Why is the other side of India awaiting more discovery? The newly launched online tourist visa application, what are the restrictions? Check out some important tips for travel in India.
Savour Kerala – God’s Own Country
South of Goa, Kerala, India’s greenest state entices visitors with its backwaters, serene village life, Ayurveda medical practice, tea and spice plantations, nature and gastronomy. Like Goa, it was the valuable spices that brought many foreigners to the Malabar Coast. In the 14th century, exotic Kochi (formerly Cochin) was the hub for the Indian spice trade. Legend has it that St. Thomas, one of Jesus apostles was buried here.
Taking a houseboat cruise is a must on any Kerala tour. It offers a breathtaking view of Kerala’s backwaters and idyllic village lifestyle. All their houseboat tours include gourmet meals, says Sejoe Jose of Marvel Group who believes in responsible travel and giving back to the community.
For a relaxing experience of Kerala’s backwaters, Elizabeth Panicker of SpiceLand Holidays suggests staying at TripAdvisor’s highly rated, Philipkutty’s Farm in Kottayam. Nestled on reclaimed land of Lake Vembanad, this family-run waterfront resort grows its own organic food.
A former pilot with the Indian Navy, Commander Sam T Samuel knows what it takes to tailor adventure to your level and taste. His company, Kalypso Adventures offers trekking, cycling, kayaking and wildlife watching holidays for the active thrill seekers and nature lovers.
Swagatam, Swosti and Mercury
In the Indian language, Swagatam means welcome, says Pronab Sarkar of Swagatam Tours. A 41 year tourism veteran, he maximizes technology advancement to provide the best personalized 24/7 service to his clients.
Temple architecture tours are Swosti Group’s forte. Swosti also offers a range of other special interest tours and operates the largest hotel chain in Odisha in Eastern India, explains Jitendra Mohanty.
Clarity and transparency is a mandate of their business practice, emphasizes Chandran Sen of Mercury Travels – India’s oldest (75 years) and largest travel company. An Oberoi Hotels & Resorts’ affiliate, they offer a range of Indian holidays and also private jet services.
Top Travel, Indo Asia, Namms and Ibex
Based in New Delhi, Top Travel & Tours create holiday programs infused with the spirit in India in every tour. If there is one amazing spa and wellness centre to rejuvenate, it would be the award-winning Ananda in the Himalayas, says Rajendra and Madhu Mathur who also highly recommend an unforgettable trip on India’s luxury trains.
Indo Asia Tours effort to develop safe and rich travel experiences for their clients has won them the National Tourism Award for excellence eight times. According to Vinay Sharda, a key success in their business is be able to integrate the efficiency of a large scale travel operation and still keep the ambience of a boutique travel firm.
At Namms Tours and Travels, personalized, professional service is their specialty, says Neelam and Jay Kapoor. Based in New Delhi, they also operate out of Mumbai and Dubai. In addition to tours, they also offer wedding planning services.
What’s unique about Ibex Expeditions is their stewardship towards the local and global community. They are a partner of the WWF-India “Give Back to Nature” initiative. Founded by explorer, Mandip Singh Soin, this award winning eco travel company crafts bespoke luxury, adventure and safari travel for the discerning traveller who choose to tread lightly and responsibly.
Journey of a Lifetime
Maritime Travel Consultant, Hana Talimalo recently returned from a fascinating journey through India’s Golden Triangle which includes Delhi,Jaipur and Agra.
Click here to listen to Hana as she shares her insights on travelling through India’s Golden Triangle – her encounter with the endangered Royal Bengal tiger at Ranthambore, her tasty Indian gourmet experience and more.
Getting There – Electronic Tourist Visa and Airlines
With the introduction of electronic tourist visa (eTV) application, Canadians can now apply online for the visa,” says Consul General of India in Vancouver, Hon. Rajiv K.Chander. Online application is allowed only twice a year for visits not exceeding 30 days, and it cost USD48 (non-refundable) per application. The eTV is only valid for entry and exit from nine Indian airports: Bengaluru, Chennai, Kochi, Delhi, Goa, Hyderbad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram.
Chander added that starting October 20, 2016 to April 08, 2017, Air Canada will offer non-stop service between Vancouver to New Delhi – hence increasing access from the Canadian West Coast to India and vice-versa. On this routing, Air Canada will be flying their 787 Dreamliner. They currently offer non-stop service year-round from Toronto to Delhi four times a week.
With a seat pitch of 31 inches in many of the Air Canada’s 787 Dreamliner economy class seating, travelling long-haul can be agonizing for some passengers. Alternatively, passengers can fly with Air India, the country’s national carrier from Chicago, Newark, New York or San Francisco. The economy seat pitch is more generous at 34 inches, says Naku Singh Chand of Air India.
In need of help while in India or planning your Indian trip? In February this year, India Tourism launched a 24/7 Traveller’s Toll Free Helpline: 1-800-11-1363 with operators speaking over 10 languages.
All travel companies mentioned earlier caters to leisure and business travellers. They offer a variety of tours to different places in India and beyond.
General Travel Tips
Best travel time to India: between October and March.
Climate: The Indian subcontinent is geographical vast, so many regions have very different microclimates.
Drinking water: Access to safe drinking water is limited to bottled water, boiled water, canned pop or juices or travel with a portable water purifier.
Attire: Respect the local culture. Dress appropriately when travelling around especially entering spiritual and other public places.
Shoes: In temples and mosques, visitors are required to remove their shoes and sometimes socks. In select places popular with tourists, e.g. the Taj Mahal, they will give you disposable shoe covers.
If the shoe cover option is not available, place your footwear with a plastic bag, and keep them inside your bag pack or tip the gate keeper a few rupees to safeguard your belongings.
For orthotic wearers, check with your travel company (prior to booking any trip) if the temple will allow you to wear foot support brace if you have to remove your shoes. If going barefooted in public places is a health concern for you, ask your medical advisor to recommend a foot spray.
Travel Medical Vaccination: Check with your local travel clinic on these requirements.