India in First Sight
Country Full Name: Republic of India
Area: 3,287,590 sq. km
Population: 1,045,845,226 (2002)
Capital City: New Delhi
Religion: Secular state. Hindu 80%, Muslim 14%, Christian 2.4%, Sikh 2%, Buddhist 0.7%, Jain 0.5%, Zoroastrian and Others 0.4%
Currency Name: Indian Rupee
Electrical Plugs: 230-240V 50Hz
Languages Spoken: Official: Hindi (Major language), Urdu, Tamil, Bengali, Kashmiri, Kannada, Marathi, Gujarati, and Telugu and Essential: English
Time Zones: GMT/UTC +5.5
Country Dialing Code: +91
Weights & Measures: Metric
Passport is travel evidence signed by the national government, which normally signifies the holder as a national of the issuing state and desires that the holder be allowed to enter and exit through other countries. Thus India government also made it mandatory; all the travelers to India barring the national of Nepal and Bhutan should present the valid passport for identification and authenticity.
Any foreigner who wants to enter India must have a valid visa affixed on his or her passport. This can be obtained from the Indian Consulate in your country. Foreign nationals of Indian origin, their spouses and children can obtain visas from the Consulate. Foreign nationals of Indian origin, their spouses and children can obtain Entry Visas valid up to 10 years.
Tourist Visas can be obtained for six months, one year and 10 years. Visas of the appropriate type should be obtained by students, businessmen, journalists and others who want to visit India for professional purposes.
Validity of visas:
All types of visas are valid for the indicated period from the date of issue (and not repeat not from the date of first entry into India).Post-dated visas are not issued.
Application form and picture requirements:
All applicants for Entry and Tourist visas are required to fill out an application form and provide one recent passport size photograph. Applicants for Business, Research, Journalist and some other types of visas are required to submit two forms duly filled in and two pictures.
Visas to non-residents:
Visas can also be issued to persons who normally do not live in the jurisdiction of this Consulate (this also includes people holding Tourist / Business visas) after obtaining clearance from the Indian Mission under whose jurisdiction the applicant normally resides. This however takes a few weeks. The applicant may, however, pay an additional charge for clearance by fax or telex.
Restricted area permits:
Persons desiring to go to a restricted area should fill in special forms and apply well in advance as clearances are required before a permit can be issued to travel to these places. It takes at least 6 to 8 weeks to receive the Government of India's clearances in such cases.
Foreign Currency and Exchange:
Foreign exchange/currency brought into India must be declared at Customs should the value of foreign currency exceed US$ 2,500 or the aggregate value of the foreign exchange including currency notes exceeds US$ 10,000 or equivalent.
You can exchange money at international airports where 24-hour exchange facilities are available through banks and approved money changers. You can also change money at nationalized banks and other banks in the country.
The Indian currency is the Rupee and it is a fully convertible currency. The Rupee notes are available in denominations of 1000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Coins are available in the denominations of 5, 2, 1 (rupee) and 50 paisa.
When paying by an international credit card save your invoices. I prefer to write Indian Rupees also where the amount is filled on the invoice before signing.
Baksheesh, a term which encompasses tipping and a lot more besides, is widespread in India. More often than not, you 'tip' in India not so much for good service but in order to get things done. Judicious baksheesh will often open closed doors, find missing items and perform other small miracles. In mid-range and upper-end restaurants or hotels a service charge (usually 10%) is often added to bills, so tipping is very optional. In smaller places, where a service charge has not been added to the bill, a tip is warmly appreciated - the amount you give depends on how happy you are with the service. Anything upwards of 20.00 is the norm, but exceptional service should be rewarded with at least 50.00.