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Incredible tourist destination
TO see the world and experience life in its fullness, it is enough to travel to India. It is not because one-sixth of humanity resides there. Its ancient civilisation that expresses itself in modern life. Its layered history is reflected in the unparalleled diversity of faiths, cultures, traditions, languages, cuisines, dresses, monuments and places of worships. And, all of this can sometimes be captured in a single photo frame, even if it takes a lifetime to comprehend it.
India offers one of the richest biodiversities in the world, from mighty Himalayan peaks and cold deserts to rainforests and emerald islands, from majestic elephants and tigers to an extraordinary range of birds and butterflies. From adventure sport to zen, India has everything on offer. And, all with the unique warmth of hospitality.
There are familiar paths:
- The Buddhist circuit: where Lord Buddha was born (Lumbini), gained enlightenment (Bodhgaya), first taught (Sarnath), and attained Nirvana (Kushinagar); also Rajgir, Nalanda and Vaishali.
- The familiar golden triangle of Delhi-Jaipur-Agra and the desert forts and palaces of Rajasthan.
- The banks of Varanasi, the Golden Temple of Amritsar and the majestic temple towns of eastern, western and southern India.
- The endless Himalayan paradise, from Ladakh and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh through Uttarakhand to Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the east.
- Beach destinations along 7,500km of coastline and on some of the 1,300 odd islands in India.
- Wildlife: There are 89 national parks, 13 bio reserves and 400 plus wildlife sanctuaries across India.
- Kerala, which packs everything from beaches and backwaters to spices and forests.
- The seven sisters of the north-east, rich in landscape, wildlife and culture.
- The original Ayurveda and yoga centres that are life-defining experiences.
- Medical treatment combined with a wellness experience.
- Life on the streets.
- Climbing mountains and hiking to scuba diving and river rafting.
- Easy paced royal experience of luxury trains connecting old palace towns.
Travelling to India is becoming easier. Tourists can fly into 19 international airports through 81 international airlines that serve India. Singapore has direct connections to 15 Indian cities through about 225 flights into India per week. A 16th destination is to be added next month.
Electronic tourist visas are now available to citizens of 161 countries. Those arriving in India on e-visa are given free SIM card for mobile phones on arrival, with a certain amount of talk time and data, to stay in touch with friends and family, and call various services in India.
Travel within India is becoming smoother with growing network of high-speed highways, increased availability of rail seats with online booking facilities and expanding air connections, including the government's new initiative on regional air connectivity.
Palace and heritage hotels, domestic and international hotel chains, homestays, and camping and modern app-based accommodation are providing a wide range of options.
The Incredible India App is an innovative project of Ministry of Tourism to assist the international and domestic tourist to access information on recognised tourism service providers namely approved inbound tour operators, travel agents, domestic tour operators, adventure tour operators, tourist tour operators, classified hotels and approved regional level tourist guides available in respective cities/tourist centres.
The Ministry of Tourism has launched the 24x7 toll-free multi-lingual Tourist Help Line in 12 international languages. This service is available on the Toll Free number 1800111363 or on a short code 1363 and operational 24x7 (365 days in a year). The languages handled by the Tourist Help Line are English, Hindi, Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
- Mr Ashraf is High Commissioner of India to the Republic of Singapore. Mr Suman is assistant director, India Tourism.