Bus or train to Kathmandu from HP -- Please advise

#1 Nov 19th, 2006, 19:18
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#1
I'm planning to take a quick "visa trip" to Kathmandu within the next two weeks. I've managed to get just enough information to be confused. I need help with selecting busses and/or trains to get the trip done. My budget has basically ruled out air travel...

First leg, I can get a bus to either Delhi or Dharamsala.

Next leg, I can take a bus from Delhi to Kathmandu
or
I can take a train from Delhi to Gorakhpur
or
I can take a bus from Dharamsala to Kathmandu.

Does anybody have info on buses running between Dharamsala and Kathmandu?

Does anybody have info on trains between Delhi and Gorakhpur?

How much hassle is it to cross to Kathmandu from Gorakhpur?

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me.

Also,
#2 Nov 19th, 2006, 20:38
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  • VSK Sharma is offline
#2
Hi,
There are no buses from Dharmsala, Delhi to Kathmandu.
Go to Gorakhpur from Delhi by train. From Gorakhpur take a bus to Sonali boarder from just outside the railway station. Cross the boarder on a rikshaw and reach the bus stand across the boarder in Nepal.Take a bus to Kathmandu and reach there in about 10 hrs. For return follow the same route.
Have a nice trip.
#3 Nov 19th, 2006, 22:47
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  • kailash35 is offline
#3
There is a night train going from Chakki Bank to Gorakphur.
Chakki bank is a few kms (3) from Pathankot.

The train is not running every day and the train number is different depending on the day :

on saturdays - train 5654
on thursdays - train 5652
on wednesdays - train 5098
on sundays - train 2588

departure time : 00.25

If you're in Rewalsar, you can take a bus from Mandi to Pathankot.
#4 Nov 19th, 2006, 22:54
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  • mike mike is offline
#4
hi ,
there is a private bus from delhi to kathmandu which is runnning i think three days in a week but u have to check the days ..!
mike mike
#5 Nov 20th, 2006, 13:15
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  • anne the nash is offline
#5
I once followed the route mentioned by vsk sharma. on the way u can visit buddha's places, kushinagar and lumbini too. the station i took the bus to kathmandu called bhairawa.
#6 Nov 20th, 2006, 15:56
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#6
Thanks for the clarifications, folks...I had half of my sources suggesting Delhi to Kathmandu, and the other half suggesting I could work my trip from Dharamsala. What I may do is take the Delhi bus on my way out to Kathmandu, and wander back to Delhi via train. The Pathankot option also sounds good, and I'm looking into it.

Kailash35, can you give me more details about the Gorakhpur crossing? And where the heck is Pathankot, that there's a bus that goes from there to Mandi? Is it on the mandi - Manali route?
#7 Nov 20th, 2006, 16:18
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  • kailash35 is offline
#7
No, Pathankot is in the other direction!

The buses from Kullu and Manali to Pathankot have stops in Mandi.

For the crossing, can't help you, I did not go to Nepal by road.

For the bus time table, do check http://himachal.nic.in/hrtc/
#8 Nov 22nd, 2006, 19:03
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  • freebie is offline
#8
The advice above is essentially correct. I can fill you in a little more based on trips I did a while ago (2002/3).

The Chakki Bank train is the most direct way to get to Gorakpur. But you need to factor in getting to Chakki Bank. Sounds like there is a bus from where you are.

Once you get to Gorakhpur, there are jeeps that load everyone up and take them to the border. They will ask you "Sounali. SU-NAH-LEE?" and you say yes. Alternatively, you can walk out to the street in front of the train station go left and then first right and get on a local bus. Jeep is recommended (the only option?) if at night (which it will be if you get the Chakki Bank train) and does not cost much more than a bus.

The border is 90min to 2hrs away and is open 24hrs. The jeep will drop you off 100-200m from the border. Get a rickshaw if you want, but its not far.

You will need $US (is it still $35?) for the visa, and I believe it must be correct change. I have heard you can just cash money at the money changers on the border, but I always get some beforehand to save the hassle. I've never had trouble with the Nepali visa staff - but of course some people get hassled for bakshish, more so if you wake them at night. They're reasonably polite though.

If you've caught the train from Chakki Bank, it will be after midnight by the time you cross. The bus station to Kathmandu is a few km down the road from the border - so you'll need a rickshaw/jeep etc.. to get there. There are 2 options. One is to hard core it and go straight to the bus station (get some dinner at the stalls on the border first if they are cooking) and wait for the first bus around 5am-ish. It will be a bit cold at that time of year, but that's all the more 'hard core'.) Alternatively, get a room for a few hours. The cheapies right near the border are a bit rough and loud from traffic noise, but alright. The ones near the bus station look more expensive, but I guess are nicer. Then, get up and get an early-ish bus. You need to get an early one cos they take a fair time getting to Kathmandu (more uphill) - 10-12rs depending on delays. Take a seat on the left hand side of the bus to get the views of the river gorges etc... (right hand side of the bus on the way back!).

When you get to Kathmandu, the main backpacker area is Thamel which your touts will have no trouble leading you to. Its an interesting place and very well resourced for tourist, but I don't like to stay there so much. However, Thamel is most convenient to get to the Indian Embassy for visa renewal - you'll need to drop off your passport and pick it up a few days to a week later. A nicer quiter place to stay is the Tibetan suburb of Boudhanath, about 30 min away. Its easy to get taxis or local buses (Number 2) to Kathmandu centre.

For your retrun there should still be a Kathmandu to Delhi bus, but it is "not recommended". It advertises a 48 hour trip, but can take much longer. Sitting on a bus for 2-3 days is reported to be an awful experience.

As mentioned above, go back the way you came. The Kathmandu bus station is a few km north of Thamel on the ring road. I think you can get tix in Thamel, though you can definitely go out there a few days before and pick up tickets as well.

The only problem on this leg here is getting a ticket on the train from Gorakpur. I seem to recall its almost impossible to get to Gorakpur in time from Kathmandu to make the best train back to Delhi and I have heard people havng problems trying to get a train ticket ordered from Kathmandu . Night buses from Kathmandu were never recommended due to Maoist problems, that might be better now, but better to be safe-er than sorry. I think most people just go to the Nepali border, stay overnight, cross to Gorakpur, book a ticket and then wait around during the day for the train that night.

If there are dramas getting a ticket for that day, consider booking one for the following night (or later) and getting a bus or jeep to Kushingar. It is where the Buddha died and there are some nice guest houses and stuff there (but of course its also quietish). A jeep is 45min a bus 90min-2hrs. You can R&R there and get a bus later the following arvo to get the train (which will probably be rather delayed as it is coming from Bihar). Note that Dec is high season for pilgrims (mostly people from overseas), so prices and space might be a little more squeezed at this time of year.

Finally, if you get the train back from Gorakpur back towards Chakki Bank/Patankot, check out the train details. One that I took stopped somewhere before there and we needed to change trains at about 4am to go the last little bit to Patankot. One restaraunt owner explained that it was "not the most preferred train, but not the worst." LOL
#9 Nov 22nd, 2006, 23:02
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  • AvidTrekker is offline
#9

Lightbulb 2 more trains from Ambala

From Rewalsar-Mandi, travel to Ambala cant junction instead of Pathankot-Chakki bank station. Advantage one, you will be travelling in the right direction [Pathankot is in thje opp. dir].
Advntg 2: Mandi to Ambala is faster coz majority is a non mountain road [Mandi to Pathankot is mountainous]. Advntg 3: Two more trains avlble from Ambala apart from the above four ...

These are: 4674 and 5708. Both stop at Gorakhpur.

Biggest advntg: 5708 is a DAILY train, 4674 is 4 times a week. All the above four are once a week only.
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