As one of countries starting with I, the Republic of India is located in the south of Asia and is for the most part a peninsula bordering on the south by the Indian Ocean and on the east by the Bay of Bengal. India has land borders with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh. India is the second most populous country in the world after China. According to some figures, in a few decades India will even be the most populous country in the world. The country gets its name from the India River. At the time of the Greeks, the area beyond this river was called India, an area that was unoccupied and little known about it. Yet the history of present-day India goes back quite far, with the first signs of humans roaming this area dating back more than 40,000 years ago. The oldest permanent settlements in this part of Asia are about 9,000 years old. It developed into one of the oldest civilizations in the world, reaching its peak about 5,000 years ago. The first recovered writings date from the eighth to sixth centuries BC. These writings in Sanskrit were a precursor to the current language in India, Hindi. This language is heavily influenced by several European languages. This is probably because present-day India has had to deal with invasions from Europe several times. Various tribes and kingdoms such as the Greeks and the Macedonians led by Alexander the Great tried to take India. However, this would last until the seventeenth century. It was the Portuguese who were the first to establish a permanent colony in present-day Goa, later the French would set this example. In the mid-nineteenth century, all of India would come under the rule of the United Kingdom and become part of the British Empire. After a short non-violent uprising, India became an independent country in 1947. However, part of what was then India was renamed the Muslim state of Pakistan by the British. The formation of this boundary continues to cause problems to this day. The part of what was once known as East Pakistan seceded from the other parts of Pakistan in a civil war and is now known as Bangladesh.
The most famous landmark in India is the Taj Mahal. This mausoleum was built in Agra in the first half of the seventeenth century by order of Shah Jahan, the fifth ruler of the Mughal Empire. This architectural highlight is considered the most important remnant of this reign. The remains of Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal lie in the Taj Mahal. For Hindus, the holy city of Varanasi is the most important place in India. You can see Varanasi as the Mecca of the Hindus. Most religious rituals and ceremonies are held near the Manikarnika Ghat site by the Ganges River. Most non-Hindu tourists avoid the city because it is very dirty and crowded. The city of Amritsar is located in the northernmost tip of India. This city is the center of Sikhism and is one of the most beautiful cities in the country. Due to his proximity to the Pakistani border, his travel to Amritsar is not safe. The most visited tourist place in India in Gao. This part of India was discovered by the hippies in the last century and they have never left. The sun-drenched palm beaches of Goa are still much loved by backpackers and sunbathers. Other parts of India that should be on your list for a tour of the country are Rajasthan, Kerala, Odisha, Ladakh and Sikkim. Cities that deserve a visit are Mumbai, New Delhi, Agra, Jodhpur and Chennai.
India has thirty-six inscriptions on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2018. This concerns eight natural and twenty-eight cultural inscriptions. In 1983, the first four inscriptions in India were added by UNESCO. These included the caves of Ajanta, the caves of Ellora, the Fort of Agra and the Taj Mahal. The latter is probably the most famous landmark in India and is visited by many millions of tourists every year. A year later, the Sun Temple of Konarak, and the group of monuments at the city of Mahabalipuram followed. Only in 185 would India’s first natural inscriptions be included on the Unesco World Heritage List. Then the national parks Kaziranga and Keoladeo and the wildlife park Manas were added. The cultural registrations often have to do with the rich cultural background of the country. In India there are many thousands of temples, caves and archaeological sites, the most important and special have been given a place on the list of UNESCO. Some of the out-of-the-ordinary inscriptions are Le Corbusier’s architectural work, which has to share India with some other countries, and the mountain railways of India.
There are several climate types in India, a total of seven different types spread over the country. The high mountain climate occurs in the highest parts of the Himalayas. This climate type has many similarities with the tundra climate, but is distinguished by the high altitude where the climate can be found. The temperature is below zero degrees Celsius all year round. The ground is therefore always frozen, this phenomenon is also known as permafrost. The temperate China climate occurs in the lower mountain areas in the north and northeast. Lower again you will encounter the warm China climate and the tropical savanna climate. In the west and northwest of India, the desert climate and the steppe climate occur. The steppe climate also occurs in southern part of India. On the coast in the west you will encounter the tropical monsoon climate. This type of climate can also be found on several islands that belong to India. In eastern India, the rainy season is from May to September. During these months there is quite a bit of precipitation which in turn can cause flooding and landslides. It is therefore wise to adapt your trip to the climate in India. In the north of India most precipitation will come down as snow and even in the central parts of India you even have a small chance of snow in the winter months.
There is a wide variety of different landscapes in India. From eternal snow to deserts and from rainforests to vast plains, you will find it all. The country is located on the Indian peninsula, which can be divided geographically into three parts. Northern India is formed by the greater Himalayas. In this mountain range is the Kanchenjunga which with a height of 8598 meters is the highest mountain in the country and the third highest in the world. After the mountains you come across a plain containing the major rivers of India. The Ganges and Brahmaputra, both of which rise in the Himalayas, are among the major rivers of this part of India. The presence of these rivers makes this part of India very fertile, although there is also a desert in the west. The south of India is formed by the Dekan plateau. This plateau is hemmed in by the Bay of Bengal to the east, the Arabian Sea to the west, and several mountain ranges to the north.
Besides the Ganges and Brahmaputra, the Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Indus are the main rivers of the country. The Indus itself is not a very important river for India, but it is the country’s namesake. The largest city in India is Bombay, according to estimates in 2001 more than twelve million people should live there, in the meantime several millions can be added. The largest metropolis in the country is Delhi, and is said to be home to more than twenty-seven million people. This makes it the fifth largest metropolis in the world. Other cities with more than five million inhabitants in India are Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Madras, Calcutta and Pune.
The travel advice for India has been vigilant for some years now. This applies to the entire country except in the northwest and northeast where only necessary travel is allowed. The entire border with Pakistan is seen as extremely dangerous and all travel to this area is discouraged. These advices for India are very subject to change. Before you book a holiday or trip to India, it is best to check the current situation. This way you know which regions are or are suitable to visit. There have been quite a few attacks in India in recent years, often these are places where many Westerners can be found. It is therefore best to avoid large crowds or places where many tourists congregate. Traffic in India is seen as unpredictable and impossible. Driving a car yourself in India is not very wise, it is better to use taxis and personal drivers. The entire border area with Pakistan is seen as a very unsafe area where shooting incidents regularly occur. For the states of Tripura, Nagaland and Manipur, only necessary travel is allowed. Furthermore, for large parts of the country it is better not to travel alone as a tourist. In many places there are groups that are mainly targeting tourists and wealthier residents of the country. Crime is high in most tourist areas of India, especially in the state of Goa. In particular, watch out for scammers.
There are no mandatory vaccinations for India unless you come from a yellow fever area. However, vaccinations are recommended against typhoid fever and hepatitis A.
For a trip to India you need a valid passport and you need to apply for a visa in advance. Persons under the age of twelve must also be in possession of their own travel document and visa. You must apply for this visa in advance at the Indian embassy in Amsterdam. In addition to this general visa, there are additional requirements for tourist permits for some regions. The permits for the protected and restricted areas are issued much less quickly than a normal visa and it can sometimes take weeks before you have clarity about this. In most cases, this concerns areas near the border with China or Pakistan. If you decide to enter these regions without a valid visa, there are severe penalties.
Do not forget to apply for a visa for India. If you google “Visa India”, you can choose from a large number of visa agencies. There are some differences in service and prices. At a site such as e-visums.nl you have 24/7 Dutch customer service and you can pay with iDEAL or Bancontact in addition to credit card or PayPal. It is advisable to read everything carefully about the application procedure for an India visa beforehand. The application form is experienced by quite a few people as quite complicated.
|Capital city||New Delhi|
|Phone (country code)||91|
|Language(s) (official)||hindi and english|
|Language(s) (colloquial)||Hindi, English and many other languages|
|Religion(s)||Hinduism and Islam|
|Time difference summer||In India it is 3 and a half hours earlier than in the Netherlands|
|Time difference winter||In India it is 4 and a half hours earlier than in the Netherlands|
|Daylight Saving Time Control||nee|