the fp is getting-around
Getting Around India
Air carriers service all major Indian cities and most large towns. Domestic carriers include Air India (www.airindia.com), GoAir (www.goair.in), IndiGo (www.goindigo.com), Jet Airways (www.jetairways.com) and SpiceJet (www.spicejet.com).
A modern expressway links Delhi with Agra, where the Taj Mahal is situated; this has reduced travel times by road from five hours to around 3 hours.
Note: Travel in rural areas during the monsoon season can be hazardous and care should be taken. Monsoon rains cause flooding and landslides that can cut off some towns and villages for days at a time.
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Outside the major cities main roads and other routes are often poorly maintained and congested with poor visibility and inadequate warning markers.
Self-drive cars are not as widely available as chauffeur-driven ones. Driving around India is not recommended due to the erratic nature of driving standards and the heavy traffic.
There are a large number of chauffeur-driven tourist cars (some air conditioned) available in the main tourist centres. These unmetered tourist cars are usually cheaper than taxis if booked for an extended period of time. Shop around for the best deals and hire from a reputable firm.
An International Driving Permit is required. If importing your vehicle into India, get the latest documentation requirements from the Indian embassy in your home country.
Taxis and auto rickshaws are available in large cities and fares should be charged by the kilometre. They do not always have meters but, where they do, visitors should insist on the meter being flagged in their presence. Fares change from time to time and therefore do not always conform to the reading on the meter, but drivers should always have a copy of the latest fare chart available for inspection. Kolkata (Calcutta), Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai (Madras) have metro systems.
The Indian internal railway system is state-run by Indian Railways (www.indianrail.gov.in). There are seven classes of travel: first-class air conditioned, first-class sleeper, second-class air conditioned, second-class, sleeper class, third-class air conditioned and air conditioned chair car. Major trains carry restaurant cars.
Special trains: The Palace on Wheels (www.palacesonwheels.com) is a luxury train especially popular with foreign tourists. Tariff includes cost of travel, full catering and conducted sightseeing tours. Itinerary: Delhi-Jaipur-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Ranthambore-Chittorgarh-Udaipur-Bharatpur-Agra-Delhi.
The Golden Chariot (www.goldenchariottrain.com) is a luxury train journey through Karnataka and includes a stop in Goa.
The Deccan Odyssey (www.deccan-odyssey-india.com) offers an eight-day jaunt through Maharashtra, pausing in Goa.
The Fairy Queen is the oldest steam engine in the world. The journey is a two-day round trip from Delhi to Alwar. Guests are taken to Sariska Tiger Reserve for a jeep safari and stay overnight in a hotel.
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway operates from New Jalpaiguri/Kurseong to Darjeeling. It climbs 2,100m (6,890ft).
Other trains: The Rajdhani Express trains are deluxe super-fast trains connecting Delhi with a plethora of centres including Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai (Madras), Bengaluru (Bangalore), Bhubaneswar, Secunderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Ahmedabad and Ajmer.
Shatabdi Express: Super-fast trains connecting major and secondary city centres. Snacks and meals are provided.
Konkan Express: This route is Mumbai-Goa-Mangalore.
Indrail Pass: enables unlimited rail travel for a specific period. Advance reservation is essential. You can purchase Indrail passes in the UK from SD Enterprises Ltd (tel: +44 20 8903 3411, in the UK; www.indiarail.co.uk). You can also buy passes in India at all main railway stations and authorised agents.
There are ferries from Kolkata (Calcutta) and Chennai (Madras) to Port Blair in the Andaman Islands. Contact the Shipping Corporation of India (www.shipindia.com) for details. There are also services from Kochi and Calicut to the Lakshadweep Islands (http://lakport.nic.in). Services are often seasonal, and are generally suspended during the monsoon. There is a seasonal catamaran service from Mumbai (Bombay) to Goa. One particularly attractive boat journey is the 'backwaters' excursion in the vicinity of Kochi in Kerala. Several local tours are available.