Indian transport doesn’t get a very good press internationally. Everybody is familiar with images of trains with passengers hanging off the sides, potholed roads, and the cacophonous crush of Delhi rush hour traffic. In reality, however, it’s really not as difficult getting around in India as the world’s media would have you believe.
Here’s a quick guide.
If you’re on a tour of India, chances are that you’ll have transportation from place to place on a coach. You won’t have to think too much about your own transport. If you want a bit more independence but still desire a degree of local knowledge. The best alternative to this is to hire a car and driver. If you prefer to drive yourself, you must have a valid Indian driver’s license, as well as being familiar with the myriad of unwritten, untaught rules which reign supreme upon India’s roads. Far better, if you are a foreign national, to hire someone to drive you.
Most drivers who do this kind of work are bright, friendly, and will be more than happy to take you wherever you want to go. with the ability to provide plenty of local advice and information into the bargain. Do be aware that travel by car on Indian roads is often slow. Do not expect to top 30mph!
By Foot Or Bicycle
Pedestrians are common in India, but this by no means indicates that facilities for pedestrians are consistently well . Construction and maintainance facilities are not so good either. In urban areas you will find spacious pavements and plentiful signage, but rural areas can be rather more confusing. Some, however, find that walking dirt roads and grassy tracks is a more pleasant experience than pounding the tarmac. Walking is a great experience this nation, particularly if you are planning a long hike through some of our famed landscapes (take a map!).
If you prefer to put your feet to pedal rather than pavement, then bicycling is gaining in popularity within India. Do come prepared for accidental damage, though. As we mentioned above, some of the roads you may encounter will bear potholes and stones – although in general the situation for bicycles in India is improving! If you’re planning on walking or cycling for the solitude. However, a word of warning: Indian people are very inquisitive and very chatty. You are likely to find yourself accosted by friendly, interested people. Far more if you are on foot or bike than if you travel by other means!
India is a big country, and one of the best ways to travel the long distances within it is by train. Long-distance trains are exceedingly civilized beasts, far better maintained than many one could find in Europe or America. Sleeper carriages with well-laundered linen and air-conditioning are a wonderful way in which to while away the hours between destinations. If you prefer not to sleep through your journey, then you can fully occupy your mind and feed your soul simply by staring out of the window. India’s rail network is world-renowned for taking some of the most gorgeous, awe-inspiring, and jaw-felling routes on the planet. What is more, the trains of India will take you to the kinds of interesting, far-flung or more inaccessible locations which the other long-distance option (air travel) frequently misses.
You will find rickshaws and taxis common in India. In many cases these booking is available through hotels and other agencies. The booking is often an assurance that the service comes from a reputable provider. However, in general those offering transportation services will do the job. It’s advisable to negotiate your fare before you step into the vehicle. Meters are installed in taxis, but rarely actually of any use!
If you want to zip around the subcontinent quickly, air is the way forward. Indian airlines have extensive domestic networks, and are reasonably easy to book. As always, fares are cheaper if the booking is well in advance, so it’s harder to be spontaneous if you’re relying on air travel. However, taking a plane from city to city is a great way to save time and avoid negotiating tricky public-transport changes. One airport is much like another, wherever you are in the world. Most of us know the drill by now!