ENTRY TO INDIA THROUH LAND
Ever since the Aryan invasion, invaders coming through land routes to India from Central Asia and Europe were a regular phenomenon. Alexander the Great, the Huns, Kushans, Muslims, all came through this route and changed the face of India. Even now, these routes attract adventurous travelers from across the borders.
MAJOR ENTRY POINTS
Dhaka To Calcutta
Main crossing point between India and Bangladesh is between Benapol/Haridispur near Jessore on the Calcutta route, Chilahati/Haldibari on the Siliguri/Darjeeling route and some new routes in the northeastern Indian region. If one is entering India through Bangladesh, it is required of him to have a road permit issued by the Passport & Immigration Office, Segunbagicha Road, Dhaka. If someone is driving his own vehicle and entering India by road, he requires two permits in Bangladesh, one from the High Commissioner of India in Bangladesh and other from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh.
India and Bangladesh have jointly started a bus service between Calcutta and Dhaka recently, which began on June 19, 1999. The bus is being operated by the West Bengal Surface Transport Service Corporation (WBSTSC) and the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA). WBSTSC operates buses from Calcutta every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday while from Dhaka the days are Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. BRTA also operates the buses from Calcutta and Dhaka on the same days. The normal journey time taken by this bus is around 12 hours. The travel is on the basis of valid travel documents and subject to foreign exchange regulations.
Chilahati To Darjeeling
Another entry point on the Bangladesh border is at Chilahati and it can be reached by trains and buses. One needs to walk around seven km to reach the Indian post at Haldibari. There are trains from Haldibari to New Jalpaiguri from where one can take a bus or toy train to Darjeeling.
There are other land routes like Bhurungamari to Siliguri, and Sylhet to Shillong. These routes are rarely used by travelers and perhaps that is the reason why very scant tourist facilities are available here.
India and Nepal have a common border that is open for all and very little paperwork is required to cross is. The famous land route between India and Nepal is also a part of Buddhist Pilgrimage circuit and many tourists use it to go to Nepal from India or vice versa. There are three major open points between India and Nepal namely Sunauli/Bhairawa, Raxaul/Birganj, and Kakarbhitta.
Bhairawa To Sunauli
If some one from Delhi or western India wants to go to Nepal, the Sunauli/Bhairawa route is the best option. There are direct trains from Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and the other parts of the country to Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. From Gorakhpur, one can take regular buses to Sunauli that takes around two hours. There are direct buses from Delhi to Sunauli, but the services are not too good.
Birganj To Raxaul
For the travelers from Calcutta, Patna, and most of eastern India, the Raxaul/Birganj route is more convenient. There are regular trains from Delhi and Calcutta to Raxaul. And from there one can hire three wheelers or cycle rickshaws, which ply between the two towns regularly. One can take flights or buses to reach Kathmandu or Pokhra from Birganj.
From Darjeeling, the best land point to cross over to Nepal is through Kakarbhitta. There are regular buses plying between Darjeeling and Kakarbhitta on the Indian side of the border. From this border town, there are regular buses to several of the border towns and villages in Nepal.
There are some more land routes that are used by the travelers to cross the Indo-Nepal border like the ones at Mahendranagar and Banbasa in Uttar Pradesh.
Due to long-running disputes between India and Pakistan, currently there is only one open land point, at the Wagah border. One can drive a private vehicle across the border here or use the trains or buses running between these two countries. However, despite the tensions between India and Pakistan, the transit point along the Punjab border at Atari is open most of the time and there is a regular train, the Samjhauta Express, from Delhi to Lahore via this point.
Lahore To Delhi
A regular bus service has been started between Delhi and Lahore as part of the famous bus diplomacy initiative of the Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The buses run four days a week i.e. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from the both sides and are packed with people from both sides of the border. The fare for this bus ride has been fixed at Rs. 800/- per passenger.
Lahore To Amritsar
The border at Wagah is opens everyday from 9 am to 3 pm. On each side one has to clear immigration, customs, and security checks and then walk around 100 meters of neutral territory. The Lahore-Amritsar Samjhauta Express starts daily from Lahore at 11 am and reaches Amritsar at 3 pm. The return train from Amritsar to Lahore starts at 9.30 am and reaches Lahore at 2 pm.
Many adventurous travelers drive their own motorbikes or other vehicles overland from Europe to India. The routes are interesting though crossing Eastern Europe and the republics of the former USSR is difficult. Travelers should have the membership of an internationally accredited organization with branches all over the world to save themselves from the problems on the way.
In comparison to the difficulties in traveling overland from Europe to India, it is much easier traveling overland to India from South-East Asia or Australia. From Australia, the first stopping point is Indonesia-Timor, Bali, or Jakarta. From Jakarta one can travel by ship or fly to Singapore or continue north through Sumatra and then cross over in Penang, Malaysia. From Malaysia, there are regular flights to Chennai or one can continue northwards to Thailand and then fly out to India from Bangkok. There are many more such overland routes available from South-East Asia to India. Services on these routes normally provide good value for money.