Getting to India
There are four main entry gateways in India. The major international airports are located at New Delhi, Mumbai (Bombay), Kolkata (Calcutta) and Chennai (Madras), which are modern, clean and organised. International airports are also located at Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Goa, Trivandrum, Bangalore and Kochi, receiving fewer international arrivals.
India is five and a half hours ahead of GMT and the journey time from London to Delhi is eight hours and from New York 15 hours and a half. New Delhi’s international airport is called Indira Gandhi International airport and it is located 25km south west of the centre. Terminal II is the international terminal, servicing around 35 airlines around the world.
There are three domestic terminals: domestic arrivals, terminal 1A which serves domestic flights for Indian Airlines (and its subsidiary Alliance Air) and terminal 1B, which serves flights for private airlines like Jet Airways and Air Sahara. The road distance between the two terminals is eight kilometres. The Sahar International Airport in Mumbai (Bombay) is located 30km north of the centre andis one of India's busiest international airports claiming to have almost 50 landings and takeoffs per hour. Santa Cruz is Mumbai's domestic airport.
With the increasing price of fuel comes the increasing cost of air fares but there is a wide range of airlines flying from the UK to India including British Airways and Air India and if you look out for their special offers you can potentially plan your trip around their cheapest available fares.
British Airways depart from London Heathrow to Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata with one way fares from £255 (£510 return) inclusive. The fares depend on the time of year, for example, prices rise significantly in December and around Christmas. Air India departs London Heathrow to Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad and return prices start from around £350 and there are a handful of other Asian airlines to consider such as Singapore Airlines, Thai and Malaysia.
It is also well worth exploring the charter flight territory as depending on the time of year and availability, flights can cost from as little as £250 return. Try www.flights4less.co.uk which is part of Lastminute.com or www.cheapflights.co.uk. Alternatively, medical tourism brokers and agencies will organise flights to India for you, providing you with an all-inclusive bill for treatment, travel and accommodation.
Travelling in India is very economical on public transport, but it can also be time-consuming and tiring, in which case opting for a domestic flight is wise, not least as there are several low cost budget airlines flying the skies in India today including Kingfisher, Jet Airways, SpiceJet as well as the government-run airline Indian Airlines. Air India also carries domestic passengers on its linking flights between Mumbai and Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore.
That said - if you get the opportunity and are keen to leave significantly fewer environmental footprints - train travel in India is an unforgettable experience and is safe and reasonably comfortable depending of course on which class you travel in. A first class AC ticket will get you a comfortable bed in an air conditioned cabin while a sleeper class comprises a partition of around nine berths with just ceiling fans. It gets quite noisy in standard class and there isn't any privacy, but this is all part and parcel of the Indian rail experience!
Indian Railways is divided into regional zones, see www.indianrailway.com or visit the individual areas as follows:- www.centralrailwayonline.com (central railway), www.easternrailway.gov.in (eastern railway), www.uttarrailway.com (northern railway) and www.srailway.com (southern railway).
There is also a range of classes on public buses - some have air conditioning, some don't so you pay more for the air con but prices are still very cheap in relation to travel in the UK, or flying. Bus travel is usually pretty crowded and the quality of the buses varies greatly - there are express, deluxe, deluxe air-con, deluxe sleeper as well as government buses which are supplemented by private operators on some routes. It makes sense to choose a private bus for extra comfort and speed.
A good - if bumpy and somewhat hair-raising - way to get about towns and villages in India is via rickshaw (trishaw) but remember to have a stash of Indian Rupees to hand as drivers won’t have change for bigger notes. It’s also customary to ‘tip’ in taxi’s so carry a stash of small denomination notes. A cooler alternative is to hire a chauffer driven car which most hotels can arrange for you at a reasonable price.
Another popular way of getting about India is on an Enfield motorbike but if you choose to travel by road in India you should be aware that car and bike accidents are a big cause of injury and death. Take special care at night and make sure your vehicle has seatbelts and wear a helmet if you travel by bike.
India has an array of sights and sounds including mountains, deserts, royal retreats and palaces, ancient cities, wildlife reserves, hill stations, world heritage sites, lagoons, tropical coastline, pilgrim sites and Ayurvedic health resorts. With so much to see, learn and do it would be all too easy to fall into the trap of trying to squeeze in too much and since you want to be as rested and relaxed as possible before your procedure and have time to relax and recuperate afterwards decide where you would most like to visit and be realistic about what you can fit into your schedule.
The Golden Triangle is possibly one of the most popular and well-trodden tourist routes. This pulls in Delhi, Agra and Jaipur in eastern Rajasthan with Delhi as the beginning and end point of the triangular tour. Delhi has a range of delights in the old part from monuments, ancient gates, memorials, museum, royal baths and bazaars and Rajasthan is known as the dusky pink capital with cultural and royal heritage, hilltop forts and palaces.
Located in the city of Agra in Utter Pradesh (northern India) the Taj Mahal is probably India's most celebrated attraction and a classic example of Mughal architecture. Built between 1631 and 1648 by the Emporah Shal Jahan to house his beloved wife’s tomb the Taj is a work of art of incomparable beauty - especially as the white marble stone changes colour in different light.
The sacred River Ganges flows from the Himalayas into the spiritual and holistic city of Varanasi, which attracts many pilgrims for rituals and ceremonies along the banks of the sacred river. In Karnataka on the banks of the River Tungabadhra sits the deserted city of Hampi, a world heritage sight where the ruins of Vijayanagar, one of the largest Hindu empires in Indian history which once controlled the spice and cotton trade, makes for a fascinating and magical place to visit.
Patients seeking peace and quiet and plenty of shade might want to take a trip to a hill station such as Munnar in Kerala, a former summer retreat of the British government located at a cool 1600 metres above sea level, or be punted around the peaceful and beautiful Kerala Backwaters, a series of water bound villages, zigzag canals and narrow waterways fed by rivers from the Arabian Sea.
If train travel is something you enjoy then a slow train up to quiet hill resorts to leisurely view panoramic views and pass picturesque stations is ideal. A recommended journey is between Kalka and Shimla, which goes under 107 tunnels and bridges, or the route up to the beautiful hill station of Darjeeling which has stunning views of the Himalaya mountains.
Medical travel insurance
Medical travel insurance is travel insurance designed for the specific requirements and risks of medical travellers.
All operations carry some risk, but most travel insurance policies do not cover you for complications arising from treatment abroad.
So for your safety and peace of mind it is highly recommended that you take out medical travel insurance.
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