Introduction to Travel in India
India, a country populated by a fifth of the world's people. It is no wonder that the culturally diverse mix of religions, traditions and beliefs, has led to one of the most spiritual and rewarding experiences any traveller could ask for. Indian people in general, have the inbuilt personality trait to welcome guests as though they were family. Even if they themselves are hungry, the guests will be fed. No introduction to travel in India should go without mentioning the fact that Indian people are essentially peaceful and respectful people, especially to foreigners.
Getting your Indian Visa
No travel should be booked until a visa has been issued. Getting your Indian visa is easily done. The Indian High Commission uses VF Services to process all Indian visa applications. They have offices in Edinburgh, Birmingham and London but their online service is the best way forward as the process is faster and cheaper. A valid passport with at least 6 months left on it and at least two pages remaining is required.
Types of Indian Visas and Fees (except travellers from Sri Lanka, Japan, Pakistan and Singapore)
£30 (6 months) and £50 (12 months) - Usually valid for six to twelve months with a maximum stay of 180 days per visit.
£55 (up to 5 years)
£15 (up to 15 days)
Business Visa (UK Fees)
£105 (up to 6 months) £160 (up to 1 year) £135 (more than 1 year) – Maximum of 180 days per visit.
Add the VFS service charge of £9.05 to the above fees
The first step of the application process for getting your Indian visa is to visit the VF Services website to fill out the online application form and submit. You will then be given a date to attend one of their offices with your passport, the relevant fees and a printed copy of your application form along with the reference number. You will then be given a date to return, usually a few days later, to pick up your passport with the visa. Be sure to bring your receipt as proof of payment.
Getting your Indian visa by post
You can receive your Indian visa by post by printing out the application form, filling it out and sending it to the supplied address along with any fees and your passport. This service can take up to 10 days and cost an extra £7 or £8 pounds (at the time of publication) to return your passport by registered post.
What you need to take for Travel in India
Local knowledge - The first and best thing that one should arm themselves with before travelling to India is local knowledge. Find friends who have relatives or friends where you are going and try to get a local connection well before travelling. The friend or relative may not even be trustworthy but at least there will be some sort or referencing point when researching prices, hotels, taxi prices or safe places to visit. Do this well before you leave for India.
Clothing - Depending on where you are travelling in India, you may need to bring some warm clothes with you, especially at high altitudes and further in the north of the country. There is a variety of temperatures and rainfall in India so be sure to research well and be prepared with waterproof clothing as well for monsoon. Most of the year light clothing is worn, so long as your are prepared for a sudden change in the weather.
Holiday Insurance – with medical and legal cover is a must.
Immunizations – When travelling to India, if you have not had particular vaccinations or they have run out, you are advised to have the following (Some of the immunizations are advised only if you are visiting either rural areas or areas where there is a high risk of exposure to certain infections):
Meningococcal – If visiting Tripura, Meghalaya or Mizoram in the northeast; Hepatitis A Everyone; Hepatitis B – Everyone; Typhoid – Everyone; Polio – Everyone; Japanese encephalitis – if staying for up to a month in rural areas; Rabies – if working with animals or risk of contact with bats; Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) – All travellers born 1956 onwards; Tetanus/diphtheria – Every 10 years; Malaria tablets or injection – everyone.
Medication – Be sure to bring enough diarrhoea medication in case one eats something that upsets the stomach. It is not always that the food is bad but that not everybody's digestive system is able to digest certain things that it is not used to. Never drink from the taps anywhere.
Wet wipes or baby wipes -Imagine being stuck on safari or out in the bush where there is no toilet that one would want to use.
Shower gel/preferred soap and antiperspirant – Perhaps certain brands are not available as widely as they are back home. Be careful not to use too much that may attract insects.
Best Places to Visit in India
Beaches of India
Travellers flock to Indian beaches because there are so many different varieties of beach to choose from. Some of the best places to visit in India has to be the beaches. Gujarat has the longest coastline in India running for 1600km. Visit the famous port town and temple on Somnath & Veraval Beach. Shore birds can be seen flocking at dusk in Beyt Dwarka and the atmosphere is serene and almost humbling. Or visit Goa and be blown away by the best holiday villages in India with stunning Portuguese architecture decorating the landscape and everything from water sports to German and Italian food. From coral reefs to spell binding lagoons, India has it all.
The Golden Triangle is a term given to three cities; Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, which are considered to be the most visited cities in India.
Manas National Park – set in the foothills of the Himalayas and spreading over a huge 391 km. It has a famous tiger reserve, an elephant reserve and a biosphere reserve in Assam. It is also a UNESCO world heritage site.
Top Hotels in India
Le Duplex – Pondicherry – Tamil Nadu
Named after former French Governor of Pondicherry, this beautiful villa is situated in a serene, mango tree lined street. With prices for double rooms starting at just over £30 and meals from £6 it's well worth the fresh, locally sourced ingredients used to prepare the succulent meals.
Nilaya – Arpora – Goa
This Goan-gothic red brick hotel sits in luscious gardens at the foot of northern Goa. With 10 well designed rooms and a view from the pool of the surrounding valleys you will have ample time to unwind.
Marari beach Resort – Alleppey – Kerala
With a fantastic beach and pool this coastal paradise is sure to please. Relax in a hammock or go wild with a wide range of activities. Double bed and breakfast rooms from £130.
What to do in an emergency in India
If an emergency ever occurs whilst in India the British High Commission is able to advise on an assist with a number of issues. The British High Commission has a duty to protect British citizens where ever they are in the . In the case of a medical emergency then firstly call the number provided in the holiday insurance pack purchased prior to your holiday. They will advise you on what to do next. Similarly with a legal issue or if you have been arrested also call the representatives contact number in the holiday insurance pack that was issued. It would also be wise to make the British High Commission aware if one has been arrested or if hospitalized.