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INDIA

India In Brief

Welcome to havens that rejuvenate with their contrasting diversity. Come to a 5000-year-old culture that blends the new with the old, enthralling visitors for centuries with endless possibilities. The Indian subcontinent is a destination, in tune with international standards. It has a selection of world- class hotels and authentic palaces resorts well equipped with the latest state of the art facilities.

A land of myriad images , the Indian subcontinent takes you from the towering snow capped Himalayas to the great Indo-Gangetic plains, the blazing Thar desert to the placid backwaters of Kerala, the enchanting walking trails of Kathmandu to the sapphire blue seas and miles of golden beaches of Goa.  
It is impossible not to be astonished by India . Nowhere on Earth does humanity present itself in such a dizzying, creative burst of cultures and religions, races and tongues. Every aspect of the country presents itself on a massive, exaggerated scale, worthy in comparison only to the superlative mountains that overshadow it.

 

Set apart from the rest of Asia by the supreme continental wall of the Himalayas , the Indian subcontinent touches three large bodies of water and is immediately recognizable on any world map. It is the huge, terrestrial beak between Africa and Indonesia . This thick, roughly triangular peninsula defines the Bay of Bengal to the east, the Arabian Sea to the west, and the Indian Ocean to the south.

India 's puzzle board of 27 states holds virtually every kind of landscape imaginable . An abundance of mountain ranges and national parks provide ample opportunity for eco-tourism and trekking and its sheer size promises something for everyone. From its northernmost point on the Chinese border, India extends a good 2000 miles (3200 km) to its southern tip, where the island nation of Sri Lanka seems to be squeezed out of India like a great tear, the synapse forming the Gulf of Mannar . Mostly Nepal and the Himalayas, the world's highest mountain chain, dominate India 's northern border. Following the sweeping mountains to the northeast, its borders narrow to a small channel that passes between Nepal , Tibet , Bangladesh , and Bhutan , then spreads out again to meet Burma in an area called the "eastern triangle."

With nearly 1 billion citizens, India is the second most populous nation in the world . It is impossible to speak of any one Indian culture, although there are deep cultural continuities that tie its people together. English is the major language of trade and politics, but there are fourteen official languages in all. There are twenty-four languages that are spoken by a million people or more, and countless other dialects. India has seven major religions and many minor ones, six main ethnic groups, and countless holidays.

Religion is central to Indian culture, and its practice can be seen in virtually every aspect of life in the country. Hinduism is the dominant faith of India , serving about 80 percent of the population. Ten percent worship Islam, and 5 percent are Sikhs and Christians; the rest (a good 45 million) are Buddhists, Jains, Bahai, and more.

As stated earlier India provides a perfect contrast between the old and the new , the ancient and the modern. With a deep-rooted association with its centuries old history and traditions India has also witnessed gradual development and is today perceived to be amongst one of the most dynamic economies in the world. With pronounced growth in sectors such as Manufacturing, Info rmation and Technology, Pharmaceuticals, Agriculture, Automobiles, India has emerged from the throes to emerge as one of the most prominent economies in Asia .

TOURISM

The need to travel and explore new destinations and cultures is probably as ancient as mankind itself.

India has always enchanted travellers across the globe and has provided them a destination that is culturally rich, deep rooted in history, vibrant, an eclectic mix of the old and the new, and in summation is "INCREDIBLE".

India as a destination provides solutions for all travellers alike . For the adventurous there are the Inspiring Himalayas in the North, for the culturally inclined there is the ever popular Golden triangle comprising of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur and for people in search of peace and tranquillity there are the golden sand beaches of Goa or alternatively they could holiday at their own pace in the backwaters of Kerala. No single destination across the world can boast of the sort of diversity in product that India offers. The only aspect that remains constant throughout the journey across India is the legendary art of true Indian hospitality that leaves travellers spellbound by an experience they can cherish for a lifetime.

India has witnessed rapid development in the tourism sector wherein today the levels of infrastructure (hotels, transport, services) available in India are at par with the best in the world. Enhancement in infrastructure levels across existing tourist circuits and development of new circuits is a continuous process and is impacting the inflow of visitors positively. At the present moment the overseas arrivals stand at a respectable 3 Million and this number is expected to double in the next couple of years. Some of the Recent Accolades that have been bestowed upon the destination reinforce the fact that India 's aura and mystique has spread worldwide and India is now regarded as an "Experience Of A Lifetime". The accolades are enlisted below:

•  Conde Nast Traveller, UK , a leading travel publication in its reader Awards has rated India to be the sixth top destinations of the World for discerning travellers. Sarah Miller, the editor stated," India 's results are very exciting and show the country's increasing popularity amongst the sophisticated traveller".

•  Lonely Planet in its recent poll for the independent traveller in 134 countries selected India among the top 5 international holiday destinations in the world.

In addition to world-renowned monuments and sights including the mesmerising Taj Mahal in Agra India also offers a variety of options with regards to accommodation. From the value for money budget category to hotels and resorts that indulge the discerning traveller in luxury and pamper their senses, India has a plethora of options to choose from.India can boast of providing clients across all categories the unique option of residing in Historic Palaces . These palaces have stood the tests of time and have seen various centuries fade away into oblivion. These Palaces can transport clients into India 's resplendent past and give them an insight into the lifestyles of India 's royalty.

Upon arrival in India , after immigration and customs clearance, your Cox and Kings representative will greet you outside the exit gate. Our representatives will not be in the main terminal building due to security reasons. The representative will issue you with any necessary documentation, accompany you to your vehicle for your transfer to your hotel and assist with the hotel check-in procedures.

It is mandatory that every passenger carry a valid travel insurance, which should also include repatriation cover. We recommend that insurance be taken out at the time of booking, so that in the event of cancellation your insurance will cover you.

Hindi is the national language, however English is the second language and is widely spoken.

Drinking Water: Tap water is not recommended, not even in the deluxe hotels. Always drink bottled mineral water and ensure the lid is sealed before purchasing the bottle. Mineral water is easily available thought India and there is no need to take water purification tablets. Ice is generally made from purified water in the bigger city hotels and is safe to drink. However, ice in smaller restaurants and hotels may not be and is it advisable to reconfirm.

Medicines: Those taking medicine for certain conditions such as diabetes or heart problems should make sure that they carry these in their hand luggage at all times in case the main luggage is not handy. As a precaution, it is recommended to carry the necessary medicines from your country of origin though.

Illness: Please advise your guide if you are feeling unwell at any stage of the tour. Our guides will then be able to offer you assistance and arrange for any medical attention necessary.

The Indian subcontinent's many religions and traditions are reflected in its vast range of cooking styles. All the major hotels serve both local and continental food and meat, fish and vegetable dishes are normally available throughout the country.

Food: Avoid eating and drinking local products from street vendors and restaurants with suspect hygiene or refrigeration practices. Uncooked fish / seafood or vegetables, salads, peeled fruits, diluted fruit juice, ice cream or fresh cheese are best avoided and a gentle introduction to the more highly seasoned Indian foods is advised.

Drink: Bottled water, fruit juices and western-style soft drinks are available almost everywhere. Alcohol can be obtained in most parts of India . Please be aware that imported western drinks such as wines and spirits can be very expensive, however, there is a burgeoning Indian wine industry. Local wines such as 'Sula', are sold at more affordable prices. The local beer is extremely good and much cheaper than any which is imported.

Currency: Indian Rupees. Notes are in denominations of Rs. 1000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10, and 5. Coins are in denominations of Rs.5, 2, 1 and 50, 25, and 10 Paise.

Cash: You are not allowed to bring Indian rupees into or out of the country so you will not be

able to obtain local currency before you depart for India . Please also note that changing money in the more remote areas can be difficult; it is best to change currency in the major city locations first.

Cox & Kings clients have the opportunity of exchanging their money at the Cox & Kings in-house 'Bureau-de-Change'. As well as offering commission free exchange, t here is a more favourable exchange rate compared to that of the airport and many hotels. Added bonuses also include the facility to draw cash against credit cards and a call in facility, which means that your foreign currency can be delivered to your hotel.

Credit Cards: American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are accepted.

Cash /ATM Machines: These are readily available in major cities.

Traveller's cheques: These are widely accepted. Travellers are advised to take travellers cheques in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling.

Banking hours: Mon-Fri 1000-1400, Sat 1000-1200.

Tipping: Gratuities for small services is part of the culture in India , however, all of your guides, drivers and escorts in India have been fully pre-paid and you are under no obligation to tip them. Tipping is part of everyday life in India and a certain degree of firmness is required in certain instances. If you do not need the help of porters you must say so and be firm with them. It is useful to keep some small denomination notes for tipping and small purchases. Please be aware that some people you meet during your transfers may press you for tips, stating that they do not get paid. Please discuss with your tour guide if you have any concerns.

Entrance Fees & Camera Charges: All entrance fees for the sites on your tour are included (unless otherwise stated or if the excursion is optional).

Camera and video camera fees are not included. Most camera fees will be nominal, although video fees can vary between Rs.25 and Rs.750. Normally however they are under Rs.100.

Flights: For your international flights please aim to check in 2 - 3 hours prior to the departure time. For internal flights your local representative will advise you the time of pick up from your hotel in time to board your flight.

Our local agents will reconfirm all internal flights. The great size of India also means that there is a heavy demand on local flights, which may result in delays and overbooking, or the need to depart earlier or later than scheduled. If there are schedule changes to your flights, your tour leader will inform you as soon as possible. However, if you are unsure of any of these, please do not hesitate to contact him/her or one of our representatives on site.

Trains: Train travel in India can be both fascinating and rewarding and there are many excellent trains in India . However, the standard of seating and sleeping on trains is certainly not up to European standards. All seats on the trains in India are pre-allocated when the tickets is issued. Should you wish to make any changes in your seat allocation, you could approach the train superintendent on board for assistance.

Road Transport: Coaches are also locally custom made on truck chassis and are not comparable with European coach standards, but they are comfortable and maintained to a high local standard. Please bear in mind that if sitting at the back of a coach, it is possible that the ride will be less comfortable due to coach design. Please be aware that the vehicles used will not be equipped with toilet facilities as they are not standard in India , however there are designated comfort stops on each journey. Our guides will do their utmost to cater for unscheduled stops.

Car Hire: Please do not even consider hiring a car or a motorcycle in India . The driving culture and road conditions in India are so different to those in Western Europe that it is simply too dangerous to undertake self-driving.

Transfer times: We strongly advise that you listen to guides advise regarding pick-up times for transfers as they have the best knowledge of arrangements.

The incidence of crimes levelled against tourists in India is relatively low, however, an awareness of the following will lessen the risk to you and your belongings.

Valuables: Take the absolute minimum. A camera is a necessity for most travellers but if it is possible to keep it in a jacket pocket, then do so. It is not advisable to carry valuable jewellery. Money should be taken in traveller's cheques, with the receipt numbers retained separately in case they are lost or stolen. Cash kept on your person should be kept to the minimum required for a particular excursion.

Where possible, leave any valuables, documents and passports in your hotel safety deposit box. Your luggage is particularly vulnerable at airports or where crowds gather.

Among the good buys available to you, are fabrics (including silks), clothing and shawls, paintings and prints, religious iconography, Oriental carpets, dolls, musical instruments, tea, saffron, batiks, items made of brass, wood, marble, copper, bronze, jute, crystal, papier-mâché and bamboo. Well-made souvenirs are available from most good hotels, but for the real Indian buying experiences head for any local market. Any item more than 100 years old is classified as an antique, and you will need an export license to take it home. You will be given the opportunity of visiting workshops where local crafts are made. Demonstrations take place in Delhi , Jaipur and Agra , which allow you the opportunity of witnessing the ancient techniques involved in the making of each product, at this point you will be able to purchase any crafts being made.

Shopping Hours: Monday-Saturday 0930 - 1800 hours. In established markets, shopping hours usually stretch on till night falls. Because markets differ in which days they close, it's sometimes a good idea to double check with locals before going to one.

Shopping is a way of life in India and many local guides assume visitors will automatically want to shop. If you do not wish to be taken to any shops, please make this clear to your guide. Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism.

GMT + 5 ½ hours

International Dialling Code : +91

Making Calls from Hotels: Please note that hotels tend to charge high fees for making overseas telephone calls so it is wise to keep these to a minimum or to check the rates with reception before making the call.

Using Mobile Phones: Mobile phones that work overseas will work in India as long as your service provider has activated your account for use abroad. It is usually possible to get reception in and around large towns and cities, though not always in rural areas.

 


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