India is a myriad country and the people of the country completely believe in the saying – ‘Atithi Devo Bhava' – meaning Guest is God
In a few places across the country and mostly in remote locations and border areas, foreigners are allowed only after taking permits. Please note that is done only for security reasons and most of these areas are away from the normally famous tourist circuits.
Temples with Restrictions
India, temples are among the prime attractions for tourists within the country
as well as abroad. However, there are a few temples and religious places in the
country, where tourists of any other religion are not allowed to enter or go in
only after adhering to strict rules and regulations. Just like foreigners are
not allowed inside the Pashupatinath Temple in Nepal or a few Tibetan
parts of southwestern Sichuan province, India too has a few places which foreigners cannot access.
Before planning a temple tour of India, it is highly recommended that you get all the details about the temples you are planning to visit and follow all the customs before and after entering the premise of the respective temple.
At the Tirupati Temple in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, non-Hindus need to sign a faith form to enter the temple. Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, which is commonly known as the Tirupati temples is India's most popular and richest temple and is thronged by millions of pilgrims each year.
Kerala is one of the most beautiful regions of India and is visited by endless number of tourists all the year round. Kerala which is popularly known as ‘God’s own Country’ boasts of unmatched natural panorama, enchanting backwaters, exciting wildlife attractions and numerous holy temples. Although tourists are more than welcomed in every house and temple of Kerala, there are a few temples where non-hindus are either not allowed or if allowed, need to stick to strict guidelines.
- Sabarimala is a world renowned pilgrim destination in India. the main attraction here is the Ayappa Temple, which is dedicated to Lord AyyappaTourists planning to visit the AyyappaTemple need to follow the strict dress code of the temple. Also women between ages 10 to 50 are not allowed to enter the temple.
- Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Trivandrum is among the holiest temples in Kerala. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple. Hindus wearing pants, churidaars or salwars are also not allowed. A mundu, which is a traditional garment, should be worn by the males. It can be rented from the temple premises for a nominal amount. Ladies can wear the mundu over their salwars. Cell Phones are banned inside the temple.
- Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple in Guruvayur is among the holiest temples in India. However, non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple premise and even hindus need to follow a strict dressing code. Men are to wear mundu around their waist, without any dress covering their chest. While women are allowed to wear sari, girls should wear long skirt and blouses. No short skirts and trousers are allowed inside the temple.
- Foreign as well as non-hindus planning a visit to Kerala should not include the famous Raja Rajeshwara Temple at Taliparamba and the Vadakkunathan Kshetram Temple in Thrissur as non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the main area of the temple.in their itinerary, as non-hindus are not allowed inside the temple.
With enchanting landscape, mountain hill stations and numerous holy destinations, Tamil Nadu is a popular choice for holiday makers from India as well as abroad. If you are a foreigner or a non-Hindu then you should do a thorough research on the temples you are planning to visit, as there are many temples across Tamil Nadu where non-Hindus are not allowed.
- One of the holiest and most popular temples in Tamil Nadu, the Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai does not allow non Hindus inside the main sanctum of the temple, but are free to roam around the temple premise. The Meenakshi temple is among the oldest temples in the country and is dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
- Kapileshwar Temple in Chennai is included in most South India tours. It is one such temple where non-Hindus are not allowed in the inner sanctum but can explore the outer sanctum of the temple. However, the person should be properly dressed with no exposure of leg or body.
- Tourists planning a visit to Sri Ranganathswamy Temple in Srirangam should keep in mind that non-Hindus are allowed only up to the second prakaram (outer courtyard) but not inside the gold topped sanctum sanctorum.
- Malaikkottai Temple, Sri Thayumanaswamy Temple and Thiruvanaikkoil Temple in Tiruchy and Ramanathaswamy Temple in Rameswaram are some of the popular temples in the state, but there is a ban on the entrance of non-Hindus inside these temples.
Orissa is a beautiful state in the country which is known for its numerous temples. Most of these holy places are open for everyone to enjoy and explore the culture of the region. Shree Jagannath Puri Temple in Puri is one of the holiest temples in India famous for its 'Rath Yatra' that is held here in the months of June-July. Although the temple is extremely popular, Hindus as well as practicing Hindus of non- Indian descent are not allowed to enter the temple.
Non-Hindus planning to visit the temples of Madhya Pradesh should exclude the Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar as non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple. They can only enjoy the views of the temple from the viewing platform located outside the temple. The history of the temples dates back to the 7th century and is dedicated to Swayambhu Linga, a merge of Half Vishnu and Half Shiva.
Uttar Pradesh is a popular tourist destination with numerous Buddhist sites, holy temple destinations, heritage destinations like Agra and numerous other facets that makes it a truly desirable holiday destination in the country. Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi, built in the 18th century is the most popular temples in the city. however, this is the only temple in Uttar Pradesh, where non-Hindus are not allowed inside the main temple but can roam outside the temple.
Foreigners planning to holiday in the ‘Wine Capital of India’ – Nasik, should abstain themselves from visiting the Lord Trambak Temple as in this temple, non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple. Do include a visit to this temple when planning your Maharashtra tour packages.
Among the holiest temples in Gujarat is the Dwarkadeesh Temple of Saurashtra. Although most of the temple is Gujarat are open for tourists from within the country as well as abroad, the Dwarkadeesh Temple does not allow non Hindus inside the temple but they can roam around the premise. The temple is almost 2500 years old and is dedicated to Lord Krishna.
Goa is the largest tourists’ holiday destination in the country. But, this multi-cultural and extremely modern state of Goa practices ban on entry of foreigners in a few temples. The Mahalasa Narayani Temple near Panaji does not allow foreigners to enter the temple due to the incident of ‘non-sanctity dressed’ tourist visiting the temple. The Ramanath Temple and Mangueshi Temple in Ponda have imposed strict dress code for both national as well as International tourists.
Restriction at Monasteries
As per the rule and regulations set by the Central Govt. of India, any Foreign National visitor should apply the aforesaid Entry Permit Letter once they propose to visit the Tibetan Settlement camp at Bylekuppe and monasteries in Dharamsala. It is better to apply for these permits at least 3 months prior to your travel. Permit can be obtained from Indian Missions Abroad, Rehabilitation Section, Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi and from the Bureau office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delh.
Foreigner’s Protected Area
There are many regions in India where non-Indians are not allowed to enter or need permit before entering. Mentioned here are the states where foreigners are required to obtain a permit to enter. Please note that there is either no fee or very nominal fee for gaining permits for protected or restricted area. For more info you can read our article on Holiday Permits in India.
Home Commr., Govt. of Mizoram, Aizwal, All FRROs at Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, All Indian Missions
- Arunachal Pradesh – International tourists planning a trip to Arunachal Pradesh need to keep a few tips in mind. In Arunachal Pradesh, Itanagar, Ziro , Along, Pasighat, Miao, Namdapha , Sujesa (Puki) and Bhalukpong are the only circuits where tourists are allowed. They need to travel only in groups as individual tourists are not allowed and the maximum stay in this region should not exceed 10 days.
abroad are the authorities that grant permits to visit these areas.
- Lakshadweep Islands – are among the most exotic holiday destinations in India. However, only Bangaram and Suheli Islands are open for international tourists and to visit these places permission can be obtained from the Lakshadweep administration. For visiting Agatti islands, both foreigners as well as Indian nationals require an entry permit.
- Nagaland – In Nagaland, Dimapur, Kohima, Mokochong and Wokha are the only districts where international tourists are allowed to visit. Tourists are allowed only in the above mentioned areas of the state for a maximum of 10 days and in a group of 4 or more. Permission can be obtained from the Home Commissioner, Resident Commissioner of Nagaland and All India Missions aboard.
- Sikkim – Sikkim is one of the most exotic and beautiful destinations in North East. However, not all the areas can be explored and visiting them requires permits. Gangtok, Rumtek, Phodang , Zongri and Pamayangtse have been declared as restricted areas. Individual tourists are permitted to enter for a maximum of 15 days.
Zongri in West Sikkim, Tsangu in East Sikkim, Mangan, Tong, Singhik, Chungthang, Lachung and
Yumthang are restricted areas where individual tourists are not permitted and maximum duration of stay can
be 5 days.
Permit can be obtained from All India Missions Abroad, Home Secretary, IGP, Chief Secretary and Resident
Commissioner, Government of Sikkim and a few other authoritative bodies.
Partially Protected Area
This segment includes those areas and state where barring a few regions, local as well as foreigner tourists are allowed to go anywhere on their North East India tours.
- Himachal Pradesh – For foreign nationals, the regions of Poo-Khab-Sumdho-Tabo-Gompa-Kaza and Morang-Dabling in Himachal Pradesh have been declared as partially protected areas. This permit is given only for group trekking and not for individual tourists.Permission to be obtained from Govt of HP, DGP of Shimla, MHA or ITBP special Commissioner of HP.
- Uttaranchal – Uttaranchal is among the most scenic destinations in India, known for its charming hill stations and wildlife attractions. However, for foreigners planning a visit to the state need to gain permit visas for tours to Nanda Devi Sanctuary, Niti Ghati and Kalindi Khal in Chamoli and Milam Glacier. These are the regions in Uttaranchal where individual international tourists are not allowed. Permission will be granted by MHA, Government of Uttaranchal and DM/SDM concerned ATBP.
- Rajasthan – While touring in Rajasthan, international tourist require a permit to visit the Pakistan-India border region west of National Highway No 15. The permit for this region can be garnered from the MHA and concerned DM.
Foreigner’s Restricted Area
In India there are a lot many places where tourists need to obtain the RAP (Restricted Area Permit) in order to visit or explore that region.
- Jammu and Kashmir – The heavenly abode of Jammu and Kashmir is normally open to all the tourists, but
there are a certain regions where foreigners require permit due to security reasons. Khalste Sub Division (Khalste-Dunkhar-Sroduchan Hanudo-Biana-Dha), Nyona Sub Division (Pangong Lake up to Spanksik, Leh to Spanksik via Karu, Chang La, Durbuk, Tangtse), Leh till Tso-Moari lake via Upshi, Debring and Puga, Leh-Upshi-Chusathang-Mahe-Puga-Tso Moari and Nubra Sub Division (Leh-Khardung La-Khalsar-Tirit up to Panasik, Leh-Khardung La-Khalsar up to Hunder and Leh-Sabo-Digar La-Digar-Labab-Khungru Gampa-Tangar) are some of the regions where permit is required.
For these areas restricted permit can be obtained from MHA and District Magistrates but it is valid only for 7
days. Not applicable for individual tourists and the tourist groups need to travel only on identified tour circuits.
- Andaman and Nicobar Islands – Individual foreign tourists can take up trip to Port Blair Municipal Area, Havelock Island, Long Island, Neil Island, Mayabunder, Diglipur and Rangat, where a night halt is allowed. Jolly Buoy, South Cinque, Red Skin, Mount Harriet and Madhuban is allowed only for day visits.
- Manipur – International tourists planning on visiting Manipur require permit to explore only Lohtak Lake, Imphal, Moirang INA memorial, Keibul Deer Sanctuary, Waithou Lake and Kongjam War Memorial. The following regions have been opened for tourists are listed below.
For travel in this sector, foreigners are allowed only in groups of 4 or more for a maximum of 10 days. Entry by
road is allowed on NH39 & NH53 for Dimapur-Kohima-Imphal-Jiribam-Silchar. Permits can be obtained by All
Indian Missions Abroad and all FRRO’s and MHA State Govt. of Manipur
- Mizoram – International tourists wanting to visit Mizoram can explore Vairangte, Thingdawl and Aizwal, only on identified tourist circuits and in group of 4 or more.
Foreigners require Restricted Access Permits that can be obtained from Indian Missions Abroad, all FRROs
and Home Commissioner at Manipur. Indians require Inner Line Permit to explore these areas. Apply 4 weeks
before your travel date.
No permit is required for travelling within Assam, Meghalaya
and Tripura. The articles highlights a few places and regions where
international tourists are not allowed to enter or can enter only with limited
permissions. So make sure you do a thorough research of the places you are
planning to visit before venturing on your holidays in India.
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