How to navigate transport in India
India is a large country, comprising 29 states and seven union territories. For those planning a lot of ground cover, it is the fastest and easiest way to go around for a long distance. For example, compared to 33 hours by train, it takes only two hours and 40 minutes to travel from Delhi to Bangalore.
Domestic airlines connect to 80 cities. Both low cost carrier and full-service airlines operate. Two best airlines are Indigo (low cost) and Air India (full service).
Jet Airways offers ‘Explore India Pass’ for booking travelers to travel on Jet Airways or Jet Airways code-share flights. With this passenger, a ticket and booking reference number is provided for all local travel, with the flexibility of changing the route or date at any time. Here’s how to book.
Local tip: Book flights on the official website of the airline or travel booking portals such as makemytrip and yatra. Use aggregators like Skyscanner and Kayak to compare airfares and get the cheapest tickets.
India has a comprehensive railway network which covers almost the whole country. There are several classes: SL (with sleeper class, three-level bands / berth and any AC), 3 AC (three-level air-conditioned class with berth in six groups), 2 AC (two-level air conditioned class privacy with berths For four and curtain groups), and 1 AC (air conditioned with first class two or four-berth cabin with lock on the door).
Make a booking through the IRCTC website at the railway station or through the travel agency. Alternatively, the travel portal such as travel reservations via Yatra.com and Clarotrip (for a small added service fee).
There are also some seats in the RAC (reservation against cancellation) quota. A RAC ticketed passenger has to share Berth with another RAC-status passenger. If the passenger with a confirmation ticket does not turn on or cancel his ticket, then the seat is allocated to the RAC ticket holder.
There are also several international tourist bureaus (ITBs) in many cities, which sell foreign tourist quota train seats to foreigners and non-resident Indians (NRIs). Book ticket in an ITB office by presenting a passport. Foreign citizens can also make reservation under this quota using an verified international mobile number on the official IRCTC website. Here’s how to do it.
Local tip: Try to reserve the side berth for more personal space, or book the upper berth to avoid folding it down during the daytime (as has to be done with the middle one).
To explore India by train without compromising comfortably, choose a luxury tourist train. They operate from September to April. They have completely exhausted facilities like stock bars, restaurants, private lounges, gorgeous suites, en suite bathrooms and much more. The rent depends on the accommodation and timing of the trip, and includes food, sights and entrance fees for cultural sites and monuments. The two people are expected to pay between $ 5000 and $ 10,000 for seven nights.
Some places in India are not available especially in hilly areas through air or train. Buses are operated by private companies and state road transport corporations. Passengers can choose between normal buses (without AC) and deluxe buses (called Volvos).
Government buses are cheap and available throughout the country. The sleeper volvo buses are better for long journeys. Semi-slippers or ordinary Volvo buses are useful for short trips. All buses take a snack / bathroom brake on the way, add time to travel.
Bus bookings must be made in advance either through a travel agency, at the bus station or online via RedBus or MakemyTrip (both have downloadable apps).
Local tip: Avoid taking the bus at night unless there is no other alternative, as driving conditions can be hazardous at night, considering the poor state of Indian highways. Women travellers should try to book the seat at the front. To book a sleeper cabin, choose a 2+1 sleeper (there are bunks for two people on one side and a single bunk on the other). They usually come with curtains or a sliding door.
Metro, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Gururgram, Chennai, Jaipur and Kochi are the fastest and cheapest way to roam around. There are separate cabin reservations for women on some metro systems (like Delhi), separate seats for women on other women (like Kolkata), and primary seats for the disabled.
Each station has a display that indicates the arrival of the next train, and can be purchased from the tokens or metro card stations. The minimum recharge amount of the card varies from INR 100 to INR 200 (with security deposit).
Local tip: Metros can be excessively crowded during rush hours (8-10am; 6-8pm), so it’s best to avoid them during these times.