Indian News

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.

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