I send a lot of groups to Thailand. Since the Chandigarh International Airport is for namesake, people have to travel to Delhi to catch a flight. The flight journey to Thailand is hardly four and a half hours. To catch that flight the pre-journey time is almost nine hours. Whether you take the train, bus or taxi the travel time to Delhi Airport remain the same. The only difference is the ease of travel, taxi being at number one and buses the worst. On the other hand, the train is the cheapest mode of transport and the taxi being the most expensive. I am not talking about the flights here. It takes less time but is the most expensive option.
None the less, traveling to Chandigarh to Indira Gandhi International Airport remains a big pain point to take any international flight. The irony is no government body shows any hurry to solve it.
Below are the options to reach the New Delhi T3 Terminal from Chandigarh, pick your poison wisely.
Chandigarh Airport is a laughing stock but nobody is in a rush to solve it.
Kalka Shatabdi is the fastest mode of transport for Chandigarh to Indira Gandhi International Airport. It takes around three and a half-hour. It is also the cheapest mode of transport. There are two Kalka Shatabdi’s which go from Chandigarh, one at 0623 hours and the second at 1823 hours. The evening Kalka Shatabdi has the best time. You can then reach by special metro train which will drop you at the airport. It takes another hour from the station. If you book your train tickets one month in advance you will get it at INR580. People above sixty can also avail of the Senior Citizen Discount on Kalka Shatabdi. Do note, even the railways have started following the dynamic pricing system. If you book late the price will vary.
The Train from Delhi
The first Kalka Shatabdi from Delhi goes at 0740 hours. The flights usually land at midnight you can wait seven hours for this Shatabdi or take a bus/taxi for Chandigarh. Hire Ola from the airport. They have a dedicated bay at the Delhi Airport. It is also the safest at that hour
The fastest and cheapest mode
It is also the most relaxing journey with good seats and food
A person with a bladder problem, the train does have a clean toilet
People who have a walking problem will have issues
It is a long walk to the metro station
The food is average and is part of the ticket
This is the second-best option as per the price. They were having direct service from Chandigarh to Indira Gandhi International Airport. As of today, their website is only showing the drop at ISBT Bus Stop. The ticket price is INR566. As I said that Chandigarh International Airport has nothing International about it, HRTC Volvo has nothing Volvo in it. They are there because there is no other option for a decent bus journey. The HRTC knows this and is making a fool of the people.
They will never open the gate of the bus till the tickets are sold off. They say it is for security but it is because you cannot do anything after booking the tickets. The seats are bad, cleanliness is average, the TV doesn’t work and the bus AC is a hit and a miss. The night Volvo’s are even worse, you will even get broken seats in it. If the bus is full you cannot even change the bus seat. To top it up the bus staff are rude. This makes your return journey from the Indira Gandhi Airport to ISBT to Chandigarh a nightmare.
All HRTC Volvo buses stop midway at Oasis Fast Food which is run by Haryana Tourism. This is for Tea and bathroom breaks. This is the only place the bus will stop. Now this place can’t even serve a good cup of tea. The coffee is with a hint of coffee. The sandwiches are outsourced and the vendor has not been changed for the last two decades. The burger and cutlet recipes remain the same…useless. They will heat the burger with the bun, rest I will leave to your imagination. The menu has been more or less the same for the past three decades.
The whole bus journey from Chandigarh to Indira Gandhi International Airport ruins your international travel experience.
Since the bus is only going to ISBT you have to walk till the metro station. You can also take a E-rickshaw/rickshaw. They can open their big mouth and ask you an exorbitant price for less than one-kilometer journey. The other option is to take the overhead bridge and walk to the metro station. This could be a problem as most of us are having luggage. The aged people will also have a problem walking. You then have to take the metro till New Delhi Metro Station from there you have to change your metro train to Airport Express Metro. The fare is INR60 for the Airport Express Metro.
Flexible Timings, Volvos are available every hour
Safe for woman, the bus staff does take care who sits next to a single woman
Extra travel time to airport
Bad seats make your travel tiresome
One toilet break
Unhealthy food options
Chances of getting struck in jam on Chandigarh-Delhi highway
This option is best for people who have a walking problem. I recommend this option to all senior citizens. The pickup is from home and the drop is in front of the T3 Terminal. You can stop for any number of bathroom breaks. There are lots of dhabas on the way so a lot of good food options. It can be expensive but if you are four people the cost can be divided. A Dzire or Etios car rentals can cost you between INR2000-2500. Whereas an SUV like Xylo, Ertiga or Innova will cost you INR 3000-3500. These costs include toll taxes.
The flight can be a double-edged sword. It is one hour flight. The flight if booked three months earlier can cost you INR1500 onwards. The pre-travel time to reach the airport is three hours. You will leave home at least one hour earlier. That’s a total time of four hours. The last Air Asia flight goes at 1920hrs from Chandigarh and reaches Delhi Airport at 2030hrs. Nok Scoot budget flight leave at 0255hrs which means the counter for boarding passes will open at 1200hrs. That means you have to wait for around three hours before you can get the boarding pass. Do pack your dinner if you choose this option.
The return is another issue. There are no early morning flights from Delhi to Chandigarh. The first flight leaves Delhi at 0850hrs that too is not a direct flight.
I have written this blog being a frequent traveler. My heart used to sink thinking about the journey back home. I have sent a lot of people on memorable holidays. They have come back happy too. But their happiness vanishes as soon as they have to travel back from Delhi to Chandigarh. Chandigarh and surrounding cities are dependent on Delhi to international flights. This is after Chandigarh having its own international airport. Even the domestic flight timing is not traveler friendly. I sometimes miss the old Chandigarh airport it was at least having good domestic flights.
Eccentric Blogger, Traveler and Consultant.