India is a world in itself. This is the land of mysticism, superstition & myths, snake charmers, yogis and Maharaja’s. India’s variety has richness, where light, color, noises, smells, flavors are all so vivid and intense.
Area: 3,287,263 sq km (1,269,219 sq miles).
Population: 920,000,000 (official estimate 1995).
Density of population: 279.9 per sq km.
Capital: New Delhi.
India shares borders to the northwest with Pakistan, to the north with China, Nepal and Bhutan, and to the east with Bangladesh and Myanmar. To the west lies the Arabian Sea, to the east the Bay of Bengal and to the south the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka lies off the southeast coast, and the Maldives off the southwest coast. The far northeastern states and territories are all but separated from the rest of India by Bangladesh as it extends northwards from the Bay of Bengal towards Bhutan. The Himalayan mountain range to the north and the Indus River (west) and Ganga River (east) form a physical barrier between India and the rest of Asia. The country can be divided into five regions: Western, Central, Northern (including Kashmir and Rajasthan), Eastern and Southern.
The official language is Hindi which is spoken by about 30% of the population, English is also often used for official or commercial purposes. In addition, 17 regional languages are recognised by the Constitution. These include Punjabi, Bengali, Gujerati and Oriya which are widely used in the north and Tamil and Telegu which are common in the south. Other regional languages are Marathi, Kannada and Malayalam. The Muslim population largely speak Urdu.
Religion: 80% Hindu, 11% Muslim with Sikh, Christian and Buddhist minorities.
Time: GMT + 5.30.
Electricity: Usually 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Some areas have a DC supply. Plugs used are of the round 2- and 3-pin type.
Fourteen-day visa extensions are theoretically possible at the discretion of the Ministry of Home Affairs (011-23385748; 26 Jaisalmer House, Man Singh Rd, Delhi; inquiries 9-11am Mon-Fri) but don’t get your hopes up. The only circumstances where this might conceivably happen is if you were robbed of your passport just before you planned to leave the country at the end of your visa. If you run low on time, consider doing the ‘visa run’ over to Bangladesh or Nepal and applying for another six-month tourist visa there.
If you do find yourself needing to request an extension, you should contact the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FRRO; 011-26195530; firstname.lastname@example.org ; Level 2, East Block 8, Sector 1, Rama Krishna Puram, Delhi; 9.30am-1.30pm & 2-3pm Mon-Fri), just around the corner from the Hyatt Regency hotel. This is also the place to come for a replacement visa if you’ve had your lost/stolen passport replaced (required before you can leave the country). Regional FRROs are even less likely to grant an extension.
Assuming you meet the stringent criteria, the FRRO is permitted to issue an extension of 14 days, free for nationals of all countries except Japan (Rs 390), Sri Lanka (Rs 135 to 405, depending on the number of entries), Russia (Rs 1860) and Romania (Rs 500). You must bring your confirmed air ticket, one passport photo and a photocopy of your passport (information and visa pages). Note that this system is designed to get you out of the country promptly with the correct official stamps, not to give you two extra weeks of travel.
India is so vast that climatic conditions in the far north have little relation to those of the extreme south. Generally speaking, the country has a three-season year – the hot, the wet and the cool.
When to go
Climate plays a key factor in deciding when to visit India. You should keep in mind that climatic conditions in the far north are distinctly different to those of the extreme south.
Generally speaking, India’s climate is defined by three seasons – the hot, the wet (monsoon) and the cool, each of which can vary in duration from north to south. The most pleasant time to visit most of the country is during the cooler period of November to around mid-February, although there are marked regional variations.
Apart from the weather, the timing of certain festivals or special events may also influence when you wish to visit India.
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