India with its wide diversity, from snow-dusted mountains to sun-washed beaches, tranquil temples to feisty festivals and lantern-lit villages to metropolitan cities, is the second most populous country in the world.
Climate and Best Time to Travel
Climate plays a key factor in deciding when and which part of the country to visit in India. Climate in India varies greatly, from the arid deserts of Rajasthan to the cool highlands of Assam. But basically India has a three-season a year - summer, winter and monsoon. The heat starts to build up on the northern plains around February and by April it becomes unbearable - expect 35-45°C (95-113°F) days in most places. The first signs of the monsoon appear in May, with high humidity, short rainstorms and violent electrical storms. The monsoon rains begin around 1 June in the extreme south and sweep north to cover the whole country by early July. The monsoon doesn't really cool things off, but it's a great relief - especially to farmers. The main monsoon comes from the southwest, but the southeastern coast is affected by the short and surprisingly wet northeastern monsoon, which brings rain from mid-October to the end of December. The main monsoon ends around October, and India's northern cities become crisp at night in December.The best time to travel to India's southern states is from November onwards when the monsoon has ended. Whereas to travel north, June to September is the best time.
Getting Into India
Entering India by air or land is straightforward, with standard immigration and customs procedures.There are numerous international airways entering various regions of the country. Additionally, if you are doing a multi-country tour that includes Nepal and/or Bhutan, entering India via land is also very common.
A valid passport and a tourist visa required to enter India. It is wise to keep photocopies of your airline ticket and the identity and visa pages from your passport in case of emergency. You must get a visa before arriving in India and these are easily available at Indian missions worldwide.
It is recommended to obtain a multiple Entry Tourist Visa since this simplifies the procedure for visiting neighboring countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka. Some nationalities can obtain a 30-day visa on arrival. For longer trips, most people obtain a six-month tourist visa, valid from the date of issue. Indians holding foreign passports would also have to obtain an Indian Visa before entering India. Further information about how to apply can be found on the Indian High Commission website.
Foreign nationals arriving in India on long term multiple entry visas must register with the nearest Foreigners Regional Registration Officer within 14 days of arrival. Travelers must leave India on or before the expiration of their visa. The Indian government has relaxed the rules on re-entering the country while on a tourist visa. The previous rule of no re-entry on the same visa for 2 months after leaving India no longer applies to foreign nationals coming to India except in case of nationals of Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, Bangladesh, foreigners of Pakistan and Bangladesh origins and stateless persons. One needs transit visa to transit through India.
Access to certain parts of India – particularly disputed border areas – is controlled by a complicated permit system. A permit known as an Inner-Line Permit (ILP) is required to visit northern parts of Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim that lie close to the disputed border with China/Tibet. Obtaining the ILP is basically a formality, but travel agents must apply on your behalf for certain areas, including many trekking routes passing close to the border. ILPs are issued by regional magistrates and district commissioners, either directly to travellers (for free) or through travel agents (for a fee).
Entering the northeast states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram is much harder – tourists require a Restricted Area Permit (RAP), which must be arranged through Foreigners’ Regional Registration Offices (FRRO) offices. Ultimate permission comes from the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi, which is reluctant to issue permits to foreigners – without exception, your best chance of gaining a permit is to join an organised tour and let the travel agent make all the arrangements.
Even if you are fit and healthy, don’t travel without health insurance. Declare any existing medical conditions you have – the insurance company will check if your problem is pre-existing and will not cover you if it is undeclared. Be sure to that your policy covers all adventure activities in your trip, medical expenses, loss, theft, trip cancellation and evacuation.
The Indian rupee is divided into 100 paisa but paisa coins are rare. The Indian rupee is linked to a basket of currencies and its value is generally stable. Keep the stockpile of Rs 10, 20 and 50 notes since it is hard to find change for the bigger bills. Do not accept any filthy, ripped or disintegrating notes, as these may not be accepted as payment. Major currencies such as US dollars, UK pounds and euros are easy to change in most cities. A few banks also accept Australian, New Zealand and Canadian dollars and Swiss francs. Private money changers accept a wider range of currencies. Officially, you cannot take rupees out of India. You can change any leftover rupees back into foreign currency, most easily at the airport (some banks have a Rs 1000 minimum). Note that some airport banks will only change a minimum of Rs 1000. You may require encashment certificates or a credit-card receipt, and you may also have to show your passport and airline ticket.
ATMs:ATMs linked to international networks are common in most towns and cities in India. Modern 24-hour ATMs are found in most large towns and cities.
Credit Cards:You must present your passport whenever you change currency or travelers cheques. The most commonly accepted cards are Visa, Master and American Express card. Always carry cash or travellers cheques as backup and keep the emergency lost-and-stolen numbers for your credit cards in a safe place, separate from your cards, and report any loss or theft immediately.