, independence also tore the subcontinent apart, as territory to the north-west and the east broke away to establish the Islamic nation of Pakistan. A catastrophe accompanied the simultaneous foundation of these two countries, and the orgy of Hindu-Muslim blood-letting that followed Partition led to the deaths of at least half a million and the migration of 12-14 million people.

Free India under Nehru adopted a democratically-governed, centrally-planned economy. These policies were aimed at attaining "self-sufficiency", and to a large extent made India what it is today. India achieved self-sufficiency in food grains by the 1970s, ensuring that the large-scale famines that had been common are now history. However these policies also led to shortages, slow growth and large-scale corruption. After a balance-of-payments crisis in 1991, the country adopted free-market reforms which have continued at a meandering pace ever since, fueling strong growth. The IT and the business outsourcing industries have been the drivers for the growth, while manufacturing and agriculture, which have not experienced reforms, are lagging. About 60% of Indians live on agriculture and around 36% remain in poverty.

Relations with Pakistan have been frosty. The two countries have fought four wars, three of them over the status of Kashmir. The third war between the two countries in 1971 resulted in East Pakistan becoming Bangladesh. India continues to experience occasional terrorist attacks that are widely believed to originate in Pakistan and ordered by its military-intelligence complex.

China and India went to war in 1962 over a border dispute. Though current relations are peaceful, there is still military rivalry and no land crossings are allowed between the two countries, though one border crossing between Sikkim and Tibet was re-opened in 2006 for trade (but not tourists). Security concerns over Pakistan and China prompted India to test nuclear weapons twice (including the 1974 tests described as "peaceful explosions"). India wants to be accepted as a legitimate nuclear power and is campaigning for a permanent Security Council seat.

India is proud of its democratic record. Constitutional government and democratic freedoms have been safeguarded throughout its 60 years as an Independent country, except for an 18 month interlude in 1975-1977, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency, suspending elections and human rights.

Current concerns in India include the corruption, poverty, over-population, environmental degradation, ongoing disputes with Pakistan and China, terrorism, and ethnic and religious strife. But the current comparison, at least among the educated elite, is over whether India will be able overtake to China in economic growth. Most Indians express a preference for equitable and sustainable growth, and cherish their political freedom and long record of resistance to authoritarianism.


India is a Parliamentary Democracy modeled on the British Westminster system. The President, indirectly elected, is the Head of State, but his or her position, while not entirely ceremonial, has limited powers. In practice, the Prime Minister is seen to wield the most authority, and runs the government with her/his cabinet. The Parliament is bi-cameral. The Lok Sabha, the lower house, is directly elected by adult franchise, while the Rajya Sabha, or the upper house, is indirectly elected. The Lok Sabha is the more powerful of the two, primarily because a majority in the Lok Sabha is required to form a government and pass budgets. India has a vast number of political parties,recently got a highly stable government led by hugely popular Narendra Modi where a single party got absolute majority after a slew of coalition led governments in which no single party has secured a majority in the Lok Sabha, leading to unstable governments and raucous politics. The transition of power has always been peaceful and always constitutional.

India has a strong and independent judiciary Supreme Court of India is apex court, and each state has an highcourt. and a free press.

India is also a Federal Republic, divided into states and union territories. Each of these have their own legislatures, with government run by a chief minister and a cabinet.

Street demonstrations and political agitations occur, as they do in any democracy, though there is also occasional low-level violence. A visitor has only a miniscule possibility of getting caught in these demonstrations.

Time zone

Indian Standard Time (IST) is 5 hours and 30 minutes ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+5.30). Daylight saving is not observed.


Mountains, jungles, deserts, and beaches, India has it all. It is bounded to the north and northeast by the snow-capped Himalayas, the tallest mountain range in the world. In addition to protecting the country from invaders, they also feed the perennial rivers Ganga, Yamuna (Jamuna) and Sindhu (Indus) on whose plains India's civilization flourished. Though most of the Sindhu is in Pakistan now, three of its tributaries flow through Punjab. The other Himalayan river, the Brahmaputra flows through the northeast, mostly through Assam.

South of Punjab lies the Aravalli range which cuts Rajasthan into two. The western half of Rajasthan is occupied by the Thar desert. The Vindhyas cut across Central India, particularly through Madhya Pradesh and signify the start of the Deccan plateau, which covers almost the whole of the southern peninsula.

The Deccan plateau is bounded by the Sahyadri (Western Ghats) range to the west and the Eastern Ghats to the east. The plateau is more arid than the plains, as the rivers that feed the area, such as the Narmada, Godavari and the Kaveri run dry during the summer. Towards the northeast of the Deccan plateau is what used to be a thickly forested area called the Dandakaranya which covers the states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, the eastern edge of Maharashtra and the northern tip of Andhra Pradesh. This area is still forested and populated by tribal people. This forest acted as a barrier to the invasion of South India.

India has a long coastline. The west coast borders the Arabian Sea and the east coast the Bay of Bengal, both parts of the Indian Ocean.


Lakshadweep Islands

In India, it rains only during a specific time of the year. The season — as well as the phenomenon that causes it — is called the monsoon. There are two of them, the Southwest and the Northeast, both named after the directions the winds come from. The Southwest monsoon is the more important one, as it causes rains over most parts of the country, and is the crucial variable that decides how the crops will do. It lasts from June to September. The Southwest monsoon hits the west coast the most, as crossing the western ghats and reaching the rest of India is an uphill task for the winds. The western coastline is therefore much greener than the interior. The Northeast monsoon hits the east coast between October and February, mostly in the form of occasional cyclones which cause much devastation every year. The only region that gets rains from both monsoons is North-Eastern India, which consequently experiences the highest rainfall in the world.

India experiences at least three seasons a year, Summer, Rainy Season (or "Monsoon") and Winter, though in the tropical South calling the 25°C (77°F) weather "Winter" would be stretching the concept. The North experiences some extremes of heat in Summer and cold in Winter, but except in the Himalayan regions, snow is almost unheard of. November to January is the winter season and April and May are the hot months when everyone eagerly awaits the rains. There is also a brief spring in February and March, especially in North India.

Opinions are divided on whether any part of India actually experiences an Autumn, but the ancients had certainly identified such a season among the six seasons ( or ritus - Vasanta - Spring, Greeshma - Summer, Varsha - Rainy, Sharat - Autumn, Shishira - Winter, Hemanta - "Mild Winter") they had divided the year into.


India's rich and multi-layered cultures are dominated by religious and spiritual themes. While it is a mistake to assume that there is a single unified Indian culture, there certainly are unifying themes that link the various cultures. India's cultural heritage is expressed through its myriad of languages in which much great literature and poetry has been written. It can be seen in its music - both in its classical (Carnatic and Hindustani) forms and in modern cinema music. India also has a vast tradition of classical and folk dances. Art and theatre flourish amongst the bustling cities of the country, against the backdrop of the ever expanding western influences.

Vibrant processions are seen going on everywhere, especially during festivals. Ganesh Chatutrthi processions in Mumbai, Dusshera in Mysore etc. are some important processions which have to be seen. Along with these, marriage and religious processions are also seen on the roads. You can see people dance, play music and drums, play with colors etc.

Indians value their family system a lot. Typically, an Indian's family encompasses what would be called the extended family in the West. It is routine for Indians to live as part of the paternal family unit throughout their lives - i.e. sons live together with their parents all their lives, and daughters live with their parents till they get married. The relationship is mutually self-supporting. Parents may support their children for longer than is common in the West, brothers and sisters may support each other, and sons are expected to take care of their parents in their old age. "Living with parents" does not carry the same stigma as it does in the US. Nowadays, most indian families are becoming more nuclear. Naturally, the arrangements are not perfect and there are strains and breakups, especially by the time the third generation grows up. Also, it has now become common for children to move away from the parental house for education and employment. Nonetheless, it is fair to say that the joint family is still seen as the norm and an ideal to aspire to, and Indians continue to care about their family's honour, achievements and failures even while they are not living together.

Despite the weakening of the caste system, India remains a fairly stratified society. Indians care about a person's background and position in society as is the case elsewhere in the world. This attitude, when combined with the legacy of colonial rule, results in some rather interesting, if unfortunate consequences. Paler skin is deemed desirable but there is no discrimination on the basis of color.


There are three national holidays: Republic Day (26 January), Independence Day (15 August), and Gandhi Jayanti (2 October) which occur on the same day every year. In addition, there are four major nationwide festivals with shifting dates to be aware of:

  • Holi, in February or March — The festival of colour is a major festival celebrated mainly in North, East and Western India. On the first day, people go to temples and light bonfires, but on the second, it's a waterfight combined with showers of coloured powder. This is not a spectator sport: as a visible foreigner, you're a magnet for attention, so you'll either have to barricade yourself inside, or put on your most disposable clothes and join the fray. Alcohol and bhang (cannabis) are often involved and crowds can get rowdy as the evening wears on. Celebrations are fewer in South India, though private celebrations occur among North Indian communities residing in major South Indian cities
  • Durga Puja / Navarathri/Dussehara, Sep-Oct — A nine-day festival culminating in the holy day of Dasara, when locals worship the deity Durga. Workers are given sweets, cash bonuses, gifts and new clothes. It is also new year for businessmen, when they are supposed to start new account books. In some places like West Bengal, Durga Puja is the most important festival. In the north Dussehara celebrations take place and the slaying of Ravana by Lord Rama is ceremonially reenacted as Ram Lila. In Gujarat and South India, it is celebrated as Navarathri where the festival is celebrated by dancing to devotional songs and religious observances like fasts extended over a period of 9 nights.
  • Eid-ul-Fitr, the largest religious holiday of the year for Indian Muslims, it celebrates the start of the holy month of Shawwal. Ramzan ends with the Eid-ul-Fitr festival extending over several days. Food is the highlight, and if you're lucky you'll be invited into a private home for a feast. Businesses close for at least a couple days if not a week.
Diwali lighting
  • Diwali (Deepavali), Oct-Nov — The festival of lights, celebrates the return of Lord Rama to the capital of his kingdom, Ayodhya after an exile of 14 years. Probably the most lavish festival in the country, reminiscent (to U.S. travellers at least) of the food of Thanksgiving and the shopping and gifts of Christmas combined. Houses are decorated, there is glitter everywhere, and if you wander the streets on Diwali night, there will be firecrackers going off everywhere including sometimes under your feet.

Apart from these, each state has its own major national festival like Onam for Kerala or Sankranti for Andhra Pradesh & Karnataka or Pongal for Tamil Nadu or Baisakhi for Punjab or "Ratha Yatra" for Odisha, which is celebrated as public holiday in respective states.

Religious holidays occur on different days each year, because the Hindu and Islamic festivals are based on their respective calendars and not on the Gregorian calendar. Most of them are celebrated only locally, so check the state or city you are visiting for information on whether there will be closures. Different regions might give somewhat different names to the same festival. To cater to varying religious practices, offices have a list of optional holidays (called restricted holidays by the government) from which employees are allowed to pick two, in addition to the list of fixed holidays. This may mean thin attendance and delayed service even when the office is officially open.

Suggested reading

  • A Goddess in the Stones: Travels in India by Norman Lewis (Cape 1991; US: Holt 1992), In "Goddess in the Stones", influential journalist and author Norman Lewis undertakes a journey of 2500 miles in search of the old India.
  • The India they saw : foreign accounts, by Meenakshi Jain (2011). A compilation of intriguing travel tales and excerpts from travelogues by travelers, writers, pilgrims and missionaries.
  • Indian journals, March 1962-May 1963: Notebooks, diary, blank pages, writings. Ginsberg, A. (1970). San Francisco: Dave Haselwood Books. Travel diary written by the famous beat poet Allen Ginsberg.
  • India: A History, John Keay; "A superb one-volume history of a land that defies reduction into simple narrative... Without peer among general studies, a history that is intelligent, incisive, and eminently readable." -- Kirkus Review (starred review) (ISBN 0802137970)
  • India: A Million Mutinies Now, V.S. Naipaul; "With this book he may well have written his own enduring monument, in prose at once stirring and intensely personal, distinguished both by style and critical acumen" -- K. Natwar-Singh, Financial Times (ISBN 0670837024)
  • In Spite of the Gods, Edward Luce; an exceptionally insightful and readable book on the unlikely rise of modern India. (ISBN 0316729817)
  • No Full Stops In India, Mark Tully; "India's Westernized elite, cut off from local traditions, want to write a full stop in a land where there are no full stops. From that striking insight Mark Tully has woven a superb series of stories which explore everything from communal conflict in Ahmedabad to communism in Kolkata, from the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad (probably the biggest religious festival in the world) to the televising of a Hindu epic." (ISBN 0140104801)
  • Mother Pious Lady, Santosh Desai; An excellent account of middle class beliefs and customs from the pre-liberalization era till date. For anyone who wants to understand the culture of present India, this is a must read where the author cuts through the chaos and confusion letting you to see things more clearly . (ISBN 8172238643)
  • Spiritual India handbook: A guide to temples, holy sites festivals and traditions by Stephen Knapp (2013). Useful for the pilgrim traveler who wants to get the most out of his or her spiritual adventure and experience in India.


Touts are ubiquitous, as in many developing countries, and where tourism is strategically promoted and you should assume that anyone 'proactively' trying to help you has a hidden agenda to part you from your money just like you experience in every other tourist place you visit. However, in areas hardly or not at all visited by tourists, it is not at all uncommon for people who go out of their way to 'proactively' help you without expecting anything in return. During your travels in India, you will be deluged with touts trying to get you to buy something or patronize particular establishments. There are a myriad of common scams, which range from telling you your hotel has gone out of business (of course, they'll know of one that's open with vacancies), to giving wrong directions to a government rail ticket booking office (the directions will be to their friend's tour office), to trying to get you to take diamonds back to your home country (the diamonds are worthless crystal), to 'poor students' giving you a sightseeing for hours and then with pity make you buy school books for them (tremendously overpriced from a bookstore with whom they are affiliated). There will also be more obvious touts who "know a very good place for dinner", sell fake SIM cards (even in officially looking establishment), or want to sell you a chess set on the street. No place in India is completely free of touts, but if you want an almost tout free experience, visit southern states especially Kerala.

Faced with such an assault, If you face any assault call 100 (police number) immediatly the police 100 service is often very fast in India, but it would be nice to call for help from people nearby. it's very easy to get into a siege mentality where all of India is against you and out to squeeze you dry. Needless to say, such a mentality may affect any true appreciation of the country. Dealing with touts is very simple: assume anyone offering surprising information (such as "your hotel is shut down") is a tout. Never be afraid to get a second or third answer to a question. To get rid of a tout:

  • Completely ignore him/her and go about your business until he goes away. This may take quite a while, but patience is key to managing India.
  • Tell him "NO", very firmly, and repeatedly.

It is also beneficial to have a firm Indian friend whom you can trust. If they show you around, they will act to help you ward off such touts.

Basic strategy will help you:

  • Don't feel harassed, consider each problem and joy as your experience, that's why you are traveling. Isn't it?
  • Hiring a qualified guide, if you manage to find a trust worthy one, will sort out your most of the problems, almost every problem.
  • If you still have any issues or want to chat friendly to an Indian, then seek for an Indian tourist. He/she may help you if he/she knows English but may likely know less than you about the place you're visiting.
  • Don't expect everything to happen exactly as at home; quickly adjust to situations and use your common sense.
  • In case of any practical guidance or help look for any respectable looking person in the premises (which by and large you will find many) and request for any guidance. Else its absolutely a good idea to ask for suggestions with the commercial stall operators inside platforms who usually are local fellows. By and large you will find a great deal of help and information from the decent people around who are not the touts and have no vested interest in the affairs. So use your common sense judiciously in order to look out for these fellows.

Recently, there has been a great rise in the number of complaints about harassment of innocent tourists in various destinations around the country. The Ministry of Tourism has adopted a strategy of introducing Audio Guide Devices at various places of interest around the country such as the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, etc. to provide reliable and factual information to tourists. It is wise to hire such devices as you can avoid the being ripped off or ambushed by desperate touts itching to make a buck. The Ministry of Tourism has also announced its partnership with AudioCompass, a company specializing in creating Audio Tours of all places of interest in the country in the form of Audio Devices available at the monuments and Smartphone apps that can be download from the App Store.

Nationality-based pricing

Some tourist attractions that are run by the Archaeological Survey of India have different rates for Indians, SAARC countries and foreigners. The difference in price may be significant: for example, entry to Taj Mahal is only ₹40 for Indians, but is ₹1000 for other Nationalities. The rates are prominently posted at the entrance and ticketing booths.


India is administratively divided into 28 states and 8 union territories. The states are broadly demarcated on linguistic lines. They vary in size; the larger ones are bigger and more diverse than some countries of Europe. The union territories are smaller than the states—sometimes they are just one city—and they have much less autonomy.

These states and union territories are grouped by convention into the following regions:

Map of India's regions and states
Himalayan North (Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, Union Territory of Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand)
Mountainous and beautiful, a tourist destination for the adventurous and the spiritual. This region contains some of India's most visited hill-stations and religious places. Includes the exquisitely scenic states.
The Plains (Bihar, Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh)
The country's capital Delhi is here. The rivers Ganga and Yamuna flow through this plain. Many of the events that shaped India's history took place in this region.
Western India (Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan)
World's second largest Salt Flat, Great Rann of Kutch. Miles and miles of the Thar Desert. Home to the colorful palaces, forts and cities of Rajasthan, the country's most vibrant and biggest city Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), wonderful beaches and pristine forests of Goa and Bollywood.
Southern India (Andaman and Nicobar, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu)
South India features famous and historical temples, tropical forests, backwaters, beaches hill stations, and the vibrant cities of Bangalore, Kochi, Chennai and Hyderabad. The island groups of Andaman & Nicobar (on the east) and Lakshadweep on the west are included in this region for convenience, but they are far from the mainland and have their own unique characteristics.
Eastern India (Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Sikkim, West Bengal)
Economically less developed, but culturally rich and perhaps the most welcoming of outsiders. Features Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta), once the capital of British India, and the temple cities of Puri, Bhubaneswar and Konark. Geographically it stretches from the mountains to the coast, resulting in fascinating variations in climate. It is also the mineral storehouse of India, having the country's largest and richest mines.
North-Eastern India (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura)
insular and relatively virgin, the country's tribal corner, with lush, beautiful landscapes, endemic flora and fauna of the Indo-Malayan group and famous for Tea Gardens. Consists of seven tiny states (by Indian standards, some of them are larger than Switzerland or Austria) popularly nicknamed as the Seven Sisters.


Below is a selection of just nine of India's most notable cities. Other cities can be found under their specific regions.

  • Delhi — The Capital of India, seat of the Federal Government, numerous historic monuments,markets, industrial hub and major gateway to rest of Northern India.
  • Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) — The garden city, once the sleepy home of pensioners now transformed into Silicon Valley with all major of software companies establishing their offices in the city and major aviation/rail hub for South Central India.
  • Chennai (formerly Madras) — Main port in Southern India, cradle of Carnatic Music,Bharatanatyam and Indian Tamil Film Industry, home of the famous Marina beach, Automobile Capital of India and a fast emerging IT hub.
  • Jaipur — the Pink City is a major exhibit of the Hindu Rajput culture of medieval Northern India.
  • Kochi (formerly Cochin) — the Queen of Arabian Sea, historically, a centre of international trade, now the gateway to the sandy beaches and backwaters.
  • Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) — the erstwhile capital of British India till 1911, now gateway/hub to Eastern/North Eastern India,home to numerous colonial relics, eclectic culture, street food, Indian Bengali film industry,Oscar winners and Nobel Laureates, has earned the sobriquets of City of Joy,Cultural Capital of India
  • Mumbai (formerly Bombay) — the financial capital of India, housing most of the Indian/multinational corporations, major port, Bollywood (Indian Hindi film industry).
  • Shimla — the former summer capital of British India located in the Himalayan foothills with a large legacy of Victorian architecture.
  • Varanasi — considered the most sacred Hindu city, located on the banks of the Ganges, one of the oldest continually inhabited cities of the world.

Other destinations

India has many outstanding landmarks and areas of outstanding beauty. Below is a list of nine of the most notable:

  • Bodh Gaya — the place where the Buddha Sakyamuni attained enlightenment.
  • Ellora/Ajanta — spectacular rock-cut cave monasteries and temples, holy place for the Buddhists, Jains and Hindus.
  • Goa — an east-west mix, beaches and syncretic culture.
  • Golden Temple — Sikh holy site located in Amritsar
  • Hampi — the awesome ruins of the empire of Vijayanagara
  • Khajuraho — famed for its erotic sculptures
  • Lake Palace — the Lake Palace of Octopussy fame, located in Udaipur
  • Meenakshi Temple — a spectacular Hindu temple in Madurai
  • Taj Mahal — the incomparable marble tomb in Agra

See also: Indian National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries and Sacred sites of the Indian sub-continent.

Get in

Travel Warning
Visa Restrictions:


Do you need a visa?

Electronic Visas An online e-Tourist Visa facility was introduced on 27 November 2014 and expanded to cover Business and Medical travel from 1 April 2017. This visa allows two entries into India through the airports in Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bagdogra, Bengaluru, Calicut/Kozhikode, Chennai, Chandigarh, Cochin/Kochi, Coimbatore, Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mangalore, Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Tiruchirapalli, Trivandrum, Varanasi, and Vishakhapatnam and/or through the seaports in Cochin, Mangalore, Goa, Mumbai, and Chennai with the first entry occurring 120 days of issue (an e-Medical Visa can permit up to three entries). An e-Visa should be applied for at least four days in advance of travel and permits a stay not exceeding 60 days from the date of first entry into India. Those of Pakistani descent are not permitted to apply for a e-Visa.

A copy of the e-Visa printout should be carried and presented both to airline staff at the airport of departure and to Immigration at the port of entry. Biometrics will be collected upon arrival. The visa cannot be adjusted or extended and is not valid for Protected or Restricted Areas. Only two visits with e-Visas are permitted in a calendar year. Citizens from these countries are eligible:

No e-Visa fee: Argentina, Cook Islands, Fiji, Jamaica, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Uruguay, and Vanuatu

e-Visa fee of USD 25 (+2.5% bank fee): Japan, Singapore, and Sri Lanka

e-Visa fee of USD 80 (+2.5% bank fee): Albania, Andorra, Angola, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameron Union Republic, Canada, Cape Verde, Cayman Island, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Cote d'lvoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Republic of Korea, Laos, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Myanmar, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Oman, Palestine, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks and Caicos Island, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vatican City, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

e-Visa fee of USD 100 (+2.5% bank fee): Mozambique, Russia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and United States of America

Visa on Arrival As of March 2016, citizens of Japan are permitted to apply for a visa on arrival at the Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and Chennai airports. This visa costs ₹2000; is valid for a single entry and a maximum stay of 30 days for tourism, business, conference, or medical reasons; and is not extendable or convertible to another visa category. A maximum of two visits with visas on arrival are permitted in a calendar year. South Korean citizens, as of October 2018, may also apply for a 60-day visa on arrival at any of the same six airports.


  • Bhutan
  • Nepal
  • Maldives (max. stay of 90 days as a tourist only)

A visa obtained in advance is required by all other nationalities other than those mentioned above.

Depending on the purpose of your visit and nationality, you can get an e-Visa for tourism, business, or medical purposes (60 days); a visa-on-arrival (30-60 days); a transit visa; a tourist visa (3 months or more, depending on nationality); a business visa (6 months, one year, five years, or ten years, multiple entries); a student visa (up to 5 years); or an entry visa (for longer stays). A special 10-year multiple-entry visa is available only to select nationalities, including US citizens (USD100 for tourists, USD 240 for business); US citizens can now only apply for a 10-year multiple-entry tourist visa, however. An Indian visa is valid from the day it is issued, not the date of entry. For example, a 6-month visa issued on January 1 will expire on June 30, regardless of your date of entry. A tourist visa valid for 6 months can have maximum duration of stay of 90 days per visit, depending on citizenship. (This will normally be endorsed on the visa.) Make sure to check maximum duration per visit with your local embassy. Other visas, including Student, Employment, Research, Missionary, and Overseas Citizen of India visas, are also available for those who qualify, with varying validity periods and stay limitations.

The e-Tourist visa online application process is detailed and somewhat cumbersome, especially for those with weak computer skills. Allow at least an hour per visa for the process if it is your first time. You will be required to upload a photo of yourself and a scan of the first two pages of your passport. Make sure you write down the visa application number or print it out as it will be necessary if you decide to return to the visa application process. One incorrect letter or number in the temporary application ID number will result in the loss of your application and you will have to start again. Certain minimum and maximum file sizes and other specifications are required for the uploads. A useful photo cropping tool is provided on the visa application site. A standard scan of the passport pages may be too large to meet the requirements and custom scanner settings may have to be used. The e-Tourist visa applications are required to be submitted several days ahead of time, but the actual processing time for two recent visa applications was only about 24 hours.

Many Indian embassies have outsourced visa processing in full or in part to third party companies, so check ahead before going to the embassy. For example, in the USA, you must submit your visa application to Cox & Kings Global Services, not the embassy. Applications through these agencies also attract an application fee, above that which is detailed on most embassy websites and should be checked prior to submitting your paperwork. In addition, many Indian embassies only offers visas to residents of that country: this means you should get your visa before you leave home, instead of trying to get in a neighbouring country (since August '09, non-residents were able to apply for visas through the Bangkok embassy for an additional 400 THB "referral fee", but this has changed: since August/September 2015 this is, for the time being, no longer possible: only Thai nationals can apply for a visa).

Rules and validity of visas will differ based on citizenship. Check the website of the Indian embassy, consulate or high commission in your country [10] or contact the local office [11]. A notable rule is that citizens of Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, and Bangladesh, foreigners of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin, and stateless persons are not permitted to re-enter India on tourist or visitor visas within 60 days of their preceding departure without special permission. (This rule was abolished for other foreigners in 2012.)

It's wise to ask for a multiple entry visa even if you aren't planning to use it - they cost the same, are handed out pretty liberally and come in handy if you decide last minute to dip into one of the neighbouring countries.

Overstaying a visa is to be avoided at all costs as you will be prevented from leaving the country until you have paid some fairly hefty fines and presented a large amount of paperwork to either the local immigration office or police station. This whole process is unlikely to take less than 3 days, and can take much longer if you include weekends, numerous government holidays and the inevitable bizarre bureaucratic requirements.

Overstaying a Visa Penalties in India

 Overstay or non-registration for up to 90 days is $300
 Overstay from 91 days to 2 years is $400
 Overstay a visa for more than 2yr is $500

Penalties for overstay in India may differ for persons belonging to minority communities from Neighboring countries Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan:

   Penalty for overstay of more than 2 years  – ₹500
   Penalty for overstay from 91 days to 2 years – ₹200
   Penalty for overstay up to 90 days – ₹100

Customs and immigration

Clearing customs can be a bit of a hassle, though it has improved vastly over the the last decade. Most airports now operate red and green channels for customs clearance. In general, avoid the touts who will offer to ease your baggage through customs. There are various rules regarding duty-free allowances — there are differing rules for Indian citizens, foreign "tourists", citizens of Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan, non-citizens of Indian origin and people moving to India. Cast a quick glance at the website of the Central Board of Excise and Customs for information about what you can bring in. Foreign tourists other than Nepalis, Bhutanese and Pakistanis and those entering through Nepal, Bhutan or Pakistan, are entitled to bring in their "used personal effects and travel souvenirs" and ₹4,000 worth of articles for "gifts". If you are an Indian citizen or are of Indian origin, you are entitled to ₹25,000 worth of articles, (provided of course you aren't entering from Nepal, Bhutan or Pakistan.) The other rules are on the web site. If you are bringing any new packaged items along, it is a good idea to carry along the invoices for them to show their value. You are also allowed to bring in 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco and 1 litre (2 litres for Indians) of alcohol duty-free. If you do not have anything to declare, you can go through the green channel clearly marked at various airports and generally you will not be harassed. The import of banned books, most notably the Salman Rushdie novel The Satanic Verses, is strictly forbidden.

Up to US$5000 in foreign currency cash, or an aggregate of US$10,000 in foreign currency, may be imported or exported from India without any special requirements or declaration.

Importing and exporting Indian rupees is no longer prohibited, except by citizens of Pakistan and Bangladesh. Indians and other foreign citizens travelling from/to countries other than Bhutan or Nepal may import and/or export a maximum of ₹25,000, but only when entering or exiting India via an airport; the import and export of rupees when travelling from/to Nepal or Bhutan is unlimited, but cannot include notes of greater than ₹100.

By plane

India has four major airports, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata. The other major entry points in the country are Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Kochi. There are many non-stop, direct and connecting choices to these cities from Europe, North America, Middle East & Australia. Africa is also connected to Delhi and Mumbai.

For secondary points of entry to India, consider Gaya, Goa, Trivandrum, Trichy,Mangalore, Coimbatore, Madurai, Kozhikode, Ahmedabad, Patna, Lucknow and Pune. Most of the major Middle Eastern carriers offer one stop connections to the coast from their Gulf hubs. Goa is a favourite European tourist destination and is connected by many European charter operators like Thomson Airways. Kolkata is currently served by Dragonair (a subsidiary of Cathay Pacific), Emirates, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways.

India has homegrown international airlines like Air India and Indigo [12]etc. They have daily flights to major hubs across the world.

From the United States, United Airlines [13] offers nonstop daily service from Newark Airport to Delhi and Mumbai; Air India offers daily non-stop service to Delhi from New York-JFK and Chicago and Mumbai from Newark. Various European airlines offer connecting service through their European hubs from most major US cities and various Asian airlines offer connecting service from West Coast cities to India through their Asian hubs.

Entries from Europe and Northern America are possible using many European airlines such as Lufthansa [14], Finnair [15], British Airways [16], KLM Royal Dutch Airlines [17], Air France [18] and Virgin Atlantic [19]. For long-term visitors (3-12 months), Swiss airlines [20] often have good deals from Switzerland with connecting flights from major European and some American cities as well.

To save on tickets, consider connecting via Gulf countries, by Air Arabia [21] (Sharjah-based low cost carrier having some connections in Europe), Etihad [22] (especially if you need one-way ticket or going back to Europe from another Asian country) via Abu Dhabi, as well as Emirates [23] via Dubai or Qatar airways [24] via Doha. Obviously, these airlines are also the easiest way to come from the Gulf countries themselves, along with Air India and Air India Express.

From East Asia and Australia, Singapore (which is served by Air India, it's low-cost subsidiary Air India Express [25] as well as Singapore Airlines [26], it's subsidiary Silk Air [27] and low-cost subsidiary Tiger Airways [28]) has arguably the best connections to India with flights to all the major cities and many smaller ones. As about the cheap way from South-East Asia or vice versa, Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia [29] is usually the best choice (if booked well in advance, one-way ticket price is normally below US$100, sometimes being less than US$50, they have connections from China, Australia and most of South-East Asian countries). They fly from Kuala Lumpur into New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Kochi and Tiruchirapalli. If you're going from/to Thailand, Air India Express flies from Chennai and Kolkata to Bangkok. Air India and Thai Airways [30] fly from there to the wider range of Indian cities also. Most recently, Silk Air [31] started its direct flights from Singapore to Coimbatore, Hyderabad as well. Recently, IndiGo, an Indian low-cost-carrier, has started service to Singapore, Bangkok, Dubai and Muscat.

From Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary Dragonair fly to Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata. G.C. Nanda [32] has been appointed as the exclusive wholesale agent for selling Cathay Pacific and Dragonair flights from Hong Kong to India. If you try booking flights from Hong Kong to India on the Cathay Pacific/Dragonair website you will only be able to purchase full-fare tickets. If, however, your itinerary originates from another country and you are merely transiting through or stopping over in Hong Kong, G.C. Nanda does not have exclusive wholesale rights.

By boat

India has several international ports on its peninsula. Kochi, Mumbai, Goa and Chennai are the main ones handling passenger traffic, while the rest mainly handle cargo. However, due to the profusion of cheap flights, there no longer appear to be any scheduled ferry services from India to the Middle East.

Some cruise lines that travel to India include Indian Oceans Eden II and Grand Voyage Seychelles-Dubai.

By train

There are two links from Pakistan. The Samjhauta Express runs from Lahore to Attari near Amritsar in Punjab. The Thar Express, restarted in February 2006 after 40 years out of service, runs from Munabao in the Indian state of Rajasthan to Khokrapar in Pakistan's Sindh province; however, this crossing is not open to foreign tourists. Neither train is the fastest, safest or the most practical way to go between India and Pakistan due to the long delay to clear customs and immigration (although the trains are sights in their own right and make for a fascinating trip). Ths Samjhauta express was the victim of a terrorist strike in February 2007, when they set off bombs that killed many people. Should you want to get from one country to the other as quickly as possible, walk across at Attari/Wagah. In India, all trains are managed by Indian Railways IRTC.

From Nepal, trains run between Khajuri in Dhanusa district of Nepal and Jaynagar in Bihar, operated by Nepal Railways. Neither is of much interest for travelers and there are no onward connections into Nepal, so most travelers opt for the bus or plane instead.

Train services from Bangladesh were suspended for 42 years, but the Moitree Express started running again between Dhaka to Kolkata in April 2008. The service is biweekly: A Bangledeshi train leaves Dhaka every Saturday, returning on Sunday, while an Indian train leaves Kolkata on Saturdays and returns the next day.

You can see what trains are available between stations at the following sites: However, for booking of rail tickets through the internet you should use the Government of India's website For booking through this site, you have to register (which is free) and you need a credit/debit card. It is better that you book your own tickets than fall prey to touts.For checking reservation status enquiry you could use the pnr status check Indian railways. or Check PNR Status directly here.

By car

From Pakistan the only land crossing is from Lahore to Amritsar via the Attari/Wagah border crossing. See Istanbul to New Delhi over land. You will need a Carnet de Passage if crossing with your own vehicle. The process is not particularly lengthy - crossing with your own vehicle from/to Pakistan should take a maximum of 3 hours to clear both borders for you and your vehicle. There are also crossing points with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.

There is one open border crossing between India and Myanmar at Moreh, Manipur, but special permits are required to reach the border from either side.

The Nathu La pass in Sikkim, which borders Tibet in China is the only open border crossing between India and China. For now though, only traders and pilgrims are allowed to cross the border, and it is still not open to tourists. Special permits are required to visit the pass from either side.

By bus

Tour in India By Bus is possible. Research around. While most of the Indian states have their own Transport Departments registered online for internet booking of the tickets, private bus bookings can also be made at [33]. Under this website one can make a booking for private bus tickets. Buses vary from ultra modern Volvo or Mercedes Benz to plain vanilla non air-conditioned buses run by private bus operators. You can also choose to book volvo bus, sleeper bus and all government buses connected throughout India.

From Nepal

  • From Nepal buses cross the border daily, usually with connections to New Delhi, Lucknow, Patna and Varanasi. However, it's cheaper and more reliable to take one bus to the border crossing and another from there on. The border crossings are (India/Nepal side) Sunauli/Bhairawa from Varanasi, Raxaul/Birganj from Patna, Kolkata, Kakarbhitta from Darjeeling, and Mahendrenagar-Banbassa from Delhi.

From Bhutan

  • The Royal Bhutanese Government runs a service to/from Phuentsholing. These buses depart from Kolkata's Esplanade bus station at 7PM on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and from the Phuentsholing Bhutan Post office at 3PM on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The journey takes around 18 hours and costs ₹300. The buses are comfortable and roads have improved.
  • There is frequent service between Siliguri and Phuentsholing.

From Pakistan

  • From Pakistan the only land crossing is from Lahore to Amritsar via the Attari/Wagah border crossing. Despite tensions between the two countries, there is a steady trickle of travellers passing this way. The immigration procedures are fairly straightforward, but note that neither Pakistan nor India issue visas at the border. Expect to take most of the day to go between Lahore and Amritsar on local buses. Normally it's possible to get a direct bus from Amritsar to the border, walk to the other side and catch a direct bus to Lahore, although you may need to change at some point on route. Amritsar and Lahore are both fairly close to the border (about 30-40 minutes drive), so taxis are a faster and easier option.
The direct Delhi-Lahore service has restarted, though it is far more costly than local buses/trains, not any faster, and would mean you miss seeing Amritsar. You will also be stuck at the border for much longer while the bus is searched and all of the passengers go through immigration.
There is now a bus service across the 'Line of control' between Indian and Pakistani Kashmir, however it is not open to foreign tourists.

From Bangladesh

From Bangladesh there are a number of land entry points to India. The most common way is the regular air-conditioned and comfortable bus services from Dhaka to Kolkata via Haridaspur (India)/Benapole (Bangladesh) border post. Bus companies 'Shyamoli', 'Shohag', 'Green Line', and others operate daily bus services under the label of the state owned West Bengal Surface Transport Service Corporation (WBSTSC) and the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC). From Kolkata 2 buses leave every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday while from Dhaka they leave on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The journey usually takes around 12 hours with a one-way fare of ₹400-450 or BDT600-800, roughly US$8-10.

Another daily bus service by 'Shyamoli' and others under the BRTC label from Dhaka connects Siliguri, but the buses in this route do not cross the Changrabanda/Burimari or Burungamari border post. Rather, passengers reaching the border have to clear customs, walk a few hundred yards to cross the border and board the awaiting connecting buses on the other end for the final destination. Ticket for Dhaka-Siliguri-Dhaka route costs BDT 1,600, roughly US$20-25 depending on conversion rates. Tickets are purchased either in Dhaka or in Siliguri.

There is also a regular bus service between Dhaka and Agartala, capital of Tripura . Two BRTC buses daily from Dhaka and the Tripura Road Transport Corporation plying its vehicles six days a week with a round fare costing US$10 connect the two cities. There is only one halt at Ashuganj in Bangladesh during the journey.

Other entry points from Bangladesh are Hili, Chilahati/Haldibari, Banglaband border posts for entry to West Bengal; Tamabil border post for a route to Shillong in Meghalaya, and some others with lesser known routes to north-eastern Indian regions.

Get around

India is big and there are lots of interesting ways to travel around it, most of which could not very well be described as efficient or punctual. Allow considerable buffer time for any journey with a fixed deadline (eg. your flight back), and try to remember that getting there should be half the fun.

Note that travel in much of the North-East (with the notable exception of Assam) and parts of Andaman and Nicobar, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Lakshadweep, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal will require obtaining a Protected Area Permit (PAP). The easiest way to get one is to request it along with your visa application, in which case it will be added to your visa. Otherwise, you will need to hunt down a local Ministry of Home Affairs office and battle with bureaucracy.

By plane

Map of airports in India

India's large size and uncertain roads make flying a viable option, especially as prices have tumbled in the last few years. Even India's offshore islands and remote mountain states are served by flights, the main exceptions being Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh (although crossing over from neighbouring states is fairly easy). Due to the aviation boom over the last few years, airports have not been able to keep up with the air traffic. Most Indian airports continue to function with a runway and a handful of boarding gates. Check in and security queues can be quite long, especially in Delhi and Mumbai. India has recently built two new international airports in Hyderabad and Bengaluru, which are modern and well-equipped. Mumbai and New Delhi airports have been upgraded. The Mumbai airport ( Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport) is an art in itself and it is really recommended that you take a stroll along this huge airport(if you have the time) to admire various sculptures and art pieces and get a small glimpse into India's culture.The newly constructed terminal 3 in the Delhi airport is the 8th largest terminal in the world. In South Cochin (Kochi) airport is the fourth busiest airport in India in terms of international passenger traffic is the primary base for Air India Express operations and is a focus city for Air Asia India, Air India, Indigo and SpiceJet.

In northern India, particularly Delhi, heavy winter fog can wreak havoc on schedules. Flights to small airports up in the mountains, especially to Leh in Ladakh (which is reachable only by plane for most the year), are erratic at the best of times.


At one time, domestic flights were the monopoly of the government-owned Indian Airlines, but things have changed dramatically and now there are quite a few competitors, with prices a traveller's delight. The main operators are:

  • Air India is India's decrepit and continually bankrupt state-owned carrier. Formerly two carriers, Indian Airlines (domestic) and Air India (mainly international), these merged in 2007 but this airline is still in transition! Air India has the largest network in the country and provides regional connectivity. But, recently Air-India has become a Star-Alliance member, and has improved its service quality quite a lot. Air India also operates low-cost carrier Air India Express, which flies mainly on trunk routes and to international destinations in the Gulf and South-East Asia, and Air India Regional, which flies small aircraft to obscure places.
  • Go Air low cost airline which now offers additional products: Business class at economy fare (GoBusiness), Flexible travelling product (GoFlexi). Mostly flies from their Mumbai base.
  • IndiGo Airlines [34] - another low cost airline, connecting around 20 major cities throughout the country. Their planes are new A320s purchased directly from Airbus a few years ago at most. IndiGo Airlines is also considered to be the most punctual airline in the country. As usually with low cost carriers, tickets should be purchased well in advance to get the best fares (more often than not under US$100 (1 way) even for longer flights across the country).
  • SpiceJet [35], a third low cost airline, has fairly good network between bigger Indian cities as well as prices comparable to those of IndiGo. Their planes are similarly brand new, the main difference being these are B737-800s and -900s.

Keep in mind, however, that outside of major cities coverage is not that good. Flying low-cost to a metro and taking a train is not a bad idea either.


The earlier you book, the lower you pay. You will hear a lot about air tickets at ₹500, but those are promotional rates for limited seats which are sold out within seconds. In some other cases, the advertised fare may not include charges such as passenger service fees, air fuel surcharge and taxes which will be added subsequently. Nonetheless, you do get good rates from the budget airlines. Tickets for small cities will cost more than those for the metros, because of basic law of economics viz. economies of scale. As of now, you don't have to worry about higher prices on weekends, lower prices for round-trips, lower prices for travel around weekends.

There are two complications for non-Indians trying to buy plane tickets:

  1. Many airlines have higher fares for foreigners than for Indians. Foreigners ("non-residents") will be charged in US dollars, whereas Indians will be charged in rupees. In practice, you can simply pretend to be Indian when booking online as the check-in desk will rarely if ever care, but you are still running a small risk if you do this. When possible it's best to patronize those airlines that do not follow this practice.
  2. Many online booking sites and some of the low-cost carriers may not accept non-Indian credit cards. Read the small print before you start booking, or book directly with the airline or through a bricks-and-mortar travel agency instead.

Check in

Checking in at Indian airports used to be slow and bureaucratic, involving lots of queuing and security checks. This is no longer the case and, in a small airport like that in Patna, it can take 15 min for the entire process from arrival at the airport through to security. Delays are solely due to large numbers of passengers at peak hours or just before departure of a plane. However, a few precautions should be taken:

  • Arrive at least two hours before departure if traveling from the major airports. (For domestic flights from minor airports, one hour before is fine.) A new rule dictates that check-in closes 45 minutes before departure and the boarding gate closes 25 minutes before departure. This rule is now being strictly implemented widely to avoid delays in flight departures.
  • Bring a print-out of your ticket or a soft copy of your ticket and a government-issued id, or security guards will not allow you inside. If you have neither a printout nor a soft copy, you can get one at the airline office outside the airport. Some airlines have started to charge for this.
  • Most airports require that you screen your checked bags before check-in, usually at a stand near the entrance. In high-security airports like Jammu, Srinagar or anywhere in the Northeast, even carry-on baggage needs to be screened. In fact all carry on baggage will be screened by an X-ray scanner and at the discretion of the security personnel, physically too. At Mumbai and Delhi airports there is no pre-screening of baggage.

Don't hesitate to ask someone if you are unsure. Most staff in airports are very helpful to passengers and will take pains to ensure you catch your flight. There are separate queues for passengers traveling without checked luggage which are usually less crowded. Different airlines have different standards for what they allow as cabin baggage, so err on the side of caution, especially if you are traveling on a low-cost airline. The allowed free baggage limit is 15Kg on most airlines.

By train

An old train in India
The modern Delhi Metro, a sign of India's economic development

       See also: Rail travel in India

Railways are the most widely used mode of long distance travelling in India. India boasts of one of the biggest network of railway lines in the world. The rail system is very efficient, if not always on schedule. Travelling on Indian Railways gives you the opportunity to discover the Indian landscape and scenic beauty first hand and is generally more economical than flying domestic. It is one of the safest ways of travel in India. With classes ranging from luxurious to regular, it's the best way to get to know the country and its people. Most train passengers will be curious about you and happy to pass the time with a chat. Travelling on a train or strolling through an Indian railway station while waiting for your train, is in itself an important part of discovering India. If you are on a budget, travelling on an overnight sleeper train will reduce a night's stay at a hotel. Travelling on trains in India is highly recommended.

Regular trains

Trains come in many varieties, but the broad hierarchy from luxurious to normal is as follows:

  1. Rajdhani Express
  2. Shatabdi Express
  3. Duronto Express
  4. Jan Shatabdi Express
  5. Garib Rath Express
  6. Superfast Trains
  7. Mail/Express Trains
  8. Fast Passenger Trains
  9. Passenger Trains
  10. Local/suburban trains

The 'Rajdhani' and 'Shatabdi' trains are the most luxurious trains on Indian Railways and are completely air-conditioned and also have breakfast, lunch, evening tea and dinner included in your ticket price and the food is served at your seat during travel. Most of these trains also have modern German designed LHB coaches which are extremely comfortable and luxurious. These trains are also faster than any other train in Indian Railways. The 'Rajdhani' Express trains are fast long distance overnight that connect regional state capitals to the national capital New Delhi. The 'Shatabdi' Express trains are fast short distance daytime intercity trains that connect important cities in a region, for example two adjacent states' capitals. The 'Duronto' Express (introduced in 2009) are fast long-distance "point to point" non stop trains that directly connect, without stopping, two important cities located far apart. These trains have no commercial halts on their way but only operational halts for maintainence and crew changes.

Luxury Trains

Although the history of luxury train traveling in India dates back to the time of maharajas during the days of British Raj, the modern history of this mode of transportation dates back to 1982 with the introduction of India’s first luxury train Palace on Wheels. Palace on Wheels was introduced as a joint venture of the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation and Indian Railways to promote Rajasthan as a global tourist destination. The venture turned out to be a great success among overseas travelers and a few decades later more such train journeys followed.

At present there are 5 trains offering 12 signature journeys across major tourist destinations in India. Operated jointly by Indian Railways and respective state tourism departments, luxury trains in India offer a wonderful way to experience the sights in India without having to worry about the hassles of travel and accommodation. Journeys on board these trains are all inclusive of accommodation, dining, sightseeing, transportation and porter charges. Each of these luxury trains are equipped with state of the art amenities such as live television, individual climate control, restaurant, bar, lounges and cabins with electronic safe and attached bathrooms.

Mentioned below is the brief overview of the Indian Luxury Trains:

  • Palace on Wheels, [36]— The Palace on Wheels offer 7 nights/8 days itinerary starting from US $520 and carry the guests on a weeklong voyage across royal destinations in Rajasthan. All destinations included in the itinerary happen to be former princely states of Rajputana. The destinations covered in Palace on Wheels train itinerary are Jaipur, Ranthambore, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bharatpur, Agra and Delhi and includes sightseeing of forts, palaces along with a dash of wildlife, heritage and cultural interactions.
  • Maharajas' Express, [37]— Dubbed as the most luxurious train of Asia, Maharajas Express is an internationally acclaimed and award winning luxury train in India. Maharajas’ Express also happens to be the latest luxury train to be introduced in India. It has created significant buzz in the global luxury travel segment owing to its refined interior, intricate decor, world class facilities and impeccable service. It is the only luxury train which offers accommodation in presidential suite spanning over an entire carriage. Redefining the art of elegant traveling in India, Maharajas' Express train offers 5 rail journeys across tastefully selected tourist destinations in India,. The itineraries include 3 pan-Indian programs along with 2 golden triangle short tours. The journeys offered by this Indian luxury train are classified as the Heritage of India, The Indian Panorama, The Indian Splendor, Treasures of India and the Gems of India. State of the art amenities, elegant interiors, refined luxury and impeccable service along with technology such as pneumatic hydraulic suspension system add to the pampering and class of this marvelous rail tour in India.
  • Deccan Odyssey, [38]— Second luxury train to be introduced in India after the Palace on Wheels, Deccan Odyssey train journey covers destinations across two Indian states of Maharashtra and Goa. The Deccan Odyssey train offers a weeklong journey which crisscrosses through the fascinating terrains of Western Ghats and the Konkan Coast. Included in the itinerary is the trip to coastal fortress town of Sindhudurg, Ajanta and Ellora rock cut caves, Tarkali Beaches and Old Goa and Vasco among others. The all inclusive tariff of the Deccan Odyssey starts from US $425 per person per night on triple on triple occupancy basis during the peak season and US $315 for the same during lean season (April and September run).
  • The Golden Chariot, [39]— The Golden Chariot is the only luxury train offering two train tour itineraries in South India. The itineraries are named the Pride of the South and The Splendor of the South. Whereas the Pride of the South tour itinerary covers destinations in Karnataka along with a halt the India’s most prominent beach destination Goa, the Splendor of the South Itinerary offers tours to tastefully selected destinations across South India. Destinations covered during the 8 days itinerary of the Splendor of the South aboard the Golden Chariot include Bangalore, Chennai, Pondicherry, Thanjavur, Madurai, Thiruvananthapuram, Alleppey and Kochi. Both journeys include a dash of cultural sights, World Heritage Sites, local interactions and wildlife.
  • Royal Rajasthan on Wheels[40] – Equipped with modern amenities such as Wi-Fi internet, direct dial phones, Spa and satellite television, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels offer royal ride across destinations in Rajasthan along with halts in Varanasi, Khajuraho and Agra.
  • The Indian Maharaja[41]— This train happens to be the India’s first privately managed luxury train. Winner of the coveted World Travel Awards in the category of Asia’s Leading Luxury Train, the Indian Maharaja takes guests on a weeklong adventure through several exotic destinations covering the vast expanse of Western, Central and North India. Destinations included in the itinerary of this luxury train are Mumbai, Aurangabad, Udaipur, Sawai Modhopur, Jaipur, Agra and Delhi. The train is equipped with two dining cars serving fine Indian and Continental cuisine and catering and hospitality on board is managed by the prestigious Taj Group of hotels. To add to the luxury of the journey facilities such as a library, gymnasium and beauty parlor along with Wi-Fi internet and large screen live TVs are available on board.


Most countries offer two classes of service, but India has no less than seven to choose from. But note that all seven classes of travel are generally NOT present all together in most trains. In descending order of cost & luxury, they are:

  • Long-distance
    • AC First (1A)
    • AC 2 Tier (2A)
    • AC 3 Tier (3A)
    • First Class (FC)
    • Sleeper Class (SL)
  • Short-distance
    • AC Chair Car (CC)
    • Second Class Chair Car (2S)
  • Unreserved
    • General compartments (GS)

But note that all seven classes of travel are generally NOT present together in a single train. For example AC Chair Car and Second Class Seating may be present on a short distance daytime train but sleeper classes (air-con & non air-con) may not be present in it. For a long distance night train, the reverse is true with the former being present and latter absent. Note that there are different comfort levels for different classes of Rail journeys. General Compartment(GS) is the unreserved coach and is usually extremely crowded and are advisable only for short distance travelling. Whereas Sleeper Class(SL) is not recommended for a comfort/cleanliness seeking person since this is the cheapest class of journey where the most ordinary of Indian populace travel with a privilege to have a sleeper berth, AC 3 Tier(3A), AC 2 Tier(2A) and AC First(1A) may be a far better option to travel comfortably. A/c First(1A) costs as much as economy air ticket and has 2 bed or 4 bed lockable cabins. AC 2 tier(2A) has no cabins but privacy curtains are present. A/c 3 tier(3A) and Sleeper Class(SL) are similar with the difference being the air conditioning in AC 3 tier. First Class(FC) is similar to AC First(1A) but with no air conditioning and is now only found in very few trains. 1A,2A,3A and FC are in general very well maintained and clean. 4 toilets are present in all classes of coaches, with 3 of them being Indian style and and the other Western style.

However the true colors of India could only be glimpsed in "Sleeper Class(SL)" where co-passengers would not mind interacting with you in their broken knowledge of the English language or below. But keep in mind that "Sleeper Class(SL)" is usually crowded with people getting in without a ticket or with a General compartment(GS) ticket and this is especially true in the Central, Northern and Eastern parts of the country. Also it can get unbearably hot in the Sleeper Class during summer months to the point of not being able to enjoy the journey at all. It is not uncommon to find people occupying your reserved seats in the Sleeper Class(SL) and then refusing to move, especially in the Central, Northern and Eastern parts of the country. Unless you are able to find the Conductor (called TTE in India), you most likely will never be able to make them vacate your seat. But it is generally a nice experience to travel in "Sleeper Class(SL)" in the Southern part of the country, especially Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and people will readily vacate your seats if they are occupying it. Also the number of people without tickets entering the "Sleeper Class(SL)" is much lower in Southern parts of the country. So if comfort is not the singular aspect in your mind go for the ordinary "Sleeper Class(SL)". A/c coaches are much nicer and very well maintained, and its unheard of for people without tickets entering them. Also it is easier to find the conductor in A/c coaches in case of any need. So its advisable to travel in any of the AC coaches if travelling in the Central, Northern or Eastern part of the country.

Full information about these various classes.


Beware that trains tend to fill up early and booking tickets online can be fraught with complications due very high number of users. Railway department is expanding the IT Infrastructure with a great rate to improve customer experience. Please plan your travel well in advance to have a smooth journey. In case of urgent ticketing needs you may contact several authorised ticketing Agencies (albeit it's wise to look about their credentials before the transaction from a known source, may be from the hotel authorities or any known friends. For a paltry 5-10% extra they may book the ticket for you. But don't expect guaranteed tickets during the rush period, viz, festivals like Deepavali, or Holi since there would be a lot of craze for the tickets among domestic travelers.

Tickets are available from counters at most railway stations as well as directly from Indian Railways' online reservation service. Rail passes are also available, and are called Indrail passes.

Indian man buying a Chai (Tea with Spices) from a train window.

One day before the departure date of a train the Tatkal quota seats become available. It opens at morning 10AM for A/c coaches and 11 AM for Sleeper Class on the previous day. This allows tourists who like to plan a trip as they go to book seats closer to the day of departure, for an extra fee. Even with this extra quota (about 10% of the seats on a train) it can sometimes be difficult to get the train you want when you want it.

It is very difficult to book Tatkal tickets online because of excess amount of traffic on Indian railway website during Tatkal ticket booking hours. Success rate of Tatkal ticket booking through Indian railway website is less than 20% for very busy train. Indian railway website recently started a service for faster Tatkal ticket booking by paying through ewallet. Ewallet is new feature when you put money before booking ticket on irctc website. To transfer money on ewallet you may need Bank IFSC Code. IFSC Code is Indian Financial System Code which uniquely identifies bank branches in India.


Most long distance night trains have a pantry car and if you are in the sleeper or air-con classes, you can buy meals on board the train. The Railways are concerned about the bad quality of pantry car meals and efforts are underway to improve things, but do not count on it as yet. If you are finicky, bring enough food and bottled water for the journey including delays: bananas, bread, and candy bars are good basics to have. At most larger stations hawkers selling tea, peanuts, and snack food and even complete meals will go up and down the train. Most important stations will have vendors selling all kinds of edible stuff, but the usual caveats about eating in India apply. Note that in the most luxurious 'Rajdhani' & 'Shatabdi' and Duronto trains meals are included in your ticket price and served at your seat during travel. There are no dining cars in Indian Railways.

By taxi

Over the past few years, app-based services like Uber and Ola have expanded to most parts of India. Almost every major city will have either of them available. They offer significantly better experience and safety than all other modes of transportation. Also, compared to other taxis, they are reasonably priced too. In any case, for intra-city travel, use either Uber or Ola. Existing Uber account can work well in India, Ola may need a local number to sign up.

Reliable prepaid taxis with genuine fares are available only in central locations of big cities like airports or stations. However, beware of touts or 'agents' who would claim themselves to be running prepaid taxicabs. Always collect the receipt from the counter first. The receipt has two parts - one part is for your reference and the other part you will need to handover to the taxi driver only after you reach your desired destination. The taxi driver will get his payment by submitting or producing this other part to the prepaid taxi counter. Normal taxis running by meter are usually more common. In many non Metro Cities (or even in Metros depending on time) taxis or autos may ply without the usual meter. they may quote a lump sum amount depending upon the location of your visit, time of the day etc.

  • India Car Rentals (MediaTravelz), 734 743 2938 (), [1]. Well-reputed cab aggregator in India.

Remember, in most Indian cities general meter fare for the taxicabs are ₹14 to ₹16 per kilometer and for auto rickshaws it is not more than ₹11 to ₹13 per kilometer. There are night surcharges ( 11.00 pm to 5.00 am) 10%-15% extra. So don't nod for any extraordinary fare quote by your cabby friend. One most common excuses are that "I will not get any return passenger to my way back so you have to compensate for my both way journey" (that's his lookout, isn't it?). Do not expect Indian taxi or auto rickshaw drivers to ever have any change, so make sure that you have a good collection of small bills (or be ready to give an involuntary tip). Else simply book online with a reputed cab aggregator, there are many of them and you just need to search up on Google or Wiki for genuine 'taxiwalas' only.

By bus

Ordinary-class Himachal Road Transport Co bus, Dharamsala

While you can't take a cross-country bus-ride across India, buses are the second most popular way of travelling across states and the only cheap way of reaching many places not on the rail network (eg. Dharamsala).

Every state has its own public bus service, usually named "X Road Transport Corporation" (or XRTC) or "X State Transport Corporation" (or XSTC) which primarily connects intra-state routes, but will also have services to neighbouring states. There are usually multiple classes of buses. The ordinary buses (called differently in different states, e.g. "service bus") are extremely crowded with even standing room rarely available (unless you're among the first on board) as reservations are not possible and they tend to stop at too many places. On the upside, they're very cheap, with even a 5-6 hour journey rarely costing over ₹100.

In addition to ordinary public buses, there are luxury or express buses available, and most have air-conditioning now-a-days. Some state transport corporations have even introduced "Volvo" brand buses on some routes which are extremely luxurious and comfortable. These better class "express" or "luxury" buses have assured seating (book in advance), and have limited stops, making them well worth the slight extra expense. But even these better-class buses rarely have toilets and make occasional snack and bathroom breaks.

Private buses may or may not be available in the area you are travelling to, and even if they are, the quality could vary a lot. Be warned that many of the private buses, especially long-distance lines, play music and/or videos at ear-splitting volume. Even with earplugs it can be nerve-wracking. Do not expect public restrooms at all, or even most, bus stops. Unfortunately, the bus industry is extremely fragmented and there are few operators who offer services in more than 2 or 3 neighbouring states. Travel agents usually only offer seats on private buses.

However, long distance bus operators such as Raj National Express and KPN Travels [42] are currently beginning to roll out their operations across the country modelled on the lines of coach services such as Eurolines in Europe, National Express in the UK and Greyhound in the United States. Their services are excellent and they provide entertainment on board.

Regardless of class of travel, all buses have to contend with the poor state of Indian highways and the havoc of Indian traffic which usually makes them slower, less comfortable and less safe than trains. Night buses are particularly hazardous, and for long-distance travel it's wise to opt for sleeper train services instead.

By car

Driving on your own

In India driving is on the left of the road. India has the second largest road connectivity in the world, after the US, but that does not ensure road quality anyway. You can drive in India if you have a local license or an International Driving Permit, but unless you are accustomed to driving on extremely chaotic streets, you probably will not want to. The average village road is narrow, often potholed and badly marked. National Highways are excellent roads, with generally 4 to 6 lanes but still, Indian driving discipline is non-existent. In the cities, the quality of roads depend upon the part of the city. A regular residential area or the smaller/poorer part of the city will have an average, two-lane road, which are often of not a very good quality, but in the greater parts of the city, the roads are excellent, well paved and marked. In the past few years the Central government has embarked on an ambitious project to upgrade the highways. The Golden Quadrilateral connecting the four largest cities of Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata with four-laned highways has been completed and is of international standard. However, improving the quality of the roads does not improve the way in which people drive and it is very dangerous to drive on the roads in India as many of the people drive as they like without regard to any rules.

Generally, driving on your own in the city roads is not recommended in India at all. Lane cutting and over taking in blind turns are universal. You will not find any lane discipline in the driving and you always have to expect for something sudden, like a car suddenly turning towards you, and DO NOT hope that they will stop and give way. You will find many two-wheeler riders squeezing between any empty space between cars and a two lane road can end up like a four laned one. Pedestrians too do not follow any sort of traffic rules and walk into the middle of the road at any time. Honking is wide spread and is like a greeting in India, it is used as a "Hi" or a "Hello" between cars. Drivers also flash their headlights as a signal for you to allow the driver to pass or as a warning in blind turns. Do not expect two wheelers/three wheelers to follow traffic rules, they never do so. To add on to these issues, there are numerous marriage, death and other religious processions that disrupt traffic and block roads. You will find people taking huge idols, dancing, playing with colors on the roads occasionally. These do disrupt traffic, but they are key parts of the cultural richness of India and are indeed fun to watch. The Indian traffic police has improved their quality of service by a huge margin. They have become quite strict with the traffic issues and punish offenders. They generally ask for a driving license and vehicle papers. The traffic conditions have improved after the police have implemented date-wise parking, towing away of many vehicles and clearing traffic manually using patrol cars.

To drive a private vehicle in any part of India the following documents are required- a valid driver's license for the driver (International driving permit for a foreigner), vehicle registration certificate, vehicle insurance certificate and emission certificate if the vehicle is more than one year old (called pollution under control certificate in India). No other document is required for driving a private vehicle in any part of India except some restricted areas. If a policeman is asking for some other document like No Objection Certificate etc, most likely he is hinting at a bribe.

In case of an accident, it is not unheard of for the crowd to assault the driver of the bigger vehicle involved. So in case of hitting a pedestrian or a vehicle smaller than your own vehicle, even if not your fault, it is better to immediately leave the scene and be present at the nearest police station. Even if you are not driving the vehicle, it is better to immediately leave the scene and inform the police.

Hiring driver with car

Instead, if you desire going by a car, opt for driver while renting the car. Rates are quoted in rupees per km and you will have to pay for both ways even if you are going only one way. The driver's salary is low (typically around ₹100-150 per day) that it adds little to the cost of renting the car. The driver will find his own accommodation and food wherever you are travelling, although it is customary to give him some money to buy some food when you stop somewhere to eat. A common rental vehicle is the legendary Hindustan Motors Ambassador, which is essentially an Indian-made copy of the 1956 Morris Oxford: it's large, boxy, with space for 5 passengers (including driver), and a decent-sized trunk. However, the Tata Indica (a hatchback) and Tata Indigo (a small sedan) is now replacing the Ambassador as the cheap car of choice. Imported international models may be available at a premium. If the number of people travelling together is large, popular rental vehicles are Tata Sumo, and Toyota Innova.

There are numerous advantages to having a car and driver.

  • A good local driver is the safest means of car travel.
  • You can keep your bags and shopping goods with you securely wherever you go.
  • The driver will often have some knowledge of local tourist destinations.
  • A car is the quickest and most reliable means of going from point to point. After the initial agreement you needn't spend any time finding further transport, or haggling over price.
  • You can stop anywhere you like, and change plans at the last minute.
  • The driver will know where clean toilets are.

It is rare to find a driver that speaks more than a few words of English. As a result, misunderstandings are common. Keep sentences short. Use the present tense. Use single words and hand gestures to convey meaning.

Make sure you can trust your driver before you leave your goods with him. If he shows any suspicious motives or behavior make sure you keep your bags with you. Conversely, if your driver is very friendly and helpful, it is a nice gesture to buy him a little something to eat or drink when stopping for food. They will really appreciate this.

Your driver may in some cases act as a tout, offering to take you to businesses from which he gets baksheesh (a sort of commission). This isn't necessarily a bad thing - he may help you find just what you're looking for, and add a little bit to his paltry income at the same time. On the other hand, you should always evaluate for yourself whether you are being sold on a higher-cost product than you want. Also, many times, these places that supply commissions to the driver (especially restaurants) may not always be the best or most sanitary, so use your judgement. Avoid touts on the road posing as guides that your driver may stop for because he gets a commission from them; supporting them only promotes this unpleasant practice. The driver might ask for a tip at the end of the trip. Pay him some amount (₹100/day is generally sufficient) and don't let him guilt-trip you into paying too much.

If you rent a car for a trip to a remote destination, make sure before getting out that you will recognize the driver and write down the license plate number and his phone number (nearly all drivers have mobile phones). Touts at tourist areas will may try to mislead you into getting into the wrong car when you leave; if you fall for this you will certainly be ripped off, and possibly much worse such as sexual assault if you are female traveller.

Be wary of reckless driving when renting a car with a driver. Do not be afraid to tell the driver that you have time to see around and that you are not in a hurry. Indian highways can be extremely dangerous. Make sure also that your driver gets enough rest time and time to eat. In general as you visit restaurants, the driver may eat at the same time (either separately at the same restaurant or at some other nearby place). He may be willing to work nonstop for you as you are the "boss", but your life depends on his ability to concentrate, so ensure that your driving demands are reasonable; for example, if you decide to carry your own food with you on the road, be sure to offer your driver time to get a lunch himself.

Avoid travel at night. Indian city roads are dimly lit , and there are chances of some traffic hazards such as reckless drivers after mid-night. Some parts of highways are well lit, and some are not, as they are not considered important. Try sticking to the main highway and avoid taking diversions in the highway at night, as you never know where it might end up. However, highway driving at night is not very dangerous also and violent crimes such as assaults are rare. The highway police force does a lot to keep it that way.

By motorcycle

Some people point out that the best way to experience India is on a motorbike. Riding a motorbike and travelling across India you get the closer look and feel of India with all the smells and sounds added. There are Companies which organize packaged tours or tailor made tours for Enthusiastic bikers and adventurous travellers for a safer motorbike experience of India. Blazing Trails tours, Wild Experience tours and Extreme Bike Tours are the known names in the market.

Another choice, popular with people who like taking risks, is to buy a motorcycle. Not for the faint of heart or inexperienced rider.

The Royal Enfield is a popular (some would say, the only) choice for its classic looks and macho mystique. This despite its high petrol consumption, 27 km/litre, supposed low reliability (it is "classic" 1940s engineering after all and requires regular service adjustment; you can find an Enfield mechanic who has worked on this bike for ten, twenty, thirty years in every town in India, who will perform near-miracles very cheaply), and claimed difficulty to handle (actually the bike handles beautifully, but may be a wee heavy and seat high for some).

Or, one can opt for the smaller yet quicker and more fuel efficient bikes. They can range from 100 cc to the newly launched 220 cc bikes. Two most popular bike manufacturers are Bajaj and Honda. The smaller variants (100-125 cc) can give you a mileage exceeding 50 km/litre on the road, while giving less power if one is opting to drive with pillion on the highways. The bigger variants (150-220 cc) are more powerful and one can get a feel of the power especially on highways - the mileage is lesser for these bikes anywhere between 35km/litre to 45 km/litre.

Preferably tourists should go for second hand bikes rather than purchasing new ones. The smaller 100 cc variants can be purchased for anywhere between ₹15,000-25,000 depending on the year of make and condition of vehicle. The bigger ones can be brought from ₹30,000 onwards.

There are lots of garages that provide motorcycle for rent as well. You can check for options on websites like RideIndia and Drivezy. Rental price is usually between ₹800-1200 but varies from city to city. They may or may not take a deposit. Foreigners have a top hand while negotiating. There are no standards for pricing, hence you can negotiate freely.

By hitch hiking

Hitch hiking in India is very easy due to the enormous number of cargo trucks on every highway and road. Most drivers do not speak English or any other international language; however, most have a very keen sense of where the cities and villages are located along the road. It is rare for any of them to expect payment. It is strongly not advisable for women to hitch hike alone in India.

By auto-rickshaw

A typical Indian autorickshaw, Andaman Islands

The auto-rickshaw, sometimes abbreviated as "auto" and sometimes as "rickshaw", is the most common means of hired transportation in India. Most residents usually refer to them as a "three wheeler." They are very handy for short-distance travel in cities, especially since they can weave their way through small alleys to bypass larger cars stuck in travel jams, but are not very suitable for long distances. Most are green and yellow, due to the new CNG gas laws, and some may be yellow and black in color, with one wheel in the front and two in the back, with a leather or soft plastic top.

When getting an auto-rickshaw, you can either negotiate the fare or go by the meter. In almost all cases it is better to use the meter -- a negotiated fare means that you are being charged a higher than normal rate. A metered fare starts around ₹13, and includes the first kilometre of travel. Never get in an auto-rickshaw without either the meter being turned on, or the fare negotiated in advance. In nearly all cases the driver will ask an exorbitant sum (for Indian standards) from you later. A normal fare would be ₹11-12 for the first km and ₹7-8 per km after that. In most of the cities, auto-rickshaw drivers are provided with a rate card that elaborately describes the fares on per kilometre basis. A careful tourist must verify the meter-reading against the rate-card before making a payment. Ideally, you should talk with a local to find out what the fare for any estimated route will be. Higher rates may apply at night, and for special destinations such as airports. Finally, factor in that auto drivers may have to pay bribes to join the queue for customers at premium location such as expensive hotels. The bribe will be factored in the fare. Taxis and auto-rickshaws are unfortunately where you'll be most commonly ripped off - and dealing with them can be incredibly tiring. While many taxis and auto-rickshaws will charge you by the meter or the tariff card, don't be surprised if the drivers refuse to carry you by the proper way and insist on receiving a flat rate for travellng a fixed distance. If an auto-rickshaw driver demands for extra money/above the meter reading, report to the nearest police station and they shall help you. While the former is more preferable, it is in the latter situation, that people new to a city (both Indians and foreigners) are most likely to be overcharged by a large extent. Just take your belongings, pay what was originally agreed and walk away. Your driver may also make unscheduled detours to shops - refuse to get out and firmly tell them that you do not want to go to any shops - they will always be overpriced and are not worth the time and effort.

Auto-rickshaw travel in Indian cities are generally of two types. These are Sharing and Reserve. In the latter, the traveler has the whole auto-rickshaw for self and can go directly to the destination of his/her choice after deciding the mode of payment(Tariff based or Flat rate). In such a kind of booking, never allow any other person to accompany the driver, even if he insists. This could spell trouble for unwary travellers. It is costlier, faster and more comfortable to travel this way as compared to the other option, in which the auto-rickshaw is shared by a couple of more passengers for fares as cheap as Rupees 5 or 10 each. In this option the auto travels on a fixed route and makes multiple stops en route to the final destination, picking and dropping passengers on the way. In some cities and towns, both the modes are available to chose from while in the rest only one of the two is on offer.

An alternative to using the above mentioned taxis and auto-rickshaws is to use Uber or its local competitor Ola. Both are available across most cities in India and offer rates that are usually only marginally more expensive than autorickshaws. Functioning exactly as they do in any western country, cabs can be hailed using an app loaded on a GPS and internet enabled smart phone and will usually arrive between 3-10 minutes after being hailed. Since these cabs use GPS navigation to get to your destination, they are by far superior alternatives to freelance taxis and auto rickshaws which may easily dupe you.


If you need to get anywhere, call in advance and ask for detailed directions. Postal addresses are often stated in terms of other landmarks, as in "Opp. Prithvi theatre" or "Behind Maruti Showroom". Unlike the western system of address, the Indian system uses municipal ward number, plot number, house number, land mark and the location instead of street name and block number. Finding a place will usually involve some searching, but you will always find someone out on the streets to guide you. Unlike many other countries, Indians usually do ask passers-by, nearby shopkeepers or policeman for guidance on street addresses. It is usually safe to ask a policeman or traffic-policeman for guidance.

If you do not feel like asking strangers for directions, you can use Google maps. Most locations in cities and towns are well covered by Google Maps and this can be a handy tool for navigation.

Innerline Permit

Inner Line Permit is an official travel document issued by the Government of India to allow inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected/restricted area for a limited period. It is obligatory for Indian citizens from outside those states to obtain permit for entering into the protected state. The document is an effort by the Government to regulate movement to certain areas located near the international border of India. This is a security measure and it is applicable for the following states:

  • Arunachal Pradesh – permits are issued by the Secretary of the Government of Arunachal Pradesh. The permits are required for entering the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh through any of the check gates across the inter-state border with Assam or Nagaland.
  • Mizoram – permits are issued by the Government of Mizoram. The permit is required for entering the Indian state of Mizoram through any of the check gates across the inter-state borders.
  • Nagaland – a permit is mandatory for a mainland Indian citizen entering the state of Nagaland through any of the check gates across the inter-state borders.


India is home to thousands of languages. The main language families in India are Indo-European and Dravidian (which are about 800 million speakers and 200 million speakers respectively). Other language families include Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman, among other minor ones. The Government of India has 22 official ‘scheduled’ languages, namely Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia (also known as Oriya), Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. Of these, Hindi is recognised as the main official language of the Union Government (there is no recognised National Language of India), with English acting as a "subsidiary" official language.

There are also hundreds of other less prominent languages like Tulu, Bhojpuri and Ladakhi that are the main spoken language of some places.

Hindi, natively spoken by about 44% of the population, is the native tongue of the people from the "Hindi Belt" (including the capital, Delhi) in Northern India. Many more speak it as a second language. However, these figures include dialects like Bhojpuri (Bihar) and the Pahadi dialects of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand that may differ significantly from standard Hindi. However, the prestige dialect of Hindi used in media and education is generally homogeneous and is based on the dialect of the Delhi and Western UP. Hindi is often spoken as "Hindustani", which is a mix of Hindi and Urdu, which are both mutually intelligible languages.

While Hindi is the main working language of the Union Government, and also sometime spoken as a second language by Indians from outside the "Hindi Belt", it is by no means a lingua-franca for all of India. Many of the people in the Southern and North Eastern states cannot understand Hindi.

Language remains a sensitive and controversial subject in Tamil Nadu. The state has long opposed the Union Government's plan of having Hindi as a national language, feeling that it would erode the state's cultural heritage. As a general rule, it's wise to converse in either Tamil or English, as many Tamil people are unable to speak Hindi properly. Some Tamil people may find it offensive if you converse with them in Hindi.

Bengali is the second most widely spoken language of India. It is the native language of West Bengal, and is the national language of Bangladesh, the country east of India. The national anthem of India is actually in the Bengali Language, which was originally a poem by Rabindranath Tagore.

Languages in the Dravidian language family may come in handy in Southern India. Of these, the four most widely spoken languages in Southern India are Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, and Malayalam. Telugu, is the native language of both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It shares classical language status in the Indian Government along with Tamil,Kannada and Malayalam. Tamil is also an official language of neighboring Sri Lanka, off the coast of India. Kannada is the official and native language of Karnataka, in which the city of Bangalore resides. Malayalam, is the official and native language of Kerala.

In Eastern India, it is often easy to get by on either Hindi or English, but the local languages there include Assamese, Sikkimese, and Odia, among others.

Code-switching between English and the native language (often in the same sentence) is very common among youngsters and is widely used in daily conversation, SMS (in Roman script), TV advertising, FM radio and Bollywood. While fluency in English varies vastly depending on education levels, occupation, age and region; it is generally not a problem getting by with English in urban areas. English is generally spoken as a second language by Indians, with native language speakers only numbering about a couple of hundred thousand people. Generally speaking, most official signs are bilingual in the state language and English, and to some extent Hindi. Signs at railway stations are generally trilingual outside the Hindi-speaking belt. There is generally also a large local English speaking media available, as well as press. There are also many international channels available on many satellite dishes such as BBC and CNN.

Though extremely limited in numbers and influence compared to English, India has small areas where Portuguese and even French are spoken. Portuguese speaks may be found in Goa, Daman and Diu, around the village Korlai, and some other places, all of which were once Portuguese colonies. Some French speakers would be found in Pondicherry where about ten thousand French speakers reside. French influence can still be seen in the city (the caps of policemen, architecture, Alliance Français, and many French-based institutions/governmental buildings. French is lso spoken in Chandannagar.

Non-Verbal Communication

  • If they are nodding their head up and down, they mean yes or I agree, as in a standard nod.
  • If they are shaking their head in a tilting motion from right to left and back (like a figure of eight), they mean I understand or I get what you said.
  • If they shake their head sideways (left to right to left), they mean no.
  • There are differences in the way these signs are used in northern and southern India. The back to forth is yes and a vigorous left-right shift is no in northern India, though latter may be construed for yes in southern states like Tamilnadu. Look for verbal cues that accompany these sounds (like 'aaan' for yes ) in southern India to get the correct meaning.


If you really want to see all the worth visiting places in India, one tourist visa of six months can be argued to be considered enough. There are more tourist destinations in India than can be mentioned in one book. Almost every State in India has over ten major tourist destinations and there are cities which can not be fully experienced even in one full week. Not to forget that several states of India are bigger than most of the countries in the world and there are twenty-nine states in India.

  • The Taj Mahal : It is actually bigger and more majestic than what it looks in the photograph.
  • Varanasi : Hindu religious rituals, some harking back to the Vedic age, 5,000 years ago, Varanasi is the oldest living city of the world. Don't miss the evening Ganga Aarti.
  • Tigers : They may or may not be present in all the tiger reserves but your chances of seeing a tiger are fairly good in Bandhavgarh or Ranthambore tiger reserves.
  • Sundarbans: Largest mangrove forest and delta in the world. Home to the famous Royal Bengal tigers and estuarine crocodiles.
  • Sangla Valley : Considered one of the most beautiful valleys of the world lies in the upper regions of Himachal Pradesh. It is extremely scenic with photogenic landscapes and unforgettable landscapes.
  • Leh : Considered to be on the top of the world, the capital of Union Territory of Ladakh is one of the highest inhabited cities of the world. It gives a different idea of high altitude altogether with unbelievable landscapes.
  • Srinagar : It is the capital of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Extremely beautiful city in the midst of the Himalayas with a very beautiful Dal lake in it.
  • Gangtok : Capital city of Sikkim. Gangtok is a bewitching hill-station located amidst the multiple-hued mountains of Sikkim.
  • Goa : Ruled by Portuguese for over 400 years, Goa is a cocktail of Indian and Portuguese culture. Quite a different kind of place altogether, Goa is full of beautiful beaches and flocking tourists.
  • Pondicherry : Pondicherry was a French colony over two hundred years and has a lot of sighting of French influence throughout it's territories. Now tourists often flock there for spiritual ashrams or enjoyable pubs and parties.
  • Bishnupur : Located in West Bengal, it is home to the famous terracotta temples and a great centre for classical Bishnupur Gharana music. Do not forget to buy a Bankura horse made of terracota(which is the symbol for Indian handicrafts).
  • Mysore : The Mysore (Mysuru now) is a city in the state of Karnataka. The Mysore has beautiful palaces of erstwhile Wodeyar family, Maharaja's of Mysore kingdom. There are also Bandipur and Nagarahole national parks near by. Mysuru is 150 kilometre from the state capital of Karnataka, Bengaluru (Bangalore).
  • Tirupati Balaji : If you want to see the material richness of a religious place, visit this temple. It is considered to be the richest temple in the world and one surprising sight to see for a non Indian. It is located in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Nalanda : Related to Buddhism, It was the oldest university of the world later on destroyed completely during the Muslim invasions of India. Sights of Buddhist interest like Pavapuri and Rajgir are in the vicinity.
  • Golden Temple : An actual temple plated with gold is one of Sikhism's holiest shrines. Looks very serene early in the mornings.
  • Khajuraho : Supposedly the birth place of Kamasutra, Khajuraho is full of temples with erotic sculptures all around them. One of the most interesting and less talked about aspects of Hindu culture.
  • Andamans : Beautiful Island territory of India in the Bay of Bengal, Andaman islands can be considered one of the best island destinations in the world.
  • Jaisalmer : A city located in the middle of desert, Jaisalmer is a place to go for watching the beautiful view of sun lighted virgin deserts of Thar Desert.
  • Srirangam, [2]. Srirangam is a marvellous and magnificient temple in South of India.
  • Kumarakom, [3]. Serene back waters in God's own country, Kerala in South India is a must visit.Kumarakom is best described as a cluster of islands in the backdrop of Vembanad Lake housing varied wild life, which makes it an ornithologist’s dreamland.
  • Kutch Mandvi Beach, [4]. Mandvi is a city and a municipality in the Kutch district in the indian state of Gujarat. It was once a major port of the region and summer retreat for Maharao (king) of the Cutch State.


  • Football. Other than cricket, you can come across young boys playing around with a ball on any open space which is available. The club soccer is more favorite to the Indians than the international games and you will find people getting into heated arguments in public places over their favorite team. Also, many large restaurants and bars offer a view of important European club matches and the World Cup matches. The most famous and electrifying Derby club match is between Mohun Bagan Athletic club (Estd.-1889) and East Bengal Football club (Estd.-1920) held in Salt Lake stadium (the second largest non-auto racing stadium in the world) in Kolkata, the football capital of India and a tremendously football crazy city.
  • Hockey ((Field hockey)). Despite the craze for football and cricket, the national game of India, hockey retains a prominent position in the hearts of many Indians. Although the viewership has dwindled significantly, (as compared to the golden era before cricket came to the fore in the mid 80s), it hasn't vanished. Especially in North India, some eastern parts like Jharkhand, Odisha and the north-eastern states still have a significant base. The introduction of the Premier Hockey League has recovered its popularity in recent times.
  • Cricket. India is a cricket-obsessed country and cricket is in the blood of most Indians. It plays a dominant role in world cricket and has been world champion twice in ICC Cricket World Cup. Once in 1983 beating a mighty West Indies in the final and most recently in 2011 defeating Sri Lanka. India also emerged triumphant in the inaugural ICC T20 World Cup in 2007 held in South Africa beating arch-rival Pakistan in a nail-biting final. Popularity of cricket in India is second to no other games therefore seeing kids playing cricket in parks and alleys with rubber balls and makeshift wickets is an extremely common sight. Until 2008, Indian cricket was all about the national team playing against other countries in one-day matches or epic 5 day Test marathons, but the advent of the Indian Premier League (IPL) [5] has, for better or worse, brought fast-paced, commercialized "Twenty20" cricket to the fore, complete with cheerleaders and massive salaries. In international matches, while Australia and South Africa make viable opposition, the biggest rivalry by far is with neighbouring Pakistan, and matches between the two sides are often a very charged affair. About half-a dozen Indian stadiums have a capacity of over 45,000 and watching a cricket match can be quite an experience. Eden Gardens cricket stadium in Kolkata is Asia's highest capacity stadium with over 90,000 seating capacity and is the oldest cricket stadium in the Indian Subcontinent established in 1865 and is comparable to the stadiums of Lords' in London and the MCG in Melbourne. The atmosphere of most matches is electrifying. Nearly all international matches have sellout crowds, and it is quite normal for fans to bribe officials and make their way in. Starting ticket prices are quite cheap; they can be as low as ₹250-300. India and Pakistan are all-time arch rivals, and cricket matches between the two nations attract up to a billion TV viewers.


Fairs and festivals

Goa Fair (carnival) - February heralds the carnival at Goa. For three days and nights the streets come alive with color. Held in mid February the weeklong event is a time for lively processions, floats, the strumming of guitars, graceful dances and of non-stop festivity. One of the more famous of the Indian Carnivals the Goa Festival is a complete sell out in terms of tourism capacities.

Surajkund Mela - (1-15 Febuary) As spring glides in, full of warmth and vibrancy leaving the gray winter behind, Surajkund adorns itself with colorful traditional crafts of India. Craftsmen from all over the country assemble at Surajkund during the first fortnight of February to participate in the annual celebration known as the Surajkund Crafts Mela.

Shop selling colours for Holi, Old Delhi

Holi-The Spring Festival of India, Holi - is a festival of colors. Celebrated in March or April according to the Hindu calendar, it was meant to welcome the spring and win the blessings of Gods for good harvests and fertility of the land. As with all the Hindu festivals, there are many interesting legends attached to Holi, the most popular being that of Prince Prahlad, who was a devout follower of Lord Vishnu. It is the second most important festival of India after Diwali. Holi in India is a festival of fun and frolic and has been associated with the immortal love of Krishna and Radha. The exuberance and the festivity of the season are remarkable.

Diwali - "Diwali", the festival of lights, illuminates the darkness of the New Year's moon, and strengthens our close friendships and knowledge, with a self-realization. Diwali is celebrated on a nation-wide scale on Amavasya - the 15th day of the dark fortnight of the Hindu month of Ashwin, (Oct/Nov) every year. It symbolizes that age-old culture of India which teaches to vanquish ignorance that subdues humanity and to drive away darkness that engulfs the light of knowledge. Diwali, the festival of lights even to-day in this modern world projects the rich and glorious past of India.

Pushkar Mela - Every November, the sleepy little township of Pushkar in Rajasthan, India comes alive with a riot of colors & a frenzied burst of activity during the Pushkar Fair. Very few, if at all any, fairs in the world can match the liveliness of Pushkar. Most people associate the Pushkar Fair with the world's largest camel fair. But it is much more than that.

National parks

Depending on the area and terrain National Parks provide ample opportunities to the visitors to have a close encounters with the wilds. Indian National Parks have great variety and range of attractions and activities including the observation of their flora, avifauna, and aquafauna, or witnessing various wild creatures in their natural surroundings from on foot or a viewpoint riding upon an elephant or from inside a jeep.

Bandhavgarh National Park- located in Umaria District, Madhya Pradesh.

Kanha National Park- located in Kanha, Madhya Pradesh

Sundarbans National Park- Located in South 24 Parganas, West bengal, India

Ranthambore National Park-located near Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan.

Kaziranga National Park- located in Golaghat, Assam.

Kanha National Park-located in Mandla District, Madhya Pradesh

Anshi National Park,near Dandeli, Karnataka state.

Eravikulam National Park- located in Munnar, Kerala

Bandipur National Park, Nagarhole National Park near Mysuru in Karnataka state of India (Bharat).

Yoga Teacher Training

There are many places in India that offer yoga teacher training. There is quite a long list of few destinations but these are very popular among international yoga community.

Rishikesh is considered as "Yoga Capital of the World". This beautiful city is located on the foothills of the Himalaya. One can learn almost all forms and styles of yoga here. This place is also one of the best places to learn Hatha yoga. Mysore is located in southern state of Karnataka and this city is world famous for its Ashtanga yoga. Best time to learn yoga here from September till March. Here you have an opportunity to learn Ashtanga yoga from world class yoga Gurus. Goa offers a blend of leisure and yoga together. You will feel like you are at a yoga retreat. If you are a serious yoga learner then this might not be the ideal place. Kerala' is more popular for Ayurvedic massage cure and its backwater. Gokarna has gained more popularity in the past few years but this place is considered to be less touristic.

Tours & Activities

India is an amazing land to be explored and discovered. India offers a different aspect of her personality - exotic, extravagant, elegant, eclectic - to each traveller of the country. There are six regions or zones according to tourism point of view: 1) North, 2) South, 3) East, 4) West, 5) Central and 6) North East. While North and North-East boast of splendid palaces, forts and mighty Himalayas; South and West have beaches, bustling towns, backwaters and architectural marvels ; East is famous for religious ties: One finds ancient roots of both Hinduism and Buddhism here.

If you plan on taking on Indian tourist places, do note that India is a huge land and has all kinds of people living here- friendly as well as non-friendly ones, so be street-smart wherever you are and enjoy an amazing trip. E-Tourist Visa has been extended to 37 more countries recently (The list now has 150 countries). Indian government has become more tourist friendly, however tourists do find themselves paying a lot more than usual due to differential pricing of travel agents through out the country. It is advisable to consult Government Tourist Information Centres located at Railway Stations or Airports. Do not get in the hands of touts and cheats who post Government Approved Agent signs all over their shops There are many online travel sites to help you plan your trip in a systematic and organised way. Like for booking Train Tickets you can visit (This is a government website to sell train tickets); for Bus Bookings you can visit different state road transport websites like Himachal Road Transport ( and also all states have their own tourism websites that can help tourists.various tourist destinations in India offer different kinds of activity related tours like walking tours , cycle tours ,kitchen experience etc.


The Indian Rupee Symbol: Rs. or ₹?
The new Rupee symbol ₹ was introduced in July 2010 to bring the rupee's symbol in line with other major currencies. Previously, "Rs" was used (or "Re" for the singular rupee). It is very likely you will continue to see the previous nomenclature in your Indian travels, especially with smaller businesses and street vendors. It will take many years for the new symbol to become universally adopted in the country.

2016 Demonetization
On 8 November 2016, the two largest banknotes, the ₹500 (yellow) and ₹1,000 (pink), were demonetized and replaced with new ₹500 and ₹2000 notes. (In due course, a new ₹1000 note will be issued.) The old notes are no longer exchangeable as of 2018. Do not accept any of the old ₹500 and ₹1000 notes: become familiar with what they look like.

The currency in India is the Indian rupee (sign: ₹; code: INR) (रुपया — rupaya in Hindi and similarly named in most Indian languages, but taka in Maithili and Taakaa in Bengali and Toka in Assamese). The rupee is subdivided into 100 paise (singular: paisa). 5 rupees 75 paise would normally be written as ₹5.75.

Currently-used banknotes come in denominations of ₹1 (pink and green), ₹5 (green), ₹10 (orange or brown), ₹20 (red), ₹50 (purple or aqua), ₹100 (blue-green or purple), ₹200 (orange), ₹500 (yellow-gray), and ₹2,000 (pink-purple). ₹1 and ₹5 notes are less common than their coin counterparts, but they still can be found; the ₹10 note, however, is far more common than its coin counterpart. It is always good to have a number of small notes on hand, as merchants and drivers sometimes have no change. A useful technique is to keep small notes (₹10-50) in your wallet or in a pocket, and to keep larger notes separate. Then, it will not be obvious how much money you have. Many merchants will claim that they don't have change for a ₹100 or ₹500 note. This is often a lie so that they are not stuck with a large note. It is best not to buy unless you have exact change.

The coins in circulation are 50 paise (uncommon), ₹1, ₹2, ₹5, and ₹10. Coins of less than 50 paise are no longer legal tender. Coins are useful for buying tea (₹5), for bus fares (₹2 to ₹10), and for giving exact change for an auto-rickshaw.

Indians commonly use lakh and crore for 100,000 and 10,000,000 respectively. Comma placement differs, so one crore rupees would be written as ₹1,00,00,000. This format is not that difficult, but may puzzle you as it is different. You can rectify this when you start thinking in terms of lakhs and crores, after which it will seem natural.

Changing money

Rajasthani fabric for sale, Jodhpur

The Indian Rupee is not officially convertible, and a few government-run shops and hotels will still insist on seeing official exchange receipts if you are visibly a foreigner and attempt to pay in rupees instead of hard currency. Rates for exchanging rupees overseas are often poor and importing rupees is restricted, although places with significant Indian populations (eg. Dubai, Singapore) can give decent rates. Try to get rid of any spare rupees before you leave the country.

Officially, to re-exchange rupees prior to departure from India, you need to present exchange certificates and/or ATM receipts; a limited amount of rupees may be exchangeable without these receipts.

Outside airports, you can change your currency at any one of the numerous foreign exchange conversion units including banks and at hotels.

In many cities and towns, credit cards are accepted at retail chain stores and other restaurants and stores. Small businesses (including hotels and guest houses) and family-run stores almost never accept credit cards, so it is useful to keep a moderate amount of cash on hand.


ATMs are abundant across India - though often not found in smaller airports. Most ATMs will pay out at most ₹10,000 in each transaction - some will pay ₹20,000. State Bank of India (SBI) is the biggest bank in India and has the most ATMs, and ICICI bank has the second largest network of ATMs. International banks such as Citibank, HSBC, Deutsche Bank (part of Global ATM Alliance), RBS (The Royal Bank of Scotland) and Standard Chartered have a significant presence in major Indian cities.

It is always worthwhile to have bank cards or credit cards from at least two different providers to ensure that you have a backup available in case one card is suspended by your bank or simply does not work work at a particular ATM. If you find the ATM saying "invalid card", try inserting it and removing it more slowly.

Increasing number of banks (e.g. Citibank, HDFC, ICICI) charge more than ₹200 for transactions made with foreign cards. So far (2015), State Bank of India, which has the largest number of ATMs, doesn't charge any fee for foreign transaction. If the ATM has a fee it will always ask you for confirmation before you continue (this is a legal requirement).


In short, India is cheap, although the different costs of living can vary greatly by city. Some cities like Thiruvananthapuram are as low as 11-13% of what the cost of living in NYC would be while Mumbai is closer to 28%.

Mid-range to high-range travellers

₹2000, at least, needed for a decent room in a good hotel offering cable, air conditioning and a direct telephone; however, this price doesn't include a refrigerator. Food will cost at least ₹150 for a decent meal at a stall, not at a hotel), but the sky is the limit. While bus transportation will cost approximately ₹5 for a short distance of about 1 km, a taxi or rickshaw will cost ₹22 for the same distance without air conditioning. There are radio taxis that are available at ₹20—25 per km in key Indian cities which have GPS navigation, air conditioned and accept debit/credit cards for payments. They are a very safe mode of travel. So the total for one day would be about as below:

  • Hotel: US$35 for a good place per day
  • Food: US$10 for a good meal per day
  • Travel: US$10 taxi and bus together

Total: US$80 for a couple, US$70 for a person alone

Also, app-based services like Uber and OLA are omnipresent in every major city of India. Try to use them as much as possible. They aren't expensive and are much safer than the traditional mode of transportation. In terms of service as well, they beat all local rivals.

Budget travellers

Budget travel around India is surprisingly easy, with the savvy backpacker able to get by (relatively comfortably) on as little as US$25-35 per day. It is generally cheaper than South East Asia with a night in a hotel costing as little as ₹200-1,000 (though there will be probably no air conditioning or room service for this price). Beach huts in the cheaper places of Goa can cost around ₹800 per night. A meal can be bought from a street trader for as little as ₹30, though, in a restaurant expect, to pay around ₹200-300 for a beer or two. Overnight buses and trains can cost anywhere from ₹600-1,000 dependent on distance and locations, though an uncomfortable government bus (benches only) may be cheaper.


In India, you are expected to negotiate the price with street hawkers but not in department stores and the like. If not, you risk overpaying many times, which can be okay if you think that it is cheaper than at home. In most of the big cities and even smaller towns retail chain stores are popping up where the shopping experience is essentially identical to similar stores in the West. There are also some government-run stores like the Cottage Emporium in New Delhi, where you can sample wares from all across the country in air-conditioned comfort. Although you will pay a little more at these stores, you can be sure that what you are getting is not a cheap knockoff. The harder you bargain, the more you save money. A few tries later, you will realise that it is fun.

Often, the more time you spend in a store, the better deals you will get. It is worth spending time getting to know the owner, asking questions, and getting him to show you other products (if you are interested). Once the owner feels that he is making a sufficient profit from you, he will often give you additional goods at a rate close to his cost, rather than the common "foreigner rate". You will get better prices and service by buying many items in one store than by bargaining in multiple stores individually. If you see local people buying in a store, you can probably get the real Indian prices. Ask someone around you quietly, "How much would you pay for this?"

Also, very often you will meet a "friend" in the street inviting you to visit their family's shop. That almost always means that you pay twice as much as when you had been in the shop without your newly found friend.

Packaged goods show the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) right on the package. This includes taxes. Retailers are not supposed to charge more than this. Though this rule is adhered to at most places, at tourist destinations or remote places, you may be charged more. This is especially true for cold drinks like Coke or Pepsi, where a bottle (300 ml) is priced around ₹11-12 when the actual price is ₹10. Also, keep in mind that a surprising number of things do not come in packaged form. Do check for the authenticity of the MRP, as shopkeepers may put up a sticker of his own to charge more from you.

What to look for/buy

  • Wood Carvings: India produces a striking variety of carved wood products that can be bought at very low prices. Examples include decorative wooden plates, bowls, artwork, furniture and miscellaneous items that will surprise you. Check the regulations of your home country before attempting to import wooden items.
  • Clothing: It depends on the state/region you are visiting. Many states have their own specialties: for example, silk sarees in Benaras; block prints in Jaipur.
  • Paintings: Paintings come on a wide variety of media, such as cotton, silk or with frame included. Gemstone paintings incorporate semi-precious stone dust, so they have a glittering appearance to them.
  • Marble and stone carvings: Common carved items include elephants, Hindu gods/goddesses.
  • Jewelry: Beautiful necklaces, bracelets and other jewelry, especially gold, can be very inexpensive in India.
  • Pillow covers, bedsets: Striking and rich designs are common for pillows and bed covers.

Designer brands like Louis Vuitton, Prada , Gucci, Zara , A & F, all are available in upmarket stores.


India food State wise

Indian cuisine is superb and takes its place among the great cuisines of the world. Most of the time you may find it good and spicy. There is a good chance that you'd have tasted "Indian food" in your country, especially if you are a traveller from the West, but what India has exported abroad is just one part of its extraordinary range of culinary diversity.

Indian food has a well-deserved reputation for being hot, owing to the Indian penchant for the liberal use of a variety of spices, and potent fresh green chilies or red chilies powder that will bring tears to the eyes of the uninitiated, and found in unexpected places like sweet cornflakes (a snack, not breakfast) or even candies. The degree of spiciness varies widely throughout the country: Andhra food is famously fiery, while Gujarati cuisine is quite mild in taste.

To enjoy the local food, start slowly. Don't try everything at once. After a few weeks, you can get accustomed to spicy food. If you would like to order your dish not spicy, simply say so. Most visitors are tempted to try at least some of the spicy concoctions, and most discover that the sting is worth the trouble.


A vast spread of North Indian food

Cuisine in India varies greatly from region to region. The "Indian food" served by many so-called Indian restaurants in the Western hemisphere is inspired by North Indian cooking, specifically Mughlai cuisine, a style developed by the royal kitchens of the historical Mughal Empire, and the regional cuisine of the Punjab, although degree of authenticity in relation to actual Mughlai or Punjabi cooking is sometimes variable at best and dubious at worst.

North India is wheat growing land, so you have Indian breads (known as roti), including chapatti (unleavened bread), paratha (pan-fried layered roti), naan (made from refined wheat flour, and cooked in a clay tandoori oven), puri (deep-fried and puffed up bread), and many more. A typical meal consists of one or more gravy dishes along with rotis, to be eaten by breaking off a piece of roti, dipping it in the gravy and eating them together. Most of the Hindi heartland of India survives on roti, rice, and lentils (dal), which are prepared in several different ways and made spicy to taste. Served on the side, you will usually find spiced yogurt (raita) and either fresh chutney or a tiny piece of exceedingly pungent pickle (achar), a very acquired taste for most visitors — try mixing it with curry, not eating it plain.

A variety of regional cuisines can be found throughout the North. Tandoori chicken, prepared in a clay oven called a tandoor, is probably the best-known North Indian dish, innovated by a Punjabi immigrant from present-day Pakistan during the Partition. For a taste of traditional Punjabi folk cooking, try dal makhani (stewed black lentils and kidney beans in a buttery gravy), or sarson da saag, a yummy gravy dish made with stewed mustard greens, served with makke di roti (flatbread made from maize). There's also the hearty textures and robust flavours of Rajasthani food, the meat heavy Kashmiri dishes from the valley of Kashmir, or the mild yet gratiating Himalayan (pahari) cuisine found in the higher reaches. North India also has of a variety of snacks like samosa (vegetables encased in thin pastry of a triangular shape) and kachori (either vegetable or pulses encased in thin pastry). There is also a vast constellation of sweet desserts like jalebi (deep-fried pretzel with sugar syrup- shaped like a spiral), rasmalai (balls of curds soaked in condensed milk) and halwa. Dry fruits and nuts like almonds, cashews and pistachio are used a lot, often in the desserts, but sometimes also in the main meal.

Authentic Mughal-style cooking, the royal cuisine of the Mughal Empire, can still be found and savoured in some parts of India, most notably the old Mughal cities of Delhi, Agra and Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, and Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh. It is a refined blend of Persian, Turkic and Subcontinent cooking, and makes heavy use of meat and spices. The names of some Mughal dishes bear the prefix of shahi as a sign of its prestige and royal status from a bygone era. Famous Mugha specialties include biryani (layered meat and rice casserole), pulao (rice cooked in a meat or vegetable broth), kebab (grilled meat), kofta (balls of mincemeat), rumali roti (flatbread whirled into paper-thin consistency), shahi tukray (saffron and cardamom-scented bread pudding).

A typically south Indian banana leaf meal

       See also: Southern India#Eat

In South India, the food is mostly rice-based. A typical meal includes sambhar (a thick vegetable and lentil chowder) with rice, rasam (a thin, peppery soup), or avial (mixed vegetables) with rice, traditionally served on a banana leaf as a plate. Seasoning in South India differs from northern regions by its ubiquitous use of mustard seeds, curry leaves, pulses, fenugreek seeds, and a variety of souring agents such as tamarind and kokum. There are regional variations too — the coastal regions make greater use of coconut and fish. In the State of Kerala, it is common to use grated coconut in everything and coconut oil for cooking, while someone from the interior could be surprised to learn that coconut oil, can in fact, be used for cooking. The South also has some great breakfast dishes like idli (a steamed cake of lentils and rice), dosa, a thin, crispy pancake often stuffed with spiced potatoes to make masala dosa, vada, a savoury Indian donut, and uttapam, a fried pancake made from a rice and lentil batter with onions and other vegetables mixed in. All of these can be eaten with dahi, plain yogurt, and chutney, a condiment that can be made from practically anything. Try the ever popular Masala Dosa, which originated from Udupi in Karnataka, in one of the old restaurants of Bangalore like MTR and Janatha in Malleswaram or Vidyarthi Bhavan in Basavangudi. South Indian cuisine is predominantly vegetarian, though there are exceptions: seafood is very popular in Kerala and the Mangalorean coast of Karnataka; and Chettinad and Hyderabad cuisines use meat heavily, and are a lot more spicier. Coffee tends to be the preferred drink to tea in South India.

To the West, you will find some great cuisine groups. Gujarati cuisine is somewhat similar to Rajastani cooking with the heavy use of dairy products, but differs in that it is predominantly vegetarian, and often sweetened with jaggery or sugar. Gujaratis make some of the best snack items such as the Dhokla and the Muthia. Mumbai is famous for its chaat, as well as the food of the small but visible Irani and Parsi communities concentrated in and around the city. The adjacent states of Maharashtra and Goa are renowned for their seafood, often simply grilled, fried or poached in coconut milk. A notable feature of Goan cooking is that pork and vinegar is used, a rare sight in the rest of India. Vindaloo originated in Goa, and is in fact traditionally cooked with pork, and in spite of its apparent popularity in Indian restaurants abroad, it is not common in India itself.

To the East, Bengali and Odishan food makes heavy use of rice, and fish due to the vast river channels and ocean coastline in the region. Bengali cooking is known for its complexity of flavor and bittersweet balance. Mustard oil, derived from mustard seeds, is often used in cooking and adds a pungent, slightly sweet flavor and intense heat. Bengalis prefer freshwater fish, in particular the iconic ilish or hilsa: it can be smoked, fried, steamed, baked in young plantain leaves, cooked with curd, eggplant and cumin seeds. It is said that ilish can be prepared in more than 50 ways. Typical Bengali dishes include maccher jhal, a brothy fish stew which literally means "fish in sauce", and shorshe ilish (cooked in a gravy made from mustard seed paste). Eastern India is also famous for its desserts and sweets: Rasgulla is a famous variant of the better-known gulab jamun, a spherical morsel made from cow's milk and soaked in a clear sugar syrup. It's excellent if consumed fresh or within a day after it is made.Sondesh is another excellent milk-based sweet, best described as the dry equivalent of ras malai.

A lot of food has also filtered in from other countries. Indian Chinese (or Chindian) is far and away the most common adaptation: most Chinese would barely recognize the stuff, but dishes like veg manchurian (deep-fried vegetable balls in a chilli-soy-ginger sauce) and chilli chicken are very much a part of the Indian cultural landscape and worth a try. The British left fish and chips and some fusion dishes like mulligatawny soup, while Tibetan and Nepali food, especially momo dumplings, are not uncommon in north India. Pizza has entered India in a big way, but chains like Pizza hut and Domino's have been forced to Indianize the pizza and introduce adaptations like paneer-tikka pizza. Remarkably, there is an Indian chain called Smokin Joe's, based out of Mumbai, which has gone and mixed Thai curry with Pizzas.

For those with picky appetites, fast food is also offered.

It is, of course, impossible to do full justice to the range and diversity of Indian food in this brief section. Not only does every region of India have a distinctive cuisine, but you will also find that even within a region, castes and ethnic communities have different styles of cooking and often have their signature recipes which you will probably not find in restaurants. The adventurous traveller is advised to wangle invitations to homes, try various bylanes of the city and look for food in unlikely places like temples in search of culinary nirvana.


While there are a wide variety of fruits native to India such as the chikoo and the jackfruit, nothing is closer to an Indians' heart than a juicy ripe mango. Hundreds of varieties are found across most of its regions — in fact, India is the largest producer, growing more than half the world's output. Mangoes are in season at the hottest part of the year, usually between May and July, and range from small (as big as a fist) to some as big as a small cantaloupe. It can be consumed in its ripe, unripe as well a baby form (the last 2 predominently in pickles). Other fruits widely available (depending on the season) are bananas, oranges, guavas, lychees, apples, pineapple, pomegranate, apricot, melons, coconut, grapes, plums, peaches and berries.


Know your vegetarians


Most Indians who practise vegetarianism do so for religious or cultural reasons — though cultural taboos have their roots in ethical concerns. Indians' dietary restrictions come in all shapes and sizes and the two symbols (see right) do not capture the full range. Here is a quick guide:

  • Veganism is practically unknown in many parts of India, because milk and honey are enthusiastically consumed by virtually everyone. But major cities, such as Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, do have budding vegan societies and items such as tofu, soy chunks (branded Nutrela), and soy milk are readily available in major cities, as well as some minor ones. Eggs are considered non-vegetarian by many, though you are very likely to find people who are otherwise vegetarian eating eggs. These people are often referred to as eggetarians. That said, there are a number of foods that are vegan by default in India, including standard restaurant dishes such as aloo gobi, channa masala, various types of dal, dosas, and the vast majority of Indo-Chinese dishes. Dishes made with dairy products are usually denoted as such (referencing their use of butter or ghee, in particular). Most restaurants will accommodate dietary restrictions and it is advisable to ask if a dish contains milk, butter, cream, yogurt or ghee. Virtually all Indian desserts, however, are non-vegan, with the exception of jalebi, an orange-colored fried dough commonly found in western and northern India.
  • The strictest vegetarians are some Jains and some Brahmin sects - they not only abjure all kinds of meat and eggs, they also refuse to eat onions, potatoes or anything grown under the soil.
  • Even meat-eating Hindus often follow special diets during religious days or during fasts. Hindu fasts do not involve giving up all food, just eating a restricted diet — some take only fruits.
  • A very small group of Indians are, or used to be piscatarians — i.e. they count fish as a vegetable product. Among these are Bengali and Konkani Brahmins. Such people are increasingly rare as most have taken to meat-eating.

Visiting vegetarians will discover a culinary treasure that is found nowhere else in the world. Owing to a large number of strictly vegetarian Hindus, Buddhists and Jains, Indian cuisine has evolved an astonishingly rich menu that uses no meat or eggs. The Jains in particular practice a strict form of vegetarianism based on the principles of non-violence and peaceful co-operative co-existence: Jains usually do not consume root vegetables such as potatoes, garlic, onions, carrots, radishes, cassava, sweet potatoes and turnips, as the plant needed to be killed in the process of accessing these prior to their end of life cycle. At least half the menus of most restaurants are devoted to vegetarian dishes, and by law all packaged food products in India are tagged with a green dot (vegetarian) or red dot (non-veg). Veganism however is not a well-understood concept in India, and vegans may face a tougher time: milk products like cheese (paneer), yogurt (dahi) and clarified butter (ghee) are used extensively, and honey is also commonly used as a sweetener. Milk in India is generally not pasteurized, and must be boiled before consumption.

Even non-vegetarians will soon note that due to the Hindu taboo, beef is generally not served (except in the Muslim and Parsi communities, Goa, Kerala and the North-Eastern states), and pork is also uncommon due to the Muslim population. Due to its high unpopularity, travellers are strongly urged not to order beef even in areas where it is offered because of how can can offend and cause controversy. Chicken and mutton are thus by far the most common meats used, although "buff" (water buffalo) is occasionally served in backpacker establishments. Seafood is of course ubiquitous in the coastal regions of India, and a few regional cuisines do use duck, venison and other game meats in traditional dishes.


In India eating with your hand (instead of utensils like forks and spoons) is very common. There's one basic rule of etiquette to observe, particularly in non-urban India: Use only your right hand. The left hand is only used for dirty things, like cleaning up in the toilet. Don't stick either hand into communal serving dishes: instead, use the left hand to serve yourself with utensils and then dig in. Needless to say, it's wise to wash your hands well before and after eating.

For breads for all types, the basic technique is to hold down the item with your forefinger and use your middle-finger and thumb to tear off pieces. The pieces can then be dipped in sauce or used to pick up bits before you stuff them in your mouth. Rice is more challenging, but the basic idea is to use four fingers to mix the rice in curry and pack a little ball, before you pop it in your mouth by pushing it with your thumb.

Most of the restaurants do provide cutlery and its pretty safe to use them instead of your hand.

Eating by hand is frowned on in some "classier" places. If you are provided with cutlery and nobody else around you seems to be doing it, then take the hint.


Indian restaurants run the gamut from roadside shacks (dhabas) to classy five-star places where the experience is comparable to places anywhere in the world. Away from the big cities and tourist haunts, mid-level restaurants are scarce, and food choices will be limited to the local cuisine, Punjabi/Mughlai, "Chinese" and occasionally South Indian.

Menus in English... well, almost
Menus in Indian restaurants are usually written in English — but using Hindi names. Here's a quick decoder key that goes a long way for understanding common dishes like aloo gobi and muttar paneer.

  • aloo or aalu — potato
  • baigan or baingan — eggplant/aubergine
  • bhindi — okra
  • chana — chickpeas
  • dal — lentils
  • gobi — cauliflower (or other cabbage)
  • machli — fish
  • makkhan — butter
  • matar — green peas
  • mirch — chilli pepper
  • murgh or murg — chicken
  • palak or saag — spinach (or other greens)
  • paneer — Indian cottage cheese
  • subzi — vegetable

The credit for popularizing Punjabi cuisine all over the country goes to the dhabas that line India's highways. Their patrons are usually the truckers, who happen to be overwhelmingly Punjabi. The authentic dhaba serves up simple yet tasty seasonal dishes like roti and dhal with onions, and diners sit on cots instead of chairs. Hygiene can be an issue in many dhabas, so if one's not up to your standards try another. In rural areas, dhabas are usually the only option.

In Southern India, "Hotel" means a local restaurant serving south Indian food, usually a thali -- a full plate of food that usually includes a kind of bread and an assortment of meat or vegetarian dishes -- and prepared meals.

Although you may be handed an extensive menu, most dishes are served only during specific hours, if at all.

Prices listed on menu at fancier restaurants typically do not include the taxes, that may add up to 15-30% of total bill. At local eateries, practice is to show the actual price on the menu itself.

Tipping in small denominations is usually acceptable though not mandatory, usually done by leaving small banknotes/ coins. At fancier restaurants where 10% tip is appropriate, though it is commonly included in bill labelled Service Charge.

Dietary Restrictions

The cow is a highly revered animal in India. Due to this restriction, you will find that the Western fast food chains in India generally do not serve beef. This means that the hamburgers people from Western countries are used to in fast food restaurants are generally absent in India. Also cow slaughter is banned in several states. But the above restrictions are found only in North, Central and Eastern India, and beef is common in Southern states and North Eastern parts of the country. States like Kerala have beef dishes in almost all of the Non Vegetarian restaurants.

India also has a sizeable Muslim minority, and in the major cities, halal food can be found at one of the many Muslim stalls.


One of the sweetest and safest beverages you can get is tender coconut water. You can almost always find it in any beach, roadside or other tourist destinations in the south. In summer (Mar-Jul), you can get fresh sugarcane juice in many places and even a lot of fresh fruit juice varieties. Cane juice is also sold by some good company stores such as 'Canola'. 'Kabbu' is another cane juice chain which is found exclusively in the state of Karnataka. Be careful as fresh juice may contain many germs besides unhygienic ice. Some of the better juice shops and restaurants may serve juices topped up with ice cubes made from bottled water, but it is wiser to ask for your juice "without ice". The juice vendors do not always clean their equipment properly and do not wash the fruits either.

India is famous for its Alphonso variety of mangoes, generally regarded as the King of Mangoes among connoisseurs. So do try the Alphonso mango-flavoured beverage Maaza (bottled by Coca-Cola) or Slice (bottled by PepsiCo), both of which contain about 15% Alphonso mango pulp. Both of these brands will sure provide some needed refreshment during India's scorching hot summer. Both cost about ₹30-50 for a 600 ml bottle.

As for bottled water, make sure that the cap's seal has not been broken, otherwise, it is a tell tale sign of tampering or that unscrupulous vendors reuse old bottles and fill them with tap water, which is generally unsafe for foreign tourists to drink without prior boiling. Bottled water brands like Aquafina (by PepsiCo) and Kinley (by Coca-Cola) are widely available. Local brands like Bisleri are also acceptable and perfectly safe. Tastes may vary due to the individual brands' mineral contents. Avoid most locally sold soft drinks and soda's, they are known to have strong dyes and chemicals and can lead to nausea, diarrhea, and headache.


Everywhere you can get tea (chai in most North Indian languages) of one variety or another. Most common is the "railway tea" type: cheap (₹5-10), sweet and uniquely refreshing once you get the taste for it. It's made by brewing up tea leaves, milk, and sugar altogether in a pot and keeping it hot until it's all sold. Masala chai will also have spices added to the mix, such as cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper. For some people, that takes some getting used to.

While Masala chai is popular in Northern and Central India, it must be noted that people in Eastern India (West Bengal and Assam) generally consume tea without spices, the English way. This is also the part of India where most tea is grown.

In South India(except Kerala), coffee (especially sweet "filter coffee") replaces tea as a standard beverage.


The legal drinking/purchasing age varies from state to state and Union Territory to Union Territory. It varies between 18 to 25 years of age. In some districts of Maharashtra, the age limit is 30. Alcohol is illegal in Bihar, Gujarat, Lakshadweep, Manipur and Nagaland.

Drinking alcohol can either be frowned upon or openly accepted, depending on the region and religion of the area within which you are drinking. For example, Daman and Diu, Goa, Punjab, and Pondicherry tend to be more free-wheeling (and have low taxes on alcohol), while a few southern areas like Chennai are less tolerant of alcohol, and may even charge excessive taxes on it. There are beverage corporation owned by most states where you can buy alcoholic beverages for retail price printed in bottle. You will generally find a queue of men, so female travellers may get a wary look. In some of the far-eastern states the age limit may exceed 21.

Favourite Indian tipples include beer, notably the ubiquitous Kingfisher (a decent lager), and rum, particularly Old Monk. Prices vary by state, especially for hard liquor, but you can expect to pay ₹50-100 for a large bottle of beer and anywhere between ₹170-250 for a 750 ml bottle of Old Monk.

Indian wines, long a bit of a joke, have improved remarkably in recent years and there's a booming wine industry in the hills of Maharashtra. The good stuff is not particularly cheap (expect to pay around ₹500 a bottle) and selections are mostly limited to white wines, but look out for labels by Chateau Indage [43] or 'Sula [44].

Illegal moonshine, called tharra when made from sugar cane and toddy when made from coconuts, is widely available in some states. It's cheap and strong, but very dangerous as quality control is nonexistent, and best avoided entirely. In the former Portuguese colony of Goa you can obtain an extremely pungent liquor called fenny or feni, typically made from cashew fruits or coconuts.

The sale of alcohol is illegal on certain days of the year known as Dry Days, which are Federally recognized holidays. These days include Republic day(Jan 26), Independence Day(Aug 15), and Gandhi Jayanti (Oct 2).


Public Smoking is officially banned and fined.


Government-authorized bhang shop, Jaisalmer

Cannabis in its many forms — especially ganja (weed) and charas (hash) — is widely available throughout India, especially in the tourist places like Goa, Rajasthan and small other tourist places where they have more tourist demands but they are all illegal in the vast majority of the country, and the letter of the law states that simple possession may mean years in jail.

However, in some states (notably Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Orissa) the one legal and socially accepted way to consume cannabis is as bhang, a low-grade preparation sold at government-licensed shops that is not only smoked, but also made into cookies, chocolate and the infamous bhang lassi, a herb-laced version of the normally innocuous yogurt drink. Bhang lassi is usually available at varying strengths, so use caution if opting for the stronger versions. It's also occasionally sold as "special lassi", but is usually easily spotted by the ₹30-50 price tag (several times higher than the non-special kinds). An important point to bear in mind is that the effects of "Bhang" are slow and heighten when consumed with something sweet. Also, first time users may want to wait a while before consuming too much in an effort to judge their tolerance.


Choices vary widely depending on your budget and location. Cheap travellers' hotels are numerous in big cities where you can get a room for less than ₹450. Rooms at guest-houses with a double bed (and often a bathroom) can be found in many touristic venues for ₹150-200. Good budget hotels in India are not hard to find. You can find accommodation in clean dormitories for as little as ₹50 in many Indian districts.

Most Indian train stations have rooms or dormitories, are cheap, relatively well maintained (the beds, sheets, not the showers) and secure. There are also the added bonus of not being accosted by the rickshaw mafia, getting your bag off quickly and, for the adventurous, you are highly likely to be able to jump on a cheap public bus back to the train station, just ask. Keep in mind you must have an arrival or departure train ticket from the station where you intend to sleep and there could be a limit on how many nights you may stay.

Midrange options are plentiful in the larger cities and expanding fast into second-tier cities as well. Dependable local chains include Country Inns [45], Ginger [46], Hotel Orange 35 [47]and Neemrana [48], and prices vary from ₹1,000-4,000 per night. Local, unbranded hotels can be found in any city, but quality varies widely.

If your wallet allows it, you can try staying in a maharaja's palace in Udaipur or modern five-star hotels which are now found pretty much all over the country. The top-end of Indian luxury rests with the Oberoi [49], Taj [50], and ITC Welcomgroup [51] hotel chains, who operate hotels in all the major cities and throughout Rajasthan. The usual international chains also run major 5-star hotels in most Indian metropolises, but due to India's economic boom availability is tight and prices can be crazy: it's not uncommon to be quoted over US$300/night for what would elsewhere be a distinctly ordinary business hotel going for a third of the price. Also beware that some jurisdictions including Delhi and Bengaluru charge stiff luxury taxes on the rack rate of the room, which can lead to nasty surprises at check-out time.

Two important factors to keep in mind when choosing a place to stay are 1) safety and 2) cleanliness. Malaria is alive and well in certain areas of India - one of the best ways to combat malaria is to choose lodgings with air conditioning and sealed windows. An insect-repellent spray containing DEET will also help.

Dak bungalows exist in many areas. These were built by the British to accommodate travelling officials and are now used by the Indian and state governments for the same purpose. If they have room, most will take tourists at a moderate fee. They are plain — ceiling fans rather than air conditioning, shower but no tub. — but clean, comfortable and usually in good locations. Typically the staff includes a pensioned-off soldier as night watchman and perhaps another as gardener; often the gardens are lovely. Sometimes there is a cook. You meet interesting Indian travellers this way: engineers building a bridge in the area, a team of doctors vaccinating the villagers, whatever.

Don't count on having a reliable electricity supply if you aren't staying in an upmarket hotel. Brownouts are frequent, and many buildings have unsafe wiring.

Make sure to bring your passport wherever you go, as most hotels will not rent out rooms without you producing a valid passport. This is especially true in Delhi.


There are many things to learn that interest foreigners all over India, but there are a few destinations that become known for certain things:

  • Ayurveda is popular in Kerala.
  • Classical musical instruments in Varanasi.
  • Classical vocal music and classical Dance forms in Tamilnadu.
  • Meditation at Dhamma locations throughout the country, including all major cities. 10-day retreats for new students are run monthly and everything is completely donation based. [[53]]
  • Cooking classes are also popular. The most well-known exported type of Indian food is Punjabi, as the Sikhs have been the most successful in spreading Indian restaurants throughout the western world. However, styles vary a lot throughout the country, so if you have the time and appetite it's worth checking out courses in a variety of areas such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal.
  • Photography tours and workshops are offered in many places throughout the country. India has many accomplished photographers [[54]] who speak excellent English and offer expert services from a few hours to two weeks or more. These tours and workshops offer a unique way to dive deep into Indian culture while at the same time learning how to photograph it with more professional results.

There are many Universities imparting education but at the helm are Indian Institutes of Technology(IITs) for technical graduation, Indian Institutes of Management(IIMs) for management post-graduation and National Law Universities/ Schools (NLUs) which are world class institutes. Most of the ambitious students who want to get a good high level education thrive to get into these institutes through admission processes which are rather very difficult ones both due to nature of test and the prevailing competition. For example, the 6 top IIMs (Including the 4 oldest - Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Bangalore & Lucknow plus newly established Indore and Kozhikode) together select only about 1,200 students from 350,000 students who appear for CAT exam. But still students have a great desire to get into these institutes. These institutes offer degrees to foreign students also.

Apart from undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral courses, there are many training and diploma-level institutes and polytechnics that cater to the growing demand for skill-based and vocational education. Besides conventional educational institutes, foreigners might also be interested to study with Pandits to learn Hindi and Sanskrit in genuine settings as well as with Mullahs to study Urdu, Persian, and Arabic. They might also like to live with famed Ustads to study traditional Indian music. Whether people are interested in philosophy or religion, cuisine or dance, India will have the right opportunity for them.

Indian Board Result

Education in India is provided by the public sector as well as the private sector, with control and funding coming from three levels: central, state, and local. Under various articles of the Indian Constitution, free and compulsory education is provided as a fundamental right to children between the ages of 6 and 14. The ratio of public schools to private schools in India is 7:5. There are many university board in India[55].


Foreigners need a work permit to be employed in India. A work permit is granted if an application is made to the local Indian embassy along with proof of potential employment and supporting documents. There are many expatriates working in India, mostly for multinational Fortune 1,000 firms. India has always had an expatriate community of reasonable size, and there are many avenues for finding employment, including popular job hunting websites.

With growing economy India is one the best places for a professional internship. Many students from across the world choose India as their preferred destination for an Internship as working in India give the interns a chance to work in the fastest growing economy and at the same time experience the centuries old cultural traditions India is famous for.

Interns looking to get Intern in India can look at :

There are many volunteer opportunities around the country including teaching. India has a reasonable presence of foreign Christian missionaries, who for the most part form the non-local religious workers, since the other major religions of the world either grew out of India or have had a long term presence.

To search for volunteering opportunities across India, volunteers can visit, :-

  • A Broader View Volunteers [57] - Programs in Jaipur and Udaipur, over 14 social and conservation programs: animal rescue, teaching, woman empowerment, child care, orphanage, medical and nurse care, construction, from 1 week up to 12 weeks.
  • Volunteering With India (VWI), [58] - Volunteer Programs in Jaipur, India which is North Western Part of India. Offering programs in Teaching English in rural/slums, Women Empowerment, Orphanage Work, Street Children rescue & protection and Elephant Care Work.
  • Rainbow Voluntours, [59] - Volunteer Programs in Kerala and Kolkata. Offering community programs in rural/ and urban slum area with Women Empowerment, Orphanage Work, Street Children rescue & protection and Renovations programs.
  • Volunteering Solutions in India, [60] - Programs in Delhi and Dharamshala.
  • Volunteering India, [61].
  • Volunteer World, Düsseldorf, Germany, [6]. The social start up helps grassroot projects all over India and interested volunteers worldwide to get in touch. Volunteers can compare the social projects while local NGOs receive the support and attention they need to fulfill their great cause.

A living can be made in the traveler scenes by providing some kind of service such as baking Western cakes, tattooing or massage.

Previously, an AIDS test result was required as part of the work visa application process. It is highly recommended that applicants obtain test results in their home country beforehand if at all possible.

Stay safe

As of September 2018, India's Supreme Court has struck down Section 377, a colonial-era rule that criminalized homosexuality. There have been less than 200 cases filed under Section 377 in the over 150 years of the law’s existence, but the law has been used to harass, attack, and incite vigilante executions on the LGBT community and to force them into hiding. Police officers have harassed, extorted, tortured, killed, and blackmailed homosexuals in India. The Indian cities of Delhi, Calcutta (now Kolkata) and Bangalore held their first gay pride parades in 2008.

As a rule India is very safe for foreigners. Violent crime, especially directed against foreigners, has traditionally been uncommon. Many may go out of their way to help you with something- often placing your needs above their's. Small thefts are common in some crowded tourist areas. A thief may pickpocket (see pickpockets). Agree on all fares and payments for services clearly in advance. Being told that you can pay "as you like" is a bad sign. Strangers offering assistance or services may be dishonest; see Common scams. Be wary of frauds at tourist attractions. While travelling in public transport don't accept food or drinks. It could have substances that cause unconsciousness.

Women travellers

Violent crimes against female travellers in India are uncommon, however obviously foreign women may attract some unwanted attention in the form of staring or pointing. This happens mostly in rural areas or small towns. In metropolitan areas, people are used to seeing foreigners so you will just blend in. Dressing modestly in such places will help reduce the amount of unwanted attention you receive, as Indian women dress modestly and by not doing so you invite attention.

If asked if you are married, always say yes. Groping is common in some areas, especially in large crowds of people where it may be hard to identify the groper. If you do get groped, it is best to move away as quickly as possible or report to the police rather than engage with the groper.

There have been some rapes of foreign women and highly publicised rapes of Indian women, some of whom have been murdered. Avoid walking on streets or lanes without many people after sunset and be cautious when taking a taxi or auto-rickshaw at night and don't take unregistered taxis - Delhi has the second-highest per capita rate of rape in India.

As a general rule, you can remember that South and North-East India are much safer places for women when compared to Central and North India. India has been characterised as one of the "countries with the lowest per capita rates of rape" but a large number of rapes go unreported, as elsewhere in the world.

The willingness to report rape has increased in recent years, after several incidents of rape received widespread media attention and triggered widespread public protest, prompting the government of India to reform its penal code for crimes of rape and sexual assault.


India follows the right hand driving system. Irresponsible driving habits, insufficient road infrastructure development, and wandering livestock are some hazards that make driving difficult.

If you happen to meet with an accident in India, it is generally dealt on spot by the parties involved.

Police and other emergency services

Indian law enforcement entities are well-trained and take their public duties very seriously, although their duties may often be restricted due to corruption, a lack of resources, political will and influence, and low salaries. Trust in the police force has increased in recent years.

Police officers in general are always armed when on duty. If they demand a bribe, demand a bill and be firm and upfront. As in any place around the world, always be respectful when dealing with police officers. Do not swear at and/or assault police officers, because it is illegal and can lead to a fine/imprisonment.

Officers in the lower hierarchies have much less amount of power. It is better to involve higher officers if the issue is something big like major thefts, road accidents etc. An approachable officer shall be the local police Inspector. However, police are generally very helpful towards foreign nationals and there are multiple cases which have been dealt with very well involving foreign tourists.

The emergency contact numbers for most of India are: Police (dial 100), Ambulance (102) and Fire (dial 101). In Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kochi and other cities in India, you can dial 108 for all emergencies. There are also emergency apps like ruly sos which sends your number to the police and an alert with your location to your emergency contacts. Another app which sends alerts to your contacts is VithU. Health emergency apps like lybrate murgency and Practo could also be useful.

Stay healthy

The Indian health care system is still somewhat below western standards, although health care is very accessible throughout. One may simply access a private practice for health care access instead of visiting a hospital. The bigger private hospitals provide best of treatment

Avoiding Delhi belly
Four quick tips for eating:

  • Prefer vegetarian options, during your stay or at least for the initial weeks as meat risks getting spoiled quickly in Indian conditions.
  • Ensure raw leafy vegetables are cleaned properly. If in doubt, avoid consuming them.
  • Avoid ice if unsure.Ice served at upscale or relatively well off establishments will not pose any harm but avoid consuming ice if you are unsure about its origins.
  • Avoid unbottled water. Try to use only commercially available sealed bottled water. Even most Indians prefer using only bottled water when travelling.
  • Wash hands before eating, with soap. Otherwise the dirt of India's streets will find its way onto your chapatis and into your mouth.

Littering and air pollution can be an issue in India especially in big cities like Delhi so people with immune issues and breathing issues may want to use caution. Some cities have cracked down hard with heavier penalities on pollutors. Cleanliness of the cities vary. Some have gotten cleaned up such as Mangalore and Navi Mumbai.

Going to India, you have to adapt to a new climate, new food and hence Some travellers to India might become slightly ill during their stay there. Even Indians returning from abroad can at times become ill as their bodies readjust to the food, climate and sanitation conditions. However, with precautions the chance and severity of any illness can be minimized. Don't stress yourself too much at the beginning of your journey so as to allow your body to acclimatize to the country. For example, take a day of rest upon arrival, at least on your first visit. Many travellers get ill for wanting to do too much in too little time. Be careful with spicy food if it is not your daily diet.

No vaccinations are required for entry to India , except for yellow fever if you are coming from an infected area such as Africa. However, Hepatitis (both A and B, depending on your individual circumstances), meningitis and typhoid shots are recommended, as is a booster shot for tetanus. The CDC has a list of recommended vaccines when traveling to India.

Tap water is generally not considered safe for drinking at many installations, even by local populace. However, many establishments have water filters/purifiers installed, in which case the water may be safe to drink. Packed drinking water (popularly called "mineral water" throughout India) is a better choice. Bisleri and Kinley among others are some of the more popular and safe brands. However, please check for whether the seal is intact or not as on some occasions, if the seal has been tampered, it could be nothing but purified tap water or worse, unfiltered water. On Indian Railways, a particular mineral water brand is generally available known as "Rail Neer", which is considered to be safe and pure.

Fruits that can be peeled such as apples and bananas, as well as packaged snacks are always a safe option. As is the practice with the native population, always wash the fruits and vegetables prior to cooking, with water. Municipality provided running tap water is generally considered safe to do so and this should not pose any later harm.

Diarrhea is common, and can have many different causes. Bring a standard first-aid kit, plus extra over-the-counter medicine for diarrhea and stomach upset. A rehydration kit can also be helpful. At the least, remember the salt/sugar/water ratio for oral rehydration: 1 tsp salt, 8 tsp sugar, for 1 litre of water. Most Indians will happily share their own advice for treatment of illnesses and other problems. A commonly recommended cure-all is to eat boiled rice and curd (yoghurt) together for 3 meals a day until you're better. Keep in mind that this is usually not sound medical advice. Indians have resistance to native bacteria and parasites that visitors do not have. If you have serious diarrhea for more than a day or two, it is best to visit a private hospital. Parasites are a common cause of diarrhea, and may not get better without treatment.

Malaria is endemic throughout India. CDC [62] states that risk exists in all areas, including the cities and at altitudes of less than 2000 metres in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu, Kashmir, and Sikkim. However, the risk of infection is considered to be low in the more touristy spots as these are attempted to be kept clean. Get expert advice on malaria preventatives, and take adequate precautions to prevent mosquito bites. You can choose to use a mosquito repellent when going outside (particularly advised in small towns and villages and relatively less necessary in bigger cities). When sleeping at night, you can use a mosquito net or an electronic mosquito repellent, depending upon the need and your convenience.

India is home to many venomous snakes. If bitten try to note the markings of the snake so that the snake can be identified and the correct antidote given. In any event, immediately seek medical care.

It is very important to stay away from the many stray dogs and cats in India, as India has a rabies problem. Unfortunately the stray dog problem is rife all over India in both the cities and even the main tourist beaches. If you are bitten it is extremely urgent to get to a hospital in a major urban area capable of dealing with Rabies. You can get treatment at any major hospital. It is very important to get the rabies vaccine after any contact with animals that includes contact with saliva or blood. Rabies vaccines only work if the full course is given prior to symptoms. The disease is invariably fatal otherwise. There's no known cure for rabies once infected - except an immediate vaccine. There were also unconfirmed sporadic reports that getting vaccinations and blood transfusions in low quality hospitals increases your risk of contracting HIV/AIDS- for e.g. in some government clinics. For people with asthma, it is advised to avoid visiting areas with high dust and pollution levels as a precautionary measure or instead use a mask.

As a thumb rule, it is considered safer to visit private hospitals or the larger (and more popular ones in cities) government hospitals in case of an emergency.

Get informed before getting a tattoo while in India! Tattoo parlours in India are unlicensed, so there is a risk of the tattoo artist not changing needles and thus putting you at risk of contracting HIV. Finally, there are a few travel clinics in India, that can be checked out by visiting the ISTM website [63] in the larger cities. Most CDC recommended vaccinations are available in many of these clinics in larger cities [64]. Large corporate hospital chains like Fortis, Max, Apollo and similar places are your best bet for emergency medical care in larger cities, and they have better hygiene and generally well trained doctors, many from even US & UK institutions.


In general, Indians are regarded as friendly and welcoming. Indians tend to be officious and inquisitive in a way that can be seen as rude, intrustive, and invasive in many parts of the world, but don't be offended by this as Indians don't mean to insult you in any way. Direct personal questions are commonly asked, and should not be taken in a negative light.

Social Etiquette

Kissing in India
India can trace kissing back thousands of years in its literature. Indeed, the well-known Kama Sutra has an entire chapter devoted to kissing. However, in most cultures of the subcontinent, kissing has traditionally been seen as part of sex, and in recent years many have unknowingly gotten into serious trouble for kissing, regardless of relationship or marriage or nationality. Kissing can lead to fines or even arrest. This is not a universal opinion, as many Indians find kissing acceptable, but common enough that avoiding kissing in public is a good idea while in India.

  • Never use profanity, even when someone does something that warrants it. Profanity makes you look bad in India so avoid it when you can.
  • Never raise your voice or lose your temper at someone. Even if someone is acting incredibly officious and nosy, it is commonly associated with "losing face" and it can seriously offend someone. If you must confront someone, do it behind closed doors and in a diplomatic way.
  • Never be offended if someone asks you direct personal questions. Questions about your personal life, such as your salary, your lifestyle and so on, are quite commonly asked and should not be taken as offensive or insulting. If you don't feel comfortable with such answers, simply give an indirect answer and move along. Outright telling someone that "it's none of your business" can be taken the wrong way as Indians are very sensitive to being beckoned directly.
  • Outside of the larger cities, it is unusual for people of the opposite sex to touch each other in public. Even couples (married or otherwise) refrain from public displays of affection. Therefore, it is advised that you do not shake hands with a person of the opposite sex unless the other person extends his/her hand first. The greeting among Indians and more so among Hindus is to bring your palms together in front of your chest and simply say 'Namaste', or 'Namaskar'. When speaking to Muslims, it is more likely to hear the opposite person say As salaamu alaykum, which is Arabic for Peace on you. Residents of Punjab and followers of Sikhism are equally likely to say Sat Sri Akaal and those from Tamil Nadu could be heard saying Vanakkam instead. That said, it is not necessary that the above mentioned forms of greeting are the only acceptable forms. Almost all the people (even if they don't know English) do understand a "Hi" or a "Hello". Kindly note, however, when unsure, that at least in cities, it is quite acceptable to offer a "Hello" or "Good Day" followed by a handshake, regardless of gender.
  • Smoking in any public place is illegal in India. But it is rarely enforced except in the Southern state of Kerala where police will fine you at the spot. Smoking is still considered a taboo when associated with women but things are slowly changing and one is more likely to spot a woman smoking in Indian cities today than ever before. Even in larger cities, it is becoming much more common to find women smoking outside offices, in universities, in pubs and discotheques than in most other places. Outside of large cities, probability of spotting a women smoking is rare and decreases sharply. Though in some rural areas women do smoke, but discreetly. Since ages, a woman who smokes/drinks was associated with loose moral character in much of the country's growing middle class(by both men and women) and this thought process has not yet disappeared completely, especially outside of major cities. Surprisingly, Indians are relatively more relaxed regarding women of foreign origin consuming liquor or smoking in public as compared to Indian women themselves.
  • Places such as Discos / Dance clubs are less-conservative areas. It is good to leave your things at a hotel and head down there for a drink and some light conversation. Only carry as much change as you think you would require since losing your wallet or I.D. means that you will waste a considerable time trying to get any kind of help in that regard.
  • People are fully-clothed even at the beach. There is no law prohibiting women from wearing bikinis. As with women smoking, wearing bikinis, especially by Indian women, was thought of to be completely unthinkable until some time back. This has begun to change with more media exposure but is still significantly prevalent somewhat and there is a clear difference between family beaches and tourist beaches. Most tourist beaches have bikinis as part of beach culture. So, be sure to find out what the appropriate attire is for the beach you are visiting. In some rare places like Goa, where the visitors to beach are predominantly foreigners, it is permissible to wear bikinis on the beach but it is still offensive to go about dressed in western swim wear away from the beach. There are a few beaches where women (mostly foreigners) sunbathe topless but make sure there it is safe and accepted before you do so. Clothing like shorts and modest versions of tank tops are more acceptable for a visit to the beach.
  • In local/suburban trains, there are usually cars reserved only for women and designated as such towards the front. This reserved car is usually (but not always) the third-to-last compartment.
  • In most buses (private and public) a few seats at the front of the bus are reserved for women, Usually these seats will be occupied by men and, very often, they vacate the place when a female stands near gesturing her intention to sit there. If you sit near a man, he may stand up from the seat and give the place to you; this is a sign of respect, NOT rudeness.
  • Travellers should be aware of the fact that Indians generally dress conservatively and should do the same. Shorts, short skirts (knee-length or above) and sleeveless shirts are frowned upon in smaller cities and rural areas, but are commonly accepted in large metros. Cover as much skin as possible. Both men and women should keep their shoulders covered. Women should wear baggy clothes that do not emphasize their contours. However, if you move to metropolitan cities, there is much more liberalism of wearing western outfits and skimpy clothes though still they may become a centre of stare from men. But they should avoid moving alone at night.
  • Keep in mind that Indians will consider themselves obliged to go out of the way to fulfil a guest's request and will insist very strongly that it is no inconvenience to do so, even if it is not true. This of course means that there is a reciprocal obligation on you as a guest to take extra care not to be a burden.
  • Bring a few spare coins from your home country - Indians often ask if you have any and they really appreciate it if you do! Pens are also often appreciated by school children.
  • Overseas visitors are often magnets for beggars. Begging is criminalized in cities such as Mumbai and Delhi. It is however common in many cities, and in pilgrim cities there are sadhus who live an ascetic life style of the seeker that requires them to adopt bhiksha-charya (begging vows) only for sustaining the body.

Dining Etiquette

It is customary to put up a token friendly argument with your host or any other member of the group when paying bills at restaurant or while making purchases. The etiquette for this is somewhat complicated. These rules do not apply if the host has made it clear beforehand that it is his or her treat, especially for some specific occasion.

  • In a business lunch or dinner, it is usually clear upfront who is supposed to pay, and there is no need to fight. But if you are someone's personal guest and they take you out to a restaurant, you should offer to pay anyway, and you should insist a lot. Sometimes these fights get a little funny, with each side trying to snatch the bill away from the other, all the time laughing politely. If you don't have experience in these things, chances are, you will lose the chance the first time, but in that case, make sure that you pay the next time. (and try to make sure that there is a next time.) Unless the bill amount is very large do not offer to share it, and only as a second resort after they have refused to let you pay it all.
  • The same rule applies when you are making a purchase. If you are purchasing something for yourself, your hosts might still offer to pay for it if the amount is not very high, and sometimes, even if it is. In this situation, unless the amount is very low, you should never lose the fight. (If the amount is in fact ridiculously low, say less than ₹10, then don't insult your hosts by putting up a fight.) Even if by chance you lose the fight to pay the shopkeeper, it is customary to practically thrust (in a nice way, of course) the money into your host's hands.

Indians are also keen on finishing everything they get and not wasting anything, down to the final grain of rice. While they don’t expect foreigners to do the same, not doing so and wasting significant amounts of food reinforces negative stereotypes of foreigners not being considerate of the inequality regarding nutrition in the world.

Religion and Superstitions

India is a secular nation, which guarantees religious freedom to all religions and their practice. This said, there are a few things worth bearing in mind when visiting India.

  • In mosques, churches and temples it is obligatory to take off your shoes. Not doing so is rude manners.
  • Books and written materials are treated with respect. In India, they are considered as physical forms of Saraswati, the Hindu Goddess of Wisdom. Touching a book/written material with ones feet or treating them poorly is considered very rude manners.
  • Currencies and items associated with wealth are treated with respect. In India, they are considered as physical forms of Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of Wealth. As much, it is wise to not mutilate or treat them poorly as it considered very rude manners.
  • Never touch anyone with your feet or your shoes. It is considered rude manners.
  • Avoid winking, whistling, pointing or beckoning with your fingers, and touching someone's ears. All of these are considered rude.
  • Do not confuse or conflate the Swatiska with Nazism or Anti-Semitism. The Swastika is commonly seen in India, as it is considered a religious symbol for Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Although the vast majority of Indians are unaware of its usage during World War II, conflating the symbol with the Nazi Party will not be appreciated or welcomed.

Things to avoid


  • Be cautious when discussing politics. Indians in general are ardently political, and politics is a very popular conversational subject amongst many Indians, including the older generation. Many Indians have a breadth of political opinions, including that of their own country. As a visitor, you'll be exposed to a breadth of political opinions both publicly and privately, even though most Indians often express frustration with the government. This said though, you could immediately be seen as uninformed if you do not follow Indian news closely. Don't hesitate to engage in political discussions, but it's worth mentioning that being a visitor puts you in a delicate position.
  • Do not insult or speak badly about the country or its culture. Indians in general have some very patriotic views of their nation, and would view any criticisms about their country with varying degrees of hostility. Making statements such as "India does not have a drainage system even when they have sent rockets to Mars" for instance will be met with offence. Most Indians are aware of their country's problems, and will defend against any outsider for doing so.


  • Do not inappropriately use or desecrate the Indian flag. Not only would you cause offence, but you can also risk a fine as it is considered a crime.
  • Do not mock or insult the national anthem or any local traditions. Indians are proud of their national symbols and would take such actions with serious offence.


  • Be very respectful when discussing religion. Religion plays a strong role in Indian society, and it is commonly used as a tool of political indoctrination. Some more conservative Indians may not be tolerant of other religions, and if you criticise or speak badly of their religion, it could result in harsh words, or at worst, violence.

Sensitive Issues:

  • Be very cautious when talking about Pakistan. The two countries have had a hostile, strained, often violent history, which has culminated in more than millions of deaths and refugees. Attempting to compliment or say anything that could be percieved as positive about Pakistan can evoke a strong response from some Indians. Don't be afraid to inquire about the Indo-Pakistan relationship, but bear in mind that it can result in a very heated, often emotional, conversation.
  • Be very respectful when talking about the Punjab Insurgency in Punjab (India). Although the worst of the insurgency has gone away, many people in Punjab, especially the Sikh community, have an incredibly emotional stance on the Punjab Insurgency as well as Operation Blue Star, widely regarded as one of India's most controversial military operations. . Jokes, even made innocently about the matter, is absolutely the wrong way of approaching the matter.
  • Steer clear of discussing issues in the North East. The North East has largely been isolated from the rest of India, and many residents there have endured a great degree of social problems such as racism and discrimination. Media coverage of the region is virtually non-existent, and many of the more well-aware Indians regard this as an incredibly embarrassing issue. Although much work has gone into integrating the region into the rest of the country, some North-Easterners may react with hostility and/or fierce debates depending on your views.
  • Avoid using terms like "Chinki" and/or "Chinese" in the North East. They are regarded as racial slurs, and many in the North East would find you ignorant if you use such terms.
  • Do not criticise or patronise someone for their profession or vocation. Someone’s occupation is usually an important part of one’s personal identity, and most Indians will react with big anger if you criticise their occupation or vocation.
  • Be very cautious when talking about the Kashmir conflict. Most Indians regard Kashmir as a part of India, and inquiries into the subject can be met with fierce, passionate, or even hostile debates depending on your views.
  • Take care about the food that you eat. Some Indians are intolerant of non-vegetarians and you may be met with puzzled looks and/or hostile comments. This form of hostility has often extended to the workplace and/or the local government, where groups often encourage the banning of non-vegetarian food. This is largely common around Central India, although people in the South, North, and North East do not mind as much.



The country code for India is 91. India is then divided into area codes, known locally as STD codes. See individual city guides for the area codes.

In acronym-happy India, a phone booth is known as a PCO (Public Call Office) and they usually offer STD/ISD (Subscriber Trunk Dialing/International Subscriber Dialing), or national and international long distance respectively. These are usually staffed, and you dial yourself but pay to the attendant after the call is over. Metering is done per pulse and a service charge of ₹2 is added to the bill. Larger cities also have Western-style unmanned public phones, which are usually red in colour and accept one rupee coins.

Local phone numbers can be anywhere from 5-8 digits long. But when the area code is included, all landline phone numbers in India are 10 digits long. Cellphone numbers usually start with '9' or '8'. The following table explains how to dial:

Calling from Price Syntax Example
Same STD code Local number 12345678
Cellphone Local STD code of the town you are in number 011-12345678
Cellphone STD to Cellphone number 012345678
Different STD code STD 0-area code-number 022-12345678
Overseas ISD +91-area code-number +91-22-12345678

Toll-free numbers start with 1-800 , but are usually operator-dependent: you can't call a BSNL/MTNL toll-free number from an Airtel landline, and vice versa. Often, the numbers may not work from your cellular phone. Other National Numbers that starts with 18xx or 19xx may attract special charges.

To dial outside the country from India, prefix the country code with 00. E.g a US number will be dialed as 00-1-555-555-5555. Calling the USA/Canada/UK over the normal telephone line will cost you about ₹7.20 per minute. Calls to other countries, particularly to the Middle East, can be more expensive.


India uses both GSM and CDMA and mobile phones are widely available, starting from ₹120 with ₹90 credit on the SIM. (4G networks are available in most of the cities.) Reliance Jio is providing free unlimited voice calling, 1.5 GB data/ day at ₹399 ($6.13) approx.daily validity 90 days. Major operators with India-wide networks include Bharti Airtel,Vodafone,BSNL,MTNL, Reliance Mobile (both GSM and CDMA),TATA DOCOMO (GSM),TATA Indicom(CDMA),Idea Cellular, Uninor,Aircel,MTS(CDMA), and Videocon Mobile. Not all operators have Pan-India operations but have tie-ups with other operators to provide pan-India coverage via roaming, though roaming charges are higher. You will not be able to use your mobile in Jammu & Kashmir since the local government does not allow any roaming and restricts foreigners from buying SIM cards there due to terrorism. Local calls could cost as little as ₹0.10 per minute (typically ₹0.50), although going to a different state within India is considered roaming and additional charges of ₹1-3/min for both incoming and outgoing calls may apply. International calls are comparatively cheap, with most destinations under ₹10/min, the same as you'd pay at a PCO booth.

Fully loaded prepaid starter kits are available for around ₹500 or less, including several hundred rupees of call time. Plain SIM cards are sold for as little as ₹10-15 while they are given out for free in many cases. You will need identification (including a photocopy of your visa and passport) and a passport size photo. Shops can often do this for you for a small fee. Some shops will also insist on a local address in India; try the next one if they're not accommodating, but usually a bill from your hotel is fine. The best option is always buying a SIM card from the phone company's own store, that way you can verify the SIM card is working and you have been allocated your credit before you leave. They may require a minimum tourist visa validity of 3 months which can be a problem for those on a 30 day Visa-On-Arrival visa, which you will have to try your luck on the smaller vendors who may not require your passport. Buying from smaller vendors will often mean a delay of a few hours to a few days before they call to get the SIM working, and you risk your SIM being cancelled if they never send in your identification paperwork. Several eBay stores sell activated Indian SIM cards at a surcharge that can be mailed to you before you depart; consider buying before you arrive to save the hassle.

Beware that talk time (unexpired minutes of talk time) and validity (the date that the SIM card expires) are considered separate and you have to keep both topped up, or otherwise you may find the ₹500 you just recharged disappearing in a puff of smoke when the one-month validity expires. Usually, when you extend the validity, you will also get extra minutes but you can buy minutes for less without extending the validity. Alternatively, if you are in India for a reasonably long time, you can buy a prepaid SIM with lifetime validity and then topup with talktime as per your needs. Please note that in most such cases, you will need to topup atleast once every six months to keep the SIM active. And the term lifetime is slightly misleading as it refers to the life of the license issued to the operator by the Government of India to provide mobile services. If the license is renewed, your services shall continue without any additional charges but if the license is not renewed, your lifetime SIM also becomes defunct. Licenses are awarded to operators for a period of 20 years.

Beware that whilst large telecommunications companies, such as Airtel are technically the same company throughout India, and your SIM card will work anywhere have reception or a partnership, their sales and support teams are often outsourced and franchised. Meaning a SIM bought in one state (even from an official store) does not only attract a roaming charge when used in other states, it will also mean that your support numbers will not work. For example, if you buy a SIM in Goa and something goes wrong whilst you are travelling in another state, local stores will not be able to help you, nor often will your support number that came with your SIM. They will simply tell you to go back to the state you bought it in for support, or give you other numbers to try and call back in your purchase state.

This also impacts recharging when you're outside the state you bought your SIM card. Due to local taxes and company pricing, recharge cards (or the amount people pay to get the same about of talk time) differs from state to state - even though your per minute call costs will be the same state to state. Take note of the recharge options and prices in the state that you originally bought your SIM, because as you move to other areas in India, the local recharge options vary and will not apply to you (they'll only apply to SIM's bought in that state). For example, if you bought your SIM in Goa and to get Rs100 talk time credited to your account, you actually paid Rs120 (Rs100 talk time + Rs20 local taxes), but then travelled to another state where they had a promotion where Rs100 talk time only costs Rs100, you are not eligible. You still have to pay the rates of where you bought your SIM, even if local signage says differently. The important thing to remember is that you always recharge based on where your SIM card is from, so take a note of the recharge options when you buy your SIM, and use them (not the local rates) to recharge. As an added complication, many local vendors do not like to recharge out of state SIM's (which they can tell from your number). This is because the way they recharge phones is by crediting a certain amount of rupees to your account, and then your carrier recognises the amount and transforms it into a service. For example Rs120 rupees may mean your account is recharged with Rs100 talk time, whereas Rs121 may mean you get a cricket SMS updates pack. Consequently, because local recharge shops do not know the prices to recharge in the state your SIM is from, they may not want to risk giving you something you do not want. The way to get around this is to, as mentioned, make a note of your recharge options when you buy your SIM and politely insist to local recharge merchants that you know that amount works. 2G and 3G Internet prices are usually the same from state to state, making this process slightly easier. Airtel and Vodafone seem to have the best reputation for 3G. Airtel gives you 2GB for Rs499 on a 3G only plan. Tata DoCoMo have a prepaid plan with unlimited 3G for Rs250, but their coverage is limited to a small number of cities. Be aware that no one company provide 3G in the whole country. It is best to choose the company that has 3G coverage in the state you will be traveling to or you will be stuck on 2G speed.


Internet kiosks are everywhere nowadays and they charge as low as as ₹10-20 per hour (the cost being a compromise for speed). Beware of using your credit cards online as many cases have come forward regarding credit card thefts using keyloggers. More reliable chains include Reliance World (formerly Reliance Web World) and Sify iWay.

Calling overseas is also very cheap if you use the many booths that advertise Net2Phone service. The quality ranges from tolerable to excellent, and the price is very good, with calls to the USA ranging from ₹2-5 per minute.

WiFi hotspots in India are, for the most part, limited. The major airports and stations do offer paid WiFi at around ₹60-100 an hour. Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai are the only cities with decent WiFi coverage.

Most internet users in India do not rely on WiFi too much. 4G data cards/USB modems are widely used, but some of these require signing contracts with operators and thus are not a practical option for short-term visitors without a residential address in India. The better companies such as Airtel (GSM) and Tata DoCoMo do not rent data cards, which means that you have to buy them outright. As per prepaid mobile phones, this is doable as long as you have copies of your ID and a hotel bill. Reliance charges Rs650 per month (1GB downloading free, Rs2/mb) for a data card/USB modem. The cheap price also means a 256 kbps connection, by the way. Airtel are one of the cheapest 3G (HSDPA) data (for phone or data card) providers, at 10GB (valid for a month) for Rs1250, 2GB for Rs499 and also much lower quantities. They have one of the largest networks with the best coverage, but the drawback is particularly poor customer support that often manages to make the problem worse. If you have a smartphone or a tablet, you can just get the SIM card and tether with your phone if you need to. Tata DoCoMo are even cheaper, with unlimited 3G for Rs. 250 - however, their coverage is not India-wide, so make sure you check. Most, if not all phone companies, offer free data roaming India-wide (i.e. between different states). You will need to enable this option on your smartphone.

Tourism Help Line

Ministry of Tourism, Government of India has started a 24X7 Incredible India Tourist Helpline: 1363 (Toll Free Line) (or) WhatsApp / SMS / Call @ +91-94900 69000 (Mobile)

Emergency Numbers

You should keep the emergency numbers handy while you are travelling in India.

100 - Police control room

102 - For ambulance

108 - Emergency help line

1091 - Women help line (works across India)

181 - Women help line ( Supposed to work across India)

103 - Women safety helpline (Mumbai only)

112 - The government of India is coming with a panic button in all phones bought in India post January 2017. If you are in trouble in India, dial 112 post January 2017. Otherwise you can dial the emergency numbers above to get connected to the police control room. Note that emergency numbers don't always work in India because of different states, different rules etc.

Private apps (emergency in India)

There are panic/emergency apps like ruly SOS through which you can find the contact number of the police station, nearest to wherever you are in India. It also sends an alert with your location and address to your emergency contacts. Covers 11,000+ police stations covered out of the total 15,000+ big police stations in India. Press the power button twice to activate.

Another app which sends alerts to your contacts is VithU

Health emergency apps like lybrate (to find the nearest ambulance, doctor), murgency and Practo (to get medical help immediately) could also be useful.

Also, since connectivity is not certain across all parts of the country, carrying maps offline on your phone is strongly recommended, while traveling across India.

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