Indian News

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.

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.

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