Travelling around India has got to be one of the greatest experiences of the journey in this huge subcontinent.
Traffic in the main towns and cities is still considered to be amongst the worst in the world. Sitting through traffic is one of the least pleasant things we have to do when on tour. Some of the cities in India are densely populated and the traffic is worse here. If you’re stuck in a traffic jam in Mumbai, Bengaluru or Delhi, you’re on one of the world’s Top 10 most-choked roads, according to the latest TomTom traffic index report.
We found that the suburban trains, for example in Mumbai are a great alternative and here are some tips:
- If you’re female, get in the ladies only carriage as it is far less crowded and more relaxed.
- Try not to travel during rush hour
- Consider buying a first class ticket
- Don’t attempt to get on or off the train while it’s still moving
- Never hang out of the door. If you’re near the door way hold on tight
- If it’s too busy or crowded for you then get off at the next station and take an Ola instead.
Tuktuks, Auto’s or 3-wheelers are common and are continuously roaming around looking for custom however we have used these sparingly. They don’t feel as safe as a car in the heavy traffic. We prefer to call up Ola for a taxi back to our hotel particularly at night after dinner at a restaurant. Download the app here. Fortunately the drivers take cash.
When leaving the city to go on tour we mainly travelled by air-conditioned private coach and this form of transport never fails to provide insights into the daily lives of people. I love to gaze out the window as we slowly jostle along.
Journeys from one destination to another can be long and hot with significant time periods between toilet & refreshment stops. But these stops tend to be at interesting locations far from the main centres and they have great souvenir shops and are a good opportunity to take in the countryside, sit by a river or chat to local people.
There is so much life to see.
However, my favourite way to see India is by train. There is nothing quite like it.
Firstly, the railway stations are so exciting… teeming with inter city travellers, bustling with porters, buzzing with food vendors and thronging with people from all different backgrounds. Then, when you hustle through the crowds and finally manage to find your carriage, hopefully your seat it is booked, you will be able to relax with a chai from a station vendor, gaze out of the window and enjoy the rhythm of the train as it moves through the city and out into the countryside where you will get a glimpse of rural life.
As a note to self, for next time… these are the trains I want to someday travel on.
- Shatabdi Express
- The Gatimaan Express
- Bangalore to Goa
- Nilgiri Toy Train
- Kalka Shimla Railway
- Palace on Wheels
- Maharajas Express
- Deccan Odyssey
- Golden Chariot
For self organised travel see multimodal travel here
Of course, India is a huge continent so we also utilised air travel to cover some of the longer stretches. Our trip included the following domestic flights:-
- Delhi to Varanasi
- Varanasi to Khajuraho
- Jaipur to Goa
- Goa to Mumbai
Also our tour included two train journeys in air conditioned executive class carriage and AC chair:
- Jhansi to Agra on the Howrah Express
- Mathura to Sawai Madhopur- unfortunately this train was over booked and we had to miss this train ride and continue in our coach… far less exciting.
To read about my full India trip experience including itinerary, attractions, tips etc please click here