Travel Category

India's revised rules for International Travellers

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As per the latest travel guidelines, travellers arriving in India from any country and testing positive will not mandatorily be managed at an isolation facility. They will however be treated/isolated as per the laid down standard protocol, not essentially at an isolation facility.

Now, as per the revised guidelines for international arrivals that have been recently released, the new norm will come into effect from January 22, 2022, and will remain in place until further orders. Reports also have it that the rest of the provisions will remain the same in the revised guidelines. As per the existing guidelines, travellers coming from any country, including from those considered ‘at-risk', will be managed at an isolation facility, and will be treated as per the said standard protocols.

The recently announced revised guidelines have removed the clause that made staying at an isolation facility mandatory upon arrival. Those found to be symptomatic during screening will be isolated immediately and taken to a medical facility as per health protocol. Contacts of those who are found positive shall be identified and managed as per protocol.

However, do note that foreign arrivals who test positive, will still have to undergo home quarantine for seven days, and even if they test negative, they will have to undergo RT-PCR test on the 8th day of arrival in India.

 


India's revised rules for international travellers

by

As per the latest travel guidelines, travellers arriving in India from any country and testing positive will not mandatorily be managed at an isolation facility. They will however be treated/isolated as per the laid down standard protocol, not essentially at an isolation facility.

Now, as per the revised guidelines for international arrivals that have been recently released, the new norm will come into effect from January 22, 2022, and will remain in place until further orders. Reports also have it that the rest of the provisions will remain the same in the revised guidelines. As per the existing guidelines, travellers coming from any country, including from those considered ‘at-risk', will be managed at an isolation facility, and will be treated as per the said standard protocols.

The recently announced revised guidelines have removed the clause that made staying at an isolation facility mandatory upon arrival. Those found to be symptomatic during screening will be isolated immediately and taken to a medical facility as per health protocol. Contacts of those who are found positive shall be identified and managed as per protocol.

However, do note that foreign arrivals who test positive, will still have to undergo home quarantine for seven days, and even if they test negative, they will have to undergo RT-PCR test on the 8th day of arrival in India.

 

The global trajectory of COVID-19 pandemic continues to decline with certain regional variations. The need to monitor the continuously changing nature of virus and evolution of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) must still remain in focus. The existing guidelines for international arrivals in India have been formulated taking a risk-based approach. The existing guidelines have been revised in view of reporting of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 (B.1.1.529; named Omicron) which has been classified as Variant of Concern by the World Health Organization.

This document provides protocols to be complied by international travellers as well as those to be followed by airlines and all points of entry (airports, seaports and land border).

This Standard Operating Procedure shall be valid w.e.f. 11th January 2022 (00.01 Hrs IST) till further orders. Based on the risk assessment, this document shall be reviewed from time to time.

Planning for Travel
All travellers should

  • Submit complete and factual information in self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal (https://www.newdelhiairport.in/airsuvidha/apho-registration) before the scheduled travel, including last 14 days travel details.
  • Upload a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report*. The test should have been conducted within 72 hrs prior to undertaking the journey.
  • Each passenger shall also submit a declaration with respect to authenticity of the report and will be liable for criminal prosecution, if found otherwise.
  • They should also give an undertaking on the portal or otherwise to Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India, through concerned airlines before they are allowed to undertake the journey that they would abide by the decision of the appropriate government authority to undergo home/institutional quarantine/ self-health monitoring, as warranted.
  • Continuing with the earlier approach, travellers from certain specified Countries (based on epidemiological situation of COVID-19 in those Countries) are identified for additional follow up. These include need for additional measures as detailed in para (xviii) below. The listing of such specified Countries is a dynamic exercise based on evolving situation of COVID-19 across the world and will be made available on the websites of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, (mohfw.gov.in) and the link of the same will be available at website of Ministry of External Affairs and Air Suvidha Portal.
  • All travellers who need to undertake testing on arrival, should preferably pre-book the test online on Air Suvidha Portal, to facilitate timely testing.

Before Boarding

  • Passengers originating or transiting from at-risk countries shall be informed by the airlines that they will undergo post arrival testing, quarantine if tested negative, stringent isolation protocols if tested positive etc. as mentioned in para (xviii).
  • Do’s and Don'ts shall be provided along with ticket to the travellers by the airlines/agencies concerned.
  • Airlines to allow boarding by only those passengers who have filled in all the information in the Self Declaration Form on the Air Suvidha portal and uploaded the negative RT-PCR test report.
  • At the time of boarding the flight, only asymptomatic travellers will be allowed to board after thermal screening.
  • All passengers shall be advised to download Aarogya Setu app on their mobile devices.

During Travel

  • In-flight announcement about COVID-19 including precautionary measures to be followed shall be made at airports and in flights and during transit.
  • During in-flight crew shall ensure that COVID appropriate behaviour is followed at all times.
  • If any passenger reports symptoms of COVID-19 during flight, he/she shall be isolated as per protocol.
  • Proper in-flight announcements should be made by the airlines regarding the testing requirements and people who need to undergo such testing to avoid any congestion at the arrival airports.

On arrival

  • De-boarding should be done ensuring physical distancing.
  • Thermal screening would be carried out in respect of all the passengers by the health officials present at the airport. The self-declaration form filled online shall be shown to the airport health staff.

The passengers found to be symptomatic during screening shall be immediately isolated and taken to medical facility as per health protocol. If tested positive, their contacts shall be identified and managed as per laid down protocol.


Travellers from specified Countries at risk [as mentioned in para (iii) and (iv) above] will follow the protocol as detailed below:
Submission of sample for post-arrival COVID-19 test* at the point of arrival (self-paid). Such travellers will be required to wait for their test results at the arrival airport before leaving or taking a connecting flight.
If tested negative they will follow, home quarantine for 7 days and shall undertake RT- PCR test on the 8th day of arrival in India*.
Travelers shall also be required to upload results of repeat RT-PCR test for COVID-19 done on 8th day on Air Suvidha portal (to be monitored by the respective States/UTs).
If negative, they will further self-monitor their health for next 7 days.
However, if such travellers are tested positive, their samples should be further sent for genomic testing at INSACOG laboratory network.
They shall be managed at isolation facility and treated as per laid down standard protocol including contact tracing mentioned in para (xvii).
The contacts of such positive case should be kept under home quarantine monitored strictly by the concerned State Government as per laid down protocol.


Travellers from Countries excluding those in referred to in para (iii) and (iv) above, will follow the protocol as below:
A sub-section (2% of the total flight passengers) shall undergo post-arrival testing at random at the airport on arrival.
These 2% of such travellers in each flight shall be identified by the concerned airlines (preferably from different countries).
Laboratories shall prioritize testing of samples from such travellers.
All travellers (including those 2% who were selected for random testing on arrival and were found negative) will undergo home quarantine for 7 days and shall undertake RT-PCR test on the 8th day of arrival in India*.
Travelers shall also be required to upload results of repeat RT-PCR test for COVID-19 done on 8th day on Air Suvidha portal (to be monitored by the respective States/UTs).
If negative, they will further self-monitor their health for next 7 days.
However, if such travellers are tested positive, their samples should be further sent for genomic testing at INSACOG laboratory network.
They shall be managed at isolation facility and treated as per laid down standard protocol including contact tracing mentioned in para (xvii).


If travellers under home quarantine or self-health monitoring, develop signs and symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 or test positive for COVID-19 on re-testing, they will immediately self- isolate and report to their nearest health facility or call National helpline number (1075)/ State Helpline Number.

International travellers arriving through seaports/land ports will also have to undergo the same protocol as above, except that facility for online registration is not available for such passengers currently.

Such travellers shall submit the self-declaration form to the concerned authorities of Government of India at seaports/land ports on arrival.
* Children under 5 years of age are exempted from both pre- and post-arrival testing. However, if found symptomatic for COVID-19 on arrival or during home quarantine period, they shall undergo testing and treated as per laid down protocol.

# Contacts of the suspect case are the co-passengers seated in the same row, 3 rows in front and 3 rows behind along with identified Cabin Crew. Also, all the community contacts of those travellers who have tested positive (during home quarantine period) would be subjected to quarantine for 14 days and tested as per ICMR protocol. 
 


Cheetahs are set to return to Indian forests

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Half a century after Cheetahs went extinct in India, the Environment Ministry will introduce 50 cheetahs into Indian forests over the next five years, The Environment Minister unveiled a plan for the introduction of Cheetah in India at the 19th meeting of the National Tiger Conservation Authority.

As per the action plan, a cohort of around 10-12 young cheetahs that are ideal for reintroduction shall be imported from Namibia or South Africa as a founder stock during the first year. Environment Minister Bhupendra Singh said that the Prime Minister is keen on the protection and conservation of seven major big cats, including Cheetah.

The country's last spotted cheetah died in Chhattisgarh in 1947 and it was declared extinct in the country in 1952. The Supreme Court had earlier given its approval to introduce African cheetahs to suitable habitats in India on an experimental basis.

The plans to introduce African Cheetahs into the Indian environment had gone into limbo in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic and successive lockdowns.

Among the 10 surveyed sites in five central Indian States, Kuno Palpur National Park (KNP) in Madhya Pradesh was rated high on the priority list for the introduction of a cheetah because of its suitable habitat and adequate prey base. A team from the Wildlife Institute of India, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, doctors and veterinarians from the Kuna national park along with the staff had to go to Savannah for training.

As per the plan, the central government, along with the ministry of environment and the Cheetah Task Force, will create a formal framework to collaborate with the governments of Namibia and/or South Africa, through the Ministry of External Affairs.

Considered among the top predators, with African cheetah relocation, the government aims to restore the threatened ecosystem and conserve the species in India.


Goa or Kerala: Where to Go For the Best Beach Holiday in India?

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Among travellers visiting India for a beach holiday, both Goa and Kerala have earned a reputation. People flock to these destinations when a relaxing vacation on the beach is on their minds. But when you have to choose either of the two, it becomes a tough decision to take. Goa has its charms while Kerala offers other pleasures. You can choose to visit any one or both of them together creating a memorable vacation to cherish a lifetime.

Beach Holiday in India

Goa vs. Kerala

Goa is much smaller in size than Kerala, but not for beaches and water fun. Its landscapes are equally scenic. Palm-fringed beaches and coastal laterite headlands add to its glamor. Its paddy hinterlands and coconut groves, along with thickly forested mountains, make Goa a vacationer’s dream come true. Even north and south Goa landscapes differ, presenting a chance to choose from which one you want to head first. North Goa is known for its party vibes while South Goa is famous for its secluded beaches.

Kerala, fondly addressed – God’s Own Country, Kerala allures nature lovers. It has attractions that fascinate tourists to the core, both in rural and urban tastes. Its festivals, temples, churches, backwaters, picturesque landscapes, traditional art forms, and Ayurvedic sessions are major aspects that highlight the charm of Kerala. Its mountains are higher and have a climate different from the coastal belt. The higher slopes are carpeted by tea, coffee, and spice plantations.

Goa and Kerala – Best Time to Visit

Both the destinations are tropical. Thus, experience a coastal climate. However, there are specific differences in month wise weather. Different months have something unique to offer. Also, there are certain festivals and events celebrated in different months.

November to February is the peak tourist season in Goa, and prices are high. The weather remains pleasant and great for sightseeing and indulging in various activities. During these months, you can delight in hip and happening festivals that include Christmas Eve, Sunburn festival, Grape escapade, VH1 Supersonic, Goa food and cultural festival, and Goa Carnival. The famous religious events of Goa include Shantadurga (January), Shigmotsav (Shigmo) and Carnival (March), and Feast of St Francis Xavier (December). To explore the freshly washed and emerald countryside with pristine beaches, visit Goa from June to October. These are the months of monsoon in Goa and present the hidden sides of this coastal place. However, the monsoon can hinder your watersports plans in Goa.

The best time to visit Kerala is from September to March. This is the peak tourist season in Kerala, thanks to the pleasant weather. You can also enjoy beaches and backwaters the most during these months. Additionally, you can indulge in various activities such as camping, trekking, wildlife safari, etc. Different festivals during these months add to your charm of visiting Kerala. These festivals include Onam, Kerala Boat Festival, Christmas, Muharram, Navratri, Mahashivratri, Guruvayur, Chittur Konganpada, and The Bharani Utsavam.

Those who love rain can explore Kerala from June to August. Apart from enjoying the lush greenery and rain-washed surroundings, the monsoon season is the best for Ayurvedic Treatments in Kerala.

Goa vs Kerala – Accommodation

Goa is a much-loved destination that is splashed by many accommodation options to suit travelers of every budget. However, beachside accommodation in Goa is expensive due to the international tourist influx. There are several beach shacks, beach huts, and beach villas to impart you a beachy vibe during your vacay. Luxurious hotels and resorts are also generously found all over.

Kerala, just like Goa, provides accommodation options at beaches as beach resorts or beach villas but at a little lesser cost as compared to Goa. Other than its beaches, tourists can stay in the middle of lush green tea plantations in Kerala. There are many guest houses and hotels as well to choose from. There are many budgets, luxurious, and mid-range accommodation options to cater to the requirements of its vacationers. You can also enjoy unique stay accommodations like treehouses and houseboats. To savor the traditional Keral-ite essence, you can also opt for a homestay.

Goa vs Kerala- Trip Duration and Budget

To explore the best of Goa and Kerala, you have to keep maple time in hand, considering your requirements and attractions to explore. Also, Kerala is much bigger than Goa, so much more days are required to get to Kerala. It is noteworthy that Goa is relatively less expensive than Kerala.

When it comes to accommodation costs, you can stay comfortably in homestays and beach shacks of Goa. Also, other affordable accommodation options could be found easily in Goa due to its backpacker’s image. Whereas in Kerala, you have options to choose from resorts, hotels, treehouses, houseboats.

You can have your fill at beach shacks in Goa at low rates, whereas in Kerala, several high-end restaurants serve you food with few cheap eateries.

Among things to do, Goa entertains you at cheap rates. Enjoy dolphin spotting, parasailing, snorkeling, and surfing without shelling out much. The best of adventure in Kerala comes at a good expenditure. Cruising in houseboats, spa sessions, and the like charge you a considerable amount.

Conclusion: If a shorter trip is on your cards, Goa is the best bet. However, if you have a good time in hand, Kerala will not disappoint you. When it comes to budget, for Kerala, you have to be more spendthrift. Goa keeps you delighted at a comparatively low budget.


Discover India’s Glorious Heritage with Handicrafts in India

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India’s glorious heritage has many forms of which handicrafts are a significant part. Following customs, traditions, arts and crafts, these handmade beauties are skilfully produced in many regions of the country. On a holiday in India, discover the glorious heritage, experience the culture and get your hands on these masterpieces to bring back home.

The handicrafts of India have been loved and respected worldwide and have left everyone awestruck. Many rural people still earn their livelihood from their creative pieces of art and India has still managed to preserve its artisans, its art and its handicrafts.

Jewellery

Jaipur’s crowded markets is akin to sensory overload but those in the know head for Jaipur’s jewellery workshops. Available in a multitude of styles, two types to highlight are Kundan and Meenakari jewellery, associated with weddings and royalty. Many pieces are designed to be customised to each client so stay longer in Jaipur in order to secure the bespoke Indian jewellery piece of your dreams.

Marble Inlay Work

India’s most famous UNESCO World Heritage site, the awe-inspiring Taj Mahal in Agra is well-known pf beautiful intricate marble inlay that the Mughals were famous for perfecting. Journey into the bustling markets and vibrant streets of Agra and you can visit artisans descended from those that worked on the Taj Mahal, continuing these old traditions in workshops specialising in Marble Inlay Art. Working with both precious and semi-precious stones, creating both colourful geometric patterns and images from nature, these craftspeople might even inspire you to take home your own masterpiece vase or statue.

Bararasi Saris in Varanasi

Varanasi’s kaleidoscopic colours and busy swirling crowds of pilgrims are reflected in the gold/silver brocade embroidery that Varanasi’s artisans are famous for. No clothing item is more synonymous with India than the sari and Banarasi Saris produced in Varanasi exclusively are genuine works of art. The most complicated garments with the finest weaving and the gold Zari embroidery work can take up to 6 months to create by a team of craftspeople. Don’t worry, you can visit a local sari salon and select your own ready-made sari without needing to wait as long!

Pashmina Shawls

Pashmina is a fine type of wool. Its textiles are first woven in Kashmir. These shawls are made from a fine type of cashmere wool and are then transported to the valley of Kashmir in northern India, where it is entirely hand processed. All steps from combing and spinning, to weaving and finishing, is entirely carried out by hand by dedicated craftsmen and women. The major centre of Pashmina fabric production is the old district of Srinagar. The approximate craft time put into producing a single Pashmina shawl is 180 hours. They come in beautiful vibrant colours and have exquisite embroidery on them and at the same time can keep you warm and are also known for their softness.

Woodwork

The northern states of India have a rich tradition of the woodwork. Regions in Punjab are famous for its exquisite wooden furniture. Kashmir is famous for its artefacts made from the walnut trees. The artisans of Chhattisgarh specialise in wooden crafts like masks, doors, window frames and sculptures. Jharkhand is famous for its wooden toys which are always in a pair. The woodcarvings of Goa are an aesthetic blend of Portuguese and Indian cultures, and the designs are primarily floral, animal and human figures.

Endowed with abundant forests, woodwork is a popular craft in South India. It is mainly done on rosewood and sandalwood. Red sandalwood from Andhra Pradesh is used to make cutlery, dainty boxes and paper knives in various designs. Madurai (a city in Tamil Nadu), is popular for its rosewood carvings. Karnataka is famous for beautiful elephants, images and furniture made from rosewood. Sandalwood is also used to make utility and decorative items, which are etched with designs of flowers, creepers, birds and animals. Magnificent figurines of females are carved out of Kumbli wood in Kerala.

Leather

The age-old convention of leather skill in India is proved by ancient sages and ascetics. In the past, leather was not only used in making clothes and footwear but also in making caps, bags, saddles, shield etc. India is famous worldwide for its leather products. Madhya Pradesh is also known for its leathercraft. Various leather items are produced like shoes, bags and garments. Maharashtra is also famous for its leather shoes called Kolhapuri chappals.

Jute

Jute craftsmen have created a worldwide position in the field of jute handicrafts. The huge range of jute crafts includes bags, office stationeries, bangles and other jewellery, footwear, wall-hangings and many more. India is a centre for jute handicrafts and people all over from the globe visit the jute handicrafts fairs to buy these works of perfection. West Bengal, Assam and Bihar, being the leading jute producers, pilot the jute handicrafts market in India.

Brass Handicrafts

Brass is known for its durability, and this feature adds to its advantage when used as handicrafts. Different items made of brass like Lord Ganesha's figure in different postures, vases, tabletops, perforated lamps, ornament boxes, wine glasses, and many more are widely used in many Indian houses even today. These artisans dealing with brass handicrafts are distinctively known as "Kansaris". The manufacturing of brass handicrafts is mainly done in Rajasthan.

Bamboo Handicrafts

Handicrafts that are made by using bamboo are the most eco-friendly crafts made in India. The diverse items made from bamboo are baskets, dolls, toys, furniture, mats, wall-hangings, crossbows, jewellery boxes and many more. Bamboo handicrafts are predominantly prepared in West Bengal, Assam and Tripura.

On the whole; we can see that each region of India is endowed with unique handicraft that adds charm to the state and the country as a whole. The tradition of craft has evolved through generations, and there is a quest for innovation and invention that continues to give each craft a contemporary look but at the same time preserving the Indian heritage and culture.

One of the greatest treasures to discover on a holiday in India is of course your guide. Although part of the fun of shopping for crafts in India is stumbling upon an unexpected market stall of incredible items and artworks. These wonderful creations give access to the true spirit of India and its incredible traditions.