Things You Might Like to Know About Travelling in India
India has many faces. From the delights of its cuisine, its amazing diversity of geography, peoples and cultures, to the sacred side, travelling in the subcontinent for the first time can be a daunting task. You will find some essential information and general tips in this section: things to do before you leave home, what to take, the best times to travel in India, and so on. Other topics that will prepare you for travelling in India include: recommendations on accommodations, how to get around in India, how and where to exchange money, mailing parcels, about food and drink, and information on other customs particular to India. About 70% of foreign travellers get sick in India, but with some precautions, this doesn’t have to be you. You will find health suggestions to help ensure your safety and well-being while in India. Remember to check with your health professional about vaccinations, herbal remedies, and other medical supplies to take for your trip.
Preparations: What to Do Before You Leave for India
India needs a bit more preparation than your average voyage, because it is a country of extremes. Paying close attention to your health is critical to enjoying your stay. There are a number of items to take that can only be found outside India which will make sure your stay more comfortable. However, arm yourself with as much information as possible, BEFORE you leave home, and you are less likely to wander blindly into a crisis. Learning from the mistakes of others is often preferable to direct experience.
Consult your local health agency to ensure you get the necessary vaccinations. Do this well in advance, as some consist of multiple shots, and depending where you live, have to be ordered in advance.
No visa, no entry. Unless you are a citizen, you will need a visitor’s visa before you can enter India. Get a multiple entry visa from your Indian Consulate. The price is either the same or similar as a single entry one. A multiple entry visa allows you to make a side-trip to Nepal, a welcome respite from the madness that is India. Again give yourself lots of time to prepare. Many visas can now be processed online at the Indian Consulate’s website. You can fill in forms, double check, triple check before submitting the application. Every country is different, so check well in advance of your trip. Remember that the visa starts the day it is stamped, so your actual time in India will be less depending on when your flight is.
The Best Time to Travel in India
Most experienced travelers move from north to south, starting their journeys in September/October. Winter in places like Delhi can be surprisingly cold. By contrast, December, January and February in south India are hot, HOT, HOT! March in the south is blisteringly hot, and in parts of the north the monsoons begin. For some, it’s the humidity that brings the most discomfort. You can do like the British did, and head for the hill stations. In Tamil Nadu, the hills are 2,000 feet up and blissfully cooler.
Going from point A to B is never something to be undertaken lightly in India. First I have to go to the booking office in the New Delhi Train Station, where the privileged Westerners are allotted a “tourist quota”. In a dingy room, seats are occupied by various bedraggled examples of the traveller, a subspecies that one soon comes to recognize, and belong. Generally, they are found at the lower end of the scale, most noticeable for their shabbiness of appearance. Although, Westerners have access to hot showers and other amenities supplied by even basic hotels, we still compare less favourably to the average Indian, who always appears immaculately turned out.
Excerpt from Nirvana By Installments