Indian News


Jaipur: A Must-Visit For Photography Lovers

There are many places and scenes in India worthy of photographing. From colourful temple decorations to bustling city streets, not to mention iconic landmarks and towering mountains. But for one traveller, Jaipur is the jewel in India's crown.

Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Katherine Rodeghier revealed that it's a photographer's dream, with its vivid colours and stunning architecture. Definitely one to add to your list once you've arranged your India tourist visa.

She travelled to the famous walled city while visiting her daughter who worked in New Delhi, noting that it had been near the top of her bucket list for a number of years.

"Photo buffs like me are drawn to the colours, patterns and exotic faces of India's 'Pink City'," she stated, although added that she'd describe the colour of the buildings as more of a tangerine than a pink.

Three of the city's most important landmarks are close enough to one another that you can see them all in a day - the City Palace, Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal. The City Palace was once home to the Maharajahs, although much of it is now a museum.

Jantar Mantar, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an 18th century observatory where you can see all manner of instruments used to track the progress of stars and planets in the night sky.

Hawa Mahal is also known as the Palace of the Winds and was famously where the women of the Maharajah's court could look down on the streets below without being seen thanks to the cleverly designed screens across the windows.

According to Lonely Planet, other top sights in the city include the Central Museum, Royal Gaitor and Iswari Minar Swarga Sal.

Discover Delicious Street Food With An India Tourist Visa

One of the best things about booking an India tourist visa and exploring new and exciting cultures is trying out all sorts of delicious new foods that you might not have come across otherwise. Luckily for you if you’re something of a foodie, India is renowned for its culinary delights. Here are just a couple that might tickle your proverbial pickle.

Masala dosa
You’ve got to have a dosa before you head back home or you haven’t done your trip right. This is especially popular in southern India, made from lentils, rice, potato, curry leaves and fenugreek, and served with a variety of chutneys and sambar (a kind of stew).

Tiffin

This is a light serving of curry with rice or Indian bread – and is absolutely delicious! You can get all sorts of different types, from spinach cooked with potatoes to black lentils and red kidney beans. Amazing – and with a rich history… the start of tiffin can be dated back to the days of the Raj and the late 18th century, when Brits found it too hot and needed to eat lighter food during the heat of the day.

Idli vada
This is a delightful combination of dumplings and doughnuts, and will certainly fill you up for the day ahead. Idli is a popular breakfast dish enjoyed by households in the south of India, with the cakes made by steaming a batter made up of rice and fermented black lentils.

Jeera pulao
If you want something simple yet incredibly tasty, go for jeera pulao, which is just a simple and very flavoursome rice dish that features cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, cumin seeds and star anise, with fried onions sprinkled on the top.

Could UK Get India Tourism Office To Boost Travellers?

The Indian Ministry of Tourism is looking at various ways to boost international traveller numbers to the country and one option is to open a number of offices around the world to give potential visitors a place to go if they have questions about travelling to India and want to book a trip.

The Economic Times reported on the initiative, which is under consideration, according to tourism secretary Rashmi Verma. This comes as the ministry is planning to launch its latest iteration of the Incredible India campaign, which will be tailored for different markets.

Ultimately the country's government is hoping to encourage more people to apply for India e visas and visit the vast and varied nation.

Ms Verma told the news provider that having a "synergy" between the new marketing campaign and target overseas markets would deliver better results.

She also explained how these hubs in different locations – including the UK, Russia and the US – would work.

"Our offices in different countries would work on a hub and spoke model which will be in sync with our PR agency," she asserted.

Last month, figures from India's Ministry of Tourism revealed that foreign visitor numbers in the country were increasing. The Times of India revealed that foreign tourist arrivals in India were up 15 per cent in the first seven months of 2017, compared to the same period last year.

Bangladesh, the US and the UK were identified as the three most important markets in terms of visitor numbers to India.

Foreign Tourist Numbers In India Climb

The number of foreign tourists travelling to India increased between January and July this year, compared to the same period in 2016, figures from the country’s tourism ministry show.

Times of India reported that foreign tourist arrivals climbed by 15 per cent in the first seven months of 2017, while a growing number of these visitors chose to travel on an India e visa.

In fact, 15.7 per cent growth in the number of travellers arriving on electronic visas was recorded this year, compared to the same months in 2016.

British tourists were the most likely to travel on e-visas, followed by those coming from the US, the UAE, France and Oman, the data revealed.

However, the largest number of visitors to India comes from Bangladesh, with the USA in second place and the UK third.

Growing tourism is a target for the Indian government, with the country’s prime minister Narendra Modi highlighting it as one of several areas to focus on in a recent address to a group of young Indian CEOs.

However, he stated that India’s attitude to its own history needs to change if the industry is to grow. Mumbai Mirror quoted Modi as saying: “If we don’t feel pride in our own heritage, how can we expect outsiders to do so.” He was speaking at the Champions of Change event.



How To Avoid Over-Packing For Your India Holiday

If you’re planning a backpacking adventure, then make sure your India e visa is organised ahead of time, so you can start planning all the finer details of your trip. Stuff.co.nz offer their tops tips for how to avoid over-packing before a trip away and ending up with more stuff then you need – always a problem!

When you begin the packing process, make sure that once you decide on an outfit in your head you pair it up. This will make sure you don’t end up with a jumble of clothes and an uneven number of trousers to tops that won’t get worn. Once you’ve done this, it will make life easier in putting things together and if you want to slightly mix and match this can easily be done as and when.

Invest in some packing cubes before you begin traveling. These handy packing bags are a great way to group together and organise various sections of your things, keeping toiletries away from clothes and valuables.

One of the items that people tend to over-pack is shoes - these can be fairly bulky and also make bags weightier, so think carefully when choosing. When considering shoes it will all come down to the destination you’re visiting and what you plan on doing.

If it’s an active holiday, then perhaps some comfortable walking shoes such as trainers and then one pair of more dressy flats or sandals for the evenings. Though you may wear all pairs, you really need to edit down to save on space!



Construction Of India Bullet Train To Start In September

Whether you’re travelling to India on business or pleasure, the news that India is set to get its own bullet train network is likely to be welcome.

The project has been in the pipeline for a number of years, but now construction will finally begin on the scheme, with the foundation stone being laid by India’s prime minister Narendra Modi alongside Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, next month.

Japan and India have signed a memorandum of cooperation for the project, which will see the Japanese providing expertise to assist with the construction of India’s bullet train network. The Japan International Cooperation Agency is also providing investment for the project

The first bullet train line will be constructed between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, and is expected to begin operating in 2023.

It will be on a raised track that is completely fenced for safety reasons and it will feature fully integrated network signalling. In addition, Japan will provide training for some 4,000 Indian officials to help run the high-speed rail link.

The main advantage of the project will be the massively reduced travel times on the route. At present, it takes around seven hours to travel between Mumbai and Ahmedabad by rail. When the new bullet train link opens, that journey will take just two hours.

Many people who travel around India use the rail network, which is considered something of a classic Indian experience. While the new high-speed trains will be very different to the rest of the country’s rail network, they could become an attraction in their own right.

Even if you’re intending to visit the country with an India tourist visa soon, you can still enjoy taking a trip on one of India’s trains, it will just be at a slower pace than the bullet train will allow.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/bullet-trains-are-set-to-change-train-travel-in-india-here-is-how-4785092/

http://www.ibtimes.co.in/pm-modi-shinzo-abe-lay-mumbai-ahmedabad-bullet-train-foundation-stone-september-737439



Can You See India In Two Weeks?

India is a vast country and when you’ve applied for your India e visa you can get down to properly planning your trip.

However, for most of us the option of taking longer than a couple of weeks off work isn’t possible, which can make seeing a country that’s as vast and varied as India something of a challenge on a two-week timescale.

CNN recently stated that with a bit of planning, you can fit a huge amount into a two-week itinerary, and put together a suggested route around India and some of its best-known sites.

Days one to four should be spent in New Delhi and Agra, where you can discover the likes of Humayun’s Tomb, the Red Fort and, of course, the iconic Taj Mahal. From Agra, you should move on to Rajasthan.

This region is home to Udaipur and Jaipur. The latter is home to the stunning Hawa Mahal, as well as countless other incredible palaces, forts and intriguing bazaars. Udaipur, meanwhile, is known as the City of Lakes and will offer a change from the pink-hued buildings of Jaipur.

Mumbai and then Goa should be your next stops for days seven to ten, where you can get one final hit of bustling city life before you head to the coast where things move at a slower pace.

Goa may be best known for its beaches, but it’s not without its history either, with forts and churches among the attractions here. Your final three days should be spent relaxing on the backwaters in Kerala.

Earlier this month some travel agents revealed that they expect to see bookings for holidays to India to increase after Joanna Lumley presented a three-part series about the country.



Joanna Lumley Showcasing India In New TV Show

If you’re not sure whether you should be booking flights and arranging an India tourist visa, a new programme presented by Joanna Lumley could just convince you that this should be your next holiday destination.

The three-part ITV series started on 5th July and has already led to an increase in interest in India as a tourism destination, according to Travel Weekly.

Joanna is best known for her role in comedy Ab Fab, but has been a fixture on our TV screens for decades. She has Indian roots, having been born in Kashmir, and the three-part series is exploring the country from her perspective.

Among the places she visited for the show are Mumbai, Kashmir, Rajasthan and Ranthambore National Park, which is known as a tiger reserve.

This is the third travel series Joanna Lumley has been involved in, with her previous shows focusing on Japan and the Northern Lights. The publication noted that both of these destinations experienced a boost in interest and bookings when the series aired.

Jonathan Wilson, global product director at Wendy Wu Tours, explained that this is likely to be a sustained boost for the country, not just a short-term spike.

“We saw it with Japan; it’s not just a quick hit. We have seen phenomenal growth for Japan and customers still talk about her. I expect the same for India,” he stated.

In the second episode of the series, she met the Maharaja of Dungarpur, and visited a Dalit community in Gujarat. The final episode will air next Wednesday evening (19th July).



Delhi Metro Set For Driverless Trains

Two of the lines on Delhi’s metro will soon be running with driverless trains. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is currently testing its systems on the new sections of track, with the aim of starting services between October 2017 and March 2018.

According to the Times of India, a number of setbacks have delayed the project, which was due to start operating this month.

DMRC revealed that it has started testing the new trains on a 6.5km stretch of track between Shakurpur and Mayapuri on the pink line, with the aim to assess the every aspect of the train’s performance, from its responsiveness to the connection with the operations control centre.

Anyone with an India tourist visa could soon be joining local residents on the new lines, which cross the city. The pink line begins in Majlis Park and runs to Shiv Vihar, while the magenta line starts at Janakpuri West and terminates at the Botanical Garden.

In addition to being the first lines to have driverless trains, the news source points out that the magenta line in particular is an important addition to the Delhi metro system as it will bring a number of areas of south Delhi onto the metro system for the first time.

DMRC’s annual report in 2015-16 noted that the number of people using the metro climbed by 8.73 per cent, compared to the previous year. There has also been a 56 per cent rise in the average daily ridership of the city’s metro over the past five years.



India’s Beaches Some Of The World’s Cheapest

If you’re looking for an exotic budget beach break this summer, a number of destinations in India could provide the perfect options.

According to the Beach Price Index compiled by TravelBird, locations such as Varkala Beach in Kerala, Benaulim, Palolem and Cavelossim Beach, all in Goa, are some of the cheapest places to head to for a seaside escape this summer.

Only destinations in Vietnam were ranked less expensive than these Indian gems, so now is the time to arrange your India tourist visa, if you haven’t already.

TravelBird looked at the average price of common items that you need for a day on the coast, including sunscreen and water, as well as those favourite extras such as ice cream and beer.

At the cheapest of the Indian beaches on the list - Varkala Beach - a bottle of sun cream will set you back just $3.68, while a bottle of water is $0.33 and an ice cream comes in at just $0.67. By contrast, those same items cost $21.68, $1.97 and $3.55 at the most expensive beach on the list - La Plage de Maui in Tahiti.

It seems that us Brits are already cottoning on to the fact that holidays in India can offer great value for money, with the Star recently reporting on research from Southall Travel that named Goa in India as our third-favourite holiday destination this year, after Phuket in Thailand and Mauritius.

With Goa home to a number of stunning sandy stretches, not to mention the attractive prices it boasts, it’s little wonder that it’s becoming a favoured holiday spot.



Darjeeling: There’s More To It Than Tea

India’s Darjeeling is best known for the tea it shares its name with, but if you venture to this charming destination in the north-east of the country you’ll quickly discover that there’s a lot more to this hill town than the beverage.

An article for the Malay Mail Online has highlighted some of the town’s main attractions, most notably its stunning views of Mount Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-highest peak.

The snow-capped peak in the Himalayas is a major draw for tourists, with many getting up as early as 3am to witness the sunrise and see the snow changing from vibrant reds to gleaming golds as the sun comes up.

According to the news provider, Tiger Hill is the best spot to head to if you want unrivalled views of the mountain.

Another must-visit is the Batasia Loop, where you can see Darjeeling’s landscape in all its glory, from the towering mountains to tumbling waterfalls and picturesque manicured gardens. Taking a ride on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is another experience not to miss.

This charming steam-powered locomotive ferries people up the steep ascent from Darjeeling to Ghum and its Buddhist monastery.

If all of that has got you thinking about arranging an India e visa and booking flights to the country, make sure you also think carefully about where to stay once you reach Darjeeling.

Vogue India recently highlighted five of the best places to stay in the town if you want a picturesque break without spending too much money. Among them are the Central Gleneagles Heritage Resort, the Elgin and An English Cottage in Darjeeling.



Karnataka Named India’s Top Cultural Spot

The southern Indian state of Karnataka was named the best destination for culture at the recent Lonely Planet India Travel Awards 2017, India Today reported.

For many people arranging an India tourist visa, this may not be a destination they’ve heard of, but the state has a lot to offer those who explore here.

The Lonely Planet describes it as a “stunning introduction to southern India”, pointing to its blend of urban hubs and relaxing beaches as a good place to begin. But as you’d expect given its recent accolade, there’s a lot of culture to discover here too.

Among the must-visit sites in the state are Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you can explore the ruins of the Vijayanagara Empire, and Kodagu.

The latter is a district in Karnataka where you can still see the unique customs of the Kodavas, who are found nowhere else in India.

According to Wikitravel, it’s also worth visiting Belur, which was left behind by the Hoysala dynasty. This historic town is home to a number of spectacular monuments, including temples, shrines and towers.

They ruled the region between the 11th and 13th centuries, settling in Belur after the sultans of Northern India destroyed their former capital Dwarasumudra (now known as Halibeedu).

Undoubtedly one of the most spectacular cultural sights in Karnataka is Hampi, which has been a World Heritage Site since 1986. There are over 1,600 remains here, including the remnants of fortresses, temples, palaces and shrines.

A number of temple complexes, including the Krishna temple complex, Vitthala temple complex, and Lotus Mahal complex, have been singled out as particularly spectacular by UNESCO.



Goa The Top Choice For Indian Travellers?

As any seasoned traveller will tell you, the best way to find hidden gems on a trip overseas is to follow the locals. If you’ve organised your India tourist visa and are thinking about where to go during your holiday you may want to consider heading to a couple of favourite spots among Indian tourists.

The Hindustan Times reported that Goa is the most popular spot for people to visit in their own country, according to data from Google India, which noted that it was the most searched-for destination between February and April this year.

Also in the top ten were the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Manali, Shimla and Ooty. If you have the time to tour around India it is well worth visiting more than one of these spots.

Goa is renowned for its stunning beaches and colonial forts, while hill stations like Manali will take you into the Himalayas where you can experience the beauty and fresh air of the mountains

It appears that Indians like to travel to areas of natural beauty on their holidays, with many locals seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of the country’s cities.

In fact, residents in Mumbai make the most online travel searches in the nation, The Times of India revealed. It cited data from MyTourReview, which stated that 11.6 per cent of all people making travel searches in the country are based in the city.

While you may want to experience India’s urban hubs, it seems that the locals would advocate getting out to the quieter regions of their country during a holiday here.



Things To Know When Visiting The Taj Mahal

If you’re planning a trip to India then you may need to consider a fast track Indian visa to make your trip go as smoothly as possible.

If visiting India for the first time there’s no doubt you’ll want to visit one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, the Taj Mahal and we have some top tips from stuff.co.nz when visiting this iconic building.

When planning your visit, it’s important to consider the best time when you’ll be able to make the most of witnessing this sight. The cooler months starting in October right up until June are the peak periods, although if you can stand the high temperatures between April and September, then there are definitely fewer people around. This will make it easy to get that perfect holiday shot. Remember to carry lots of fresh drinking water with you if you plan to walk, especially in these warmer months.

To lower air pollution, motor vehicles are banned within a particular radius of the Taj Mahal, so a great idea is to book yourself onto a professional tour which will normally include transport within the fee for the car free zone. This usually involves a golf buggy or electric bus, which is a fun experience in itself!

Do some research before on this historic magical place you’ll find a whole new level of appreciation for its beauty and mystery with the more you know. You may also be unaware that photography is banned, but most people just use their mobile devices to take photos on so make sure you take yours with you.



Discover Stepwells This Summer

Make sure you sort out your fast track Indian visa as soon as possible to ensure you can explore these step wells in India this summer.

You may have seen images of these Escher-esque step wells before. Designed to help people get down to clean water supplies, these wells include staircases that spiral or zigzag down into pools of water for collection.

Due to the impressive nature of these step wells they aren’t just used for collecting water but are also used for gathering and meeting people. As they are so deep, and near bodies of water they are often places to cool off in the hot Indian sun.

The concept started in 650, and though originally a Hindu concept they were appropriated by the Muslim rulers in the 1500s and more were built. They fell into disuse when the British Empire declared them unsanitary and introduced boreholes, pipes and pumps.

Many of them have fallen into disrepair as they are no longer used, and instead are used to throw away rubbish and have become dangerous and filled with vermin.

Because of the low state of repair of many of these step wells, you can often find that local people aren’t even aware they are there. They may be covered by vegetation and hidden from public view.

Some of the existing step wells that you can still visit are those attached to temples which have been kept in a state of good repair.

To find out where many of these step wells are then read Victoria Lutman’s book, The Vanishing Stepwells of India.



What You Need To Know About The India E Visa System

Those of you planning on travelling to India in the near future will need to know about the changes that have just been pushed through as of April 1st this year with regards to India e visas.

The Electronic Travel Authorisation system was brought in back in November 2014, and renamed e-Visa on April 1st, with three sub-categories: e-Business Visa, e-Tourist Visa and e-Medical Visa. If you are planning on applying for one of these electronic visas, you must make sure you do so at least four calendar days before your date of arrival in the country, although you can make your application as early as 120 days in advance.

The visa you receive will be valid for 60 calendar days from your arrival date and you can obtain these visas twice in a calendar year. Bear in mind that triple entry is permitted if you apply for an e-Medical Visa, but double entry is only allowed for the other two. The duration of your stay cannot be extended.

It’s also important to note where you can travel to, as not all airports will accept these e-Visas. You can fly to the likes of Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Goa, Mangalore, Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata and Varanasi, among others, but always check before you apply so you know where you’re going.

If you’d like further advice or information relating to flights and visa applications, get in touch with our friendly and experienced team here at India Visa. We’ll be able to help you plan your journey and make sure you get to India with as little hassle as possible.



What to Expect during India's Monsoon Season

A lot of people are put off from travelling in and around India during monsoon season (from June to September each year), but in actual fact it's a really wonderful time of year to go – even if it is a little wet.

The monsoons will usually hit the state of Kerala at the start of June before moving on to Mumbai around a week or later and Delhi by the end of the month. The rest of the country will start seeing rain and floods from the middle of July onwards – so bear this all in mind when booking your India tourist visa and flights.

It can be very exciting to be in India at this time of year so if you're after something a little different, going during monsoon season can be really rewarding. And even better – because people don't tend to travel there during the monsoons, airfares are often cheaper and the most popular tourist sites aren't as overcrowded, so you might enjoy yourself even more.

And that's not all – because of all the incredible rain, the countryside really starts to bloom and what was once arid land starts to come out in beautiful shades of lush green. Some of the best places to travel to include Ladakh and Leh in northern India near the Indus Valley, as well as The Valley of the Flowers National Park in Uttarakhand. This latter option is only open between April and October, so monsoon season is perfect for a visit.

Be aware, however, that many of the major cities in India do flood during the monsoons because the drain systems can't cope with how much water there is, coupled with the build-up of rubbish.



Airbnb Service Set For New Delhi

Airbnb is launching its Trips service in New Delhi, offering visitors to the city the opportunity to book one of 15 local experiences.

The idea behind this latest feature on the popular accommodation booking website is to combine where you stay with what you do and the people you meet. The idea is that it allows travellers to see a city from the perspective of a local, allowing them to discover those hidden gems that other tourists may miss.

According to the platform, it can also be good news for busy city centres, giving them a way of drawing tourists to lesser-known spots.

Brian Chesky, co-founder, CEO and head of community at Airbnb, commented: “I’m excited to launch India Trips as we’ve handpicked unique experiences, designed and led by locals, to reflect the diversity and variety of the city.”

If you’ve arranged your India tourist visa and are preparing for your trip this could be a great way to see a lesser-known side of this famous Indian metropolis.

Among the experiences on offer in Delhi are a three-hour songwriting and music production session with a classical-jazz duo, and a chance to delve into the world of India’s fashion with two of the city’s leading designers.

Booking one of these experiences could be the ideal way to immerse yourself in Delhi’s culture if this is your first visit to the city. BT recently offered some advice on how to stay safe and enjoy a holiday in India. Among the tips was to be on your guard in large crowds and with people you don’t know.



Advice For Your First Visit To India

India is a truly magical country. It is home to stunning natural and manmade spectacles, but it can be a daunting place to visit for the first time.

Nothing can prepare you for the hustle and bustle of cities like Delhi. It's incredible and really does have to be seen to be believed. India is a wonderful place to visit on a holiday if you're looking for a cultural and beautiful destination. As you can apply for an India e visa, it's easy to get all your paperwork ready for your trip.

BT recently published some of its top tips for people visiting India for the first time. They include getting all the right vaccinations before you travel - including tetanus and typhoid - and checking the current malaria warnings.

The website also offers some advice to help travellers avoid the infamous Delhi-belly. Carrying antibacterial hand wash to ensure you can always clean your hands is a must, as is staying hydrated. Only drinking bottled water is key though, even when you're brushing your teeth.

India can be something of a culture shock to those travelling from the UK. Prepare for the fact that it will be very different. With so many people around you need to stay on your guard, so be cautious when dealing with people you don't know.

Booking an organised trip can be a good way to feel more comfortable on your first visit to this vibrant country. Robb Report recently highlighted the Deccan Odyssey as a fantastic way to see some of India's top sights.

The newly refurbished train has all the luxuries you'll need and with six itineraries to choose from, you're bound to find one that takes in the attractions you want to see.



Indian Train Journey Among Top 5 For A Luxury Rail Break

A journey on the Deccan Odyssey, a train journey that takes you to some of India's most iconic sites, has been named as one of the top options for those seeking luxury railway holidays this year.

Robb Report named the Deccan Odyssey in its top five luxury railway journeys for 2017, pointing out that the train has been recently upgraded making it even more luxurious than before.

The website noted that the train itself has been fitted out with opulent new interiors, while the itineraries it offers have been "upgraded to evoke the princely sojourns of decades past". There are six itineraries available, each of which takes in at least seven destinations. Known as India's blue train, this is the perfect holiday for anyone who wants to take things a bit slower and see India from the comfort of a modernised locomotive.

You could blend history and culture with the splendour of the natural environment. Set off from the historic city of Mumbai to the holy city of Nashik. Disembark and stroll along the Ghats, where you will see a number of Hindu rituals performed. If you're hoping to discover the spiritual side of India, this is a good place to begin.

From this important Hindu centre, you will head to cave temples of great importance to India's Buddhists. The Ellora Caves and Ajanta Caves are both UNESCO World Heritage sites, with these natural spaces carved into incredible places of worship.

The Ellora Caves also feature Jain and Hindu imagery, alongside the Buddhist symbols. After plenty of cultural sightseeing, you can round off this particular journey with a visit to Goa. Known for its stunning sandy beaches, this is one of India's coastal gems.

If this kind of journey sounds like it could tick all of your boxes for your holiday this year, make sure you arrange your India tourist visa in good time before your break.



Indian Train Journey Among Top 5 For A Luxury Rail Break

A journey on the Deccan Odyssey, a train journey that takes you to some of India’s most iconic sites, has been named as one of the top options for those seeking luxury railway holidays this year.

Robb Report named the Deccan Odyssey in its top five luxury railway journeys for 2017, pointing out that the train has been recently upgraded making it even more luxurious than before.

The website noted that the train itself has been fitted out with opulent new interiors, while the itineraries it offers have been “upgraded to evoke the princely sojourns of decades past”. There are six itineraries available, each of which takes in at least seven destinations. Known as India’s blue train, this is the perfect holiday for anyone who wants to take things a bit slower and see India from the comfort of a modernised locomotive.

You could blend history and culture with the splendour of the natural environment. Set off from the historic city of Mumbai to the holy city of Nashik. Disembark and stroll along the Ghats, where you will see a number of Hindu rituals performed. If you’re hoping to discover the spiritual side of India, this is a good place to begin.

From this important Hindu centre, you will head to cave temples of great importance to India’s Buddhists. The Ellora Caves and Ajanta Caves are both UNESCO World Heritage sites, with these natural spaces carved into incredible places of worship.

The Ellora Caves also feature Jain and Hindu imagery, alongside the Buddhist symbols. After plenty of cultural sightseeing, you can round off this particular journey with a visit to Goa. Known for its stunning sandy beaches, this is one of India’s coastal gems.

If this kind of journey sounds like it could tick all of your boxes for your holiday this year, make sure you arrange your India tourist visa in good time before your break.



Taj Opens New Amritsar Hotel

The Taj luxury hotel chain has opened a new hotel in Amritsar, in India’s Punjab region. The Taj Swarna is just 12km from the airport and close to the city’s main attractions.

According to Travel Daily India, the hotel is embracing some of the new concepts being trialled by the hotel brand, including running morning yoga classes and removing check-in desks.

There are 157 rooms and suites in this new hotel, which also features facilities like a fitness centre, a spa, international and Chinese restaurants, and a whisky and cigar lounge.

If you’ve booked a trip to Amritsar, make sure you’ve got your India tourist visa before you travel. You could add a touch of luxury to your stay by booking into this latest Taj hotel.

There is plenty to see and do around Amritsar, with its top attractions including the Mata Temple - a Hindu cave temple - the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial, and the Golden Temple.

The Golden Temple is particularly striking and special. As its name suggests, it’s golden in

colour and looks stunning reflected in the water that surrounds this shrine. Pilgrims travel for miles to bathe in the water that surrounds this central shrine, as it’s said to have healing powers.

In fact, the Golden Temple is just one part of the Harmandir Sahib complex, which is the most important religious place for Sikhs. Also within the complex is the Sikh Museum and the Ramgarhia Bunga fortress.

Make sure you also visit this religious site at night, as well as during the day, to see the temple lit up by dozens of golden lights that look truly magical reflected in the surrounding water.



Warangal: One Of India’s Hidden Gems

Warangal is a city located in the state of Telangana. Although this is far removed from the Golden Triangle where many tourists flock, it is between this region of the country and its stunning beach areas of Kerala and Goa, so could be the perfect place for a stop on the journey.

India Today has recently highlighted some of the top reasons to visit Warangal when you’ve got your India e visa, chief among them is its incredible heritage.

The city is the ancient capital of the Kakatiya dynasty, and as a result is home to some impressive monuments. Think stone gateways, impressive forts, ornate temples and lots more. One of the oldest temples to visit during a trip to Warangal is Bhadrakali, which was constructed in the eighth century and is one of the oldest examples of a place of worship dedicated to the Goddess Bhadrakali.

If you venture up the hill to this temple, you can also explore the tranquil Kakatiya Musical Garden, so named as a result of its musical fountain.

It isn’t all about culture and heritage though, as Warangal has plenty to offer wildlife lovers too, such as access to the Eturnagaram Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to chinkara and sloth bears, among many other animals.

There are plenty of incredible destinations in India that are off the beaten tourist trail. Earlier this year we highlighted the waterfalls in Chhattisgarh, also known as the Niagara Falls of India. It is actually the widest waterfall in the country, and is compared to its more famous North American counterpart as a result of its horseshoe shape.



India Gets Its First Igloo Hotel

When you think of travelling to India, you probably imagine warm climates, tropical shores and world-famous monuments, but now you can add igloos to the list.

Although the beaches of Goa, the stunning Taj Mahal and the bustling city of Delhi are more likely to spring to mind, some enterprising young people in one of India’s mountainous regions have built igloos for travellers to stay in.

The Times of India revealed that two igloos have been built near Manali, a town in the Himalayan region of Himachal Pradesh, with Tashi and Vikas who are offering this igloo experience explaining that a good snowfall this winter, as well as low temperatures, helped them turn their dream into a reality.

Tashi added that it’s an eco-friendly concept, telling the news provider: “It does not require timber or any construction material. Everywhere, it is just snow, which will melt away on its own.”

However, the winter in this region does not last long, with the igloos only available to stay in until the end of February, for this year at least.

Tashi and Vikas hope that more villages similar to their own will consider introducing new ideas like this to attract tourists, and plan to build new igloos next winter.

In the winter, the mountains around Manali are popular for skiing, while rafting, climbing and trekking are among the attractions in the summer months, the Lonely Planet reveals.

When you’re applying for your India e visa, consider adding a stay in Himachal Pradesh to your itinerary to discover this beautiful corner of the country.



Discover The Niagara Falls Of India!

Getting off the beaten track and doing something a little different is always a good idea after you’ve booked your long term Indian visa and want to spend some time exploring the country. An oft- forgotten about but still incredible attraction in India has to be the Chitrakot Waterfalls in Chhattisgarh, in the Bastar district just west of Jagdalpur.

Of course, people want to go and see the Taj Mahal and the Ganges when on holiday in India, but while such sights and attractions are also a must-do you should also try and see something that other people may not have yet discovered for themselves… and the good news is that India has an abundance of these particular attractions!

The waterfalls in Chhattisgarh are also known as the Niagara Falls of India, which should give you some idea as to how majestic they actually are. According to India Today, Chitrakot is around 100ft high and 1,000ft wide (so it’s the widest fall to be found in India) and is likened to Niagara because of its horseshoe shape.

Apparently, monsoon season is the best time to visit the falls, so if you are planning on going perhaps try and coincide a trip at this time of year. Monsoon season in India is between July and September, so you’ve got plenty of time to plan your holiday if you start right now! Bear in mind as well that it takes about five hours to get to the falls if you’re travelling from Raipur Airport, although you can also get to them if you use the local railway station – which might be a more fun way of travelling.



Taj Mahal Among Most Instagrammed Spots

Taking photos of the incredible sights you see on your travels has long been popular, and now that we have a multitude of social media networks, it’s easier than ever to share your experiences with friends, family and the rest of the world.

Of course, for those of us left at home there’s always a twinge of jealousy when we see someone’s amazing holiday snaps appearing on their feed, but you might have noticed certain landmarks crop up more often than others.

Hello! magazine has shared a list compiled by CEWE Photoworld of the top ten destinations around the world that are perfect for an Instagram shot, and the Taj Mahal in India is in at

number nine. And while it might be a shot that’s been taken thousands of times before, the publication points out that a photo in front of the long fountain that leads up to the beautiful marble mausoleum is a must.

Located in Agra, the iconic building was constructed by Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan for his wife Arjuman Banu Begum. It took 17 years to complete the stunning structure, which was a monument to the emperor’s favourite wife.

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a must-visit if you’re spending time in India, as it is considered to be one of the most stunning examples of Indo-Islamic architecture in the world. When you’re organising your itinerary and applying for your India tourist visa, make sure you allow at least a day to explore this incredible site, which encompasses beautiful gardens as well as the mausoleum itself.



Uttarayan: One Of India’s Stunning Festivals

The festival of Uttarayan, which is hosted in the state of Gujarat in early January every year, is truly a sight to behold, and while it may have finished for 2017, there’s no reason to wait to plan your trip - and apply for your India tourist visa - now.

Also known as the International Kite Festival, this event draws people from far and wide to see the displays of colourful and elaborate kites dancing in the skies.

The best place to visit to experience the vibrancy and fun of this festival is the city of Ahmedabad, according to India.com.

Every year, Uttarayan is held to mark the end of winter and the beginning of the transformation into summer, and although the festival runs for a week, the most important date is 14 th January. Although the large-scale festival in Ahmedabad has only been running since 1989, the practice of flying kites to mark Uttarayan has been happening for centuries.

Kites of all shapes, sizes and designs take to the skies, with people playfully battling with their kites in the skies. As part of the official festival, there is also a kite flying competition which attracts competitors from around the world.

People in the city begin preparing their kites as early as November, and there’s even an entire market dedicated to the gliders in the city.

However, Uttarayan isn’t the only festival celebrated throughout the year in Gujarat - the Modhera Dance Festival, which directly follows Uttarayan, is a showcase of traditional dance. Meanwhile, for just over three months from the beginning of November, Gujarat marks Rann Ustav, which is a celebration of life and a wonderful opportunity for visitors to delve into the heritage of the Kutchi people.



Could You Benefit From A Wellness Holiday In India?

With January here and everyone making new year’s resolutions, it’s a good time to get caught up in your own wellbeing and what you can do to ensure you get some ‘me time’ in 2017.

One option that’s guaranteed to relax you and give you time to focus on number one is a wellness retreat, and it should come as no surprise that India, one of the homes of spirituality, has been named as a top wellness destination.

The Evening Standard highlighted 11 of the world’s top wellness retreats for 2017, with India among them. The publication pointed out that India has some strong credentials if you’re looking for a place to unwind and focus on yourself, including its incredible food and its status as the home of yoga.

Whether you can stretch to a wellness retreat in India or not, fitting some yoga into your routine is a good idea, with the ancient practice not only good for stretching your muscles, but also known to help you quieten your mind, meditate and cultivate mindfulness in your everyday life. If you’re already searching for an India tourist visa and booking flights though, make sure you check out what the Shreyas Hotel has to offer, with its 20,000 sq ft spa its biggest selling point for those looking for the ultimate wellness retreat.

According to the newspaper, the spa is dedicated to wellbeing, as well as encouraging detoxing and healing. Among its facilities are a yoga and meditation pavilion, Ayurveda therapy rooms and a relaxation area with an organic juice bar.



Goa’s Agonda Beach Named A Top Secret Escape

If you’re looking for inspiration for a holiday in 2017, and you’ve got your heart set on strolling along deserted golden sands, Agonda Beach in Goa could be the perfect choice.

It was one of the sandy spots highlighted by Travel + Leisure magazine in its list of the best secret beaches on earth.

The publication explains that, while Goa initially became popular due to its party and rave scene in the 1990s, there are plenty of parts of this south Indian state that have remained relatively untouched. Agonda is one of these.

“Agonda remains largely a simple and authentic destination where beach huts are decidedly rustic,” the magazine stated.

But lounging on the sand and soaking up the sun isn’t the only activity you can do here, as it’s also a favoured spot among surfers, although the waves mean it’s not the best place for swimming.

Agonda beach is also a nesting site for Ridley turtles, so visitors are asked to keep noise and light levels to a minimum after dark.

There are plenty of other beautiful spots to explore around the south of Goa once you’ve got your India tourist visa. Close by is Palolem, one of the area’s most famous bays and known for being something of a party hotspot. If you’re after more peace and quiet than Agonda can provide, take a trip to Khola Beach, which is around 10km further north.

Tucked away from the road, you’ll find three small bays and a lagoon that backs onto the jungle. It’s delightfully peaceful and there’s just one place - the Blue Lagoon - for food and drink there.



What Foods To Expect On Christmas Day In India

If you have booked your tourist visa to India this Christmas but aren’t sure what you can expect from the experience, here are some foods that are commonly eaten during the festive occasion that will be well worth trying during your exotic getaway.

1) Stews instead of turkey
In Britain, we’re all familiar with tucking into a large turkey on Christmas Day. Our roast dinner is normally accompanied by all the trimmings, including roast potatoes, root vegetables, stuffing, chipolatas and cranberry sauce.

However, in India, the meal of choice is typically a mutton stew that is cooked for several hours. Alternatively, roasts are eaten but people tend to tuck into duck instead of turkey, and you can expect the meats to be marinated in a variety of spices.

2) Athirasam instead of Christmas Pudding
Christmas cakes and puddings in the UK tend to be filled with dried fruit, spices and alcohol. But in India, particularly in the south, this tradition is replaced with a sweet course of athirasam.

This is a sweet made with rice flour and jiggery, together with cardamom. As well as being popular at Christmas time, it is also enjoyed at Diwali.

3) Homemade cookies
While India may not have an abundance of desserts specifically eaten at Christmas, people are still fond of enjoying sweet treats at this time of the year. Many households make batches of homemade cookies, spiced with cardamom, cinnamon and other exotic flavours.

Popular sweets include kidiyo, which are deep-fried curly dough balls dusted with icing sugar, newrio dumplings that are filled with palm sugar, grated coconut and sesame seeds, and macaroons flavoured with cardamom and cashew nuts. You can also expect dense fruitcakes, if you’re worried about missing mince pies and Christmas puddings while away this year!



4 India Volunteer Opportunities

If you want to volunteer for a good cause after you’ve sorted out your India e visa and have touched down in the country, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are lots of opportunities for those looking to give back a bit. Here are just four of our favourites to consider.

Human Wave
This is based in Kolkata and runs community development and health schemes throughout West Bengal. You can volunteer your time for anything between two weeks and three months, depending on how long you plan to be in India for. Projects include the Balwadi which takes care of the young children of working mothers, and Nari-Khamotayan Shaka which works to improve the living conditions of women in Adarshanagore.

Willing Workers on Organic Farms
Also known as WWOOFing, this scheme connects travellers with hosts throughout India associated with orchards, organic gardening, spices, tea and sustainability projects. You’ll learn all about organic farming by staying on the farm itself and helping out in a very practical way. Around 16 states across the country have hosts involved so you could see an awful lot of India if you choose to volunteer here.

Street children volunteering
If you sign up with Volunteering India, you can get involved with all sorts of projects but taking part in the street children programme in Delhi could be the most rewarding. Volunteers work with disadvantaged children and help to create an environment that will support their development and enable them to join mainstream society later on.

Volunteer healthcare projects in Kerala
With GVI, you can lead your own healthcare workshops in Kerala, one of the most beautiful parts of India. This could include games and sports, therapeutic activities, vocational training and assisting with physical and educational development, working with those with physical and mental disabilities.



UK Prime Minister Heads To India With Heads Of Industry

The UK government has had a busy few weeks arranging a whole lot of visas with a same day business visa service, as not only has UK Prime Minister Theresa May made the trip to India, but she’s also taken many heads of industry with her, according to reports.

The Daily Mirror wrote that dozens of industry chiefs had made the journey along with the PM in order to capitalise on relationships with the country, which is one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

Mrs May was keen to highlight the importance of the relationship between the UK and India, saying: ““The UK and India are natural partners – the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy – and together I believe we can achieve great things; delivering jobs and skills, developing new technologies and improving our cities.”

The government is slated to sign multiple multi-million pound deals during the visit, securing important investment and jobs for both the UK and India – something which is extremely critical at present in the face of the UK’s Brexit from Europe.

However, despite Theresa May looking for work for British firms in India during her first trade trip as PM, the trip has been threatened to be overshadowed by issues surrounding visa allowances for Indian students in the UK.

These changes were pushed through during Theresa May’s time as home secretary and saw the number of Indian students in UK universities halved over that time, according to The Independent. Theresa May has said that she has no intention on backtracking on these regulations.



Where To Go For Winter Sun In India

Now that winter has well and truly started, you’re all probably thinking about where to go for a bit of sun at this time of year. What we want to know is, have you considered India? Here are some of the best picks for Indian winter sun to visit after you’ve sorted out your India tourist visa.

Kerala
The best time to go to this part of the country is between November and March. There are some stunning beaches and you must head to the old Fort Cochin, but really it’s the scenery you’ll be marvelling at the most. This might be the best Indian holiday destination of them all!

Goa
This part of the country is always lovely to visit, no matter the time of year, but winter is perfect as you won’t have to share the beaches with quite so many people. The sands are white, the waters crystal clear and you’ll have an incredible time experiencing a huge array of different cultures. Make sure you camp on the secluded Khola beach before you leave.

Rajasthan
While winter is peak time for people going to Rajasthan, you really shouldn’t let this put you off. This is one of the best places for tourists to go to in the whole of India and you shouldn’t miss out if you can help it. Head to Jaipur for days spent sightseeing or shopping, or make your way to Udaipur where there’s a simply stunning lake that must be seen to be believed.

We’d love to hear your India travel tips so tell us where you’d go for some Indian winter sun.



Diwali Promises A Sparkling Trip To India

With Diwali - the annual festival of lights marked by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains - just around the corner, there’s no better time to apply for a fast track Indian visa and book a last-minute trip to the country.

In 2016, Diwali will be celebrated on 30 October, with communities all over India taking part in colourful and vibrant parades, performances of the epic battle between good and evil, and joining together for delicious feasts.

Wherever you go in India, you’ll see houses decked with twinkling lights, streets lined by candles and experience the excitement and warmth of the festivities.

However, about travel has provided some suggestions of the top places to visit for Diwali this year.

Among them is Jaipur, where its markets are illuminated with colourful lights. There’s even a competition within the city to find the best-lit market during Diwali, so expect plenty of stunning displays.

Another place where you can enjoy the spectacle of Diwali in all its glory is Varanasi. This city on the banks of the River Ganges is renowned for the firework displays that light up the night sky during Diwali - beautifully reflected in the water. Lights are also floated down the river in a stunning procession that twinkles as it gently drifts by.

If you’re looking for somewhere away from the country’s cities to experience Diwali, Travel India recommends the likes of Munnar in Kerala, where sprawling tea plantations provide a different kind of backdrop to the celebrations, or Manali in Himachal Pradesh, where you’re surrounded by snow-capped mountains.



PM Aims To Boost Trade With India

Prime minister Theresa May will travel to India for a three-day visit next month with the aim of improving trade between the UK and India.

In her first bilateral trip outside of the EU since taking office, May will meet with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, as well as visiting a number of businesses in Delhi.

Speaking about the visit, May explained that she wants the UK to seek “economic and diplomatic opportunities” outside Europe.

“As we embark on the trade mission to India, we will send the message that the UK will be the most passionate, most consistent and most convincing advocate for free trade,” she commented.

A delegation including international trade secretary Liam Fox and representatives from around the UK will accompany the prime minister on her trip, which is seen as an important step in showing the direction the country will take once it leaves the European Union.

The prospect of closer ties between the two countries may result in more people applying for same day business visas to India, allowing business owners to visit the country for themselves and capitalise on any new trading relationship that’s forged in the future.

According to the Gov.uk website, the main economic areas India is keen to develop are finance, infrastructure, energy efficiency, healthcare and vocational skills and education.

Government figures indicate that the UK is the third-largest investor in India, after Mauritius and Singapore, while the value of bilateral trade in goods and services between the two countries was £18.94 billion in 2014.



Half Of All Holidays 'Are Now Package Deals'

Fewer people are organising their own travel itineraries these days, instead of opting for package holiday deals, it has been revealed.

 

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has found that 53 per cent of British holidaymakers have enjoyed a package break in the last year, which is an increase of six per cent from the previous 12-month period.

 

The reason why package holidays have increased in popularity by ten per cent since 2011 is due to the rising number of younger and older travellers choosing this type of break.

 

Indeed, 55 per cent of those aged between 18 and 24 years old took an organised trip abroad in the last 12 months, an increase from 46 per cent in 2015.

 

Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, said: “The growth in popularity of the package holiday is testament to the diversity of the types of package now available, appealing to all ages, tastes and budgets.”

 

Holidaymakers also want their travel provider to take care of all their arrangements for them, as well as offer support and security. The percentage of people who book a package holiday for the financial protection it offers soared from 16 per cent to 29 per cent between 2015 and 2016.

 

Mr Tanzer stated: “In the current climate, it is not surprising to see people responding to this and looking for the added support, security and convenience of a package holiday.”

 

However, many people choose a package break for its all-inclusives (36 per cent), for being the best value for money (59 per cent), and having everything taken care of (73 per cent).

 

These days, package holidays fly to a huge variety of destinations all around the world, including India. However, this is also a great destination to explore by yourself, and organising your travel here could not be easier.

Get started by arranging your India tourist visa today.

 

Over-50s Heading To More Exotic Locations Than Ever Before


Those over 50 do not seem to be slowing down these days, with more and more people within this age group planning adventurous holidays to exotic locations.

Indeed, applications for India tourist visas for those beyond their fifth decade may increase in the future, as spending on travel and tourism has risen by 23 per cent over the last five years by over-50s households, Saga has revealed.

Its report compiled by the Centre for Economics and Business Research found those over 50 accounted for 58 per cent of travel and tourism expenditure, with the total reaching £38.9 billion last year.

What’s more, they are taking longer breaks, seeking out new destinations, and choosing remote locations such as Uzbekistsan, India and Africa.

Andrew Strong, chief executive officer of Saga Holidays, said: “The over-50s want to spend their retirement exploring the world and discovering new and exciting destinations – they truly are enjoying life through travel.”

He added that more people in their older years are likely to consider heading abroad in the future as they “live longer and healthier lives” these days.

In fact, over a third of those over 50 who are still working intend to increase the amount of money they spend on long-haul trips after they retire.

What’s more, the report found that spending on holidays was especially strong for those aged between 65 and 74 years old, showing that people are still hoping to discover new corners of the world as they get older.

It is not just pensioners who are keen to head abroad either, as more and more children are becoming jetsetters.

According to Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Money, one-third of kids have been overseas before their second birthday.



Rough Guides Photography Winner Perfectly Captures India


Rough Guides has revealed the winner of its first photography competition, with Somenath Mukhopadhyay taking the top prize for his photo of a young girl preparing for a festival in India.

His image was selected from more than 2,000 entries of photographers snapping amazing pictures from all around the world.

The “Painted Visage” photo of a young girl having green make-up applied to her face during a festival in West Bengal is so poignant, it could encourage more people to book India e-visas to explore the beautiful country and learn more about its culture.

A spokesperson for Rough Guides said: “This image skillfully captures the stillness of the moment and the concentration on the child’s face. The colours are vibrant and [the judges] loved the way your eye is drawn to the face with the shift of focus.”

This was not the first time the amateur photographer has won an award for his work, as he was named the Dragoman Photo Competition winner in 2015 as well.

Entering the same picture in the annual contest, “Painted Visage” was chosen among hundreds of entries.

The judges for this competition also loved the picture for its soft colours, as well as the “culturally interesting aspect and the perfect lighting”.

He was awarded credit for a land price of a trip for two up to the value of £2,000 for his win.

When it comes to the Rough Guides’ competition, another photo of India also found its way into the shortlist, with Sirsendu Gayen’s image of worshippers at a mosque in Varanasi, Uttarpradesh impressing the judges so much it was named as one of two runners-up.

The aerial view of the Muslims in orderly lines as they pray gives a great glimpse into the culture and religion of the region.



1/3 Children Head Overseas 'Before 2 Years Old'


Children are becoming jetsetters even younger these days, with the average age for kids to head abroad being four, it has been revealed.

What’s more, one-third of all youngsters have been overseas before the age of two, according to new research from Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Money.

The findings showed 59 per cent of British parents claim their children travelled more than they had done during their childhood, including to far-flung destinations such as India. Indeed, nine per cent of kids have taken a long-haul flight before.

Simon Taylor, Head of Sainsbury’s bank Travel Money, said: “Our research shows that parents are taking their children away from a very young age, which inevitably creates the need for even more forward planning.”

He advised searching for travel insurance and currency in advance, while holidaymakers heading to Asia need to get their India tourist visas arranged at the earliest opportunity.

Most youngsters who have been overseas (57 per cent) have done so with their mums and dads, while 28 per cent have travelled with their school and 26 per cent with other members of their family.

Parents who do plan to take their youngsters on holiday need to start saving well in advance, after Sainsbury’s Bank Credit Cards found that each person typically spends £974 on their trip abroad.

This includes £340.90 (35 per cent) on booking their trip, £288 on spending money, £98 on new clothes and £58 on airport transfers. Costs could even be greater than this if parents are restricted to taking their children away during school holidays, as prices are hiked up during these peak periods.

Brits 'Spend Nearly £1k' On Their Summer Breaks


It may come as no surprise to hear that Brits typically fork out nearly £1,000 each on their summer holiday, as many happily spend over the odds to get some sunshine before the autumn begins.

According to the latest research from Sainsbury’s Bank Credit Cards, each person plans to spend £974 on their trip abroad this summer, which could include a well-earned break to Asia with a fast India visa.

Many holidaymakers believe most of their money goes on booking the trip, but actually this is just 35 per cent of the total amount they end up spending.

Head of banking Simon Ranson said: "The true cost of a holiday is much greater than just the upfront cost of booking it in the first place, with lots of add-ins to consider by the time you're ready to set off."

Brits also need to take into account spending money, which typically amounts to £288,buying new clothes (£98), and transport to the airport (£58).

In addition to these expenses, some also invest in a home-sitter while they are out of the country, while others have to face costs to make sure their dogs and cats are cared for.

Despite summer holidays setting Brits back quite a lot, there has been an increase in the number of holidays abroad taken compared with four years ago.

Sainsbury's Bank Travel Money reported earlier this summer that 15.6 million holidays were enjoyed between July and September last year, which is 14 per cent more than in 2011.

One destination that should be high on any traveller’s bucket list of places to visit is India,which has an abundance of places to see and things to do, as well as a rich and vibrant culture to learn more about.

What To See And Do In Mumbai


Planning your trip is a must after you’ve got your India e visa all sorted out, otherwise you’ll end up running around like a headless chicken, not sure where to start first. Here’s a quick guide to what to see and do in Mumbai to help you get off on the right foot.

Dhobi Ghat
This is a must-see for anyone new to this busy and bustling city. It’s actually the biggest outdoor laundromat in the world, advertised to newcomers as Washing Laundry. It’s built over seven acres of land and is home to more than 8,000 people who wash approximately one million pieces of clothing every single day.

Dharavi Slum
Between 700,000 and a million people live in Dharavi, one of the biggest slums to be found in Asia. It’s a bit of an assault on the senses but you should really pay it a visit to see how this really tightknit community lives together. It’s hugely industrious as well, with leather, textiles and pottery all coming out of the slum.

Gateway of India
This huge basalt arch was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to the city way back when in 1911. Interestingly, however, the Royal visitors were only presented with a cardboard model of the arch because it wasn’t officially opened until 1924.
We’d love to hear what you’d recommend seeing and doing in this particular India city so make sure you share all your wonderful travel stories with us on the blog.

GoContact – The Online Community For Travellers In India


If you want to meet likeminded people while on holiday after arranging your express India visa, you might want to sign up to GoContact, a travel-based social network that’s been devised by online booking site Goibibo.

If you join the network and book through Goibibo, you’ll be able to take advantage of a GoCash+ bonus. But that’s not all – each time any of your contacts travel using the site, you’ll receive a bonus as well, the Times of India reports.

You’ll be able to see what destinations your contacts have been to and what accommodation they stayed in as well, helping you to make informed decisions about what to do, where to go and where to stay.

Founder and CEO of the company Ashish Kashyap was quoted by the news source as saying: “The launch of GoContacts is further strengthening the network effects on the Goibibo. The 3.4 million users who have got connected on Goibibo is a testimony to the fact that we are on our way to create India’s largest traveller’s community.”

You can also make use of a new tourist helpline that was recently set up for those travelling around the country. It’s open 24 hours, seven days a week and offers help in 12 different languages, so there’s no need to worry that if something happens you won’t be able to find immediate help. It certainly does seem to be of use – after launching in February, the helpline received 17,911 calls by March 20 th , which suggests you might find it helpful too when you’re on holiday in India.

Cheaper Fares To Come For India Travellers


Now's the time to fill out those India visa application forms - the country's government has just announced that it will be opening up more options for international travel as well as making flights cheaper... great news for anyone planning a holiday to India at the moment.

According to the Huffington Post, a number of new measures have now been cleared by the National Civil Aviation Policy, including that any airline with more than 20 planes or that deploys 20 per cent of its fleet on domestic routes will now be able to fly overseas.

In addition, the 5/20 aviation rule has been scrapped, restricting domestic airlines when it comes to international routes. This prevents Indian airlines from making international flights unless they have been in operation for a minimum of five years with a fleet of 20 planes.

Ticket prices should also come down because domestic airlines will now be able to do self-handling, so outsourcing costs will be reduced. And there will also be increased focus on regional connectivity, with airlines required to put on more flights to island territories and north-east India.

This comes after start-up People Over Profit announced that there could soon be a direct flight between the UK and India - a development sure to increase flight bookings to and from both countries. British- Indian Nino Judge is the man behind the idea, keen to help slash journey times after seeing how tired some of his fellow passengers were after flying for 17 hours from Amritsar - having transferred via Moscow!

New Website For Travellers To India’s Religious Hotspots


If you need your fast track Indian visa for a tourist trip to India where you’re looking to take in some of the country’s many spiritual highlights, there’s a new website that might just help you find the best experiences available to you.

The website, ReligiousTrip.com, is the first of its kind dedicated to providing integrated travel services specifically for those devotees and intrepid travellers looking to take in India’s religious offering.

And let’s not forget how large its offering is. Religion in Indian is a diverse and fertile ground – with the country the birthplace of many major modern world religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

Thanks to that, you’ll find many beautiful, interesting and unique Mandir, Masjid Dargah, Gurudwara, churches and monasteries to visit.

Jatin Arora, Co-founder and Director of Religious Trip, says of the launch of the site: "While some choose to travel to exotic locations, there's another group who may choose to go on a pilgrimage or visit a religious place either to restore their beliefs or find spiritual peace."

However, these trips aren’t just great if you’re a religious devotee yourself – they’re perfect package deals for students of religious studies, academics and even those with a love of Indian architecture and culture. After all, for a country with religion so deeply at its heart, you can learn a lot about Indian from their religious temples.

While many travellers make the pilgrimage to these holy places, ReligiousTrip.com aims to take the hassle out of arranging a trip, setting up package deals with nearby hotels and arranging transport, making your trip a one click solution, rather than trawling the internet for travel information and the streets for accommodation.

POP To Bring Direct Flights Between India & UK


Good news this week for those who sort out Indian business visas on a regular basis – you could soon find yourself catching a direct flight between India and the UK, all thanks to a new start-up called POP, short for People Over Profit.

The brainchild of British-Indian Nino Judge, POP first came to life in 2003, when Mr Judge was keen to launch an airline to serve India’s second cities after seeing how exhausted some of his fellow Sikhs were after enduring a 17-hour flight from Amritsar with transfers via Moscow. And now, POP has just launched its crowdfunding campaign to raise £5 million to get the project off the ground, with at least 51 per cent of all profits from the airline to be used to fund social projects in both India and the UK.

“This is an opportunity to make an investment in a new airline business with a unique proposition. We will be the first airline to respond to the emerging demand from the expanding Indian middle class for non-stop flights between the UK and India’s key secondary cities. But more than that, supporters will be funding social change through POP’s philanthropic giving to community causes, breaking new ground in terms of corporate social responsibility,” Mr Judge said.

It’s expected that the first POP flight will leave from Stansted later on this year, flying to Amritsar. From then on, there will be three services each week to Amritsar and Ahmedabad, making POP the only airline at the moment to offer direct flights from the UK to these two cities.

The crowdfunding campaign will involve the pre-sale of Gold Passes – priced at £500 – with the first 10,000 people who buy these passes winning a free off-peak return seat to any POP destination. What’s more, they’ll also be entitled to a variety of VIP benefits for the next five years as well.

3 Top Tips For Travelling To Exotic Locations


Travellers who are in the process of getting their India tourist visa need to make sure they are fully prepared before jetting off to the Asian country.

Gocompare.com Travel Insurance has tips for holidaymakers flying to unfamiliar, exotic locations so they do not get stuck hundreds of thousands of miles away.

- Respect culture
India has a very rich and vibrant culture, and it is one of the main reasons why people travel from all over the world to visit. However, Alex Edwards from the insurance provider stated: “It is crucial tourists understand and respect the local traditions, customs, laws of the country they are visiting to ensure they don’t cause offence or act illegally. Otherwise, the penalties can be severe.”

It is worth reading up on clothing, eating, drinking and behavioural etiquette so you do not cause offence to locals without meaning to.

- Protect your health
When travelling somewhere far away, you should always pack a full first aid kit, including dehydration sachets, travel sickness pills and any prescription medicine you normally take.

Gocompare.com also advises taking out travel insurance and making sure you get the right vaccinations from the doctor’s before you jet off.

- Keep money safe
Whether you’re backpacking or enjoying a luxury adventure, the chances are you’ll have to carry a lot of cash on you to cover expenses for several days or weeks at a time.

Therefore, it is wise to keep it safe by strapping it to your body in the form of a money belt or having most of your budget in traveller’s cheques.

It is also a good idea to bring a credit card with you. Even if you want to avoid high ATM charges, it is advisable to have one if you have an emergency and you need to access funds quickly.

India Holidays Predicted To Rise After Royal Visit


The recent royal visit to India, which saw the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge make their way around the country as well as the small landlocked nation of Bhutan, is expected to see holiday bookings to both regions increase.

Opodo research has found that previous royal tours have helped support tourism. For example, after William and Kate went to Australia, a 45 per cent hike in bookings for Sydney was seen. And when they went to Courchevel in the French Alps, 57 per cent more flights were booked than for the same dates the year before, the London Evening Standard reports.

Lukas Balter, Opodo's destination expert, was quoted by the news source as saying: "When members of the Royal Family travel the world, be it on official visits or for some down time, we commonly see a spike in bookings as Brits feel royally inspired."

He went on to say that this current trip that the Royals are on is putting two beautiful countries, which may have been overlooked as holiday destinations in the past, firmly in the spotlight.

If you've been similarly inspired and can't wait to go on a trip to India, make sure you book your urgent Indian tourist visa in plenty of time. Get in touch with us here at India Visa - we can help make sure your application is a success, taking all the stress and hassle out of organising all the paperwork. It might be harder to arrange than you think so make good use of the professional help and advice available.

Semi-High Speed Train Links Up Popular Tourist Hotspots


Chances are, if you’ve arranged a fast track Indian visa with us, you like to get things done speedily, so when you’re visiting India, you may be glad to hear about the new semi-high speed train.

The Gatimaan Express is India’s fastest train service, connecting Agra and New Delhi at speeds of 100 miles per hour, reducing the travel time from two to three hours to just 100 minutes, according to The Telegraph.

While the speeds of this train aren’t much in comparison to high speed trains in Japan and Shanghai, it’s very important for India. It creates a much needed transport link between the capital New Delhi and the country’s top tourist attraction, the Taj Mahal.

The train has arrived just in time for a Royal visit from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who will use the service to visit the Taj Mahal. It also features some new developments for Indian railways – including hostesses in each carriage, free Wi-Fi and on-board entertainment services through an app.

A railway spokesman told the New India Express: “We are trying to provide the best service to passengers in the first semi-high-speed train... While quality food with multiple choices will be offered to passengers, they will also be given free access to multimedia entertainment on their seats.”

The service will set off from New Delhi at 8.10am each morning, with the return journey at 5.55pm from Agra and return tickets will cost from £7.30 for standard fair to £14.45 for executive travel.

Make Use Of India’s New Tourist Helpline


It can be scary if you’ve organised an India tourist visa and have never been to the country before, especially if you’re travelling alone. However, if you come unstuck and run into difficulties at any point during your India holiday there’s now a new helpline available to those who need assistance.

According to Travel Daily Media, the Toll Free Tourist Infoline is open 24 hours, seven days a week and can offer help in 12 different languages – Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Japanese, German, Italian, Arabic, French, English and Hindi.

It was first launched at the start of February and by March 20th, some 17,911 calls had been received from tourist, averaging out at nearly 578 calls a day. The purpose of the hotline is to provide travel and tourism information to those in the country, as well as helping travellers who may be in distress and alerting the authorities as and when required.

Before you travel, it would also be wise to have a look at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website to see if there is anything going on in the country that you should perhaps be aware of.

Currently, people are being advised not to travel to Manipur, as well as Imphal, Jammu and Kashmir. In addition, travellers are being advised against going to the areas in the immediate vicinity of the Pakistan border, except at Wagah.

Do as much research into any country as you can before you travel so you know what to expect when you arrive.

What Easter Traditions Are There In India?


If you are travelling around Asia on an India tourist visa, you might still be in the country over the Easter weekend (March 25th – 28th). In that case, take a look at the many traditions and festivals you can expect to see over the bank holiday to really experience how locals celebrate Easter in India.

- Good Friday
The Easter celebrations start on Good Friday, when Christians flock to the churches to attend services and watch plays to explain the story of Jesus’ last days on earth.

They take part in parades and large prayer meetings. However, Good Friday is a day of mourning as it is when Jesus was crucified on the cross. Some churches also offer members a bitter drink made out of leaves and vinegar, as part of their annual tradition.

Even if you do not take part in any of the events, Good Friday is a public holiday in India, so you will find banks, post offices and local government buildings closed, as well as some shops, businesses and transport connections.

- Easter Sunday
As Easter Sunday celebrates Jesus’ resurrection, you can expect all of India’s Christians to enjoy lots of festivities.

They attend church and take part in services during the morning, before hosting a lavish lunch or dinner for their friends and family later on – much like in the UK. Making Easter eggs is not as popular in India as it is in Britain. However, the trend for buying chocolate eggs and exchanging gifts has grown here, and many people give presents to each other, in the form of eggs and Easter bunnies.

- Celebrate in Goa
While just three per cent of India’s population is Christian, you will really notice everyone celebrating the holiday if you go to Goa.

The once Portuguese colony has a huge Christian influence, and there are processions, church services and shows throughout the weekend.

You can expect to see dances, street plays and vocal performances as the carnival continues long past Easter Sunday.

However, while many celebrations are similar to our traditions in the UK, India’s streets tend to fill with brightly coloured lanterns and exotic flowers, making it a strikingly unique place to enjoy your Easter break.

What Rare Animals To Spot In India


Having an India tourist visa arranged means that you’ve booked yourself onto the holiday of a lifetime! If you’re going with a view to see as much of the local flora and fauna as possible, why not see if you can spot some of the rarer, more endangered species native to the country – perhaps before they’re gone forever.

Royal Bengal Tiger
This is the national animal of India and one of just five remaining tiger species in the entire world. Approximately 2,500 tigers can be found in the Indian forest and if you’re determined to see them while on holiday in India, pay a visit to the Kanha National Park, the Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan or the Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh.

Red Panda
The red panda is one of the most popular animals going, which is why it’s so very sad that it’s endangered, with around 2,500 animals left in the wild. Make your way to Meghalaya, the Darjeeling District of Arunchal Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh to see if you can spot them.

Asiatic lion
Head off to India’s Gir Forest, the only place in the world where you’ll find the Asiatic lion. You’ll have to keep your eyes incredibly well peeled, however, as there are only around 260 of these left in the wild. Perhaps talk to a guide to find out more information and see where the best places to go are to see them.

We’d love to hear about the animals you spotted on your trip around India so make sure you get in touch when you’re back from your holiday.

How To Celebrate Mother’s Day In India


Mother’s Day is just a week away in the UK (March 6th), but if you are on an India tourist visa and are enjoying a break on the other side of the world, you might be interested to learn the traditions celebrated in India on this special day.

When is it celebrated?
Mother’s Day in India does not occur on the same day as Britain, with people honouring their mums on the second Sunday in May every year. Those who are in India this spring might, therefore, wish to send their mothers something special on May 8th this year.

Where is it celebrated?
While the whole of India takes part in the festival, it is mainly in big towns and cities that it has become part of normal custom. This is most likely due to the influence of the internet and tourists in these areas who have introduced this Western tradition into Indian culture.
Indeed, as Mother’s Day has been heavily influenced by the English custom of Mothering Sunday, you’ll certainly see many traditions that will be familiar to you.

How is it celebrated?
Mothers are such important members of society in India, particularly as they do all the cleaning, child rearing and spend hours cooking meals every day. That is why Indian children honour their mums a lot on this day, particularly atschool.
Teachers tend to arrange performances for the mothers, with the students doing a recital, a poem, a speech, some dancing or singing to celebrate something special about their own maternal figures.
Mothers also have a big role to play in the festivity, typically bringing something to show in the classroom and taking mealsinto the school for a celebratory feast.
Much like in the UK, children give their mothers greeting cards and make or buy them gifts. They then spend the day itself preparing their mother’s favourite dish, taking them out or pampering them.

India’s Economy Growth Beats China In 2015


For some time, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been travelling the globe, encouraging the world’s top businessmen to visit on an Indian business visa and discover just how the country’s huge manufacturing industry can benefit their production processes.

Well, it seems his hard work may just have paid off, as in 2015, official figures reported by the BBC show that India’s economy grew faster than world leaders such as China. India’s growth rate was 7.5 per cent for 2015, while China’s figure stood at 6.9 per cent.

It’s not unheard of for India’s growth to outpace China’s – however, it’s believed that this is the first instance this millennium after last outgrowing the emerging country in 1999.

India measures it’s financial year by fiscal, rather than calendar year, meaning the 2015 business year ends in March, and the Prime Minister has predicted another 0.1 per cent rise in that time.

If you’re from a UK business who is interested in entering into Indian markets, then you also might be interested to hear that a new mentor has been appointed to help high growth firms looking to expand there.

As part of the Mayor of London’s International Business Programme, Nilesh Gopali from cloud-computing company CloudBuy will be advising 50 of London’s “fastest growing companies” looking to break into emerging markets.

The idea behind the International Business Programme is to use private sector funding and mentoring like this to support London businesses to scale up their operations and operate internationally to become global leaders and create more jobs for Londoners.

Duke & Duchess Of Cambridge To Visit India This Spring


If you’ve arranged an India tourist visa to come to the country in the spring then you’ll be in excellent company indeed. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are reportedly going on a trip to India as well, so keep your eyes well peeled for them on your travels around the country.

According to the Daily Mail, Prince William and Kate Middleton will be paying the Taj Mahal a visit in April much like Princess Diana did in years gone by. Although the official itinerary has not yet been forthcoming, it’s thought that the pair will be touring the country between April 10th and 17th, although they’ll be leaving their two children at home.

Back in November, a spokesman for the couple told MailOnline: “Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will visit India in the spring of 2016. The visit is being undertaken at the request of Her Majesty’s Government and will be the first time the Duke and Duchess have visited the country.”

If you’re planning a similar holiday in India, why don’t you travel to Unesco World Heritage sites by train? There is now a five-day package that will take you around sites in Varanasi, Khajuraho and Agra, before taking you back to Delhi. You’ll get to see all sorts of beautiful temples, as well as the Taj Mahal, which is a must-see for anyone coming to India for the first time – as the Duke and Duchess clearly know as well.

To find out more about visa applications to India, get in touch with us today.

India To Waive Visas For Thai Travellers?


People from Thailand currently looking into arranging an India tourist visa may well find that they won’t have to sort out all the paperwork after all.

According the Phnom Penh Post, Hamid Ansari, vice-president for India, said that the country is now considering a visa exemption for people from ASEAN nations in a bid to encourage more people to explore Buddhism in India.

N Sitlhou, first secretary at the Indian Embassy in Phnom Penh, confirmed that people from Cambodia are already finding it easy to gain entry to India, with those travelling on business no longer having to pay visa fees to visit the country.

“The Buddhist circuit [for travellers] is the main thing, but this will also help increase business engagement [between the two countries],” the representative went on to say.

If you’re interested in Buddhism and want to travel to India in order to find out more, you can always book yourself on a specific Buddhist Tour of the country. There are many options available to holidaymakers from a wide variety of different companies so make sure you do your research properly in order to find the right tour for you.

There are many different Buddhist destinations in India to visit, from Bodh Gaya and Kushinagar to Sankasya and Sravasti. Bodh Gaya, for example, is one of the four holiest places for Buddhists to visit, since it’s where Buddha himself found enlightenment. There are many monasteries to be found here from many Buddhist countries, so it’s definitely one of the best places to go on a Buddhist pilgrimage if that’s what you’re planning.

Selfies Now Banned In Parts Of India


No doubt many travellers arranging Indian surrogacy visas or similar will have visions of themselves standing in front of the Taj Mahal, snapping a quick selfie to show the folks back home… but be aware that there are now 'no selfie zones' in various parts of the country where the practice is actually banned.

In Mumbai, for example, there are 15 such sites that have been identified as posing possible threats when selfies are being taken, such as GirgaumChowpatty beach and the sea-facing Marine Drive promenade.

According to the BBC, an 18-year-old actually drowned while taking a selfie earlier this year, which is why the authorities have imposed selfie bans to help protect people from themselves.

Spokesman for Mumbai police Dhananjay Kulkarni told the news source that other sites where selfie snaps can be risky include Worli Fort, Sion Fort and Bandra Bandstand, all of which are popular draws for tourists.

"The police will now approach the city's municipality to prevent accidents at such spots due to people taking selfies. The municipality may deploy life guards and install warning signs," he said.

While it's no doubt tempting to take selfies at historic sites in India, why not put down your phone and actually spend time looking at these amazing attractions through your own eyes, instead of through your smartphone screen?

If you really do want your picture taken, there will always be people around that you can ask to take a quick snap for you. It's certainly worth doing if it means that you'll be able to stay safe and enjoy the rest of your holiday in India.


World Bank To Fund Indian Zoo Reconstruction


Now that you've sorted your urgent Indian tourist visa, you can start planning your trip – but we're sorry to say that if you're really interested in the flora and fauna of India, you might have to wait a little bit longer before you can visit the once-renowned Indira Gandhi Zoological Park in Visakhapatnam.

The good news is, however, that after being destroyed by cyclone Hudhud, the zoo is being brought back to life thanks to a cash injection of $20 million from the World Bank according to the Times of India. It's the first zoo the World Bank has ever funded, but it comes as part of the urban regeneration plan for the area, which suffered heavily in the natural disaster in October 2014.

Some 350,000 people had to be evacuated after winds as strong as 127 miles per hour battered coastal towns, which brought with them rains and flooding, reported the BBC. In all, 61 people lost their lives in the disaster.

Now, however, a fund of $370 million is being used to regenerate the area and develop it further – including the Vizag Zoo, which sees 8,000 visitors walk through the door annually.

According to reports from the World Bank, 40 per cent of the zoo's trees were flattened, 57 enclosures suffered damage, which saw 180 birds and animals escape.

The zoo was renowned for many of its enclosures, as it was home to aviaries designed by legend and ornithologists Salim Ali, who was known to many as the Birdman of India.


Discover India's Unesco World Heritage Sites By Train


Even if you've got yourself an Indian business visa, you still need to make time to have some fun while in the country – and booking yourself on the new luxury tourist train to see some of the best Unesco World Heritage sites around would certainly be a good way of giving yourself a break from work.

You can book yourself on a five-day, four-night package to make your way to Varanasi, Khajuraho and Agra, before making your way back to Delhi once again, according to the Indian Express.

A S Pandey, IRCTC tourism manager, was quoted by the news source as saying: "Varanasi, Khajuraho and Agra are immensely popular among not only foreign tourists but also for Indians. There are no trains that directly connect these three spots. We, therefore, launched this train to make it easy for tourists to visit these three places in a solo trip."

You're sure to have a wonderful time if you book yourself on this trip. There is a beautiful set of temples at Khajuraho, built between the ninth and 11th centuries, which you absolutely must see and, of course, there's the Taj Mahal at Agra – a must for anyone new to India.

Getting around India by train is one of the best ways of seeing the country so make sure you go on at least one rail journey while in the region, even if you decide that this package trip isn't the one for you. We'd love to hear what you see and do while in India so get in touch today.


India To Ban Elephant Rides?


There are countless reasons that people arrange long-term Indian visas for themselves - and the chance to ride on an elephant is often high on the list of holidaymakers' bucket lists when they touch down in the country.

However, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity could soon become a thing of the past, with judges in the country now deciding whether or not to ban these rides in Goa and Rajasthan amid concerns about the welfare of the animals, the Times of India reports.

The Supreme Court has expressed concerns that the elephants are being tortured at tourist places and have now called on the governments in Goa and Rajasthan to respond within the next four weeks.

A report from the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre has suggested that elephants taking tourists up to Amber Fort are not being cared for, with 80 out of the 130 animals in Jaipur being kept in private sheds without adequate facilities, resulting in depression, back swelling and infections.

In addition, the group carried out a survey that found that a lot of the elephants in Jaipur had injuries consistent with continuous tethering and chaining, which is illegal.

As a tourist, you don't want to think that what you're doing is causing an animal harm and if elephant riding is judged to be cruel, you would perhaps do well to avoid doing it, whether you're in India or in another country. We'd advise you to keep an eye on this story to see what decisions are made regarding elephant rides in these Indian states.


Take Care Of Heavy Flooding In India


If you're in the country on an Indian medical visa, make sure that you take extra care when getting around if you happen to be in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The heaviest rainfall seen in the region in 100 years is now causing widespread flooding, with forecasters now predicting a further three days of downpours.

According to Reuters, flights have now been suspended to the airport in Chennai and although no deaths have thus far been recorded, some 18 people have sustained flood-related injuries.

Anurag Gupta at the National Disaster Management Authority said: "The biggest challenge is to find a way to clear the inundated airport and main roads."

Weather forecaster Skymet suggested that the seasonal monsoon was responsible for the flooding in the city, saying that at least twice as much rain fell in the last 24 hours as the average for the entirety of December.

If you're yet to travel but have got flights to India booked over the next couple of days, it would be wise to keep up to date with all travel announcements so you can find out if your plane has been grounded or not.

Additionally, if you're already in the country you should follow the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website closely for updates on the situation, as well as keeping a close eye on local TV and radio stations so you can stay safe and still enjoy your time in the country. Keep in close contact with friends and family back at home as well.


Book A Stay In India's Haunted Hotels!


After you've arranged your India employment visa and are looking for a place to move to, why don't you spend a few nights in a couple of haunted hotels in the country before you find a more permanent place to live?

There are quite a few to choose from, so if you aren't afraid of the dark (or ghosts) and want to live a little, this could be a great choice. India Today has just featured some of the various haunted hotels, including Morgan House Tourist Lodge in Kalimpong.

This was once a heritage house, built back in the 30s by one George Morgan who lived there until Lady Morgan passed on. It's said that her spirit still haunts the house and locals often say they can hear someone in high heels striding around and about.

Or there's the Hotel Brij Raj Bhavan in Kota, which many say is haunted by the ghost of Major Burton, who was killed by the Indian army during the mutiny of 1857. His ghost has apparently been known to walk the corridors and slap guards who've fallen asleep while on the job.

Have a read of the full article on India Today to find other haunted hotels you might like to stay in. Of course, this isn't going to be everyone's cup of Darjeeling but if you do want to get off the beaten track on occasion, it could make for a fun – if frightening – weekend.

Have you been to any of these hotels? We'd love to hear about your experiences.


How To Celebrate Christmas In India


Those of you who are planning on travelling around Asia at Christmastime and will need a fast track Indian visa to visit the country during the festive period may want to find out what celebrations will take place at this time of the year.

Read on for more information on what you can expect to see and do on December 25th.
- Decorated houses
With as many as 24 million Indians being Christian, lots of Christmas traditions still take place in India. And one custom you see here that will remind you of home is the use of Christmas decorations.

Indeed, it isn't just the western world that adorns their houses in bright colours.While you might not see quite the amount of shiny tinsel and sparkling lights as you do in Britain, people have Christmas trees, display nativity scenes, and decorate their homes with banana and mango leaves.

- Christmas food
While Indians are unlikely to sit down to a large lunch of roast turkey with all the trimmings, you will find unique foods and meals that are eaten here during this festive period.

Fruitcake is as popular in India as it is in Britain at this time of the year, while sweet dumplings called newrio, cardamom and cashew macaroons, and rose cookies are also eaten.

Lunch is made up of pork (dukra mass) and a selection of traditional Indian curries mopped up with soft breads.

- Presents
Christmas presents aren't as big a deal in India as in the UK, but traditionally Father Christmas handed children gifts from a horse and cart. Presents are typically given to friends and family, with the Yuletide season being a time of big reunions among relatives – much like it is in Britain.


India Named The Most Colourful Country In The World


Travel enthusiasts might be tempted to apply for an urgent Indian tourist visa after the country was highlighted as being the most colourful place in the world. Who wouldn't want to come to this part of the world?

An article in The Daily Mail looked at the different festivals, foods, clothes and sights of the southern Asian nation to show the public just how beautifully multi-coloured it is.

- Holi
Firstly, India has a festival that's devoted to colour called Holi, which is held in March in the northern part of the country. It originated as a celebration of the end of winter and the rebirth of life in the spring, which is why there is a lot of singing, dancing and bursts of colour.

Indeed, people throw coloured powder all over each other, resulting in a spectacular display of vibrant shades.

- Clothes
India's saris, whether for special occasions or everyday use, come in a huge range of exuberant colours – from red to green, yellow to purple. Coloured in natural dyes, these pieces of cloth are often detailed with gold threading, little mirrors and tiny bells.

Materials of different colours are often woven together and some fantastic patterns are created with the varying shades.

- Food
India is blessed with delicious fruit and vegetables, all of which are wonderfully colourful. With bright orange mangoes, red chillis, magenta pomegranates, green okra, purple aubergine and the huge array of brightly coloured spices, food stalls in India burst with colour at every corner.


Pakistani Novelist Denied Indian Visa Ahead Of Book Festival
Description: Author Kanza Javed was denied entry into India.


Obtaining an Indian visa can be a challenging process, as a Pakistani author recently discovered as she tried to secure entry to the country for an important book festival.

Kanza Javed was intending to launch her debut novel at the inaugural Kumaon Literary Festival (KLF) at Dhanachuli village and Nainital in Uttarakhand. However, the Indian High Commission rejected her application at the last minute.

According to the Times of India, Javed had already visited India for two weeks in 2013, making it all the more surprising she was turned down on this occasion. The author said she was "stunned" by the decision, which she described as "very insulting".

"I had submitted all documents three weeks ago. I only heard from [the commission] last afternoon about my visa being denied. I wasn't given a reason, and I did not ask them either," she explained.

Both her father and brother, who were due to accompany her as she launched 'Ashes, Wine and Dust', were granted a visa. Festival organiser SumantBatra said he hoped the visa was just delayed, unfortunately this turned out not to be the case.

Javed's novel has been shortlisted for the Tabor Jones South Asian prize, and she instead opted to officially release the book to an audience of festival attendeesthrougha Skype session from Lahore.

The KLF is a five-day event that was held between October 23rd and October 27th. The festival aimed to promote thought leadership in the literary world, as well as offer a forum to discuss books for children and young adults.

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/pakistani-novelist-launches-book-over-skype-after-she-was-denied-indian-visa/1/507244.html

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Pakistani-author-denied-visa-for-Kumaon-litfest/articleshow/49512421.cms

http://www.ibnlive.com/news/books/denied-indian-visa-for-literary-festival-pakistani-author-releases-book-over-skype-1156378.html

http://kumaonliteraryfestival.org/vision.php


India To Welcome High Speed Trains?


Seeing India by train is often said to be the best way to travel around the country, but the trains themselves have been known to get from A to B really rather slowly. Not the case any more perhaps, since it's now being suggested that high speed trains could be introduced sooner rather than later... great news for anyone with an Indian medical visa heading to the country soon.

According to Travel Pulse, the New Delhi Habibganj Shatabdi Express is one of the fastest in the country now, reaching a top speed of approximately 96 miles per hour. And the Gatimaan Express, a new train that will take passengers between Agra and New Delhi, is expected to reach speeds of 100mph.

Regular services on this latter train are expected to be launched by March next year and it's thought that if it all goes well, the Gatimann will be able to expand its route in the future.

India is such a vast and beautiful country that it's no wonder that jetsetters are keen to see as much of it as possible - which is why these faster trains are such good news.

You'll also be able to take advantage of the new EMV Open Loop Card, based on the Smart National Common Mobility Card, which will allow you to ride on metros, buses and trains without having to have more than one travel card. If you're doing a lot of travelling in India, this will make it much easier to get around - and a lot cheaper as well, most likely.


Chor Bazaar - The Biggest Flea Market In India


Got your Indian employment visa all sorted? In that case, you're ready to do some exploring and we think your first port of call should be Chor Bazaar if you find yourself anywhere near Mumbai.

This is the biggest flea market to be found in the whole country so definitely worth a visit even if you don't buy anything (although we promise you that you will!). There's certainly something for everyone here, although if you love your antiques you'll be in seventh heaven as there are all sorts of delights waiting to be discovered.

Whether you're on the hunt for antique furniture or vintage Bollywood posters, you'll find what you're looking for here, and a lot more besides. Don't be scared to do a bit of haggling - no one pays the advertised price here and you're expected to work your powers of persuasion to get the deal you want.

The market has been around for over 150 years and was originally known as Shor Bazaar (or 'noisy market'), but because the British constantly mispronounced the word it soon became known as Chor Bazaar, which means 'thieves market'. Don't worry, though - once upon a time stolen goods were the norm at the market, but that's not the case anymore. Now, you'll just be buying second-hand goods.

Make sure you've got your camera at the ready as there are lots of photo opportunities to be had here - although be careful of pickpockets as you make your way around the winding streets.


Discover TheRann Of Kutch


Are you feeling a bit adventurous this year? Have you sorted out your Indian business visa and are now looking for something to do while away? In that case, you might want to pay the Rann of Kutch a visit, home to the largest salt desert in the entire world.

During the monsoon season, this part of Gujarat is actually underwater but for the rest of the year, it's a seemingly never-ending stretch of white salt… so certainly interesting and definitely worth a visit if you want to get off the beaten track while on holiday in India.

You're best off traveling between October and March (so now's the perfect time to consider booking a flight to India) since October is when the desert begins to dry out. You'll find there are plenty of places to stay and you can book accommodation in one of the local mud huts (some of which have air-conditioning if required).

If you want to see the desert, either go early in the morning or in the evening as the sun beating down on the salt can be quite blinding… so don't forget your sunglasses!

In December, there's even a RannUstav festival, with luxury tents set up and food stalls in residence, so you may want to consider booking your trip to coincide with this. Alternatively, why don't you hire a vehicle and go off-roading – which you can find out more about on the India Today website.

However you choose to see the salt desert, you're in for a wonderful time.


Discover India's Stepwells


There are some amazing and unbelievable sights to see in India - which you're certain to realise as soon as you've arranged your fast Indian visa and have arrived in the country - but one of the most spectacular wonders to be discovered in this part of the world has to be the ancient stepwells of India.

In states like Gujarat and Rajasthan in the north of the country, water has long been a bit of a problem. There are seasonal monsoons when water is plentiful but because the summers are so hot and the soil in the region isn't able to hold water effectively, it dries up almost instantly... obviously problematic for people trying to live in the area.

The solution? Stepwells - similar to ghats, which were characterised by landings and shallow sets of stairs. According to Atlas Obscura, the first stepwells were seen in around 550AD and now it's thought that there are more than 3,000 stepwells built in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Although many are no longer used, there are still hundreds waiting to be discovered. In New Delhi, for example, there are more than 30.

Many of the wells featured temples and resting areas, often painted in beautiful bright colours, although the use of these water holes declined gradually during the time of the Raj, when the British were appalled by the conditions of these bathing spots and drinking holes. With the installation of pipes and pumps came the end of the stepwell.

Some of the best stepwells to visit include Adalaj Vav just north of Ahmedabad and Chand Baori near Jaipur so perhaps include these on your itineraries.