Domestic Travel Within India

Journeying in India is an adventure in its own right. If you are not culture-shocked seeing its people, you will definitely be shocked while journeying within the country. But there is nothing to worry about as long as you do not expect efficiency of a western country and take all of this as an integral part of Indian experience — have patience and faith in the system. You are safe in this country.

On Arrival and Getting Around
Once through customs, the visitor is often besieged by taxi drivers and porters. If a travel agent or a friend is meeting you, he or she may be waiting for your outside the arrival building. And, if you are on your own, enquire at the ‘Information Desk’ for prepaid taxi system operated by the police.

You will find several agencies offering rent-a-car services. You may find their counters at the airports as well. Your hotel will also very likely house a travel counter from where you could hire a car. A variety of cars are available – Mercedes, Cielo, Ford, Opel, the sturdy Indian Ambassador car, a range of Maruti cars, 4-wheel drives by Tata and so on.

Taxi and auto-rikshaw can de identified by their distinct black and yellow colour. Both are metered. While hiring a taxi, ensure that the driver flags down the meter before he starts. The meter reading fare charts are available with all the drivers and pay as per the chart. The night charge (2300 hrs – 0500 hrs) is an additional 20 percent for the auto and 25 percent for the taxi. Extra charges are payable for heavy baggage and halting. Tipping is not customary. To complaint about overcharging or misbehaviour, call 3319334 during office hours (0900 – 1700 hrs) and after office hours 3014896. Remember, complaints of foreigners are given more serious attention in India.

You can also try a cycle-rikshaw or even a ‘ tonga ‘ (a horse driven carriage) for a unique Indian way of travelling though they ply in select pockets in metro cities and abundantly in small towns and cities. Motorcycles can also he hired in some tourist cities like Goa.

Air Travel
India has a relatively extensive network of domestic airlines. The biggest of domestic carrier is Indian Airlines which has the distinction of being the second largest domestic carrier in the world. It links 59 cities in India and 16 in the neighbouring countries including Bangladesh , Maldives , Nepal , Pakistan , Singapore , Sri Lanka , Thailand , Kuwait , UAE, Oman and Malaysia . A number of private domestic airlines, such as Jet Airways and Sahara India Airlines, serve a variety of regional destinations. A few smaller airlines such as Jagson Airlines, Gujarat Airways, etc. also offer limited regional services.

For travel during the peak tourist season (October-March), try and make reservations in advance, as flights are usually heavily booked on popular tourist sectors. Due to time-consuming check-in and security procedures, you must be at the airport an hour before the departure time.

On domestic flights no alcohol is served and it is an offence to consume alcohol. The baggage allowance per adult is 20 kg and in business class it is 30 kg. Also, make a note of the fact that there are no Cancellation Charges on air-tickets purchased in foreign currency.

Security is generally very strict at Indian airports. What can be taken on board as hand luggage often varies with international convention. Batteries of any type are not allowed and are often removed from the cameras.

During winters, adverse weather and fog conditions are real problems and hence flight delays and last minute cancellations are very common. In such cases, you are advised to stay in regular touch with your tour operator or with the concerned airline to ensure that this has minimum possible impact on your tour.

Rail Travel
The railway system in India was established during mid 19th century. It copes with upwards of three billion passengers every year. The network, which covers much of the country is a quintessential part of the fabric of India , and a journey on it should not be missed. However, it is very important for you to remember before undertaking a rail journey that although Indian trains are clean and comfortable, they are not of European standard.

Of the many different categories of accommodation available, those recommended are air-conditioned first class (the most expensive and almost as expensive as flights); two-tier sleeper (second class) and non air-conditioned first and second class. However, unless you really want to experience how common Indians travel, do not travel in non-air-conditioned classes as they can be dusty, crowded and rather uncomfortable.

Advance reservation is strongly recommended for trains. In the larger cities, the major stations have tourist sections for the convenience of foreigners. If reservations are not available, talk to the station in-charge about other options, such as the tourist quota etc.

Remember to check which station your train departs from and do allow yourself at least 20 minutes to find your seat/berth. List of passengers with seats/berths allotted to them is displayed on platforms and on each coach, an hour before the departure. The station superintendent and conductor attached to the train are usually available for assistance.

Food can be ordered through the coach attendant, however, it is advisable to carry your packed food if you are on a long journey as the train food may not be good enough. The fare of various Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express trains are inclusive of food as well.

You could opt for the luxury tourist trains such as Palace on Wheels and the Royal Orient. The Palace on Wheels takes you on a week-long journey through Rajasthan, while the Royal Orient takes you on a journey through Rajasthan and Gujarat . India also offers a journey on many of its toy trains. These trains, operating on narrow-gauge-tracks — hence the name toy trains — were started during the British era to link stations in the plains to hill stations. They offer a laidback experience where passengers can take in the diverse mountain scenery at leisure. Some of these routes are Kalka-Shimla, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (to Ooty), Darjeeling Hill Railway and Matheran Railway.

Road Travel
Although driving is on the left in India , that is where the similarity with British roads begins and ends. Traffic is an amazing mix of over-loaded ox-carts, exuberantly painted lorries, elephants and camels and trailers. Don’t panic, your driver knows his job and is very well familiar with these conditions.

The highway travel has become extremely popular even for domestic tourists ever since the small car boom in the country. Some popular tourist highways such as Delhi-Jaipur, Delhi-Agra, Delhi-Chandigarh have comprehensive facilities such as motels, unleaded petrol stations, public conveniences on route. You will also notice several colourful ‘dhabas’ on the highways. These are food stalls serving Indian meals and cupfuls of sugary tea or ‘chai’ — created for the convenience of the truckers. These ‘dhabas’ are also very popular with the domestic tourists, however, foreigners are advised not to try food here, but they all stock mineral water and cold drinks.

All state transport corporations operate extensive bus services and it is possible to reach even the remotest places by bus. However, please do remember that not all buses are well-cushioned and some of the rides can be bumpy and uncomfortable. Take a bus only when you are sure of what it feels like. Tourist districts, of course, will have a range of buses — offering air-conditioned, well-maintained interiors. Bus travel is the cheapest means of transport in India.

The most commonly available cars in India are the Ambassador and a variety of Maruti cars. In big cities various other cars are available including the Mercedes. However, the cost of these cars is higher than Ambassador car. All these cars can be hired by the day — for example to see Delhi ’s sights — or for weeks for extended tours of the country.

Driving in India
You will need your domestic license, liability insurance, an international driver’s permit and vehicle’s registration papers (if bringing your vehicle). This is not, however, an easy country in which to drive and it is definitely not recommended for beginners and those of a nervous disposition.

34 Comments

  1. Jalene
    Dec 16, 2011

    So much info in so few words. Tosolty could learn a lot.

    • Jailyn
      Jan 19, 2012

      For the love of God, keep wtrniig these articles.

    • Mena
      Jan 19, 2012

      Thanks for being on point and on tagert!

    • Geralynn
      Jan 19, 2012

      That saves me. Thanks for being so snselibe!

    • Deena
      Jan 21, 2012

      This is way better than a brick & mortar estalibshment.

    • Marnie
      Jan 21, 2012

      That’s a smart way of looinkg at the world.

    • Smiley
      Jan 21, 2012

      Apparnetly this is what the esteemed Willis was talkin’ ’bout.

    • Gertie
      Sep 19, 2012

      I’m so glad I found my soultoin online.

    • Derex
      Sep 19, 2012

      If not for your wriintg this topic could be very convoluted and oblique.

  2. Carli
    Dec 16, 2011

    That saves me. Thanks for being so sesnbile!

    • Brynell
      Jan 19, 2012

      I raelly wish there were more articles like this on the web.

    • Taimi
      Jan 19, 2012

      If your articles are always this hlpeful, “I’ll be back.”

    • King
      Jan 19, 2012

      This article achieved exlatcy what I wanted it to achieve.

    • Lesa
      Jan 21, 2012

      Deadly accurate answer. You’ve hit the blulesye!

    • Marni
      Jan 21, 2012

      I feel so much haipepr now I understand all this. Thanks!

    • Journey
      Sep 19, 2012

      I thought finding this would be so aurdous but it’s a breeze!

    • Mihai
      Sep 19, 2012

      then done. But believe me it is pbloisse to live a happy life by following the path of ethical standards and conduct. You may not be rich or materialistically successful but you will be definitely happy. Nature will help you to feel happy. I have practiced this for last 62 years of my life and although I am not rich but live a life of eternal bliss in spite of chaotic situation out side.

  3. Starr
    Jan 19, 2012

    I could read a book about this wtihuot finding such real-world approaches!

  4. Seston
    Jan 21, 2012

    Please teach the rest of these internet hooligans how to write and reearsch!

    • admin
      Jan 22, 2012

      haha cannot educate the world.!!thanks

      • Sunil
        May 24, 2012

        The rationalist-intellectual Rome and Greece was coreqenud by Judea, a region under the heal of the Romans and the birthplace of Christianity. Like Judea, India came under the heal of the British. Rationality has made deep inroads in India under foregin rule. It is tempting to conclude that India will play Judea’s role, i.e. conquer the conquerer. This may indeed come about in the long run. Who knows? Presently, India is slipping ever more thoroughly into materialism and under the glitter of the Western civilization. Talk to young Indian college students and you will notice the deep alienation they manifest from their own culture and admiration of the West. I met recently a very bright Engineering student graduated from a leading institution in India. She had read more than once, according to her proud report, the Harry Potter set of books. But she had not read any portion of the Ramayana, Mahabharata or Shakuntala. She is not alone in having neglected her own cultural edifice.

      • India
        May 24, 2012

        Wow I must cnoefss you make some very trenchant points.

      • Herco
        May 27, 2012

        Thank You very much for sending this artlice.After reading this artlice one must strive to do his humble part.This,i feel by educating people around us to think about the message in the artlice.One must pray to Mother to guide us to do our humble part in enhancing the awareness to the people.I feel we have ceased to remain humble and forgot completely to Thank Sri Aurobindo,and the Mother.Kindly recollect Mother’s message inscribed on the Samadhi. Thanking You again. K.Ramakrishnan.

      • Jonetta
        Sep 19, 2012

        This is a neat summary. Thanks for sharnig!

    • Ipul
      May 24, 2012

      Madan,The youth’s interest in the west has to do with their need for viitltay and colour in their lives. In my humble opinion; with the exception of a handful of people who purely pursue a spiritual ideal and are following purely their soul and nothing else, most people lead a mixed life leaning as much on external things for support as within themselves, they look for support in Mind and Soul. The current generation feels a total disconnect from the embellishments of spiritual life such as rituals and rites, religions and traditions etc; which by the way have long ceased to be embellishments but are now serious ill-habits. Repeating the Gayatri Mantra hundred times a day without sincerely listening to each syllable and striving to know its meaning is to me as insincere as religious’ middle-class India’s terrible habit of burping out the word OM’ after every grand meal! But why in the first place would the youth feel this disconnect with religion, with spiritual life? Obviously because they can’t see or haven’t experienced the spirit. Their common sense tells them to go after what they can see. So they turn to the west where they find colour and life. True spiritual experiences come to the patient and perseverant individuals, and therefore might for a long while not be for the masses like the Harry Potter books which appeal to the vital and the imagination alone.

    • Manori
      May 24, 2012

      Your cataloging of courrpt practices in India in education, medicine, media and elsewhere is excellent.But the cause of this woeful state of affairs is mis-diagonized Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is the reigning tenet not only in India but also in the US, Britain and many other countries. But nowhere are things as dismal as in India, according to your own account.The pursuit of mammon among Hindus is a disease of long term standing, preceding the British.Hindu bhaktas of the middle ages Kabir, Nanak, Chaitanya all sang criticising the love of mammon among the common folks. Kabir: Man lago yaar fakiri men. Jo kucch payo Ram bhajan men, woh sukh nahin amiri men.They sang these songs because they saw the character of the Indian populace addicted to materialism.The Western problem in contrast is pervasiveness of violence in their culture. Many church sermons in the US are on the topic of peace. Jesus is adulated as The Prince of Peace. In India Gandhi was adulated because he abrogated material consumption and took a vow of poverty. So few Indians can forsake materialism.

    • Roorkee
      May 27, 2012

      that spirituality is the key to the Indian pscyhe. Evidence for this claim is not evident.American business tycoon Warren Buffet and software guru Bill Gates have donated to charity 75 pct of their wealth. Where is the Indian Bill Gates? I attend the Unitarian Church on Sundays in the United States. I have noticed that even a poor single mother would contribute $10-20 every Sunday at the collection plate. Indians are deficient in contributing to a cause larger than themselves or their immediate family. Indians are too self-centered as a race. This is a general statement. Of course, there are many exceptions to the general rule.

      • admin
        Sep 19, 2012

        Mostly true but many exceptions and good silent and genuine philanthropists

    • Vlad
      May 27, 2012

      then done. But believe me it is psbliose to live a happy life by following the path of ethical standards and conduct. You may not be rich or materialistically successful but you will be definitely happy. Nature will help you to feel happy. I have practiced this for last 62 years of my life and although I am not rich but live a life of eternal bliss in spite of chaotic situation out side.

    • Jeneva
      Sep 19, 2012

      Ya learn sotemihng new everyday. It’s true I guess!

  5. Nevaeh
    Sep 19, 2012

    You’ve really helped me understand the isesus. Thanks.

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