Indian village feast
India's international airports support a traveler's every need. In addition to common amenities, you will find business centres furnished with the latest high-tech gizmos and nursery rooms for parents who wish to deposit their offspring while browsing the duty-free shops. Aside from the usual valid passport (family passports issued by foreign governments are recognised without discrimination), every foreign national excepting those from Bhutan and Nepal must possess a visa from an Indian Embassy or Consulate. If your intended stay is less than six months, you are not required to register with any authority in India and you may move about freely within the country, except to restricted and prohibited places. Many restricted areas previously closed to tourists are now open but require a permit under a new government policy. Note that a Foreign Travel Tax (FTT) applies to all passengers leaving India by air or sea. There are no restrictions on amounts of foreign currency brought into the country, however, amounts in excess of US $1,000 must be declared. It is an offence to exchange currency by any other means than by banks or authorised moneychangers. Indian currency should be exchanged prior to leaving, as it is not allowed to be taken out of the country. Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificates conforming to international health regulations are required if tourists originate or are have transited Yellow Fever endemic countries.
Except for the mountainous regions, India is influenced by a tropical climate. Seasonal monsoons have a profound effect on temperature, humidity and precipitation throughout the subcontinent. The wet season is driven by moisture-laden winds blowing off the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. This is the southwest monsoon and is generally active from June to November. Precipitation is extremely heavy in the northeast portion of the country during this period. At times, the winds fail to bring enough rain, causing drought and famine. The northeast monsoon brings cooler temperatures and dry weather from December to March. Severe storms, yet with little precipitation affect the northern plains while the Himalayas receive heavy snowfall. The hot season starts mid-March, heats up until May (52C / 126F recorded in central India) and extends until the southwest monsoon arrives.
The rupee and paise are India's units of currency. One hundred paise is equivalent to one rupee. Rupee notes are in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 500. Coins come in denominations of 25 and 50 paise, 1, 2, and 5 rupees. Use banks or authorized moneychangers and be sure to keep the encashment slip; it is necessary for paying hotel bills and when reconverting rupees to another currency when exiting the country. Major credit cards are widely accepted in cities and larger towns. They are also a handy way to get quick cash advances in local currency.
UTC / GMT (+5 hours and 30 minutes)
Banking and government hours are weekdays 10 am - 2 pm and Saturdays 10 am - 12 noon. Moneychangers at international airports and major western-style hotels provide 24-hour service. Post office hours are 10 am - 5 pm weekdays and 10 am - 2 pm on Saturdays. Most museums close on Mondays while site museums (near archaeological monuments) normally close Fridays. Business hours in most cities are 9:30 am to 5 pm with a one-hour lunch break at 1 pm. Hours of operation vary for market places, shops and bazaars depending on the locale.
Telecommunications are not well developed in rural India, however, opportunities are now being opened to international investment with the aim of improving services. Urban areas enjoy modern networks, satellite communications and easy access to services.
220-240V, 50 HZ (Wall receptacles take plugs with two round prongs.)
Indian village school
There are 17 official languages in Indian. Hindi is the national language and is the mother tongue for 30 percent of the populace. Aside from over 300 dialects, there are 24 languages each spoken by at least 1 million people. Hindustani is an accepted variant of Hindi/Urdu and is spoken extensively throughout northern India. English has national status and is used for state, political, and commercial matters. The astounding number of languages spoken in India is perhaps not quite so surprising when one considers there are 1 billion inhabitants.
Veiled Indian tribesman
Casual dress is appropriate for most occasions, formal dress where the establishment dictates or for important functions. When visiting a holy place, women should wear a long skirt, dress or pants. In Muslim communities, even more discretion is called for. Women should take care not to wear form-fitting garments; loose pants and a long sleeve blouse are appropriate. Lightweight clothing from natural fabrics is recommended. Depending on the time of year and / or location, you may want to consider a sweater or light jacket and a collapsible umbrella. Climbing Everest may require a little more than your basic shorts and t-shirt.
Urban areas have a good system of roads in general. After heavy rains, many unpaved roads in the rural regions become impassable. In cities, crowded busses function as the main source of public transport. There are plenty of taxis, however, metres are not always used and rates are variable. Major cities are connected by a large network of railways. Motorized rickshaws and bicycle-powered rickshaws are also commonly used.
Private hospitals in urban centres are staffed with the best medical professionals. Cash-strapped state hospitals are overcrowded but maintain dedicated and skilled health care services. In rural areas, India faces serious health problems because of overpopulation and poverty. Access to medical facilities is limited both by the lack of resources and the sheer size of the population.