India is one of the oldest civilizations with a rich cultural heritage. It covers an area of 32,87,263 sq. km, extending from the eternal snows of the Great Himalayas in the North to the cultivated peninsula of far South, from the deserts of the West to the humid deltas of the East, from the dry heat and cold of the Central Plateau to the cool forest foothills. It measures about 3,214 km from North to South and about 2,933 km from East to West. It has a land frontier of about 15,200 km. The total length of its coastline including its group of islands viz. Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands is 7,516.6 km.
Home to diverse climatic regions India can be divided into three seasons:
The best time to visit India is generally between October to March and you can expect clear skies with December and January being the coolest months. However, to take advantage of lower prices and get greater value, guests could choose to visit between April to September.
Hinduism is the main religion constituting 80.5% followed by Islam with a population of 13.4%. The Christians constitute 2.3 while others viz. Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis etc. constitute 3.8%. The country is the birthplace of four major religions viz. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.
Visa: A visa is essential to enter India and guests need to apply for one on their own. Australian Nationals can apply for an E- Visa on Indian government website, the visa application should be made at least 4 days in advance of the travel date and an approval normally takes 72 hours after application.
Important: Guests passport should have at least 02 blank pages, and the passport should have a minimum 6-month validity.
Airports & Baggage Allowance: The reporting time at the airport for domestic flights is 2 Hrs. prior to the schedule time of the departure. For international flight the reporting time at the airport is 3 Hrs prior to the schedule time of departure. Baggage allowance for domestic flights is 15 KG per person (for check-in baggage) + 7 KG per person (for cabin baggage). Additional weight will be charged extra and payable directly to the airlines.
Internet/Wi-fi: Some hotels / places have Wi-Fi hot spots everywhere and other hotels / places might have limited access to the internet. However, one can purchase a SIM card at the airport itself on arrival. Alternatively, if they wish, they can book a smart phone with us, on an additional cost, which has features as listed below:
Clothing Advice: Though modern in all aspects, India still remains traditional in some parts. Don’t wear clothes that are too revealing or provocative. Cover up arms and legs in the more traditional parts and when visiting temples, mosques, crowded places, etc. Best is to carry a stole/shawl with you.
Dress According to Weather: The climate in India varies drastically from season to season. If you are travelling in summer time then do pack light and airy (preferably cotton, linen, etc.) clothes to keep you cool. The highlands and mountains can be cold even in the summer, so pack essential warm clothes. To stay dry during monsoon, pack a sturdy umbrella or easy-to-fold rain ponchos.
Hygiene/ Food Water: Drink only bottled or boiled water. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice. Bottled water is available even in small roadside shops. Most of the 4/5* hotels have treated filter water which is safe to drink. Most of the hotels provide complimentary two bottles of water in every room (You could check from the reception about this) apart from that if you buy any bottle of water from the hotel it will be very expensive, so do avoid that.
As a rule, stick to freshly cooked food, made in a reasonably clean restaurant. Freshly cooked food is safest. Be wary of salads and fresh vegetable garnishes. Fresh fruit juices can be a problem, if taken from street side vendors since many tropical fruits blend into a pulp that has to be diluted with water. It's unlikely that the vendor adds expensive bottled water.
Do carry your own supply of hand sanitizer/paper soap, toilet paper and sanitary products, as they are usually not provided in most places.
Tipping: Tipping is a complete personal gesture and depends on the service you get. However, it is an integral part of the earning of the people dependent on tourism. The usual norm is USD 10 (INR 500) a day for the driver, USD 2 (INR 100) to a waiter in the restaurant or 5-10% of the bill. USD 8-25 (INR 500 - 1500) to a guide and USD 4 (INR 200) to a bellboy.
Sim Cards: Sim Cards for your phone can be arranged for you by our staff at a nominal cost, let us know a day in advance. We will need your passport copy and a recent photograph to arrange the same for you.
Currency Exchange: Indian Rupee (INR) is India’s currency. All major currencies such as the AUD, USD, GBP, Euro can be easily changed at banks and by authorized exchange bureau in major cities of India. Guests can exchange their currency at the airport on arrival or at the hotel on arrival. Yes, the exchange rate offered by hotels are usually not the best. If the guests wish, we can arrange for exchange of foreign currency through government authorized money changer, however we will need the guests to inform us a week in advance giving details of their requirement;
Note: It is illegal and dangerous to exchange money through means other than mentioned above. It is advisable not to accept torn and worn out notes.
Credit Cards, ATM, Cash: Major credit cards are generally accepted by most hotels and ATM's are generally available in all major cities and towns. However, while traveling through smaller cities, you may not find an ATM. Also many small restaurants and shops may not accept credit cards. So, always advisable to carry some cash.
Learn Local Language: Learn some local words and confidently use it in conversations with local people. Words like simple greetings will help break the ice.
Train Travel in India: Travelling by train is one of the great experiences in India, and a good way to meet people. However, please beware of pickpockets while boarding or de-boarding a train. Do not accept any eatables from strangers/unknown fellow passengers. Take extra care of your belongings, luggage, cameras and other small but valuable equipment. After de-boarding from the train, wait for our representative at the platform itself.
Safety - Women Travelers in India: Women traveling to India, whether solo or with a group, have to take into consideration certain safety and precautions. Though India has a dubious repute as an unsafe destination for solo women travelers, widely read and portrayed in mainstream media, however, it’s much more positive – safe and accommodating.
And we take utmost care of our women travelers to India, providing safety measures for an assured smooth and worry-free travel experience, which is worth it!
Toilets: Are generally very clean in hotels and good restaurants but not so clean in other places (like public toilets) hence we recommend using them there only unless absolute necessary. In trains they are clean early morning and start of the journey, so we would recommend using them then. Toilets in highways are not very clean, so we would recommend using them at the start of the journey or in restaurants the driver stops on the way. Again, always carry your own sanitizer.