The subcontinent of India lies in south Asia, between Pakistan, China and Nepal. To the north it is bordered by the world's highest mountain chain, where foothill valleys cover the northernmost of the country's 26 states. Further south, plateaus, tropical rain forests and sandy deserts are bordered by palm fringed beaches .
Side by side with the country's staggering topographical variations is its cultural diversity, the result of the coexistence of a number of religions as well as local tradition. Thus, the towering temples of south India, easily identifiable by their ornately sculptured surface, are associated with a great many crafts and performing arts of the region.
In the desert of Kutch, Gujarat, on the other hand, a scattering of villages pit themselves against the awesome forces of nature, resulting in Spartan lifestyles made vibrant by a profusion of jewelry and ornamental embroidery used to adorn apparel and household linen. In the extreme north is the high altitude desert of Ladakh. Local culture is visibly shaped by the faith - Buddhism -as well as by the harsh terrain. Yet another facet of Indian culture is observed in the colorful tribal lifestyles of the north eastern states of Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura and Manipur with their folk culture.
In the central Indian states of Orissa and Madhya Pradesh tribal village life has resulted in a variety of artistically executed handicrafts.
India's mountains provide heli skiing, river running, mountaineering and trekking. Its beaches provide lazy sun-bathing as well as wind surfing and snorkeling, and its jungles provide shooting wildlife -with a camera.
India's history goes back to 3,200 BC when Hinduism was first founded. Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism. Judaism. Zoroashtrianism, Christianity and Islam all exist within the country today. As a consequence of India's size, the history of the country has seldom been the same for two adjoining territories, and its great natural wealth has lured a succession of traders and foreign influences to it, each having left their imprint in the country, however faint or localized. Thus, Chinese fishing nets in Kerala are a throwback to that country's ancient maritime trade, while in the north, terra-cotta figurines of the centuries BC bear distinctly Greek traces.
Modern India is home alike to the tribal with his anachronistic lifestyle and to the sophisticated urban jetsetter. It is a land where temple elephants exist amicably with the microchip. Its ancient monuments are the backdrop for the world's largest democracy where atomic energy is generated and industrial development has brought the country within the world's top ten nations. Today, fishermen along the country's coastline fashion simple fishing boats in a centuries old tradition while, a few miles away. motor vehicles glide off conveyor belts in state-of-the-art factories
India is a vast South Asian country with diverse terrain – from Himalayan peaks to Indian Ocean coastline – and history reaching back 5 millennia. In the north, Mughal Empire landmarks include Delhi’s Red Fort complex, massive Jama Masjid mosque and Agra’s iconic Taj Mahal mausoleum. Pilgrims bathe in the Ganges in Varanasi, and Rishikesh is a yoga center and base for Himalayan trekking.
A Tourist Visa on Arrival scheme currently exists for nationals of some countries, including the following listed in the chart above: Australia, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg and the USA. The visa is valid for up to 30 days and for tourism only. It costs US$60. This is expected to be extended to other nationalities soon.
Certain parts of the country have been designated protected or restricted areas that require special permits and in some cases prior government authorization.
You should indicate your intent to visit a specific restricted region when applying for a visa and a permit will be granted to visit that region only.
It is advised that you apply for the special permit for restricted areas when you enter India by visiting the FRRO (Foreign Regional Registration Office) which has offices in all major Indian airports and cities. You must complete an additional form, but there is no fee for a restricted area permit.
Types and cost:
For UK nationals: transit visa: £56; tourist visa: £82 (up to six months), £277 (up to two years); business visa: £107 (six months), £277 (up to two years).
For other nationals listed in the chart above: transit visa: £17; tourist visa: £32 (up to six months), £52 (up to one year); business visa: fees vary according to nationality.
All visa applications are subject to a non-refundable £7.44 VFS service charge.
Transit: valid for three months for a maximum stay of 15 days.
Tourist/business: three to six months, or one or two years (maximum stay of 180 days per visit).
Visas are valid from the date of issue not your date of departure.
Consular section at your nearest embassy or high commission. For UK nationals, India has outsourced its visa application services to VFS Global (http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk); all applicants must make an appointment to visit an application centre in person. In the USA, India’s visa application services are handled by Cox and Kings Global Services (www.in.ckgs.us).
Those eligible for a visa on arrival need to apply online in advance for an electronic travel authorisation (https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html).
Straightforward applications take at least three to five working days, but others may take longer, depending on the applicant's nationality.
Extension of stay:
Visa extensions are not available in India, unless in extreme circumstances (eg medical emergency).
Entry with pets:
An incoming passenger can import up to two pets at one time. These include all domestic animals such as dogs, birds, cats etc, subject to producing the required health certificate from their country of origin. Pets are still liable for the usual quarantine checks upon arrival.
For Australian, British, Canadian, Other EU and USA Nationals
Passport required? Yes
Return ticket required? No
Visa required? Yes
A passport valid for at least 180 days and with at least two blank pages is required by all nationals referred to in the chart above.
Important Note for Issue of Restricted Area Permit:
Ministry of Home Affairs ,Government of India requires aperiod of two months to process RAP permits. Once an applicant applies for RAP he / she will have to wait before the clearance is received from India. Alternatively, the permit may be obtained from the local authorities in India.
Restricted Area Permit and Protected Area Permit Regime in Sikkim.