Exploring INDIA: A Travel Guide to the Land of Diversity

REALIZING a dream of going to a dream destination! I am so thankful for the opportunity to be in this place called Taj Mahal, arguably the most popular travel destination in one of my dream countries… INDIA!

As one of my dream destinations, India has always been on the list of the places that I’ve always wanted to visit. I used to think about immersing myself in in its vibrant and colorful culture, trying out its superbly tasty food and mingling with its interesting people. Imagine the joy that I’ve felt when I first set foot on its soil! It was definitely a realization of a dream, and one that I’m really grateful I was able to achieve just recently.

This blog aims to help you do what you should do if you decide to visit India, the country of color, wonder and splendor.

INDIA

Home to 1.3 billion people with a land area of 3.28 million km2, India is the second most populated country (though it is bound to best China in terms of population in less than a decade) and the sixth largest in terms of land area.

Map of India (Source- Google)
Map of India (Source: Google)

It is part of South Asia, and I’d like to believe it is the most influential in the region with its rich culture and fast-growing economy (I’m open to being proved wrong, of course.) It is bordered by Pakistan in the west; China, Nepal and Bhutan in the northeast; and Bangladesh and Myanmar in the east. In the south, it is bounded by the Indian Ocean.

India is often said to be one of the oldest countries in the world, and that is because its cultural history spans more than 4,500 years. Its religious diversity; art, literature and architecture sophistication, great food industry as well as its booming entertainment industry are some of the special things this country has to offer to the world.

Hello, India!
WELCOME TO INDIA! Alive: this is one word that perfectly fits the country of India. Every single day of my stay here, I feel so much alive because of everything around me!

APPLYING FOR INDIAN VISA

Applying for an Indian visa is a must should you decide to travel to India. Before, an Indian visa is issued once you arrive at the airport but now, it can only be done before you travel there. Applying for one may seem hard, but it is not. It would just take some time because you have to prepare some things and fill out forms. Anyway, let’s start.

    1. Make sure you are eligible to apply. Do you have a passport that has at least 6 months of validity from the date of your arrival in India? Check. Do you have a return ticket or onward journey ticket? Check. How about enough budget for your budget there? Check.
    2. Prepare the following even before applying:
  1. A digital copy of a recent 2×2 colored photograph of yourself (the applicant) in a PDF file with a size less than 1 MB
  2. A scanned copy of your passport (the page containing your personal information) in PDF format with a maximum size of 300 KB
  •  Hotel details (address and contact number, as these information will be needed for filling out the “References in India” section of the application form)
  1. Entry and Exit dates of your travel in India
  2. Point of entry in India (indicated in your entry ticket- e.g. Jaipur Airport)
  3. Debit card, credit card or PayPal account
    1. If you are currently residing in the Philippines, it’s best to apply online for an Indian visa. This is called an e-visa. Head to https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html for the step-by-step procedures of applying. But read along as to be guided on this application.
    2. While on the webpage given above, look for the image at the bottom, center part that indicates “Apply here for e-visa” and click it.
    3. You’ll be directed to the registration part of the India visa application. Indicate here your Passport type (ORDINARY PASSPORT), Nationality (PHILIPPINES), Port of Arrival (indicate among a list at which airport will you be arriving), Date of Birth, Email ID (your email address), Expected Date of Arrival (remember that validity of visa is counted from its date of issue), Visa Service (indicate which type among the choices, but because you intend to travel here, choose eTOURIST Visa). After filling everything out, click the button that says “Continue.”
    4. On the next page, you have to indicate personal details such as your full name, gender, date of birth, town/city of birth, country of birth, religion, visible identification marks (indicate NA if not applicable), educational qualification, among other things. Also, indicate details about your passport such as your passport number, its place of issue, date of issue, date of expiry and country of issue. There’s also a part where it is asked if you have other valid passport/ identity certificate (IC). Just indicate “No” in the choices if you don’t have one.
    5. The next page will ask details about your address and contact details, family details, and occupation details. Fill them up with answers.
    6. After that, the next page will ask about the details of the visa being sought (since we’ve already chosen “e-visa,” it will automatically show in the “Type of visa” and “Visa service” items); fill up “Places to be visited,” “Expected port of exit from India,” among others. For “References, if you are not visiting a family or a friend, you can fill this up with the details of the hotel where you are staying. If you’re planning to stay in more than one hotel, choose the first one you’re staying in. For “Reference Name in PHILIPPINES,” write down one contact detail (family or friend) to be contacted in case of emergency.
    7. After filling out the forms, press “Save and Continue.” You will have to finish one more page (“Additional Question Details”) before going to the page where you will be asked to upload your digital photo and a scanned copy of your passport.

*By the way, you will be given an auto-generated Temporary Application ID. Take note of this because this can come in handy should you decide to “Save and Temporarily Exit” from any of the webpages we have discussed so far. If you have exited in the middle of writing for whatever reason, you can go back and fill up your forms by going to https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/CompletePartially.

    1. Now, make the necessary payment for your Indian e-visa. You will be directed to the “Online VISA Fee Payment.” Read the details presented here before choosing the “Yes” bullet. You can choose either “Pay Now” or “Pay Later.” Afterwards, choose between “Sbi e-pay” and Axis Bank, two Indian banks that accept payments for the online Indian Visa applications.
    2. When you choose “Sbi e-pay,” you will be directed to the portal of SBI where you will be given options as to how you will pay for the visa fee: debit card, credit card of PayPal. (For debit cards, Visa, Mastercard and Maestro are accepted while for credit cards, only Visa and Mastercard are accepted.)
    3. The fee for Indian e-visa is $50 (roughly P2,635 as of May 2019). Expect to have an additional fee for the bank transaction that would transpire.
    4. After completing the whole online application, you just have to wait for an email update from the Indian government. The visa processing normally takes two (2) days. Should you receive an email from them confirming your Indian e-visa is granted, they will also be sending an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA), which you should PRINT and bring with you when you travel to India. The immigration in India will look for your ETA once you arrive at the airport aside from your passport. Good luck!
COME UP WITH A GOOD ITINERARY BEFORE GOING HERE.
COME UP WITH A GOOD ITINERARY BEFORE GOING TO INDIA. I think that also applies to every travel destination we’re supposed to go to, right? About the picture: despite the busy schedule, we made sure to go to this place in Jaipur! Can you guess what it is called?

WHAT ELSE TO PREPARE?

Aside from preparing your passport and Indian visa, here are other important things that you should be considering once you decide to travel there.

  1. Prepare US dollars when going here. The Philippine Peso almost always sells cheaply when converted to other Asian currencies. Exchange your hard-earned pesos to dollars before reaching the airport (NAIA). Same thing goes when you arrive in India. Convert your dollars to Indian rupees outside the airport. If you need to have rupees to spend for taxi going to your hostel (and probably food among others), you may just exchange a few of your dollars at the airport. If you’re going to ask me how much is the budget for a week in India, I’d say P25,000 (or $500) is enough, especially if you don’t mind staying in dormitories of hostels.
  2. Prepare yourself for SPICY FOOD every single day! I can’t remember a meal when I didn’t get to taste even a little bit of spice on my taste buds while I am here in India. Indians really do love spices, and they definitely make it sure in the food that they serve! So cheers to spicy lovers like me when you decide to visit India and splurge in their food!
  3. Prepare a part of your budget for souvenirs! Kashmirs, pashminas and the like are some of the best items that you can avail here in India. Not only are they inexpensive, they are well-made! Just an additional tip: if ever you decide to visit the “golden triangle” of Jaipur, Agra and Delhi, purchase the ones in Jaipur because they are a lot cheaper, and in my opinion, much more beautiful!
  4. Accommodations in India are not expensive. You don’t have to worry whether you go here solo or with company because you can avail affordable accommodations!
  5. The same goes with food. Not only are they inexpensive, they’re also a delight to the mouth! Just make sure you buy in clean, reputable places and you have nothing to worry about, especially for your tummy.
  6. You can roam around India using different modes of transportation: tuk-tuk, taxi (or Grab- yes, they also have Grab here), bus, train or airplane. Your use of these vehicles will depend on your itinerary. If you want to learn what we used, check out my individual blog posts about Jaipur, Agra, Mathura and Delhi!
  7. Prepare your itinerary! This will depend on what you want to explore and experience in India depending on the number of days you are willing to spend here. To give you an idea, we only had five days here but we were able to explore Jaipur, Agra, Mathura and Delhi! If you think that’s too short, then you can always adjust accordingly!
  8. Pack your bags, secure your tickets and let’s go! Don’t forget to enjoy the country of India, which is probably one of the best travel destinations you would be able to visit in your lifetime!

 

WHERE TO GO IN INDIA?

Let me share with you some of the places we were able to visit in India. I hope these pictures will be able to inspire you to go here as well!

JAIPUR

Often called the Pink City, Jaipur opened my eyes on what India is all about- it is so full of life! The streets are filled with people from all walks of life, doing their tasks, duties and what have yous, unbothered by the seemingly rambunctious driving happening almost everywhere! That may sound chaotic, but it really isn’t! That’s just how lively it is! Moreover, the impressive man-made structures here in Jaipur are the main reasons why this city is full of color. They show off these pastel-like colors that emanate towards the whole city! Ever wonder why “Jaipur” is used as one of the filters in Instagram stories? You don’t have to wonder why when you see what I have been talking about! Here are some of them:

THE PINK CITY. We started exploring one of the world’s oldest countries in the so-called “Pink City” – Jaipur! And in this picture, I am on the tip of the grand structure of Jaighar Fort looking over the smaller but still impressive Amer Fort.
PANNA MEENA KA KUND. It was one late afternoon when we reached an old stepwell in Rajasthan with the name of Panna Meena. It has these impressive symmetrical steps that attract quite a lot of foreign tourists!

AGRA

Agra is best known for Taj Mahal, one of the most popular and most revered structures in the whole world. That’s why if you’ve already stepped foot in this city, it’s a big mistake not to go and visit!

BEING IN TAJ MAHAL, one of the world’s seven new wonders of the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, while I was dressed in a traditional Indian costume is just fulfilling in so many ways!
THE TAJ MAHAL.
THE TAJ MAHAL. Here’s another perspective of the Taj Mahal!

MATHURA

The city of Mathura in the state of Uttar Pradesh is considered sacred by the Hindus. Said to be the birthplace of Krishna, one of the major Hindi deities, Mathura is one of the best places to celebrate Holi Festial in the country of India. The people here are friendly, and they’re too eager to celebrate with outsiders (AKA foreigners) they want take selfies with us all throughout the event!

EXPLOSION OF COLORS! We really opted to go to India to celebrate Holi, an ancient Hindu festival that has been attracting lots of travelers around the world!
THE HOLI FESTIVAL. My memory of taking part in the festivities of Holi remain vivid – as vivid as the colors being splashed all over the people inside the temples and along the streets! Honestly, I’ve went through a whole different level of experience during Holi! The energy around was tantalizing as prayers and songs were chanted and colors were sprayed and splashed! The locals were so friendly and warm – and this friendly atmosphere was definitely present all throughout the festival. It was such a one-of-a-kind experience that I would always be grateful for!

DELHI

One of the biggest metropolitan cities in the world, Delhi is a union territory of India and the location of the Indian capital of New Delhi. I found this city one of the most interesting places as I’ve seen in it some highs (a very reliable train system, impressive structures all throughout the city and a good mix of Indian and Western cultures) and lows (one particular place stands out as the dirtiest I’ve seen in whole of India) that had definitely captured my attention.

THE LOTUS TEMPLE.
THE LOTUS TEMPLE. There’s actually a lot to be explored in Delhi, and thankfully we were able to visit one of the most beautiful temples there is: the Baha’i or the Lotus Temple!
Photo 22-03-2019, 4 01 54 PM
ISKCOM. A Hindu temple at the heart of New Delhi, ISKCOM is also known as Vaishnav temple of Lord Krishna, who is one of the main Hindu gods.

***

I hope I was able to inspire and help you decide to go to one of the oldest, most colorful and most interesting countries in the world: India. Look out for my individual blog posts about the Indian territories in what they call the “Golden Triangle,” which consist of Jaipur, Agra and Delhi, as well as the best place to celebrate Holi: Mathura. Thanks, guys, for reading!

SUNRISE IN INDIA
SUNRISE IN INDIA. Let me just end this blog post with one of the most surprising things that happened while we were in India- we were able to experience a good sunrise in Jaipur! We were not thinking about getting a good one because of the smog present over the city, but then the sun came up like this and I knew that moment was something that we needed to capture!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. laagsparkles says:

    Bucket list! Soon! And I love your photos!💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is so sweet, Sparkles! Thank youuu! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kim says:

    Is it safe to travel alone?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it is, especially in Jaipur and Agra. We met a Pinay in our hostel in Jaipur and she was traveling by herself! I can’t say the same, though, with other places in India, though, especially Delhi. I’ve read news about that city, which isn’t so favorable for women.

      Like

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