Getting there

Air

India is accessible by air from virtually every continent. Most international flights arrive in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai or Kolkata. There are also international airports in several other cities (eg Ahmadabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Goa), some of which allow customs formalities to be completed there although the flight may be routed through a principal airport. Some carriers permit 'open-jaw' travel, arriving in, and departing from, different cities in India.

Road

Crossings between India and its neighbours are affected by the political relations between them. Get your Indian visa in advance, before arriving at the border. Several road border crossings are open periodically, but permission to cross cannot be guaranteed. Those listed below are the main crossings which are usually open all year to tourists. Direct 'friendship' buses have been introduced between Lahore and Delhi and between Dhaka and Kolkata. Note also that you are not allowed to take any Indian currency from India into Pakistan.

From Bangladesh

To Kolkata from Dhaka and Jessore. The Bangaon-Benapol crossing is the most reliable. On the Bangladesh side rickshaws are available from Benapol, while buses and minibuses go to Bangaon railway station from the border. To Tripura from Dhaka is only four hours by road from the border crossing, just 2 km from the centre of Agartala, with flights to Kolkata. Regulations are subject to change so find out in advance.

From Bhutan

To Bagdogra, the nearest airport is three to four hours' drive from Jaigaon, the rather unkempt Indian border town. The Indian Immigration checkpost is on the main street, about 1 km from the 'Bhutan Gate' at the border town of Phuntsholing, where it is possible to spend a night. To enter Bhutan you need an entry permit and a visa.

From Nepal

Four crossings are in common use: To Delhi via Banbassa is the shortest direct route between Kathmandu and Delhi, via the Nepali town of Mahendranagar and Banbassa - www.nepembassy.org.uk.

To Varanasi via Gorakhpur you must go to the Sonauli-Bhairawa crossing, the shortest and fastest route to Varanasi; many continue to Delhi from there. From Kathmandu or Pokhara you can get to Bhairawa, 6 km inside the Nepal border, Sonauli on the border itself, and Nautanwa on the Indian side. From there, buses take 3½ hours to Gorakhpur, with train connections for Delhi, or 5½ hours by bus to Varanasi.

To Patna via Raxaul-Birganj several buses run daily from Raxaul to Patna (five to seven hours) but timings are unreliable and the buses are crowded and uncomfortable. Night buses from Patna reach the border in the early morning; morning buses from Patna connect with the night bus to Kathmandu. Either way you have to have at least one night bus journey unless you stay overnight at Birganj or Raxaul, which is not recommended. The bus journey between Kathmandu or Pokhara and the border takes about 11-12 hours. Even Express buses are slow and packed. Tourist minibuses are the only moderately comfortable option.

Kakarbhitta (Kakarvita) is on the Nepalese side of a wide river which forms the border here between India and Nepal. A kilometre-long road bridge links it to the Indian town of Raniganj on the east bank. Cycle rickshaws run between the two. A small notice and an Indian flag are all that mark the Indian Immigration checkpost which is in a shady grove of trees by the road. The larger Indian town of Bagdogra is 15 km away.

From Pakistan

The Wagah border, 23 km from Lahore, is the only crossing open. Vans from central Lahore take you to the border where you walk across through Pakistani and Indian immigration and customs. There are taxis and rickshaws on the Indian side to take you to Attari; buses from there go to Amritsar . The only train crossing is an uncertain one. The Lahore to Amritsar train via the Wagah border post runs twice weekly but it can take five hours to clear customs. It is normally much slower than the bus and is not recommended - http://pakistan.embassyhomepage.com.

From Europe

The reopening of Iran to travellers of most nationalities has reinstated the Istanbul-Tehran-Quetta route when the political situation in the region is stable.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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