the small car boom in India, highway travel has become very
popular with domestic tourists. Motels, petrol stations and
rest rooms have come up all along important tourist highways
such as Delhi-Jaipur and Delhi-Agra, expanding the facilities
once offered only by dhabas to truckers. India's road network
covers 2.9 million km, including 34,608 km of national
highways and 128,622 km of state highways. Several highways,
such as Delhi-Agra and Delhi-Jaipur, have recently been
upgraded and widened. National highways have been widened to
four lanes in the states of Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, West
Bengal, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. In particular, the tourism
departments of Haryana and Rajasthan, neighbouring Delhi, have
set up attractive resorts along their highways.
places, particularly in remote areas and hill towns, are
accessible only by road. Roads are not always smooth off the
highways, so examine your vehicle thoroughly before embarking
on a journey.
Services: All states maintain transport corporations,
which operate extensive bus services, and even the most remote
places are accessible by these buses. (Check respective cities
for details.) However, not all buses have cushioned seats and
some rides can be bumpy and irksome. The good thing is that
tourist districts have a range of clean, air-conditioned
buses, for example Jaipur's Pink Line and Silver Line buses.
Going by road is the cheapest way to travel. Book well in
advance in the tourist season.
This is an adventurous and interesting way to explore India.
Tourists may import their own vehicles into India (free of
duty for up to six months) with a Carnet de Passage (Triptyques)
issued by recognised automobile associations or clubs
affiliated to the Alliance Internationale de Tourisme in
Geneva; vehicles must be re-exported at the end of your
holiday. You will need an International Certificate for Motor
Vehicles (ICMV), an International Driving Permit and a
third-party insurance for the driver.
to remember when driving in India:
drive on the left. Traffic 'discipline' is minimal, and it
will take time to learn about road conditions and unspoken
traffic rules. Fortunately, the traffic speeds are
a map of the journey to chart your course, but don't
expect people along the way to be able to read the map.
Instead, ask for directions for the "next" place
you need to get to.
gas stations offer unleaded petrol.
regular safety precautions apply. Avoid driving at night.
Do not offer lifts to strangers.
hire a self-drive in India, you have to be at least 25 years,
hold a valid driving licence for at least two years with no
major conviction (foreign nationals must hold a valid
international driving licence) and make an insurance deposit
of Rs. 10,000 (refundable).
Rent a Car
agencies offer rent-a-car service in all metros, including
international agencies such as Avis, Hertz, Euro Car, Budget,
Apace, which have counters at airports and offices in major
metros. Your hotel will probably have a travel counter from
where you can hire a car, or the hotel will recommend reputed
travel agencies which hire out cars such as Mercedes, Ford,
Opel, the sturdy Indian Ambassador or the range of Maruti cars
and four-wheel drives by Tata. See respective sections for
details on car hire agencies. You could also contact the
Indiatourism- offices for car hires, offering reliable and
The yellow-top metered taxis operating in cities and large
towns charge fares on a kilometre basis, but since fare-metres
are infrequently updated, a certain percentage is added to the
metre - reading to calculate the current fare. An extra charge
is levied for travel between 11 pm and 5 am, and for luggage.
Drivers must carry - but often don't - a "metre-reading
chart" to indicate the amount you need to pay. In cities
where taxis don't operate on metres, negotiate the rate before
metro cities, taxis normally operate from "taxi
stands" conveniently located almost all over the city.
You can telephone the nearest stand as you may not find many
vacant taxis on the road. In Kolkata, Mumbai and other cities,
however, taxis can be comfortably hailed on the roads. Opt for
a taxi from a pre-paid taxi stand, particularly at airports
and railway stations. This service, operated by the city
police, allows you to pay your fare in advance; give the
payment receipt to the driver only when you reach your
Local Transport: Bus services abound in every city, but buses
are usually crowded and uncomfortable.
These hooded three-wheelers in most cities are convenient and
cheap. If metred, the meter reading system for auto-rickshaws
operates like the taxis system, except that they are far
cheaper. Motorcycles can also be hired in tourist cities such
Golden Quadrilateral connect the four metropolises: Delhi,
Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. Yet another project will connect
the smaller towns with expressways. The end-product will
resemble a quadrilateral. The first phase of the 5,846-km long
Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) project of the National Highways
Authority of India (NHAI), linking the four metros of Kolkata,
New Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai, is nearing completion. Of the
38-lakh-km of roadways in India (the second largest in the
world), national highways account for 58,000 km and the
balance fall within the purview of the states. The former
takes care of 40 per cent of the total traffic handled by all
good example would be the four-lane expressway developed and
maintained by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI)
between Delhi and Jaipur. The traveller is charged a nominal
toll tax and this allows for the maintenance of the highway.
These roads are particularly delightful to drive on. But
remember, not all roads in India are like this - several are
pot-holed and rough.