When mentioning India, most people think of the Taj Mahal in Agra, Amer Fort and Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, and Jama Masjid in Delhi to name but a few. India’s tourism is growing steadily with close to 9 million people visiting the country each year. Before you pack your bags and head for the airport, you should be aware of the requirements for travelling to India though.
It stands to reason that you need a valid passport. If you don’t have a passport you should apply for one. If your passport has expired or will expire during your visit to India, you need to renew it. With a valid passport, pay attention that the photo still looks like you. If you changed your hairstyle or hair colour, it might be worth it to have new photos taken. Whether you apply for a passport or renew your passport, specify to the photographer that you need pictures for a passport.
Apply for a Visa
Everyone visiting India needs a visa. For UK citizens staying less than 30 days in India, the Indian High Commission has launched a double-entry e-visa. To obtain such a visa you should apply at least a week before your intended travel date. If you intend to stay longer than 30 days, you will need a full tourist visa. To obtain this visa you should start the application four to six weeks in advance during the low season and six to eight weeks in advance during the high season.
Visit the Doctor
Before travelling to India, visit your doctor for a general health assessment. Mention that you are planning a trip to India and the doctor will know what kind of medical protection you need. Malaria protection depends on the season as well as the area you are planning on visiting. Other than malaria, you will need to be up to date with tetanus shots, diphtheria, and polio. Jabs against typhoid are optional. For more information, you can visit www.travelhealthpro.org.uk
Depending on where you’re going, you should pay attention to the altitude. If the region you are visiting is higher than 2,500 meters, you should ascent gradually. Ascending too quickly might result in AMS (acute mountain sickness), HACE (high-altitude cerebral edema) and/or HAPE (high-altitude pulmonary edema). In case of the latter two, immediate descent and medical treatment are recommended. As such it is vital that if travelers who intend to spend time in an altitude above 2500 meters, should climb no more than 500 meters per day and take three to four rest days at that altitude before going any higher.
Travellers who start to experience insomnia, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue and/or headaches should not ascend any further.
A taste of India
If you know nothing of India, but would like to familiarize yourself with the country, there are two excellent books: ‘India Handbook’ and ‘Lonely Planet’s India’. Both offer advice on reliable hotels and restaurants and provide easy to read maps. Both books are available in paperback and electronic format for iPhones and tablets.
Alternatively, you could watch a few movies such as ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’, ‘The Second, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and ‘Million Dollar Arm’. All four movies paint a fairly accurate picture of modern-day India. The sights, the accommodation, the transportation, street life, and the mentality of the Indian population.
From north to south and from east to west, India is a wonderful country with magnificent nature sites, awe-inspiring historical buildings, a cuisine you won’t get enough of, and extraordinarily friendly people.