Explore DELHI Next how to reach Delhi

Getting around Delhi is always an adventure. Traffic is, by and large, horribly congested and many drivers will think nothing of quoting ten times the going price to a tourist. Agree on prices before setting off.

By Plane

Airport in Delhi

Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI, IATA: DEL), located in the west of the city, is the arrival point for many visitors into Delhi. Once notoriously bad, since privatization the airport has been extensively revamped and, with the opening of Terminal 3 in 2010, has been transformed into a thoroughly modern facility equivalent to the best airports in the world.

Delhi Airport has no less than six terminals, but only two are currently operational:

  • Terminal 1D, also known as "Palam" or "Domestic", is used only by low-cost carriers IndiGo, GoAIR and SpiceJet. (Oddly, their flights arrive at neighboring Terminal 1C!)
  • Terminal 3, the enormous main terminal, is used by all international flights and all full-service domestic carriers including Jet Airways, Air India, and Kingfisher.

A free shuttle bus operates between two every 20 min. While the terminals share the same runways, connecting between the two requires a massive detour via a nearby highway, so allow plenty of time to connect.

When leaving Delhi from international terminal, security at the airport is tight, so you should show up three hours before your flight is scheduled.

For domestic flights two hours should be enough. While sometimes time-consuming, the process is smooth, and the new terminal's shops and restaurants are sensibly located at the gate area, not before security. However, if you wish to change Rupees back into foreign currency, you must do this before clearing security. Gate area shops accept rupees only from Indian nationals.

During the winter (Dec-Jan), Delhi often experiences dense fog and visibility is reduced considerably, making it difficult for flights to land and take off. Both international and domestic flights are often diverted or cancelled, so plan accordingly and allow for one or two days for possible delays.

Transport from the airport

The Delhi Airport Metro Express train, opened in February 2011, connects Terminal 3 to New Delhi Railway Station in the heart of city in just 17 minutes, a vast improvement on the 60-90 minutes the journey takes by road. Initially, tickets cost Rs. 80 and trains operate every 20 min from 6 AM to 10 PM, but 24-hour operation is planned, as is increasing the fare to Rs. 150 and allowing flight check-ins at the stations on the way back. From the railway station, you can transfer to the Metro (it's a bit of hike though) or continue by taxi.

If you'd prefer to go directly to your destination and are willing to sit around in traffic, or are arriving on the many long-distance flights that land in the dead of night, take a taxi. The easiest and safest way is to arrange the transport ahead of time through your hotel (some hotels provide this service for free).

Alternatively, you can pay for a taxi at the prepaid taxi booths in the international terminal. The pre-paid booths are visible as soon as you exit customs. The one on the left is managed by the Delhi police. To the right of the exit door are private taxi operators. They are more expensive but the cars are air-conditioned. The number of the taxi assigned to you will be on the receipt. Then, go straight through the airport and turn right immediately outside the front doors and someone will help you find your taxi.

There are several options, but the booth operated by the "Delhi Police" is considered the best, with non-A/C taxis to most points in the city.

Do not give the receipt to the driver until you get to the destination as this is what they are paid on. Also, ignore the explanation of the driver for additional payment.

When you reach your destination, take your baggage first, then give the driver the receipt and walk away without further discussion.

There is a minor problem with this system. As there is a checkpoint manned by the traffic police just as your taxi moves away from the airport, you will have to give the receipt to the driver who will hand it over to the police who will record the taxi number. Make sure that you get the receipt back from the driver which you would hand over to driver only after you have safely reached your destination.

Finally, there are also public buses to the airport, but now that the train is operating there's really no reason to use them.

By Train

Train Station in Delhi

Trains arrive at one of four main stations: Delhi Junction, also called Old Delhi or Purani Dilli; the second at New Delhi which lies in Central Delhi; Hazrat Nizamuddin a few kilometers to the south; and the upcoming Anand Vihar station to the east. (A very few trains use Delhi Sarai Rohilla or Delhi Cantt stations.) Delhi Junction and New Delhi Railway Station are now conveniently connected by Metro Line 2, just minutes apart, while Anand Vihar is served by Line 3.

It will take about 40 minutes to an hour to travel from the New Delhi Railway Station to the airport by car, depending on the traffic.

A ticket office open to all is on the road to Connaught Place with longer hours. It often has waiting times not much longer than at the tourist booking office. You will need to know the number or name of the train you want to take.

Easiest of all, though, is to book on-line through the Indian Railways booking website or at the Cleartrip website. Cleartrip charges a fee to use their service as it is third party; but the advantage is that the website is much more user friendly where the Indian Railways site is a little difficult to navigate

Once you have purchased a ticket either at the ticket office or online prior to the trip, all you need to do is go to the rail car labeled with your class of service purchased. You can either just get on & sit in the first available seat or often times for higher classes of service, they will post a passenger list on the car when it stops. Look for your name and go to the assigned car, cabin and seat.

There is never a need to get a boarding pass so if anyone comes out of the crowd to tell you that, don't listen to them. It is a scam. If you're brave, you can simply purchase a general 2nd class ticket and then get on any car where there is availability. The conductor will come by and check your tickets after the train starts moving.

If you are in a higher fare class than you are ticketed for, all you have to do is simply pay the difference in fare to the conductor. The only risk here is that the train could be full and you could be stuck in the lowest fare class which can be very crowded with little room to sit.

New Delhi Railway Station

The main entrance to New Delhi Railway Station (code NDLS) is located just outside of Paharganj, also known as the backpacker ghetto. The Delhi Metro now connects directly here, but the metro exits are at the Ajmeri Gate (second entrance) side near platform 12. You can also take prepaid rickshaws and taxis from the plaza outside the main entrance.

The station is large, crowded, confusing and packed with touts. Allow one hour to find your train the first time you visit.

Don't trust the electronic display boards, which often show incorrect information. Instead listen to the announcements and ask multiple people in uniform (policemen) until you find your train.

However, anyone who approaches you spontaneously should be completely ignored. Use one of the porters (in orange uniform and a metallic badge on arm) to find your train and carry your luggage, in exchange for a nominal fee.

A tourist ticket office called the International Tourist Bureau is open during office hours upstairs of but still within the main New Delhi railway station. Note that it is only for foreign tourists, so you must have a tourist visa (i.e. student and working visas are not acceptable). Non-resident Indians can also book their tickets through this office. Bring your passport and cash or traveller's cheques in U.S. dollars, British Pounds or Euros. If you wish to pay in Indian rupees you must show an official exchange certificate (from India, not valid if you changed in another country) or an ATM receipt. To get a ticket, first get a form from the centre of the room, and fill it out. Then go to the information desk near the entrance. There, have the clerk check the availability of the train(s) you desire, and fill out your form accordingly. Then line up at one of the two u-shaped lines of chairs for the reservation desks.

Just do not trust strangers who appear out of the crowd to help you and completely ignore them. Always ask at the enquiry counter or the policemen (in khaki uniform).

Delhi Railway Station

Formally Delhi Junction (code DLI), but best referred to as "Old" Delhi Station for clarity. Like New Delhi RS, this station is huge and confusing. The platforms are not in linear order, with some hidden in the west and east wings of the stations.

The railway station is served by Metro Line 2; Chandni Chowk station.

Hazrat Nizamuddin

Hazrat Nizamuddin (code NZM) is the departure point of many trains heading south. Practically speaking, the only way to get here is by taxi or auto. The budget alternative is to take a bus to the Sarai Kale Khan Inter State Bus Terminal (ISBT) on the ring road and then walk over to the station (400 meters).

It's the least chaotic of the Big Three, but still pretty big and poorly signposted — listen to the announcements to figure out your train. The station has a pretty good food court that sells inexpensive, hygienic takeaway snacks (sandwiches, samosas, etc).

If you have some time to kill, pay a visit to Humayun's Tomb, which is so close to the station that you can hear the announcements from inside — although it's a long, circuitous walk from the station to the entrance.

Anand Vihar

Anand Vihar (code ANVR) is Delhi's newest station, located well to the east of the city near Noida. Repeatedly delayed, the station finally opened in December 2009 and will gradually take over all east-bound services. The station can be reached by Delhi Metro Line 3.

By Bus

Bus Terminal in Delhi

Buses arrive from Kathmandu and Chitwan in Nepal (36+ hours) and virtually every city in India. Although not as comfortable as the trains, buses are the only choice for some destinations, mainly those in the mountains.

Delhi has a confusing slew of inter-state bus termini (ISBT), which all have two names. The Delhi Transport Corporation is the major operator, but every state also runs its own buses and there are some private operators too.

Buses to points north, including Nepal.

Kashmere Gate ISBT (aka Maharana Pratap), Metro - Kashmere Gate, Line 1/2. This is "the" ISBT and the largest of the lot.

Buses to points south.

Sarai Kale Khan ISBT (aka Vir Hakikat Rai), next to Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station.

Buses to points east.

Anand Vihar ISBT (aka Swami Vivekanand), on the east bank of Yamuna, Metro: Anand Vihar, Line 3

Bikaner House bus stop.

Buses, including air-conditioned Volvo buses from Jaipur arrive at this place. For travel between Jaipur and Delhi, this bus stop is very clean, less crowded than ISBT, and easy to reach.

Buses to Dharamsala.

Majnu ka Tilla Tibetan colony, a short cyclerickshaw ride from Metro Vidhan Sabha.