India is five and half hours ahead of GMT and does not observe daylight savings time, so in our summer, India is only four and a half hours ahead of GMT.
The currency in India is the Indian rupee, which is divided into 100 paise. Cash is available in denominations of one, two, five, ten, 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 Rs. Pounds and US Dollars are all easily exchanged in the country, but make sure that the bank notes are in good condition, as damaged bank notes will not be accepted (the same applies to India notes, so be sure not to accept notes that are torn or damaged). It’s possible to withdraw cash using a credit card in most major Indian cities, and in a number of hotels and shops, cards are accepted. In small towns, however, it can be more difficult to get cash. When paying by card, it is always advisable to alert your bank that you are going abroad, to avoid a machine swallowing your card, or it being declined.
Electricity and Plugs
220 volts in general. The sockets are often European, but many hotels have Indian Standard plugs (three large round pins). So a South Africa-India adapter is essential, as this format is not usually included in a universal adapter. Power cuts are fairly common across the country.
The opening hours of shops vary from one region to another, but most shops open every day at around 10:00 and close at 18:00, except on Sundays. Banks are usually open Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 14:00 and Saturday from 10:00 to 12:00. During festivals, some tourist sites may be closed, but religious monuments remain open. Outside of some of the main sites, there isn’t a set day that most tourist attractions are closed, so this can vary in different places – it is worth looking this information up before you travel. The Elephanta and Ajanta Caves are closed on Mondays, Ellora Caves on Tuesday, and the Taj Mahal on Fridays.
The Indian press is widely available in several languages, and there are a number of daily English newspapers, including The Times of India, The Indian Express, The Hindu, The Hindustan Times, the Telegraph and the Economic Times. There are also several weekly English papers, such as India Today, Frontline and Outlook. As well as English publications, there are also many dailies in Hindi, and a lot of regional newspapers in regional languages. More and more private radio stations are popping up to compete with the national-owned All India Radio programs. The same applies for TV, as more channels are now competing with the nationally owned broadcaster, Doordashan, which shows all kinds of programmes, from religious programmes to sitcoms. Bollywood films - the nickname for films produced in Mumbai (Bombay) – are of course hugely popular and make India the largest producer of films in the world, with over 1,000 features a year. English TV channels that are available include the BBC, CNN, Star TV (owned by Rupert Murdoch), HBO, MTV and more.
The postal service in India is generally quite efficient, although this can vary depending on where you choose to post your mail from. It takes about a week for a letter sent from India to arrive in the UK. Post office opening hours in India are generally from 08:30 or 09:00 to 17:30 or 18:00 Monday to Friday.
To call India from the UK, dial 00 91 followed by the state code (without the first zero) then the number you want to call. To call the UK from India, dial 00 44 followed by the number you want to dial (without the first zero). Mobile phone reception is generally very good across India, except in more rural areas and in the Himalayas, where it may be poor.
Internet and Mobile Coverage
WiFi and 3G/4G is widely available across the country, and in most hotels the WiFi will be free of charge. Some restaurants, cafes, bars and other public spaces may also offer free WiFi.