India

Overview

India - colourful and vibrant, so mesmerizing, a land as diverse as its people....a mosaic of faiths, cultures, customs and languages that blend harmoniously to form a composite whole country. A treasury of art, architecture; philosophy, classical dances and music; the mesmerising Taj, the eternal Ganges, the Thar desert, the mighty Himalayas, tropical rainforests …the rich fauna‐ huge variety of birds, peacocks, Royal Bengal Tiger, lions… from grand forts, palaces and the golden sand of Rajasthan to the colonial past of Shimla and Darjeeling, from Tiger Reserves of North India to the scenic backwaters of Kerala and temples of architectural splendour, India is a vivid kaleidoscope of landscapes, magnificent historical sites and royal cities, misty mountain retreats, colourful people, rich cultures and festivities. Let us take you on a memorable journey through this colourful land of timeless civilization.

 

Destination Info

This information has been compiled for your reference in good faith but please use this only as a general guide. We advise you to check with relevant authorities with regard to the latest requirement for passport, visa, travel advisory, entry restrictions, health requirements, local currency etc as these are subjected to change with without prior notice and our information given below may not be as updated.

 

Best time to go: Weather in plains of North India experience a generally pleasant weather from mid-September till mid-April and then gets warm. Hilly areas of the north and east India have cooler climes throughout the year. South and west India are moderate year-round. Tourist season for north generally slows down due to warm weather when temperature in plain regions can go up to 45 degrees Celsius (May-August). 

Marigold flowers are used as decoration for Hindu marriages and are a symbol of good fortune and happiness

Visa: New Zealanders require a visa to enter in India. With effect from 01 Nov 2014, New Zealand passport holders can apply online for e-Tourist Visa, which is granted within 72 hours and sent to you on email. This facilitates your Visa on arrival without any delay. The e-Tourist Visa is a single entry visa and is valid for a 60 day stay on arrival at Indian Airports at a cost of USD 60 per person along with a passport sized photo. You can also apply for Visa in advance with High Commission in NZ. Indian Visa application normally takes about 15 working days to process and cost is NZD225 for a Double Entry, 60 day visa. Please apply for a multiple entry visa if you have to re-enter India after visiting Nepal or Sri Lanka (please contact Indian High Commission directly for more information).

The only country in the world that has a Bill of Rights for Cows is India?

Currency: Indian currency is Rupee which comprises of 100 paisa. Currency notes are in the denominations of 5,10,50,100, 500 Rupees. You can change foreign currency cash or travelers cheques at your hotel and authorized money changers in the cities. Hotels are most reliable and they will give you the official rate of exchange of that particular day, without any extra fee. Please retain the money exchange receipt as you will need this to change remaining Rupees back in foreign currency. Please take US Dollars with you as very few Hotels change NZ Dollars. Bringing in or taking out Indian currency is illegal as Indian Rupee is not a convertible currency internationally as yet. Please do not accept any torn or mutilated currency notes as it will be difficult for you to get rid of them.

More than a million Indians are millionaires, yet most Indians live on less than two dollars a day. An estimated 35% of India’s population lives below the poverty line

Health: Conditions in India are a little different from here and you need to be prepared in advance for a comfortable trip. There are general hygiene-related illnesses which can be prevented with slight caution. Though there is no need to take any precautionary vaccinations, it is advisable to consult your doctor well in advance as you will experience major change in climate, environment, food and water and general hygienic conditions. Your doctor will be able to help you prepare better.

Many Indians find toilet paper repellent and consider it cleaner to splash water with the left hand in the appropriate direction. Consequently, the left hand is considered unclean and is never used for eating.

Food and drinks: There is a fabulous variety in Indian cuisine – it varies in different parts of India. Most popular dishes are the Punjabi and Mughlai dishes from the North and Vindaloo from Goa. Food is excellent in India but avoid eating at roadside joints where hygienic conditions are below acceptable levels. Mineral water is recommended but please ensure that it’s properly sealed before you buy it. Popular alcoholic beverage is beer and there is a huge variety of quality beer produced in India. You could try any premium Indian Whisky or Rum as well.

India is the world's largest mango producer?

Safety & security: Like in any other part of the world, a few precautions need to be taken to avoid any problems. Please do not leave your bags unattended at any times. Please use safe deposit in your hotel room or Reception to keep your money or valuables including passport. When you leave the room, it is recommended that you lock your suitcase. It is also recommended to carry a copy of your passport including the visa page.

Chess was invented in India

Clothing: You can dress up casually. Shorts and t-shirts are absolutely fine but considering that India is still a bit conservative, revealing dresses should be avoided in public areas. In certain cities, you may visit a mosque or a temple where you will be required to cover your shoulders and knees. During winter months, it can get cold in north India and you should carry woollens and jacket (for morning and evening hours). Please prepare yourself as per the region you are going to visit. Please take good walking shoes with non-slip sole as you will be required to walk frequently during your sightseeing programs and sometimes on uneven surface.

The game of Snakes and Ladders also originated in India, with the lesson being of virtue vs. vices.

Language: India has 16 official languages and over 1500 dialects but English is common to all states of India. Most people in India understand English and majority of people in cities can converse in English. You will have no problem interacting with people at any time as you will find things at ease with no language barriers.  

India is the largest English speaking nation in the world.

Gratuities: Tipping is not mandatory but it is highly appreciated by the people who serve you. Before you tip, please check if the service charge has been added. Some suggested guidelines could be : Rs 15-20 per piece of luggage on arrival or departure at Hotel; 8%-10% of the total bill for your lunch or dinner (provided Service Charge is not included). No tip required for taxi driver but you could give Rs 250 per half day each to your car driver as well as local guide.

The world's highest cricket ground is in Chail, Himachal Pradesh. Built in 1893 after levelling a hilltop, this cricket pitch is 2444 meters above sea level.

Airport tax: Generally your international air ticket should include airport tax on international departure. 

Baggage Allowance: All domestic airlines in India have a strict baggage allowance of 15 kilos and hand bags upto 7 kilos per person. All excess have to be paid directly by the passengers directly to the airlines.

Internet: Internet is common in hotel rooms and a lot of hotels also have internet facilities at their Reception or Business Centre for use by guests at a small fee. Cyber cafes are popular but you will find them crowded.

The biggest ant in India is about an inch?

 Telephone: India has a dialling code of +91 from New Zealand. Telephone numbers of Hotels arranged by us will be supplied to you in your itinerary. While calling New Zealand from India, you will need to dial +64… Calling Booths (or PCOs) are easily available and calling New Zealand is cheap; however calls made from Hotels are almost 8-10 times more expensive. You also have to pay a charge to the Hotel for collect calls also.

India is the world's number one producer of vegetarian cheese?

Time Difference: India is 6h30m behind New Zealand from April to September and 7h30m from October to March.

All of India is under a single time zone

Photography: Taking photos of airports, government buildings and military establishments are prohibited. If you are taking photos of local ladies, please politely ask for prior permission.

The first bathrooms is said to have been built in India about 4500 years ago?

Electricity: Voltage supply in India is 220 volts and 2-pin or 3-pin (round pins) are used in India. Few Hotels have adapters available which you could borrow free of charge during your stay but it might be a good idea to carry one from home. Please visit this website for more information on plugs : http://kropla.com/electric2.htm

India has never invaded any country in her last 10,000 year history.

Postage: Sending letters and post-cards from India is cheap. Post offices and letter boxes are conveniently located in each city but the Concierge at Hotels keep stamps and they can post the letters/cards for you at no extra charge.

India has the largest number of Post Offices in the world.

General: Usual business hours are from 9.00 am till 5.30 pm and offices generally close for lunch between 12.30 pm till 1.30 pm. Shops usually open till late even on public holidays. India is a shopper’s paradise. From roadside shops to huge modern malls, from a common store to a branded shop, India is full of shopping opportunities. Bargaining is not encouraged in malls but you can surely do that in supermarkets, stores, or roadside shops. India is particularly famous for carpets, jewellery, silk and cotton cloth material, marble works, precious and semi-precious stones and antiques.

In most cities and specially at monuments, you will be approached by beggars, sometimes ladies carrying small babies or physically handicapped people – please avoid giving anything to these people as giving them money encourages them not to give up begging. If you wish to donate something for poor and deserving people, our local agents can recommend a few voluntary and charitable organizations who are always in need of financial help. 

Though entrance fees at monuments are included in all our packages, you may be required to pay a small fee directly for your camera (still/digital or video).

 

India has the world’s largest movie industry, based in the city of Mumbai (known as the “City of Dreams”). The B in “Bollywood” comes from Bombay, the former name for Mumbai.

 

Cities of interest: 

 

Delhi Delhi is India's main point of arrival for overseas visitors, and the major transport hub for destinations in the states of north as well as central India. Delhi city, the showcase of India, has been the centre of political activity from time immemorial. The ancient fortresses, majestic buildings and historic ruins find their modern counterparts in the tall skyscrapers, diplomatic enclaves and well-planned townships of New Delhi. The people here, their lifestyles, traditions and even the climate are a rich and varied mixture of all that is India.

Agra Agra is globally renowned as the city of the Taj Mahal. But this royal Mughal city has, in addition to the legendary Taj, many monuments that epitomize the high point of Mughal architecture. In the Mughal period, in the 16th and 17th centuries, Agra was the capital of India. It was here that the founder of the dynasty, Babar, laid out the first formal Persian garden on the banks of the river Yamuna. Here, Akbar, his grandson raised the towering ramparts of the great Red Fort. Within its walls, Jehangir built rose-red palaces, courts and gardens, and Shahjahan embellished it with marble mosques, palaces and pavilions of gem-inlaid white marble.  The crowning glory of the city is obviously the Taj, a monument of love and imagination that represents India to the world.

Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to mankind, consolidated Ayurveda 2500 years ago.

Jaipur Jaipur, popularly known as the Pink City, is the capital of the state of Rajasthan. It has, long been established, on tourist itineraries as the third corner of India's Golden Triangle with Delhi and Agra at other ends. The old city of Jaipur is partially encircled with seven gates - the major gates are Chandpol, Sanganeri, and Ajmeri. Hawa Mahal or Palace of the Winds, is one of the major landmarks of Jaipur. This five storey building, which looks out over the main street of the old city, is a stunning example of Rajput artistry, with its pink semi-octagonal and delicately honeycombed sandstone windows. City Palace occupies a large area, divided into a series of courtyards, gardens, and buildings. The outer wall was built by Maharaja Jai Singh II, but other additions are much more recent, some dating back to the beginning of this century. The palace is a wonderful blend of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture, a major tourist attraction. Jantar Mantar, an observatory begun by Jai Singh in 1728. Jai Singh's passion for astronomy was even more notable, than his prowess as a warrior. The Jaipur observatory is the largest, and the best preserved of the five observatories he built.

Jodhpur Nestling within the depths of the Thar Desert, is the stronghold of the Rathore clan - Jodhpur, once the capital of the former princely state of Marwar, the second largest city of Rajasthan, after Jaipur . The town was once known as Marwar, which means 'Land of Death', probably, referring to the harsh desert climate. It is an island of marble palaces, cordoned off from the desert by an immense wall, with eight gates facing different directions.

India was the richest county till the time of British rule in the early 17th Century. Christopher Columbus, attracted by India's wealth, had come looking for a sea route to India when he discovered America by mistake.

Jaisalmer Jaisalmer is one of Rajasthan's most alluring cities, deep in the heart of Thar Desert, abounds in ancient palaces, temples and quaint settlements. As the sun sets, the sandstone buildings emit a lustrous glow that makes Jaisalmer the "Golden City". Founded by Rawal Jaisal in 1156 A.D., the remote location of Jaisalmer, kept it almost untouched by outside influences, even during the days of the British Raj.

Udaipur There is no place in India which appeals more to the imagination of poets and painters, travellers and writers than Udaipur, the lovely lake side capital of Mewar. The city's inherent romance and beauty, and its remarkable past, bristling with episodes of heroism and splendour, continue to enthrall the visitor. Udaipur, the City of Dawn, looms up like a vision in white surrounded by hills and mountains, and set on the edge of three lakes, which give on to a fertile plain, it is bewitching in all its details - narrow streets lined by vivid coloured stalls, gardens, temples and palaces - every feature mirrored in the placid blue waters of lake Pichhola.
 

Yoga has its origins in India and has existed for over 5,000 years.

Varanasi Varanasi, known to the devout as Kashi, is said to have been founded by Shiva, Lord of the Universe. One of the oldest living cities in the world, as also one of the most important pilgrimage sites in India, Varanasi is a major tourist attraction. Situated on the banks of the sacred Ganges, the city has been a centre of learning and civilization for over 2000 years. Varanasi's principal attraction is the long string of ghats, which line the west bank of the Ganges. Ghats are the steps which lead down to the river. There are around 100 ghats in Varanasi, each with its own significance.

Khajuraho Khajuraho is well known for its magnificent temples, were built between 950 and 1050 A.D. Khajuraho derives its name from the Khajur tree (the date palm tree) which can be found in abundance in the area. The divine sculptures in these temples, are a tribute to Life itself, embodying everything that is sublime and spontaneous about it. The murals depict the life and times of the Chandelas, and celebrate the erotic state of being. They not only testify to the mastery of the craftsman, but also to the extraordinary breadth of vision of the Chandela Rajputs under whose reign, these temples were constructed.

Indian Railways, probably world's single largest employer with 1.6 million employees, runs 14,300 trains daily on 63,028 kms tracks

Amritsar It is the home of the world famous Golden Temple founded by Guru Ramdas, the fourth Guru of the Sikhs, in the year 1579. Amritsar is the most important seat of Sikh history and culture, trade, and also, the gateway for travelers coming to India, on the overland route through Pakistan. The construction of Golden Temple was completed in late sixteenth century. It was rebuilt by the Sikh ruler, Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1803. One can also visit Jallianwala Bagh, a poignant memorial of the Freedom Movement. This garden was the site of a brutal massacre of over 2000 innocent unarmed people, on the orders of a British General on April 13, 1919. The bullet scarred walls of the well-kept garden, enclose a memorial with an eternal flame, dedicated to the martyrs.

Chandigarh Chandigarh, designed by the French architect Le Corbusier, is the capital of the Indian states of Punjab and Haryana. Though Shimla was chosen as temporary headquarters, the need for a permanent capital resulted in the birth of a new city at the foothills of the Shivalik hills. Rock garden, a famous tourist spot, is an architectural wonder, covering an area of 6 acres. It was built by Nekchand Saini, with multi-coloured pieces of stones and other discarded objects. Sukhna Lake is an artificial lake, spread over an area of 3 sq. kms. Boating facilities are available here, and walking around the perimeter of the lake is a very refreshing experience. Museum-cum-Art Gallery is another marvellous place to see. It houses an extensive range of paintings and sculptures by contemporary Indian artists, as well as a collection of old Indian miniatures of the Mughal, Kangra and Rajasthani School.

Shimla Shimla was the most important British hill resort, prior to India's independence. It is named after its patron goddess, Shamla Devi, a manifestation of Kali. Shimla, located at an altitude of 7,267 feet, is inhabited around a crescent - shaped ridge, which is blessed with perennially cool air and amazing views. It provides superb panoramic sights of the valleys, and the lofty peaks of the great Himalayan range, on both sides.

Before 1986, India was the only place in the world where Diamonds could be found.

Goa Goa with 131 km long coastline is set on the golden Konkan coast, on the Western Ghats, along the Arabian Sea. This small former Portuguese enclave is one of India's most dazzling tourist mosaics. Goa deserves every bit of the sobriquet 'The Pearl of the East'. The name Goa is derived from the Konkani word 'Goyan', which means a patch of tall grass. has some fine beaches – Calangute, Baga among the most popular ones. Stroll along in the morning, as the brilliant rays of the rising sun fall upon the sea, and you wouldn't know the difference between the sea and the sands. Watch fishermen taking in the morning's catch. You can stay here in any one of the many resorts and hotels that dot the beach, or you can spend your vacation with one of the families, which own houses near the beach.

India has got a long coastline of 7,000 kilometers.

Cochin Cochin set on a cluster of islands and narrow peninsulas, the port city reflects the eclecticism of Kerala perfectly. With a rich past and a bustling present, it has been the business hub of the region from the very early days. Cochin consists of mainland Ernakulam, the islands of Willington, Bolgatty and Gundu in the harbour, Fort Cochin and Mattancherry on the southern peninsula, and Vypeen Island north of Fort Cochin, all linked by ferry.

Chennai Chennai, also known as Madras, the capital of Tamil Nadu, is the country's fourth largest city. Compared to the other major metros of India, it is far less congested and polluted. Chennai was the site of the first settlement of the East India Company. It was founded in 1639, on a piece of land given by the Raja of Chandragiri, the last representative of the Vijayanagar rulers of Hampi. Chennai is a vibrant city that has managed to strike a beautiful balance between the modern and the traditional, a metropolis with a distinct old-world charm.

Darjeeling Darjeeling, centre of India's most celebrated tea growing district, has possibly the most picturesque views among all Indian hill resorts. Outside the monsoon season (June to September), the views across the snowy peak of Kanchenjunga and other mountains down to the swollen rivers in the valley are, simply magnificent. Tiger Hill is the highest spot in the area at a height of 2590 metres, about 11 km from Darjeeling. The hill is famous for its magnificent dawn view over the Kanchenjunga peak. Ghoom Buddhist Monastery is the most famous monastery in Darjeeling and is about eight km from town. .

Gangtok Gangtok is one of the important and scenic hill-stations of the country. In Gangtok you can see a smooth blend of both tradition and modernity. Located at an altitude of 1547 m above sea level, Gangtok houses some of the important Buddhist religious sites too. The existence of the peaceful Chortens or Stupas, old monasteries and the un-spoilt natural beauty of Gangtok offers you a truly unique travelling experience.

 

 

 

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