Getting Around in India

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Service onboard the Deccan Odyssey, Maharashtra's luxury train

Service onboard the Deccan Odyssey, Maharashtra's luxury train

The best way to get around in India is the train. Recently Indian Railways have introduced a system of making online reservations at www.irctc.co.in. You need to register a login and your tickets are delivered almost anywhere within India--within  2/3 days - for a small price. Theres also the option of the INDRAIL pass though the specifications of this need to be looked into.Another alternate way of making reervations is in person. But booking a train can be a bit of a hassle. Most trains are booked 15 days before they leave, but fortunately there is the famous quota, more specifically the tourist and emergency quotas. The bigger tourist centres like Mumbai, have a special counter where you can buy the tourist quota tickets, they are sold the day before the train leaves. Be there early because tickets to places like Goa are sold very quickly. At smaller stations you can make use of the emergency quota. Buy a waiting list ticket and go to Station Manager and ask for a emergency ticket. Should do the job (most of the time).

When you are at the booking office before buying the ticket you should fill in a booking form, for this you need the train number and the train name. To get this information buy the very handy trains at a glance, a must have for the train traveller in India.

Once the fun and novelty of this process wares off, there is an easier way to get tickets. Most guesthouses and hotels will send someone to the station to buy tickets for you. There is usually a service charge- anywhere from rs10- rs100 (at the posher places) and always, of course, endless cups of tea - "chai" in the local parlance). The time saved can allow another half day of sightseeing or errands.

Theres various categories of seating in indian trains. Top of the list is First class AC sleeper. This is the acme of luxurious train travel in India with full service and a choice of berths. You can either have a compartment shared among 4 people or a nice cosy coupe for 2 people only. The fares on the FIrst AC sleeper are very expensive-Check in advance. Next on the list is 2nd AC sleeper.this is a common option on most long distance trains. It has comfortable lengthy seats/backrests, which collapse into beds at night. Next is the 3rd AC sleeper. This is the most common option in the AC category and the seats in this really run out quickly. All these 3 categories of coaches are air conditioned--which you might really need during your travels during the long hot indian summer. The entry to such coaches is usually strictly regulated and you have an attender on call. Next in line is the sleeper class coach. These are also reserved but they are not air conditioned and safety is a dicey issue during travel in certain northern indian regions. However to see the real india you have to travel by this category. Bottom of the heap is the unreserved class.Anything goes here and its not out of whack to see people packed like sardines in these coaches. Travel in these at your own risk!

Train travel is one of the most pleasing and fun experiences you will have in India. Your fellow passengers are very curious about travellers, and will likely engage you in long (and sometimes fascinating) conversations about politics, education, travel, family and career. Seeing the vast countryside roll by while relaxing in a nice air conditioned pullman beats any other long distance travel option hands down.

If you must, and sometimes you must, another way to get around is by bus. There all kinds of buses, the normal, luxe, deluxe, ultra deluxe and sleeper bus are some of them. The buses in India are best now

The state owned buses go between all major cities.My advice if you travel by bus get a reserved seat.Buses are  a pleasant mode of transportation.

For those of us that have a little more money there is always the airplane. You can book tickets at the more reliable travelagents, but make sure they copy your personal details correctly on the application form of the ticket else you will have nasty complications at the airport. There are regular flights between all big cities in India.

Contributors
August 05, 2005 change by reen
January 20, 2006 change by giorgio
August 04, 2005 new by el_rio
August 05, 2005 new by abhatia

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