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Intriguing India

Alive with colour, India offers a dazzling combination of imposing monuments, chaotic bazaars and natural beauty.

Welcome to Delhi, a city that encapsulates two very different worlds of old and new.

Old Delhi, once the capital of Islamic India, is now a labyrinth of narrow lanes lined with crumbling havelis and formidable mosques. In absolute contrast, the spacious New Delhi was built as the imperial capital of India by the British and is filled with tree lined avenues and imposing government buildings.


Regional Highlights

  • Immerse yourself in over three thousand years of history in the rambunctious Old Delhi. Visit the impressive Red Fort which dates back to the very peak of Mughal power, Raj Ghat a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi and the site of his cremation and the magnificent Jama Masjid which towers over Old Delhi and holds a mind blowing 25 000 people.
  • Make sure you take time to see Delhi's World Heritage Sights, Humayun's Tomb, a brilliant example of early Mughal architecture and the Qutab Minar complex. Qutab Minar itself is a soaring 73 metre high tower of victory that was built in 1193 after the defeat of the last Hindu kingdom in Delhi.
  • After being dazzled by the amazing monuments of the Islamic India set off on an adventure, on foot or cycle rickshaw, through the narrow, bustling lanes of Chandi Chowk. This market is full of life, colour, smells, sounds and people. If you are confident your stomach can handle street food then Chandi Chowk will take you on an amazing food experience that will enhance your Delhi experience
  • In stark contrast to Old Delhi's winding streets, New Delhi's wide, grand avenues and stately buildings are rich with history and culture. Visit Gandhi's Delhi home, now a National Memorial Museum, Lotus Temple, the striking India Gate and Parliament House.
  • For something a little quirky visit the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, yes that is correct toilets! It displays the historical evolution of the toilet that dates back to 2500 BC including a replica of King Louis XIII throne.

No visit to India is complete without a visit to Rajasthan - full to the brim with palaces and forts that provide iconic postcard perfect moments, as well as hidden gems off the beaten tourist trail.


Regional Highlights

  • Shekawati, generally off the tourist radar, is known for its beautifully painted havelis which date back to the 18th century.
  • Japiur, the "Pink City", is the colourful capital of Rajasthan. Stunning hilltop forts, captivating palaces, serene temples and lovely havelis map Jaipur's route through its rich royal past. Hitch an elephant ride up the hill to the Amber Fort and be dazzled by the Sheesh Mahal, adorned with thousands on thousands of mirror tiles on the walls and ceiling. Visit the vast City Palace complex with various courtyards, sprawling gardens and several buildings and museums displaying royal costumes and weaponry. Near the City Palace visit Jai Singh’s observatory purported to be based on the one designed by Ulug Bek in Samarkand 100 years before.
  • Placed in the midst of the busy Johari Bazaar is the Hawa Mahal, the most distinctive landmark in Jaipur. The five storey high, red sandstone structure was built with 950 windows for the purpose of allowing the royal women to observe everyday life below without being seen.

The centrepiece of the nation, and the capital in the time of the Moghuls. Agra is a virtual fort of history and architecture featuring the Yamuna River as a suitably sacred backdrop. The Taj Mahal, a striking monument to love by Shah Jahan is not to be missed. (Note: closed on Fridays)


Regional Highlights

  • Near the Taj Mahal gardens on the banks of the River Yamuna is one of the finest, and well preserved, Mughal forts in India, Agra Fort. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the fort was built in the 15th century from red sandstone and contains many monuments that are real architectural wonders such as the Shah Jahan Mahal, Jahangiri Mahal, the Khas Mahal, the audience halls named Diwan-i-Am and Diwan-i-Khas and the Pearl Mosque.
  • A short distance from the centre of Agra in the suburb of Sikandra you will find the Tomb of Akbar the Great lying in the scenic surroundings of a large, serene garden.
  • Agra is a haven for Chaat lovers, various types of Indian savory snacks. Some of Agra's Chaat specialties include Bhalla, Samosas & Kachori.

Amritsar is spiritual and cultural capital of the Sikh religion. The name of the city itself means 'Holy Pool of Nectar' from the body of water around the sparkling Golden Temple. Retaining its heart and soul from its’ somber past, Amritsar has become a fast growing town blessed with wonderful and hospitable people, complete with its fair share of cosmopolitan cafes & hotels that rival the states capital.


Regional Highlights

  • It is the Golden Temple that makes this city special. This sacred Sikh shrine attracts pilgrims from all over the world, surprisingly, the number of visitors per year rivals the Taj Mahal in Agra. Cover your head, remove your shoes and discover one of the most amazing places in India.
  • A short five minute walk from Golden Temple is Jallianwala Bagh (Park), the site of the 1919 Amritsar massacre.
  • About 28km from Amritsar at Wagah Border, the international border between India and Pakistan, you have the chance to witness the pomp and pageantry of what must be the most fascinating border closing anywhere in the world, the "Beating Retreat' ceremony.

Inspiration and stories

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How to travel responsibly

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How to prepare for overland border crossings

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When to travel in Central Asia

FAQs

Capital city: New Delhi

Population: 1.324 billion

Official Language: Hindi

Currency: Indian Rupee

Timezone: GMT +5.30

Electricity:Type C (European 2-pin) Type D (Indian three round prongs that form a triangle)

International Dial Code: +91

All foreign nationals require a visa to enter India. An e-visa (Eletronic visa) will need to be obtained prior to your departure via the official website. At the time of writing e-visa's are valid for entry at the following airports : Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Tiruchirapalli, Trivandrum & Varanasi. If arriving to India via another airport or route you will need to procure your visa with the nearest Indian embassy in advance of your arrival.

You'll need to apply for your e-Visa a aluminum of 4 days and a maximum of 120 days before arriving in India. You visa will be valid for 60 days. It's not a visa-on-arrival. Carry a printed copy of the email confirmation of your e-Visa (known as an electronic travel authorisation of ETA), and a formal visa will be affixed to your passport on arrival in India. Long queues are common at immigration counters in India, regardless of visa type.

Your passport should have at least six months validity from the date of arrival in India, as well as at least two blank pages for stamping by the Immigration Officer.

Visa costs will vary depending on your nationality. You can find more information here.

Travel Insurance is mandatory for all group journeys and Sundowners Overland strongly recommends travel insurance for all other journeys. You must ensure that your insurance policy covers you for the entire duration of your journey, for all activities you will be participating in and that you have purchased the highest level of cover available to you for medical emergencies (including repatriation/evacuation cover) which are relevant to ALL the destinations that you will be visiting. Contact us for further information and quotes.

If you are taking special medication, it is a good idea to carry a letter from your doctor to show authorities if necessary.

Since some medications can also be affected by changes in temperature or require special care, we recommend you discuss this with your doctor before departure.

There is no simple answer to this question. India's vast size and diverse landscapes result in it's climate and weather patterns being extremely varied between each region. The cooler, dry season between November and March are generally the peak time to visit most of the country.

Monsoon season is from July to September bringing heavy downpours and high humidity that gradually makes its way up the country. However, the sun can still be shining in the north, and the mountain air is crisp. October to February are usually ideal conditions for sun lovers in the south. Whist February, March, October and November bring more pleasant temperatures in Delhi and Rajasthan, although you may also encounter more crowds at popular sights.

India is a country of rich, colourful festivals celebrated throughout the year, that reflect the cultural and natural diversity of this country;

  • Bikaner Camel Festival held in late January annually.
  • Sankrati Kite Festival a Hindu festival celebrated throughout India which takes place around the 14th of January each year.
  • Holi Festival (early March) celebrates the arrival of spring and new beginnings. Without doubt the countries most colourful festival.
  • Diwali Festival of Light brings families across India together to celebrate the triumph of light over dark, good over evil. Lanterns are lit and placed outside homes and firework displays light up the night sky.  It runs over five days around the 7th of November.

Local currency is the Indian Rupee.

ATMs are widely available in India, and you should have no trouble finding one in major cities and toursim hubs. Limits vary depending on the machine. You should be able to withdraw up to your local bank’s ATM withdrawal limit. If not, 10,000 Rupee is a standard amount to withdraw.

Credit cards are more widely accepted than you would expect in India, however always make sure you have some rupees for back up.

India is very ‘hip-pocket friendly’ and even though you can eat like a maharaja for next to nothing, sightseeing can get pricier with so many major attractions to see costing USD$5.00-$20.00 for entrance fees (plus any photo fees). Our recommend budget varies depending on where you are going and how much you want to do when you are there.

As a guide Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Polio are strongly recommended. You are also advised to take anti-Malarial medication.

We recommend you seek medical advice before travelling to India from your local health practitioner and ensure that you receive all of the appropriate information and vaccinations.

No, it isn't safe to drink tap water in India. Only drink bottled mineral water which is readily available in hotels, shops and restaurants. You should also avoid salads which may be washed in tap or unclean water.

You are in for a treat! On our Moghul Caravan we cross the border into Pakistan at Wagah, famous for its very unique daily ceremony.

The process is fairly straightforward - passport, baggage and immigration checks take place on either side. Upon your arrival on the Pakistani side you will need to complete an Arrival Card. The whole process does not take too long, in border crossing terms.

  • Don't be shy. Bargaining at bazaars is encouraged and expected. It's all part of the fun!
  • Practice patience - never loose your cool in public, you'll likely make matters worse for yourself, whatever the situation.
  • India is a fairly modest culture. Females should dress conservatively and avoid physical contact, including shaking hands, with men.
  • Smoking on the street or in public in India can result in a fine.
  • Remove your shoes before entering someone's home or a temple.
  • Feet are considered to be unclean in India, so if you touch something with your feet, swiftly apologise.
  • The left hand is also considered unclean, never eat, pass objects or shake someone's hand using you left hand.

Internet access is readily available in larger cities and towns across India. Some hotels will offer free Wi-Fi.