» Travel Information
AIR : The domestic airline is Indian Airlines (IC). The network connects over 70 cities. Indian Airlines
also operate regular flights to the neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan,
the Maldives, Singapore and Thailand. Recently-created domestic airlines include Jet Airways, Modiluft,
East-West Airlines, NEPC Airlines and Alliance Air, a subsidiary of Indian Airlines.
Special fares : There are various special Indian Airlines fares available to foreign nationals and
Indian nationals residing abroad. All are available throughout the year, and may be purchased either abroad
or in India, where payment is made in a foreign convertible currency (such as US Dollars or Sterling).
With the exception of the Youth Fare India (see below), discounts of 90% are available for children under two years,
and of 50% for children aged 2-12. Full details of all the special fares are contained in the India brochure,
available from the Government of India Tourist Office. A summary of each is given below.
Discover India : There are two types of ticket available; a 21 day ticket costs US$750, a 15 day ticket
costs US$500 and a 7 day ticket costs US$250. These offer unlimited economy-class travel on all domestic Indian
Airlines services. No stop may be visited more than once, except for transfer.
Youth Fare India is valid for 3 months, offering a 25% discount on the normal US Dollar fare.
It is available to those aged 12-30 at the commencement of travel for journeys on economy/executive class of
domestic air services and Indo-Nepal services.
India Wonderfares (North, South, East and West) cost US$300 and are valid for seven days,
offering economy-class travel between main centres in India. No town may be visited more than once, except for transfer.
SEA/RIVER : There are ships from Calcutta, Vishakapatnam and Chennai to Port Blair in the Andaman Islands,
and from Cochin and Calicut to the Lakshadweep Islands. Services are often seasonal, and are generally suspended during
the monsoon. One particularly attractive boat journey is the 'backwaters' excursion in the vicinity of Cochin in Kerala.
Several local tours are available.
RAIL : The Indian internal railway system is the largest in Asia and the second-largest in the world.
There are over 70,000km (43,500 miles) of track, over 7000 stations and over 11,000 locomotives, including 5000
steam engines. Its trains carry over 12 million passengers every day. The network covers much of the country and
is a quintessential part of the fabric of India, as well as being relatively inexpensive. Express services link all
the main cities and local services link most other parts of the country. Buses connect with trains to serve parts
of the country not on the rail network. Children 5-11 years of age pay half price, children under five travel free.
There are seven classes of travel: first-class air-conditioned, second-class air-conditioned, air-conditioned three
tier, air-conditioned chair car, first-class sleeper and second-class. Major trains carry restaurant cars.
Important routes run as follows: Mumbai-Ahmadabad (five a day), Mumbai-Allahabad (five a day),
Mumbai-Bangalore-Mysore (two a day), Mumbai-Calcutta (three a day), Mumbai-Chennai (three a day),
Mumbai-New Delhi (four a day), Mumbai-Patna (five a day), Mumbai-Pune (five a day); Calcutta-Allahabad (three a day),
Calcutta-New Jalpaiguri-Darjeeling (Toy Train, one a day), Calcutta-Chennai (three a day),
Calcutta-New Delhi (three a day); Delhi-Agra (Taj Express, five a day), Delhi-Ahmedabad (four a day),
Delhi-Allahabad (five a day), Delhi-Jaipur (five a day), Delhi-Chennai (three a day);
Chennai-Ernakulam-Cochin (one a day).
Special fares : There is a special Indrail Pass consisting of a single non-transferable ticket which
enables a visitor to travel on any train without restriction within the period of validity. It is sold only to
foreign nationals and Indians residing abroad holding a valid passport, and replaces all other concessional
tickets. Payment is accepted only in foreign currency (US Dollars or Sterling). Refunds can be given only
if cancellation is made before the starting date. Children between 5-11 years of age are entitled to a
Child Indrail Pass and pay roughly half the normal fare. Children under five years of age travel free.
The normal free baggage allowances are 70kg air-conditioned class, 50kg first-class/AC Chair Car and 35kg second-class.
Child Indrail Pass holders are entitled to half the above allowances. Holders of an Indrail Pass travelling
on the Reydhani Express and Shatabdi Express are exempted from all reservation fees, sleeping car charges,
express train meal charges and other costs. Validity: A ticket can be used within one year of its issue.
Validity period is from the date of commencement of the first journey up to midnight of the date on which validity
expires. The ticket must be used within one year of its issue. Advance reservation is essential, particularly
on overnight journeys, arranged through travel agents. Reservations are on a first-come-first-served basis.
For individuals or small groups a 2/3-month notice should suffice; during summer months a longer period is
desirable to ensure reservations for the entire itinerary. Reservations can be made up to 360 days in advance.
Indrail passes can be reserved in the UK from SD Enterprises. Tel: (0181) 903 3411 or 200 9549.
Fax: (0181) 903 0392. (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) The passes can also be purchased in India at all
the main railway stations and authorised agents.
Palace on Wheels : Expensively decorated Edwardian-style luxury steam train with 14 coaches.
Each coach consists of a saloon, four sleeping compartments with upper and lower berth, bathroom, shower,
toilet and small kitchen. Room service is available. There is a dining car, a bar, an observation car and a
fully-equipped first-aid centre. Modern amenities include air-conditioning, four channel music and telephone
intercom throughout the train. Tariff includes cost of travel; full catering; elephant, camel and boat rides;
conducted sightseeing tours; and entrance fees.
Itinerary : Delhi-Jaipur-Chittaurgarh-Udaipur-Sawai Madhopur-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Bharatpur-Agra-Delhi.
Bookings : Several tour operators/travel agents organise escorted tour facilities which include the Palace
Also interesting is a journey on the Toy Train, a narrow-gauge rail line completed in 1881. Covering the route Calcutta-New
Jalpaiguri-Darjeeling in 8 hours, it crosses over 500 bridges and offers ample opportunity for photos as the pace is leisurely. There
is one daily train in either direction.
ROAD : Traffic drives on the left. An extensive network of bus services connects all parts of the
country, and is particularly useful for the mountainous regions where there are no rail services.
Details of routes may be obtained from the local tourist office. Tourist cars : There are a large number of
chauffeur-driven tourist cars (some air-conditioned) available in the main tourist centres. These unmetered tourist
cars run at a slightly higher rate than the ordinary taxis, and are approved by the Government
of India Tourist Office. Self-drive cars are not generally available. Documentation : An International
Driving Permit is required.
URBAN : 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.
Public transport is often crowded and can be uncomfortable. For those interested, Mumbai Electric Supply &
Transport (BEST) is one of the best public transport operators in India. A 16.45km (10-mile) underground
railway was completed in Calcutta in 1995.
JOURNEY TIMES : The following chart gives approximate journey times (in hours and minutes) from Delhi
to other major cities/towns in India. For other cities visit our Tour-India page Distances Between Tourist Cities.
Air Road Rail Sea
Mumbai 1.50 28.00 17.30a -
Calcutta 2.00 30.00 18.00b -
Chennai 3.00 45.00 32.00 -
Hyd'bad 1.55 40.00 24.00 -
Agra 0.40 4.30 3.15 -
Jaipur 0.40 6.00 5.15 -
Jammu 1.50 14.45 16.00 -
Triv'rum 5.00c 62.00 60.00 -
Patna 1.30 22.00 16.00 -
Port Blair 5.05c - d
a. Time by express (not daily); normal train takes 23 hours. b. Time by express (not daily); normal
train takes 25 hours. c. Does not include stopover in Chennai. d. Boat journey from Chennai takes 3-4 days.
Note : Further information (including route maps, times of express trains and more detailed journey-time
charts) may be found in the official India brochure, available free from the Government of India Tourist
Office (see address section).
AIR : India's national airline is Air India (AI).
For free advice on air travel from the UK, call the Air Travel Advisory Bureau in the UK on
(0171) 636 5000 or (0161) 638 2000 (Manchester).
Approximate flight times : From London to Delhi is 9 hours, to Calcutta is 12 hours, to Chennai is 12 hours
30 minutes and to Mumbai is 9 hours.
From Los Angeles to Delhi is 25 hours 30 minutes.
From New York to Delhi is 18 hours.
From Singapore to Delhi is 5 hours.
From Sydney to Delhi is 10 hours.
International airports : All the above airports have money exchange facilities, tourist information
offices and hotel reservation services.
Mumbai (BOM) is 29km (18 miles) north of the city (travel time - 75-90 minutes). Taxi services go to the city.
Taxi fares should have fixed rates from the airport to the city. Public transport is also available in the form
of the EATS bus service and local buses. Other facilities include a retiring room for passengers in transit
and a child-care lounge.
Calcutta (CCU) is 13km (8 miles) northeast of the city (travel time - 40-60 minutes). There is a 24-hour
coach service to Indian Airlines city office and major hotels. A bus goes every 10 minutes 0530-2200.
Taxi services go to the city. There is a 24-hour post office, bars, duty-free shops and restaurants available.
Delhi (DEL) (Indira Gandhi International) (web site:http://www.netfx/delhi/airport.html) is 22km (15 miles)
south of the city (travel time - 45 minutes). There are coach, bus and taxi services to the city.
There are 24-hour duty-free shops and restaurants.
Chennai (MAA) is 14km (8 miles) southwest of the city (travel time - 30-40 minutes). A coach meets all flight
arrivals 0900-2300. There is a train every 20-30 minutes from 0500-2300. Bus no. 18A runs every 25 minutes
from 0500-2200. Taxi services go to the city.
Departure tax : All airports except Mumbai (BOM) levy the following departure tax: RS150
(for flights to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka).
RS500 (all other destinations).
Note : Ahmedabad Airport is being upgraded as an international airport.
SEA : The main passenger ports are Mumbai, Calcutta, Cochin, Chennai, Calicut, Panaji (Goa) and
Rameswaram (the main departure point for the sea crossing to Sri Lanka; passenger services are presently
suspended due to the political situation in Sri Lanka).
Indian ports are also served by several international shipping companies and several cruise lines.
There are, however, no regular passenger liners operating to South-East Asia.
Departure tax : Seaports levy the following departure tax: RS150 (for journeys to Afghanistan,
Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka). RS500 (all other destinations).
RAIL : This section gives details of the major overland routes to neighbouring countries (where frontiers
are open); in most cases these will involve road as well as rail travel. Details should be checked with the
Government of India Tourist Office as they may be subject to change (see address section).
Connections to Pakistan : currently only possible between Amritsar and Lahore
Connections to Nepal : the most practical and popular route to Nepal is by train to Raxaul (Bihar) and then by bus to Kathmandu
or by train to Gorakphur (or by bus if coming from Varanasi) and then by bus to Kathmandu crossing the border at Sunauli; also, by
train to Nantanwa (UP) and then by bus to Kathmandu/Pokhara, or Bhairawa to Lumbini for Pokhara. It is also possible to make the
crossing from Darjeeling by bus to Kathmandu across the southern lowlands.
Connections to Bhutan : the best way of reaching Bhutan is by train to Siliguri, then bus to Phuntsholing. There is also an
airlink from Calcutta to Paro by Druk Air.
Connections to Bangladesh : the best route to Bangladesh is Calcutta to Bongaon (West Bengal) by train, rickshaw across the
border to Benapol, with connections via Khulna or Jessore to Dhaka. Another route is from Darjeeling via Siliguri, then train or bus
from Jalpaiguri to Haldibari.
Currently no land frontiers are open between India and Myanmar or the People's Republic of China.
ROAD : Of late, the overland route from Europe to India has become very popular, but travellers should have accurate information
about border crossings, visa requirements and political situations en route. Several 'adventure holiday' companies arrange overland
tours and buses to India. For information on overland routes to neighbouring countries, consult the Rail section above.