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Essential Information

India facts
  • Capital city
  • New Delhi
  • Population
  • 1.2 billion
  • Language
  • Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Bengali, Kashmiri, Marathi, Gujarati, Telugu, English
  • Currency
  • Rupee (INR)
  • Time zone
  • GMT+05:30) Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi
  • Electricity
  • D)Type C (European 2-pin) Type D (Old British 3-pin) Type M (see D)
  • Dialling code
  • +91
  • 24 X 7 Tourist Helpline
  • 1800-11-1363, 1363

Geography & environment

India is the seventh largest country in the world, sharing borders with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Located in the southern part of the Indian Subcontinent, is also has a long stretch of coast along the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. India criss-crosses a huge range of geographical features, with Himalayas in the North, deserts and plains in the west, and forests in the east. It’s considered one of the world’s mega diverse countries, and incorporates a huge portion of the world’s flora and fauna. Some iconic Indian animals are the Bengal tiger, Asian elephant and the snow leopard.

  • Holi

    Holi

    It’s also known as ‘the festival of colour’ or ‘the festival of love’ and it involves dancing, singing and a frenzied water and paint fight. It’s an ancient Hindu festival, which marks the spring equinox and is celebrated throughout the country.

  • Diwali

    Diwali

    It’s also known as ‘the festival of colour’ or ‘the festival of love’ and it involves dancing, singing and a frenzied water and paint fight. It’s an ancient Hindu festival, which marks the spring equinox and is celebrated throughout the country.

  • Ganesh Chaturthi

    Ganesh Chaturthi

    The elephant headed god Ganesh is the epitome of good luck and riches. This festival is his birthday, and it involves an incredible parade of Ganesh statues, singing and traditional dance.


Shopping guide to India

India is the seventh largest country in the world, sharing borders with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Located in the southern part of the Indian Subcontinent, is also has a long stretch of coast along the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. India criss-crosses a huge range of geographical features, with Himalayas in the North, deserts and plains in the west, and forests in the east. It’s considered one of the world’s mega diverse countries, and incorporates a huge portion of the world’s flora and fauna. Some iconic Indian animals are the Bengal tiger, Asian elephant and the snow leopard.

Food & drink in India

Indian cuisine is as varied as its people. Your India holiday will be a perfect opportunity to taste the local cuisine. Indian cuisine is famous for its rich flavours of spices and herbs. Vegetarianism is also quite popular in India due to the religious beliefs in some places. Indians traditionally make use of the tandoor or clay oven used for slow cooking marinated meats and bread. Don’t miss a chance to try classics like rice biryani, an aromatic rice dish flecked with meat and vegetables, or chicken tikka masala, a spicy dish. Please do ask the level of spice of each food item before consumption.

Further reading

Indian Etiquette and Customs

If you are travelling to India whether on business or a recreational trip, there are certain general etiquette that most Indians are particular about. Although, some hosts might be accommodating and excuse any faux pas, but you can always score brownie points by adhering to these etiquettes and also avoid a few stink eyes in the process

  • Greetings

    Indians hold their palms together and say ‘Namaste’ (nuh-mus-tay) while greeting each other. Hugging and kissing on the cheeks, especially with the opposite sex is frowned upon and should be avoided.
    Take your shoes off before entering someone’s house or a place of worship – Temples, Mosques, Gurudwaras.
    Do not comment on the Indian style of dressing. Their concept of formal wear might differ from yours; some people might prefer to wear a traditional kurta pyjama instead of a shirt & pants. Also, do not comment on women wearing a veil – whether it is the burqaa or hijaab in Muslims, or a ghunghat (head drape drawn till the chin) in Hindus.
    Another common gesticulation being the infamous bobbing of the head. A vertical nod indicates yes while a horizontal nod means no.
    Do not be offended if Indians simply consider you to be an ‘American’ or ‘Englishman’ irrespective of the country you are from. A lot of them tend to bucket foreigners into either one of these 2 categories.

  • Dining

    Do not refuse an informal invitation extended to you by your business associates or friends. Indians often invite guests to their home and give them a tour of the entire house including bedrooms, there’s no need to feel uncomfortable.
    Bring along a gift by all means, but make sure it is not something expensive. Stick to sweets or chocolates if the gift in question isn’t a souvenir from your country. Even then it shouldn’t be something of great monetary value.
    Although the tradition of eating on the floor or a mat has changed, some households might still prefer to dine on the floor. Do not feel offended.
    Eat whatever has been offered to you, and when the host insists on a second helping say yes otherwise they assume you do not like the food.
    Keep in mind the major dietary restrictions when it comes to Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs in India. Hindus consider cow scared and do not eat beef, Muslims eat beef but consider consumption of pork to be ‘haraam’ or a sin. Sikhs abstain from both beef and pork.

  • General

    Never talk about the Indian culture in a negative light, Indians are passionately proud of their legacy and diverse culture. Also, refrain from getting into any religion-related topics; religion is a sensitive issue in the country.
    Public display of affection should be limited. While there has been a significant improvement in how Indians react to PDAs, the hugs and kisses are better left for a more inconspicuous opportunity.
    Dress appropriately no matter if you are off for an official meeting or a casual stroll. Abstain from wearing extremely figure-hugging or skin-baring clothes. Indians would be utterly impressed if you choose to go traditional and wear kurta pyjama (for men) or Salwar Kameez/Saree (for women), they see this as a gesture of friendship.
    Do not expect business meetings to start on time. In India punctuality could easily be translated to mean half an hour to one hour late.
    Expect to be a part of continuous small talks from the weather to the political conditions back at your country. Answer politely or simply smile.

Indian etiquette might imply an overall strict, formal code of conduct but in reality it is a lot accommodating and lenient. When your Indian friends ask you to ‘drop in at any time’ they are not saying just for the sake of being polite, and don’t be surprised if they drop in at any time to meet you.

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