Specific Visas are granted for a variety of purposes. The principal types of Visa issued are mentioned below. Please contact the High Commission of India for further details if you are visiting India for purposes other than tourism. The visa application form is, however, the same. Separate forms are available for Pakistani and Bangladeshi Nationals.
Visitors to restricted/protected areas need Special Permits and for this purpose an additional form has to be completed. Please contact the High Commission of India, in your country if you wish to ascertain whether any of the places you intend to visit fall in the category of restricted/protected areas.
Requirements for Visa
- Original passport valid for at least 6 months
- Appropriate Visa Fee
- Two Passport size Photographs (5 photographs in case of Pakistani Nationals)
- Supporting Documents, where necessary
- Duly completed Application Form (Pakistani and Bangladeshi Nationals need to apply on special application forms)
Additional requirements for different types of Visa are given below:
- Tourist Visa: Tourists wishing to visit India will normally be granted a Tourist Visa, effective from the date of issue. Tourist Visas are non-extendible and non-convertible. People who have to visit India frequently may be granted tourist Visa for a longer duration.
- Business Visa: Business Visas are normally granted for 3 or 6 months. However, multiple - entry Business Visa for up to 2 years validity may be granted to technicians/experts going to India in pursuance of bilateral agreements or joint venture projects, having government approval.
- Student & Employment Visa: Student Visa can be obtained on furnishing proof of admission to recognized Universities/Institutions in India. Employment Visa can also be obtained on furnishing of proof of employment with companies in India.
- Transit Visa: Transit Visas are valid for halts of up to 72 hours in India. The visa remains valid within 15 Days from the date of issue and must be obtained before departure. Transit Visa cannot be obtained from immigration counters at ports of entry in India. Evidence of onward travel to a destination outside India is required.
- Entry Visa: Entry Visas are issued to persons of Indian origin for duration of up to 5 years. These can be obtained, depending on the purpose of visit and eligibility, on a case by case basis.
Festivals Of India
India, the land of colour and celebrations, is a rich country exuberating festivities 365 days a year! The large population, geographic and cultural variety, and the number of religions practiced by the people of India, makes every day an occasion and a reason to celebrate! Where ever you are in India, you will never be far from festivities…
We present to you, our hand picked selection of few popular Indian festivals from different parts of the country that are sure to impress tourists. Not only are these festivals entertaining, they are also educative, allowing you to learn more about our country, its people and their customs and beliefs.
So come along and celebrate the festivals of India!
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for festival dates and tour bookings
THE ELEPHANT MARCH, Thrissur, Kerala
The Great Elephant March is celebrated with a large gathering of Indian tuskers touring around Kerala - all decked up and ready to be worshipped and pampered! Elephants are associated with the famous Hindu God with a trunk – Lord Ganesha, who is worshipped as the lord of wealth and fulfillment. Rather than being a religious occasion, the elephant march is a unique festive occasion, enjoyed by both locals and tourists in Kerala.
DESERT FESTIVAL, Jaisalmer
The Desert Festival of Jaisalmer, as the name suggests, is held in the deserts of Jaisalmer, in January (or February) every year. Celebrated with a number of cultural events, camel races, folk music and dance shows, turban tying competitions etc, the festival brings to life the traditions of the nomadic desert life of Jaisalmer. The rich culture of the region is on display during this three day long colourful extravaganza. The festival attracts a large number of foreign tourists, who are intrigued by the unusual customs of the region.
NAGAUR FAIR, Nagaur
The picturesque town of Nagaur is home to the famous Nagaur Fair, Rajasthan’s second largest cattle fair held every year during the month of January or February.
Nagaur Fair is renowned for its cattle trading including cows, bullocks, oxen, camels and horses. Rajasthani villagers are seen wearing colourful turbans and flaunting their long moustaches. Regional crafts such as wooden artifacts, iron craft and leather accessories are available in abundance during the fair. Various games such as tug-of-war, camel races, cock & bullfights intrigue locals and tourists alike. The festival comes to life with folk music and dance performances by local village artists.
Flocked by thousands of tourists every year, the Nagaur fair is a unique experience - a spectacle of colours that signifies the true essence of Rajasthan, allowing you to experience the local lifestyle and blending yourself in the colourful culture of Rajasthan.
TAJ MAHOTSAV, Agra
The Taj Mahotsav is a 10 day carnival held in the month of February every year, at Shilpgram, near the magnificent Taj Mahal, in Agra. The festival commences with a spectacular procession inspired by Mughal splendour, with elephants and camels, drum beaters, folk artists and master craftsmen recreating the glorious past of the Mughals. Taj Mahotsav offers a great opportunity for local artists to display their exquisite works of art and folk musicians and dancers to perform on stage for visitors. The festival is an intriguing journey into the customs and traditions and local lifestyle of the erstwhile Mughal era, enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.
KHAJURAHO DANCE FESTIVAL, Khajuraho
Khajuraho Dance Festival is held every spring in the town of Khajuraho, to celebrate the glory of the fascinating Khajuraho temples. This festival is a cultural extravaganza, celebrating Indian arts - dance and music learnt from generation to generation. The Khajuraho Dance Festival presents the best classical dances of India, performed by well reputed dance groups from around the country.
ELEPHANT FESTIVAL, Jaipur
The Elephant Festival is a unique event held annually in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan. As the name suggests, the Elephant festival is in honour of the Indian tuskers. Groomed to perfection, glittering in gold, row upon row of elephants catwalk before an enthralled audience. Elephant races, elephant-polo matches and a most interesting tug of war between elephants and men, are all part of this spectacular event.
MEWAR FESTIVAL, Udaipur
The Mewar Festival is celebrated to welcome the arrival of spring. The festival is celebrated in the romantic lake city of Udaipur and coincides with the Gangaur Festival. The highlight of the Mewar festival is a procession of Rajasthani women, dressed in colourful saris, carrying idols and images of goddess Gauri to the serene Lake Pichola. An unusual procession of boats on the lake, amidst loud chanting of folk Rajasthani ballads, offers an exhilarating finale to this splendid celebration. The festivities also feature cultural events where Rajasthani culture is portrayed through folk songs, dances, drama performances, and a colourful display of fireworks.
THRISSUR POORAM, Thrissur, Kerala
Thrissur Pooram is the biggest and most colorful temple festival of Kerala. It is celebrated in Vadakkumnathan temple in the Thrissur district. The festival is famous for its unique decorated elephant procession (Kudamattom), which involves participation of elephants from various temples across Kerala. Apart from this splendid procession, other attractions of Thrissur Pooram festival include a spectacular display of colorful fireworks, parasol exchanges, an umbrella showing competition, and drum concerts. Lasting for 36 hours, the festival draws the largest crowds in Kerala, fascinating locals and tourists in the region.
INTERNATIONAL FLOWER FESTIVAL, Gangtok, Sikkim
The International Flower Festival held annually in May, in Gangtok in the state of Sikkim, is one of the most popular flower shows of India. This festival features exotic varieties of local flowers, orchids and other plants of Sikkim. During this time, the state of Sikkim blooms with about 600 species of orchids, 240 species of trees and ferns, 150 varieties of gladioli, and 46 types of rhododendrons, along with a variety of magnolias and many other foliage plants. The flora displayed in the Gangtok Flower Festival mainly comprises of climbers, alpine plants, cacti, herbs orchids, creepers, gladioli, ferns, roses, etc.
GANGA DUSSEHRA, Varanasi & Haridwar
Ganga Dusshera is a holy festival, devoted to the worship of the Holy River Ganges. It is believed that the ‘Gangavataran’ (the descent of River Ganges) took place at this time. On this day, holy places along the Ganges plain such as Varanasi, Haridwar, Rishikesh, hold special significance. A large number of devotees flock to numerous ghats located along the banks of River Ganges to worship and wash away their sins in the holy water. At dawn and dusk, the banks of River Ganges are lit up with thousands of earthern lamps and candles with priests performing holy rituals and worshipping the River Goddess.
HEMIS FESTIVAL, Ladakh
The Hemis Festival is held every year in the Hemis Monastery, the biggest Buddhist monastery of Ladakh. It is celebrated on the tenth day of lunar month in the Tibetan calendar. The festival is celebrated in the commemoration of the birth anniversary of Guru Padmasambhava. Hemis festival is celebrated with a colourful fair displaying some of the most exquisite handicrafts of Ladakh region and the display of the two-story high 'Thanka' of the monastery. The Thanka is beautifully embroidered with pearls and semi-precious stones, and depicts Guru Padmasambhava –it is put on display once in twelve years.
The Mango Festival is celebrated in India’s capital city, New Delhi, every year in the month of July. Held at Talkatora stadium, it is one of the most awaited fairs in the capital city. The festival also marks the advent of mangoes and presents more than 500 varieties of this king of fruits. Mangoes from different states of the country, are brought under one roof, where visitors can taste the summer fruit and learn more about each variety. Given the exotic seasonality of mangoes, the festival is a tasteful delight for locals and tourists visiting the capital region.
NEHRU TROPHY BOAT RACE (SNAKE BOAT RACE), Alappuzha, Kerala
Nehru Trophy Boat Race (also referred as ‘snake boat race’) is an annual event organized in Alappuzha, Kerala. It is held every year on the second Saturday of August. The event is promoted as a major tourist attraction by the state of Kerala and draws a large number of domestic and international tourists. The first boat race was held in the year 1952 in honour of India’s first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, hence deriving its name ‘Nehru Trophy Boat Race’. Each boat comprises of approx 150 men, of which 4 are helmsmen, 25 singers and 125 oarsmen. The most remarkable feature of the Boat Race is the depiction of great team spirit – the race displays the importance of being united and in harmony with nature. One of the most famous boat races of Kerala, Nehru Trophy Boat Race promotes unity and fraternity among people.
JANMASHTAMI, Vrindavan & Mathura
Janmashtami, marks the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna, one of the most popular Hindu Gods. The epicenter of the festival is Vrindavan and Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna. However, the Janmashtami euphoria spreads all across India. Festivities include various rituals being performed by followers. Temples all over India engage in various ceremonies and prayers in honour of Lord Krishna. The festival is celebrated all across the country with the chanting of shlokas, readings from religious texts, singing devotional songs and a number of dance and drama performances depicting the life of Lord Krishna.
Onam is the biggest festival celebrated in the South Indian state of Kerala. Onam Festival falls during the Malayali month of Chingam (Aug - Sep) and marks the homecoming of legendary King Mahabali. Carnival of Onam lasts for ten days and brings out the best of Kerala culture and tradition. Intricately decorated ‘Pookalam’ floral decorations on the ground; elaborate grand meals called ‘Onasadya’; ‘Vallamkali’ fascinating boat races; decorated elephant processions and exotic dances are some of the most remarkable features of Onam - the harvest festival in Kerala. The beauty of the festival lies in it's secular fabric - people of all religions, castes and communities celebrate Onam, spreading the message of peace and brotherhood.
DURGA PUJA, Kolkata
Durga Puja, the most important festival of Bengalis signifies the worship of 'Shakti' or the devine power. It is celebrated throughout India, but more so in the state of West Bengal, with Kolkata being the central hub of celebrations. Durga Puja commemorates the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura. Temples are lit up with thousands of lights, earthen lamps and candles and carnivals are held to celebrate the festival and spread the joy. Singing, dancing, drama performances along with rich Indian delicacies and sweets mark the celebrations of Durga Puja.
MARWAR FESTIVAL, Jodhpur
The Marwar Festival is celebrated in the blue hued city of Jodhpur, in Rajasthan. A two day long event, the festival takes place during the full moon. The Marwar Festival is mainly dedicated to the folk heroes of Rajasthan.
The festival features Rajasthani folk music, dance and drama performances, bringing to life the myth and legends of the region. The festival also holds various competitions including the regal games of horse riding and horse polo.
DUSSEHRA, various places across India
The festival of Dussehra is an important celebration in many parts of India. It is celebrated with great fanfare in most parts of North India, some parts of south India, and in the form of Durga Puja in West Bengal. Dussehra is a popular Hindu festival, which marks the defeat of Ravana by Lord Rama. Dussehra also symbolises the triumph of warrior Goddess Durga over the buffalo demon, Mahishasura. To mark the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana and celebrate the joy, paper statues of Ravana are set on fire on Dussehra day, followed by carnivals held in the cities and suburbs. Celebrations are in the form of religious ceremonies, followed by carnival entertainment with rides and games, music, dance and drama performances, grand feasts and a lot of Indian sweets.
DIWALI, various places across India
One of the most popular Hindu festivals, ‘Deepawali’ or ‘Diwali’, is celebrated to mark the homecoming of Lord Rama from exile. Also called the 'Festival of Lights', Diwali is symbolized by people lighting up their houses, shops, offices with lights, earthen lamps and candles. Lakshmi Puja is performed in the evening to seek divine blessings of Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth. After the religious puja ceremony, friends and family share a grand feast and sweets, followed by a splendid display of fireworks on almost every street of the country. Diwali gifts are exchanged amongst all near and dear ones.
PUSHKAR FAIR, Pushkar
Pushkar festival, held every year in the month of October / November in Rajasthan, is world famous for its camel trading, cattle auctions and camel races along with traditional activities like folk music and dances, colourful village shops and eateries serving traditional delicacies.
Flocked by thousands of tourists every year, the Pushkar fair is a unique experience - a spectacle of colours that signifies the true essence of Rajasthan, allowing you to experience the local lifestyle and blending yourself in the colourful culture of Rajasthan.
The Pushkar fair also coincides with full moon day of ‘Kartik Purnima’ when thousands of devotees immerse themselves in the Holy Pushkar Lake. Witness the rituals and see the believers wash away their sins, understand the customs and traditions and experience a stay at desert camps within walking distance to fair grounds….with a visit to the fascinating Pushkar festival.
HAMPI FESTIVAL, Hampi
The Hampi Festival is celebrated in the deserted city of Hampi (in Karnataka), once the capital of the historic Vijayanagar Empire. Every year, the city of ruins, Hampi, plays host to a festival of dance and music, known as the Hampi Festival or Vijaya Utsav of Karnataka. The Hampi Dance and Music Festival attracts some of the most distinguished artists from the field of art, dance, music and drama. Splendid performances by reputed artists, against the backdrop of the ancient city of Hampi, is a fascinating experience. Other attractions of the festival include magnificent fireworks, puppet shows and elaborate processions, bringing back to life memories of the bygone era.
ELLORA FESTIVAL, Aurangabad
The Ellora Festival is held every year in the Ellora Caves, situated at a distance of approximately 30 km from Aurangabad, in the state of Maharashtra. Ellora festival is a festival of dance and music, showcasing some of the best talents of the region. Some of the most distinguished singers as well as dancers of the country participate in this festival, performing against the backdrop of the structural magnificence of the ancient Ellora caves. This is a unique time to visit Aurangabad and see the city sparkle in the lights and celebrations of the Ellora festival.
KOLAYAT FAIR, Bikaner
The Kolayat Fair held in Kolayat, Bikaner is also called the 'Kapil Muni Fair'. This fair is observed on the banks of Lake Kolayat. On the day of the festival, devotees take a dip in the lake to wash away their sins. The 52 Ghats along the banks of Lake Kolayat, are lit up to sparkle with festivities. Devotees and pilgrims perform their religious rituals and offer prayers, sugar drops, sweets and milk pudding to the deity. With a serene finale at dusk, several oil lamps are lit and floated on leaves in the calm lake water.
CHRISTMAS, various places across India
Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ and conveys his message of love, tolerance and brotherhood. It's a celebration of humanity and mankind. Though Christmas is primary a festival of Christian calendar, it is celebrated as a universal festival through out India. Christmas is the most important festival of Indian Christians, but celebrated with equal joy by non Christians as well. In India, people decorate banana or mango trees instead of traditional pine trees. They also light small oil-burning lamps as Christmas decorations and fill their churches and homes with red flowers. Gifts are exchanged between near and dear ones, prayers are held in the church, followed by a grand feast. Unlike their western counterparts, Indians are not big turkey eaters; so, don’t be surprised to see a grand Christmas feast that is pure vegetarian! Although at most places turkey, chicken, lamb or fish will be served.
Goa remains one of the best places to celebrate Christmas in India. The state has a large Christian population, and its many beautiful old Portuguese style churches overflow with people and Christmas cheer. Christmas decorations and trees adorn houses, streets, and market places. Christmas carols are sung and many of the churches hold midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Beach parties also abound.
HORNBILL FESTIVAL, Nagaland
To encourage inter-tribal interaction and to promote cultural heritage of Nagaland, the Government of Nagaland organizes the Hornbill Festival every year in the first week of December from 01 - 10 December. This colourful festival is organized by the State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments.
Hornbill Festival is held at Naga Heritage Village – Kisama, which is about 12 km from Kohima. All the tribes of Nagaland take part in this festival. The aim of the festival is to revive and protect the rich culture of Nagaland and display its cultural extravaganza and traditions. This is a great opportunity to understand the people and culture of Nagaland, taste the local food, experience local songs, dances and customs of Nagaland. The weeklong festival unites all in Nagaland and people enjoy the colourful performances, crafts, sports, food, local games and ceremonies. Traditional arts such as paintings, wood carvings, and sculptures are also on display. It is interesting to see the opening ceremony of the festival held on 01 Dec every year.
KOCHI CARNIVAL, Kochi
Kochi Carnival is held in the last week of December, in Kochi, every year. Fort Kochi is decorated and tourists flock to this lovely port city to participate in the festivities. Inception of the Kochi carnival can be traced back to the Portuguese New Year revelry, held here during the colonial days.
Preparations generally begin months in advance for hosting the carnival, which involves unique activities such as Kalam Vara (floor drawing), tug-of-war, bicycle race, swimming in the sea, beach volleyball and a variety of north and south Indian dance performances. The highlight of the carnival is the massive procession led by embellished elephants accompanied by drums and music. Color white dominates the concluding 10 days of December, during the Kochi Carnival. The festivities and revelries continue till midnight of December 31st with fireworks marking the grand finale.
CAMEL FESTIVAL, Bikaner
The Camel Festival is held in Bikaner in Rajasthan, every year in the month of December or January. It is a festival when the ships of the desert are seen at their best - camels fascinate tourists from all over the world!
The Bikaner camel festival is a spectacle of unusual camel performances including camel races, camel dances, and the bumpy, neck shaking camel rides. The festival starts with the procession of beautifully decorated camels, heading towards open sand grounds. The Camel Pageant is held on the first day where the camel owners show off their decorated camels. Competitions are held for best decorated camel, camel milking and the best camel hair cuts. Camel dance performances are also held, where camels display amazing footwork, dancing gracefully to the slightest direction of their drivers. Camel races take place on the second day, with thousands of locals and tourists cheering the camels.
On both days, the evening ends with a rendezvous with the folk music and dances of Rajasthan. The jubilant, skirt swirling dancers, the awe inspiring fire dances and many other equally interesting performances entertain the visitors. The grand finale is a magnificent display of fireworks, illuminating the desert city of Bikaner.
The finest of India's cuisines are as rich and diverse as the country's civilization! Indian cooking is a form of art that has flourished through generations purely by word of mouth. Indian cuisine, renowned for its exotic gravies, is wide ranging in variety, taste and flavour. Given the geographic diversity of the country, each region has its own cuisine and distinct style of preparation.
North Indian Cuisine:
North Indian flavours have become an important part of international cuisine. Beloved for its specialized 'Tandoori' dishes, North Indian cuisine is popular world wide, be it with the Asians, Brits, Americans, Aussies and now even the Kiwis! The conventional Indian Tandoor is now widely used and advocated by the likes of Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay.
Food from North India is characterized by its thick and tasty gravies. Bread is preferred over rice. North Indians love chillies, saffron, milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese, ghee (clarified butter) and nuts. Their meals are hearty and often include several specialized non-vegetarian Mughlai dishes (especially chicken) and famous vegetarian delicacies. Sweets, especially those made of milk and ghee (like mithai, rus-malai, kheer, rabri) are a huge favourite too !
West Indian Cuisines:
West Indian states of Rajasthan and Gujarat are largely vegetarian, owing to their hot and dry climate. Due to the peculiar climate conditions, vegetables are preserved as pickles and chutneys, so they last longer and can be consumed throughout the year.
The state of Maharashtra, which includes the city of Mumbai (land of Bollywood) is famous for its coastal food and extravagant meals prepared with strong Gujarati influence. Peanuts and coconut are important ingredients as they are freely available in the region.
On the extreme west, the Indian beach paradise, Goa, specializes in fresh fish and exotic seafood. The local Goan dishes have a strong Portuguese flavour, with extensive use of chillies (like the famous Nandos Peri-Peri) and coconut.
East Indian Cuisine:
Simple is the key word for food of this region of India. Steaming and frying are popular methods of cooking. In coastal regions fish is the non-vegetarian food of choice. The people of no other region in India can rival the love for sweets and desserts that Eastern Indians have! The geographical location of this region means its food bears the strong influence of Chinese and Mongolian cuisine.
South Indian Cuisines:
South Indian cuisine is perhaps the hottest of all Indian food. Meals are centered around rice or rice-based dishes and dosa (south Indian crepe made from rice and lentils). Rice and / or dosa is combined with Sambar (a soup-like lentil dish tempered with whole spices and chillies) and rasam (a hot-sour soup like lentil dish), dry and curried vegetables and meat dishes, fish and prawn dishes, and a host of coconut-based chutneys and poppadums (deep-fried crispy lentil pancakes). South Indians are great lovers of dark filter coffee.
Tourist Info - India
3,166,414 sq km (1,222,582 sq miles).
Republic since 1947
The main language is Hindi which is spoken by about 40% of the population; English is also enshrined in the constitution for a wide range of official purposes. In addition, 17 regional languages are recognized by the constitution. These include Bengali, Gujarati,Oriya and Punjabi, which are widely used in the north, and Tamil and Telugu, which are common in the south. Other regional languages include Kannada, Malayalam and Marathi. The Muslim population largely speaks Urdu.
About 82% Hindu, 12% Muslim, with Sikh, Christian, Jain, Parsi and Buddhist minorities.
GMT + 5.5
230-240 volts AC, 50Hz. Some areas have a DC supply. Plugs used are of the round two- and three-pin type.
Country code: 91
Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. Coverage is limited to major towns but is increasing all the time.
E-mail can be accessed from an increasing number of hotels and from Internet cafés across the country, many now with Wi-Fi.
Airmail service to Western Europe takes up to two weeks.
Post office hours
Regional variations, but generally Mon-Sat 1000-1300 and 1330-1630 in bigger towns and cities.
Indian Ministry of Tourism in India
88 Janpath, New Delhi, 110001, India
Tel: (011) 2332 0008.
Magic of Indian Spices
They made ancient India, the richest nation in the world,
Ancient Romans bartered slaves for them,
Arabs risked their lives trading them,
Columbus discovered America while searching for them,
The Dutch and English Empires fought over India for them,
The British ruled India for centuries & made a business of them,
It was not for Gold, Pearls or Diamonds...history was created with the magic of Indian Spices!
India is known the world over as 'the Home of Spices'. No country in the world produces the amount of spices that India does - close to 3 million tones of spices valued at more than US$ 4 billion a year. Today, India is one of the largest exporting nations of spices in the world.
The climate of India is ideal for the growth of almost all spices. Garlic, ginger and caraway seeds come from North India, while fenugreek, red chillies and fennel originate in West India. East India is abundant with ginger, turmeric and large cardamoms. South India is known for cardamom, mace, cinnamon, clove, pepper and even vanilla.
There is a popular belief that spicy foods are bad for health. Contrary to this belief, Indian history supports the medicinal properties of spices and considers them good for health. Spices are well known as appetizers and digestives and are considered essential in culinary art all over the world. Some of them have anti-oxidant properties, while others have preservative properties and are used in some foods like pickles and chutneys. Some spices also possess strong anti-microbial and antibiotic capabilities. Many of them possess medicinal properties that have a profound effect on human health, since they affect many functional processes. For example ginger is believed to prevent dyspepsia, garlic reduces cholesterol and hypertension, pepper serves as an antihistamine, and turmeric acts as a natural cosmetic and an antiseptic for internal and external injuries.
Although every state in India uses spices in their daily cooking, some spices are more posh than others and come at a higher price. From the north Indian state of Kashmir comes the world's most expensive spice - 'saffron'. Saffron appears like orange strands, which are the stigmata of the Crocus Sativus. One gram of saffron requires the stigmata of 1500 flowers and the spice is so dear to Indians that its vibrant orange colour is represented in the Indian flag!
The various Indian spices together create that typical Indian aroma and the delicious Indian flavour loved worldwide. Indian celebrity chefs seldom talk about their secret ingredient, 'the garam masala', which adds a special zest to any Indian dish. Simply spoken, garam masala is the magic created by the combination of cardamom ('ilaichi'), cinnamon ('dal chini), cloves ('laung'), dry coriander powder ('dhania'), black pepper ('kali mirch'), and cumin ('jeera'). Indians believe that garam masala is the key ingredient in any special Indian dish. So next time you try your hand on Indian cooking, don't forget this magical spice powder, called 'garam masala'!
STD codes of India
Telephone Numbers & STD codes
|Useful Telephone Numbers
Police : 100
|General Telephone Numbers
Railway Enquiries : 131
Useful Hindi Phrases
|Hi or Hello
|Where can I find
|I want water
|Mujhe paani chahiye
|I want a ticket
|Mujhe ticket chahiye
|Where is the toilet
|Bathroom kahan hai
|I am from Australia
|Main Australia se hoon
|Are you open tomorrow
|Aap kal khule hain
|Is this very far
|Kya ye bahut door hai
|How much is this
|Ye kitne ka hai
|This is too expensive
|Ye bahut mehenga hai
|Make this price less
|Bhaav kam karo
|How are you?
|Aap kaise hain?
|What is the price?
|Iska kya daam hai?
|I don't understand
|Mai samjha nahi
|Tell me the way please
|Kripya raasta bataiye
|What is your name?
|Aapka naam kya hai?
|My name is
|Mera naam hai
World Heritage Sites - India
Agra Fort (Agra, Uttar Pradesh - 1983)
Built by the Mughal emperor Akbar in the 16th century, the massive Agra fort is located close to world famous Taj Mahal. Also known as the Red Fort of Agra, the fort houses a number of magnificent structures such as Jahangir Palace, Khas Mahal, Diwan-i-Khas and two very beautiful mosques.
Ajanta Caves (Aurangabad, Maharashtra - 1983)
Ajanta Caves, the first Buddhist caves, date back to the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. are one of the world's greatest historical monuments. There are 30 caves at Ajanta, of which 5 are chaitya-grihas and the rest are monasteries. Ajanta caves are a masterpiece of mud-plaster paintings in tempera technique, made over centuries since the 2nd century. All paintings show heavy religious influence and centre around Buddha, Bodhisattvas, and incidents from Buddha’s life. Today, the sculptures and paintings at Ajanta are considered masterpieces of Buddhist religious art.
Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (Madhya Pradesh – 1989)
Sanchi is located approx 60 kms from Bhopal, on a hill overlooking the plains. The site comprises of a group of Buddhist monuments (monolithic pillars, temples and monasteries and stupas), tracing the growth of Buddhist architecture and sculptures from the 3rd century BC to the 12th century AD. Emperor Ashoka built the Stupa at Sanchi, the central chamber of which contains relics of Buddha. The stupas at Sanchi are ornamented by depiction of incidents from the life of Lord Buddha, his previous incarnations and various episodes from Jataka tales. The museum at Sanchi displays a collection of artifacts found at the site, and nearby locations.
Champaner – Pavagadh Archaeological Park (Panchmahal, Gujarat - 2004)
This site is dotted with unexcavated archaeological, historic and cultural heritage properties including prehistoric sites, a hill fortress of an early Hindu capital, and remains of the 16th-century capital of the state of Gujarat. The site also houses fortifications, palaces, religious buildings, residential precincts, agricultural structures and water installations, built from the 8th to 14th centuries.
Churches and Convents of Goa (Old Goa - 1986)
Once the capital of the Portuguese, Old Goa is home to a number of churches and convents. The heritage sites include the Church of Bom Jesus, which contains the tomb of St Francis-Xavier.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Mumbai - 2004)
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly known as Victoria Terminus Station, in Mumbai, is an outstanding example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture in India, blended with themes deriving from Indian traditional architecture. The building, designed by the British architect F. W. Stevens, became the symbol of Bombay as the ‘Gothic City’ and the major international mercantile port of India. The terminal was built over 10 years, starting in 1878, according to a High Victorian Gothic design based on late medieval Italian models. Its remarkable stone dome, turrets, pointed arches and eccentric ground plan are close to traditional Indian palace architecture. It is an outstanding example of the meeting of two cultures, as British architects worked with Indian craftsmen to include Indian architectural tradition and idioms thus forging a new style unique to Bombay.
Elephanta Caves (Colaba, Maharashtra – 1987)
Set on an island close to Mumbai, Elephanta caves are home to 7th century rock-cut temples, featuring delicately carved panels depicting the life of Lord Shiva. The highlight is the main central cave that houses the ‘Maheshamurti’ - a three-headed sculpture of Lord Shiva resplendent in all his 3 forms i.e. creator, preserver and destroyer of life.
Ellora Caves (Aurangabad – 1983)
These 34 monasteries and temples, extending over more than 2 km, were dug side by side in the wall of a high basalt cliff, not far from Aurangabad, in Maharashtra. Ellora, with its uninterrupted sequence of monuments dating from A.D. 600 to 1000, brings the civilization of ancient India to life. Not only is the Ellora complex a unique artistic creation and a technological exploit but, with its sanctuaries devoted to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism, it illustrates the spirit of tolerance.
Fatehpur Sikri (Agra, Uttar Pradesh – 1986)
Fatehpur Sikri meaning the ‘City of Victory’ is red sandstone Mughal palatial complex, a fine example of Indo-Islamic architectural style. Within the complex lies a mosque built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar and dedicated to Sheikh Salim Chisti, a Muslim Sufi Saint who blessed Emperor Akbar with a son. Fatehpur Sikri, perched atop a rocky ridge, 40 km west of Agra, used to be the erstwhile capital of the Mughal Empire, which was abandoned by the Mughals due to water shortage.
Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area (Himachal Pradesh – 2014)
This National Park in the western part of the Himalayan Mountains in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh is characterized by high alpine peaks, alpine meadows and riverine forests. The 90,540 ha property includes the upper mountain glacial and snow meltwater sources of several rivers, and the catchments of water supplies that are vital to millions of downstream users. The GHNPCA protects the monsoon-affected forests and alpine meadows of the Himalayan front ranges. It is part of the Himalaya biodiversity hotspot and includes twenty-five forest types along with a rich assemblage of fauna species, several of which are threatened. This gives the site outstanding significance for biodiversity conservation.
Great Living Chola Temples (Thanjavur – 1987)
The Great Living Chola Temples were built by kings of the Chola Empire, which stretched over all of south India and the neighbouring islands. The site includes three great 11th- and 12th-century Temples: the Brihadisvara Temple at Thanjavur, the Brihadisvara Temple at Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram. The Temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram, built by Rajendra I, was completed in 1035. Its 53-m vimana (sanctum tower) has recessed corners and a graceful upward curving movement, contrasting with the straight and severe tower at Thanjavur. The Airavatesvara temple complex, built by Rajaraja II, at Darasuram features a 24-m vimana and a stone image of Shiva. The temples testify to the brilliant achievements of the Chola in architecture, sculpture, painting and bronze casting.
Group of Monuments at Hampi (Bellary, Karnataka – 1986)
Hampi was the last capital of the Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar. It remains one of the most fascinating historical sites in South India and the most beautiful and evocative of all ruins in the state of Karnataka. The Dravidian temples and palaces at Hampi date back to the 14th and 16th centuries and some of the structural ruins still exemplify architectural marvels.
Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (Chingleput, Tamil Nadu - 1984)
Mahabalipuram, founded by the Pallava Kings, is a town famous for its rocks carvings and monolithic sculptures. The main attractions here include the Shore temple (one of the oldest temples in south India, belonging to the early 8th century AD), Arjuna's penance (the world's largest bas-relief measuring 27m x 9m - this huge rock consists figures of Gods, men, beasts, birds and represents the entire creation), Five Rathas (five monolithic temples, each having its own style - also known as the "Panch Pandav Rathas").
Group of Monuments at Pattadakal (Bijapur, Karnataka - 1987)
Ruled by the Chalukyas in the 7th and 8th centuries, the monuments at Pattadakal are known for their unique architectural forms from northern and southern India. Here one can see an impressive series of nine Hindu temples, and a Jain sanctuary.
Hill Forts of Rajasthan (Rajasthan - Jun 21, 2013)
Situated in the state of Rajastahan, includes six majestic forts in Chittorgarh; Kumbhalgarh; Sawai Madhopur; Jhalawar; Jaipur, and Jaisalmer. The eclectic architecture of the forts, some up to 20 kilometres in circumference, bears testimony to the power of the Rajput princely states that flourished in the region from the 8th to the 18th centuries. Enclosed within defensive walls are major urban centres, palaces, trading centres and other buildings including temples that often predate the fortifications within which developed an elaborate courtly culture that supported learning, music and the arts. Some of the urban centres enclosed in the fortifications have survived, as have many of the site's temples and other sacred buildings. The forts use the natural defences offered by the landscape: hills, deserts, rivers, and dense forests. They also feature extensive water harvesting structures, largely still in use today.
Humayun’s Tomb Delhi (1993)
Built in 1570, the Humayun’s tomb in Delhi is a fine example of early Mughal architecture. The tomb is of particular cultural significance as it was the first garden-tomb of the Indian subcontinent. In fact, the tomb later inspired several major architectural innovations, including the construction of the world famous Taj Mahal. Humayun’s tomb is built in the classic Persian char bagh style - a central tomb surrounded by formal gardens. The Emperor along with his wife and other members lay buried here.
Kaziranga National Park (Assam - 1985)
Situated in the heart of Assam, Kaziranga National Park is one of the few remaining regions of eastern India undisturbed by mankind. Kaziranga is known for the world's largest population of one-horned rhinoceroses, as well as tigers, elephants, panthers and bears, and thousands of native and migratory birds.
Keoladeo Ghana National Park (Bharatpur, Rajasthan - 1985)
Once the duck hunting reserve of the Rajput Maharajas, today Keoladeo Ghana National Park is home to a large number of native and migratory birds, especially aquatic birds. The national park accommodates more than 365 species of birds, including the rare Siberian crane. The national park is also known as Bharatpur National Park.
Khajuraho group of monuments (Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh - 1986)
Constructed by Chandella rulers between 950 and 1050 A.D, the temples in Khajuraho are known for their erotic sculptures, drawing their inspiration from the ancient art of Kama sutra. Originally, Khajuraho had around 86 temples, but now only 20 temples remain, belonging to Hinduism and Jainism.
Mahabodhi Temple Complex (Bodhgaya, Bihar - 2002)
The Mahabodhi temple complex houses temples and the famous Bo tree where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. Mahabodhi Temple Complex draws Buddhists tourists from across the globe.
Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (Assam - 1985)
One of the important wildlife parks of India, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is known for the good population of one-horned rhinoceros. Manas sanctuary is also home to a great variety of wildlife, including tigers, pygmy hog and Indian elephants.
Mountain Railways of India (Darjeeling, Shimla, Nilgiris – 1999)
The heritage site includes the Darjeeling Himalayan railway, Kalka – Shimla railway and Nilgiris Mountain railway. Built by the British, the railways pass through winding treks in mountains and numerous tunnels. Mountain railway was highly significant in facilitating population movement in the British colonial era and till date serves as a convenient mode of transport to hill stations in India.
Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks (Uttarakhand - 1988)
Nestled high in Western Himalayas, in the state of Uttarkhand, Valley of Flowers National Park is noted for its meadows of endemic alpine flowers and outstanding natural beauty. This park is also home to rare and endangered wildlife, including the Asiatic black bear, snow leopard, brown bear and blue sheep. Set amidst rugged mountain terrain, Nanda Devi National Park encompasses a unique transition zone between the mountain ranges of the Zanskar and the Great Himalayas.
Qutub Minar and its monuments (Delhi – 1993)
Built in the early 13th century, the Qutub Minar is a fine example of Indo-Islamic architecture and is the worlds tallest minaret. The minaret is 72.5m high, tapering from 2.75m in diameter at its peak to 14.32m at its base. The tower is surrounded by structures of archaeological significance such as funerary buildings, notably the magnificent Alai-Darwaza Gate, the masterpiece of Indo-Muslim art (built in 1311), and two mosques, including the Quwwatu'l-Islam.
Rani-ki-Vav (the Queen’s Stepwell) at Patan (Gujarat - 2014)
Rani-ki-Vav, on the banks of the Saraswati River, was initially built as a memorial to a king in the 11th century AD. Stepwells are a distinctive form of subterranean water resource and storage systems on the Indian subcontinent, and have been constructed since the 3rd millennium BC. They evolved over time from what was basically a pit in sandy soil towards elaborate multi-storey works of art and architecture. Rani-ki-Vav was built at the height of craftsmens’ ability in stepwell construction and the Maru-Gurjara architectural style, reflecting mastery of this complex technique and great beauty of detail and proportions. Designed as an inverted temple highlighting the sanctity of water, it is divided into seven levels of stairs with sculptural panels of high artistic quality; more than 500 principle sculptures and over a thousand minor ones combine religious, mythological and secular imagery, often referencing literary works. The fourth level is the deepest and leads into a rectangular tank 9.5 m by 9.4 m, at a depth of 23 m. The well is located at the westernmost end of the property and consists of a shaft 10 m in diameter and 30 m deep.
Red Fort Complex (Delhi – 2007)
Situated in the heart of Old Delhi, the Red Fort Complex was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, as the palace fort of Shahjahanabad. Named for its massive red sandstone enclosing walls, the fort is home to a number of magnificent structures including the famous Diwan – I – Khas and Diwan – I – Aam.
Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (Madhya Pradesh – 1993)
Set in the foothills of the Vindhyan Mountains, the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka are five clusters of natural rock shelters, displaying paintings that date from the Mesolithic Period right through to the historical period. The cultural traditions of the inhabitants of the 21 villages adjacent to the site bear a strong resemblance to those represented in the rock paintings.
Sun Temple, Konark (Puri, Orissa – 1984)
Konark, a small coastal town in Orissa is best known for its 13th century architectural wonder, the Sun Temple. This magnificent black granite temple was conceived as an exquisite 12 wheeled chariot of Sun God ‘Surya’ being pulled by 7 horses and remains an architectural masterpiece to date.
Sunderbans National Park (West Bengal - 1987)
World’s largest delta, the Sundarbans cover 10,000kms of land and water (more than half of it in India, the rest in Bangladesh). Sunderbans is renowned for housing world's largest area of mangrove forests. Here you can spot a number of rare and endangered species including the famous Bengal tigers, aquatic mammals, birds and reptiles. A unique wildlife park, Sunderbans National Park is the only one of its kind in India, where you can cruise through the park spotting a variety of flora and fauna.
Taj Mahal (Agra, Uttar Pradesh - 1983)
One of the seven wonders of the world, Taj Mahal is a picturesque mausoleum of white marble. Built in the 17th century by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, the Taj Mahal is the jewel of Muslim art in India. Often referred to as a poem in white marble, Taj Mahal displays the saga of love between Emperor Shah Jahan and his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal.
The Jantar Mantar (Jaipur – 2010)
The Jantar Mantar, in Jaipur, is an astronomical observation site built in the early 18th century. It includes a set of some 20 main fixed instruments. They are monumental examples in masonry of known instruments but which in many cases have specific characteristics of their own. Designed for the observation of astronomical positions with the naked eye, they embody several architectural and instrumental innovations. This is the most significant, most comprehensive, and the best preserved of India's historic observatories. It is an expression of the astronomical skills and cosmological concepts of the court of a scholarly prince at the end of the Mughal period.
Western Ghats (2012)
Older than the Himalaya mountains, the mountain chain of the Western Ghats represents geomorphic features of immense importance with unique biophysical and ecological processes. The site’s high montane forest ecosystems influence the Indian monsoon weather pattern. Moderating the tropical climate of the region, the site presents one of the best examples of the monsoon system on the planet. It also has an exceptionally high level of biological diversity and endemism and is recognized as one of the world’s eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity. The forests of the site include some of the best representatives of non-equatorial tropical evergreen forests anywhere and are home to at least 325 globally threatened flora, fauna, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish species.