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Facts

Population

1,210,200,000

Capital City

New Delhi

Language

Hindi

Plug types

Voltage: 230V, Frequency: 50Hz

Religion

Hindu

Currency

Rupee (INR) exchange rates

Timezone

UTC +5:30 hours

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  • What to expect

    First time visitors to India are usually struck by the chaotic and fast-paced nature of daily life. Traffic, over-crowding, noise and colour are often a traveller’s first impressions of India as they arrive in the busy hubs of Delhi or Mumbai. With time, each of these fast-developing and modern cities will share their unique culture. Leaving the cities and heading out into rural areas is likely to reveal an entirely different side to India, and we suggest you draw on our experience to design your itinerary accordingly. A deeper exploration of this incredibly diverse country will reveal an incredible array of culture, history, wildlife and scenery - stark desert vistas, ancient cobbled and fortified towns, majestic mountain ranges, spectacular religious sites, verdant jungle backwaters, traditional villages and endless beaches. It is this wild diversity in terms of geography, culture and history which draw visitors back to India again and again.

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Flight times

From Perth

approximately 13 hours

From Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne

approximately 17 hours

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Events

Indian festivals and holidays can be a highlight of your holiday, but may also involve possible disruptions to travel plans, and significant crowds at popular tourist sites. In addition to those events listed below, there are many regional pilgrimages, and events like the Kumbh Mela, that only occur every few years.

Banks, public offices and some tourist sites are usually closed on public holidays. Some events are set according to the lunar calendar, so dates vary. Please check with our Australia-based Asia specialists for details.

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  • 26 January

    , Republic Day. In Delhi there is a military parade. Road closures could lead to delays.

  • February/March

    , Holi. This major Hindu festival is celebrated throughout the country by throwing coloured water and powder. Don’t wear your best clothes!

  • August/September

    , Bakrid (end of Ramadan). Monuments remain open.

  • 15 August

    , Independence Day. The Red Fort in Delhi is closed to visitors for two weeks prior.

  • 2 October

    , Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday.

  • October

    , Dussehra. A Hindu festival that celebrates the defeat of the demon king by Lord Rama. Most tourist sites remain open.

  • October/November

    , Diwali. The five-day ‘festival of lights’ is one of the most important festivals of the year. A time of gift-giving and fireworks.

  • Health & Fitness

    Travellers to India should take precautions as they would elsewhere in Asia. Western medical facilities are available in the major cities. In remote areas of India, medical facilities are basic. Some of the diseases known to exist in India include hepatitis A and B, typhoid, tuberculosis, Japanese encephalitis, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, rabies and HIV/AIDS. We recommend you take adequate preventative measures to minimise your risk of exposure to these health risks. You should also consult your doctor with regard to malaria risk.

    We are a travel company and we are not qualified to provide detailed medical information appropriate to your individual needs; it is recommended you consult with your local doctor or a specialist travel medical centre for current health information on vaccinations and medicine for your trip at least one month prior to departure.

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  • Visa Information

    All foreign tourists to India, except nationals of Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, must possess a valid visa.

    To apply online you will need the following: A passport that is valid for six months beyond your return date from India, and has at least two blank pages. An outline of your travel plans. Dates and main destinations should be enough.

    After completion of the above you will be sent your approval, which must be printed and carried for presentation both at airport check-in and also at the Tourist Visa on Arrival counter when you arrive in India. Remember to print and carry this with you or you could face extensive delays.

    Note: Indian visa regulations are subject to change. We strongly advise that you check with the Indian embassy or consulate closest to you prior to travel. It is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct visa.

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  • Safety and security

    India is generally a safe country; however petty street crime does occur especially in some cities. In larger cities we recommend you wear as little jewellery as possible and make sure your spending money is kept in a secure place close to your body. We also recommend you take official taxis rather than walk at night in poorly lit or quieter areas of towns and cities.

    Streets in Indian cities are often poorly lit so we recommend you travel by taxi at night rather walk. Taxis are mostly metered and inexpensive, but make sure the driver activates the meter and is clear on your destination - carry a hotel card so your taxi driver knows where to take you. Only take essentials out with you on the streets.

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Reading

 

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  • India: A History by John Keay

    chronicles five thousand years of South Asian history, including insights from a range of scholars on the area's people, culture and religions.

  • Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah MacDonald

    is an entertaining account of an Australian radio personality's two year stint living in India, and her exploration of the country and its many and varied religions.

  • A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

    is a novel set in Indian in the mid-1970s, following four people whose lives become intertwined during a period of political upheaval.

  • A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

    is an epic love story - a tale of life and love involving four extended families set in the early 1950s in newly independent India.

  • Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

    is an account of the author's escape from prison in Australia and subsequent ten years on the run, living in Mumbai. From gun running and working for the Bombay mafia to acting in Bollywood films, this is an extraordinary tale of a man's life on the edge of society.

  • God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

    is a fictional account of a family living in Kerala, focussing on the lives of young twins and their childhood amongst a sometimes turbulent backdrop.

Useful words & phrases

  • Hello (or hi)

    Namaste

  • How are you?

    Ap kaise hain?

  • Thank you

    Dhanyavad

  • What is your name?

    Aapka naam Kya Hai?

  • My name is…

    Mera nam...Hai

  • Where do you come from?

    Kahan se aate hain?

  • I come from...(male/female)

    Main...se aa rahaa/rahiihun

  • How much is this?

    Iskaa daam kyaa hai?

  • Expensive!

    Mehngaa!

  • No

    Nahin

  • Yes

    Haan

  • I'm sony

    Mujhe maaf kiijiiye

  • Getting around

    Arrival and departure transfers

    Arrival transfer:Arrival (and departure) transfers are included for all Small Group Journeys. For private tours you will need to book an arrival and departure transfer unless taking a tour which includes these. For those travellers with a transfer, on arrival in India, you will find a representative from Insider Journeys waiting to meet you as you exit the customs area after collecting your luggage.

    Road: Our standard vehicles for private touring are late model sedans, often Ford or Suzuki. For larger groups including our Small Group Journeys vehicle size and type will depend on group size but are generally in 15 to 30 seater mini buses or small coaches.

    Air: There is an extensive domestic flight network in India today and a wide choice of carriers using generally modern fleets.

    Train: India has a famous and extensive rail network reaching into many of the most remote parts of the subcontinent. However conditions on board vary significantly depending on the line and the train itself.

    Other: Boats, camels, bicycles, auto-rickshaws and your feet.

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  • Internet

    Internet: Wifi is available in most hotels but there is an unfortunate tendency for hotels in India to overcharge for this service and it can be expensive.

    Phone: SIM cards can be purchased at airports and in some shopping centres, but requirements for foreign passport holders may vary and this can be time-consuming and bureaucratic. Although you may choose to unlock your mobile phone for global roaming, you should check charges for this service carefully before leaving home or online, as charges are often exorbitant.

    Mail: International post generally takes ten to fourteen days to reach its destination and prices are less than Western postal prices.

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  • Food & drink

    Indian food incorporates a number of styles and each region specialises in its own cuisine. Breakfast is included each day on our Small Group Journeys and is usually a mix of buffet and continental style. In rural restaurants, food hygiene is not always up to international standards and in smaller towns or remote areas your hotel may be the only recommended option for eating.

    Drinking local tap water is not recommended. Bottled water is cheap and readily available throughout India, and provided free in some (not all) hotels and also in our vehicles on private travel itineraries.

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  • Tipping

    If you are happy with the services provided by your local guides, drivers and your tour leader, a tip is appropriate and appreciated. While it may not be customary to you, tipping inspires great service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across Asia. India has a strong tipping culture amongst the local people and small amounts of around 50 Rupees per person is generally appropriate for one-off assistance with luggage, or other forms of ad hoc service.

    Please note that all of our Small Group Journey prices now include tipping of porters, boat operators, safari guides and any other local service providers used throughout your trip.

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  • Swimming

    Most four and five star hotels have swimming pools, and many of our Small Group Journey hotels feature these, especially outside of the major cities. Please note that modesty even around swimming pools is much appreciated in India.

    For those visiting south India and especially the coastal states of Goa and Kerala, many beach areas do offer swimming opportunities. However please be very careful about local swimming conditions as most beaches are not properly patrolled and undertows, rips or other dangerous currents may exist.

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  • Responsible travel

    Insider Journeys practices a thorough, realistic responsible travel policy. We believe that travel should entail an exchange of knowledge and perspectives, a sharing of wealth, and a genuine appreciation of Asia’s beautiful natural environments. This philosophy underpins the heart and soul of our style of travel. It drives all that we strive to deliver to our travellers, and shapes the contact we have with our supplier colleagues in Asia. We recognise that poorly planned itineraries or poorly informed tourists contribute less to cross-cultural understanding and less to the livelihoods of local people. We also recognise that we largely work in a developing part of the world.

    Read more about our responsible travel policies in India and the rest of Asia.

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