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COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: India is an economically developing democratic republic. Tourist facilities varying in degree of comfort and amenities are widely available in the major population centers and main tourist areas.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A passport and visa are required for entry into India for tourism or business. All visitors, including those on official U.S. Government business, must obtain visas at an Indian embassy or consulate abroad prior to entering the country. There are no provisions for visas upon arrival, and those arriving in India without visas bearing the correct validity dates and number of entries are subject to deportation. The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi can offer very little assistance when U.S. citizens arrive without visas. For further entry information, the traveler can contact the Embassy of India at 2536 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 939- 9849 or 939-9806 or the Indian consulates in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Houston. Outside the United States, inquiries should be made at the nearest Embassy or Consulate of India.

TERRORISM: In July 1995, Western tourists, including two Americans, were kidnapped by terrorists in Kashmir. One hostage was brutally murdered and one escaped. The remaining hostages, including one American, have not been released and their whereabouts are unknown. In 1994, several tourists, including an American, were held for weeks by Kashmiri militants before police rescued them. Since January 1996, New Delhi has been the site of a dozen terrorist bombing attacks, some with multiple explosive devices (four exploded in October 1997 alone). These bomb blasts have occurred in public places, as well as on public transportation (common carriers), such as trains and buses. While no U.S. citizens were among the victims, other foreign visitors were reported injured. There is no pattern that has emerged in these attacks, nor is there any indication that they are directed against foreigners in general or Americans in particular. Nevertheless U.S. citizens should be alert to suspicious packages in public places, and avoid crowds, political demonstrations, and other manifestations of civil unrest.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability:

Countrywide -- Major civil disturbances can pose risks to a traveler9s personal safety and can disrupt transportation systems and city services. In response to such violence, Indian authorities may occasionally impose curfews and restrict travel. Political rallies and demonstrations in India have the potential for violence, especially during periods immediately preceding and following elections. In addition, the potential exists for religious and inter-caste violence. While such violence has not usually specifically targeted foreigners, mobs have attacked Christian workers, including foreigners. Missionary activity has aroused strong reactions, and an Australian missionary and his two sons were murdered by a mob in the eastern state of Orissa in January 1999. Nevertheless, the principal risk for foreigners appears to be that of becoming inadvertent victims. U.S. citizens should contact the U.S. Embassy or the nearest U.S. Consulate for further information about the current situation in areas where they wish to travel.

Kashmir - The Department of State strongly urges private U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to the Kashmir valley area of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. In addition to the American and other Western tourists taken hostage (and one murdered) in Kashmir by terrorists in 1995, an American tourist was fatally shot in Srinagar in 1994. Also in 1994, militants held two British hikers hostage for 18 days before releasing them. Within the state, the Ladakh region has been unaffected by terrorist violence. Srinagar, the Kashmir valley and the city of Jammu remain dangerous places where terrorist activities and violent civil disturbances continue. U.S. Government employees are prohibited from traveling to the state of Jammu and Kashmir without permission from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

Northeast States - sporadic incidents of violence by ethnic insurgent groups, including the bombing of buses and trains, are reported from parts of Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, and Meghalaya. While U.S. citizens have not been specifically targeted, visitors are cautioned not to travel outside major cities at night. Security laws are in force, and security personnel have been deployed by the central government in New Delhi to several northeast states. Travelers may check with the U.S. Consulate in Calcutta for information on current conditions. (Please see address below.)

India-Pakistan border - Tensions run high between India and Pakistan, particularly over Kashmir. The only official India-Pakistan border crossing point is between Atari, India, and Wagah, Pakistan. A Pakistani visa is required for entry to Pakistan.

RESTRICTED AREAS: Permission from the Indian government (from Indian diplomatic missions abroad or in some cases from the Ministry of Home Affairs) is required to visit the states of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, parts of Kulu district and Spiti District of Himachal Pradesh, border areas of Jammu and Kashmir, areas of Uttar Pradesh, the area west of National Highway no. 15 running from Ganganagar to Sanchar in Rajasthan, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and the Union Territory of the Laccadive Islands.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Adequate medical care is available in the major population centers, but is usually limited in the rural areas of the country. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate payment in cash for health services. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide for payment of medical services outside the United States. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation can be extremely costly.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation. Ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death. Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure "Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad," available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet home page or by autofax at (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention9s international traveler's hotline at telephone 1-877-FYI- TRIP (1--877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX(1-888-232-3299), or by visiting the CDC Internet home page at

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Petty crime, especially theft of personal property, is common. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Useful information on safeguarding valuables, protecting personal security, and other matters while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlets "A Safe Trip Abroad" and "Tips for Travelers to South Asia." They are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, or through the printing office Website at, or from the Bureau of Consular Affairs Website at

DRUG PENALTIES: Travelers are subject to the laws and legal practices of the country in which they travel. Penalties for possession of, use of, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strictly enforced. Convicted offenders in India can expect a minimum jail sentence of 10 years and fines.

CUSTOMS CONSIDERATIONS: Indian customs authorities strictly enforce the laws and regulations governing the declaration, importation, or possession of gold and gold objects. Travelers have sometimes been detained for possession of undeclared gold objects.

MOUNTAIN CLIMBING: Both India and Pakistan claim an area of the Karakoram mountain range that includes the Siachen Glacier. The two countries have military outposts in the region, and armed clashes have occurred. Because of this situation, U.S. citizens traveling to or climbing peaks anywhere in the disputed areas face significant risk of injury and death. The disputed area includes the following peaks: Rimo Peak; Apsarasas I, II and III; Tegam Kangri I, II and III; Suingri Kangri; Ghiant I and II; Indira Col; and Sia Kangri.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: Travel by road in India is dangerous. Outside major cities, main roads and highways are poorly maintained and always congested. Even main roads often have only two lanes, with poor visibility and inadequate warning markers. Heavy traffic, including overloaded trucks and buses, scooters, pedestrians, and livestock, is the norm. Travel at night is particularly hazardous. In March 1996, a tour bus crashed at night near the city of Agra, claiming the lives of five Americans.

The information below concerning traffic safety and road conditions in India is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban road Condition/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Condition/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of India9s Civil Aviation Authority as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of India9s air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA9s Internet Website at The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the Pentagon at (703) 697-7288.

PILOTING CIVIL AIRCRAFT: In past years, there have been a number of incidents in which civil aircraft have been detained for deviating from approved flight plans. U.S. citizens piloting civil aircraft in India must file any changes to previous flight plans with the appropriate Indian authorities and may not overfly restricted airspace.

Y2K INFORMATION: U.S. citizens contemplating traveling or residing abroad in late 1999 or early 2000 should be aware of potential difficulties. They may wish to consider taking practical precautions against possible disruptions of services triggered by the Y2K computer phenomenon. Monitor the home page of the Department of State for updates on Y2K issues. See also the Government of India's Internet home page on Y2K issues at

EMBASSY LOCATION AND REGISTRATION: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi or at one of the U.S. consulates in India, and to obtain updated information on travel and security in India and Bhutan and request a copy of the booklet "Guidelines for American Travelers in India." The workweek is Monday through Friday.

--The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi is located at Shanti Path, Chanakyapuri 110021; telephone (91)(11) 611-3033 or 6889033. The Embassy's Internet home page address is

--The U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai (Bombay) is located at Lincoln House, 78 Bhulabhai Desai Road, 400026, telephone (91)(22) 363-3611.

--The U.S. Consulate General in Calcutta is at 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, 700071; telephone (91)(033) 282-3611 through 282-3615.

--The U.S. Consulate General in Chennai (Madras) is at Mount Road, 600006; telephone (91)(44) 827-3040.

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