Top events in India

October
23

The five-day Festival of Lights is the most important and pan-Indian of Hindu festivals, also marked by Jainists and Sikhs. It is celebrated by...

October
23

The five-day 'Festival of Lights' is the most pan-Indian of Hindu festivals and is celebrated by giving gifts, lighting fireworks, and burning...

October
28

GoMissing Expeditions invites you to visit the Valley of Flowers in Uttaranchal! See millions of rare flowers including the Blue Poppy and Cobra...

Taj Mahal, India
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Taj Mahal, India

© 123rf.com / Ashwin Kharidehal Abhirama

India Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

3,287,263 sq km (1,269,219 sq miles).

Population

1.2 billion (2013).

Population density

371.4 per sq km.

Capital

New Delhi.

Government

Republic.

Head of state

President Pranab Mukherjee since 2012.

Head of government

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh since 2004.

Electricity

230-240 volts AC, 50Hz. Some areas have a DC supply. Plugs are of the round two- and three-pin type.

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.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 20 October 2014

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel in the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan, other than at Wagah.

The FCO advise against all travel to Manipur and against all but essential travel to Imphal, the state capital of Manipur.

The FCO advise against all travel to Jammu and Kashmir with the exception of (i) travel within the cities of Jammu and Srinagar, (ii) travel by air to the cities of Jammu and Srinagar, (iii) travel between these two cities on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, and (iv) travel within the region of Ladakh. Please note that the tourist destinations of Phalgam, Gulmarg and Sonamarg fall within the areas to which the FCO advise against all travel.

Tropical cyclones are common, particularly off the east coast. You should monitor the progress of approaching storms and follow the advice of the local authorities, including any evacuation orders.

There is a high threat from terrorism throughout India. Recent attacks have targeted public places including those visited by foreigners.

The Indian government has relaxed the rules on re-entering the country while on a tourist visa.

Over 800,000 British nationals visit India every year. Most visits are trouble-free.

Before you travel, take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance and read the India specific health information and advice published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre.

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