Traveling to India

This information is tailored to travelers in the NYC metro area and was collected in December 2005. Use at your own risk..


In New York, you can visit the Indian Consulate, at 5 E64th Street, off of 5th Avenue. You can find the visa form on the web and need:

The process is extremely time-consuming and shows bureaucracy at its level best. The process requires at least two visits. To apply, you need to come before noon and get a number from the guard. You can then wait some indeterminate amount of time, typically 3-4 hours. There are only a handful seats in the crowded basement waiting room, so count on standing for a few hours or walking around the neighborhood. The closest Starbucks is on 3rd Avenue and 65th; you might want to look up if there's a public library in the neighborhood (I hadn't and didn't find one). The Consulate staff will take a nice long lunch at around 1 pm, so if you're unlucky and your number just misses that cut-off, count on coming back 45 minutes later. If your number comes up and you're not there immediately, you can come back the next day and try waiting again. The waiting room is packed with probably 100 people, so expect to get to know your future travelmates up close and personal.

Either on the same day or a following day, you can pick up the passport. Nominally, they open at 4.30 for pick-ups, but they didn't open until 5 on the day that I tried. Pick-up is first-come, first-served; I waited about 45 minutes. Judging from what I overheard, if you lose your receipt, you might as well apply for a new passport.

Do not attempt to call the Consulate. They do not answer their phones.

Alternatively, you can try visa processing G3 Visas or Passports and Visas


Recommended are Hepatitis A and Typhoid shots, but they are not legally required. Vaccinations can be obtained at the Newark Airport Medical center (973-643-8383) for about $165 total. The medical center is open M-F from 8am to 7pm and Saturdays from 9am to 1pm and is located in Building 339 in the North Area, on Brewster Road next to the AA Cargo building. They can also prescribe Malaria pills, available for $25.

The CDC has information for travelers. Most of the things mentioned are not applicable for conference travelers and apply only to visiting any rural areas or tourist places. For diarrhea, Immodium can stop for short time. There is an ayurvedic medicine "Pudin Hara" (Indian name) that helps with stablizing the digestion, works always for me. Keep anti-allergic medicines too -- too much dust in Delhi, in public places.

Keep exposed body parts to minimum when going out to avoid mosquito bites. You can probably get some bug repellent ointment (I don't know what it is called here, but in India I used "Odomos" which is like a cold cream except that it repels mosquitos). There shouldn't be a problem inside your hotel (assuming a good 4-5 star air conditioned hotel) but some public places such as airports have mosquitos. (Although I am not too familiar with Delhi air port, since I travel via Bombay, but I think they have the same standards).

Drink only from bottled water (make sure seal is not broken when you get it). Tea and coffee are fine, since the water is boiled. Avoid ice, dairy products (except may be pasteurized ones) and ice creams. Throat infection is common in India. Ice might not have been made from good quality water. And because of power cuts, ice creams may have been refrozen many times. May be keep some medicine for throat infection too. Avoid cold food except things like bread and fruits. Vegetarian dishes are less likely to cause stomach upset.

Stay away from stray dogs and any other stray animals.

Carry some toilet paper in your bag just in case. Toilet paper is not available everywhere. There shouldn't be a problem in your hotel or conference center, but places like the airport may not be well maintained.


Be very careful with what you eat. Always ask the waiter or restaurant manager clearly if your food has any peanuts or anything derived from peanuts. Peanuts are very common in Indian food, sometimes as indian condiment, to make the sauce thicker, or peanut sauce/condiment (white colored) given on the side in South Indian Food. Allergie information: which says

"If you have an allergy to nuts, seeds or peanuts, you should be very careful with Malaysian, Thai, Chinese and Indian dishes, because these commonly contain nuts or peanuts, or are cooked in oils made from nuts, seeds or groundnuts (another name for peanuts). Many vegetarian dishes also contain nuts. Remember that nuts could be ground up, which means you might not be able to see them. For example, ground almonds or peanut flour can be used to thicken sauces in Indian food and the chef may not think of this as nuts or peanuts when you ask about the content of the meal."


Very bad in Bangalore, okay in Delhi. Walking and driving is on the left side of the road. Be careful in crossing the road while walking, since some drivers may not follow the traffic signal. Ask the hotel to call an air conditioned taxi if you need to travel, instead of getting your own taxi, as much as possible. Always take an air conditioned taxi since they have lower probability of having mosquitos.

Internet Connection

Ask about Internet connection in your hotel room, before checking in. Sometimes the Hotel advertises that they have internet connection, but they may not have in every room.

Currency Conversion

Currency conversion can be done at the airport, if you like. But most major hotels and shops accept Visa and Mastercard, and even US Dollars (although sometimes they tend to charge more if paid in cash USD).


Keep some winter clothes when going out, since not every place has heating system. Delhi may get very cold (temperature in 30's) in January.


New Delhi and Bangalore have a lot of places to see mostly historical since the days of Mughals and British in India. Bangalore has some beautiful temples and palaces also.


Bring Old british converter as those sockets are most common especially in household. Type D (3-pin, BS 546, 5A) of or WA-10 in If you actually visit an electric shop instead of buying online, then the sales representative can also advice you on which converter to buy and may provide lower cost converters ($3-$5).

Some plugs are 2-pin (probably similar to new British or European but not identical?), but they usually fit in the 3-pin socket with some effort. Some modern sockets have multiple holes (5 pins) to allow both types. So taking the Old british converter with 3 pin plug is the most safe option. Sometimes they use 2-pin sockets on the side of 3 pin socket, but I rarely find only 2-pin sockets. At one place in my recent visit I had found a weird 3-pin socket in which the the two pins did no open until the third (earthing pin) is inserted too, so that socket didn't allow 2-pin plugs without extra effort (I used a pen to open the earthing hole).


Most telephones have US phone plugs now, so that shouldn't be a problem in case you have to use a modem. Contributed by Kundan Singh.