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India Factfile

Official Country Name:
The Republic of India

India is located in South Asia, with China, Nepal and Bhutan in the North; Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh and Burma to the east; the Indian Ocean to the South and Pakistan and the Arabian Sea to the West. India shares land boundaries with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, China, Nepal, and Pakistan.

India has Seven major Physiographic Regions:
  • Northern mountains including the Himalayas and the mountain ranges in the north-east
  • Indo-Gangetic plain
  • Central Highlands
  • Peninsular Plateau
  • East Coast
  • West Coast
  • Bordering Seas and Islands
  • Capital:
  • New Delhi

India’s population is about 1.1 billion (2004 census).

3.3 million sq. km, stretching from the Himalayas in the north to the Indian Ocean in the south.
Total: 3,287,590 sq km
Land: 2,973,190 sq km
Water: 314,400 sq km

Administrative Divisions:
28 States and 7 Union Territories.
Andaman & Nicobar (UT) Haryana Mizoram
Andhra Pradesh Himachal Pradesh Nagaland
Arunachal Pradesh Jammu & Kashmir Orissa
Assam Jharkhand Pondicherry (UT)
Bihar Karnataka Punjab
Chandigarh (UT) Kerala Rajasthan
Rajasthan Lakshadweep (UT) Sikkim
Dadra and Nagar Haveli (UT) Madhya Pradesh Tamil Nadu
Daman and Diu (UT) Maharashtra Tripura
Delhi (UT) Manipur Uttar Pradesh
Goa Meghalaya Uttaranchal
Gujarat   West Bengal
English enjoys associate status but is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication. The official language of the Indian Union is Hindi, which is the primary tongue of 30% of the people. Besides Hindi, some of the other official languages include Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri and Sindhi.

Hinduism (Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism), Islam and Christianity.

Time Difference:
51/2 hours ahead of GMT (winter) and 41/2 hours ahead of GMT (summer).

Ambulance 102; Police 100; Fire 101.

Voltage in most places is 220v AC, 50 Hz. Socket sizes vary, so it is recommended to carry adapters.

National Holidays:
January 26 – Republic Day, August 15 – Independence Day and October 2 – Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday.

International Dialling Code:

National Air Carriers:
Indian (IC) and AirIndia (AI).

The currency is the Rupee, abbreviated as Rs. which is divided into 100 paisa. The Rupee notes come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000. Coins are in denominations of Rupee 1, 2 and 5.

Currency Exchange:
There are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency or traveller cheques a tourist may import, provided a declaration form is completed on arrival. Cash, bank notes and traveller cheques up to US$ 10,000 or equivalent need not be declared at the time of entry. Only change money at banks or authorised foreign exchange dealers. There are 24-hour currency exchange facilities available at all international hotels and airports. Please also note that changing money in the more remote areas can be difficult; it is best to exchange currency in the metro city locations.

Credit Cards:
Diners, Master, Visa and American Express credit cards are widely accepted.

It is customary to tip waiters, porters and guides. Most hotels include a service charge on their bills. Where this is not done, a tip of 10% is customary. Tipping of taxi drivers is not customary.

Entry Requirements:
Citizens of all countries require a valid national passport or valid travel documents and valid visa granted by Indian Missions abroad for entering India. There are no provisions for visas upon arrival, and those arriving in India without visas bearing the correct validity dates and number of entries are subject to deportation.

Customs on Arrival:
There are two customs clearance channels. The green channel is for travellers carrying no dutiable items while the red channel is for travellers carrying dutiable items.

Customs Formalities:
Visitors in possession of more than US$ 10,000 or equivalent thereof as in the form of traveller cheques, bank notes or currency notes are required to obtain a Currency Declaration Form before leaving customs.

Duty Free:
Duty free items which you may bring to India include personal effects like clothing and other articles but not if this is commercial merchandise. All expensive electronic equipments must be declared at the customs which will be rechecked on departure. Visitors may bring in free of duty 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco and 1 litre of alcohol.

Mishandled / Lost Baggage:
If your baggage is mishandled or lost in transit, obtain a certificate to this effect from the airline and have it countersigned by the customs.

Travel with the absolute minimum. 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 minimum. Where possible, leave any valuables, documents and passports in your hotel safety deposit box. Your luggage is particularly vulnerable at airports, railway stations or where crowds gather.

It is advisable to drink only bottled or distilled water, which is widely available. Order the same when you are at a restaurant. As far as possible, avoid drinking any kind of water or juices from roadside carts and vendors.

Hospitals & Chemists:
There are state-operated facilities in all towns and private consultants and specialists in urban areas. It is recommended to carry your own medicines, since all medications in India are locally manufactured and you may not find the same brand names. There are very good drug stores and doctors everywhere, and they can advise on substitute medication. If the necessity arises, ask your hotel to recommend a doctor.

Health Regulations:
No vaccinations are necessary to travel to India, however, foreign tourists should be in possession of a Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate conforming to International health regulations, if they are originating or travelling through Yellow Fever endemic countries. It is advisable to carry insect repellent at all times.

India is a shopper’s paradise. Shopping is recommended from Government Emporiums and suggested shops by us. Most of the large stores will ship your purchases for you, though, for convenience and to avoid postal delays, it is advisable to carry your shopping with you or to book it as baggage.

Among the good buys available to you, are fabrics (including silks), clothing and shawls, paintings and prints, religious iconography, oriental carpets, tea, saffron, batiks, items made of brass, wood, marble, copper, bronze, jute, crystal, 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.

Note: 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.

Travel Tips:
Your travel arrangements should be made well in advance, especially if you are travelling between October-March (high tourist season) and May-June, the Indian holiday season. Travel facilities are limited in relation to demand so prior bookings are a must. If travelling by air, you should include one or more trips by rail or road so that you can experience rural India. When planning your trip, it is good to include an Indian festival in your itinerary, enhancing your Indian experience.

English is spoken at almost all tourist centres, but we can also book Government-trained and approved language speaking guides (German, French, Spanish, Japanese, Italian or Russian). Tour guides will assist you not only during sightseeing, but will also help you understand India better.

Do not wear footwear or shorts, sleeveless tops or revealing clothes inside Hindu, Sikh, Muslim or Jain places of worship. Both men and women need to keep their shoulders and legs covered, especially in temples and it is handy for women to carry a scarf they can use to cover their heads if necessary. Certain areas of temples are not open to Non-Hindus.

Visitors should be wary of strangers. Do not walk in isolated spots on your own especially after dark.

All foreign nationals have to pay their hotel bills in foreign currency (cash, traveller cheques or credit card) only. However, Indian rupees are accepted if supported by proof of certificate of encashment in India of foreign currency or traveller cheques.

Concessional tickets like Indrail Pass, Youth fares, Discover India Fares and Air Fares are to be paid for in foreign exchange only.

Where possible, use a pre-paid taxi when on the streets to get a legal fare. Taxi and auto-rickshaws fares keep changing; therefore, they do not always conform to readings on meters. To avoid confusion, insist on seeing the latest fare chart available with the driver and pay accordingly.

Do not hire any type of transportation from unlicensed or unapproved operators. Leave this to your travel agent to organize.