Language: Hindi, English and 21 other official languages

Climate: The weather is mainly hot most of the year with significant variations from region to region. The coolest weather lasts from around the end of November to the beginning of March, with fresh mornings and evenings, and mostly sunny days. The really hot weather, when it is dry, dusty and unpleasant, is between March and June. Monsoon rains occur in most regions in summer anywhere between June and early October.

Time Zone: India Standard Time

International phone code: 91

Currency: Indian Rupee

Capital: Delhi

Transportation: The major points of entry are Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai. The airports at these cities are either new or undergoing development. Allow considerable buffer time for any journey with a fixed deadline (such as your flight back). Its large size and uncertain roads make flying a viable option with domestic flights by Air India, Go Air and Jet Airways, to name a few. India boasts of the biggest network of railway lines in the world, and the rail system is very efficient, if not always on schedule. Buses are the second most popular way of travelling across states and the only cheap way of reaching many places not on the rail network. If you prefer to travel by car, hire a driver too, as the driver's salary is low and adds little to the cost of renting the car. The driver will find his own accommodation and food wherever you are travelling, although it is customary to give him some money to buy some food when you stop somewhere to eat.

Gay India:

Homosexuality is generally considered a taboo subject, both legally and socially, though it was decriminalized in 2009 and in recent years attitudes have shifted slightly due to western influences. In particular, there have been more depictions and discussions of homosexuality in the Indian news media and by Bollywood.

Religion plays an enormous role in social mores and customs. Hinduism is the predominant religion of the country and, like most religions, its texts can be interpreted from a variety of perspectives.

Discussion of homosexuality has been inhibited by the fact that sexuality in any form is rarely discussed openly, though sensuality is far more prevalent than in western culture. Researching the myriad rules surrounding social etiquette in India before you go will keep you in everyone's good books.