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visa

You need a visa to visit India. But if you are coming from Nepal you only need Identification, and visa is issued at the airport only. Note that with a three month visa, your entry to India must be within 30 day's from the date of issue of the visa. Also, the six month visa is valid from the date of issue of the visa, not the date you enter India five month after the visa was issued, it will be valid only for one month not the full six month. If you enter India the day after it was issued, you can stay for the full six month.

General Regulations for applying for Visa :
Passport valid for a minimum of six months beyond the date of intended departure from India should accompany visa applications.
Paste one photo and staple the other one on the form at specified place.
Foreigners holding other nationalities (other than the country where applying for visa), should submit proof of long-term (at least three years)/ permanent residence in the country (where applying). For citizen of other countries, reference has to be made to their country of residence for which an additional fee is applicable and will involve extra processing time. Please refrain from making inquiries about the status of application during this time.

Type of Visas :
Tourist Visa :
Is given for 6 months normally, rest specifically depends on the country of residence. The applicant is required to produce/submit documents in proof of his financial standing. Tourist travelling in groups of not less than four members under the auspices of a recognised travel agency may be considered for grant of collective tourist visa.

Business Visa :
Valid for one or more year with multiple entries. A letter from sponsoring organization indicating nature of business, probable duration of stay, places and organizations to be visited incorporating there in a guarantee to meet maintenance expenses, etc. should accompany the application.

Student Visa :
Are issued for the duration of the academic course of study or for a period of five years whichever is less, on the basis of firm letters of admission from Universities/recognized colleges or educational institutions in India. Change of purpose and institutions are not permissible.

Transit Visa :
Are issued for a maximum period of 15-days with single/double entry facilities to bonafide transit passengers only.

Visa to Missionaries :
Are valid for single entry and duration as permitted by Government of India. A letter in triplicate from sponsoring organization indicating intended destination in India, probable length of stay, and nature of duties to be discharged should be submitted along with guarantee for applicant’s maintenance while in India.

Journalist Visa :

Are issued to professional journalists and photographers for visiting India. The applicants are required to contact on arrival in New Delhi, the External Publicity Division of the Ministry of External Affairs and in other places, the Office of the Government of India's Press Information Bureaus.

Conference Visa :
Are issued for attending conferences/seminars/meetings in India. A letter of invitation from the organizer of the conference is to be submitted along with the visa application. Delegates coming to attend conferences may combine tourism with attending conferences

Employment Visa :
Are issued to skilled and qualified professionals or persons who are engaged or appointed by companies, organizations, economic undertakings as technicians, technical experts, senior executives etc. Applicants are required to submit proof of contract/employment/engagement of of foreign nationals by the company or organization.

General Visa Information :

Duration
Depends on the type of visa applied.
Fees
The fee structure depends on the nationality of the passport holder and type/duration of visa applied. The existing fee structure is:

Transit Visa 5 $
Visas with validity upto six months 30 $
Visas with validity upto one year 50 $
Student Visa 50 $
Visas with validity between one to five years 100 $

Visa fees indicated in US$ are payable in local currencies as well. Visa fees are not refundable except in cases where a visa already issued is cancelled thereafter.
These are indicative price, please confirm with the Local Indian Embassy

Visa Extension :

Delhi- MHA- Director (F), Lok Nayak Bhawan, Ist floor, Khan market, New Delhi-110003.
Tax Clearance Certificates
If you stay in India for more than 120 days you need a 'tax clearance certificate' to leave the country. This supposedly proves that your time in India was financed with your own money , not by working in India or by selling thing or playing black market.
Basically all you have to do is find the Foreign Section of the Income Tax Department Jaipur and turn up with your passport, visa extension form, any other similar paperwork and a handful of bank exchange receipts (to show you really have been changing foreign currency into rupees officially). You fill in a form and wait for anything from 10 minutes to a couple of hours, you are then given your tax clearance certificate. We have not heard from anyone who has actually been asked for this document on departure, but I recommend you to obtain one to be on safer side.


Photocopies
Keep photocopies of your important travel documents, which obviously should be kept separate from the originals in the event that these are lost or stolen.
Take a photocopy of the first page of your passport (with personal detail and photograph), as well as a copy of the page with your Indian Visa, a photocopy of your travel insurance policy, and keep a record of the traveller's cheques you have exchanged, where they were encashed, the amount and serial number. Encashment receipts should also be kept separate from your airlines tickets and your credit card, It's not a bad idea to leave photocopies of your important travel documents
with a friend or relative at home.

Climate

Because of India's size, its climate depends not only on the time of year, but also the location. In general, temperatures tend to be cooler in the north, especially between September and March. The south is coolest between November to January. In June, winds and warm surface currents begin to move northwards and westwards, heading out of the Indian Ocean and into the Arabian Gulf. This creates a phenomenon known as the south-west monsoon, and it brings heavy rains to the west coast. Between October and December, a similar climatic pattern called the north-east monsoon appears in the Bay of Bengal, bringing rains to the east coast. In addition to the two monsoons, there are two other seasons, spring and autumn.

For most of the country, November-March is (by far) the best time to visit. During those months, temperatures range from 40-60 F/5-15 C in the north to 65-85 F/19-30 C in the south. March-June is dry and exceedingly hot (85-110 F/30-44 C), and June-October is monsoon time (20-80 in/50-200 cm of rain will fall in one season). The best times to visit Darjeeling and other mountain areas are March, April, October and November. Obviously, India's less crowded with tourists during the off-seasons, but it can be so hot in the spring and summer that it's not possible to stay outdoors for long periods. During the rainy period, the monsoon washes away many roads in game parks and rural areas (southeastern India has a second rainy period during the cool season).
If you're going to India during spring or summer, you'll want to stick to the hill stations (60-70 F/ 15-21 C). During the winter, avoid Kashmir (30-45 F/0-7 C), unless you're going skiing, and Ladakh -- one of the coldest inhabited regions on Earth.

Exchange Rate
Currency
Rate(INR)
American Dollar
39.84
Australian Dollar
37.7004
British Pound
79.1980
Chinese Yuan
5.60337
Japanese Yen
0.377129
health precautions

Health :
Travel healthy. Once on the road (or in the air ), take all precautions that will keep you from that running nose (or tummy !), dizzy body temperatures, giddy hangovers etc. Make sure you don't embark on a trip even if there are some early signs of a sickness.

Cholera, dengue fever, dysentery, hepatitis, malaria, meningitis (trekking areas only) and typhoid are the risks here.

Travelers from the US, Canada or the United Kingdom do not require any vaccination certificate. Though normally, an International Health Certificate is not asked for by the immigration officials, its always better to carry one. Remember to play safe ! God forbid but just in case you need medical attention, this will be an invaluable piece of paper. Carry certificates like the one for Yellow Fever Vaccination.
Precautions:
If you believe in taking precautions, take all the vaccinations one needs. To avoid malaria and dengue, carry mosquito repellents, nets and sprays. If you can bear the heat, wear clothes that cover most of the body.

The best thumb rule is to be a careful about food and water. Eating raw salads and fried food from a street-side vendor is a no-no. Avoid pork too. If the temptation is soaring, go to a clean restaurant that you can trust. Eat balanced and healthy meals. Keep popping those friendly multi-vitamins.

Water has to be from a reliably clean source. If not sure where the water comes from, ask for a known brand of mineral water. Always carry a water bottle with you - this will save you from dehydration too. (Make yourself a quick salt-sugar solution - 1/2 tsp. salt and 4 tbsp. in one liter of water - to re-hydrate those parched cells). If you cannot lay hands on branded water, use chlorine / iodine tablets in water. These kill germs that can cause water-borne diseases. Read the instructions carefully and do not overdo these.
Carry a first aid kit with adhesive bandages, thermometer, water-purification tablets, antibiotics, antiseptic creams and mosquito repellents.

If you fall ill, see the doc and keep cool. Tell yourself that this too shall pass !


Sun and Heat Protection :
Southern India is HOT, especially during the months, of March, April, and May. The sun is very strong when you’re so close to the equator. You can protect yourself in a variety of ways.
Some Indians, women especially, carry around umbrellas that have a silver underlining to reflect the sun's rays. Plan to buy one of these when you arrive. Sunscreen is also helpful and available in India. Some volunteers regularly use it; some rarely do. Bring at least one bottle of SPF 15 or higher.
Expect to sweat a lot. Indians deal with this by using talcum powder to absorb the sweat. Plan to purchase this when you
arrive.

shopping

The Indian bazaar - a place that puts your temptation resistance skills at test. They are stuffed with bright and beautiful things - handicrafts, silks, ethnic jewelry, curios and what have you. You can shop till you drop. Read more to be a smart shopper in India.
First, the thumb rule - get the right bargain. This stands for all items that don't come with an MRP (Maximum Retail Price) stamp like clothes, jewelry, leather goods, carpets, paintings etc. Don't grab the first good-looking thing and pay extra bucks for it. And who knows....it might be fake or of poor quality. Always, always look around, compare prices and then buy.

Exporting items like ivory, fur, animal skins, antiquities etc. is illegal. If you must have it, obtain a certificate of legitimate sale and permission for export before leaving the country.
If you don't see what you're looking for in a store, ask. There's more than meets the eye ! Most stores have little display space, so much of the stoSck is above the ceiling or in a separate room.

Visit the various state emporia and the Central Cottage Industries Emporia (most major cities have one like Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad etc.) The prices here are fixed and will give you a fair idea of the cost with a regular dealer.

If you need a delivery, ask if the price includes delivery charges. Be ready to pay additional customs (generally 20% of the cost) and handling charges (normally a 10% of the total value of the good).

Never, never believe the touts (they hang around the tourist-y spots and cities) who promise to take you to the best shop around and get you the best bargain. They usually have their handsome commissions built into the cost.

Those sparkling gems and patterned carpets look very attractive but the market is flooded with imitations. You don't want to pay for a 'real' one and get a fake, do you? Be sure you know the grain from the chaff !

Just a suggestion : While buying carpets, look for one with a Smiling Carpet label - these come from factories that do not employ child labor.

tipping

In India, more often than not, a tip is money paid to get things done and not for something well done !
Tips are optional in a not-so-fancy restaurant. Place only a few rupees as a tip and not a percentage of your bill. But outside restaurants and hotels, tipping or ‘baksheesh’ is commonly practiced.
At most eating joints, you can pocket the tip unless you are in a swanky, upmarket one - the kinds that dot the metros and has liveried men serving you. Some tourist restaurants and hotels add a 10% service charge to the bills.
In a 5 star, the waiter, room service boy, housekeeper, porter, doormen will all expect tips. For railway porters, always fix a price before taking his services. For a not-so-heavy bag, Rs. 5 - 10 per bag is ok. Yet much depends on the weight.
No tips for taxi drivers unless he miraculously got you to the airport or put you on a train that you never thought you could make it to. Rs. 50-100 is a handsome one. Give a local guide Rs. 50 for 4 hours of his service and Rs. 80 for a full day.
Hand out a few rupees to people whom you photograph on the road like the snake charmer, the cart puller or the camel rider...

Carry small change - you'll need it often for people who help you with little things like those who keep your shoes outside temples/mosques etc.
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