India is an amazing country to be a travel destination. It is naturally, culturally and spiritually beautiful. Let’s jot down some information you need to know before planning a trip to India this 2018.
When to go where in India
As big as the 7th largest country in the world, India has quite various weather with four seasons a year: winter (January – February), summer (March – May), a monsoon season (June – September), and a post-monsoon period (October – December).
Picture 1 - Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India
Southern India is closer to the equator with southwest bounded by Arabian Sea, southeast by Lakshadweep Sea, east by Bay of Bengal and the south by the Indian Ocean. Such a position makes Southern India pretty warm and humid, even in winter. Otherwise northern India is surrounded by a great arc of mountains, including the Himalayas of Nepal, Hindu Kush, and Patkai ranges, forming a natural barrier that prevents cold polar winds, making it quite dry and cold in this area. Therefore, the best time for traveling southern India is winter, while that for northern India is summer.
There are many colorful cultural, religious festivals in India within a year. Therefore, before making a travel plan, check the board below for festival timings to make sure you won’t miss the one you’d like to experience.
Festival of Light
Celebrated throughout India, though there are differences from place to place.
Duration: 5 days.
Time: on the (usually in October or November of the Gregorian calendar).
Next festival: 6th – 10th Nov, 2018
Festival of Color
Celebrated throughout India, among which Delhi, Jaipur and Agra are best places to celebrate Holi.
Duration: 2 days.
Time: in spring, usually in full moon of February or March.
Next festival: 20th – 21st Mar, 2019
Worship Durga, the Goddess win over the demon Mahishasura
Kolkata, the place make it the biggest festival of a year, is the best location to celebrate.
Duration: 9 days and only open for visitors the last 4 days.
Time: in September or October of the Gregorian calendar.
Next festival: 15th – 19th Oct, 2018
Honor Ganesh, the beloved elephant-headed god
Mumbai, Pune, Goa, Hyderabad, and Kanipakam are among the best places to experience the celebration.
Duration: 10 days
Time: in August or September of the Gregorian calendar.
Next festival: 12th – 23rd Sept, 2018
Pushkar Camel Fair
Originally to draw local livestock traders to do business during the Hindu month of Kartik
Celebrated in Pushkar, but you can also join the camel traders headed to Pushkar in the weeks before the festival.
Duration: about 5 days
Time: at the time of the Kartik Purnima (full moon festival), usually in October or November, after Diwali.
Next festival: 15th – 23rd Nov, 2018
Picture 2 - Holi Festival, India
Travel around India
Traveling in India, you will have several choices for means of transportation, such as planes, trains, buses, auto-rickshaws. Let’s consider some advantages and disadvantages of each type to choose the suitable one for you
Airway has always been the fastest way to travel. It is really convenient and time-saving to travel between states in such a large country as India, especially if you are short on time. Domestic flights are quite affordable comparing to those in North America or Europe. There are some economical choices for you with Air India, GoAir, IndiGo, Jet Airways/Jet Konnect, and SpiceJet. However, if you depart from the West, arrival time can be quite annoying like 3 – 4AM.
India is proud to have one of the world’s largest railway networks. It would be such an interesting experience sitting on a train, enjoying the scenery passed by, surrounded by native people and diving in their normal lives. The most popular class for a tourist is Sleeper Class. There are also choices with air condition, meals and more privacy included. You can buy ticket online, but you need an Indian mobile number to register in advance on the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) ticketing website.
Picture 3 – Railway in India
Besides, if you decide to take trains, try to avoid night ones especially if you are woman, because there are still serious security issues and sexual assaults in India.
May being ragged and recycled U.S. yellow school buses, public transportation in India is quite comfortable, even frequently air-conditioned with many tickets can be booked online in advance or buy directly on the buses themselves. You’ll be surprised with Bollywood film soundtracks played at quite high volume or a passenger next to you falling asleep on your shoulder, leg or head at some times. Be prepared that you could be piled in together with other strangers and luggage with rather little comfort or safety.
Also, on most routes you have choices between state-owned and private buses. The former are more reliable while the latter tend to be more comfortable.
Auto-rickshaw is a traditional vehicle in India. It is a small motorized, three-wheeled cabin cycle that can be seen everywhere and used as a taxi in India. It is a must-try when traveling in India. Though the fares are generally controlled by the government, you may be overcharged due to your tourist appearance. It is better to ask a local for an estimate fare before hopping into a rickshaw.
Picture 4 - Indian auto-rickshaw
Applying for an Indian eVisa
Traveling to India, you need to have a visa. Fortunately, with help from technology, you can relax at home while applying for an Indian eVisa following these 3 simple steps:
1. Fill out the online application form. Personal and flight information need to be precious.
2. Pay your service fee and Government fee online. Credit/Debit Card mentioned in Payment Guidelines are all accepted.
After finishing the payment, you will receive a confirmation email for your eVisa order and document requirements.
3. Only 3 – 5 days later you will receive your Indian eVisa via email. Print out your eVisa and present it for checking at your departure port. Follow instructions of India Immigration Officers at the port to get the stamp on your passport.