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About India

Timezone

+ 4h30 in winter and + 3h30 in summer.

Population and language in India

With more than one billion inhabitants, India is today the second most populous country. The country is predominantly rural (75%) and more than 700,000 villages are currently listed. However, there are also some overpopulated megacities in the country, such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai & Calcutta.

If India is considered a mosaic of peoples and languages, there is still a majority language Hindi. 18 official languages and over 1,600 dialects have been recorded. Practiced by a minority, English is widely used, even among the Indians themselves.

There are 18 different languages in India, including Hindi, which is the national language and spoken by about 30% of the population. English is widely spoken.

Religion in India

More than 80% of Indians are Hindu. More than a religion, Hinduism is also a socio-religious system in which society is divided into hereditary and hierarchical communities castes. There are also Muslims (14%), Christians (3%), Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Jews.

Holidays in India

January 26: The Feast of the Republic gives rise to important events. In Delhi, military parade in Rajpath with elephant presence.

August 15: Independence Day.
The Indian religious calendar is filled with colorful ceremonies and festivals, whose dates vary according to the moon. Whether the atmosphere is a place of recollection or exuberance, these holidays are a wonderful sight and an opportunity for amazing encounters. Here are some of the best-known ones:

Pongal (January): the harvest festival in Tamil Nadu, particularly lively in Madurai.

Jaisalmer desert festival (February): many activities around the popular traditions of the region (camel races, puppeteers, snake charmers …)

Hemis Festival (June / July): big religious festival in Ladakh, where the ceremonial costumes are beautiful.

Diwali or Deepavali (new moon of October or November): the festival of lights, which has its origins in the Ramayana, is one of the most popular and joyous. She celebrates Rama’s return from exile and is dedicated to Lakshmi, Kali and Krishna. It also marks the Jain New Year.

Pushkar Fair (November full moon): The most famous camel fair in Rajasthan with Nagaur.

Holi: Colour festival

But also … The Elephant Festival in Jaipur (March), the Feast of Gangaur, goddess of plenty, in Udaipur (March / April), the concerts and shows of Barata-Natyam in Madras (December / January) or even the traditional “Tsechus” in Bhutan (spring and autumn).

Customs in India

Shaking hands was not common in India, but now these days in the big cities it is a fashion. Preferably greet by a posture of hands under your chin and incline your head, all accompanied by a “Namaste” or “Namaskar” (more formal). The Indians generally manifest their approval by a nodding of the head, which can be taken at first for a no … But you will quickly learn to decipher the many nuances that this simple gesture can actually include!

In order not to offend the sensitivity of the Indians, who are often very modest, be sure to keep some restraint and decent behavior when you are in a relationship. Also note that since October 1, 2008 smoking is prohibited in public places in India, under penalty of fine. Finally, if begging is very present in India and can legitimately shock, avoid giving money, even discreetly, especially to children, because you may cause a crowd or participate, involuntarily, the exploitation of misery streets by some unscrupulous individuals. ?

Photography

India is an incredibly photogenic country, where people do not usually mind being photographed. Be sure to ask them first, especially women and religious (pay attention especially sadhus, who willingly pose … but for a few rupees).

Also note that an entry fees on photo and video material is often requested at the entrance of monuments and main tourist sites, its amount (to be paid in local currency) is generally between 1 and 2 € but can, in some cases, reach 5 or even 10 €, depending on the equipment you have and the site visited.

Films, film, batteries: made in provision before departure.

Cooking in India

If one thinks of curry first, the basis of Indian food is actually two types of cereals: in the North, wheat, and in the South, rice. In the North, wheat is used to make pancakes that accompany tandoori (meats or fish cooked in a small clay oven). In the South, the rice is flavored with vegetable curry with sometimes violent spices, main elements of vegetarian cooking to try in its traditional form of “thali”: a large banana leaf where all the ingredients are presented in order to be mixed and tasted with … the fingers. Throughout the country, local fruits and pastries are very popular. The inhabitants of the Himalayan range have food adapted to the lack of food: soups, rice, and green tea, except in the hotels adapted to foreign customers. In the state of Gujarat, hotels and restaurants do not serve alcohol and some establishments only serve vegetarian meals (Mani Mansion in Ahmedabad for example).

How much does it cost in the street?
A tea: 0.50 to 1 €
A bottle of mineral water: 0.45 to 0.95 €
Coca cola: 0.40 to 0.90 €

Accommodation

The use provides installation in your room from 14h on the day of arrival, and the release of it at 12h maximum on the day of departure and sometimes even 10h. A provision outside these hours usually gives rise to a surcharge not included in our pricing. In India, the triple room is usually a double room with an extra bed. On arrival, some hotels may request the credit card imprint for extra personal expenses (minibar, laundry).

Transport Network

Domestic flights: most of India’s major cities are connected by a very good and growing air network, which is shared by four major airlines (Air India, Jet Airways, Indigo and SpiceJet). The proliferation of flights, both international and domestic, has in recent years caused a certain congestion of airports and, consequently, more frequent delays. In addition, schedule changes can occur, especially in the summer, and the order of the steps in your program is therefore subject to change.

Road: With a few exceptions (more and more numerous, however), the Indian road network remains of average quality, even mediocre, and the speed of vehicles, especially buses, rarely exceeds 40 km / h. The journeys can be long and tiring.

Shopping in India

Purchases can be made in state-owned department stores where prices are generally higher but have the advantage of being fixed and where the quality of the products is (in principle) better controlled, or in small shops and bazaars where it is customary to haggle. You will find cotton fabrics, silks, miniatures on silk or paper, sandalwood objects, wool and silk carpets, silver jewelery and precious or semi-precious stones, marble objects, papier mâché boxes. You can easily make tailor-made clothing in most cities. India is very rich in crafts of all kinds, a paradise for the buyer. However, we draw your attention to the fact that in case of shipment of items to France, the import GST may not be included in the purchase invoice and would be required by the customs on arrival. In addition, we cannot be held responsible for any failure to respect delivery times or material damage that may occur during transport.

Communications

Call: from France 00 91 + city code without the 0 + number of the correspondent. From India 00 + country code (1 for USA) + number of the correspondent without the initial 0 Very expensive in hotels but affordable STD and ISD posts more and more numerous. You can use your laptop from most major cities if you have world coverage. The service not so expensive, but the satellite links are improving.
Internet access in many hotels, shops or cyber-cafes.

Gratuities / Tipping

In India, tipping is widespread and expected by your guides and drivers. It should not be perceived as a constraint, but as a reward for a service rendered. Its allocation and amount are at your discretion, so we do not include it in our prices.

However, as an indication, we suggest that you provide:

For trips in groups, between 3 and 5 € per day per person for the escort guide and about 3 € per day and per person for the driver. Also remember to thank the assistant drivers (frequent in India and generally responsible for luggage and the cleanliness of the vehicle).

For individual trips, 4 € per day and per person for a local guide on a stage, 5 € per day and per person for an escort guide accompanying you for the duration of your trip, and about 4 € per day for the chauffeur.

In hotels and restaurants, a box (“tip box”) is usually provided at reception for employees (porters, waiters, maintenance staff, etc.). Otherwise, or if you prefer this solution, you can directly thank the staff if you wish (expect between 0.5 and 1 €, depending on the category of establishment).

Prepare your trip

Formalities for India

Visa required.
You have the option to obtain a classic visa by us (recommended, contact us for the details of the procedure) or an electronic visa.

Procedure for obtaining an electronic visa:
The official site for your online application is as follows
https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html

You will find a complete list of instructions to follow and documents to provide.

To note nevertheless:

Approach to be done at least 4 days and at most 120 days before the effective date of departure (example: for a request on September 1st, you can select an arrival date between September 5th and January 2nd)

Passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry into the country and having 2 consecutive blank pages

Documents to download during your online application: A clear and legible copy of your passport details in PDF format (> 10 KB and a recent identity photo in JPEG format (> 10KB and Attention these 2 documents must meet the required standards!

Visa cost: 50 US $ / person (payable directly online by credit card and non-refundable). The amount of the bank fee at checkout is 2.5% of the amount of the e-visa (= 1.2 USD).

The E-visa does NOT allow to visit Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Mizoram, and Nagaland. Plan a traditional visa for these regions.

ATTENTION: Remember to print and keep a copy of your eTV (e-Tourist Visa) and bring it with you on the day of departure (it will be requested upon check-in or boarding)

Your biometric data (fingerprints and facial recognition) will be collected upon your arrival in India at the passage of immigration (new measure, compulsory, imposed by the Indian authorities)

Validity of eTV:

https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html
To be used imperatively within 120 days of obtaining

Valid for a stay of 60 days maximum (not extendable)

Two entries are allowed (not modifiable)

Accepted only at the following 24 airports (to date): Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Chennai, Goa, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bagdogra, Bengaluru, Calicut, Chandigarh, Cochin, Coimbatore, Gaya, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mangalore , Nagpur, Pune, Tiruchirapalli, Trivandrum, Varanasi.

Attention it is possible to obtain only two e-visas a year.

This is the general information please check with your embassy.

In addition, please note that in the event of high attendance (high season, arrival of several flights, etc.), the formalities relating to the E-visa on arrival at Indian airports (collection of biometric data) may take a sometime (up to 2 hours wait, sometimes more!) and the staff at the immigration counters do not speak French at all but only English & Hindi.

If within a group, some people have a traditional visa and others an E-visa, then the first will have to wait for others … because the transfer can only be done once all participants in the group. trip together.

Important: For people traveling to the state of Gujarat, it is imperative to bring a copy of the passport and photo ID to visit the tribal villages of Banned.

Health

No vaccine is required for India, but it is recommended to be up-to-date with DT Polio, Hepatitis A and B vaccines and typhoid fever. Anti-malarial treatment is recommended in some areas. Consult your doctor. Bring your personal medical treatments and what to fight against gastric and intestinal disorders. Provide protection against mosquitoes and against the sun often biting. It is not recommended to drink tap water, eat raw vegetables or fruits that you have not removed yourself.

Money in India

The national currency is the rupee (Rp or INR).
Euros and dollars are changed at most hotels and banks. Have a maximum of small bills to pay for your purchases, it will help you to negotiate better. All credit cards are accepted in hotels and most shops. Be sure to always collect your purchase receipts and keep your exchange certificates. ATMs are becoming more common in major cities and airports.

Withdrawal of 500 and 2000 Indian Rupees notes from the monetary circuit. For any information regarding the actions taken by the Indian authorities on these matters, it is recommended to consult the website of the Reserve Bank of India (https://www.rbi.org.in/)

We advise you to bring cash, in euros or dollars, to change them on the spot.

For the exchange rate, go to http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/

When to go?

The climate of all of India, subject to the monsoon, is tropical except in the extreme north (Himalayan regions).

Winter, or dry season, from mid-October to March, is considered the best season to visit India. The weather is dry and sunny and the temperature rarely exceeds 25 ° C.

Summer, from March to the end of June, is experiencing increasing temperatures exceeding 35 ° C, and is wetter in the south.

Things to carry:

In general, only one piece of checked luggage of 20 kg per person is accepted by airlines on international flights (in economy class). Some companies allow up to 30 kg, please refer to your electronic ticket (e-ticket) or your itinerary receipt.

However, be careful if your trip involves domestic flights because the maximum weight allowed for checked baggage on most domestic flights in India is 15 kg. Any excess can therefore be subject to a tariff adjustment at the time of your registration (about 250 INR / kg additional indicative, subject to change).

Plan light wool for winter evenings and air-conditioned interiors (buses, restaurants, hotels) and some warm clothes if you are traveling in North India (Rajasthan and Ganges Valley) between December and February (let alone in the regions). Himalayan, including in summer. We also advise you to bring comfortable, easy-to-remove shoes and “go-anywhere” socks for visiting the temples. In general, avoid shorts, tight pants, short skirts and bare shoulders, especially in holy places.

During the monsoon season, from June to September, plan to protect yourself from the rain. Bring loose light cotton clothes that will allow you to face the sun like moisture.

Finally, for the most sensitive to noise, think of sliding earplugs in your bag to protect you from the noise associated with the calls for prayer of the muezzin in some cities and possible local festivities.

Electricity in India

220 volts. Check if an adapter is needed at http://www.supplies.info/ or plan a universal adapter.
In addition, provide a flashlight in case of power failure in some remote areas.