| General advice for travellers
Firstly, we would like to commend you on your decision to visit India
We have put some suggestions which may aid you in your trip. These are
by no means fully comprehensive. However, we hope they draw your attention
to potential pitfalls in travels to this part of the world. By creating
an awareness and eliminating some of these irritants we hope you have
an enjoyable forthcoming trip. Please click on the links below:-
Airports in India
For most travellers airports at Delhi or Bombay form their port of entry.
After clearing customs and obtaining the baggage go through the green
channel if you have nothing to declare. At the airports, there are a few
- Money: There is bank counter open 24 hours a day. You may need to
convert your foreign currency to Indian rupees. Whilst doing so, they
will give you a receipt called an exchange certificate. Please do
not throw away this receipt. This is proof of foreign exchange. In
some hotels payment in rupees involves an additional tax which can
- Taxis: When you get out of the airport you do not have to bargain
with the taxi drivers. There is a prepaid taxi booth at the airports.
In many airports there are private and government prepaid taxi booths.
They have different tariff. The private taxis are better maintained,but,
these counters do charge a lot more. They charge as much as GBP 15
- 20. Whereas, the governemnt taxi stands for Bombay charge as little
as GBP 3 - 4 (based on current exchange rates) to go from Bombay airport
to Bombay Victoria terminus railway station.
- Buses: At some of the airports there is also something called an
airport bus for travellers going into town centre.
- Jet Airways passengers: Passengers with Jet Airways flight tickets
can also use the airline bus to travel between the international &
domestic airports at Bombay. Please check departure times locally.
- Visas: All British nationals require a visa for visiting India &
Nepal. For India, you have to obtain the visa prior to arrival in
India from the country of departure. In addition to this you may require
special permits for visiting certain parts of country classified as
restricted areas. In the UK you have to contact the Indian High Commission
at India House, Aldwych. website address: www.hcilondon.net. Current
cost of an Indian tourist visa is £ 40 for 6 months. Make sure
you obtain a multiple entry visa. This allows you to go into Nepal
or any other country and return to India within the period without
having to obtain a visa again. For Nepal, you can obtain the visa
at the Nepalese High Commission, Kathmandu airport or the border crossing
between India & Nepal. Please check visa fee. This does vary.
- Health (Injections & Jabs): There is no specific legal requirements
for British nationals to visit India or Nepal. However, typhoid, cholera
& anti malarial precautions are recommended. Please consult your doctor
pertaining to your requirements.
Items to Take.
- Toilet rolls. Indians use water for cleaning not toilet rolls. Note:
These can also be purchased in India at most cities. Worth carrying
one toilet roll from country of departure especially if you are going
straight from plane to train etc.
- A First Aid Kit: pain killers, malaria tablets (applicable to some),
anti-malarial repellent cream, imodium, water purification tablets,
salt tablets etc. These are just some suggestions. You may have other
ideas on what to carry pertaining to yourself.
- Clothing: Unless you are heading to mountainous areas, India is
hot in many parts. Weather is T-shirt weather for popular times (Oct
- Apr) in most destinations. Long cotton type clothing is most suitable.
For girls, it is advisable best to cover the legs and arms (Indian
Kurutha & pyjamans). There is no such strict requirement. However,
short pants tend to attract unnecessary staring by the locals. We
feel an ideal traveller is the one who gets unnoticed and blends into
the crowd as a local. The other thing is that local transporters such
as taxis and rickshaw-wallahs assume you have lived in India for a
while. This is pure mind-set and thus, the tariff tends to be more
- Guide Books. These are essential part of any trip. There are many
good guide books such as Lonely Planet & Rough Guides; India Handbook
by Robert Bradnock, India By Rail by Royston Ellis. Each person has
a personal preference.
- Money Belts: Essential for keeping valuables such as money, credit
cards. air tickets, rail passes & passports.
- Hindi/English Dictionary of words if you are travelling extensivley
in North India.
- Luggage: Make sure the luggage item is lockable. Many travellers
tend to use rucksacks. It is advisable to rig up a method of locking
the item (eg: through chains, padlocks etc).
Food and Drink
Illness is one of the main pitfalls of travel in India and Nepal. Nearly,
50% of the time, the fault lies at the hands of the traveller (not the
place they had their last meal). We have put together some simple suggestions
(Many of them are common sense. Again, you have to see whether it is suitable
to you specifically):-
- Be more careful about food and drink in the early part of your trip.
See how your stomach behaves and then judge depending upon the immunity
level you have built.
- If possible keep the stomach light (i.e. eat less). This is hard
especially when the food is tempting and very economical. Avoid food
sold from hawkers and peddlars on rail stations, streets etc (purely
your immunity level issue).
- Drink more especially in warm areas that you travel. Bottled water
is readily available in India and Nepal. But check the seal at the
time of purchase. You may need water purification tablets (again purely
personal pertaining to you). One of the safest drinks is tea. It is
- Eat plenty of fruit (but not cut fruit or cut salads). For example:
It is safer to peel your own banana or orange or cut your own papaya.
Cut fruit could have been anywhere.
- If you can, try and stick to vegetarian food. There is a very big
choice. You do not know if the meat has been kept out or in.
- Where possible, go for full thali meals rather than a la carte meals.
Thali meals are produced for the large masses, and, thus usually safe.
- If you have one spicy/greasy meal the next one should be non-spicy
and non-greasy (this does not have to be western. It can be Indian
non-spicy such as Chappati, Daal, curd). You may blame the last meal,
but the damage may be done a few meals ago. Many flavours which you
get in Indian restaurants in the West can be achieved using different
ingredients. One of these ingredients may not suit you.
Rupees have to be obtained locally in India. There is a 24 hours bank
counter at the international airports. There are various ways of carrying
money (cards, travellers cheques, cash etc). Credit cards are usable in
most medium - large hotels and many shops. ATM methods of withdrawing
cash does exist but is a small way (mainly in pockets of large cities).
Travellers cheques (British pounds or dollars for India. Note: Nepal prefers
US dollars) are widely accepted and cashable at banks and many hotels
and slightly safer than carrying cash (as they are replacable if lost
depending upon the type). When you convert money from foreign currency
to Indian rupees you may find the money bulky to put into a money belt.
One suggestion is to go into a goverment bank like 'State Bank of India'
(Reason for choosing State Bank of India is there are many branches all
over India). Convert the Indian money into Rupees travellers cheques.
Then cash them at the bank as and when required. Note: They have to be
cashed at the same bank in a different city and not in a different Bank
(such as Punjab National Bank or Bank of Baroda).
Safety & Security
- Prior to any trip consult the British foreign office to ensure that
you are not entering areas which they do not recommend. Their advice
generally tends to be sound and not alarmistic.
- Do not go to Kashmir. We have been telling people not to go to Kashmir
- If you are going beyond Darjeeling in the eastern part of India
such as Nagaland, you may need a special permit. Hence, please recheck
this at the time of obtaining the visa.
- In the current climate, terrorism exists in virtually every part
of the world. It could be outside your own house (who knows?). We
advise people to travel as normal but exercise caution whereever you
go (be it India/Nepal or anywhere else in the world). Generally our
advice is to exercise more caution at focal points in big cities (eg:
London, UK: Trafalgar square could be classified as a focal point.
Delhi: Houses of Parliament could be focal point. Bombay: Stock exchange
could be a focal point. Kathmandu: Durbar Square could be a focal
point.). Generally, terrorists are interested in publicity.
A lot of the items listed below are common sense (such as counting your
money in public is not recommended in any part of the world).
- Money belts are essential for valuables (money, credit cards, travellers
cheques, rail passes, air tickets, passports). This should be concealed
on the inside of your clothing (not worn on the outside as it tempts
opportunistic crime). Take out the amount of money you require for
that day when you go to the bathroom. If you were to loose your luggage
chances are that they are replacable at a very small cost in India
or Nepal. But loosing of the money belt is a different proposition.
- Luggage: This can be chained to the trains for any overnight travel
for peace of mind. However, if you are paranoid this does not help.
- Generally, luggage security is safe on the trains, unless you are
travelling in lower classes such as 2nd class basic or sleeper class
basic. This is largely because people who are not travellers are able
to get into train carriages. In AC Class, AC 2 Tier, AC 3 Tier etc
people without confirmed reservations are not allowed inside. In these
classes, the only possibility is an opportunistic crime such as cameras.
Hence, use appropriate casings for such items.
- You have to be more careful with camera items in railway stations
(not trains) and monuments.
Reconfirmation of Reservations
These apply for airlines and railway journies.
- International flights have to be reconfirmed. If you fail
to do so, this may result in the automatic cancellation of your booking.
This is essential for any inbound journies from India and Nepal. Although
airlines do not insist that you reconfirm the outbound journey to
India or Nepal, we recomend that you do so by contacting the airline.
Please also ensure departure times, reporting times and any special
requests whilst dong so.
- Internal flight bookings must also be reconfirmed locally.
For those purchasing Jet Airways tickets and Jet Airways Visit India
passes please reconfirm at the airport on arrival for the next onward
journey. For help with reconfirmation please also open the tickets
and on the inside cover you will find a list of telephone numbers
pertaining to the cities.
Reconfirmation of Railway Reservations is highly recommended locally.
However, unlike air reservations, the railways do not cancel bookings
if you fail to reconfirm. You can contact us approx. a week prior to departure
and obtain the confirmation PNR No. This can then be typed in the PNR
status of the Indian Railways website (www.indianrail.gov.in) to re-tally
the reservations. In the case of Ac 2 Tier, Ac 3 Tier, Ac chaircar &
AC executive class you can obtain the coach/seat No. in advance by this
process. In Ac Class or non AC First Class, the cabin/berth numbers are
only released on the day of travel a few hours prior to departure.
If the Railways do not cancel your booking if you fail to reconfirm,
why should I bother with the reconfirmation process ?
The main reasons for reconfirmation are:-
- If there are any last minute changes, local reconfirmation helps
(eg: if a train time has been brought forward or any other local information).
- The whole purpose of reconfirmation is to bring any possible problem
to the surface, and, rectifying it rather than being caught unaware.
How to reconfirm ? Prior to leaving India, you can contact us approx.
a week prior to departure and obtain the confirmation PNR No. This can
then be typed in the PNR status of the Indian Railways website (www.indianrail.gov.in)
to re-tally the reservations. There are special addresses in the major
cities such as Delhi, Mumbai (Bombay), Chennai (Madras) & Kolkatta (Calcutta).
These are provided to you along with the rail passes. These offices are
open during office hours (not 24 hours) from Mon - Sat.
In most cities reconfirmation is a straight forward process. The same
is the case in Delhi (assuming you go to the correct place). There
are a lot of touts operating in and around New Delhi railway station.
Many of the travellers do get misled in Delhi. To prevent this we have
tried to walk you through the process of finding the right place.
- You will be approached by many people in and around New Delhi Railway
station (sometimes even dressed in railway uniform with badges. Virtually,
all of them will claim that the International Tourist Bureau does
not exist where you are going. It has been moved to an office outside
the railway station.). The golden rule to remember is that : "Why
should a railway official be interested in you ? ". If you want a
railway official you have to go to them. They will not come to you.
You know that something is not right. Politely, tell them to go away.
- Most travellers will enter the New Delhi railway station through
the Paharganj entrance. A diagramatic drawing is shown below:-
On entry you will find 2 staircases as shown above in the diagram
(one on the right hand side and one on the left hand side). Choose
either staircase. You may prefer to use the left hand side as it leads
directly to the "International Tourist Bureau". Do not go into the
queue, but go to the UK desk.
A diagram of the exterior of New Delhi railway station and the main
foyer is shown below when you approach through the entrance.
Photos above are taken by John Tickner
How do I find the train and my allotted carriage and seat ?
- Each train in India has a train number and a name. This should be
provided to you in an itinerary sheet along with the rail tickets.
Look for the train number on a board in the station. This is usually
found in the main foyer as you enter the train stations. Against,
your train number a platform number is given. Head for the platform
number associated with your train.
- Approx. 1 hour - 30 minutes prior to the departure time of your
train reservation charts will appear at the station (like the diagram
Photo above are taken by John Tickner
Look for the your names on the charts to re-verify coach/seating provided
against the class of travel that you are booking. Note: Many times
your name may be spelt incorrectly. This is quite common and not an
area of concern. Every reservation has the person's name in conjunction
with the rail pass number. Hence, let us say your coach number A1
and seat No. is 3. You name is Mr J Smith and you rail pass number
is 006102. Your reservation on the chart for coach A1 will look like:-
1. Mrs A Patel 0051023
2. Mr A Karia 51022210
3. Mr J Smith 006102
4.- 46. Other names in columns Other Ticket No.
- When the train arrives on the platform look for your carriage number.
Some popular itineraries EG: North India Sampler & South India
CLASS OF TRAVEL
This is a constant area of confusion, largely, because of the terminology.
For example, Ist class is the third highest category in Indian Railways.
The highest category of Indian Railway travel is called AC Class. This
is then followed by a class called Ist class which includes AC 2 Tier,
Standard Ist class and AC chaircar. The bottom category of Indian Railways
is referred to as 2nd class. Choose from three different indrail pass
(1) AC Class:
Offers air conditioned accommodation for two berth (one up & one down)
or four berth (2 up & 2 down) locakable compartments for overnight journeys
and air conditioned executive class seating for short journeys such as
the Shatabadi express trains to Agra from Delhi ; linen/blankets; facility
of shower/toilet at either end of the carriage & attendant services. Listed
below is a plan view of this type of accommodation.
A photo of the AC Class 4 berth compartment is shown below:-
AC Class 4 berth compartment
AC executive Class
If you travel by daytime short journeys such as Shatabdi expresses AC
executive class is the highest available class. This is similar to aircraft
type seats. Diagram of AC executive class is given below:
General Advise on AC Class.
This is the most comfortable method of travel on Indian Railways. There
are 1 or 2 points to look out for before purchasing this type of ticket.
- Work out your railway itinerary (if you need help use the Train
Times section go to the rail enquiry form or
use the Indian Railways website). Check whether the trains you intend to travel have the
AC Class service. If you find that a large number of trains in your
itinerary have AC class, then this would be the most suitable product
for you as it would justify the extra expenditure. Otherwise, you
may find that you have purchased the Top AC Class but are travelling
by AC 2 Tier for your journeys.
- AC Class sectors exist in major routes. If you are travelling by
Rajdhani expresses, then this is one of the most enjoyable experiences
for AC Class travel. If you are purchasing this type of ticket it
is well worth adding the sectors which have Shatabdi expresses and
Rajdhani expresses. In such circumstances, it is well worth purchasing
this type of ticket even if there is a lower percentage of AC class
availability on your proposed routes.
(2) Ist Class permits travel in AC II Tier, Standard Ist Class or
There are basin/toilet facilities at either end of the carriage. Bedding
is provided in AC 2 Tier but not provided in Standard Ist class but can
be ordered against payment in advance at certain stations.
AC II Tier:
Air conditioned corridor carriage that sleeps 46 peole split up into 2
& 4 berth cubicles separated by curtains. A diagram of the layout is shown
AC 2 Tier
A photo of AC 2 Tier is shown below:-
Standard Ist Class:
Offers non air conditioned accommodation for two berth (one up & one down)
or four berth (2 up & 2 down). Note: The policy of the Indian Railways
is to phase out Standard Ist Class). This layout is similar to the
plan view diagram of the Air Conditioned Class carriage but without air
conditioning, bedding and in many cases without attendant services. A
photo of the same is shown below:-
Standard First Class
Air conditioned carriage with reclining seats. A photo of the same is
(3) Second class:
Seats/berths (in some cases wooden and in some cushioned) and toilets
(Indian style). We do not recommend second class travel for travellers.
The cost of the Indrail pass is dependent on the class and duration
of travel. Details are given below:-
Prices of Indrail Passes in US Dollars (Effective from 01
||Ist Cl/AC II Tier/AC Ch
* : Half day, one day & two days passes are pre-dated and pre-timed.
For example if a person wishes to travel on the Mandore express (train
2462) from Jodhpur - Delhi, then he can avail of a half day pass. Train
departs Jodhpur at 1930 hrs and arrives in Delhi at 0630 hrs the following
morning. As the journey concludes within 12 hours of the journey (i.e.
0730 hrs the following morning), this is valid. Similarly, a person travelling
from Bombay - Bangalore on train 1013 can obtain a one day pass as the
train starts at 2220 and arrives in Bangalore at 2205 hrs on the following
day. The dates and times are not changeable. Reservations can be made
on the trains from the UK.
Two days, One Day & half day passes get downgraded on Rajdhani expresses.
If you have an AC class pass you have to travel in AC 2 tier. If you have
an AC 2 tier pass, you have to travel in AC 3 tier. This is not the case
for duration passes.
Note:With the exception of half day & one day passes, all Indrail passes
start at one minute past midnight of Day 1 and conclude at one minute
to midnight of the concluding day. For example if a person purchases a
15 Days Indrail pass starting from 15 Dec 2001, he or she is allowed to
start using it on any train fom 0001 on 15 Dec 2001. All travel must then
be completed by 2359 hrs on 29 Dec 2001.
Some popular itineraries EG: North India Sampler & South India
There are various facilities offered on Indian Railways to assist you
in your travels in India. Some of these are listed below:-
- In most railway stations there is a left luggage office. You can
store luggage for up to 24 hours for a very small fee. Do check the
local opening and closing times of these offices. This is especially
good if you are arriving in a city in the morning and departing in
the evening by another overnight train. Note: They do not accept any
item that is not lockable. Hence, if you are carrying a rucksack you
have to rig up a method of locking the same.
- In most railway stations there is a Ist class waiting hall for Ladies
and Gents. The Ladies can go to the Gents waiting hall but not vice-vera.
These waiting halls have a basic washbasin, toilet and shower facility.
You have to carry your own soap, towel etc. This is ideal for those
arriving at a city in the morning and leaving by overnight train in
A typical waiting hall (at Howrah station) is shown below:-
Photo above is taken by John Tickner
- If you are arriving at a destination and staying for a night you
can do so by availing of the retiring rooms. These are basic rooms
with beds and attached shower/toilet facilities at the railway stations.
They cost a very small amount of money (as little as GBP 1 - 3 per
night per twin room). The costs do vary in each city. They are on
a first-come-first-served basis. Hence, ask the station masters at
the railway stations for availability on arrival. Your Indrail pass
always helps here. A typical retiring room resembles the photo below:-
Photo above is taken by John Tickner
- If you are going on a train departing at 2200 hrs and arriving at
the next destination the following morning at 0600 hrs, then chances
are that you would eat your dinner before you board the train and
breakfast the following morning when you get off the train. However,
the train times may mean that you have to eat on board the train.
You may either wish to carry food items for your travels. You can
purchase food from the hawkers and peddlars at the railway stations.
However, we do not recommend this (Not because the food is bad, but
your stomach may not be suited to it). Alternatively, you can order
the food on the trains through the conductor or attendant. Generally,
these are full Indian Thali meals. The message of your requirement
is passed on to the railway station. Your meal is prepared at the
railway station and delivered to you on the train. All you pay for
this is the cost of the meal which is approx. 30 - 40 British pence.
Generally, this type is prepared for the masses of the population.
Being full meals it is reasonably safe. However, its suitability largely
depends on your stomach suitability.
- If you are travelling in AC class, AC 2 Tier, AC 3 tier and are
really ill, you can request for a doctor through the conductor/guard.
You will find that they pass on a message to one of the oncoming stations
and a the facility of a railway doctor is available for help.
Some popular itineraries EG: North India Sampler & South India