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 three hours.
Note: Travelling in rural areas during the monsoon season can be hazardous and care should be taken. Monsoon rains can cause flooding and landslides that 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, often lacking warning markers and street lights.
Self-drive cars are not as widely available as chauffeur-driven ones. Driving around India is not necessarily recommended, as the nature of driving standards can be challenging.
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, procure 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. If present, visitors should insist on the meter being flagged, as fares can fluctuate. Fares 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 several classes of travel including: 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-Sawai Madhopur-Chittorgarh-Udaipur-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Bharatpur/Agra-Delhi.
The Golden Chariot (www.goldenchariottrain.com) is a luxury train journey through Karnataka and includes a stop in Goa. Currently undergoing renovations, it is scheduled for re-opening in October 2019.
The Deccan Odyssey (www.deccan-odyssey-india.com) offers an eight-day jaunt through Maharashtra, pausing in Goa.
The Fairy Queen (www.royalindiantrains.com) is the oldest oldest working steam locomotive 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 operated by Indian Railways, that connect major and secondary city centres. Snacks and meals are provided.
Konkan Express: This route is Mumbai-Goa-Mangalore.
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 are seasonal catamaran services 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.