Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Visa Thing

Instructional viewer mail
Kathmandu, Nepal

A viewer known only as "IndiaFan" writes:
I noticed you're stationed in Nepal. Do I need to get a Nepali visa in advance, or can I get it at the border on arrival? and do you know anything about getting the new Indian visa in Nepal?

The answer is Yes; at any Indo-Nepali border town (there are four - Mahendranagar, Bhairawa, Birganj and Kakarbhitta) or at the Kathmandu airport they will issue
you 60 days' visa for $30 US. For some reason, this must be paid in USD$. Even British citizens must pay in dollars! Why? Who knows! Personally I think it goes straight into the king's pocket.

In Nepal, at the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu (on
Lainchaur just up the road from the British Embassy), one can get a new 6 months' visa to India. There are rumours that travel agents can get you a one year's tourist visa, but you must pay baksheesh to the agents, not go to the Embassy directly for this. At the Embassy, they will pretend they have nooooo idea what you mean... but someone there must, because someone is issuing these 1-year visas. I personally do not advocate such practices as I've found them to be rife with problems (not to mention overpriced).

Currently they are giving only double-entry visas, not the usual multiple; but on request I asked for triple, and they gave it!

-Do you know any nice, clean hotel in Kathamndu to wait for visa and where is the Indian Embassy there?

There are loads of them - I stay at the Hotel Northfield in Thamel, also the famous Kathmandu Guest House, you can't go too far wrong with these. Northfield will get you a single room w/hot water and cable for about $10, less if you bargain as it is now off-season. Room rates are very flexible here. If you want to go ultra cheap yet clean try Holy Lodge round the corner, tiny room w/shared bath for $2.50 a night.

The Indian Embassy is well-known to all drivers, rickshaw cyclists and is also walkable distance from Thamel. It's in a neighborhood called Lazimpat where most embassies are, just down the road from British Embassy. All cab drivers know these and don't pay more than 50 Nepali Rs (less than $1) for a cab from these hotels I mentioned.

Let me fill you in on the Indian visa scoop - when I did it, it was November - high tourist season in Nepal - and you had to show up for the queue at literally 5 or 6am and sit outside the gates in order to be seen by closing time at 12 noon! Bring a book! Now it might be better because it's getting off season.

On the first visit, you must be seen between 9am and 12 noon. You just turn in an application and 300 NRs - they give you a receipt and a day, about 3 days later, to return. During this time they fax the Embassy in your home country to see if you're persona grata.

On the return date, you come again early in the AM (like 6am) and bring the price, for Americans it's 4600 NRs, less for others. For some reason Americans pay 1100NRs more than any other nationality. I say, before we give away any more nuclear goodies, we need to get that straightened RIGHT out.

They really like you to "tender" exact change here. You present the receipt, they take the Visa fee and your passport, and give you yet another receipt tell you to come back after 3.30 pm the same day.

Go have lunch at the Hotel Ambassador down the road or the KFC cafe and come back in the afternoon. At that point, you go to the 2nd window, with your 2nd receipt and they should have your passport with the visa sticker inside. I turned mine in on a Friday and got the visa on a Wednesday.

Although I must say, after spending a few days in Nepal, you may be wondering why you'd ever want to return to India. Just... maybe. Off the top of my head I would have said "rava dosa and idly," but Nepali Banchha Ghar and Dudh Sagar on Kantipath do them very well, thanks.
Of course, it's no Saravana Bhavan (still haven't found Idiyappam kurma or lime soda sweet here).


it's us said...

Hi Sirensong.
Sorry for not letting you know I added your blog as a link on my site. But I'm glad people have being following it.
I'm moving to India in August and I've been really enjoying your sites.

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