Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page >

Flying within India: Delhi-Udiapur -- or taking the train?

Flying within India: Delhi-Udiapur -- or taking the train?

Dec 15th, 2009, 06:55 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 86
Flying within India: Delhi-Udiapur -- or taking the train?

I know trains are supposed to be "an experience" in India -- not sure if it's one I want or not. I thought at first I'd take an overnight train (with my daughter) from Delhi to Udiapur, but understand that one can't be sure to get a two-person cabin. I've taken overnight trains in Europe, second class, and sworn never to share coffin-size bunks with strangers again!

Anybody have ideas on the advantages of flying over train on this sort of route? Or vice versa?

Thank you!
Morning_Giggle is offline  
Dec 15th, 2009, 07:17 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,943
planes are often delayed, which is a caution

personally i would never consider a train, esp. in india...
rhkkmk is offline  
Dec 15th, 2009, 10:03 PM
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 300
Trains are short on space...the experience comes from meeting lot of common folk and chatting with them over the long journey. This is best when you are not short on time or a tight schedule. Since it appears that you don't like trains anyway, perhaps this is not the right choice for you.

When are you planning your trip? Caution is the word as rhkkmk has pointed out when it comes to planes. Planes in India are fine except in December, usually, when heavy fog is an issue around Delhi. Since a lot of flights connect through Delhi, flights can be delayed due to fog at Delhi airport during the peak tourist season. So it's best not to schedule early morning flights in/out of Delhi.

Hope this helps.
magical is offline  
Dec 15th, 2009, 10:54 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,689
I fly very frequently domestically in India and would not at all agree that flights are “often” delayed. I think delays are more the exception than the rule, esp if you go with the private carriers like Kingfisher or Jet Airways. There are numerous flights between Delhi and Udaipur on several airlines, including Kingfisher and Jet. The comment above about December flights really only applies to early morning and dusk flights when fog can be an issue. If you take a mid-day flight you should be fine (Jet has a 1:30 pm flight), subject to possible delays knocking on from the morning. But I would not worry too much about it. It is significantly faster than the train.

The two main trains seem to be the Mewar Express and the Chetak Express, both of which are overnight trains. I know what you mean about overnight trains. I like Indian trains, but generally prefer day trains just because you can see the countryside, and also because I am too old to really sleep well on trains or planes any longer, it just wipes me out the next day. But you generally can always book a berth on Indian trains, so having a bed should not be an issue provided you are not going at a peak time; go to the Indian railways site, or have your hotel on either end see if they can make the reservation for you . You may be able to reserve the entire car which means no sharing with strangers. (I have done that in Europe but have not tried on an Indian train).

Other options to consider would be going from Delhi to Jaipur via the train, as there are dozens of day train options, including very comfortable “super fast” trains which take 4-5 hours. (1st class on the Ajmer Shatabdi train costs US$18 per person, it’s hard to beat that price.) From Jaipur, you could fly to Udaipur in an about an hour (there is a 7 am flight which would mean you would get a whole day really in Udaipur; no fog issues in either area), or take a day or more to drive down to Udaipur stopping along the way at some of the interesting points like Ranakpur/ Kumbhalgarh. The drive from Udaipur to Jaipur is about 6-8 hours. I don’t know if Jaipur is on your itin.
Cicerone is offline  
Dec 16th, 2009, 12:57 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
I'm with cicerone - in the thirty or so internal flights I've taken in India precisely one has been significantly delayed - and that was an hour. Admittedly, one disappeared without trace leaving me a little high and dry, but that was the day I learnt to double-check schedules before I leave the hotel. Steely calm, head-wiggling and a credit card will get you out of anything.

I'm not sure you'd get away with booking the entire cabin either - theoretically, maybe, but try dealing with the situation when suddenly, regardless, someone decides to sleep in those two empty bunks. Our idea of privacy isn't really shared by the majority of the sub-continent, in my experience. I'm like the O.P. - no strangers sharing my sleeping space - full stop.

Really, it seems like the best option, without knowing the rest of your itinerary, is a flight.
dogster is offline  
Dec 16th, 2009, 02:55 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,689
Depending on the class and the train, some night trains are actual compartments like you might be used to in Europe, others some are more open (like you might have seen in old movies, with curtained beds down the aisles). First Class AC cars are compartments, and some have only 2-beds; so if there are two of you, that would seem to work, and these are available on the Mewar Express (but not on the Chetek). But the drawback is that you can't be guaranteed one of the 2-berth compartments when you book, as there are 2-bed and 4-bed compartments in First Class AC, and it is the railway who decides which kind you get (married couples get preference for the 2-bed compartments). So that is why my question arose as to whether you could “buy” an entire 4-berth compartment. (The price for 4-beds would be about US$160 by the way, so perhaps this is not worth the trouble as the airfare for 2 may be about the same.)

I believe you need an Indian ID or a passport number for each bed reserved. What I don't know is whether you can use it to reserve more than one bed. You can do it in most countries in Europe by just paying for as many beds as you want; India may not allow people to buy “extra” beds or seats.

If you are allowed to reserve all the beds in an entire Firt Class AC compartment, then I would have no concerns that any one would try to use any of the beds in it. All night trains require a reservation. A train reservation is for a car and then a bed (and of there are compartments, then for a car, then a compartment and then a bed). The name (and even sex) of all passengers are usually printed on a list posted on cars/compartments, so no one is going to try to take a bed unless they have a ticket for that bed number; otherwise in India this would lead to fisticuffs (not to mention anywhere else). Should anyone try to take a bed, just ask to see their ticket (which they won’t have for your car/compartment number or beds which you have reserved) and also call a porter if necessary.
Cicerone is offline  
Dec 16th, 2009, 10:19 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 1,689
If you're going to go to India, then avoid all contact with it by taking internal flights, waiting in westernised airports, and no doubt staying in western Holiday Inn style hotels, there starts to be little point in going there.

Taking the train is THE way to travel around, the way we all do when we go to India, an essential part of the experience, and to be honest with the summit at Copenhagen in full swing it ought to be a criminal offence to add to global warming by flying a short distance when it is (a) not an emergency as it's just a holiday and (b) easily avoidable.

AC1 has 2 berth and 4-berth compartmets, but even AC2 is comortable enough with open-plan sleeper bunks, see www.seat61.com/India.htm for photos.

You generally regret what you miss out on doing in life, not what you do do, so go for it!

The easiest way to book the train online is at www.cleartrip.com, easier to use than www.irctc.co.in.
Man_in_seat_61 is offline  
Dec 16th, 2009, 05:01 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 86
Wow, this is enormously helpful! Thank you!

I have, sadly, a limited time in India, and it's priority that I get to Udiapur (refreshed and awake). Happily I'm staying with Indians and will be meeting many more. It sounds like a flight is the answer. I will definitely look to avoid foggy departure times in Delhi, and look into Jet and Kingfisher!

(And, Man_in, I hear you, and will look into buying some carbon offsets. ) Maybe a train trip is in my future.

Thanks so much, you are all amazing.
Morning_Giggle is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Jan 25th, 2009 08:13 PM
Apr 22nd, 2008 09:12 AM
Nov 2nd, 2005 12:45 PM
Jun 28th, 2005 10:20 AM
Nov 6th, 2003 11:30 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 08:56 AM.