Horseback riding in India

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Equestrian tours in India

India Mini Guide
    Source: World Travel Guide

Overview

India is a beautiful and bamboozling place, an endlessly fascinating country that is often challenging and always surprising.

Stretched between the golden beaches of the Indian Ocean and the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayan mountains lies an incredible tapestry of natural and man-made wonders - astounding temples, mystical monasteries, frenetic cities, pristine national parks, lavish palaces, lost kingdoms, mesmerizing markets and some of the world's most iconic monuments.

Visiting India is an assault on the senses. Sights, sounds, smells and sensations are all experienced at maximum intensity. On day one, it can feel intimidating, but by the end of the first week, the noise and chaos will seem like an ordinary part of life. the sensory stimulations becomes strangely addictive.

India is one of the world's great melting pots, where an incredible diversity of cultures, religions and ethnicities live in surprising harmony. Presided over by an extraordinary array of gods an deities, one-sixth of the planet's population can be found here, living in anything from high-rise apartments and inner city shantytowns, to simple huts in remote villages where life has hardly changed in centuries.

You could spend a lifetime exploring the relics left behind by ancient empires and the country's dramatic landscapes, which range from trigger-filled jungles to frozen Himalayan deserts. On the first trip, almost everyone finds time for the so-called Golden Triangle, zipping from the colonial capital, Delhi, to the Taj Mahal at Agra, then on to Jaipur, the colorful capital of Rajasthan. With more time to spare, you can discover 36 UNESCO-listed sights, from creaking mountain railways and ancient fortresses to mangrove forests and temples overflowing with multi-armed deities.

Don't expect to absorb all India has to offer in one visit; the country is best appreciated like a buffet table, with repeat visits to sample the next tantalizing platter. And with India's legendary cuisine, rest assured that on every trip, you'll eat like a Maharaja.

Passport/Visa

Passport Required?

British

Yes

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

Yes

Visa Required?

British

Yes

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

Yes

Return Ticket Required?

British

No

Australian

No

Canadian

No

USA

No

Other EU

No

 

Passports

A machine-readable passport valid for at least 180 days and with at least two blank pages is required by all nationals referred to in the chart above.

Visas

Required by all nationals referred to in the chart above.

Note: Nationals not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements (see Contact Addresses).

Visa Note

All nationals listed in the chart above are eligible to apply online for an e-Tourist Visa (eTV). You must apply at least four days before you arrive in India. You can only enter India via those airports listed on the eTV website. There are three e-Visa subcategories: e-Tourist visa, e-Business visa, and e-Medical visa.

Certain parts of the country have been designated protected or restricted areas that require special permits and in some cases prior government authorization. You should indicate your intent to visit a specific restricted region when applying for a visa and a permit will be granted to visit that region only. It is advised that you apply for the special permit for restricted areas when you enter India by visiting the FRRO (Foreign Regional Registration Office) which has offices in all major Indian airports and cities. You must complete an additional form, but there is no fee for a restricted area permit.

Types of Visa and Cost

e-Tourist Visa: up to US$75, depending on nationality.

UK nationals: transit visa: US$72; tourist visa: US$153; business visa: US$222.

US nationals: transit visa: US$40; tourist visa: US$100; business visa: US$133.

Other nationals listed in the chart above: transit visa: US$17; tourist visa: US$100 (up to six months), US$185 (up to one year); business visa: fees vary according to nationality.

All visa applications are subject to a non-refundable service charge.

Validity

e-Tourist Visa: 60 days from the date of arrival, with double entry for tourist and business visas and triple entry for medical visas. The duration cannot be extended.

Transit: valid for three months for a maximum stay of 15 days.

Tourist/business for UK nationals: valid for multiple entries within one year (maximum stay of 180 days per visit).

Visa validity for other nationals varies according to nationality.

Visas issued by the embassy/VFS Global are valid from the date of issue not your date of departure.

Applications to:

Consular section at your nearest embassy or high commission. For UK nationals, India has outsourced its visa application services to VFS Global (www.vfsglobal.com/india.uk); all applicants must make an appointment to visit an application centre in person. In the USA, India’s visa application services are handled by Cox and Kings Global Services (www.in.ckgs.us).

Those eligible for an e-Tourist Visa can apply online (https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html).

Working Days Required

e-Tourist Visas are usually issued immediately or within a few hours.

Straightforward applications through VFS Global in the UK take at least three to five working days, but others may take longer, depending on the applicant's nationality.

Money

Currency

Rupee (INR; symbol Rs) = 100 paise. Notes are in denominations of Rs2,000, 500, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of Rs5, 2 and 1, and 50, 25, 20, 10 and 5 paise. The Indian government's decision to take 500 and 1,000 rupee notes out of immediate circulation in November 2016 caused widespread cash shortages, although a different 500 rupee note was later introduced.
Note: The import and export of local currency is prohibited. Sometimes smaller vendors will not take bills larger than Rs500. It is best to carry a range of rupee notes if you are shopping at bazaars and local markets.

Currency Exchange

Currency can be changed at banks, airports or authorised money changers. Many hotels also have facilities to exchange money bit this is a more expensive option. It is illegal to exchange money through unauthorised money changers. US Dollars and Pounds Sterling are the easiest currencies to exchange.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs

In major cities, the full cadre of banks cards are generally accepted including debit cards, American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa. However, in smaller towns and villages, choice is generally narrowed to cash or MasterCard and Visa. 24 hour ATM machines can be found in all the major cities and most large towns. Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus, Maestro, and Plus are amongst the most commonly accepted cards.

Traveller's Cheques

Traveller's cheques are increasingly hard to cash in India and are not longer recommended.

Currency Restrictions

Restrictions apply.

Banking Hours

Mon-Fri 1030-1530, Sat 1030-1300.

Exchange Rate Indicators

Date

April 2018

£1.00=

Rp91.70

$1.00=

Rp64.89

€1.00=

Rp79.96

 

Health

Vaccinations

 

Special Precautions

Diphtheria

Yes

Hepatitis A

Yes

Malaria

Yes

Rabies

Yes

Tetanus

Yes

Typhoid

Yes

Yellow Fever

No*

Inoculation regulations can change at short notice. Please take medical advice in the case of doubt. Where 'Sometimes' appears in the table above, precautions may be required, depending on the season and region visited.

 

* Any person (including infants over six months old) arriving by air or sea from an infected country must obtain a yellow fever certificate (includes passengers who have been transit in a country in the endemic zone). Meninggococcal vaccine is recommended for all travelers who intend to visit the states of Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram in the northeast of the country.

Food and Drink

Water for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should first be boiled or otherwise sterilised. Milk is often unpasteurised and should be boiled. Avoid dairy products likely to have been made from unboiled milk. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled. Don't east street vendor food unless it is piping hot. Tap water is not safe to drink, rely on bottled water which is widely available. However, do check the seal on bottled water.

Other Risks

Vaccinations are sometimes advised for hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis and tuberculosis. Dengue and malaria are both caused by mosquito bites and are prevalent in for and humid conditions. There are occasional, seasonal outbreaks of dengue fever. Travelers should vigilantly protect themselves against mosquito bites.

There were confirmed cases of the Zika virus in the western state of Gujarat in late 2016; travelers should take the necessary precautions.

Malaria prevention is strongly recommended so use insect repellent and wear protective clothing. Obtain anti-malarial medicine from your doctor before traveling.

Note: All visitors aged between 18 and 70 years of age wishing to extend their visa for one year or more are required to take an AIDS test.

Health Care

Good healthcare facilities, sometime meeting Western standards, are available in all major cities, but facilities in rural areas are often limited. Health care facilities are limited and travellers are strongly advised to take out full comprehensive medical insurance before departing for India. It is advisable to bring specific medicines from the UK. There are state-operated facilities in all towns and cities and private consultants and specialists in urban areas.

On leaving India:
 Visitors leaving for countries which impose health restrictions on arrivals from India are required to be in possession of a valid certificate of inoculation and vaccination.

 

Getting There

Getting There by Air

The major national airline in India is Air India  (www.airindia.com). There are also several commercial Indian airlines that have added international destinations to their schedules such as Jet Airways (www.jetairways.com) and IndiGo (www.goindigo.in). British Airways (www.ba.com) and Virgin Atlantic (www.virgin-atlantic.com) fly direct to India from the UK.

Prices are steady throughout the year but become more expensive in June, July and December.

Approximate Flight Times

From London to Delhi is 8 hours; to Kolkata (Calcutta) is 13 hours 30 minutes (including stopover); to Chennai (Madras) is 10 hours, and to Mumbai (Bombay) is 9 hours.

From New York to Delhi is 14 hours; to Kolkata (Calcutta) is 18 hours 40 minutes (including stopover); to Chennai (Madras) is 18 hours 30 minutes (including stopover), and to Mumbai (Bombay) is 15 hours.

Main Airports

New Delhi (DEL) (Indira Gandhi International Airport) is 23km (14 miles) south of the city (journey time - 45 minutes). To/from the airport: There are bus and taxi services to the city. Facilities: Duty-free shops, banks/bureaux de change, post office, snack bars and car hire.

Mumbai (BOM) (Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport) is 35km (22 miles) north of the city (journey time - 50 to 75 minutes). To/from the airport: Taxi and bus services go to the city. Facilities: Bank/bureau de change, post office, restaurant and shops. 

Kolkata (Calcutta) (CCU) (Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport) is 20km (13 miles) northeast of the city (journey time - 40 to 70 minutes). To/from the airport: There are buses and taxis to the city. Facilities: Post office, bank/bureau de change, snack bars and duty-free shops. 

Chennai (MAA) (Anna International Airport) is 14km (9 miles) southwest of the city (journey time - 20 minutes). To/from the airport: Buses and taxis are available. There is a train regularly throughout the day. Facilities: Money exchange facilities, tourist information offices and hotel reservation services.

Departure Tax

Included in airfare.

 

Getting There by Rail

Indian Railways (www.indianrail.gov.in) runs most international services.

Connections to Pakistan: From India you can cross into Pakistan at the international Attari/Wagah border. There are bus and train services between India and Pakistan. Approaching the border away from the official crossing point could be dangerous.

Connections to Nepal: The most practical and popular route to Nepal is by train to Raxaul (Bihar) and then by bus to Kathmandu or by train to Gorakphur (or by bus if coming from Varanasi) and then by bus to Kathmandu crossing the border at Sunauli; also, by train to Nantanwa (UP) and then by bus to Kathmandu/Pokhara, or Bhairawa to Lumbini for Pokhara. It is also possible to make the crossing from Darjeeling by bus to Kathmandu across the southern lowlands.

Connections to Bhutan: The best way of reaching Bhutan by land is by bus/train to Siliguri, then bus to Phuentsholing.

Connections to Bangladesh: The most convenient route to Bangladesh is Kolkata (Calcutta) to Dhaka by bus. Another route is from Darjeeling via Siliguri, then train or bus from Jalpaiguri to Haldibari., or bus to Changrabandha.

Currently, no land frontiers are open between India and Myanmar or India and China (PR), other than a crossing between India and Tibet for religious pilgrims.

Rail note: Be prepared for long queues at tickets windows in train stations. Services are almost always busy, especially overnight trains, so it pays to book in advance.

 

Climate

The weather is hot most of the year with variations from region to region. The coolest weather lasts from around December to March, with fresh mornings and evenings and mostly sunny days. The really hot weather, when it is dry, dusty and unpleasant, is between March and June. Monsoon rains occur in most regions in summer anywhere between June and early October. 

Western Himalayas: Srinagar is best from March to October; July to August can be unpleasant; cold and damp in winter. Shimla is higher and therefore colder in winter. Places like Gulmarg, Manali and Pahalgam are usually under several feet of snow from December to March and temperatures in Ladakh can be extremely cold. The mountain passes of Ladakh are accessible from July to October.

Required clothing: Light- to mediumweights are advised from March to October, with warmer wear for winter. Weather can change rapidly in the mountains and therefore it is important to be suitably equipped. Waterproofing is advisable.

Northern Plains: This extreme climate is typically warm inland from April to mid-June, falling to almost freezing at night in winter between November and February. Summers are hot with monsoons between June and September.

Required clothing: Lightweights in summer with warmer clothes in winter and on cooler evenings. Waterproofing is essential during monsoons.

Central India: Madhya Pradesh state escapes the very worst of the hot season, but monsoons are heavy between July and September. Temperatures fall at night in winter.

Required clothing: Lightweights are worn most of the year with warmer clothes during evenings, particularly in winter. Waterproofed clothing is advised during monsoon rains.

Western India: November to February is most comfortable, although evenings can be fairly cold. Summers can be extremely hot with monsoon rainfall between mid June and mid September.

Required clothing: Lightweights are worn most of the year with warmer clothes for cooler winters, and waterproofing is essential during the monsoon.

Southwest: The most pleasant weather is from November to March. Monsoon rains fall anywhere between late April and July. Summer temperatures not as high as Northern India although humidity is extreme. The coast benefits from some cooling breezes. Inland, Mysore and Bijapur have pleasant climates with relatively low rainfall. 

Required clothing: Lightweights. Waterproofing is necessary during the monsoon. Warmer clothes are worn in the winter, particularly in the hills.

Southeast: Tamil Nadu experiences a northeast monsoon between October and December and temperatures and humidity are high all year. The hills can be cold in winter. 

Required clothing: Lightweights. Waterproofing is necessary during the monsoon. Warmer clothes are worn in the winter, particularly in the hills.

Northeast: March to June and September to November are the driest and most pleasant periods. The rest of the year has extremely heavy monsoon rainfall.

Required clothing: Lightweights. Waterproofing is advisable throughout the year and essential in monsoons, usually from mid June to mid October. Warmer clothes are useful for cooler evenings.

 

Contacts

Embassies and tourist offices

British High Commission in India
Address: Canakyapuri, New Delhi
Telephone:
(011) 2419 2100

Website:
http://ukinindia.fco.gov.uk

Opening times:
Mon-Fri: 0900-1300 / 1400-1700

Embassy of India in the USA
Address: 2536 Massachusetts Ave NW. Washington, 20008
Telephone:
(202) 707 4693 (Consulate) (202) 939 7000 (Chancery).

Website:
http://www.indianembassy.org

Opening times:
Mon-Fri 0930-1800; consular section Mon-Fri 0930-1230, 1630-1715.

High Commission of India in the UK
Address: Aldwynch, London, WC2B 4
Telephone:
(020) 7836 8484 or (020) 7632 3123 (out of office hours).

Website:
http://www.hcilondon.net

Opening times:
Mon-Fri 0915-1745.

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