|Below is a selection of highlights from our tours, click on an image to direct you to all trips in that region.|
Bodh Gaya - site of Buddha’s enlightenment
Calcutta, London bus
|Sacred Ganges at sunrise; Calcutta life; Banks of the Ganges, Varanasi; ||
|Indian Sub Continent Information|
This tour visits the following country, details shown below.
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The weather is hot most of the year with variations from region to region. The coolest weather lasts from around December to February, with fresh mornings and evenings and mostly sunny days. The really hot weather, when it is dry, dusty and unpleasant, is between March and June. Monsoon rains occur in most regions in summer anywhere between June and early October. Western Himalayas: Srinagar is best from March to October; July to August can be unpleasant; cold and damp in winter. Shimla is higher and therefore colder in winter. Places like Gulmarg, Manali and Pahalgam are usually under several feet of snow from December to March and temperatures in Ladakh can be extremely cold. The mountain passes of Ladakh are accessible from July to October.Required clothing: Light- to mediumweights are advised from March to October, with warmer wear for winter. Weather can change rapidly in the mountains and therefore it is important to be suitably equipped. Waterproofing is advisable.Northern Plains: This extreme climate is typically warm inland from April to mid-June, falling to almost freezing at night in winter between November and February. Summers are hot with monsoons between June and September.Required clothing: Lightweights in summer with warmer clothes in winter and on cooler evenings. Waterproofing is essential during monsoons.Central India: Madhya Pradesh state escapes the very worst of the hot season, but monsoons are heavy between July and September. Temperatures fall at night in winter.Required clothing: Lightweights are worn most of the year with warmer clothes during evenings, particularly in winter. Waterproofed clothing is advised during monsoon rains.Western India: November to February is most comfortable, although evenings can be fairly cold. Summers can be extremely hot with monsoon rainfall between mid June and mid September.Required clothing: Lightweights are worn most of the year with warmer clothes for cooler winters, and waterproofing is essential during the monsoon.Southwest: The most pleasant weather is from November to March. Monsoon rains fall anywhere between late April and July. Summer temperatures not as high as Northern India although humidity is extreme. The coast benefits from some cooling breezes. Inland, Mysore and Bijapur have pleasant climates with relatively low rainfall. Required clothing: Lightweights. Waterproofing is necessary during the monsoon. Warmer clothes are worn in the winter, particularly in the hills.Southeast: Tamil Nadu experiences a northeast monsoon between October and December and temperatures and humidity are high all year. The hills can be cold in winter. Required clothing: Lightweights. Waterproofing is necessary during the monsoon. Warmer clothes are worn in the winter, particularly in the hills.Northeast: March to June and September to November are the driest and most pleasant periods. The rest of the year has extremely heavy monsoon rainfall.Required clothing: Lightweights. Waterproofing is advisable throughout the year and essential in monsoons, usually from mid June to mid October. Warmer clothes are useful for cooler evenings.
3,287,263 sq km (1,269,219 sq miles).
371.4 per sq km.
Republic since 1947.
India shares borders to the northwest with Pakistan, to the north with China, Nepal and Bhutan, and to the east with Bangladesh and Myanmar. To the west lies the Arabian Sea, to the east the Bay of Bengal and to the south the Indian Ocean. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are Indian territory but lie off the coast of Thailand in the Bay of Bengal. Sri Lanka lies off the southeast coast, and the Maldives off the southwest coast.
The far northeastern states and territories are all but separated from the rest of India by Bangladesh as it extends northwards from the Bay of Bengal towards Bhutan. India is separated from the rest of Asia by mountain ranges, forest, and desert -the Himalayan mountain range in the north, the Thar Desert in the west and the Chin Hills and Patkai ranges in the east. The Indus River runs through the northern disputed territory of Jammu & Kashmir. The most sacred of rivers, the Ganges, is in the east.
Hindi is the official language of India and, used by about 40% of the population, India's most widely spoken. English is also enshrined in the constitution for a wide range of official purposes. In addition, 18 regional languages are recognised by the constitution. These include Bengali, Gujarati, Oriya and Punjabi, which are used in respective regions, and Tamil and Telugu, which are common in the south. Other regional languages include Kannada, Malayalam and Marathi. The Muslim population largely speaks Urdu.
About 80% Hindu, 13% Muslim, with Sikh, Christian, Jain, Parsi and Buddhist minorities.
GMT + 5.5.
The traditional Hindu greeting is to fold the hands, tilt the head forward and say namaste. Indian women generally prefer not to shake hands. All visitors are asked to remove footwear when entering places of religious worship. Most Indians also remove their footwear when entering their homes; visitors should follow suit. Many Hindus are vegetarian and many, especially women, do not drink alcohol. Most Sikhs and Parsis do not smoke. Women are expected to dress modestly and men should also dress respectfully. Women should not wear short skirts and tight or revealing clothing, although there is a more casual approach to clothing in Goa.
230-240 volts AC, 50Hz. Some areas have a DC supply. Plugs used are of the round two- and three-pin type.
Head of Government
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh since 2004.
Head of State
President Pranab Mukherjee since 2012.
Pratibha Patil became India's first female president in July 2007 and her supporters hailed her election as a victory for women. She succeeds APJ Abdul Kalam, an esteemed scientist and the architect of the country's missile programme. Patil, of the ruling Congress Party, was previously the governor of Rajasthan.India has seen several women in powerful positions - most notably Indira Gandhi, one of the world's first female prime ministers in 1966 - but activists say that women still face widespread discrimination both within and beyond the political arena.Indian foreign policy continues to be dominated by relations with Pakistan. The main cause of friction is the status of Kashmir, a disputed territory straddling both nations. Historically, the USA and China had backed Pakistan while India had close relations with the Soviet Union. The demise of the Soviet Union has not, however, damaged India. China has long viewed India as a rival, however relations between these two emerging economic powers have been steadily improving over recent years.
Rupee (INR; symbol Rs) = 100 paise. Notes are in denominations of Rs1,000, 500, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of Rs5, 2 and 1, and 50, 25, 20, 10 and 5 paise.Note: The import and export of local currency is prohibited. Sometimes smaller vendors will not take bills larger than Rs 500. It is best to carry a range of rupee notes if you are shopping at bazaars and local markets.
Currency can be changed at banks, airports or authorised money changers. Many hotels also have facilities to change money but this is a more expensive option. It is illegal to exchange money through unauthorised money changers. US Dollars and Pounds Sterling are the easiest currencies to exchange.
Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs
In major cities, the full cadre of banks cards are generally accepted including debit cards, American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa. However, in smaller towns and villages, choice is generally narrowed to cash or MasterCard and Visa.
These are widely accepted and may be changed at banks and larger hotels. The most widely accepted currencies include US Dollars and Pounds Sterling. Some banks may refuse to change certain brands of traveller's cheques whilst others may exchange quite happily.
The import and export of local currency is prohibited. The import of foreign currency is unlimited. However, amounts exceeding US$5,000 or equivalent in cash, or US$10,000 or equivalent in all forms of currency must be declared. The export of foreign currency is allowed up to the amount imported and declared.
Mon-Fri 1030-1530; Sat 1030-1300.
Exchange Rate Indicators
1.00 GBP = 100.93 INR 1.00 USD = 61.61 INR 1.00 EUR = 84.92 INR 1.00 CAD = 58.13 INR Currency conversion rates as of 12 December 2013
India is a beautiful and bamboozling place, where holy cows amble along the streets, bask on heavenly beaches next to modern hotels and where ancient temples sit perfectly at home besides shiny new offices.
The most enigmatic of countries, India is a relentless assault on all of the senses at once. It is an extraordinary place, one of the world's great human melting pots where an incredible array of cultures, religions and ethnicities live in reasonable harmony. It teems with one-sixth of the planet's population from rural villages where life hasn’t changed for hundreds of years, to ultra-modern cities like Mumbai that ooze western sensibilities. India is simply vast, varied and, above all, unforgettably beautiful.
You could spend a lifetime exploring the echoes of ancient cultures, and the country's dramatic landscapes, including the mighty Himalayas. The most frequently visited part of India is the Golden Triangle, comprised of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. The people-packed cities of Mumbai (Bombay) and Kolkata (Calcutta) have a bustling, colourful charm, while the holy city of Varanasi and the awe-inspiring temples of Tamil Nadu are rewarding places of pilgrimage. Ancient frescoes are on view in the Anjanta Caves in Maharastra and dotted across India are 28 World Heritage Sites. Every region in India is stippled with an unmatched depth of history, diversity in cultures and language, monuments and beauty of settings.
As a tourist there is something to cater to every taste be it adrenaline-fuelled explorations, luxurious pampering or simply relaxing. India's real allure and magic comes from the sheer assortment of things to do in every region: In Delhi, catch a rickshaw through the narrow lanes to the Red Fort, take a ride on the new world-class metro or visit it’s wonderful Lodhi Gardens. Perhaps you would prefer a more sublime treat such as floating on a houseboat through Kerala’s dreamy landscapes. You can choose to be overwhelmed by the vivid colours and overpowering aromas of a spice market. Or in Rajasthan, you can bounce up and down on a camel through the mystical deserts or sweat with the locals on a train through mountainside tea plantations. And, even if you do all that, you still won't have scratched the surface.
Still, India is a wonder wrapped in contradictions. It is hard to overlook the fact that it has extraordinary displays of wealth as it does poverty. Modern architecture and corporate parks are growing but there is still a paucity of infrastructure. However, as a tourist there are responsible ways to visit as discussed in this guide.
Don’t expect to absorb all it has to offer in one visit, this is a country best approached as one would a smorgasbord. It’s a much more palatable experience if you take a sampling of what is on offer and then revisit for more.
It can be a baffling and at times an overwhelming place to visit but one thing is for certain, no matter how ready you are to leave by the end of your trip, within a few days after departure, you'll be longing to return.
From www.worldtravelguide.net copyright Columbus Travel Publishing Ltd, December 2013.