Protected/Restricted Area Permission (PAP/RAP) is the final major consideration for India tourist visas. Requirementsfor issuance of a PAP are more strict than RAP, but application of the rules varies tremendously. When The Rapid Traveler contacted the official visa processing outsourcer for the US, Travisa, he was referred to the Indian Consulate. Some permissions can be issued at overseas diplomatic missions while others can only be arranged in India.
The following areas are affected, and all are way off the typical tourist track (and hence particularly appealing to the adventurous!). This list comes from the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs’ official document on PAP/RAP:
- Whole of Arunachal Pradesh
- Parts of Himachal Pradesh
- Parts of Jammu and Kashmir
- Whole of Manipur
- Whole of Mizoram
- Whole of Nagaland
- Parts of Rajasthan
- Whole of Sikkim (partly in Protected Area and partly in Restricted Area)
- Parts of Uttarakhand
- Andaman & Nicobar Islands – Entire Union Territory
Travelers planning to visit any of these areas should do careful advance research, contact their local India diplomatic mission, and consider working with local travel agents specializing in the relevant area. The Lonely Planet guide provides excellent info and Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree Forum is a great resource for up to date reports from travelers. Security is a serious matter in India and the travel situation subject to constant change. Travelers to many of these areas should prepare contingencies should a PAP/RAP be unobtainable or entry denied.