Himachal Pradesh is a hilly area that is known for its rugged terrain; yet the state is accessible by various modes of transport like buses, trains and by air. Though there are several constraints that make it difficult to access it, yet the state has been successful in developing a well-connected chain of transport both for local residents as well as for innumerable tourists that travel to this picturesque place for spending vacations.
Among all the Indian hill stations, maximum road density is present in Himachal Pradesh. One can reach here by various modes of transport including bus, train, plane, local taxis, jeeps, and hired vehicles. Depending upon one's budget and purpose of visiting, one can avail several transportation facilities that are available.
Road transportation :
Road transportation system is well developed in this state. HRTC is responsible for providing different sorts of bus facilities, whether inter-city, intra-city or inter-state. The inter-city buses carry the passengers to and from nearby cities. A total of 8 National Highways that pass through this state cover a total distance of about 1230 kilometers. These highways include NH 1A, 20, 21 A, 22, 70, 72, and 88. NH 1A connects parts like Mandi, Pathankot, Nurpur, and Palampur. NH 72 passes through Paunta Sahib, Amb, Ambala and terminates at Hardwar.
In spite of its undulating terrain, the road-infrastructure is well developed by the state authorities. Due to unpredictable climatic conditions like landslides, snowfalls, and winters, many roads have to be closed to take care of the safety of the passengers. The buses provided by HRTC offer their services to most inaccessible and remote places. Depending upon their budget and need of comfort, tourists can avail the facilities of ordinary, deluxe, luxury, and hi-tech buses.
Most of the tourist destinations in Himachal are connected by a conglomerate of roads and highways. Hill stations like Kullu, Manali, Solan, Shimla etc. have regular buses catering to the needs of the passengers. In total, there are twenty three bus depots that are currently working in the state and serve as excellent modes of transport for People commuting over short and long distances. Among all the districts that form a part of the state, Hamirpur has the distinction of having the largest road-density.
Rail transportation :
Railways as the means of transport in Himachal are another way to get connected to the outside world. Though the contribution of rail-system is negligible as compared to its well-built road system, yet it plays a major role in transporting the passengers to far flung areas. There are twin rail-tracks that work on the narrow gauge. The track connecting Kalka to Shimla covers a distance of 96 kilometers. This track was built about a century ago and is still in function. Crossing a whopping 864 bridges and about 100 tunnels, this rail-line was built in the colonial period. As it covers one of the most rugged regions, it is indeed a marvel of engineering that can mesmerize anyone.
Another track connecting Pathankot to Jogindernagar covers a distance of 113 km. It is, in fact, the longest line of rail present in Himachal Pradesh. In addition, one can also avail the facilities of railway tracks from Solan and Una. The line connecting Punjab's Nangal Dam to Una is a broad-gauge line that is under the process of extension to other areas of Punjab.
Air transportation :
Among other modes of transport that are functional in the state, air-ways is one of the options. At present, there are 3 international airports that are present including Gaggal, Jubbarhatti, and Bhutnar Airports. Bhutnar Airport is located near Kullu valley while Gaggal functions near Kangra. As the climatic conditions of the state are not usually suitable for flights, these air-facilities have seasonal operability. ATR and Dornier are the common aircrafts that cover major flights and connect the passengers to the outside world.
Local transportation :
Apart from local buses and trains, local residents can travel through taxis and jeeps that carry the passenger with in one city or from one city to the other. One should avoid taking Intra - city taxis unless he is part of a big group as it can be quite costly.
Building an extensive transportation system over an area that is constrained by geographical and seasonal factors is an upheaval task and Himachal Pradesh has been successful in developing a well-connected system of roads, railways and other modes of transport.