A Visa gives permission to the person who wishes to stay in a country for a specific period of time to fulfill a specific motive. It is usually attached or stamped in the individual passport. All travellers to India (except citizens of India going Nepal and vice versa) must possess visas.
Tourist visas are normally available for a duration of three months to six months for multiple entries (important for side trips to Nepal and other countries). Other options include a one-year student visa, journalist visa or business visa, or five years visa for non-resident Indians. When applying for a visa, make sure your passport is valid for 6 months beyond the date of intended return journey.
If you apply for a visa through the Indian embassy in your resident country the process becomes much fast. You are required to fill an application form providing your current passport with at least two passport size photographs. Applications can be sent through mail with the payment in the form of money orders. No cash or cheques are accepted. If applying in person, the consulates and embassies will usually accept cash otherwise only money orders are accepted. The visa formalities, cost of visa and the time lag between the application and issue of visa varies from country to country.
Certain regions of India require a special permit in addition to an Indian visa. Permits are issued by Indian High Commissions and Embassy of India abroad, by the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi, or by Foreigner's Registration Offices (FRRO's) in Indian cities.