India Travel Tips and Information
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- Divided into 28 states and 7 union territories
- Capital: Delhi
- Government: Federal Republic
- Currency: Indian Rupee (INR)
- Area total: 3,287,590 km2
- Land: 2,973,190 km2
- Water: 314,400 km2
- Population: 1,147,995,898 (2008 EST.)
- Language: Hindi, English and 21 other official languages
- Religion: Hindu 81.3%, Muslim 12%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other groups including Buddhist, Jain, Parsi 2.5% (2000)
- Electricity: 230V/50Hz, Indian (Old British)/European plugs
Although India occupies only 2.4% of the world's land area, it supports over 15% of the world's population. Only China has a larger population. Almost 33% of Indians are younger than 15 years of age. About 70% of the people live in more than 550,000 villages, and the remainder in more than 200 towns and cities. Over thousands of years of its history, India has been invaded from the Iranian plateau, Central Asia, Arabia, Afghanistan, and the West; Indian people and culture have absorbed and changed these influences to produce a remarkable racial and cultural synthesis.
U.S. citizens require a passport and visa to enter and exit India for any purpose.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) designates four official seasons: Winter, occurring from December to early April. The year's coldest months are December and January, when temperatures average around 10–15 °C (50–59 °F) in the northwest; temperatures rise as one proceeds towards the equator, peaking around 20–25 °C (68–77 °F) in mainland India's southeast. Summer or pre-monsoon season, lasting from April to June (April to July in northwestern India). In western and southern regions, the hottest month is April; for northern regions, May is the hottest month. Temperatures average around 32–40 °C (90–104 °F) in most of the interior. Monsoon or rainy season, lasting from June to September. The season is dominated by the humid southwest summer monsoon, which slowly sweeps across the country beginning in late May or early June. Monsoon rains begin to recede from North India at the beginning of October. South India typically receives more precipitation. Post-monsoon season, lasting from October to December. In northwestern India, October and November are usually cloudless. Tamil Nadu receives most of its annual precipitation in the northeast monsoon season. The Himalayan states, being more temperate, experience an additional two seasons: autumn and spring. Traditionally, Indians note six seasons, each about two months long. These are the spring (Sanskrit: vasanta), summer (grīṣma), monsoon season (varṣā), early autumn (śarada), late autumn (hemanta), and winter (śiśira). These are based on the astronomical division of the twelve months into six parts. The ancient Hindu calendar also reflects these seasons in its arrangement of months.
There are three national holidays: Republic Day (January 26), Independence Day (August 15), and Gandhi Jayanti (October 2) which occur on the same day every year. In addition, there are three major nationwide festivals with shifting dates: Holi, in February or March — The Festival of Color On the first day, people go to temples and light bonfires, but on the second, it's a nationwide water fight combined with showers of colored powder. Durga Puja, Sept-Oct — A nine-day festival culminating in the holy day of Dasara, when locals worship the deity Durga. In some places like West Bengal, Durga Puja is the most important festival. In the north Ram Lila celebrations take place and the slaying of Ravana by Lord Rama is ceremonially reenacted. In Gujarat, the festival is celebrated by dancing to devotional songs and religious observances like fasts extended over a period of 9 days. Diwali (Deepavali), Oct-Nov — The Festival of Lights The festival of lights, celebrates the return of Lord Rama to the capital of his kingdom, Ayodhya after an exile of 14 years. The most lavish festival in the country, reminiscent (to US travelers at least) of the food of Thanksgiving and the shopping and gifts of Christmas combined. Houses are decorated, there is glitter everywhere, and if you wander the streets on Diwali night, there will be firecrackers going off everywhere.