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How To Reach India
India is the world’s largest democracy, holding up the second largest population of the world, in a landscape full of rivers and plains, mountains and valleys, snow-caps and seas. The road, rail and air connectivity in the country is one of the best of its kind. The Indian Railways is a Government run enterprise, very well developed and reaching almost every nook and cranny of the country. Where the modern broad gauge cannot reach, the narrow gauge does.
After 2017, the Indian Government has also taken extensive efforts in furthering the development of airports. Many new international and domestic destinations have been added and existing ones made better. The new Government has also taken on the roads with a vengeance, constructing newer, better roads, including National and State Highways. With the advent of vehicle services like Ola and Uber into the Indian market, hiring cars for internal as well as inter-city travel is a cakewalk. Not only for the locals, but tourists as well.
Hence if you are looking at options to reach India and travel within the country, you are probably doing so at the best possible time.
The Himalayan Region
This region constitutes of uneven hills, slopes, valleys and lots of rivers and streams. Yet, reaching most of the holiday destinations in the Himalayan region is quite a smooth journey. There are two main International Airports in the region if you are travelling from out of India; namely The Indira Gandhi International Airport (Delhi) and Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport (Amritsar).
Major railway stations to reach the Himalayan region include Delhi, Haridwar, Amritsar, Dalhousie, and Shimla. Most cities and towns are equipped with their own railway station and The Indian Railways ply trains regularly. You can also choose to travel by private cabs, taxis or book an Outstation Ola by downloading the Ola app. State run buses like HRTC (for Himachal Pradesh inter-city travel) are good and cheap, but the private buses are much more comfortable and plush.
Getting around in the Himalayan Region:
When travelling in a city, the cheapest option is the auto-rickshaw. Or you can hire a car. Hill stations also offer bikes and mopeds on hire.
North India and Rajasthan
These two regions are served by 3 International Airports; that of Delhi, Amritsar and the Jaipur International Airport (Rajasthan). Many other Domestic airports like Udaipur, Chandigarh, Agra etc can also be used by connection flights.
The Northern and Western Railways wing of the Indian Railways serve most cities in Punjab, Rajasthan, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Two of the fastest trains on the Delhi-Jaipur-Mumbai route are the Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express. A special Maharaja Express is also run from Jaipur to Mumbai, renowned all over the world for its exceptional royal services through your journey. The Palace on Wheels is another opulent rail journey, covering New Delhi to Jaipur to Sawai Madhopur, Udaipur and other destinations until Agra in 7 days. Major stations in this region include Delhi, Amritsar, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer.
Local State-run buses like PUNBUS for Punjab state travel and RSRTC for Rajasthan are available. In Delhi, local green-yellow autos and taxis can be hired and they run on meter. Ola and Uber ply too. Women traveling alone in Delhi must be extra careful at nights.
Western and Central India
Mumbai being the hub of Western India, the rail, road and air connectivity are well developed in these areas. The Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (Mumbai), Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport (Ahmedabad, Gujarat) and Goa International Airport serve the International travellers coming to India.
The Western Railways are very well maintained and ply regular trains all over this region. Some of the biggest junctions here include Vadodara Station (Gujarat), Mumbai Central (Mumbai), Bhopal Station, Indore Station etc.
MSRTC and GSRTC ply state run buses in and outside Maharashtra and Goa. You can hire an Ola Outstation car (sedan, SUV or mini) or a private cab for road travel. Internally, Mumbai boasts of one of the fastest and most intricate local train connection. So you must travel in the local train at least once. Or take the local BEST red bus. There are the usual black-yellow autos, taxis and Ola, Uber in Mumbai. Indore, Bhopal, Goa etc also have Ola and Uber services.
East and North East
You can avail the Indian Railways’ trains when travelling internally; especially to the North East. These journeys to Darjeeling, Sikkim etc are very picturesque and wind their ways through tea gardens, rolls of greens and endless mountains with streams and waterfalls. Major railway stations include Kolkata, Darjeeling, and Guwahati.
If looking for local state-run buses, ASTC (Assam) and Calcutta State Transport Corporation ply them. Uber and Ola ply in Kolkata and outstation cars are also available. As are private cars and taxis. When travelling internally in Kolkata, don’t miss the trams and hand-pulled autos.
The South Indian terrain is also as varied as the North, with rivers and plains, hills and backwaters, paddy fields and palm trees. Traversing this land might seem like a long, arduous journey but is surprisingly easy. For International travellers, there are many Airports in the South that cater to flights from all over the world. Namely, the Cochin International Airport (Cochi, Kerala), Kempegowda International Airport (Bangalore, Karnataka), Chennai and Coimbatore International Airports in Tamil Nadu.
The Southern wing of Indian Railways operates rather smoothly and connects almost all major destinations. You will find Railway stations and major junctions like Kozhikode and Alleppey in Kerala, Bangalore and Mysore in Karnataka, Chennai in Tamil Nadu. Some luxurious, plush train journeys include that of The Golden Chariot’s Southern Splendour tour (Bangalore, Mysore, Goa).
State run buses ply to most destinations. The KSRTC (Kerala), BMTC (Bangalore and surrounding areas) and TNSTC (all over Tamil Nadu) are famous. You can also hire a car, hail a taxi or book Uber/Ola.
Also, the backwaters and rivers are navigable in many places. So a ferry ride or jetty/boat may also become your choice of transport when going to idyllic islands.