Preparing for Your Tour of India
You will need to have a passport that is valid for a minimum
of at least 6 months. Apply online for a Tourist Visa (6
https://indiavisa.travisaoutsourcing.com/homepage. In order to get your Indian Visa you will
need to send in 2 passport sized pictures of yourself along with your passport and
a copy of your Birth Certificate.
The Visa Application will ask for a reference of 2 people and
your address while in India.
Use the following information:
||Mr. SN Rai,
Go India Journeys
C7, 3rd floor, sector 3
Noida 201 301. India
||Mr. Ravinder Singh,
Go India Journeys
C7, 3rd floor, sector 3
Noida 201 301. India
||Parmarth Niketan Ashram
Rishikesh, Uttarakhand 249304
We highly recommend that you obtain Comprehensive Travel
Insurance for this trip. Many independent companies offer Trip
Insurance. Ensure that the policy has, as a minimum, high levels
for Medical Expenses and Emergency Transportation, and coverage
for cancellation due to a Travel Advisory issued by the U.S.
State Department (many policies do not have this clause). You
may research insurance policies online.
Note: You should purchase your travel insurance
immediately after registering for the trip - this will provide
the maximum benefits of the insurance policy.
www.insuremytrip.com - Shakta and Hari Dev choose a policy
called "TruTravel First Class" -
click here for details.
Please sign the attached
release form before the tour departs and mail/fax it to:
Spiritual Journeys, Inc. - Deepak Singh
Belmont, MA 02478
You must arrange your own international air travel to and
from India. You must arrive in India at the international
airport in Delhi in order to be transferred to your hotel.
Note, to make your checked baggage follow you easily, use the
same airline for all connections. Remember to send your
bags all the way through to Delhi. Be sure to send your
flight information to Deepak at Spiritual Journeys. You
may use any travel agent you wish or even try to use frequent
flier miles. If you have no preference, then you can call
Traci at 781-821-2070 who is well versed in travel to India.
Important: Your return flight back to the
US will be late at night, possibly after midnight (which will
change the DAY of departure by plus 1). Check with Deepak about your
specific flight plans BEFORE you purchase the ticket.
Shakta and Hari Dev will be traveling as follows (TBD):
Flights to India on Sale
Be mindful that your arrival date in India will be "one day later" - Example: Departing USA on Feb. 12 at 6 pm will put you into Delhi "one day later" on February 13 around 10 pm.
Ensure that your flight does not arrive in Delhi "2 days later"!
Priceline is one place to shop for airfare
Leave your valuables at home. Only bring what you are willing
to carry with you at all times. The currency in India is the
Rupee and goes for about 45 rupees to the U.S. dollar right now
(or, 2.2 cents/rupee).
Some people like the security of American Express Travelers
Checks. But it is not necessary to bring all of the money that
you will need over to India as most banks in Delhi and in
Amritsar have ATM machines that will give Indian rupees with
your USA or European bank ATM card. However, most won't take a
pin number over 4 digits. Also, all shops work on a cash only
Any foreign exchange should only be exchanged in
a bank or at a hotel. The commission will be higher at a hotel,
but the exchange rate is so good that a few rupees won't
matter and the convenience will be worthwhile. If someone
approaches you and says they can give you a higher rate than the
banks, do not do business with that person. It is called
exchanging on the black market and is highly illegal. You can be
arrested for doing so.
On American Airlines You can have ONE piece of luggage to check-in and one
carry-on bag at no charge. A second checked bag will cost
$50 (but worth it). It is good to have locks for your luggage
once we are in India and on the road - be sure the locks are TSA
approved or they will be cut-off at security. Shakta
always brings an additional empty bag - to fill with the many
treasures she finds in the bazaars (and, of course, Hari Dev
must start the trip with both of his
Note that luggage size and weight are important to manage, or
it will cost you extra dollars at the airport (50 pound limit,
or 70 pounds if you pay extra). Any bag over 70
pounds will not fly. Please review the following
baggage guidelines for American Airlines (other airlines may
have different rules).
India is a very modest society and it is appropriate to dress
so; in general, no bare body parts. No tank tops, sleeveless blouses, tight tee shirts, jeans or
short skirts. Shorts (the longer the better) are OK for
gentlemen but not for women. Indian styled clothing or pants
with tunics work best for India. Readymade Indian clothing will
be available to purchase at reasonable prices. Please note
that head coverings are required for entering temples and at
some religious ceremonies.
It will get warm during the day - we suggest you bring short
sleeve clothing with a light sweater or shawl. It would be
good to bring something warmer for the wee hours of the morning
- like a jacket or fleece. Bring pj's for sleeping, house
shoes or slippers and a cover-up.
Shoes are taken off outside of temples, so we will be taking
our shoes on and off quite a bit. Sandals and slip-ons are the
most convenient footwear. In sandals your feet will get
very dirty. It is not very fashionable but sandals and socks are
a good combination. Bring a sandal with a sturdy rubber sole
that gives good support for walking. Flip-flops are
considered more of a shower shoe, so not so good to wear in
public - "Tevas" with the straps are a good call. Also
bring a modest bathing suit for dipping at the Golden Temple.
Have one or two outfits for special occasions.
Travel as light as possible without depriving yourself of
your needs. Most items on the following list are probably
available in India. However, you don't want to spend
your time trying to find things that you could have easily had
with you with some forethought.
|Sandals or slip-ons
||Camera, film & batteries
|Large Combination Lock for your door
||Small locks for your bags
||Feminine hygiene necessities
|Flashlight or 'torch' as it is called there.
||Batteries or 'cells' as they are called
||Journal and pen
|Kleenex packets or toilet paper (carry some t.p.
with you at all times)
||Liquid cold water laundry soap (little packets
||Reading light or head lamp
|Rubber or plastic shoes for the shower
|Toiletries and sundries
||Travel Alarm Clock
|Travel sewing kit
||Voltage converters to 220 for electrical
|European plug adaptor
||Wash 'N Dry or Wet Ones (lots)
|Water bottle and water bottle holder
|Snacks (trail mix, power bars, granola and such)
||Yoga mat, blanket or sheepskin
It is very likely that you will experience a bout of sickness
over in India. There are many strange bacteria and ameba that
your body has never been exposed to and that you do not have
anti-bodies for. It will probably be diarrhea or 'loose
motions' as it is referred to there. There are some
things that you can take as preventative measures along the way
but once it hits, it is best to go straight for the allopathic
medicines like immodium. When on the road you will
not really have the time and space to deal with it effectively
using natural means. Please visit the website of the
Center for Disease Control
for specific recommendations.
Talk to your doctor about
bringing a supply (at least six 500-mg pills) of the antibiotic
Cipro, or its equivalent, for the treatment of traveler's
diarrhea. Also bring some Immodium and/or Pepto Bismol.
The local water is not fit for American bodies, so get a
very good portable purifier system or bring some iodine
tablets (e.g. Teraglycine hydroperiodide, brand name of
Globaline, Potable-Agua, and the like) just in case.
Insect repellant (DEET 30%+ is the most effective) for mosquitoes
and sunblock are good ideas.
Order from your pharmacy or
pick up in India some 'World Health Organization Oral
Rehydration Salts' for adding to water to make a rehydration
solution.' 80% of traveler's diarrhea is without
vomiting, and you might really be able to keep yourself going
with this stuff. Ask your doctor for some Compazine which is a
suppository or other nausea medication to cover this
Bring a homeopathic first aid kid, along
with bandages, Bacitracin ointment, and Tylenol or Advil.
Bring some decongestants (like Afrin spray and/or Sudafed
tablets) and some Benadryl capsules.
Bring any other
medications you require. Keep a list of your medications,
so that in the event you lose them, they can be replaced.
Allopathic medicines are available in India but often under
'An ounce of prevention is worth a pound cure.' In
light of that adage, here is another list:
- Yogi Bhajan recommends you eat an onion a day for the
month before you go. Onions are a natural blood purifier and
help your body deal with the cultural bacterial change.
- Anything green, like Chlorella (if you are used to a
lot of salad this will help compensate.)
- Vitamin B (excellent for stress)
- Constipation remedy
- Echinacea and Golden Seal
- Emergen-C packets
- Grapefruit seed extract (Biotin) (this is a great
- Natural throat lozenges
- Melantonin (to adjust your internal time clock)
- Make packets of your daily supplements, so you don't
have a lot of bottles and jars to carry.
India is 10 1/2 hours ahead of Central time during Daylight
Savings, and 11 1/2 hours during Standard Time. One of the
hardest adjustments to make is just getting your body's time
clock on schedule. Everyone has their special remedies to
combat jetlag. There are homeopathic jetlag pills
available. Some people bring a supply of juice and only
drink liquids for the entire flight. Some say that if you
take something to make you sleep on the plane, it helps to
adjust things quicker. Others say that if you immediately
adjust your watch to the time of your destination and use
sleeping pills and then caffeine to sleep and wake at the
appropriate times that it helps. So ask around and find
out what you can do to help yourself.
Time information for India is at
To prevent sickness, do not drink anything other than
filtered or bottled water. Do not drink anything with ice
in it unless you are in a hotel and they have filtered water.
If you are purchasing water, make sure that the seal on the
bottle is still good.
You can also purchase a filtration
system that can purify the local water to save a bunch of money.
Shakta and Hari Dev carry the Katadyn
Exstream XR Water Purifier Bottle
Only eat a fruit that you peel.
Do not eat anything that has not been cooked, peeled or
Drink only bottled or filtered water - stay away from
Street food in India is not subject to any health code;
therefore it is best to avoid. Food served in hotels and
at functions that we attend is safe to eat.
If you have
special dietary needs you should bring such items with
you. The natural food movement has not yet hit India. A
staple in India is 'Chai' black tea. They drink it
morning, noon and night. It is a great social instrument
and will be offered to you regularly. It is normally
impolite to refuse completely but if you cannot handle the
sugar, dairy and the caffeine, just explain that for medical
reasons your doctor says that you may not drink tea.
the sweets in India contain sugar. If you need
alternatives to sugar, you will need to bring them from home.
(Outgoing) International phone calls can be made from an STD
office (to avoid paying the hotel surcharge). You will see
signs for these phones everywhere. You give them the
number you need to call and they dial it for you and the meter
starts running. You pay in cash when you are done. I
have not had much luck using phone cards on the systems in
India. Perhaps it is better now, not sure.
If you are calling from within India to the US, you will dial
001 then your area code and number. If you are calling
from within India from city to city you will dial a 0 before the
city code. If someone needs to call you from the United
States they must dial 011 to get out of the country, the
country code for India is 91, then the city code and then
City codes: Delhi is 11 - Amritsar is 183
- Agra is 562
If you are interested in posting
letters, the safest is to post your mail through the front desk
of the hotels.
For use of appliances, laptops, recharging
anything the Electrical current is 220 and you will need to
bring a voltage adaptor and plug adaptor. They use the
same plug system as Europe.
Theft is not uncommon. It is essential to take good
care of personal valuables both when you are carrying them and
when you have to leave them in hotels or other places. You
cannot regard any place as automatically safe. Best is to
leave valuables at home. Keep your passport, cash and
travelers checks with you at all times. Money belts worn
under clothing are one of the safest options. Purses and
handbags should be made of material that is not easily cut.
External pockets (both on bags and clothing) should never be
used for carrying either money or important documents. It
is a good idea to have a photo-copy of your passport in your
There is no way to control who is in a crowd;
groping is possible. Please do not go anywhere alone.
Always take a partner or go with a group. Take someone
with you and please leave word with your team leader of your
whereabouts and time of expected return.
There can be many beggars on the streets, some of whom may be
physically handicapped. This can be very distressing, but
remember a coin to one child or a seemingly destitute woman on
the street will make you the focus of demanding attention from a
vast number before long. It is best to give donations to
an organization rather than to individuals.
India is a very male-based society. Women are only just
now starting to take on careers of their own, more so in the big
cities than in the villages. Indian men have the
impression of Western Women that they are loose and easy.
This stems from from Western movies where there are displays of
sex and nudity, there is no such thing in Indian films. If
you dress modestly and conduct yourself gracefully there will be
no problem. Do not feel like you have to talk to any one
who approaches you from the crowd. If someone does grope
you, feel free to tell them off. It is expected.
Due to the huge population of India, and the great diversity
of the people / cultures, creating a working infrastructure has
been a great jumble. Unless you are in your hotel, the
toilet situation is going to be tenuous. Make sure to
carry a tissue packet with you where ever you go. Be
prepared to use squat style toilets, which are ground level.
Please be prepared for unsanitary conditions.
The majority of the vehicles in the cities are two stroke
engines. This has caused some severe pollution problems.
New Delhi was once quite horrendous but they have passed some
laws and actually implemented them; now all of the 3-wheelers
and taxis are run on natural gas and the situation is much
improved. Amritsar still suffers from pollution problems.
Remember you are allowed to bring in all personal effects
"which may be reasonably required" without charge. Official
custom allowance includes a camera with 20 rolls of film, a pair
of binoculars, laptop computer, one music system, i.e. cd
player, jewelry, video camcorder with 12 video cassettes,
special camera equipment and lenses, one cell phone, one
electronic diary. You must take all of these items out of
the country when you leave. They may check upon departure
and if items are missing it is a serious offense.
To be safe, do not bring any valuables that you are not
willing to have on your person at all times. Items that
are prohibited to import are dangerous drugs, live plants,
unstitched cloth, gold coins, gold and silver bullion and silver
coins not in current use. These are either banned or
subject to strict regulation. It is illegal to import
firearms into India without special permission.
In the hotels, room service, laundry service and restaurant
charges will need to be on a cash only basis - not charged to
the hotel rooms. The only charges you make on your room
should be telephone calls. You must pay for your telephone
charges before retiring on the night of a departure.
Having a large group of people checking out for small charges
can easily take up to 2 hours. Please understand that we
have almost missed airplanes on previous trips because people
thought it would just take 5 minutes to check out. Please
be very conscious of this.
The hotels will have laundry service. Items that you
send to wash in India often come back with a distinctive gray
tinge. If you have something that needs more delicate
treatment there will be dry cleaning available at the hotels.
Please be forewarned that the dry cleaning process often leaves
clothes smelling like a gas station. All clothes that you
are planning to send out for laundry should be marked with a
permanent laundry marker with your name. You will also
have sinks in your rooms for hand washing.
Most shopkeepers expect you to bargain with them, so the
first price they tell you is not what they expect you to pay.
In New Delhi there are government emporiums with fixed prices
for artifacts and fabrics. For high-end items, like
carpets and jewelry you should know the market value before
Credit cards are taken in most shops in New
Delhi and even in Amritsar. MasterCard and Visa are
usually preferred but they do take American Express and
Diner's in most places.
Some of our transport will be by train in India.
The train system is quite extensive and an easy way to get
around. The train stations in India can be very scary, due
to the multitudes and general condition of the platforms.
But once you are on the train it is a nice haven - even snacks
Here are some things to considered unacceptable by the Indian
- Smoking in sacred / religious areas.
- Shoes in a
sacred / religious area (even if they are hidden in your
- Head exposed in a sacred / religious place.
(covering the head is a sign of respect)
displays of affection
- Love Marriages
- Use of the left hand to eat or serve (it is used in the
- Touching someone's head
- Rudeness to
elders. All elder gentlemen can be referred to as
'Babaji' and all older women as 'Bibiji'
germs - if you are sharing a bottle of water it is polite
not to touch it to your lips. Raise the bottle over your
mouth and let it pour in.
- Pointing your feet towards
someone or towards something sacred or touching your feet to
For a general introduction for a first time traveler The
Lonely Planet Guide to India is pretty comprehensive.
Check your local bookstore for fiction and non-fiction by
contemporary Indian writers to get in the spirit of things. If you
would like a realistic view of India, try reading 'A Fine