Indian News

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.

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