Travelling within India
Travelling within India can be an experience in itself. A vast nation with rivers, highways, roads and dirt roads, India has all kinds of transport options for each.
There are boats and ferries to traverse the rivers, an amazing network of railways for long distance travel, metros and electric suburban trains for commuting within the city, buses, taxis, three-wheeled public taxis, horse carts, camel carts and even buffalo carts. You can even ride camels in Jaisalmer, elephants in Jaipur and Kerala and of course in some National Parks of India!
Whichever transport you take, it shows you just one more magnificent facet of India and its citizens. So, gear up and experience India with each of your travels. Here are some tips:
- On arrival, head to the pre-paid taxi or radio cab desk to book a cab. You will find it hard to hail a cab outside the arrivals area of an Airport; even if you do, there is a huge risk of being fleeced. Save yourself the hassle – give yourself some safe time to get adjusted to India – for a new comer, India shocks! A little time to adjust to the culture and you will find yourself adapting and will be a pro soon. See our tips on India and Auto-Rickshaws.
- India has a very extensive network of railways. Use it for long distances – you have plenty of options across classes – air-conditioned and general. Trains can be booked online for 3 months in advance. Foreigners have their own quota of tickets, so getting a ticket might not be really a hassle.
- India is also connected by a vast network of highways, most of which are in good conditions. You can book bus tickets online, through an agent, or get them directly on the spot. Inter-state buses generally begin in Interstate Bus Terminals and have different pick-up points, en-route too.
- Most long distance bus routes have refreshment stops en-route and offer you a chance to stretch your leg and attend to your needs.
- When on bus travel, keep your day bag on your person at all times. Do not leave it behind in the bus especially on refreshment stops
- The rest of the luggage is stored either atop the bus or in compartments beneath the bus floor. If atop the bus, ensure that the luggage is locked and securely tied to the railing, lest it bump off the bus as it navigates crazy twists and turns, especially on the hills.
- Experience India’s heritage with rides on Toy trains – little mini-trains that connect you to the hill stations such as Shimla and Darjeeling
- Ladies queues are common in all train stations, bus stations – wherever there is a queue – predictably they are shorter than the ones for men
- When boarding unreserved buses, slip a piece of clothing like a kerchief or a belonging that can be sacrificed through the window so it falls on the seat – Done? There you have a reserved seat now.
- It can be very hard to scramble through the crowds to get a seat the proper way in unreserved buses. The same rule applies for trains
- In Delhi and Mumbai, you can travel by metro and monorail respectively. They are cleaner, faster and traffic-free ways of commuting within these two cities. Delhi metro system covers Delhi routes extensively and offers a fast, traffic-free commute between different parts of the city.
- On road, be prepared to experience an influx of heavy traffic, air pollution, honking horns, beggars, eunuchs and salespersons, not to mention crazy driving
- In most parts of India, you can hail a 3-wheeled bicycle rickshaw for local transport – within the neighbourhood for short distances)
- Electric scooters are also gaining popularity in India, especially for short distances
- Domestic air flights also offer excellent connectivity across India – you can choose between several private operators on both low-cost and full service airlines. State-owned Air India is also a good option.
- Ferries and boats are available for transport across rivers. Houseboats are popular in Kerala and Srinagar. Multiple day cruises are available for crossings from South Indian coastal cities to Andaman & Nicobar Islands and the Lakshwadeep Islands.
- Most major cities have radio taxis: air-conditioned sedans that run on a computerized meter system. These have GPS as well and are a lot safer than auto-rickshaws and taxis hailed on the road. Some examples: Meru Cabs, Easy Cabs