Guide to Travelling with Disabilities in India:
Disabilities do not define a person, nor do they define his/her interests – why then should disability be a deterrent? The world is lying in wait, glittering with innumerable treasures, just waiting to be explored. Step out and enjoy the adventure!
India might not ace in offering disabled-friendly services, but it does offer heart-warming experiences and several affordable carers who can make travelling across not-so-easy routes a memorable experience.
- East India, especially the Leh Ladakh region has advanced in this regard, with several monasteries, attractions and hotels developing ramps, wider doors and facilities for travellers requiring wheelchairs for mobility and easily available carers to help.
- Most attractions in India are only now gearing up to be accessible to wheelchair bound travellers. At the time of writing, most attractions were partially accessible.
- Travel by buses in India can be a hassle, even if they are low-floor and designed for easy access for disabled travellers – they are too crowded! Even if you board when it is not quite so full, disembarking will be another issue altogether as buses fill up very quickly and getting out is a battle for even able passengers.
- Delhi has a metro system and Mumbai has a new monorail system – both are wheelchair friendly. Seats are reserved for disabled travellers in almost all carriages. Lifts allow access to the platform and the entry points.
- All airlines in India are wheelchair friendly with seating in bulkhead rows with extra leg room and ramps for entering and exiting the aircraft.
- Indian Railways ‘says’ it has special wheelchair friendly coaches for almost all trains except the Express Trains such as Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Jan Shatabdi and Duranto Express trains. These coaches are specially designed to have wider doors for wheelchair access, wider aisles for movement, modified toilets and berths. Fully air-conditioned Garib Rath Trains also have these facilities.
Its true – they have – only they are not practically usable for wheelchair users. They are unreserved, sleeper class coaches with no air-conditioning. And their toilets stink and are really unusable by any with even the slightest concern for hygiene. Access to platforms are scary and across railway tracks – most dangerous.
- Concessional tickets for disabled travellers are available on Indian Railways
- Hotels can be found to be wheelchair friendly, although in some, transfer to hotel-provided wheelchairs for use in lifts and bathrooms might be required. The hotel wheelchairs are narrower and able to get through narrower doors of lifts, rooms and bathrooms.
- When you book your flight, other transportations and accommodations, specify your special/extra needs and confirm their ability to provide the required assistance to help ensure your safety and comfort.