India Info

GENERAL INFORMATION (this section is for broad guidelines only and the policies / conditions / rules may change with or without notice).

Time
EST plus 10hrs 30min’ in winter, EST plus 9hrs 30min’ in summer.

Hours of Operation
These sometimes vary from region to region, but generally- Banks From 1000 to 1400 hrs Monday through Friday, 1000 to 1230 hrs Saturdays. The hotel Ashok in New Delhi and all international airports have 24hour exchange facility.

Post Office
From 1000 to 1630hrs Monday through Friday, 0930 to 1230hrs on Saturdays

Administrative Services
0930 to 1700hrs Monday through Friday, 0930 to 1230 hrs on Saturdays

CUSTOMS / IMMIGRATION / VISAS
Customs Formalities
Visitors have to make an oral baggage declaration of baggage and foreign currency in their possession. Those in possession of more than US$ 10,000 or equivalent in the form of travelers’ checks, bank notes or currency notes and other similar modes are required to acquire a Currency Declaration Form before leaving customs. Visitors should fill in the Disembarkation Card given to them by the airline during the course of the flight.

There are two channels for Custom clearance:
• Green Channel: It is for those passengers who do not have any dutiable articles or unaccompanied baggage.

• Red Channel: For passengers with dutiable articles or high value articles or unaccompanied baggage that needs to be entered on the Tourist Baggage Re-export form.

Immigration Passport
All foreigners require a valid national passport or valid travel documents and visa granted by Indian Missions abroad before entering India .

Arrival Formalities: If the visa is for more than 180 days, a Registration certificate and Residential Permit needs to be obtained within 15 days of arrival from the nearest Foreigner’s Registration Office. All passengers including Indians are required to fill in a Disembarkation Card on arrival. Four photographs are required for registration. The Foreigners need to report any change in address to the Foreigner’s Registration Office.

Exit Formalities: Every foreigner departing from India should surrender his Certificate of Registration. This can be surrendered either to the Registration Officer of the place where the passenger is registered or from where he/ she intends to depart or to the Immigration Officer at the Port / Check post of exit from India . All persons leaving India have to fill in an Embarkation Card at the time of departure.

Visas
Requirement of Visa: Foreigners intending to visit India need to obtain a visa from the Indian Mission of their country. They should possess a valid National Passport. Various categories of Vise include TRANSIT VISA, BUSINESS VISA, STUDENT VISA, LANDING PERMIT FACILITY, TOURIST GROUPS, CONFERENCE VISA, EMPLOYMENT VISA etc. For further detail on these get in touch with the nearest Indian consulate.

List of India Consulates
Health Regulations
No vaccinations are required to travel to India . However, foreign tourists if originating or traveling through Yellow Fever endemic countries may be required to produce a Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate conforming to International health Regulations,.

Note: It is always advisable to consult your physician when traveling to foreign destinations.

IMPORTANT DO’s & DONT’s
• All foreign nationals are required to pay their hotel bills in foreign currency either in cash, travelers’ checks or credit cards. Indian rupees are accepted only if supported by proof of certificate of encashment in India ).
• Concessional- Payments for tickets like Indrail Pass , Youth fares, Discover India Fares and Air Fares are also to be made in foreign exchange only.
• Purchasing any tickets (air/ rail/ bus) through unauthorized travel agents/ tour operators are also not adviseable.
• Do not hire any mode of transportation from unlicensed or unapproved operators. Self- drive cars can be made available for hire from recognized International firms and TCI. Leave this to us to organize.
• While shopping, sightseeing or traveling, avoid touts and brokers. Be aware of unscrupulous shopkeepers. If you feel you are being abused, do not hesitate to consult proper authorities.
• Fares of Taxi and auto-rickshaws keep changing, and do not always conform to readings on meters. In order to avoid confusion, insist on seeing the latest fare chart with the drivers and pay accordingly. Taxis and auto-rickshaws in every city do not have meters, but where they do, insist on it being flagged in your presence. If driver refuses to cooperate, seek assistance of a policeman. Where there are no meters, ask assistance at your hotel fix the fare in advance.

RESTRICTED & PROTECTED AREAS
Restricted & Protected Areas
Certain parts of the country need special permits to be visited. For promoting tourism in the North-east region, the Government has decided to allow foreign tourists to visit Nagaland which until recently was a restricted area. However foreign tourists can visit the destricts of Kohima, Dimapur, Mokokchong and Wokha for a maximum of 10 days and in a group of 4 or more only (only for unmarried travelers).

These permits are issued by the Directorate of Tourism, Nagaland, Kohima Phone- +91 (370) 21607/ 22214/ 21945 or the Secretary, Tourism, Nagaland, Kohima Tele-Fax- +91 (370) 33067 and Under Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Foreigners Division, Lok Nayak Bhavan, Khan Market, New Delhi 110 003.
Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram are protected areas and foreigners can enter these areas with special permits. These permits can be obtained from the Under Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Foreigners Division, Lok Nayak Bhavan, Khan Market, New Delhi 110 003. they have to be applied for at least 4 weeks before the date of the expected visit.


Certain areas of Sikkim like Gangtok, Rumtek, Phodang and Zongri in West Sikkim and Pamayangtse are also declared as restricted areas. Tourists are permitted to visit Zongri and Pamayangtse. Individual tourists are permitted to visit Gangtok, Rumtek and Phodang. The permitted duration of stay at these places has been raised from 7 to 15 days. Permits can be issued by all Indian Missions abroad, all FRROs, Immigration Officers at Airports at Mumbai, Calcutta , Chennai and New Delhi .

Permits are also available for visiting Manipur. These can be issued by all Missions abroad, all FRROs and Home Commissioner, Manipur, Imphal. The duration of stay through these has also been raised from 3 to 5 days.
No permits are required for Darjeeling , Assam , Meghalaya, Tripura.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Individual foreign tourists can visit Port Blair Municipal Area, Mayabunder, Diglipur, Havelock Island, Long Island, Neil Island, Rangat, where a night halt is allowed and Jolly Buoy, Madhuban South Cinque, Red Skin, Mount Harriet, where only a day visits are allowed. Prior permit is necessary for all these.

Lakshadweep Islands
Only Bangaram and Subeli Islands are open to foreign visitors. The required permit is obtainable from the Lakshadweep Administration, Wellington Island , Harbour Road , Kochi -3.

RESTRICTIONS ON EXPORT OF ARTICLES
The Government is concerned about the protection of its endangered and rare fauna. Therefore export of all wild animals and products from such listed animals like furs, ivory, rhino horns, skins, pelts, trophies, etc. are banned. These include all forms of wild animals, except peacock feathers and handicrafts made from them and articles and shavings made of Cheetals, Antler and Sambars are subject to conditions specified. Export of exotic birds is also not allowed.

The restriction also applies on wood and wood products including logs, timber, stumps, flakes dust, roots bark, chip, powder, pulp and charcoal. However, sawn timber made out of imported logs teak/ timber is exempted from these bans but subject to conditions. Also, export of sandalwood in any form is prohibited except finished handicrafts and machine-finished products. Tourists are advised to acquaint themselves with provisions of the Convention on International Trade of endangered species of wild fauna or flora. All the member countries allow the import of articles covered by the convention only on the production of a certificate of export from the country of origin.

Export of Antiques
Antiquities including sculpture, painting or other works of arts or crafts, illustrative of art, science, craft, religion of the past and of historical interest in existence for not less than one hundred years can not be exported from India. Manuscripts and documents of scientific, historical, literary or aesthetic value are also banned if they have been in existence for more than seventy five years; art treasures of artistic or aesthetic value, also can not be exported out of India .

Articles Allowed Free of Duty
All personal effects like clothing and other articles, which you reasonably require including Personal jewelry; one pair of binoculars; one camera with twelve plates or 5 rolls of film; one portable musical instrument; one camcor or cinematograph camera with 2 reels of film;one radio; one portable sound recording apparatus; one portable CD player or phonograph with 10 CDs or records; one portable typewriter; one perambulator; one tent and other camping equipment and sports equipment such as one fishing outfit, one canoe or kayak less than 5.5 meters long, one non-powered bicycle, one pair of skis, two tennis rackets.

Articles Not Allowed Free of Duty

Motorcycle, scooter or moped; Firearm; Cigarettes exceeding 20 packs or cigars exceeding 50, or tobacco exceeding 250 grams; Alcoholic beverages exceeding 1 liter

Gifts
Foreign tourist visiting India for more than 24 hours, can import articles up to a value of Rs.750 for your use or as gifts. For tourist of Indian origin, one is allowed to import articles for Rs.12000 free of duty as gifts.

IMPORTANT TRAVEL TIPS
Do some background reading before visiting India, so that your visit becomes a great experience, something you had never dream could happen to you.
Don’t be concerned about living conditions in India. Our 5-star and 4-star hotels, are of international standards and the comforts and cuisine they provide compare with any in the world. The deluxe and palace hotels are a world apart and many have been accorded ‘Leading hotels of the world’ status. The 3-star hotels are there for the medium budget traveler, and 1-star and 2-star hotels, Travelers lodges, Tourist Bungalows, Holiday Homes, Youth hostels, YM/ YWCA’s are for those with small budgets.

Your travel arrangements should be made well in advance, especially if you are traveling between October-March (high tourist season) and May-June, the Indian holiday season. Travel facilities are limited in relation to demand so prior bookings are a must.

If traveling by air, you should include one or more trips by rail or road so that you can experience rural India. When planning your trip, ask your travel agent to include an Indian fairs or festivals in your itinerary. Witnessing the color and gaiety of these events is a great experience.
At each city you visit, try and attend a folkloric or classical music, dance or drama program. Information on programs can be obtained from any India tourist office.

English is spoken at almost all tourist centers, but you can also request us to book Government-trained and approved guides who also speak German, French, Spanish, Japanese, Italian or Russian. Tour guides will help you not only in your sightseeing, but also help you understand India better.

Indians are hospitable and friendly people, if they stare at you, do not consider it rude, it is only a matter of curiosity. A tourist need never be lost in India, most people are more than willing to go out of their way to guide you to your destination.

If you want to meet Indians or go to an Indian home, contact us. We will arrange a visit.
As with any foreign destination, the tourist is advised to drink bottled water, bottled drinks, coffee or tea. Most premier hotels have their own filtration system.

Avoid eating spicy food all at one time soon after you arrive in India. Take one Indian dish only with each meal and ask the waiter to cut down on the chilies. Within a few days your system will get used to Indian food, one of the most delicious of world cuisine. It is advisable to stick to only cooked foods and to eat fresh fruits whose skin you can peel off or remove.

Bring your own medicines, since all medications in India are locally manufactured and you may not find the same brand names. There are very good druggists and doctors everywhere, and they can advise on substitutes. If the necessity arises, ask your hotel to recommend a doctor.

Do not forget to remove your footwear when visiting a place of worship or mausoleum. Also some temples do not permit any leather articles at all on their premises. Certain areas of temples are not open to Non-Hindus.
Travel with a camera and a color film. India is a land of sunshine and color, begging to be photographed. Most type of films are available in India.

Most cities have Beggar Homes to look after indigent persons and to teach them a trade, but professional beggars find begging more lucrative. If you wish to help them, do so through a recognized charitable organization, not by giving them alms.

It is safe to travel in India, as you will find out for yourself. Even if you read of some trouble in any town or region, do not be discouraged, since most of India is safe at all times.

Most museums in India are closed on Mondays and Site Museums, those near archaeological monuments, on Fridays. However, please check with us for timings.

The electric current in India is 220/ 250 volts and 50 cycles. It is AC practically everywhere.
India is a shoppers dream. Shopping is recommended from Government Emporia and suggested shops by us. Most of the large stores will ship your purchases for you, though, for convenience and to avoid postal delays, it is advisable to carry your shopping with you or to book it as baggage.

Do not crowd too many places into your itinerary. Make sure that you get an occasional free half-day for rest, shopping or exploring on your own.

If you wish to visit any restricted areas, as in the north- eastern region, check with the nearest India Tourist Office as to the permits needed.

Photography

For amateur photography of national monuments, there are no restrictions on taking photographs with a still camera (with flash inside the camera synchronized with exposure) or an 8mm.movie camera. It is prohibited to photograph places of military importance, i.e. airports, bridges, sensitive border regions. Certain temples may prohibit interior or exterior photography. Charges may be levied to photograph some monuments, forts or temples. Inside museums, or when photographing art works, flash cameras are prohibited. Photography inside the Taj Mahal is prohibited but prior permission can be requested from the Archaeological Survey of India, Janpath, New Delhi, 110 001. We at TCI will assist you with same. If tripods or other outside aids such as props or floodlights are used, or for professional and commercial photograph, special permission must be obtained from the Archaeological Survey of India. Similar permission must be obtained for movie cameras other than 8mm and for video cameras.

Tipping
Some hotels include service charges on their bills. In such cases tipping is not necessary. Where this is not done, at tip of 10% is customary. If you are in a big group and the food bill is high, the tip on the total can come down to 5%. The porter who takes your baggage to your room is usually tipped Rs.5 per bag or Rs.10 to Rs.20 per trolley. (These estimates are for 5 and 4-star hotels and are proportionately less in 1, 2 or 3 star hotels.) Tipping of taxi drivers is not customary.

Currency
The units of Indian currency are the Rupee and Paisa (100Paisa equal 1 Rupee). Paper money is in denominations of Rupees 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000. Coins are in denominations of Rupees 1, 2 and 5. There are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency or travelers’ checks a tourist may import, provided a Declaration form is completed on arrival. This will facilitate the exchange of imported currency as well as the export of unspent currency on departure.Cash, bank notes and traveler’s checks up to US $ 10,000 or equivalent need not be declared at the time of entry. Any money in the form of traveler’s checks, drafts, bills, checks, etc., which tourists wish to convert into Indian currency should be exchanged only through authorized money- changers. Tourists are warned that changing money through unauthorized persons is not only illegal but also involves the risk of receiving counterfeit currency. To exchange foreign money other than through banks or authorized money- changers is an offence. Please note that no Indian currency whatsoever can be imported or exported, except for Rupee travelers’ checks. Banks abroad to keep Rupee balances with their agents in India and are able to draw upon these balances to issue Rupee travelers’ checks to intending tourists. There are 24- hour exchange facilities available at Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai international airports.