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How To Reach Kathmandu
Kathmandu, the national capital of Nepal, is a commercial centre that is known for its exciting tangle of colorful markets, noisy streets and ancient heritage. Kathmandu’s tactical location also serves as a major trading ground for the countries that surround it, especially China and India. Infrastructure wise, it is the most advanced city in Nepal and utilises tourism as the foreground of its economy. But amidst the commotion of this assiduous and tireless city, you are bound to find little pockets of serenity that cut through the noise and form an immaculate balance between chaos and order; yin and yang.
Looking forward to getting here already? Here are the best ways on how to reach Kathmandu.
The most accessible route to get to Kathmandu is through air travel. The Tribhuvan International Airport connects Kathmandu to every major city in India and other countries alike. There are direct flights available from Delhi and Mumbai, and connecting flights from cities like Varanasi, Indore, Bhopal, Lucknow, Jaipur etc. There is a wide range of airlines operating between India and Nepal like Jet Airways, IndiGo, Air India, among others.
While flying to Kathmandu isn’t necessarily a costly affair, taking the overland route to get there can be rewarding in many different ways. The Delhi Transport Corporation runs a direct bus service between Delhi and Kathmandu every two days; direct bus services are also available between Varanasi and Kathmandu, which takes a lesser amount of traveling time, about 13-16 hours, when compared to taking the Delhi route.
The India-Nepal border consists of a number of crossings that connect various cities from both countries.
- The Sunauli border crossing is the busiest one among all and connects Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh to Bhairahawa in Nepal. From Bhairahawa, a bus can be taken to reach Kathmandu.
- The Raxaul crossing can be reached from Patna, Kolkata, and Bodh Gaya to get to Birganj in Nepal. From here, you can opt to hop onto a bus to Kathmandu that takes about 6-8 hours, or a jeep ride, which is quicker at 4-5 hours.
- The Panitanki border crossing can be accessed from Siliguri in West Bengal; commonly used by people traveling from Kolkata, Darjeeling and other areas of Northeast India and goes to Kakarbhitta in Nepal. Get to Kathmandu from Kakarbhitta via bus, which takes about 14-16 hours.
- The Banbasa crossing in Uttarakhand is also a route that runs directly between Delhi and Kathmandu. Banbasa is accessible to people traveling from Bareilly, Haldwani and Rudrapur in Uttarakhand, and goes to Mahendranagar in Nepal. A direct bus can then be taken from Mahendranagar to Kathmandu.
Currently, there is no direct train running between India and Kathmandu. The only direct passenger train between the two countries is yet to be launched officially, but once it does, it will connect Jayanagar in India to Janakpur in Nepal; from Janakpur, Kathmandu is only a six hour drive away.
Apart from this, the best possible way is to combine train journeys with road trips to get to the capital. The Bihar Sampark Kranti Express, the Sapt Kranti Express, or the SHC Garib Rath etc, can be taken to get to Gorakhpur from Delhi. From Gorakhpur, move ahead to the Sunauli border crossing and onwards, as directed in the subsection above. Alternatively, the Darjeeling Mail runs from Kolkata to New Jaipalguri (NJP) Station, from where you can get to Siliguri via road or directly from NJP to Panitanki crossing with a private taxi.
A pro tip: When opting to take the overland route, keep an eye out for scammers who might try selling you unnecessary services or luxury vehicle options that can enter Nepal directly. It is almost impossible to have a direct entryway to Nepal and avoid the aforementioned border crossings, so stay attentive.
Public transportation in the form of buses and taxis are widespread all over the city and are reasonably priced as well. Alternatively, you can also choose to rent out a private vehicle to travel to nearby towns, villages and other sightseeing locales. While scouting out the crowded markets and shops, it is best to do so on foot and walk around to nearby destinations. Alternatively, you will also find rickshaws in these areas that can help you manoeuvre through the crowds and get around quicker.