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About India
About India >> Getting Around

Getting There & Away

India's major international airports are Mumbai (Bombay), Delhi, Kolkata (Calcutta) and Chennai (Madras); there are other international airports at Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore and Kochi. Flights from Europe tend to arrive in India in the early hours of the morning, which can be inconvenient if you don't have reserved accommodation or don't like tramping around unfamiliar cities in the dark. Delhi is the cheapest place to buy air tickets in India, followed by Kolkata and Mumbai. International flights to neighbouring countries can be very cheap, especially between Kolkata and Dhaka (Bangladesh), Delhi and Karachi (Pakistan) and Tiruchirappalli and Colombo (Sri Lanka). The departure tax on flights to Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal is approximately 5.00, but to other countries it's 10.00.

The most popular overland routes between India and Nepal are Birganj-Raxaul Bazaar, Sunauli-Bhairawa and Kakarbhitta-Siliguri. If you're heading from Kathmandu or Pokhara to Delhi or elsewhere in northwestern India, then Sunauli is the most convenient entry point; to reach Kolkata or most of eastern India, Birganj is the best place to cross the border; and to get to Darjeeling, it's easiest to go via Kakarbhitta. It's fairly easy to travel between Kolkata and Dhaka overland. The only border crossing currently open between India and Pakistan is at Attari between Lahore and Amritsar. This and all other border crossings are by road only.

Getting Around

India's major domestic airline, the government-run Indian Airlines, has an extensive network. The country's international carrier, Air India, also operates domestically on the Mumbai (Bombay)-Delhi, Mumbai-Kolkata (Calcutta), Delhi-Kolkata and Mumbai-Chennai (Madras) routes. Deregulation has radically improved service and swollen the number of secondary operators, though several have gone belly up recently.

The Indian Railways system is deservedly legendary and Indian rail travel is unlike any other sort of travel on earth. At times it can be uncomfortable and frustrating, but it's also an integral part of the Indian travel experience. You should try to pick up the key points of Indian train etiquette as quickly as possible, otherwise you'll find yourself hopelessly attempting to defend your own private space. There are a number of different classes and a number of different trains: you want express or mail trains, but try all the different classes just for the hell of it. The Indian reservation system is labyrinthine and worthy of anthropological study, but be patient because it's one of the few bureaucracies in the country that actually works. When booking tickets, take advantage of the tourist quota allotment if one exists. You'll find it easier to reserve a seat this way.

Buses vary widely from state to state, but there is often a choice of buses on the main routes - ordinary, express, semi-luxe, deluxe, deluxe air-con and even deluxe sleeper. Government buses are supplemented by private operators on many routes. Private buses tend to be faster, more expensive and more comfortable and can make a lot of sense on longer jaunts. Bus travel is generally crowded, cramped, slow and uncomfortable. This is the good news. The bad news is the rugby scrum you often need to negotiate in order to board, and the howling Hindi pop music which blares from the tinny speakers. Buses are the only way to get to Kashmir and the best way to get to Nepal from Uttar Pradesh; they are generally faster than trains in northern Bihar and in large areas of Rajasthan.

You can hire a car and driver very easily, but you need nerves of steel and excellent karma to consider driving yourself. Cars are usually rented on a daily basis and come with a limited number of kilometres per day. You'll probably be responsible for the driver's expenses, so be sure to clarify how much this is to be each day before you set off. If you're planning a long trip, it's wise to go for a short spin with your prospective driver just in case you don't like his braking ability.

Motorcycling around India (especially on an Enfield Bullet) has become a popular pastime, though it's a hazardous endeavour and not for the amateur two-wheeler. Bicycles are a great way to get around towns and can usually be hired for a pittance. Long-distance touring, however, is not for the faint-hearted or the weak of knee. If you're thinking of bringing your own bike, think twice about bringing your state-of-the-art 10-speed unless you want it to be poked, probed and perved at every time you stop.

Local transport includes buses, taxis, auto-rickshaws, cycle-rickshaws and tongas (horse-drawn carriages). Taxis may have meters, but don't expect them to be working in more than a handful of cities. Three-wheeled auto-rickshaws are generally half the price of a taxi and allow the passenger much better inhalation of diesel fumes. Cycle-rickshaws have all but disappeared from the centres of major Indian cities but are still an essential part of the transport network in smaller towns. Be sure to agree on a fare beforehand.



About India---------------- ABOUT INDIA ----------------

Introduction || History || Culture || Facts for the Traveler || When to Go || Events || Attractions || Off the Beaten Track || Activities || Environment || Getting There & Away || Getting Around

































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