India travel guide
From the snow-capped Himalayas in the north to the sun-drenched coastal villages of the south, India unfolds like an ancient tapestry. At times threadbare and fading, the land stretches from desert dunes and scattered slums to the rich embroidery of ancient, jewelled palaces, and the majestic domes of forgotten empires.
Since the first civilisations developed on the banks of the Indus river almost 5,000 years ago, India has given birth to Buddhism and Hinduism, been touched by the empire of Alexander the Great, seen the ancient empires of the Mauryas and Guptas rise and fall, and has traded with Pharaohs and Caesars. An invasion by the Huns scattered its people until the sweeping hand of Islam saw new kingdoms rise, heralding the era of the Sultans. Defeat came again as the Mogul Emperors marched over the mountains and into the Punjab. The decline of the Mogul Empire gave way to the Marathas, who consolidated control of India just in time for the arrival of the British. The sun finally set on the British Empire as India reclaimed independence in 1947, heralding a new age of democracy.
India is a feast for the senses; where the air is heavy with the scent of jasmine and dancers trail frenetic melodies in colourful silk saris. Its cooks compose dishes from a palette of exotic spices that may leave a lingering taste of saffron or aniseed. In India's cities, the hardship of slum-living competes with the cacophony of seemingly endless traffic and a myriad of other textures, colours and movements all jostling for attention. India can be overwhelming to the senses, but its variety is part of its charm.
The currency is the Indian Rupee (INR), which is divided into 100 paise (singular paisa). Major currencies can be changed at banks, and authorised bureaux de change. It is illegal to exchange money through the black market and it is advisable to refuse torn notes, as no one will accept them apart from the National Bank. It is best to change money into small denominations. Major credit cards are widely accepted, particularly in tourist orientated establishments. ATMs are not generally available.
Language : Although English is generally used for official and business purposes, Hindi is the official language and is spoken by about 40 percent of the population. Urdu is the language common with the Muslim demographic. India has a total of 22 official languages
Electricity : 230 volts, 50Hz. A variety of power outlets are used in India, but most plugs have two or three round pins.
Entry Requirements :
US citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months upon arrival, and a visa, to enter India. US citizens can apply for visas online and purchase them upon arrival provided they have passports valid for six months, a printed copy of the e-Tourist visa confirmation that was applied for online, a passport valid for at least six months from the arrival date and containing at least two unused visa pages, and return or onward tickets. e-Tourist visas are valid for up to 30 days and can only be issued a maximum of two times per calendar year.
British citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months upon arrival, and a visa, to enter India.
Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months upon arrival, and a visa, to enter India.
Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months upon arrival, and a visa, to enter India as tourists. Australian citizens can apply for visas online and purchase them upon arrival provided they have passports valid for six months, a printed copy of the e-Toursit visa confimation that was applied for online, a passport valid for at least six months from the arrival date and containing at least two unused visa pages, and return or onward tickets. e-Tourist visas are valid for up to 30 days and may only be issued a maximum of two times per calendar year.
South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months upon arrival, and a visa, to enter India.
Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months upon arrival, and a visa, to enter India.
Citizens of New Zealand must have a passport that is valid for at least six months upon arrival, and a visa, to enter India. New Zealanders can apply for visas online and purchase them upon arrival provided they have passports valid for six months, a printed copy of the e-Tourist visa confirmation that was applied for online, a passport valid for a minimum of six months from the arrival date and containing at least two unused visa pages, and return or onward tickets. e-Tourist visas are valid for up to 30 days and can only be issued a maximum of two times per calendar year.
Passport/Visa Note :
Visa extensions are not possible for tourist visas. Other visas may be eligible for extensions, which are applied for through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Holders of multiple-entry Tourist Visas (visa type code "T"), with a validity ranging from above three months and up to 10 years, are no longer required to leave a gap of at least two months between visits unless they are nationals from Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan and Bangladesh.
Indian law does not permit dual citizenship for nationals of India. An Indian national holding dual nationality should contact their embassy or consulate for further information. Passengers in possession of an "Overseas Citizen of India" card or a "Person of Indian Origin" card, however, are liable to enter the country without a visa.
Note that a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required, if arriving in India within six days of leaving or transiting through heavily infected areas. Also note that the following areas of India are restricted, and require that visitors obtain a permit BEFORE entering them: (Protected Areas) parts of the state of Manipur, parts of the state of Mizoram, parts of the state of Arunachal Pradesh, the whole state of Nagaland, the whole State of Sikkim, parts of the state of Uttaranchal, parts of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, parts of the state of Rajasthan, parts of the state of Himachal Pradesh; (Restricted Areas) the whole of the union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, part of the state of Sikkim. If surface travel is involved, and nationals travel via restricted areas, they require a "pass" issued by either the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (located in each major Indian city), or the Superintendent of Police (located in each Indian district), or the diplomatic representation of India in Bhutan or Nepal.
NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Travel Health :
There are many health risks associated with travel to India and although no vaccinations are required for entry into the country travellers should take medical advice on vaccinations at least three weeks before departure. Outbreaks of dengue fever and chikungunya virus occur, both transmitted by mosquitoes. Malaria outbreaks are common in areas above 6,562 feet (2,000m), particularly in the northeast of the country. Outbreaks of cholera occur frequently. Travellers from an infected area should hold a yellow fever certificate. Rabies is also a hazard, and should you get bitten by a dog, cat or rat it is best to consult a medical practitioner immediately. Travellers to the Himalayan Mountains should also be aware of the risks of altitude sickness.
Food poisoning is a risk in India: all water and ice should be regarded as contaminated, and visitors should drink only bottled water and ensure that the seal on the bottle is intact. Meat and fish should be regarded as suspect in all but the best restaurants, and should always be well cooked and served hot. Salads and unpeeled fruit should be avoided. Diarrhea is common among travellers to India and is best treated with re-hydration salts; however, if symptoms persist for more than two days visiting a private hospital is recommended.
Health facilities are adequate in the larger cities, but limited in rural areas. Travellers should have comprehensive medical insurance, and carry a standard first-aid kit complete with a course of general antibiotics.
In India, taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped; however, tipping is expected for other services (porters, guides, hotel staff and waiters in small establishments). In tourist restaurants or hotels a 10 percent service charge is often added to bills. 'Baksheesh' is common in India: more a bribe than a tip, it is given before rather than after service.
Safety Information :
Travellers in India must be aware of, but not paranoid about, the threat of terrorism. Recent attacks in Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Agra and Bangalore occurred in popular tourist haunts like hotels, railway stations, markets and temples. There is the threat that public places frequented by Western tourists in the metropolitan centres (Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai) may be targeted in future. Tourist areas such as Goa are also at risk. Travellers visiting large religious events are advised that these ceremonies, which attract hundreds of thousands of people, can result in life-threatening stampedes. Generally speaking it is best to avoid big crowds, but this is very difficult to do in India.
On a more everyday level, there is a risk of minor property left, such as pick-pocketing, but incidents of violent crime in India are low. Travellers using India's vast railway network are advised to lock their baggage, and to keep it as close to them as possible. There are also always stories about India involving scam-artists - so be on your guard, and if someone offers you a 'business opportunity' that seems too be good to be true, remember that it probably is.
Female travellers should note that rape is a problem in India, and there have been incidents of rape and assault on public transport. Women should avoid travelling alone after dark and avoid travel to secluded rural areas.
Local Customs :
India is a tolerant society, but visitors should educate themselves about the countries religious and social customs so as not to cause offence: for example, smoking in public was banned in 2008. When visiting temples visitors will probably be required to remove their footwear and cover their heads. Generally, women should dress more conservatively than (perhaps) they are used to doing at home, both to respect local sensibilities and to avoid unwanted attention. Topless bathing is illegal. Indians do not like to disappoint, and often instead of saying 'no', will come up with something that sounds positive, even if incorrect. Social order and status are very important in Indian culture - remain respectful and obliging with elders. Avoid using your left hand, particularly when eating.
Business in India is conducted formally, with punctuality an important aspect. Suits and ties are appropriate, and women in particular should dress modestly. If it is very hot, jackets are usually not required and short-sleeve shirts are deemed appropriate. It is customary to engage in small talk before getting down to business, and topics can range from anything from cricket to politics. Business cards are usually exchanged on initial introduction, using the right hand only. Handshakes are fairly common, though one should wait to see if greeted with a hand, or a 'namaste' - a traditional I
ndian greeting of a small bow accompanied by hands clasped as if in prayer. Visitors should return the greeting as it is given. It is common for women to participate in business meetings, and hold high positions in companies, and foreign businesswomen are readily accepted. Business hours are usually from 9.30 to 5.30pm (weekdays) with a lunch break from 1pm to 2pm, and Saturdays from 9.30am to 1pm.
The international access code for India is +91. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)11 for Delhi. International calls can be quite expensive and there are often high surcharges on calls made from hotels; it is cheaper to use a calling card. Alternatively, there are telephone agencies in most towns which are identifiable by the letters STD for long distance internal calls and ISD for the international service. The local mobile phone operators use GSM networks and have roaming agreements with most international operators. Internet cafes are available in the main cities and resorts.
Duty Free :
Travellers to India over 17 years do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco; one bottle of alcohol; medicine in reasonable amounts; 59ml of perfume and 250ml eau de toilette; and goods for personal use. Prohibited items include livestock, bird and pig meat products.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport
Location: The airport is located 17km (11 miles), or 60 minutes drive, from the city centre
Time: Local time is UTC/GMT +5.5 hours
Contacts: +91 (0)33 2511 9977, +91 (0)33 511 8787
Transfer between terminals: There are three terminals at NSCBI Airport: a Domestic Terminal, an International Terminal and a Cargo Terminal. The passenger terminals, connected by aero-bridges, are within easy walking distance of one another. A fourth terminal, scheduled to be completed in early 2012, will feature two tiers for departures and arrivals, ensuring international travellers with connecting flights will have an easier time of it.
Getting to the city: Train: NSCBI Airport is linked to the Kolkata Suburban Railway system via the junction at nearby Dum Dum, three miles (5km) away. Trains leave for surrounding areas every 10- 15 minutes at peak times and every hour off-peak. There is a station at the airport itself, but as trains run infrequently, it might be quicker and easier to take a taxi to the station at Dum Dum and move on from there. From Dum Dum, you can also catch the underground Kolkata Metro train to surrounding areas.
Taxi: The airport offers a pre-paid car hailing service, whereby metered yellow cabs, Radio cabs, Mega cabs and Kolkata cabs can be availed on your behalf. A trip to the city takes 30- 40 minutes at best and up to two hours in heavy traffic. It'll cost about INR 400 to get into town.
Bus: Air-conditioned Volvo buses travel between the airport and city every 10- 15 minutes from early morning to around 10pm. They also travel to the station at Dum Dum.
Car rental: A few car rental companies, including Avis, Europcar, and some local companies, have desks in the international arrivals hall.
Airport Taxis: Taxis are available at the airport. Taking the metro to the airport requires that you take a taxi to cover the final 3 miles (about 5km).
Facilities: Money and communications: There are ATMs and currency exchange facilities at the airport.
Luggage: A baggage wrapping service is available in the international departure area, and there are left luggage offices in both the International and Domestic Terminals.
Conference and business: NSCBI Airport has yet to construct business and conference facilities. However, surrounding hotels offer the full gamut of amenities for the corporate traveller.
Other facilities: The terminal at NSCBI Airport features a standard array of facilities, including a VIP lounge, tourist information centre, first aid room, childcare room and post office.
Wifi: wifi is not yet available, but there is an internet café in the International Terminal.
Information: The staff at NSCBI Airport are generally friendly, although English is not widely spoken. Familiarise yourself with Bengali travel jargon and ensure that you are equipped with a dictionary or phrasebook.
Shopping: Besides duty-free shops and a few gift stores, the airport itself does not feature any noteworthy brand outlets for the serious shopper. However, a shopping mall is being built nearby where the Hotel Ashok once stood.
Food and Drink: NSCBI Airport doesn't have a huge selection of dining establishments. Your best bet is the airport's only restaurant, Haldiram Prabhujior. Otherwise a small selection of cafés offer convenience foods, while tea, coffee and soft drink vending machines are situated throughout the terminal building.
Parking: There's a 250-bay car park near each terminal, with both short- and long-term parking facilities. The area is currently being expanded to include underground parking.
Departure tax: Rs. 500 (usually included in ticket price)
Indira Gandhi International Airport
Location: The airport is located just over 9 miles (16km) south of New Delhi city centre.
Time: GMT +5.5
Contacts: +91 (0)11 329 6535, +91 (0)11 565 2011, IGIA Customer Care Line: +91 (0)12 4337 6000, Managing Director: +91 (0)25 696579
Transfer between terminals: Terminal transfer shuttles connect Terminal 3 (international) and Terminal 1 (domestic). The shuttles are free and run every 20 minutes. Some domestic airlines operate from Terminal 3 (international) so it's best to check with your airline before mistakenly transferring terminals.
Getting to the city: Train: The airport express Delhi Metro line connects the airport to central New Delhi. It operates from Terminal 3 between 5am and 11pm. Trains run at 20-minute intervals.
Bus: Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses run every 30 minutes between the airport and central Delhi's Interstate Bus Terminal and Connaught Place. The buses can be found at the 'staging area' near Terminal 3 and opposite the Centaur Hotel. The free DIAL shuttle runs between the staging area and the terminal every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day. Bus fares from the airport cost between INR 25 and INR 100, depending on your destination. Concessions are available for parents buying tickets for their children.
Car rental: Carzonrent is located just after the customs area in the arrivals section of Terminal 3.
Airport Taxis: Metered taxis are available at the airport but it is best to use pre-paid taxis. The airport has a relationship with three Cab operators, Meru Cabs, Mega Cabs and Easy Cabs. Approved fares for various locations are displayed at the taxi counters located inside the Arrivals halls. Pick-up points are just outside the terminals. Travel time to the city is about 30 minutes.
Facilities: Airport facilities include banks, ATMs and currency exchange; public telephones and a post office; baggage wrapping and storage; conference facilities and VIP lounges; complementary strollers, a kids play area and baby changing rooms; foot massages, a smoking area, shower facilities, prayer room, drinking water fountains, medical facilities and a pharmacy. There are also sleeping pods available at an hourly fee, and plenty of shopping and dining options.
Parking: Parking garages are just 300 feet (100m) from Terminal 1, and there is a multi-storey garage attached to the International Terminal.
Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport
Location: The airport is located 18 miles (29km) north of Mumbai.
Time: GMT +5.5
Contacts: +91 (0)22 2615 6500, Terminal 1: +91 (0)22 2615 6600, Terminal 2: +91 (0)22 2682 9000
Transfer between terminals: The two terminals are connected by a free bus service which takes 10-15 minutes.
Getting to the city: Taxis are the only direct transport from the airport to the city. Make sure to take a government licensed taxi with a fare conversion chart as unlicensed taxis are known to overcharge travellers. The Mumbai Suburban Railway Network consists of three lines, namely the Western, Central Main, and the Harbour Lines; all of which connect to various parts of the city. The closest station to Terminal 1 (Vile Parle), is located in Santacruz, while the nearest station to Terminal 2 (Andheri) is located in Sahar. Both may be reached via a quick bus or taxi trip from the airport. Buses also travel between the airport and the nearby railway stations of Vile Parle and Andheri. Catch bus 312 in Terminal 1 and bus 321 in Terminal 2 to reach these stations respectively. Auto Rickshaws are also available for transfers to public transport.
Car rental: Car hire, with or without a driver, can be arranged in the Arrivals terminal. Passengers are strongly advised not to try drive themselves around Mumbai.
Airport Taxis: Pre-paid taxis are available outside Arrivals, at both terminals. The journey time is approximately one hour to the city centre of Mumbai.
Facilities: Facilities at the airport include ATMs, currency exchange and a post office, left luggage services, executive lounges and a business centre, tourist information counters, duty-free shopping, childcare rooms, medical facilities, a prayer room and a smoking lounge. A variety of restaurants and fast food outlets are available.
Parking: CSIA has a car parking facility at both domestic and international terminals. Parking starts at about INR 130 for the first half hour and goes up to INR 1000 for a 24 hour period.
Kempegowda International Airport
Location: The airport is located in Devanahalli, 18 miles (29km) north of downtown Bengaluru (Bangalore)
Time: GMT +5.5
Contacts: +91 (0)80 6678 2425/3366, Flight Enquiry Line: +91 (0)80 6678 2251/2255
Getting to the city: A high-speed rail link between the airport and the city has been planned for the airport, but unfortunately it is not yet in operation. The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) offers a shuttle service called 'VayuVajra' which operates 24 hours a day. The most current BMTC fares, routes and schedules are displayed in the arrivals hall just before the exit.
Car rental: Driving on the often-chaotic roads of India is not recommended and it is better to rent a car with a driver who knows the roads and the rules of the road. Rental operators are located in the arrivals part of the airport. Operators at the airport include Akbar Travels and Carzonrent.
Airport Taxis: The official airport taxis are operated by Mega Cabs, Karnataka Taxi and Meru Cabs. The 22-mile (35km) drive into central Bengaluru can take anything from 30 minutes to two hours depending on traffic. Air conditioned taxis charge an INR 80 flag fee, INR 19.50 per kilometre, and a 10 percent charge for night fares between midnight and 6am; non air conditioned taxis are cheaper.
Facilities: ATMs and currency exchange facilities are available. Porters are available for hire. Airline lounges have business facilities and internet access. Passengers travelling with infants can also make use of the baby care rooms. There is a duty free shop and a number of other shops as well as a varied range of eating options and bars.
Parking: Short-term parking is INR 90 for the first hour, and INR 50 per hour thereafter. Long-term parking in P2 is INR 140 for the first four hours, and from INR 50 per subsequent two hour period, up to INR 300 for the first day and INR 200 per day thereafter.
Kochi International Airport (Formerly Cochin)
Location: 15 miles (25km) north of Nedumbassery. The drive takes from 45mins to an hour.
Contacts: +91 (0)484 261 0115
Transfer between terminals: Terminals are located within walking distance of each other.
Getting to the city: Taxis are available outside the main terminal and there are pre-paid taxi desks in the arrivals halls of both terminals. The KSRTC bus stops outside the departures terminal and buses go to a number of areas throughout Kerala. There is no train station at the airport, however the railway line from Kanyakumari to Delhi is adjacent to the airport between Alwaye and Angamaly Railway Stations.
Airport Taxis: Metered taxis are available outside Arrivals for both terminals. Cochin International Airport offers pre-paid taxis through kiosks found inside both the Domestic and International Terminals, these need to be paid in cash. Fares to Ernakulam are Rs 500 and takes approximately an hour, fares to Willington Island and Fort Kochi cost approximately Rs 650.
Facilities: A 24hr ATM can be found in the car park opposite both terminals. Wi-fi is available throughout the terminal but access to an Indian mobile telephone number is needed in order to register for the service. There are a number of restaurants and snack bars as well as book shops, curio stalls and a money exchange facility.
Parking: Car parking facilities are available opposite the terminals.
Trivandrum International Airport
Location: 3.7 miles (6km) from Thiruvananthapuram
Time: GMT +5.5
Contacts: +91 471 2500 283
Transfer between terminals: The terminals are close enough together for you to walk from one to the other.
Getting to the city: Train: There is no train or subway service to Trivandrum Airport. There are train connections in Thiruvananthapuram to other cities in India.
Bus: There is a city bus service from Trivandrum into Thiruvananthapuram. KSRTC Bus No. 14 runs from outside the International Terminal to the city bus terminal at East Fort, near the Padmanabhaswamy temple. The trip takes about half an hour and costs INR 10. KSRTC buses run to other cities fairly regularly as well, but with no real timetable.
Several hotels in the Thiruvananthapuram area offer private shuttles for guests, including Hotel Pankaj, Leela Kempinski, Taj Green Cove, Hotel Uday Samudra, and Hotel Samundra.
Taxi: There is a prepaid taxi desk in the baggage claim area with fares listed to various destinations. To get the advertised fare, collect a coupon from the desk and give it to the driver along with your money. An average fare to the centre of Thiruvananthapuram is about INR 210. The prices listed are for non-air-conditioned cabs; air-conditioned taxis will cost about 50% more.
Car rental: There are no internationally-recognised companies that have car hire offices at Trivandrum, but there are many local companies represented. Most companies provide a driver with the car as driving in India is notoriously difficult and unpleasant. In order to rent a car, you will need to provide your local driver's licence along with your International Drivers' Permit.
Airport Taxis: There are taxis available outside the airport terminal.
Facilities: Money and communications: Bank, currency exchange, post office, and internet kiosks.
Luggage: There is a lost and found office in International Terminal, and free baggage trolleys are available for use in the airport. Conference and business: There are no business or conference facilities at Trivandrum, but there is internet available in the International Terminal, which has a Business Class lounge. Other facilities: Amenities at Trivandrum include medical facilities, dormitories, wheelchairs, child care facilities, phone-charging points, and free local calls.
Wi-Fi: No reliable information on wi-fi access is available.
Information: There are information desks located in all three terminals.
Shopping: There is duty-free shopping in the International Terminal with the usual selection of alcohol, cigarettes and perfume. Other shopping opportunities are slim but you can find books, small gifts and souvenirs and mobile phones in both terminals.
Food and Drink: There are a couple of nondescript restaurants and cafes in each terminal, and kiosks selling snacks and soft drinks.
Parking: Parking at Trivandrum Airport costs INR 60 for up to four hours. Long-term parking is also available.
Departure tax: There is a new (March 2011) user fee of Rs. 575, for international passengers departing from Trivandrum
Dabolim Goa International Airport
Location: The airport is located 18 miles (about 29km) southwest of Panaji
Time: Local time is GMT +5.5.
Contacts: Tel: +91 8325 13806
Transfer between terminals: There are two terminals adjacent to each other, and which you can get between on foot.
Getting to the city: Train: The airport has a train station 1km from the terminals. The Indian Rail line goes to Margoa, about 45 minutes away, as well as to Vasco da Gama, about 2 miles (4km) from the airport.
Bus: There are public buses that leave from just outside the airport terminal every half hour. They go to Panjim, Mapusa, Ponda and Margoa, and cost Rs. 14-20. Public buses also go to the nearby city of Vasco da Gama. There is also a stop at the closer Chicalim bus stop, about 0.93 miles (1.5km) from the airport.
Taxi: Pre-paid taxis are available outside the terminal building. It'll cost about Rs. 350-475 to get to Panaji city centre.
Car rental: Although it is not recommended that you do so, you can hire cars through local operator Savaari, which has pick-up points outside both the domestic and international terminals, as well as the railway station.
Airport Taxis: Taxis available outside the arrivals area (approx. 30 minutes, Rs. 460 to Panaji).
Facilities: Money and communications: Currency exchange services are available, although you might find better rates elsewhere.
Luggage: Complimentary luggage trolleys are available throughout the airport. A baggage wrapping machine is located in international departures.
Conference and business: No business facilities are available at this airport.
Other facilities: There is a first aid centre at the airport, and a child-care facility is currently under construction.
Wi-Fi: Wi-fi is available via Tata Indicom.
Information: An information desk with details on local tourism and transport options is located in the international arrivals hall.
Shopping: Shopping at the airport is very limited, but a small selection is available. Between Goa Handicraft Emporium and Peals & Leather Garments there is a fair selection of Goan mementos available from the domestic terminal, and the TR store has some local fashions in the international departures, in addition to the duty free.
Food and Drink: Best not to arrive too hungry at Goa International Airport, as options are limited once you've gone through security. There is a small snack bar in international departures, and the odd vending machine. If you haven't yet gone through security, an airport restaurant is located outside domestic arrivals.
Parking: Goa airport has capacity for 350 cars and 10 coaches. Parking is charged at INR 60 for up to four hours, and INR 360 per day.
Departure tax: Any taxes or service fees will be included in your ticket price
Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport
Location: 6.8 miles (11km) northwest of Amritsar
Time: GMT +5.5
Contacts: Tel: +9 (0)1 183 221 4166. Email: email@example.com
Getting to the city: Getting to Amritsar from the airport is easiest by taxis, which are readily available from the city side of the Arrivals area. The nearest bus station is 8 miles (13km) from the airport, and there is no bus service from the airport. There is a free shuttle to the Golden Temple, and many hotels in the area operate airport shuttle services.
Car rental: Several companies operate car rental facilities at Amritsar Airport. Note that travellers are strongly advised against driving themselves around India.
Airport Taxis: Metered taxis are available outside the arrivals area.
Facilities: Airport facilities include duty-free shopping, medical facility, lost and found, telephones, currency exchange, and a restaurant and snack bar.
Parking: There is a general car park with a capacity of 500 cars. Rates are Rs 60 for four hours.
Departure tax: Rs. 750 for international passengers; Rs. 200 for domestic passengers (sometimes included in your ticket price)
Chennai Madras (Meenambakkam) International Airport
Location: The airport is located 4.3 miles (7km) south of Chennais city centre
Time: GMT +5.5
Contacts: +91 11 246 32950
Transfer between terminals: Chennai International Airport is comprised of Anna International Terminal (AIT), Kamaraj Domestic Terminal (KDT), and a cargo terminal. A link building connects the international and domestic terminals, while different areas of the terminals are accessible via aerobridges and pedestrian walkways.
Getting to the city: Airport taxis: Always use prepaid taxis to get into the city from the airport; it's the safest way to ensure that you reach your destination without being overcharged. Numerous taxi companies have counters in the arrivals section of Chennai International Airport: use Aviation Express, as they have the best reputation, and sometimes offer you a choice of vehicles (either the wonderful old Ambassador cars, or newer Toyota Innova minivans). Make sure you have small notes or coins on you for a tip. Expect to pay INR 350-450 for the 30-minute trip into town.
Auto-Rickshaw (Tuk-Tuk): If you want to dive right into India's most exhilarating transportation experience, three-wheeled auto-rickshaws are also widely available to get you into town from the airport. Be warned that they are really uncomfortable if you have a lot of baggage with you, and you're almost certainly going to have to negotiate a price with your driver (they won't use the metre) before taking off. Try for INR 200, and don't go above INR 300.
Bus: There is also a public bus stop located right outside the gates to Chennai International Airport. Bus No. 18A operates between 5am and 10pm, making frequent trips into the city. Make sure you tell the driver where you're going, so they can help get off at the right stop. Expect to pay about INR 20 for the 45-minute trip. Bus No. 18B (INR 35) operates along the same route as 18A, but is air-conditioned, and generally less full.
Train: If you leave Chennai International Airport, walk through the gate, down Great Southern Trunk Road, and go through the underpass running beneath National Highway 45 - you'll find yourself in Tirusulam Railway Station. From there, you can get to the city (Egmore Station) every 20-30 minutes by train. Train stations in India can get very hectic, so it's probably advisable to buy your tickets from the rail service counter at the airport. The trip between the stations should take about 25-30 minutes, costing INR 12 (for 2nd class, not recommended if you have baggage) or INR 100 (approx. for 1st class).
Car rental: Car rentals are provided by Avis, Hertz and Budget. You'll find their desks in the arrivals area. You will need an International Drivers' Permit to rent a car - but it really, really isn't recommended, especially if you've never driven in India before.
Airport Taxis: Always use prepaid taxis to get into the city from the airport; it's the safest way to ensure that you reach your destination without being overcharged. Numerous taxi companies have counters in the arrivals section of Chennai International Airport: use Aviation Express, as they have the best reputation, and sometimes offer you a choice of vehicles (either the wonderful old Ambassador cars, or newer Toyota Innova minivans). Make sure you have small notes or coins on you for a tip. Expect to pay INR 350-450 for the 30-minute trip into town.
Facilities: Money and communications: There are ATMs dotted throughout Chennai International Airport, as well as currency exchange offices in the arrivals hall, the departures hall, and the International Terminal.
Luggage: There is a lost and found office in the baggage reclaim area. Luggage trolleys are free to use, and porters can be hired to help you heft your bags, if necessary.
Conference and business: There's a Communication Centre located in the arrivals hall, offering internet browsing, video phones, and photocopying, fax and conferencing facilities.
Other facilities: Other facilities at Chennai International Airport include airline lounges, medical facilities, retiring rooms, vending machines, TVs, a rail reservation counter, and basic access and facilities for disabled passengers.
Wi-Fi facilities: Wi-fi connectivity is available in the terminal buildings, provided free of charge.
Information: A government-run Tourist Information Counter is located in the arrivals area, providing great information (including maps, brochures, etc.) about Chennai and the greater Tamil Nadu area, as well.
Food and Drink: The range of restaurants, bars and cafes at Chennai International Airport is rather under-whelming, being largely comprised of snack kiosks and vending machines. Of course, these independent establishments might well turn out some excellent fare, but the safest best would be to grab something in one of the airline lounges, such as Air India's Maharaja Lounge, located in the International Terminal.
Shopping: Shopping is not an area in which Chennai International Airport excels; however, there is a duty-free shop located in the International Terminal, and numerous kiosks selling newspapers, magazines, and basic travel accessories.
Parking: There is short- and long-stay parking available for 500 cars and buses at Chennai International Airport. The parking lot is located right outside the terminal buildings, and the fee is INR 25 per two hours (or part thereof).
Departure tax: There is a departure tax of INR 700 for passengers leaving Chennai International Airport; however, this fee is usually included in the price of your air ticket.
Parking: All parking at Ahmedabad Airport is charged at INR 60 per hour, and there are parking facilities at both terminals.
Hyderabad Rajiv Gandhi International Airport
Location: The airport is located 19 miles (25km) from Hyderabad city centre.
Time: GMT +5.30
Contacts: Tel: +91 40 6676 4000
Getting to the city: Pushpak offers a comfortable, air conditioned bus service to and from a number of destinations within Hyderabad; a one-way ticket into the city costs about INR 200, but the price varies according to destination. There is also a bus service to other destinations operated by APSRTC. See the airport website for more detail and exact fares.
Car rental: Carzonrent and One Car rental services operate from the airport.
Airport Taxis: Meru and Sky radio taxis are available at the airport. They are air conditioned and metered, charging INR 21 per kilometre. Surcharges will be charged at night.
Facilities: The airport offers a prayer room, smoking areas, medical facilities, a lost and found, baggage wrapping services, and shower facilities. There are also many places to eat, drink and shop, including a duty-free section.
Parking: There is space for more than 3,000 vehicles in different zones. Prices range from INR 50 for the first half hour, to INR 300 for 24 hours. There are long-term parking facilities available.
Departure tax: INR 430 (domestic departure); INR 1,700 (international departure).
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It is hard to generalise in a country that runs from the Himalayas to the beaches of the Indian Ocean and encompasses half a dozen climatic regions, but broadly speaking, India has a tropical climate which is dominated by monsoons, heat and humidity. Tropical hurricanes and cyclones are also part of the general weather outlook in the middle and at the end of the year, especially in coastal areas. On average, October through to March tend to be the most pleasant months in India, when it is relatively dry and cool, but the best time to visit really does depend on your destination: in the far south the best months to visit are between January and September; northeastern areas of India tend to be more comfortable between March and August; the deserts of Rajasthan (west of Jodhpur) and the northwestern Indian Himalayan region are at their best during the monsoon season (July to September); and the mountainous regions of Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir should be visited over the summer months (May to September). Whenever you visit it is bound to be hot, which is why generally the summer months are best avoided in favour of the cooler winter and more mild shoulder seasons.
Indian Tourist Office, New Delhi: +91 (0)11 2332 0005 or
United States Embassy, New Delhi: +91 (0)11 2419 8000.
British High Commission, New Delhi: +91 (0)11 2419 2100.
Canadian High Commission, New Delhi: +91 (0)11 4178 2000.
Australian High Commission, New Delhi: +91 (0)11 4139 9900.
South African High Commission, New Delhi: +91 (0)11 2614 9411.
Irish Embassy, New Delhi: +91 (0)11 4940 3200.
New Zealand High Commission, New Delhi: +91 (0)11 2688 3170.
Indian Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 939
Foreign Embassies in India
Indian High Commission, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7836 8484.
Indian High Commission, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 744 3751/52/53
Indian High Commission, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)2 8223 9909.
Indian High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 342 5392.
Indian Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 496 6792.
Indian High Commission, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 (0)4 473 6390/1.