Frequently Asked Questions

What is India official name?

India’s official name is “Bharat” in Hindi and “Republic of India” in English.

What is the tradition and culture of India?

India is a country with a very rich, diverse and colorful fabric of culture, tradition and heritage. It is possibly the only country in the world where every hundred miles that you travel, not only does the topography of the region change but also its people, customs, traditions, costumes, religions, gods, festivals, languages and just about everything is vastly different from what you just left behind. And it is this diversity that attracts the foreign tourist into India. Indians in general understand basic English and most of them can speak enough English to be able to help you. So you shouldn’t have any language problem here. If you don’t speak English, it would be a good idea to carry a small hand book that translates common phrases from your native language into English. Indian citizens are very religious and hold their customs and traditions very dear. Religion is a very sensitive topic and any comments or remarks are best to be avoided. On the other hand Indians love to tell you about their religion, customs and festivals. If you do get the opportunity to join in festivities, do not hesitate, they will treat you as part of their own family.

Where is India located?

India is situated in south-central part of Asia continent. It extends southward into the Indian Ocean with the Arabian Sea to its West and the Bay of Bengal to its East. The eastern half which coincides with peninsular India lies in the tropical zone, while the northern half belongs to the subtropical zone and is somewhat continental in nature. The country covers area of 32, 87,263 sq km. It measures about 3214 km from north to south and about 2,933 km from east to west.

Do I need visa to enter India?

All visitors must have a minimum 6 months valid passport and need to obtain visa for India prior to arrival, although there are a few exceptions. For all details one needs to contact Indian Embassy and Consulate at his/her country of residence. The usual visa is valid for 3 to 6 months from the time of issue and it can take up to two weeks to process.

What is the climate and best time to travel to India?

India is a huge tropical country and is famous for its diverse climatic features. The season can be broadly categorized into winter, summer, monsoon and post-monsoon periods. Winter months are December, January and February with temperatures 10 – 15°C (50 – 60°F) in the northwest, 20 – 25°C (65°- 80°F) in the South, it’s a perfect time for touring southern parts of the country as well as Rajasthan although it’s the pick season and prices are the highest. Summer starts in March and lasts till June with temperature from 25 – 40°C (78°-100°F) in majority of the inland areas of the country. May and June are the hottest months although it’s the best time to visit ranges of the Himalayas with temperatures about 17 – 25°C (60 – 78°F) daytime and about 5°C (40°F) at night. Monsoon season usually starts at the end of June till middle of September and after that till November is post monsoon period perfect for travelling to most of the desired destinations in India.

What voltage is used in India?

Electricity in India is 220 – 250 V, alternative in 50 cycles per second. In India there are different plug-in pins then in Europe and other countries so it is advised to bring a multi plug from home country.

Is tipping customary in India?

Yeas, in the service industry those who are doing service they expect some tips from tourists and try to perform better. One can prepare 10 dollars for the drivers those who work throughout the tour, 5/10 dollars for hotel staff, massagers, monument guides, waiters etc. 10/15 dollars for trekking chef, 20 /30 dollar for trekking guide, 5/10 dollar for porters or mule owners. Best is to take suggestions from your tour escorts and give tips only when you are happy and satisfied with the services.

Do I need any vaccinations before coming to India?

Travelers should get themselves medically checked and cleared to be of good health from their primary doctor. One should take all the precautions on their own and make decisions with the support of their primary doctor. Vaccinations, accidental, medical and travel insurance is highly recommended. Each participant will undertake the trek / tour on their own risk and understands that we highly advise one is physically fit and routinely takes walks or hikes for 4-6 weeks leading up to the trek. Though there are good doctors are available in India.

What type of clothing should I take?

In most places in India summertime is bearable. Light colored cotton’s suits, cargo trousers or shorts, sweat shirts and other casual attire are good. When it comes to footwear, sneakers or slippers/ sandals/ slip-ons are always comfortable. Many religious places like temples and some heritage monuments require you to leave your footwear outside. There is a counter provided were you can deposit them free or for a small fee. While visiting temples and mosques one should have preferably shoulders, head and legs covered specially in case of ladies. You may carry a light sweater and basic winter wear in winter. There is possibility that you may encounter light no seasonal showers at some places when you least expect it. An umbrella and / or light rain jacket should be a useful accessory. If you have kids with you it’s essential that you carry warm cloths and basic monsoon gear for them. It is wise to avoid revealing outfits. People may not trouble you, but India is a very conservative country and its best to respect local sentiments. Trousers / shorts/ sweat shirts should be perfect for both men and women. For trekking and hiking in the Himalayas TNI will supply all registered participant with the necessary clothing and equipment list!

What about shopping while touring India?

Shopping in India can be an enjoyable experience. The shopping districts in every city are well known and you should have no difficulty locating them. India is known for textiles, handicrafts, jewelries and more. You could buy cheaper to most expensive item in the shops. Nearby all shopkeepers quote higher prices to foreign tourists and that is one of the reasons for many tourists to learn how to bargain and they are sometimes much better at it than the locals. Never shop in haste. Keep aside a full day for shopping at leisure. Shopkeepers can sense when you are in a hurry and will take advantage of the situation.

What is banking system and Indian currency?

Indian currency is known as Rupee, abbreviated as INR. Wherever you may be in India, you are never far from an ATM (except mountains). Most are affiliated to Master Card and Visa. Amex is also accepted but not so extensively. Debit and Credit cards are accepted at major travel agencies, airlines, private hospitals, special restaurants, supermarkets and larger stores. You may exchange your currency or traveler’s cheques using the many banking channels available to you. Changing money can be a very cumbersome process in smaller towns or during trekking in the Himalayas, thus the visitors are advised to change a substantial amount at one time prior the tour or trek. Make sure to change the money at accredited bureaus only, changing at any other places is illegal and also runs the risk of being counterfeit. Money can be easily changed at the airport, some hotels and several branches of International foreign exchange providers.

What about photography in India?

Photos of public, streets, market, buildings, outside temples etc you could take without any hesitation. However close up shooting of people required asking permission, especially in case of ladies. Tourists should seek permission from the authorities concerned before taking photographs of places of military importance, railway stations, bridges, airports, military installations, metro trains, tribal areas and sensitive border regions. It is prohibited to take photographs in some of the temples, historical monuments, forts, palaces, tombs and monasteries. Camera fee is charged extra in some historical monuments.

How about a common Indian?

Indians are well known for their hospitality, especially when it comes to guests and visitors. Should you ever need help, you just have to ask. People everywhere will be more than willing to help you. The common Indian is actually fascinated by the western tourist. Indians are avid television viewers and many are aware of western countries and standards. But they don’t understand the western concept of travel and many of them think foreigners are crazy to leave behind the comforts and facilities in their own beautiful countries and come to India. Some don’t quite understand your urge to see and experience different places and cultures. Vacationing is a relatively new concept in India and most Indians seldom travel beyond their home state, unless their job or business demands it. Tourism here, like in other countries, is an industry and does have its pitfalls. Most tourist spots may have agents approaching you, offering all services from sightseeing to putting you on a flight back home. Do not take up these offers. If you put your foot down and refuse, they will leave you alone and look for another gullible tourist. Likewise, if you need directions on the streets approach the cops or shopkeepers in the vicinity and college students. They’ll surely go out of their way to help you. Never approach a bunch of jobless people standing in a street corner. They could view you as a potential source of income.

What are other basic traveler’s advices?

Public display of affection like kissing is best avoided. Make 4-5 copies of your passport and visa and carry them during travelling within the country. Keep always some small INR with you. It is best to use only mineral water from properly sealed bottle. Never approach vagabonds on the streets for help. You can easily recognize them from their appearance. Don’t venture away from the beach in your bikini. Stick to busy areas and don’t follow touts, fake sadhus and agents who may offer to show you something interesting. Remember, if there is something interesting enough to see, it should be in your itinerary. Add the telephone number of your driver or tour escort and always make a point to note down the license plate number on your coach during sightseeing tour. It will make it easier for you to locate it later. Politics is also a very sensitive issue in India and any comment or remark is best avoided.

What are the entry formalities to visit Sikkim?

Foreigners must obtain Inner Line Permit (ILP) to visit Sikkim. The Permits can be obtained from all Indian missions, Sikkim tourism office at New Delhi, Kolkata, Siliguri, Melli Check Post and Rangpo Tourist lodge on the strength of an Indian visa, Passport and 2 passport size photograph. The Permit is issued on the spot without any delay. The permissible duration of stay for foreign tourists would be 15 days initially. The State Government is authorized to extend the same twice by a further period of 30 days (15 days each). The extension of permits can be obtained from FRO at GANTOK and superintendent of police of the North, West and South Districts. For those interested for trekking in Sikkim in its restricted and high altitude region, the Department of Tourism issues Protected Area Permit (PAP) at Gangtok which is available for certain specified areas for groups consisting of two or more foreigners subject to the condition that the trekking program is arranged through Local Travel Agents.