India (भारत)

World / Asia


Taj Mahal beside the Yamuna River
Morning at Taj Mahal beside the Yamuna River (9 November 2004)
© Timothy Tye using this photo

The Republic of India is a major country in South Asia. It covers 3,287,263 sq km (1,269,219 sq mi) and has a population of 1.2 billion people. India is the 7th largest country in the world, while in terms of area. It is also the second most populous country in the world after China, but with a birth rate of 23 per 1000 versus China's 13.1 per 1000 (according to United Nations), the population of India is growing at a much faster rate than China's.

India shares land borders with Bhutan, China, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan. It is also the closest neighbour of Sri Lanka. Union territories of India include the Laccadive Islands (now written as Lakshadweep) in the Arabian Sea, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, in the Andaman Sea, south of Myanmar.

Street-side vendor in India
Street-side vendor in India (17 November 2004)
© Timothy Tye using this photo

The whole of India is five and a half hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+5:30). The official currency of the country is the Indian rupee (INR). Hindi and English are the official languages, although many regional languages are also recognised. Traffic is driven on the left in India, similar to Britain. The phone IDD code for India is +91.

India is a huge country with a lot of things to see, do, and experience. To many first-time visitors, India can come across as quite a shock, but after a while, you begin to accept the country for what it is, and begin to appreciate the many wonders and pleasures that come with making a visit there.

Sunset at Pushkar Lake
Sunset at Pushkar Lake
Author: Ekabhishek ( (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

India has the 11th largest economy in the world by nominal GDP and the 4th largest by purchasing power parity. Since the introduction of market-based economic reforms in 1991, it is also one of the fastest growing major economies in the world, despite the existence in India of a gulf between the very rich and the absolute poor. In 2010, India had an estimated nominal GDP of $1.538 trillion, equivalent to a per capita nominal GDP of $1,265. Its per capita GDP at purchasing power parity stood at $3,339.

India is a founding member of the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement, the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation and the G20 industrial nations.

Gateway and Great Stupa of Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh
Gateway and Great Stupa of Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh
Author: Tom Maloney (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

India comprises 28 states and 7 union territories. New Delhi, a metropolis of 13.8 million people, was chosen by the British to be the capital of the then British India in 1911, and it has held the position ever since. New Delhi was designed by the British to the south of the Old City of Delhi which established by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.

India sits atop the Indian tectonic plate. It has 7,517 kilometers of coastline of which 5,423 (3,400 mi) is along the Indian peninsula, while the remaining 2,094 km belong to the Andaman, Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands. The Ganges and Brahmaputra are the two important rivers of India. The Ganges is regarded as a sacred river to the Hindus, as is the Yamuna, one of its major tributary.

The climate of India is influence by the Himalayan mountain range and the Thar Desert. The Himalayas form a natural barrier that prevents the cold Central Asian Katabatic wind from blowing in. This keeps India warmer than most places along the same latitude. The Thar Desert helps attract moisture-laden summer monsoon winds that blow between June and October. This provides the bulk of the rainfall of the country.

Kathakali dance
Kathakali dance
Author: yue (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

Planning your trip to India

India is a vast country. Tourism infrastructure can be described as uneven. The bulk of tourists to India do the "Golden Triangle" circuit between the cities of New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. This is the part of India most first-time tourists visit, and hence, it has better tourist infrastructure than other parts of India. But India is much more than that, and on this guide, I will take you to every region of the country. Your journey through India will probably start in Delhi. You will find that Delhi hotels offer great service and low rates.

India is not a gentrified society, and at times, tourists accustomed to the comfort of home will experience cultural shock. There are things and people to be wary of the whole time, from bottled water sold by the street side, to "helpful people" approaching you on the street. Having said that, to truly appreciate India, you need to expose yourself to life on the streets of India, rather than remain cocooned in your hotel room.

One of the alleyways - called gali - in Varanasi
One of the alleyways - called gali - in Varanasi (16 November 2004)
© Timothy Tye using this photo

Except if you're a citizen of Nepal or Bhutan, you will need a visa to enter India. Do check with the nearest embassy of India on the visa requirements for your country. For most nationals, a tourist visa lasting six months from the date of issue (not date of arrival) will be issued. Since 1 January, 2010, the nationals of Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Singapore can also get 30-day non-extendable visa-on-arrival at the airports in Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi and Kolkata, for US$60.

Most international travelers to India arrive at the airports in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore. These major cities have just unveiled a new airport (Bangalore in 2008, Delhi in 2010 in time for the 2010 Commonwealth Games) or upgrading an existing one. In addition, the cities of Kolkata, Hyderabad and Goa also receive some international flights.

Planning your travel within India

The main airlines serving domestic routes include flag-carrier Air India, as well as Kingfisher Airlines and Jet Airways. There are also other private operators including SpiceJet, IndiGo Airlines, Go Air and Kingfisher Red.

A good way to explore India is to travel by rail. The country has one of the biggest network of railway lines in the world, a legacy left behind by the British. It can be considered the safest way to discover India and at the same time get to know the people. Trains in India ranges from the basic to the luxurious. The tourist trains such as Palace on Wheels and Indian Maharaja feels like five-star hotels on rails. To buy your ticket, visit the Indian Railway's Online Reservation Service or the website of the respective tourist train (I will provide these under "Traveling by Train in India").

City Palace, Udaipur
City Palace, Udaipur
Author: Richard Moross (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

Main Cities of India

  1. New Delhi - capital
  2. Mumbai - biggest city
  3. Agra
  4. Alappuzha
  5. Ahmedabad
  6. Ahmednagar
  7. Allahabad
  8. Ambala
  9. Amravati
  10. Amritsar
  11. Anantapur
  12. Aurangabad
  13. Bangalore
  14. Belgaum
  15. Bellary
  16. Bhadravathi
  17. Bhagalpur
  18. Bhavnagar
  19. Bhilai
  20. Bhiwani
  21. Bhopal
  22. Bijapur
  23. Bokaro Steel City
  24. Bhubaneswar
  25. Bihar Sharif
  26. Bikaner
  27. Bilaspur
  28. Bilaspur
  29. Bir
  30. Bodhgaya
  31. Bomdila
  32. Bongaigaon
  33. Chamba
  34. Chennai
  35. Chittoor
  36. Dadra
  37. Dalhousie
  38. Darbhanga
  39. Deomali
  40. Dhanbad
  41. Dharamsala
  42. Dibrugarh
  43. Dirang
  44. Dispur
  45. Durg
  46. Faridabad
  47. Fatehpur Sikri
  48. Gandhinagar
  49. Gangtok
  50. Gaya
  51. Giridih
  52. Golconda
  53. Gulbarga
  54. Guntur City
  55. Gurgaon
  56. Guwahati
  57. Gwalior
  58. Hamirpur
  59. Hazaribagh
  60. Hisar
  61. Hubli
  62. Hyderabad
  63. Ichalkaranji
  64. Indore
  65. Itanagar
  66. Jabalpur
  67. Jagdalpur
  68. Jaipur
  69. Jamnagar
  70. Jammu
  71. Jamshedpur
  72. Jogindernagar
  73. Jorhat
  74. Junagadh
  75. Kangra
  76. Kannur
  77. Katni
  78. Katra
  79. Keylong
  80. Kochi
  81. Kolkata
  82. Kolhapur
  83. Kollam
  84. Kottayam
  85. Kozhikode
  86. Kullu
  87. Kurukshetra
  88. Kushinagar
  89. Leh
  90. Manali
  91. Mandi
  92. Mangalore
  93. Muzaffarpur
  94. Mysore
  95. Nagpur
  96. Nanded
  97. Nashik
  98. Nellore
  99. Pahalgam
  100. Palakkad
  101. Pathankot
  102. Patna
  103. Pune
  104. Raipur
  105. Rajahmundry
  106. Rajgir
  107. Rajkot
  108. Ranchi
  109. Rewa
  110. Rohtak
  111. Rupa
  112. Sagar
  113. Sakleshpur
  114. Samalkha
  115. Sarnath
  116. Satna
  117. Shimla
  118. Silchar
  119. Silvassa
  120. Sivasagar
  121. Srinagar
  122. Surat
  123. Tawang
  124. Tezpur
  125. Thiruvananthapuram
  126. Thrissur
  127. Tinsukia
  128. Tiruchirappalli
  129. Tirupati
  130. Udhampur
  131. Ujjain
  132. Vadodara
  133. Varanasi
  134. Vijayawada
  135. Visakhapatnam
  136. Warangal
  137. Yingkiong

States of India

  1. Andhra Pradesh
  2. Arunachal Pradesh
  3. Assam
  4. Bihar
  5. Chhattisgarh
  6. Goa
  7. Gujarat
  8. Haryana
  9. Himachal Pradesh
  10. Jammu and Kashmir
  11. Jharkhand
  12. Karnataka
  13. Kerala
  14. Madhya Pradesh
  15. Maharashtra
  16. Manipur
  17. Meghalaya
  18. Mizoram
  19. Nagaland
  20. Odisha (Orissa)
  21. Punjab
  22. Rajastan
  23. Sikkim
  24. Tamil Nadu
  25. Tripura
  26. Uttar Pradesh
  27. Uttarakhand
  28. West Bengal

Union Territories of India

  1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  2. Chandigarh
  3. Dadra and Nagar Haveli
  4. Daman and Diu
  5. Lakshadweep
  6. National Capital Territory of Delhi
  7. Puducherry

UNESCO World Heritage Sites of India

  1. Agra Fort
  2. Ajanta Caves
  3. Ellora Caves
  4. Taj Mahal
  5. Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram
  6. Sun Temple, Konârak
  7. Manas Wildlife Sanctuary
  8. Kaziranga National Park
  9. Keoladeo National Park
  10. Churches and Convents of Goa
  11. Fatehpur Sikri
  12. Group of Monuments at Hampi
  13. Khajuraho Group of Monuments
  14. Elephanta Caves
  15. Great Living Chola Temples
  16. Group of Monuments at Pattadakal
  17. Sundarbans National Park
  18. Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks
  19. Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi
  20. Humayun's Tomb
  21. Qutb Minar and its Monuments
  22. Mountain Railways of India
  23. Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya
  24. Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka
  25. Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
  26. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus)
  27. Red Fort Complex
  28. Jantar Mantar

World Greatest Sites

  1. Chand Baori
  2. Taj Mahal

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