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Postcards from India – Sending Mail & Post in India

Is it just me or is sending and receiving a post card still one of the greatest joys?

Recently I was reading India, A Literary Companion by Bruce Palling. During the section on Travel and Transport I was delighted at the mention of the Post Offices in India. It also mentions the poem of Rudyard Kipling – The Overland Mail. (see below).

This reminded me of my own love of Indian post offices.

Being one of the last great letter writers and post card senders (self-professed admittedly!) I am a huge fan of the Indian Post Offices and visit them as often as I can during a tour of India, particularly the ones in smaller, out of the way places. (And as you can see in the images, our son may be the next great postcard writer!)

Inside a tiny post office in the backwaters of Kerala

Inside a tiny post office in the backwaters of Kerala

Like its rail network, India has one of the largest and most impressive postal networks across the globe.

Stepping into a post office in India can feel like stepping back in time. I’ve never been into one that’s air conditioned – think open windows and doors and slow whirring fans that don’t really shift the heat. Inside you’ll often see gorgeous, antique wooden furniture from letter holders to desks at the post office, well-thumbed notebooks that hold the stamps and people lining up for all manner of things.

And that’s not to mention all the old red post boxes you will see along the way when you are on holidays in India.

Is that the keys to the mail box hanging there?

Is that the keys to the mail box hanging there at the top?

If you are planning to send a letter, postcard or parcel home from India during your travel in India, then here are a few tips.

1) Get your parcels wrapped – one of the quaint legacies of the Indian mail system is that your parcel still needs to be wrapped in cloth. Yes really. So for example in Mumbai, outside the Dadar post office sit a few men who will wrap your parcel in white cloth, stitch it up and then write the address on it in black pen. If you are planning to send a parcel then a lot of post offices will insist it’s wrapped like this.

2) Don’t be surprised if you postcard gets home well after you – I’ve sent postcards from India that have arrived months after me. It’s part of the charm!

3) Make sure to ask the postal clerk if you can look through the stamp book – I will buy some stamps of various pictures and designs for my son’s journal – he loves them.

Happy travels. And more importantly happy postcard writing. Feel free to send us a postcard from your travels in India. We’ll post it on our social media pages and stick it up on our office wall.

Sending postcards from Udaipur, Rajasthan

Sending postcards from Udaipur, Rajasthan

And finally, here’s an excerpt from Kipling’s great poem:

In the name of the Empress of India, make way,
O Lords of the Jungle, wherever you roam,
The woods are astir at the close of the day –
We exiles are waiting for letters from Home.
Let the robber retreat – let the tiger turn tail –
In the Name of the Empress, the Overland Mail!

With a jingle of bells as the dusk gathers in,
He turns to the footpath that heads up the hill –
The bags on his back and a cloth round his chin,
And, tucked in his waist belt, the Post Office bill: –
‘Despatched on this date, as received by the rail,
Per runner, two bags of the Overland Mail.’

Stamps please!

Stamps please!