India

Incredible India 2: Entry Details

With the Indian tourist visa duly approved, I went ahead with the ticket booking.  There are currently 34 airports in India catering to International (which is a massive number in comparison to my own country’s 3). This is probably why it is required in the tourist visa application to specify one’s port of entry and exit would be. Tracking the people coming in and going out of the country through a huge number of ports can be quite a task. Going back to my own trip, the nearest international airport to my sponsor’s home in the country is both Amritsar and Chandigarh, which are both around 2 hours away from Phagwara. Chandigarh is technically the capital city of the state of Punjab. Amritsar, on the other hand, is probably the most famous and loved among the Indian Punjabis especially the Sikh population as it houses the Golden Temple, the holiest gurudwara (more on that later).

The Sri Guru Ram Dass International Airport is located in the northwest part of Amritsar, sitting right on Amritsar-Anjala Road. It is named after the fourth guru, Guru Ram Dass, who is also the founder of the city of Amritsar. It presently caters to 7 International carriers, 2 of which are from Dubai. I decided to go with Spicejet because most people from the area prefers it as per my indirect interviews and discreet research *spy-grin*, and I like low-cost options in general (spendthrift wannabe!).

Booking the flight on the Spicejet website is fairly easy. There is only one Dubai-Amritsar flight daily, which leaves at 5AM. Since my leave officially starts on a Sunday and I was off from work on Friday and Saturday, I opted to take the Friday flight and was at the airport as early as 11pm on Thursday in order to (1) save on transportation costs coz I had a free ride with a colleague at 10pm, (2) avoid dozing off and not missing the flight and (3) get comfortable for a flight with mostly, if not all, foreign-speaking fellow passengers.

Itchy Feet

Spicejet was quite prompt and punctual. It was my first time to travel to another country from the UAE and on a tourist visa, so I think the jitters were quite understandable, but I definitely loved the experience and am very proud of myself *grins*. There was a very quick holdup at the boarding area as they double checked my details, but it did not take more than 10 minutes.

The flight departed on time. I booked the cheapest fare, which comes without food onboard. I usually do not buy food onboard because I believe they are most likely overpriced and rightfully so considering the current location (high up in the sky). The cabin crew were very professional and friendly. I was drifting between sleep and consciousness the entire flight, which was not hard to do considering how smooth the trip was. Breakfast was chai (hot Indian tea with milk) paired with jeera (cumin) cookie priced at INR100 or AED10. Not bad considering I had no other choice, and they tasted nice as well.

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Indian morning sun creeping in from the horizon

Arrival was at around 10AM. The airport was quite small, even smaller than my own island’s airport back home with lesser traffic, too. Going through immigration was a bit hard at first because most of the people, if not everyone, did not speak English or were too shy to get back to me. After around 30 minutes of queueing withe rest of the locals, I saw the desk assigned for those entering the country on visit visa and an empty queue in front of the Immigration Officer’s desk. Very nice!

The Immigration Officer worked well. He asked a few questions about the frequency of my visit to India and where I will be staying. After the fingerprint, I was sent off to pick up my luggage. Stepping out of the building, I was welcomed in a chorus of a foreign tongue that sounded familiar but I really did not understand. Good thing my sponsor was within a few steps from the door as well, so my heart stopped beating so hard upon seeing his familiar face.

After a few minutes of ki hal chal (how are you), we proceeded with the (around) 2 hour drive to their home, where I will be staying for my entire time in India.

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My happy sponsor/driver/tour guide

The journey has been hassle-free, so far. It has been exciting, and I am ready for more. See you for the next part of my India visit in 2016!

 

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Incredible India Part 1: Visa and Pre-Entry Matters

They say, we travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us.

I say, I travel to live the life. After all, the world offers so much more than what the human imagination can come up with, and there is no better way to fully maximize one’s existence than experience as much as possible of the Earth’s every nook and cranny.

2016 is the year my age left the official Gregorian world monthly calendar. With the wish to travel constantly gnawing the soles of my feet and my practical circumstances persistently scratching reality back into my head, I have watched each month and year pass by without going to any of the places I so long to see. Then 2016 happened and India happened.

Yes, I conquered Incredible India. Well, not all parts of it but 2 states at least.

To start off, I hold a passport that requires a visit visa in order to enter the said country. Though I have not had the chance to apply for a lot of other countries’ visas yet, I think Indian visit visa is one of the easiest to apply for and acquire simply because of how simple and straightforward, not to mention the ease and speed of approval, the process is.

Applications for an Indian visit visa can be applied for online. I actually found the Indian Visa Online website very user-friendly. It highlights the different visa categories offered by the Government of India. The most relevant for my visit to the country is using the Tourist Visa as I am planning to see friends and the sights. For the visas that have been made available through online application, there is no option to submit paper application. For individuals who are interested to visit the country for sightseeing purposes, the e-Tourist Visa or eTV is definitely the best option to go with.

All relevant information to prepare for before submitting the visa application application is actually carefully laid out across the website. It has a separate page for the requirements and each specific, even providing one full page to clearly define the specifications for the photograph required and another page designation for the visa fee. However, the Regular Visa Application tab on the homepage is in reference to all other regular visas. For me specifically, I chose to go with e-Tourist Visa, which proved to be really smart of me (praising oneself eh!). The online application form looks like this.

indian-etv-application-form

I filled out the details required to initiate the application then I got directed to a more detailed form and was assigned a Temporary Application ID in case I do not finish the application in the same time I started it out. It is important to note that the arrival date should be 4 days from the application date until 30 days from that 4th day. So, for an application posted on 6th March 2017, the expected date of arrival should be from 10th March 2017 until 9th April 2017. The good thing about the system though is the fast approval, so planning the visit dates does not get so complicated.

The next page is a more detailed form requiring further information about the visa applicant. The only thing I had an issue with is the visible birth mark as I struggled to describe the location of the only visible yet still small facial mole I have been blessed with.

After filling out the second form, you are directed to the third form which is all about the visa applicant’s address, family details and professional/occupation information. For the third portion, there is a limited list of occupation, so to avoid any confusion and complications, I chose others and provided the designation indicated in my current work visa in the UAE.

The next page is all about the visit details including the places one intends to visit, expected arrival date and entry/exit points (referring to the airports). The last portion of the page is with reference to the contact person in India as well as for a contact person from the applicant’s home country in case of emergency. This is a requirement for those who are visiting the country for tourism purposes especially if you specified to visit friends.

Following the forms is the photo requirement as per below page.

indian-etv-photo-requirement

After the appropriate photograph (according to the requirements specified) has been uploaded accordingly, the applicant will be directed to the payment page. During my own application, my leave details were still under approval at work, so I had to pause prior to making the payment. At that point, the application has been partially submitted and waiting for the application fee before it could be process. I was also notified in the email regarding this status for my reference. When I was ready to make the payment, I just went ahead to the Pay Visa Fee page, entered the Application ID and my birthdate to proceed and complete the payment. I successfully lodged and paid for the application at 5:53pm on a Monday and viola, the visa was approved at 8:39am on the following day. I was a very happy kid!

indian-etv-approved

I had to carry only this piece of paper with me when I entered India along with my passport (of course!). More on that experience in the next entry. Ciao for now!

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Categories: India, Travel Time | 1 Comment

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