Top events in India

April
28

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

May
01

Usually held over the month of May when the gardens are in full bloom, visitors are invited to the Gardens of Gangtok to enjoy the visual feast of...

May
06

Also known as Vesak Day, this day celebrates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Lord Buddha. Events and celebrations take place in Buddhist...

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: 19 April 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.

India’s national elections will be held between 7 April and 12 May 2014. Voting will take place over 9 dates during this period. Local public offices will be closed on voting days and there may be disruption to public transport. Security is likely to be increased in major cities, especially around polling stations. There may be large political rallies on or near to voting days, with the possibility of some violence.

You should remain vigilant in the run up to the elections, during the election period and on 16 May, the day the election results are announced. Avoid political rallies and large crowds and monitor the national and local media. See this map showing the states of India and the days on which they will vote.

Cyclones and tropical storms are common, particularly off the east coast. You should monitor the progress of approaching storms.

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.

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

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.

Edited by Jane Duru
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