The mode of transportation available in any country depends upon two things – topography of the country and the economic development of the country. There are countries which are comparatively small and have somewhat symmetrical topography. As a result, they develop the mode of transportation depending on the geographical feature. Secondly, a country may plan to develop wide networks of communication but it would entail a huge financial investment which the country may not be able to spend due to lack of resources. So, it carries on with old means of transportation. Both the reasons are evident in India. India is a very vast country having geographical features ranging from difficult terrains of mountainous regions, to vast deserts, to plains having river basins to coastal regions flanking seas and oceans. Consequently, the modes of transportation differ from one place to other. Secondly, India is a developing country having reached to a middle level of economic development. Where as it has will and plans to develop new and faster means of communication network, it has not reached and achieved as of now. So, one would find a mix of new and old means of transportation in India. The various means of transportation available in India could be categorized as :-
India is truly a land of rivers. Several rivers run for hundreds of kilometers and so provide a good connectivity and cheap means of transport between various places. They are also least polluting modes of transportation. In India, one can get big ships to steamers to small boats and canoes for transporting both men and material from one place to other situated on the banks of rivers.
The mountainous regions having difficult terrains have different modes of transportation. While there are roads and railways networks but they are not much developed. However, trucks are often found to transport provisions at these places. These trucks incidentally also provide transport for passengers in some far flung areas. The drivers of the truck also do not mind giving the services for a small fee which become their extra source of income. However, being disorganized and private, the women tourists and passengers are not generally recommended to adopt this means if they are alone.
Car and Motorcycle
Hiring a car in India is a good option but that depends upon the places one wants to visit. If the tourist places are limited to the big towns and cities then hiring a car is recommended. If few friends and acquaintances share the fare nothing better. But if someone wants to visit the roadside, sub urban, and rural areas to have a real feel of India, car or taxi may not be that comfortable because of inadequate road conditions.
Self Drive Hire
Self-drive car hire is a limited option and is possible only in big metro cities of India. However, it is not genrally recommended chiefly because of two reasons – first, the driving conditions are not congenial; huge traffic jams and snarls take out the joy of self-driving. Second, the knowledge of roads and linking roads becomes a problem in the situation where locations are not clearly marked. So, joy driving turns out to be driving only. Few International car-rental companies are operating in India like Budget (www.budget.com) and Hertz (www.hertz.com) but the tourist would require an international driving licence to drive in India which again bothers many tourists.
Motorcycles offer an ideal means through which India could be visited. They not only provide easy way out from the busy traffic but also enables one to visit to remote and far flung areas where the road conditions are not fit for car driving. The freedom to see the places around, stop-where-need be and some savings on the pocket make the motorcycle option quite popular. Many places in western and southern India provide the tourists with the option of renting motorcycles ranging from 100 cc bikes to 500 cc “Enfield Bullet”. As a mark of guarantee, the firm giving these services require the hirer to deposit money or their identity cards like passport.
Buses provide a cheap means to roam around India in reality. There are also various range of buses in terms of comfort and cost right from state-owned buses to air conditioned Volvo buses having reclining seats and sleepers. In fact, few places could be reached by buses only as railways are not that developed in those areas. However, the real problem in taking buses are two – firstly, the roads are dangerous and not much fit for night driving. Secondly, the bus drivers are not trained to drive with safety and security. Many times the drivers drive on anticipation instead of keeping their eyes wide open which leave the passengers on the whims and fancy of their fates. It is therefore recommended to the tourists to avoid night journeys and take the comfortable buses for a joyful experience.
Train network across India is very extensive and the journey very comfortable due to less of hitches and glitches. They are also cheap means of transport making the travelers feel happy about their pocket. Moreover, a number of tourist-oriented trains have been developed based on the concept of region across which the trains take its journey. For example, many trains heading to state of Rajasthan are decorated and services given to make the tourist feel special and as a part of cultural history of the state. However, journey in trains have few challenges. Getting the reserved ticket sometime become a real botheration more so during the time of Indian festivals. Secondly, food provided in the number of trains is not cooked with a great hygiene. It is recommended to the visiting tourists to make the journey on trains with packed food items for servings.
Autorickshaw, Tempo and Vikram
Auto-rickshaw in India is an improvisation over the tri-cycle rickshaw used mainly in ferrying passengers. They are fitted with motor and so the name – auto-rickshaw. There is ample space for two passengers and if tried three could also fit in comfortably inside them. These are named by various names depending upon the region and the Company which makes and markets them. The various names given to auto-rickshaws are autos in metropolitan cities, scooters, and tuk-tuks, tempos or Bajaj in small town of North India. Auto-rickshaws are fit for local visits as inter-state are not given to the drivers of auto-rickshaw. They also provide a cheaper option in compared to car-taxis. The drivers charge the fare according to meter reading but many times tampered meters is used to make some extra bucks.
Cycle-rickshaw is basically is a pedal cycle fitted with an extra wheel. A bench seating arrangements are made on it which could easily make two person comfortably sit on it. These rickshaws have also devised a canopy which could be adjusted to safe the passengers from scorching sunlight or rains. A cycle-rickshaw, although obsolete and banned in several metro cities, the site of cycle-rickshaw is very general as they cater to very local transportation. One can find a cycle-rickshaw puller in front of his gate as he steps out to visit the local market. This flexibility in its availability makes the cycle-rickshaw very popular.
Other Local Transport
In few of the cities, Metro trains or “tube trains” offer a very convenient, comfortable and cheap means of transport. Kolkata and Delhi run this train on a wide network of routes saving a lot of time from traffic snarls. Some cities like Jaipur and Bangalore are constructing the metro lines while others are seriously planning for the same. Of late these metro trains have lost local nature in real sense and have networks connecting long routes spread over various towns falling in NCR category.
In contrast to the modern mode like metro trains, one can find the mode used in olden times. The reference is for tongas which is name given to horse-drawn cartwheels. One can find the tongas plying on the roads of Old Delhi and Kolkata and some small towns. Many tourists take the tonga ride just for fun and enjoyment reliving olden days.
Kolkata also has a tram network. A tram could be described as a bus plying on rails. It moves around the city connecting the important landmarks all across the city.
Air ways are the options which should be adopted if one wants to save time visiting from one city to other. Almost all the cities are connected by domestic airlines. There are few domestic airlines like Indian Airlines, Sahara and Jet Airways and several low fare airlines like Indigo, Go Air, Spice Jet etc which connect almost all the big and small cities across India. The air fares are charged in Indian Currency viz. Rupee. Air tickets could be booked by calling or through travel agents or directly logging to website of the concerned airlines. Fares rates vary according to the number of days the tickets are booked prior to the schedule journey date. Various websites offer cheap air tickets and so passengers could check out the comparative rates on websites.
Bicycles are available for local distance coverage. However, some terrains and forest areas makesthe use of bicycle a necessary. But generally, tour on bicycle is not practical for longer distances. In case a traveler is physically strong, adventure loving and has the endurance to tolerate the odds on traffic and weather, he could take this mean also.
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