India is a vast country with the second highest population in the world. Hence, it also has many large transportation systems. There are various modes of transport in India which help in smoothly running the country. It is the transport system of a country that lays the foundation for its development in all aspects.
‘Travel like a Local’ – we all have heard of this travel phrase. The local modes of transportation are a lifeline for all the people of every country. They help in meeting everyone’s needs according to their affordability and budget. Some of the most commonly used means of transport in India are cars, two wheeler bikes, buses, cabs, taxis and trains. But let’s not talk about these orthodox ways to travel. As a passionate traveller, you gotta experience Indin as a local and enjoy the more of traditional, rural and cheap ways of transportation. Here are some best local means of commuting in India to give you more of an Indian feel.
10 Local Modes of Transport in India
1. Bullock Carts
A bullock cart (or ‘Bail Gadi’ in the Hindi language) is a 2 wheel cart pulled by an oxen or two sometimes. This traditional means of transport has been used since ages in many parts of the world apart from India. Though you would rarely find one in the cities, so you need to head to the countryside to experience a ride in it. The carts are made of bamboo and wooden planks. Some carts have a roof covering while some are just left open. All you need to do is just lay back down on the wooden planks with hay and enjoy the slow ride around the kuchcha roads of the villages.
It is mostly used by the villagers for farming purposes. So if you are in and around villages of India, you should take a ride on it by requesting a cart rider if one is not available for touristy rides. You may also try a hand on riding it and you will feel yourself riding in a stone age world. A ride in it through the countryside will take you to the bygone era. And trust me it can also happen to be a cosy ride in that enclosed cart with your loved one. 😉
2. Camel Carts
Camel cart is an extensively used means of transport in the state of Rajasthan. Camels referred to as ‘The ships of the desert’ have been used since ages for transporting goods and people especially in Rajasthan. Camel is more of a pet animal for the families living in villages of Rajasthan. Since the boom of tourism, the camel cart rides are one of the sources of earning a livelihood for the local people.
A camel ride is fun and can be easily available in the major tourist spots of Rajasthan like Jaipur, Ajmer, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, etc. The camel tours are also available in the city of Agra near Taj Mahal. It is the best way to see the city, villages and especially the deserts. If you are in Rajasthan and haven’t had a ride on a camel or a camel cart, you had missed the flavour of it or probably you landed somewhere else.
3. Horse Carriages/ Tanga Ride
A tanga is a horse-drawn open carriage. It runs on two wheels and not to mention the four legs of the horse. 😉 The horse carriages generally take the tourists to the famous historical sites, temples and other iconic places of the city. The carriages can be very simple and very brightly decorative too. With the influx of automobiles, this ride almost swiped away from the metro cities like Delhi which was once famous for such rides. But still in some small towns or villages, one can enjoy this ride which will take you back to history. The carriages are of different shapes and sizes and can carry a small group of people at a time. The horse carriage is also used in weddings in India where the groom sits on the horse-drawn carriage to reach the wedding place.
Tonga rides are very popular in the cities like Agra, Lucknow and Varanasi in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Other cities where tonga rides can be done are Kolkata, Mysore and Mumbai but only on selected routes and timings. A Horse Cart ride will surely make you feel like royal kings for some time as it was tagged as the ride of the emperors and kings of the past.
4. Auto Rickshaws
Auto rickshaw is a 3 wheeled motorized vehicle similar to the Tuk-Tuks of Bangkok. These are the most easily available means of transport in almost all the states of India.
The auto rickshaws in the capital city, Delhi have a seating of 3 people at the back, but more people can squeeze in there and also, sit on either side of the driver. They are cheaper than taxis and the expertise of the drivers can help you quickly reach your destination. They have a covering of canvas on top and tin on the back and sides.
Ride an auto rickshaw is fun as well as quite windy as the sides are always open and can make your hair messy. Even though with all the dust, hot and cool breeze striking your face, it’s a must have an experience while in India. The shapes of the body of the auto rickshaws vary from state to state.
5. Cycle Rickshaws
The cheapest and the most local way of travelling in the cities of India is the cycle rickshaw. One can also call them the tricycles. You will love to experience this ride in the streets of Delhi specifically. The ride might be bumpy and uncomfortable, but you don’t have to sit for long hours as it is just to cover the shorter distances. It’s the best way to explore the old parts of the city.
Some of the rickshaws also have a small shed over the seats of the passengers to protect from sun rays. The drivers of the rickshaws are very fond of decorating them with different items and colours, so you might find a very glittering one too that draws the attention of the people. But that’s what the fun part is about having a ride on it.
Some cities like Jaipur have special rickshaw sightseeing tours which take tourists through some the historic spots of the city.
6. E Rickshaws
Electric Rickshaws is an updated version of the cycle rickshaw. The rickshaws run on a charged battery and move swiftly across the streets. With much better speed and comfort than a cycle rickshaw, they are becoming favourites in the cities like Delhi. They resemble very much with the Tuk Tuks of Cambodia.
7. Hand Carts/ Human Pulled Rickshaws
These are mostly found in the city of Kolkata. These are open carts pulled by a man. It is a tough job and something that these rickshaw pullers do for earning bread and butter. These people know all the ways of the city and can take you quickly without getting stuck in jams. The speed will obviously be less as the puller of the cart will either jog or walk on the road. The driver’s loud voice acts as a horn for making way for the rickshaw. This is something that you don’t get to experience anywhere else.
Now this one’s a biggie. A tractor is a vehicle with a large powerful motor and it runs on 2 big rear wheels and 2 smaller ones in front. It is mostly used for farming purpose and hauling trailers and equipment. The real feel of riding on a tractor is best experienced in the farms of Punjab. There are many homestays in Punjab which can arrange you a tractor ride and if you make friend with some driver, you can enjoy it for free as well. An early morning ride in the beautiful fields of the farms will make your whole day refreshing. There are 2 cushioned seats just behind the driver’s seat facing opposite to each other.
You got to experience this power ride on tractor for once than anything else. and if you get to have a ride in the farms it will make you feel like one of them. Also, riding on this big machine will make you feel that you are big and dominating on other small looking vehicles and even the most luxurious car will lose its grace in front of it.
The houseboats of Kerala are one of the most convenient modes of transport for the locals. The concept of the houseboat was inherited from the traditional boat called kettuvallam (meaning ‘boat with knots’). The boats were mainly used to carry goods from one town to other through the water routes. The houseboats connect the main part of the city to the remote areas of the backwaters.
With the growth of tourism, these houseboats have become a major tourist attraction and serve as the means of exploring the backwaters of Kerala. Tourists can stay in the rooms made in the houseboat and enjoy delicious South Indian meals as well along with the sightseeing. There would hardly be any person who would not have stayed for a day at least in a houseboat on the visit to this beautiful state of India.
Coracles are small round shaped boats made of bamboo, plastic sheet and other materials. I call them the ‘Circular Rafts’. These are strong and waterproof and commonly used fishermen to cross the lakes, rivers and catch fish from the shallow waters of the sea. It was primarily made to cover distances across the water bodies and carry goods, people and small animals like sheep. A coracle ride can carry 6 to 10 people depending on its size.
You can have the pleasure of going for a coracle ride if you are in the state of Karnataka which lies in the south of India. There are many lakes, rivers, streams and other water bodies in the state where you can opt to go for a coracle ride. There are many resorts in places like Kabini, Coorg, Dandeli, Honnikeri Reserve Forest, Hampi, Bheemeshwari and Ibbani Lake to name some, where you can book your coracle ride. Riding and floating in these small circular boats in the backwaters, lakes and rivers covered with dense forests will take one to the times of The Jungle Book. It is the best local means to see the forests and the wildlife in the region.
These modes of transport are really fun to have a ride on if you are on a vacation in India. Having a ride on them will make you feel more like an Indian. And the best part about it is that you don’t need to buckle up your seatbelts. 😉
A tip: Try your hands on riding all of them yourselves to make it more adventurous and memorable.
Have you enjoyed any local modes of transportation in any country you have visited? Please share your experiences in the comments below.
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