Back in the day when trains did not ply, cars were used by a select few and roads were probably not in the best condition- travelling was a different ballgame altogether. Yet, it did not stop people from going about their business and reaching far flung places. Places that would take hours now were reached after days of travelling. India has come a long way since then- we have Bentleys and Audis vrooming on the roads, speeding trains, quick flights and dependable public transportation to arrive at wherever it is we want to go. Although travelling has undergone a major face lift, some places still make use of the quaint modes of transport that were popular in the yesteryears. Here’s a look at some of these classic rides that still persist.
# The Bullock Carts #
A common sight in all the picturesque countryside locales and in villages is the humble bullock cart. They have served as the preferred method of commuting in the villages since time immemorial. The bullocks ambling through concrete and in few cases broken roads, across farms and fields these carts go about transporting farmers, hitch-hikers, vegetable vendors and what have you. A simple yet effective way to glance at the bucolic way of life. Homestays in several villages offer bullock cart rides to guests.
# Camels #
The beautiful deserts of Rajasthan and Gujarat have added a unique sight to the Indian landscape. To navigate through these shimmering sands camels have been oft used. Their sure footing and ability to withstand the dry conditions of the arid land makes them a suitable mode of transportation. Camel rides decorated with colorful gear have become a great source of income for the tourism industry in these states. Camel safaris remain a popular getaway even now.
# Cycle Rickshaws #
In the north-eastern states of West Bengal and Assam, cycle rickshaws continue to be an accessible mode of commute. Charging much less than other mechanized modes of public transportation these rickshaws ply generally on shorter routes. An elevated seating area with the option of having a shade on top suitable for two individuals and pedaled by the driver is the basic structure of this vehicle. Its not fancy or frilly but tis a ride that you should take just for the sake of experience.
# Indian Coracles #
Thanks to the number of lakes and rivers that India has been blessed with, waterways also pose as major routes for conveyance. The Indian coracles locally known as parisal in the South are circular boats made of generally bamboo and animal hide. These boats usually are propelled by a single oarsman and are used for fishing, going back and forth between river banks, as a means of commute by vendors, farmers and local people. Coracle rides have now become a popular recreation activity- in some areas coracle races also take place. Coorg Homestays offer a pleasurable ride on these coracles.
# Shikaras #
A cultural symbol of Jammu and Kashmir and a pretty sight to behold over the tranquil waters of the Dal and Nageen Lakes in Kashmir- Shikaras are wooden boats used for myriad purposes. Driven by a single driver who uses a distinctive paddle to row the boat; shikaras can seat six to eight individuals and have a tarpaulin roof. Decked up in vibrant colors these shikaras are a big part of Kashmir’s economy attracting people in droves who want to ride on these boats and enjoy the calm lakes. Shikaras continue to be used as a means of travel, for vendors peddling saffron, spices, flowers and woollens, they are used for fishing, harvesting aquatic vegetation and for the economically challenged it serves as their home.
These are but a few of the traditional modes of travel seen in India that have continued to be made use of by the denizens of the nation.