India Tours Info

Key Facts

Capital:New Delhi
Largest City - Mumbai
Area:3,287,240 sq kms
Population:1,182,318,000 Approximate
Languages:Hindi in the Devanagari script is the official language of the Union and English the "subsidiary official language"
Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu
Time:IST (UTC+5:30)
Currency: Indian Rupee (INR)

Climate

The climate of India defies easy generalization, comprising a wide range of weather conditions across a large geographic scale and varied topography. Analyzed according to the Köppen system, India hosts six major climatic subtypes, ranging from desert in the west, to alpine tundra and glaciers in the north, to humid tropical regions supporting rain forests in the southwest and the island territories. Many regions have starkly different micro climates. The nation has four seasons: winter (January and February), summer (March to May), a monsoon (rainy) season (June to September), and a post-monsoon period (October to December).

India's unique geography and geology strongly influence its climate; this is particularly true of the Himalayas in the north and the Thar Desert in the northwest. The Himalayas act as a barrier to the frigid katabatic winds flowing down from Central Asia. Thus, North India is kept warm or only mildly cold during winter; in summer, the same phenomenon makes India relatively hot. Although the Tropic of Cancer—the boundary between the tropics and subtropics—passes through the middle of India, the whole country is considered to be tropical.

As in much of the tropics, monsoonal and other weather conditions in India are unstable: major droughts, floods, cyclones and other natural disasters are sporadic, but have killed or displaced millions. India's long-term climatic stability may be further threatened by global warming.

Travel Tips

Clothing
  • Travel as light as possible. Clothing and laundry are both quite inexpensive.
  • Women should dress conservatively. Avoid tank tops or short skirts / shorts. The best outfit, especially during the hot summers, is a T-shirt worn with loose cotton trousers. These are comfortable, cool and easily washable. You can purchase them anywhere in India, at very reasonable rates, at any of the street shops. If you are adventurous, wear the Indian 'salwar-kameez'. It is comfortable and free sized, and you will be amazed at the change of attitude among the shopkeepers, pedestrians and taxicab drivers!
  • Do not forget to remove your footwear when visiting a place of worship or mausoleum.

Food And Drink

  • Drink only bottled water. Buy it only from respectable or known outlets. In restaurants insist that they bring a sealed bottle to your table.
  • Try Indian Beer - it is quite drinkable.
  • Beef is not served in India. Pork is also not easily available.
  • Eat non-vegetarian food only in good restaurants. The meat in cheaper and smaller places is generally of dubious quality.
  • Vegetarian food is easily available, cheap, and of excellent quality.
  • Curd or yoghurt is served with most meals. It is a natural aid to digestion and helps temper the spicy food.

Health Precaution

  • Always drink bottled water.
  • For the first few days it might be advisable to clean your teeth in bottled water.
  • Eat fruit you can peel.
  • Always wash fruit well before eating it.
  • Wash your hands before and after eating.
  • Always keep a tube of mosquito repellent with you.
  • Always carry a kit of the basic emergency medicines you might need for diarrhoea, fever, etc. Also, band aids and an antiseptic ointment.
  • If you do catch a bug, do not panic. It will go away in a few days - but try the following tips to keep it down:
  • Drink lassi - a yoghurt drink. It will help tone down the bacteria.
  • Eat plain rice, or try a simple khichdi - an easily digestible mixture of rice and lentils.
  • Drink plenty of coconut water. It's cooling, and naturally sterilized!
  • Drink plenty of fluids and take some electrolyte salts if the bug persists.

Social Interaction

  • If you are fair-complexioned, blonde or red-haired - and especially if you are female - chances are that you will be stared at continuously, specially in the smaller towns. Don't be offended - they mean no harm, it is just curiosity.
  • Avoid crowds, especially if you are female.
  • Try to avoid shaking hands. Greet people with a 'namaste' (hands pressed together at chest level as if in prayer). You will be appreciated for using the Indian style of greeting.

Shopping

  • Try to shop only in government handicraft shops. There the prices are fixed and the quality is certified. If that is not an option, check the prices at a few shops before making a choice. Bargaining is standard and is enjoyed by all.
  • Get used to the fact that you will probably be charged more than the locals. If possible, take a local along when you go shopping.

Time

  • Everything in India takes time - longer than in most places. So always give yourself extra time for whatever you may have to do - even it is just a visit to the Post Office or changing money.
  • Indians joke about the concept of "Indian Stretchable Time" (IST). Certainly, if you're a super-punctual sort, India can be frustrating. Make allowances for this.

Toilets

  • In India, public toilet facilities are few and far between, and those that are there should not be ventured into. Take every opportunity you can to use a clean a toilet in places such as hotels and restaurants. Make this a habit wherever you go.

Tipping

  • In hotels and restaurants, tips are not normally included in the bill.
  • Some hotels include service charges on their bills. In such cases tipping is not necessary.
  • The standard tip is 10%.
  • In hotels, porters and room service attendants are normally tipped at the end of the stay, though an early tip is likely to get you better service.
  • Tipping of taxi drivers is not customary

Others

  • Keep extra photocopies of the relevant pages of your passport. This will be required for Indian permits.
  • When asking for directions, ask shopkeepers, not pedestrians. Cross-check with at least two people.
  • Taxi and auto-rickshaw fares keep changing, and therefore do not always conform to readings on meters. Insist on seeing the latest rate card (available with the driver) and pay accordingly.
  • Insist on the taxi/auto meter being flagged down in your presence.

Beggars

  • Do not let them hassle you, and do not encourage them by giving them too much money. A one-rupee coin is sufficient.

Sightseeing

  • Dress codes for religious places can include covering your head, being barefoot etc. Ask, so that you don't unwillingly give offence.
  • Some temples do not permit any leather articles at all on their premises.
  • Certain areas of temples are not open to Non-Hindus.
  • Most museums in India are closed on Mondays and Site Museums, those near archaeological monuments, on Fridays.
  • The dry summer heat can drain you completely. Drink lots of water and fluids.
  • The sun is strong. Remember to use sunscreen on exposed parts of the body. Wear sunglasses to screen out harmful rays.
  • Photography is not always permissible, and at many places it is permitted only at a fee. There is usually a higher fee for using a video camera.
  • Smoking is not allowed at all public places.
  • English is spoken at almost all tourist centers, but you can also request Government-trained and approved guides who also speak German, French, Spanish, Japanese, Italian or Russian.