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> India Starter Kit, Top Tips and FAQ
uncle_davros
post Aug 8 2006, 12:37 PM
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The TravelPod Indian Starter Kit

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Indian Travel Blogs | Photos | More

This starter kit isn’t meant to replace a guide book. It’s a collection of top tips and frequently asked questions about the region. If you are headed to India, make sure to have a glance.

Contribute if you can by replying to this post!


Tips and Frequently Asked Questions

Blogging

- Although it may not be the fastest, Internet is generally available just about everywhere in India.
- Most computers at Internet café’s have USB ports which you can use to upload photos from your camera to your blog.
- Some café’s can burn your photos onto CD for you.
- Taking a laptop is a challenge due to security and rough roads.
- Keep notes in your paper journal then write your entries when you get to a café.
- If you would like to write your entries outside of a café, consider getting a small and sturdy PDA (handheld PC) or the like with a fold out keyboard.

Security

- Generally speaking, it’s best not to wander around cities (especially big ones) at night.
- Keep your passport and valuables in a hidden money belt and never take it out when outside.
- Walk with assurance, don’t look lost, even if you are.
- When arriving in a new city from your home country, try to book your first night’s stay before you arrive.
- Don’t draw attention to yourself, hide all of your expensive goodies.
- Remove or obscure big name labels on bags and cameras.
- In tight areas like public Buses, keep your expensive stuff very close to you. If you need to, turn your daypack around so that it’s sitting on your front side.
- When sitting to eat or look at something, always wrap your leg through your daypack’s strap or hold on to it somehow.
- If your day pack has a rain cover, use it when in cramped spaces to keep quick hands from opening zips.
- Travel Insurance is a good idea and is generally cheap, make sure that it covers the types of activities you plan to do. TravelPod offers Adventure Travel Insurance.
- Be very aware if someone touches you, bumps into you or even brushes nest to you. Contact is a common trick to distract you or it could be someone dipping into your pack.

Visas

You will need a visa to enter the country. Generally, they are for six months and they are multiple entry. If you are from the US, then you can apply for a ten year multiple entry visa. One important thing to remember is, once your visa is stamped into your passport, it starts working from that day. Allow one week for it to be processed, however, in places like Kathmandu, you will need to line up early as not many Indian visas are processed each day. In this case, think about using a company to get your visa for you

Indian Sights

Uttar Pradesh

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Agra

- There are five sites to see. The Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, Akbar’s Mausoleum, I’timad-ud-Daulah.
- Get to the Taj early, before it is over run with tourists. Watching the sun come up is a great way to see the colours change.
- Walk between The Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and I’timad-ud-Daulah.
- Arrange a rickshaw to see Akbar’s Mausoleum. To get a cheaper trip, arrange to visit a shop. You are not obligated to buy anything.
- To get to Fatehpur Sikri, catch a local bus. It is easy, and the locals will help you to get there.
- In Agra, the local guesthouses will say that it is dangerous to walk around and that you should eat in their restaurants. This is untrue. The food is good, and the area is safe
- There are two train stations in Agra. Agra Cant and Agra Fort. Book early to leave Agra, it is a popular destination for both locals and tourists. Seats become booked-out quickly.

Varanasi

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- Take an early morning boat ride on the River Ganges.
- Watch the locals and Sadhus bathe in the sacred Ganges.
- At the ghats, do not attempt to take photos of the cremations. Treat the local customs and people with respect

Delhi

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- Raj Ghat. This is where Gandhi was cremated. Also, the Nehru Gandhi family were cremated here.
- At the Jama Masjid you will be charged to use a camera. It is possible to walk through without being charged.
- Janpath is where the main markets are. Either get amongst it and buy, or sit back and people watch.

Rajasthan

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- This is where the colour is in India..
- In Rajasthan, take your time to visit Jaipur, Jodhpur, Pushkar, Jaisalmer and Udaipur The forts and palaces here are very special. Rajasthan is a great place to pick up sarees and other colourful souvenirs and gifts. Prices rise in Goa.

Kerala

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- Try to do a backwaters tour on an overnight boat. It can be a little pricey, but the more the merrier, the cheaper it is. It will be one of your highlights.
- The ideal time to visit is from November to February.

Jammu & Kashmir

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- The drive to Leh and Ladakh will be one of your highlights if you go. The road is only open from June till September. You can fly here, but be aware, planes are known for their cancellations at the last minute. Always re-confirm your return flight.
- In Kashmir, it can be very dangerous due to the political instability. Do not follow crowds of rioters.

Health

- Generally Malaria isn’t a problem www.malariafacts.com for more accurate info and if in doubt, take the meds.
- Generally, it’s best to avoid drinking the local water.
- It is a case of when you get sick, not if you get sick.
- Info on http://www.high-altitude-sickness.com.
- If you have bad diarrhea, avoid Imodium at all costs unless you absolutely need to travel somewhere that day. Imodium keeps your sickness trapped inside and can make you more sick.
- If you do become sick, keep your fluids up

Travel

Trains


- The only way to travel India. The British did something right here!
- Pre-book all of your travel. The best bet is when you get off the train, book your onwards travel to be assured of a ticket out of there.
- On overnight trains, get an upper or a middle berth sleeper, especially if you are a woman. Always lock your bags to the seats (chains are a good idea) and sleep with your daypack. If it is good enough for the locals, it is good enough for you.
- Sleep with your moneybelt on. Do you need to ask why!
- A great website to use for train names, times and numbers is Indian Railways


Rickshaws

- Take care when choosing rickshaws. Always barter a price with them.
- One way to get around this, is to ask your fellow travelers how much a trip was. Once in the rickshaw, pay the amount to the driver and walk away.
- Tell your driver where you want to go by using a street corner instead of an address. For example, “drop me off at the corner of X and Y street”.
- No matter what, they will try to rip you off. This is India after all.

Buses

- The Buses are horrible.
- Often in poor condition and very dirty.
- The agents will tell you the bus is air-conditioned and new. This is almost always a lie. Sleeper buses are dirty and uncomfortable.
- The roads are in poor condition making for a very bumpy sleeping compartment.
- You will not get much sleep.

Air travel

- There are numerous companies that fly internally. They can be expensive as there is also dual pricing on these as well. Two companies to try are Spice Jet and Air Deccan. They can be booked over the net.

Food

The further South you go, the spicier/hotter the food gets. Generally, you will find that the locals eat their food using their fingers and bread. You can have rice with your meal, but nothing beats a good masala with a tandoori roti! Here are some samples of what you can eat with an English explanation beside it

Chana Masala – Chick peas in masala sauce
Aloo Gobi – Potatoes and Cauliflower
Bhindi Masala – Lady fingers in masala sauce
Palak Paneer – Pureed spinach and cheese
Kheema – Minced meat (but only in Muslim towns)
Roti – Round bread, normally cooked in the tandoori oven in front of you. Also known as chapattis

Drinks

There are the usual Western fare of Pepsi and Coke, but you can also drink the local cola, Thums Up. However, to be like the locals, in the early morning, drink coffee, and the rest of the day, drink chai. As you travel on the trains, you will be besieged by the Chai Wallahs. The chai is extra sweet. If you don’t take sugar before you get to India, by the end of the trip, you most probably will! Everywhere you go in India, you will also see Chai Wallahs making Masala tea. This is tea made using the local spices, usually ginger and cardoman. When drinking this tea, if they offer it to you in plastic, refuse and ask for a clay cup. These are then smashed and left to disintegrate. There is already too much plastic being left on the ground in India.

Money

The local currency is the Rupee. There are banks and automatic tellers everywhere. If you travel with travelers cheques, these can be changed commission free in the banks. It is best to travel with the following currencies. USD, Pound Sterling or Euro. Always carry a handful of $1.00 USD notes. All sites will charge you either in Rupees or USD. It is always cheaper to pay in USD. If paying with a large USD note, ask for the change in USD. Do not accept the change in Rupees.

Communication

Ringing home or friends can be very cheap. Most towns have PCO’s (Public Calling Office), but it gets more expensive outside of the big cities. Even better is Skype.Once you create an account, for as little as 1.8 cents per minute, you can ring home/friends. Normally, there will be at least one PC set up in a café in India. If carrying a mobile, you can buy SIM cards there, however, you will find that if you buy in one state, you will be charged call roaming charges out of that state. I do believe that for more money, you can buy a roaming SIM card.

Photography

India, is a very photogenic country. Men and children will accept being photographed. Women, are a different story and you will need permission. Sadhu’s will expect a donation. For sites, there are temples everywhere. You will have to pay a minimal fee to take your camera onto the site.

Religion

Hindus are everywhere. This is the largest religion in the country. Next are the Muslims, followed by the Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Catholics and Christians. All over the country are Temples, Mosques, Cathedrals and Churches. You do not have to go very far to see a place of worship

Language

Learning languages in India is extremely hard as there are so many different dialects/languages.

Here are the basics:
Hello - Namaste
Goodbye - Namaste
Thank you - Dhanyavad or Shukriya
Where is - Kahan hai
How much is it? - Kitna?
Help – Mada Kijiye
Call the police – Pulis ko bulao
Call a doctor – Daktar ko bulao
1 - Ek
2 - Do
3 -Tin
4 - Char
5 - Panj
6 - Chai
7 - Sat
8 - Ath
9 - Nau
10 - Das


If you found this useful, once you return from your trip please take the time to help by contributing to the FAQ and also by replying to posts.

India is a wonderful place to visit, you will be safe and enjoy the culture, people and places! I have only included a few locations in this post. If you would like more, I will add more as people suggest. You do need a lot of time to see it all, and remember, there are two types of travelers to India:
1) I love India, and I can’t wait to go back
2) I hate India and I am never going back

So what are you waiting for, get out there and see it for yourself


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travelneedz
post Apr 13 2007, 03:09 AM
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inasia2008
post May 8 2008, 07:33 PM
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Is it okay for me to use this SK for the travel guidebook? We don't have anything for India and its a really popular place?
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journeymen
post May 26 2008, 07:32 AM
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QUOTE(inasia2008 @ May 8 2008, 07:33 PM) *

Is it okay for me to use this SK for the travel guidebook? We don't have anything for India and its a really popular place?

hi there just drope to say keep up that smile you look great cheers if in India my e-mail is cute_dud21@yahoo.com hope to catch up ya

reagrds
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treetop
post May 27 2008, 03:30 AM
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Respect the Indian Culture in India mostly in terms of clothes and you will find it easier while traveling. We Indians don't believe in exposure except for our movies.
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meeleend
post May 30 2008, 05:44 AM
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QUOTE(treetop @ May 27 2008, 03:30 AM) *

Respect the Indian Culture in India mostly in terms of clothes and you will find it easier while traveling. We Indians don't believe in exposure except for our movies.


I agree with you. blow.gif curtsey.gif
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inasia2008
post Jun 1 2008, 11:02 PM
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QUOTE(treetop @ May 27 2008, 05:30 PM) *

Respect the Indian Culture in India mostly in terms of clothes and you will find it easier while traveling. We Indians don't believe in exposure except for our movies.


Just out of interest, how come its okay in movies?
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meeleend
post Jun 2 2008, 12:58 AM
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QUOTE(inasia2008 @ Jun 1 2008, 11:02 PM) *

QUOTE(treetop @ May 27 2008, 05:30 PM) *

Respect the Indian Culture in India mostly in terms of clothes and you will find it easier while traveling. We Indians don't believe in exposure except for our movies.


Just out of interest, how come its okay in movies?


just see the movies.......... blow.gif
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bipodx
post Aug 31 2008, 01:05 AM
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One more thing u should take care of "Tourist price". if u r a tourist then may be ppl charge u 10 times or even 100 times more money. Thumb rule: always try to purchase a thing with a printed MRP (Maximum Retail Price). vendors can't charge more than MRP, and where u buy where Printed MRP is not availabe there take help from any local guy, other than the vendor..................


QUOTE(uncle_davros @ Aug 8 2006, 01:37 PM) *


1) I love India, and I can’t wait to go back

So what are you waiting for, get out there and see it for yourself[/size]

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blairica66
post Dec 1 2008, 08:32 PM
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QUOTE(lifebird @ Sep 24 2008, 02:00 AM) *

Hi
Thanks for your effort.

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travelwife
post Nov 1 2012, 06:53 AM
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QUOTE(uncle_davros @ Aug 8 2006, 12:37 PM) *

The TravelPod Indian Starter Kit



Agree 100% about Agra. Have visited one of Agra's restaurants - the cuisine has been near to European.
Also I was also told not to speak with Indians at night streets (even used special iphone app as guide - not to communicate). But this appeared to be one of the myth about India. Very friendly people!
2 myths have been demystified.
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