- Days: 49
- Period: February 2008 - April 2008
- Weather: Around Mumbai (febr) dry and around 27 degrees, in Rajastan (march) dry and between 30-37 degrees, Punjab dry and around 24 degrees, Himachel Pradesh dry and sunny, around 20 degrees but cold during the night. Agra and Varanasi (march) dry and hot between 30-35 degrees, Delhi (april) dry and already pretty hot (almost 40 degrees).
Currency: Indian Roepie (INR)
Internet: Available on every corner
ATM's: Widely available
Creditcards: Accepted in many places
Safety: India is a very safe country. If you can handle the crowd and lack of privacy bush camping is no problem.
Prices (per February 2008)
Value Money: €1 = 60 Roepies
Fuel: Diesel costs around 35 Roepies per liter
Camping: In India are not many campsites. However many hotels allow camping on the parking and for some roepies you can use their toilet and shower.
Visa is needed for everybody and must be obtained in advance. It is not available at the border. We applied for our visa in the Netherlands and for the Dutch a multiple entry tourist visa for 6 months costs Euro 65 per person.
Car entry is for 6 months
ENTRY: We arrived by plane in Mumbai. With a visa in your passport you just get a stamp and in you are.
EXIT: We left India at Sonauli on the border with Nepal. Passport and Carnet were stamped without a hassle and without costs. Customs however did check the chassisnumber.
ENTRY: The second entry was from Nepal, Banbasa border. Here you really have to be patient because registration in all the big books takes a lot of time. No costs. Car is not registered in your passport.
EXIT: The second time we left India at Amritsar, Wagah border (border with Pakistan). On the Indian side there were four checks. No costs.
Highlights or not
Central Mumbai: Victoria trains station in Mumbai is a very beautiful building and the sight of busy trains with people hanging out of every door is great. Around this train station there are more great buildings like the old university and court.
Hanging Garden in Mumbai: Nothing special but if you want to escape the crowd and nice place to sit on a bench.
Udaipur: Udaipur is known as the most romantic city of India and it sure is. Beautiful buildings have cosy rooftop restaurants from where you can enjoy a view over the city. Especially after sunset when all the buildings are lit this is a great view. The best view is over the lake to the Lake Palace. On many rooftop restaurants you do not even have to order food or drinks. They allow you just to sit and enjoy. City Palace (entry 25 INR pp) is worth a visit as well as the temple in the center (no entry fee).
Ranakpur: Entry is free/ camera is 50 INR. This is beautiful Jain temple with impressive decorations.
Jodhpur: The old city with its narrow streets, blue painted houses and market around the clock tower is definitely worth a visit. On a hill close to the city you can find the Mehrangarh Fort (Entry is 250 INR pp). The entrance fee is expensive but the fort is the best we have ever seen and the palace inside is marvelous. Included in the entrance fee is a very good audio tour. Another nice building to visit is the nearby Jaswant Thada (entry 20 INR pp and 25 INR for camera).
Jaisalmer: Desert town in the big Thar desert. Here the old fort is not a museum but a labyrinth of narrow streets and shops where you can stroll around. No entry fee.
Sem Dunes: Row of real sand dunes. However if you have seen the dunes of the Sahara they are not very special and very polluted. Going on a camel safari is very popular here.
Karni Mata Mandir: In Deshnok, about 33km south of Bikaner you will find this temple where rats are worshipped. The temple is full of rats. No entry fee/price for a camera is 35 INR.
Amritsar: Do not miss the Golden Temple. Not only the temple itself is beautiful but also very interesting is the large number of brightly coloured people that visit this place. Around the Golden Temple is a lake where people wash themselves. If you want to enter the golden centre of the temple be prepared to stand in a line for a few hours. Especially on sundays it is very crowded. Entry to the temple is free, also no camera fee. Do not miss the big kitchen where they are preparing food for about 40000 people daily. Every visitor of the temple can have a free meal here.
Wagah border: Just outside Amritsar is the border between India and Pakistan. Here every day, at sunset,a very impressive flag ceremony is held with a lot of door slamming and man in uniforms. On both sides of the border this ceremony is visited by crowds of people who make it a big party with flag waving, music and dancing. Especially on sundays. For tourists there is a special tribune close to the gates. Entry is free and taking pictures is no problem here. If you want to visit this ceremony be sure you are in time to get a good seat.
Dharmshala: This village in the north of India is a refuge for Tibetans who left their homeland. The village is also home to the Dalai Lama who is living in exile here. On some days you can listen to the Dalai Lama when he gives a speech. Dharmshala is a village with many restaurants, souvernir shops and Tibetan monks in red clothes. Close to the temple is a small but interesting museum about the Tibetan history and the Chinese occupation (entry fee is 5 INR pp). Entry to the temple is free.
Hawa Mahal, Jaipur: Most famous building of the Pink city. For nice pictures be there in the morning when the sun is on the right side.
Amer Fort, Jaipur: Entry INR 100 per person (still camera included). For video you must pay another INR 100. Nice Fort, but we liked the one in Jodhpur more. To get here we took a tuktuk which was INR 200 for a return.
Taj Mahal, Agra: Most famous building in India and every time of the day very crowded. Entry fee is INR 750 per person. When you want to visit the sunset point on the other side of the river do not enter the park, but go straight. Through the park it will cost you 100 INR pp while outside the park the view is even nicer and totally free.
Varanasi: The best way to see the ghats is from the river. For a private boatride of 2,5 hours (two persons) we paid INR 1000. This can be much cheaper but then you must share a boat.
Corbett NP: This is one of the best maintained National Park in India and they have a healthy population of tigers and wild elephants (unfortunately we did not see any of these animals). You can visit the park with your own car or with a driver. It is also possible to stay inside the park but that is very expensive. When you want to visit the park you must book at the office. They only allow a certain number of cars per day. Permits are given for special areas in the park so you must decide which part you want to visit in advance. It is also not possible to transit the park, because you have exit the park at the same gate where you have entered it. Half day permit for the park is INR 200 per person. Permit for the car (half day) is INR 100 (must be paid either for your own car or for the car with driver). When you take a car with driver you must also pay the entry fee for the driver which is INR 30. To enter the park a guide is obligatory and costs INR 200 per visit. For the rental of a jeep with driver (half day) we paid INR 800.
There are many toll roads in India, but for at least half of them we did not had to pay. The further north we got, the more times we had to pay.
No books are allowed inside the Taj Mahal (also no travelguides). In order to skip the hassle of put them in a locker, you'd better leave them in your car or hotel.
Holi. This festival, also called festival of colours, is a spectacle to see. It will be held throughout India around the beginning of spring (approximately 21st March).
If you want to see tigers Ranthambore is the best place. We did not go there but everybody we met who was here saw them. We tried spotting the tigers in Corbett but had no luck. Compared to Corbett Ranthambore is smaller so even when there are less tigers the chance of seeing them is bigger. Even without spotting tigers the forest in Ranthambore must be very nice with old havelis inside the forest.
We visited Corbett with a rented jeep and driver. Afterwards we were glad we did so, because the roads are really bad. Like the rough roads we had in Africa. The roads would have been no problem for the Landrover, but we just wanted to have a lazy drive, so we decided not to take our car.
Are you driving a Landrover stock up on spare parts and make sure you have your maintenance done before you enter India. Around Darjeerling and Calcutta you will find may Landrovers but in the rest of the country there are almost no workshops and spare parts are very hard to get. Coming from the east: in Nepal (Kathmandu) is a good workshop and coming from the west you can find a good workshop in Pakistan (Islamabad). For waypoints, see country information of Nepal or Pakistan.
Roads (March 2008)
Most of the roads are tarmac, but the quality varies a lot. In Rajasthan, the roads are pretty good, but in many other places the are filled with a lot of holes or heavily under construction causing a lot of detours. The worst problem however is the busy traffic. The roads are so crowded that even on good roads your avarage speed will only be about 50 km an hour.
We shipped our car from Cape Town (South Africa) to Mumbai (India). For details on the departure part see the country information on South Africa.
The shipping company we used for shipping the car is Safmarine.
On arrival in Mumbai we had to pay the following costs to Safmarine:
7668 INR to Safmarine for documentation, transport, cleaning and duty stamp.
We had the help of an agent to organise this, but you can also do this yourself. Make copies of Carnet, passport and Bill of Lading and go the office of Safmarine. Here you
hand over the Bill of Lading and after paying for the costs at mentioned above you get a delivery order in return. With this order you can pick up the car from the terminal.
In most harbours, after arrival of a container, you have five days to empty the container and to return it. After these 5 days you will have to pay.
Responsible for all import matters at Safemarine is Mr. Kore (Import manager). His phone number is: 9821520939
Another thing you have to organise before receiving your car is obtaining a confirmation from the WIAA (The Indian Automobil Assosiation) that your Carnet is original. Just go to the WIAA office (on the corner close to Chateau Windsor Guesthouse, most taxi drivers know this place). Close to the entrance is a copy shop. Make copies of your Carnet and passport and go to Mr. Mashedo of the tourist department (second floor). He will write a request to the Assosiation who issued your Carnet for a confirmation of the Carnet is original. As soon as he receives this confirmation he will make a Proof of Authentisity of Carnet which you need for the customs. The price for this service is not fixed but we paid 1000 INR. You can reach Mr. Machedo on phone number: 022 22041085 (from inside India).
When these things were organised we gave our original Carnet and Passport of the owner to our agent who went to the harbour to organise all paperwork on the day before we received the car.
To get our car cleared we used an agent. Something we would definitely recommend because if you do not know the right persons, clearing can be quite a hassle. Finding an agent in Mumbai was not easy. Many agents just refused to help, did not know what a Carnet was or charged us ridiculously high prices. The highest offer we received was of 3500 USD. Mr. Parab, the agent we eventually found charged us 15000 INR. This price is on top of all other fixed costs to be paid to the shipping company, WIAA and the warehouse. His details are:
Mr. Jay Parab
29, Imperial Chamber
2nd Floor, Wilson Road
Mr. Parab organised it all well and very fast. We received our car on the second working day after arrival. Although most taxi drives do not know this place it is easy fo find. His office is opposite the back entrance of the main customs building in Ballard Estate. Most drives do know where this is.
With a friend who ownes an insurance company Mr. Parab also organised a Third Party Insurance for us. This lady visited us at our hotel where all the paperwork was done. For a 12 month insurance we paid 3500 INR, of which about 500 INR was for the service to come to our hotel a few times. The insurance itself was 3043 INR.
The total costs for clearing the car on the Indian side were:
1000 INR = Obtaining a Proof of Authensity of your Carnet at the WIAA
7248 INR = Costs for unloading, transport and cleaning of the container. This must be paid to the shipping company.
410 INR = Duty stamp. No idea what it is, but must also be paid to the shipping company.
8500 INR = Warehouse costs. Must be paid to the terminal where the container is stored.
15000 INR = Agency fee. This we paid to Mr. Parab our agent.
Even after Mr. Parab had done all paperwork in advance getting our car through customs still took us a whole day. Around 11:00 we arrived at the terminal but we did not receive the car before 19:00. Whilst we could do nothing more than just wait the men of Mr. Parab drove from one official to another to gather all stamps and signatures. On the spot the engine number and chassisnumber of the car was checked at least four times. However nobody was interested in what we carried inside the car.
Visa applications in Delhi
Pakistan: For us obtaining our Pakistan visa in Delhi was not much of a problem. You do however need a letter of recommendation from your own embassy. Without it they do not issue a visa. For the Dutch this letter is easily given (Euro 30 per letter), but many countries do not issue it anymore because of the dangers in Pakistan. When you do get the letter the application takes 3 days. Day one you fill in the papers (papers must be typed and accompanied with 2 photos and letter of recommendation) and you pay (for Dutch INR 1200 per person). Day two you will have an interview with the consul. Day three between 4-5 pm. you can pick it up. We got a single entry visa for 30 days. Make sure you check if your embassy will give you a letter of recemmendation in advance. When they don't you can try it in Kathmandu. Here they are less strict.
Iran: Obtaining your Iranian visa in Delhi is quite a hassle. First also for this visa you need a letter of recommendation, but as Iran does not border India most embassies do not issue this letter. The Dutch embassy also does not issue it. If you do get the letter you must fill in the forms accompanied with 1 photo. When your application is approved you must wait for about 21 days before you can pick it up. What many people do; they apply in Delhi and pick their visa up in Islamabad. But there is also another option. You can also apply for you visa on the internet. We did it at www.iranianvisa.com . This service will take about 10 days and will cost you about 30 euro per person. This is only the agency fee and at the embassy you still have to pay your visa fee (INR 3720 per person for Dutch). This option is more expensive, but you do not need a letter of recommendation and as soon as the authorisation code is issued you can pick you visa up quickly. Once we had the code we applied for our visa on day one and could pick it up the next morning. Note that during the second half of March most of Iran is closed during the Iranian New Year holidays. Around this time this internet application takes couple of weeks so you better do it in time. Once the code is issued it is valid for three months, so time enough to pick up your visa. When applying for the code you must tell the agent where you want to pick up your visa because the have to send a fax with the confirmation to this embassy. If you want to use the agency service of www.iranianvisa.com you must have an moneybookers account to pay the fee. To activate such an account you need a couple of day, so doing this in advance will save you some time. For a moneybookers account go to www.moneybookers.com .
Grid: Lat/Lon hddd°mm.mmm"
|Amritsar||N31.37.933||E074.51.970||Place of interest||Golden Temple|
|Gandinagar||N23.16.201||E072.45.377||Camping||Hotel Anjali||Camped on parking. Paid for room to have shower and toilet. Restaurant serves good club sandwich. For toilet and shower we had a cheap room.|
|Udaipur||N24.34.444||E073.41.253||Camping||Hotel Rang Niwas||Friendly, convenient location. Camped on parking. You can walk to the center and internet is opposite the hotel. Place has a restaurant, toilet, hot shower and swimming pool.|
|Pali||N25.40.381||E073.18.852||Camping||Maharaja Motel||Camped on parking. Paid for room to have shower and toilet. Restaurant has an expensive but nice gift shop.|
|Jodhpur||N26.06.545||E073.04.819||Camping||Bishnoi village camp||Nice place. You can sleep in traditional local huts or camp. The restaurant serves traditional food. In the evening they sometimes have traditional music and dance.The Bishnoi people do not even eat eggs.To your litter containing animals products cannot be left behind.|
|Jodhpur||N26.17.825||E073.01.292||Accomodation||KP Hotel||Nice but a bit expensive, however they also have a few cheap rooms. The restaurant serves a delicious (home) Thali. Convenient in the old town from where you can walk to the fort. To get here by car you have to cross many very narrow streets (not suitable for big trucks). The hotel has good secure parking.|
|Jaisalmer||N26.54.891||E070.54.159||Camping||Moomal||Camped on parking. Parking is a bit dirty, but is it very private and the staff is very friendly. We used a hut for shower and toilet.|
|Bikaner||N28.02.296||E073.19.590||Camping||Sagar Hotel||Camped on parking. We used a room for toilet and shower. Owner is very nice and we did not had to pay for anything. Restaurant serves good food and they also have internet.|
|Bathinda||N30.18.255||E074.56.233||Camping||Fuel station||Camped for free on the parking of a fuel station. Good security, there was a guard.|
|Amritsar||N31.38.513||E074.50.943||Camping||Mrs Bandhari Guesthouse||Not cheap but one of the best places for camping in India. If you want to treat yourself order some food in the restaurant, Expensive but delicious, especially the fresh salad. The place also has internet and a swimming pool.|
|McLeod, Dharmshala||N32.13.985||E076.19.571||Accomodation||Pause Dwelling hotel||Very basic but clean, cheap and a short walk to the center. Parking in front of the hotel.|
|Road to Chandigarh||N30.54.390||E076.32.699||Camping||Marriage palace||Camped for free on the parking of a marriage palace.|
|Delhi||N28.19.940||E077.00.577||Camping||Tikli ground||Very exclusive and expensive lodge. Do not go here for camping. For us they made an exception, but normally they do not allow it.|
|Jaipur||N26.55.512||E075.47.639||Camping||Shivam Guesthouse||Camped on the parking but paid for a cheap room which we used for toilet and shower. This was the only place in Jaipur where they allowed us to camp.|
|Bharatpur||N27.12.339||E077.30.681||Accomodation||Pratap Palace||Simple but price is OK. The food in the restaurant is not that great. Staff is very friendly.|
|Agra||N27.09.254||E078.02.068||Accomodation||Hotel Safari||Simple but price is OK and they have safe parking.|
|Allahabad||N25.27.209||E081.49.347||Camping||Finaro Guesthouse||Expensive for what you get, but there are no better camping options in Allahabad. Camped on parking and shower and toilet in a room. Very friendly owner.|
|Varanasi||N25.19.561||E082.59.421||Camping||Touristic Bungalows||Camped on the parking. We used a room for toilet and shower.|
|Kathima||N28.56.228||E079.50.791||Camping||Bush camp||Bush camp on a field close to the lake|
|Ramnagar||N29.27.385||E079.08.751||Camping||Corbett Camp||Camped on parking. Place is OK and the owner is very friendly. Only cold shower.|
|Delhi||N28.35.527||E077.11.570||Camping||Nehru Park||Public parking of park behind the Pakistani embassy. There is a public toilet and shower available. Only cold shower.|
|Delhi||N28.37.509||E077.12.865||Accomodation||YWCA hostel||Convenient in the center. Internet available.|
|Pipli||N29.58.529||E076.53.529||Accomodation||Parakeet Resort||Nice hotel, but quite expensive. They also allow camping on the parking.|
|Delhi||N28.38.071||E077.13.327||Restaurant||Costa coffee||Good coffee and nice cakes. Expensive.|
|Corbett||N29.23.828||E079.07.606||Place of interest||Tiger booking office||Here you must book your game drives to Corbett NP|
|Deshnok||N27.47.469||E073.20.482||Place of interest||Karni Mata Mandir||Rat temple. Here the rats are worshipped.|
|Delhi||N28.37.610||E077.13.707||Embassy||Iran Embassy||Visa department open from 9:00 - 13:00|
|Delhi||N28.35.659||E077.11.385||Embassy||Pakistan Embassy||Visa department open from 9:00 - 12:00|
|Delhi||N28.36.645||E077.13.939||Place of interest||India Gate||Parking for India Gate|
|Amritsar||N31.39.292||E074.51.802||Medical||Fortis Hospital||The best option for foreigners|
|Jaipur||N26.54.599||E075.48.750||Accomodation||Diggi Palace||Nice place for reasonable price. They do not allow camping, but do have parking|
|Jaisalmer||N26.55.100||E070.54.835||Accomodation||Narayan Niwas||They do not allow camping, but hotel has good parking|
|Jodhpur||N26.07.307||E073.03.436||Junction||Junction to Bishnoi camp|
|Amritsar||N31.39.662||E074.50.807||Junction||Junction to Wagah border|
|Delhi||N28.23.449||E077.02.930||Junction||Junction to Tilkli Ground|
|Jodhpur||N26.17.211||E073.01.650||Place of interest||Fort|
|Delhi||N28.30.363||E077.05.707||Shops||Mall||Very big mall|
|Sonauli||N27.28.543||E083.28.186||Border||Border between India and Nepal|
|Delhi||N28.38.502||E077.13.109||Shops||Pahar Ganj||Shopping area|
|Amritsar||N31.36.298||E074.34.587||Border||Wagah border||Border between India and Pakistan|
|Ranakpur||N25.07.003||E073.28.290||Place of interest||Ranakpur tempel|
|Delhi||N28.39.342||E077.14.295||Place of interest||Red Fort|
|way to dharmshala||N29.36.165||E074.15.866||Restaurant||Nice clean dhaba next to the road|
|way Jaipur-Agra||N26.59.900||E076.50.314||Restaurant||A1 Plaza||Restaurant. Here you also have a shower and camping is allowed.|
|Delhi||N28.35.991||E077.13.646||Shops||Khan market||Shopping area with a lot of good western products. There is a good shop for cheese here.|
|Udaipur||N24.34.255||E073.42,272||Place of interest||Palaces in the lake|