India Travel Advice
Security travel advice for India
How safe is India?
Threat level: Medium-High
Most parts of India are relatively safe to travel to, but, you should be aware of the general threat of terrorism that the country is facing. There are a number of terrorist and insurgent groups operating in the country. However, most of the focus remains on Indian interests. Providing tourists remain cautious to their surroundings, trips to India should be hassle-free and a pleasant experience.
There are many travel advisories in place for India stipulated by different governments via their Travel Advice services, including the UK's FCO travel advice for India. Travel to the areas of Manipur, Jammu, Kashmir, Srinagar, Ladakh, Phalgam, Gularg and Sonamarg and across the Line of Control with Pakistan are highly advised against unless absolutely necessary.
Due to the threat of insurgence, it is also recommended that you do not travel to Manipur and the areas of Arunachal Pradesh that border with Burma.
Recent Security Risk Events
On the 14th of February 2019, an attack on a paramilitary police convoy killed 40 Indian paramilitary police officers in Kashmir. Pakistan-based Islamist group Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility for the attack.
On the 11th of February 2018, there was a terrorist attack on an army base in Sunjwan, in the Jammu and Kashmir region. it is reported that a group of heavily armed Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists struck the base, killing six people and injuring ten. The Sunjwan army base is home to the 36 brigade of Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry. Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) surfaced in 1999 and is a large jihadi organization based in Kashmir. The group's primary motive is to separate Kashmir from India.
The past ten years has seen an increase in the number of bombings carried out. 2008 and 2013 being the most prominent years, resulting in an average of 4.5 serious security incidents per year.
In January 2017, several CRPF jawans soldiers were seriously injured in a powerful IED explosion near the office of Deputy Commissioner in Imphal west, in the state of Manipur. Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for this attack but it is thought to be related to the Kangleipak Communist Party.
January of 2016 saw a military establishment attacked by a heavily armed group following another similar attack upon Dina Nagar police station in which gunmen had dressed in army uniforms and opened fire on a bus. This is after many prominent bombing blasts, one being the Mumbai attacks of 2008. During the Mumbai attacks, 12 co-ordinated shooting and bombing attacks over a period of four days, killing 164 and wounding 308. This operation was located at tourist attractions, places of worship and other prominent locations.
India has experienced a recent increase of sexual assaults in the past ten years on public transport, extra vigilance should be exercised on buses and trains.
There have been previous attacks carried out by terrorist factions within the country with police stations, border crossings, places of worship, markets, event venues, railway and infrastructure being the main targets. There have been previous kidnappings and civilians targeted with incendiary devices.
The main organisations which have posed a threat to the country have been Lashkar-e Tayyiba, Jaish-e Mohammed and the Indian Mujahideen. With the rise of Islamic State throughout Middle East and Asia in conjunction of India’s borders to Pakistan, there is a high threat of terrorism.
Prominent areas are as follows but not limited to:
Mumbai, Assam, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal, Patna, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Bangalore.
During the year there are increased levels of risk originating from the influx of additional travellers for religious events. These events can be an increase of approximately 50 million persons, so it is strongly advised as with all large scale events that additional personal security measures are undertaken and large gatherings are avoided where possible.
There are frequent demonstrations which can turn violent around the time of political events. During these times public transport and services can be disrupted, it is recommended that persons avoid areas of protests and to check local and international news for developments.
Dates to show extra caution are the following:
- Republic Day (26th June)
- Independence Day (15th August)
- Eid (26th June 2017) but this varies each year
- Diwali (19th October 2017) but this varies each year
India's International Relations
India's international ties with developed and developing countries worldwide are growing, with it being the world’s second most inhabited country. Its large military and purchasing power means it is seen to be a potential superpower in the region.
Its relations with its neighbouring countries are at most amicable. However, at times it has suffered disputes due to ethnic, border and land disputes which has risen tensions.
Since winning their independence from Britain, relations between India and Pakistan have been strained after their partition and the dispute over Kasmir that caused two wars; a conflict that is still ongoing between the two nations.
Travelling around India
Vehicle hire can be quite cheap in India with many tourists hiring motorcars or bikes. It is advised to always check your travel insurance and to get advice on the insurance implications of hiring a Vehicle in during your travel. Some firms may have complicated stipulations that may affect any insurance claim.
You must be in ownership of either an Indian driving license or an international driving permit in order to operate a vehicle in India. Roads are regularly congested and drivers do not follow road regulations and often ignore signs and traffic lights. Drive with extreme caution.
Driving standards are hazardous in India, particularly at night time. Seatbelts in cars and helmets on bikes are infrequently used but it is highly recommended that you do use them. Pedestrians should take care on the roads as drivers often have little regard for others on the road.
Road conditions are often affected by extreme weather, including flooding that does often cause erosion. Potholes are a major issue in most areas including in large cities, where a number of deaths each year are directly attributed to potholes and the poor condition of the road surface.
Trains, while extremely cheap to use are often overcrowded in major cities but offer a great experience for those wanting to travel across the country. India boasts over 7000 train stations and you will often find that many of the staff speak English, especially at the larger stations.
Train travel in India is quite safe, although there is an issue with petty crime both at stations and on trains.
Booking is now available online in most cases, and it is advised to book well in advance for longer journeys as seats can sell out. The most expensive class is “Air-Conditioned 1st Class” (1AC), with the cheapest (not recommended) being “Unreserved/reserved 2nd Class” (II/SS or 2S).
Earthquakes in India
India suffers from Earthquakes and they are prominent in Bihar, Uttar, Pradesh and West Bengal. India has a long history of suffering from devastating earthquakes, the worse in recent history being the 2005 Kashmir earthquake that killed an estimated 87,000 people.
The poor construction of buildings in many areas and the rural nature of much of the country is said to play a big part in the death figures.
The “boxing day tsunami” of 2004 that affected a large area of the Indian ocean, including the east coast of India. That tsunami killing an estimated 167,540 people, with at least 10,000 of these in India.
If you are in India and an earthquake hits, the best advice is to take cover under a desk, table or reinforced stairway and stay in position until the earthquake is finished. When safe, move outside and seek assistance. Monitor local news and social media for updates and advice.
Extreme weather in India
The unstable and tropical climate in India means extreme weather conditions frequent the country. Monsoons, flash floods, landslides, snow and dust storms and tropical cyclones can cause widespread devastation. Weather can slowly progress over the large country from May through to November.
Up to date Weather Warnings can be found at the India Meteorological Department.
Emergency services in India:
Centralised Accident & Trauma Services (CATS) (New Delhi): 1099
Police emergency: 100
Traffic Police Helpline (New Delhi): 1095
Fire emergency: 101
Medical emergency: 102
Gas leakage emergency: 1906
Coast Guard (Noida): +91 12 0241 4395
Coast Guard (Mumbai): +91 22 2437 1932
Coast Guard (Chennai): +91 44 2346 0447
Coast Guard (Kolkata): +91 33 2324 8015
India Ministry of Tourism 24hr helpline:1800 111 363
Religion: Hinduism and Islam
Currency: Indian rupee
Time now in New Delhi:
India has a great deal of history and culture that attracts tourists from around the globe. According to official national statistics, in 2017, India saw around 10 million tourists visit the country, a figure that has more or less risen every year for the past decade.
The country did see a 2% drop in tourism figures in 2009 that was blamed in part, on the November 2008 series of terror attacks in Mumbai, that saw the death of approximately 166, plus 9 attackers and injuring more than 600 people.
India gained its independence from the United Kingdom on the 15th of August 1947 and despite an on-going dispute with Pakistan over boarder regions, since the partition of India and the creation of modern states of India and Pakistan, the county has gone from strength to strength.
In 2017, it is reported that the official population was 1.339 billion, putting India the second largest country in the world, with China the largest with a population of 1.386 billion in 2017.
Poverty is a major issue in India and this does affect the security of travellers, with begging and petty crime such as pickpocketing being prevalent in high tourist areas, on public transport and in all large cities.
Consular information for India
U.S. Embassy New Delhi
New Delhi 110021,
Telephone: +91 11 2419 8000 (New Delhi)
Telephone: +91 44 2857 4000 (Chennai)
Telephone: +91 22 2672 4000 (Mumbai)
Telephone: +91 33 3984 2400 (Kolkata)
Email: KolkataPAS@state.gov (Kolkata)
Email: email@example.com (Mumbai)
British High Commission New Delhi
New Delhi 110021,
Telephone: +91 11 2419 2100 (New Delhi)
Telephone: +91 44 4219 2151 (Chennai)
Telephone: +91 22 6650 2222 (Mumbai)
Telephone: +91 80 2210 0200 (Bengaluru)
Telephone: +91 33 2288 5172 (Kolkata)
Visa requirements for India
A visa is required when travelling to India. British citizens can apply for an e-Tourist Visa (e-TV) to enter India at designated airports. Further information can be found at the Tourist Visa Website
All passports must be machine readable. Non-machine readable passports will not be accepted and entry can be denied. Specific travel permits are required for certain parts of the country. These include the areas of Sikkim, Arunachal, Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Those with Pakistani origin or descent are subject to administrative processing and should expect additional delays when applying for Indian visas.
Health Care and Immunisations
It is advised that visitors to India are up-to-date with primary boosters, such as MMR. It is further recommended that most travellers also get Tetanus, Typhoid and Hepatitis A vaccinations.
Although there is no direct risk of Yellow Fever in India, if you have been in a country where there is a risk of the disease in the last 6 days, you will be required to provide a vaccination certificate. Failure to do so can lead to you being detained in isolation for up to 6 days. Check with your local health professional prior to travel, if you are unsure.
Medical facilities in India are not as advanced as many Western countries, particularly if illness or injury occurs in rural destinations. If you require medical assistance, private care is recommended. This can be extremely expensive so it is of paramount importance that you purchase adequate medical insurance that will cover you for all treatment.
Influenza is transmitted from November to April in northern India and from June through November in southern India. There is a risk throughout the year. However, peaks do occur from February through to April.
Dengue and Zika that are two viral infections transmitted by mosquitoes, are present in the country. You should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
It is recommended against swimming in fresh water as Schistosomiasis can be contracted via a parasite that penetrate human skin, when the water is contaminated.
It is highly recommended full travel and medical insurance is checked for coverage prior to travel. The Medical facilities can vary. Personal hygiene must be paramount, the local water supply avoided and bottled water inspected prior to consumption.