India’s rich history can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization, which flourished 9000 years ago. It is said to be the first technologically-advanced civilizations as the people of this time resided in multi-storeyed houses and even had roadside drainage systems! The nation has always been a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities and is home to some of the most fascinating religions. This can be attributed to the numerous dynasties which ruled the land. Throughout history, the country’s wealth and precious resources attracted merchants from all over the world and was a celebrated hub for trade and culture.
Modern India has transitioned very well from its glorious past. In spite of embracing globalization, India’s cultural offerings still mesmerizes its visitors. It is worthy to mention that the country is home to some of the fastest growing cities in the world. Its urban hubs are well connected to all the major cities of the globe and the airports are highly equipped with state-of-the-art amenities.
The Indian subcontinent is divided into 29 states and seven union territories. Thirty-two of the country’s attractions have been recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites but there are countless hidden gems waiting to be discovered. May it be the snow-capped Himalayas, the dunes of Rajasthan, the iconic sites of Agra and Delhi, the sandy beaches of Goa, the mystical Sunderbans, the temples of Tamil Nadu, the Ghats of South India, or the backwaters of Kerala, each of these regions have their own unique attractions and ways of life. Even the gastronomical delights and the sights and sounds differ from state to state.
Karnataka is a state in southwest India with Arabian Sea coastlines. The capital, Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore), is a high-tech hub known for its shopping and nightlife. To the southwest, Mysore is home to lavish temples including Mysore Palace, former seat of the region’s maharajas. Hampi, once the medieval Vijayanagara empire’s capital, contains ruins of Hindu temples, elephant stables and a stone chariot.
Bangalore officially known as Bengaluru
Deemed as India’s very own Silicon Valley, Bangalore is probably one of the country’s most diverse cities. Its pleasant climate and state-of-the-art infrastructure attracts businesses and people from all over the world. The city formerly known as “Pensioners Paradise” is now a fast paced, metropolitan IT hub. The mega city is home to some of the largest IT and software companies in the world. Its tech parks and sky-high buildings serve as a constant reminder of city’s rapid rise to being the next big tech giant.
The city offers countless luxurious accommodation options for the world traveller. From timeless places to opulent world-famous hotel chains, one is spoilt for choice!
There is only one time zone for all of India. India does not observe any form of daylight saving time or any other seasonal adjustments to the time. India Standard Time (IST) is 5:30 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time. You can see India’s time in relation to most cities on the globe by visiting www.timeanddate.com
Bangalore has a pleasant climate throughout the year. It is called the air conditioned city of India because of the salubrious weather year round; the city has a high tree density and over 100 lakes, with many social forests which act as city’s lungs to keep it cool. The average temperature in Bangalore in May is around 27.4 °C (81.32 °F). Overnight temperatures are generally conformable with an average low of 21.4 °C (70.5 °F). Light rains are expected in the month of May.
India uses 230 Volts, 50 Hz alternating current as the power source. Plugs and sockets have either grounded / earthed 3 Pin connections (Type D) or ungrounded 2 pin connections (Type C). You will need a voltage converter and plug adapter in order to use U.S. appliances. We recommend getting a universal adapter and converter kit.
The two pin plug is also called the Europlug. It has two round 4 mm (0.157 in) pins. It can be inserted in either way into the socket. Hence there is no fixed live (hot) and neutral (cold) terminals.
The three pin plug is rated at 6A / 250V. It has three round pins in a triangular pattern. The earth terminal is slightly larger than the live and neutral terminals.
India has 22 official ‘scheduled’ languages, namely Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia (also known as Oriya), Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. Of these, Hindi is recognised as the main Official Language of the Union Government, with English acting as a business language & Kannada the Official Language of Karnataka state.
There are also hundreds of other less prominent languages like Tulu, Bhojpuri and Ladakhi that are the main spoken language of some places. A good rule of thumb, each Indian state = different Indian language.
Many banks, hotels, airline offices, service institutions, shops and key tourist destinations have multi-lingual staff.
Currency and Foreign Exchange:
The currency in India is the Indian rupee (sign: ₹ / Rs.; code: INR). Currently-used banknotes come in denominations of Rs.5, Rs.10, Rs.20, Rs.50, Rs.100, Rs.500 and Rs.1000. It is always good to have a number of small notes on hand, as merchants and drivers sometimes have no change. A useful technique is to keep small notes (₹10-50) in your wallet or in a pocket, and to keep larger notes separate.
The Indian Rupee is not officially convertible, and a few government-run shops will still insist on seeing official exchange receipts if you are visibly a foreigner and attempt to pay in rupees instead of hard currency
Amex Traveller’s cheques are widely accepted and can be cashed at banks or foreign exchange brokers. Identification may be required when cashing traveller’s cheques. Traveller’s cheque in Swiss Francs and Japanese Yen are not widely accepted.
Visa or MasterCard credit cards are widely accepted, but visitors are always advised to check with the vendor before a purchase is made. Cash machines with 24 hour access are available in many convenient locations throughout Bangalore. It is always worthwhile to have credit cards from at least two different providers to ensure that you have a backup available in case one card is suspended by your bank or simply does not work at a particular ATM, Hotel, shopping centre ect. India’s ATM PIN system is set to accept four (4) digits only at this time. Additional fees may be incurred while swiping the credit card.
Regular banking hours in India are 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday to Saturday. Most of the banks are closed on second and fourth Saturdays of the month. Visitors who wish to cash cheques or require other banking services are advised to check times of operation with the institutions.
Most properties, hotels and restaurants include tips or service charges. If a service charge is not included in the restaurants, tip approximately 5-10% of the bill. Tips approximately for the guides would be Rs. 100 and drivers Rs. 250 per day or 10 percent wherever appropriate. Hotel, airport and train station porters should be tipped approximately Rs. 50 per bag.
Mobile Sim Card & Internet Service:
Mobile phones in India operate using GSM technology and function within 900/1800 MHz ranges. If you already own a GSM phone and if your home country too operates within the same GSM range, you can use your phone in India. If your cell phone is an unlocked dual, tri or quad band GSM mobile that can function on 900/1800 MHz, you can be sure that your cell phone will work in India.
Popular GSM cell phone service providers in India, such as Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance or Aircel offer both post-paid and prepaid cell phone plans. If you are on a business visit to India, a prepaid plan would be ideal.
Internet connectivity while traveling within India is fairly easy to find. You can stay connected to the internet with wireless data cards or experience 3G internet on your mobile phone. Popular wireless / Wi-Fi data cards connections Tata Photon Plus, BSNL, Reliance, Airtel, Vodafone and MTS.
Keep in mind that the mobile service are by state, that means that if you call from one state in India to another state in India you will incur in roaming charges. Roaming charges does not apply to the mobile internet.
The documents that are required to obtain a new sim card or data card are two recent passport–sized photographs, a photocopy of your photo identity (Drivers’ License, Voter ID, PAN card, Passport), a photocopy of the first page of your passport & sometimes visa copy.