Department Of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism &
Civil Aviation Transport Bhavan,
1 Parliament Street New Delhi, India
Tel: 011/371 41 14, 371 41 15, 371 93 87
Cable: Travel India. Telex: 031-66527.
Fax: 011/371 05 18


Physical geography

India is the seventh largest country in the world in terms of size. From Kashmir in the north to Kanya Kumari in the south, India measures over 3,200km and is nearly as wide from Gujarat in the west to Arunachal Pradesh in the east, covering an area of 3,287,782 sq. km with a coastline of 6,100km.

The Himalayas: The great mountains of the north with the wide and fertile valleys of Jammu and Kashmir, Kangra and Kulu and the enchanting Darjeeling.

The Indo-Gangetic Plain: Some 2,414km long and 241 to 321km broad, it is formed by the basins of the Indus, the Ganga and the Brahmaputra.

The Peninsular Plateau: It is marked off from the Indo-Gangetic Plain by the ranges of Aravalli, Vindhya and Satpura, from 460 to 1,220 metres.


India has three main seasons: winter (November/March) - pleasant throughout India with bright sunny days; summer (April-June) is hot, but the numerous hill resorts provide cool retreats. Monsoon (June-September) breaks about the beginning of June on the west coast; the east coast receives the rain from the north-east monsoon (mid October-December).

Economic geography

India's economy has long been based on agriculture and its allied activities. About one third of the national income is derived from this source. Among the most important crops are rice, wheat, sugar cane and grain, tea and coffee and jute and cotton. India today is on its way to rapid industrialisation. There has been a substantial diversification of industrial base with the consequent ability to produce a very broad range of industrial goods. Self-reliance has been achieved in basic and capital goods.

Indigenous capabilities have now been established to the point of virtual self-sufficiency so that further expansion in various sectors such as mining, irrigation, power, chemicals, transport and communications can be based primarily on indegenous equipment. The major irrigation and multi-purpose projects also aim at the country's industrial and agricultural development.


The total estimated population of India as on 1 March 1991 was 843.93 million. Main cities: Bombay, 12.57 million; Calcutta 10.86 million; Delhi 8.38 million and Madras, 5,36 million.

A brief history

The people of India have inherited a rich variety of customs, traditions and costumes. The Indus Valley Civilisation was a highly developed urban civilisation when the Aryans came from the north in about 2,000 BC. The resulting early fusion of races and culture marked the beginning of an Indian civilisation.

The invasion of Alexander in 326 BC brought India into brief contact with the Hellenistic civilisation. The Emperor Ashoka, repulsed by the violence of war, became Buddhist. Art and architecture flourished during his reign. He despatched Buddhist missions to Sri Lanka, Central and South East Asia, spreading Indian influence practically all over the East. The next thousand years saw a proliferation of religious and iconographic art. In the l3th century a Muslim dynasty started ruling from Delhi. They brought their own traditions, crafts and skills, resulting in a blending of Saracenic, Persian and Hindu arts: in architecture, in exquisite gardens, in miniature paintings, and in fine arts. As Mughal rule declined, the British who had come as traders subjugated the entire subcontinent. Under British rule, India was unified with a common system of law and Western education. It became independent in 1947.


India has been the birthplace of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Many other religions (eg, Islam and Christianity) also enjoy full equality in this secular state.

Languages spoken by nationals

Hindi is the national language of India, but English is spoken and understood widely. Fifteen regional languages are also recognised by the Indian Constitution.


The Indian Standard Time (IST), is five and a half hours ahead of GMT.


The approximate rates of exchange in India are as follows: £1 = Rs. 50.35; US$1 = Rs. 31.70; Sw. Fr. 1 = Rs. 27.21; DM 1 = 22.61; FF 1- Rs. 6.36 (As on June, 1995).

Official holidays (all offices and shops closed)

New Year's Day, 1st Jan; Republic Day, 26th Jan; Idu'l Fitr, 21st Feb; Mahavir Jayanti, 1st April; Good Friday, 5th April; Buddha Purnima, 3rd May; Muharram, 28th May; Milad-un-Nabi or id-e-Milad (Birthday of Prophet Mohammed), 29th July; Independence Day, 15th Aug; Mahatma Gandhi's Birthday, 2nd Oct; Vijaya Dasami, Dussera, Ramlila, 21st October; Deepavali (Diwali), 10th Nov; Guru Nanak's Birthday, 25th Nov; Christmas Day, 25th December

What one should not fail to see

Northern region

Delhi: historic capital of India. The story of the Red Fort in sound and light is a must for every tourist, as is the 12th century Qutb Minar.
Agra: famous as the city of the Taj, and nearby Fatehpur Sikri and Sikandra.
Jaipur: the 'Pink City'.
Udaipur: a city of lakes, island palaces and parks.
Jaisalmer: a city in the Thar Desert.
Varanasi: holy city of Hindus; nearby Buddha preached his first sermon about 2,500 years ago.
Bhakra: highest straight gravity dam in the world.
Kashmir: 'Paradise on Earth'.
Ladakh: land of lamas and monasteries.

Western and central region

Bombay, Industrial metropolis with attractive harbour and the nearby eighth-century cave temples at Elephanta; world famous cave paintings at Ajanta and rock-cut architecture at Ellora;
Goa, known for its beautiful beaches;
Ahmedabad, with the Sabarmati Ashram, sacred to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi;
Mt. Abu and Palitan, famous for their Jain Temples; Sanchi, site of extensive Buddhist remains;
Khajuraho, famous for tenth-century temples with erotic carvings;
Gwaliori and its magnificent forts;
Mandu, 'City of Joy'.

Eastern region

Calcutta, India's largest city, is about 150km away from Santinekatan (Abode of Peace), the poet Tagore's unique educational institute;
Darjeeling: a panoramic view of the Himalayas;
Bodh Gaya and Nalanda, associated with the life of Lord Buddha;
Bhubaneshwar, Puri, Konarak: exquisite temple carvings;
Sikkim: land of scenic beauty and mystic rituals.

Southern region

Hyderabad, a well laid out city with a rich heritage of temples, mosques and palaces;
Nagarjunasagar, a mighty irrigation and multi-purpose dam across the river Krishna;
Madras, and nearby Mahabalipuram, known for its rock-cut seventh century monolithic shrines and the beautiful Shore Temple, and Kancheepuram, a famous temple town;
Tiruchirapalli, Thanjavur and Madurai, known for their temples;
Mysore, for the pageantry of the Dussehra festival;
Bangalore, a well planned industrial city with lovely parks;
Jog Falls, in the midst of lush tropical forests;
Somnatpur, Belur and Halebid, with exquisitely carved temples;
Kovalam near Trivandrum;
Cochin, city of inland waterways, coir, sandal and ivory.

Most favourable seasons for sojourns and touring

Year round. October to March favoured for plains, and for hill resorts, mid-April to mid-July and October.

How to dress

In winter, woollen clothing is necessary in Northern India and heavy woollens in the hill resorts, while tropical clothing can be worn in other parts of the country. During summer only light tropical and cotton clothing will be comfortable, with light woollens for hill resorts.

Main holiday resorts

The better-known hill resorts are Kashmir, Dalhousie, Kulu and Manali, Simla, Mussorie, Nainital, Darjeeling, Ranchi, Shillong, Pachmarhi, Mount Abu, Matheran, Mahabaleshwar, Ootacamund and Kodaikonal.

Beach resorts are: Kovalam, Goa, Mahabalipuram, Gobalpur-on-Sea, Puri, Andaman Islands and Lakshadweep Islands.

Winter resorts: Gulmarg, Kufri.

Main holiday sports

One can find plenty of relaxation in sports like polo, sea-bathing golf, winter sports, mountaineering, camel safari, river running, heliskiing, etc.

Wildlife/bird sanctuaries

Sasan Gir (lion); Corbett National Park (tiger, leopard, deer and sambhar); Ghana Bird Sanctuary at Bharatpur and Sultanpur Bird Sanctury near Delhi (migrant birds visit during winter); Mudumalai and Bandipur; Kaziranga (one-horned rhinoceros), Periyar, where one can observe wildlife while cruising on the lake; Kanha National Park (Madhya Pradesh); Jaldapara (Assam); Sariska, Rajasthan (tiger, bluebull).

What to eat and drink

A variety of Western, Chinese and Indian-style food is served in all the big hotels and restaurants.

What to buy

Marble articles with semi-precious stones. Plain or inlaid, enamelled or embossed with silver or gold; copper, brass or bronze articles; gold and silver jewellery; precious stones; sandalwood, rosewood, coconutshell; bidri and lacquerwork; papier mache; carpets, shawls; silks, brocades, woven textiles, embroidered slippers, etc.

Frontier formalities

Passports and visas

Citizens of all countries require a valid national passport, valid travel documents and a valid visa granted by Indian Missions abroad for entering India, except Nepalese or Bhutanese citizens who when proceeding from their respective countries need no passport or visa but should possess suitable documents or their identification.

Tourist visas

Usually, a multi-entry visa valid for a period of maximum six months is granted for the purposes of tourism.

Collective visas

A facility also exists for issue of collective visas to group tours consisting of not less than four members and sponsored by a travel agency recognised by the Government of India. Such groups may split into smaller factions for visiting different places in India after obtaining a collective 'licence to travel' from the immigration authorities in India. However, these groups must reassemble and depart in their original form.

Transit visas

Transit visas are granted by Indian Missions abroad for a maximum period of 15 days.

Health regulations

Foreign tourists should be in possession of a Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate conforming to international health regulations if they are originating or transiting yellow fever endemic countries. Although there are no health checks for departing tourists, they are advised in their own interests to obtain valid cholera and yellow fever vaccination certificates if they are visiting a country where these certificates are required. Facility for such a vaccination is readily available at all major ports of departure.


(Articles allowed free of duty) If you are eligible to concessions under the Tourist Baggage Rules, duty free import of the following items is allowed:

Personal effects, clothing, personal jewellery. One camera with twelve plates or five rolls of films. One miniature cinematographic camera with two reels of film. One pair of binoculars. One portable musical instrument. One portable gramophone with ten records. One portable wireless receiving set. One set of portable sound recording apparatus. One portable typewriter. One perambulator. One tent and other camping equipment. Sports equipment such as one set of fishing equipment; one sporting firearm with fifty cartridges, one non-powered bicycle; one canoe or kayac less than five and a half metres long. One pair of skis and two tennis rackets.

Currency regulations

Import and export of Indian currency, be it notes or coins, is not allowed. This restriction does not apply to Rupee traveller's cheques. There are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency or traveller's cheques a tourist may bring into India provided he makes a declaration in the Currency Declaration Form given to him on arrival. Cash, banknotes and traveller's cheques up to US$10,000 or equivalent need not be declared at the time of entry. Foreign currency should be converted only through authorised money changers who will issue a certificate for each conversion. Such endorsements are necessary to reconvert unspent Indian currency at the time of departure in any international airports.

Main travel routes (by air and also by train)

Delhi, Jaipur, Udaipur, Aurangabad, Bombay; Delhi, Agra, Khajuraho, Varanasi; Delhi, Amritsar, Srinagar, Leh; Delhi, Gwalior, Bhopal, Indore, Bombay; Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bombay; Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Madras; Delhi, Patna, Calcutta, Darjeeling; Calcutta, Bhubaneshwar, Hyderabad; Madras, Tirupati, Hyderabad; Madras, Bangalore, Cochin; Madras, Madurai, Trivandrum, Colombo; Madras, Tiruchirapalli, Colombo; Patna, Kathmandu; Calcutta, Dacca; Delhi, Kathmandu, Bombay, Karachi; Bombay, Bangalore, Madras; Bombay, Cochin, Trivandrum Male.

India has a good network of railways and highways. Its airlines, linking 70 cities, offer 'Discover India' tickets for $500 for 21 days' unlimited travel. Indian Railways offer 'Indrail Pass' tickets. The Shipping Corp. of India operates between Cochin (Kerala) and Lakshadweep Islands and Calcutta/Madras to Andamans.

1. Discover India - US$500 - unlimited travel by Indian Airlines for 21 days.

2. India Wonderfares - US$200 - unlimited travel for one week either in North, South, West or East India.

3. Youth fares (under 30 years) - concession of 25 per cent on normal US$ fares.

4. Indrail Passes - unlimited travel on Indian Railway for 1, 7, 15, 21, 30, 60 and 90 days. Price US$35, 135, 165, 200, 250, 360 and 480 in 1st class. Also available on other classes, e.g, 2nd class and Ac First class. Children pay half fare.

Representation abroad

Government of India Tourist Offices in:

Australia: Level 1, Castlereagh Str., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia. Phone: (00612) 2321600/17961. Fax: (0612) 2233003.

Bahrain: PO Box 11294, Villa No 5, Gudaibiya, Manama, Bahrain. Phone: (00973) 715713. Fax: (00973) 715527.

Canada: 60 Bloor Str. (West), Suite l003, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Phone: (00416) 9623787/88. Fax: (00416) 9626279.

France: 8 Bd. de la Madeleine, 75009 Paris, France. Phone: (00331) 42658386/7706. Fax: (00331) 42650116.

Germany: Baslerstr. 48, 60329 Frankfurt, Germany. Phone: (0049-69) 235423/24. Fax: (0049-69) 234724.

Italy: Via Albricci 9, Milan 20122, Italy. Phone: (00392) 80495V 8053506. Fax: (00392) 72021681.

Japan: Pearl Bldg 9-18, Ginza 7, Chome, Chuo-Ku, Tokyo 104, Japan. Phone: (00813) 5715062/63; 5715197. Fax: (00813) 5715235.

Malaysia: Wishma Hla, Lot N° 203 2nd Floor, Jalan Raja Chulan, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Phone: (00603) 2425285. Fax: (00603) 2425301.

Netherlands: Rokin 9-15, 1012 KK Amsterdam, Netherlands. Phone: (0031-20) 6208991. Fax (0031-20) 6383059.

Singapore: 20 Kramat Lane, 01-0lA United House, Singapore O922. Phone: (0065) 2353800. Fax: (0065) 2358677.

Spain: c/o Embassy of India, Avenida PIO XII 30-32, Madrid 28016, Spain. Phone: (00341) 3457339/40. Fax: (00341) 4577996/3457340.

Sweden: Sveavagen 9-11, 1st Floor, S-III, 57 - Stockholm 11157, Sweden. Phone: (00468) 215081/101187. Fax: (00468) 210186.

Switzerland: 1-3 rue de Chantepoulet, 1201 Geneva, Switzerland. Phone: (0041-22) 7321813/7321677. Fax: (0041-22) 7315660.

Thailand: Kentucky Fried Chicken Bldg, 3rd Fl, 62/5 Thaniya Road (SILOM), Bangkok 10500, Thailand. Phone: (00662) 2356670/2585. Fax: (00662) 236841 1/2352585.

UAE: PO Box 12856 NASA Bldg, Al Maktoum Rd, Deira, Dubai, UAE. Phone: (00971) 274848/236870. Fax (00971) 274013.

UK: 7 Cork Street, London WlX 2AB, United Kingdom. Phone: (00441-71) 4373677/8, 4346613. Fax: (00441-71) 4941048.

USA: 3550 Wiltshire Bl, Room 204, Los Angeles CA 90010-2485, USA. Phone: (001-213) 3808855/4773824. Fax: (001-213) 3806111. 30 Rockfeller Plaza - 10112 N.Y. Phone: (212) 586-4901. Fax: (212) 582 3274.

Note: Cable addresses of Tourist Offices abroad is TOURINDIA.

We have been able to publish the present tourist information on India thanks to the co-operation and the participation of the Department of Tourism, Government of India in New Delhi.