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Geographical Location & Climate

Located in the South of Asia, India is bordered by the Arabian Sea to its west and the Bay of Bengal to the east. India's sheer size means the country has a varied climate and terrain, stretching from the Himalayas in the north, to deserts in the West, plains in the Central region, and plateaus in the South, about 7,500 km long coastal line and rain-fed tropical forests.

There are distinct seasons in India but the intensity of seasonal variations in the weather differs from region to region. The subcontinent has eight climatic zones. Although monsoon rains are common to all areas, the wet season occurs at different times across the country. In general, the mountainous regions to the north have the most distinctive seasons, while the plains to the south are dry and hot, and the coastal regions enjoy a relatively moderate climate year round.

Summer lasts from April to the middle of June, when temperatures rise to over 40 degrees centigrade in many parts of northern and central India. December, January and February are the coldest months, when temperatures drop to near zero in northern India -- the south rarely experiences temperatures below 10 degrees centigrade. For more details, refer to

Shopping

India's diverse culture and traditions have resulted in making each part of the country a unique shopper's paradise. Different regions of India specialize in different kinds of items. Each item is unique to the place where it is made and in many cases enjoys a strong historical bonding. Indian textiles have been a much sought-after item from ancient days and a variety of rich fabrics are available all over the country. Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh is famous for chicken work and Banaras for banarsi sarees, Kashmir for embroidery in woolens, Gujrat for cotton fabrics, and south India for silk and chiffons. Ready-made clothes in these fabrics are also widely available.

One can buy traditional jewellery from Rajasthan, exquisite pashmina and woollen shawls from Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir, stone sculpture from Orissa, bronze from Uttar Pradesh, leather goods from Chennai.

Other popular shopping items from India include carpets, precious stones, brassware, tribal art, inlaid stoneware, leather items, and woodcarvings.

The range of handicrafts, handlooms, fabrics, jewellery, and antiques, available in India at affordable prices are truly the India's gift to its visitors. Government-owned shops or emporia in large cities also stock high quality handicrafts at fixed price. Tourists can venture into a whole variety of stalls and little shops surrounding most tourist destinations and bargain for the best deals.

In addition, one can get a host of consumer durables and non-durables made in India and abroad. A number of international brands have their presence in India and some have their manufacturing plants in India too.

Leisure Activities

India presents a spectrum of leisure activities, right from indulging in some invigorating sports to participating in cultural activities. To get the real taste of India one should seek out the auditoriums and theatres, which host a variety of cultural programmes, plays as well as Indian dance and music. The famous Indian classical dances are Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi. Similarly, Indian classical music combines different elements of nature and sounds, rendered by instrumentalists and vocalists with unique interpretations.

India also offers a wide range of adventure sports for tourists. Trekking and Skiing in the Himalayas, White Water Rafting on the Ganges and Beas, Camel and Jeep safaris in the deserts of Rajasthan, Paragliding in Himachal, Watersports in Goa and Scuba Diving in Lakshadweep and Andaman are just some of the options available to the adventure seeking tourists. In addition facilities for squash, tennis, snooker, bowling alleys, golf, swimming and workouts are easily available.

With the advent of cable television and Internet one can be connected to the entire world. Internet parlors are available across the country with high-speed data access. Various international channels, including Hong Kong-based Star TV, BBC, CNN, Discovery, National Geographic, and CNBC are accessible in India.

Palace on Wheels

Where else can you relax in comfort & witness the history of India passing by.

It's a journey worthy of kings. No wonder the experience is labelled the Palace on Wheels. With its cream saloons, embellished with intricate designs, the train chugs through Rajasthan on a journey to the former royal kingdoms of this state. These were once ruled by kings whose presence lingers on in forbidding fortresses and fairytale palaces, now converted into museums, hotels, and restaurants, where retainers serve truly royal repasts.

The 14 coaches of the Palace on Wheels are named after former Rajput states. Each evokes visions of those royal kingdoms. The names are romantic, mesmerizing... Kota, Jaipur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Alwar, Sirohi, Kishangarh, Bundi, Dungarpur, Bharatpur, Jhalawar, and Dholpur. It has been rated one of the ten most luxurious train journeys in the world. The train passes through places like Delhi, Jaipur, Udaipur, and Jaiselmer.

For bookings, you may refer to

Tourist Attractions

India's rich and diverse natural, cultural, and religious heritage provides a unique opportunity for tourism. Business travellers will find a slice of India's history within easy access of most cities. Ranging from prehistoric Vedic India to glorious middle India to refined Mughal India, the architecture of its temples, palaces, and forts, the grandeur of its sculptures and rock-cut buildings, the beauty of its paintings and miniatures all offer an unparalleled experience. Scenic diversities and natural wonders abound, from the majesty of the snow-bound Himalayas to the stark beauty of the Rajasthan deserts, from the gentle tea-estates of Eastern India to the lush tropics of the South, from the exquisite beaches of Goa to the rugged terrain of the central plateau. For the interested traveller, the immensely varied geography can provide for every taste, every need.

The renowned Taj Mahal in Agra, one of the 'Wonders of the World', has become a symbol of eternal love and is an imperative for the first-time visitor to India. A magnificent yet intricately delicate composition in marble, its beauty captivates and enthralls immediately. The impressive Agra Fort and nearby Fatehpur Sikri add to the attractions of Agra.

The Himalayas in the north are endowed with some of the most beautiful hill stations in the world. Escapes for the British rulers from the summer heat, these little towns, such as Chamba, Dalhousie, and Darjeeling, still retain some of that old-world charm. The pretty valleys of Kullu and gushing mountain rivers provide rare opportunities for trekking, white-water rafting, skiing, or adventure sports amid splendorous mountain vistas. For the historically-inclined, ancient temples and monasteries are to be found along traditional trade routes to Central Asia.

Rajasthan, the desert State in the west, with its rich heritage of majestic forts, imposing palaces and historic temples, is an immensely popular tourist destination. Its colourful people and crafts enrich the arid desert landscape. Camel rides and camping in the dunes offer a romantic escapade. Jaipur better known as 'Pink City' of India and also the capital of Rajasthan, is famous for its Forts and Palaces. One can visit Amber Fort ,Jaigarh Fort, City Palace and Hawa Mahal in Jaipur reflecting India's rich cultural heritage.

Goa, situated along the Arabian Sea, is a prominent beach resort and offers a perfect fusion of East and West. The erstwhile Portuguese colony still reflects the unique cuisine and beautiful cathedrals of its earlier masters, while the laid-back atmosphere on the beaches provides the ultimate relaxation.

South India offers beautiful beaches, palaces, traditional temples, and places of pilgrimage. Kerala on the Arabian Sea has become a centre for traditional medicine, massage, and relaxing spas, while a few days aboard a houseboat on its serene backwaters offer an ideal calming experience.

The states of West Bengal, Assam and Sikkim in the East are endowed with beautiful hill stations, tea gardens, and wildlife sanctuaries. Many of these States have base points for treks to Mount Everest and Kanchenjunga.

Buddhism was a major religion in India in ancient days and a tour of important Buddhist sites have become a highlight for travellers interested in Buddhism. The famous cities include Bodhgaya in Bihar where the Buddha attained enlightenment, Sarnath where he delivered his first sermon, Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh, the site of a historical stupa, and Kushinagar where he attained nirvana, besides other centres of learning and memorials.

For more information on Indian travel destinations please log on to the following sites:

Travel Agents

India has a well established network of Travel Agents and tour operators. Most Travel Agents and Tour Operators are also Members of reputed National and International Associations. The Government also has a system of providing recognition to them. You may search for members of the Travel Agents Association of India from TAAINET.

Hotels

Hotels in India are classified into different groups such as deluxe, international chains, heritage and palace hotels, tourist bungalows, traveller lodges, rest houses. etc.

Liberalization and a spurt in travel have brought a large number of international hotel chains to India. While well-known chains such as Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Hyatt, Inter-Continental, Meridien, Quality Inns, Best Western and Kempinski have been in the country for a while, the recent entrants are Country Hospitality with all its chains (Regent, Radisson, Country Inns, TGIF), Marriott, Hilton, Park Plaza, Four Seasons and SHPC.

Centralized reservations may be obtained through the travel agents. For further information, please visit the following websites:

Food

Indian cuisine differs from region to region .There is Mughlai food, Tandoor (bar-be-que in clay Oven), South Indian food. For people in the north wheat is the staple, while it is rice in south India. Generally Indian food is spicy and hot. The waiters can be told to make it less spicy.

There are some Indians who are vegetarians. Hindus do not eat beef considering cow as sacred. Muslims do not eat pork. There are some vegetarians who do not eat egg, onions, garlic etc.

The trend towards dining out has increased and many restaurants serve Continental, Chinese, Thai, Spanish, French, Mexican, Italian, Lebanese, Mediterranean, and other cuisine. American fast food is very popular and outlets are present in most cities and towns.

Tipping is optional but a common practice in India. The usual option involves leaving a 10% tip for the services provided.

Infrastructure

Banking

The usual banking hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturdays. Besides the Indian banks, several international banks including Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation operate in major metros. Most have 24-hour ATMs. Money transfers through these banks are also easy.

Working Hours

Banks, Office and most shopping areas remains closed on Sunday. Sometimes within the same city different markets close on different weekdays, it may be wise to check from the Hotel before you set out. Shops usually remain open 9.30 am to 7.00 pm (small tourist shops may close much later) and offices from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm. Many offices observe Saturdays as holidays the Indian calendar is full of festivals and religious holidays. Should one happen to be in India on any such day it is advisable to participate in the festivities, possibly with the help of a guide.

Postal and Courier Services

The Indian Postal Service provides high quality services for delivery of mail, parcels, and related services. India has the largest postal network in the world. It also caters to specific mailing needs through Speed Post, Express Post, Satellite Mail, Gift Services etc. Delivery of mail takes between two to five days, depending on the final destination. For more details, log on to: http://www.indiapost.gov.in

Telephones

Local and long-distance telephone services are available throughout the country. Mobile cellular service is also provided in the major cities. To make an international call, first dial the international code (00), then the country code followed by the area code (if applicable) and finally the actual number.

For instance, to make a call to Bratislava from India, dial 00, then 4212 (Slovak Republic + Bratislava Code) followed by the actual phone number.

Different parts of India are also well connected through fax and Internet with the rest of the world. (STD Codes)

Taxis

The best way to travel around towns is by taxis. Yellow top taxis are generally easily available at stands, near commercial and residential areas and can be stopped on the roads. Visitors are advised to ensure that the meter is flagged down before starting the trip. A maximum of five passengers is generally permitted. Payment should be made according to the meter. Where meters are old, payments should be made in accordance with the revised tariff chart for the corresponding meter reading.

Sometimes taxi drivers do not show these charts in order to charge higher amounts. Visitors are advised to insist that the revised tariff chart is shown.

In some cities, scooter rickshaws are also available and are more economical, at roughly half of taxi rates. These too are metered and should carry a revised tariff chart where applicable. A maximum of three passengers is generally permitted.

Night charges of 25% over and above the normal fare are payable for taxis and scooter rickshaws engaged between 23.00 and 05.00.

Private taxis, non-metered are available in most cities. They can be hired on a journey basis, or for the day. Hotels, for their guests, can also arrange taxis for the day depending on your requirements.

Pre-paid services are generally available at airports. All passengers can make use of these services by contacting the Pre-paid Taxi booth.

Car hire

Cars may be hired with or without a chauffeur. Renting a car with a chauffeur in India is relatively inexpensive. Visitors coming from the Slovak Republic intending to drive need to hold an International Driving License. However, the facility of renting a car at one place and leaving it at another is not common in India. Hertz, Budget and Europa cars operate in India through their associates. Most of the chauffeurs and car rental agencies can communicate in English. Hotels also provide car rental services for their customers. Driving in India is on the left side of the road as in United Kingdom.ded.

Electricity

220 volts AC (50 Cycles) and socket sizes vary widely. Universal adaptor is recommended.

Will your mobile work in India?

India uses the GSM standard for mobile communications, hence we suggest that you check out the compatibility of your instrument with GSM, in case you wish to use it in India.

You can hire cell phones at the domestic airports in most major cities and tourist destinations in India. Typical cell phone rentals in India vary between Rupees 200 and 300 per day.

Currency Declaration, Customs and Baggge Rules

Currency Declaration

The unit of the Indian currency is the Rupee.

Travellers can bring into India any amount of foreign exchange, subject to the condition that on arrival a declaration is made to the custom authorities in a Currency Declaration Form. It is necessary to fill out a declaration form if the foreign exchange exceeds US$ 10,000 or its equivalent and /or the aggregate value of foreign currency notes is US$ 5,000 or its equivalent.

Travellers Cheques in US$ and pounds are easily exchangeable and ATMs are available in major Indian cities. Credit cards are accepted in hotels and large stores.

The Financial Year in India is from 1st April to 31st March.

Customs and Baggage Rules

There are two channels for customs clearance:

  1. Green Channel for passengers not having any dutiable goods.
  2. Red Channel for passengers having dutiable goods.

Passengers walking through the Green Channel with dutiable / prohibited goods are liable to prosecution/penalty and confiscation of goods.

Duty free allowances and the rates of duties applicable for goods imported as personal baggage are contained in the rules established by the Central Board of Excise and Customs, Government of India.

Domestic Airlines

  • Air India
  • Indian Airlines
  • Jet Airways
  • Sahara Airlines

Travel Maps

Detailed and digitised maps helpful for travelling inside India are now available from the Internet. These also provide interactive facilities for obtaining more detailed information about specific locations by zooming inside the maps. You may visit MAPTELL web site or Maps of India web site for viewing the maps. You could also buy these maps online.

Inter-State Travel

Most parts of the country are well connected by air, rail, and road transport infrastructure. Indian Airlines, the government-owned airline, and a number of other private airlines run scheduled flights to various destinations. Charter flights are offered by a few private companies. For more details on Indian Airlines services, please visit www.jetairways.com, www.airindia.com

Railway reservations can be made from any of the reservation centres in the country or at railway stations. For further details, please visit www.indianrail.gov.in

For further information contact the Embassy or

India Tourism Office
Basler Strasse 48
60329 Frankfurt am Main
Germany
Tel: +49 6924294927
Fax: +49 6924294977
Email: rd@india-tourism.com
http://www.india-tourism.com

Customs Enquiry/Complaints

Assistant Collector of Customs at the International Airport OR Commissioner of Customs, New Customs House, Near IGI Airport, New Delhi - 110 037.

Lost Passport

  • Foreigners should file a report with the local police regarding loss of passport.
  • After obtaining new travel document the foreigner should approach for grant of Visa/Exit Permit with the following details,
    • Date & type of visa,
    • Name of Indian Mission from where visa was granted,
    • Port of arrival including flight number/details of vassels,
    • Places visited in India
  • Atleast one week time is required for confirming the details and Visa/Exit Permit can be granted after one week.

Place of application - Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi.

 
 
 


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