India is 5 hours 30 mins ahead of Greenwich Meantime (GMT) and does not observe Daylight Saving.
Standard voltage is 230-240 volts (usually 240 volts). Primary sockets require round 3 pin plugs that are similar but not identical to European plugs. We recommend that you pack a universal travel adaptor. You will need a voltage converter, and plug adaptor in order to use U.S. appliances.
The currency of India is the Indian Rupee
Pound Sterling, US Dollars or other major currencies can be exchanged only in India, as the Rupee is presently exchangeable only in destination. The Rupee is non-exportable, so spend it all before you leave! Exchange facilities are available at major airports and bureau de changes, while ATMs/cash machines exist in larger towns. It's advisable to request bank notes in smaller denominations, as it can sometimes be hard to get change from large notes and smaller notes are handy for smaller purchases and gratuities.
Traveller's Cheques are not recommended as they're often difficult to exchange and incur high fees.
You should seek medical advice before travelling to India from your local health practitioner and ensure that you receive all of the appropriate vaccinations. As a guide Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Polio are strongly recommended. You are also advised to take anti-Malarial medication.
As tap water is not safe to drink in India, only drink bottled mineral water which is readily available in hotels, shops and restaurants. You should also avoid salads which may be washed in unhygienic water.
Indian food is simply delicious. Rice is the staple, coupled with tasty Indian breads such as roti, paratha and naan. Although all Indian food is certainly not curry, it does form its base. Contrary to popular belief, Indian food is not so hot it's unbearable; rather it is aromatic and delicate in flavour. You will have plenty of opportunities to sample some fantastic and authentic Indian food while on holiday.
Tandoori food is a Northern specialty referring to the clay oven in which food is cooked after first being marinated in a mixture of herbs and yogurt. Biryani is another Northern Mughal dish. The consistently tasty and cheap Thali is an all-purpose Indian dish. Originating from South India, it consists of a variety of curry dishes, relishes, poppadums, chapatis and rice. Indian snacks such as bhajis and samosas are a tasty treat. Originally from Southern India but now found all over India are dosas, a paper-thin savoury pancake made from lentil and rice flour.
If your sweet tooth is not up to the challenge of Indian sweets such as gulab jamun, kulfi and ras gullas, you’ll be able to fall back on India’s incredibly wide range of fruit. Lastly, please ensure that you eat meat only in high-class establishments since quality and hygiene does vary considerably.
India is a virtual Aladdin’s Cave. At the many bazaars known as ‘chowks’, the cardinal rule is to bargain hard. State run craft emporiums that stock the best of what a particular state has to offer can give you a reasonable idea of what is acceptable in terms of price and quality. You'll find carpets of quality equal to those of Persian origin, Rajasthani pottery and metalwork, embellished slippers known as jootis, jewellery in breathtaking designs. Likewise leatherwork, woodcarvings, silks and saris in spectacularly colourful designs, paintings and clothing are well priced and make excellent souvenirs.
Travel by Train
Travelling by train is a must-do experience in India and a great way to meet local people. Some of our group tours and tailor-made holidays in India include comfortable train journeys, which depending on the itinerary may take place during the day or during the night.
The Indian Railway system is the world’s second largest with over 108,706 kilometres of track, connecting more than 7,000 stations and employing around 1.4 million people. Everyday more than 7,000 passenger trains run, carrying some 14 million passengers.
If travelling overnight, we accommodate passengers in the comfortable 2nd class sleeper air-conditioned category (unless otherwise indicated at a higher level). 2nd class sleeper air-conditioned cabins consist of two upper and two lower bunks (which are sat upon until retiring to bed), shared by you and other Indian travellers. Some smaller cabins comprise one upper bunk and two lower chairs that are for seating until retiring to bed, when these two lower chairs can be easily converted to a lower bunk. All cabins are mixed sex. Your cabin is not a self contained as such.‘Cabins’ are separated from the carriage corridor by curtains, serving as an artificial barrier that can be drawn at night. Luggage can be stored underneath the lower bunks or on the floor. The carriage is manned by an attendant who will distribute linen. Dependent upon the service, a variety of snacks and drinks or full dinner service can be ordered at additional cost. Food aboard the Shatabdi Express train is exceptionally good, though on many other train services it is probably best to buy snacks, fresh fruit or meals prior to the start of your journey. In addition, there are WC facilities (European and also ‘squat-style’) at each end of the carriage. Cleanliness varies, so be prepared and take your own anti-bacterial hand wipes and toilet paper.
If travelling on a daytime train, you will travel in an air-conditioned seated carriage (or 2nd class air-conditioned cabin), except to elevated destinations where due to local weather patterns air-conditioning is not necessary.