How to get to Manipal
Manipal, as opposed to common perception, is not a town in Sikkim, but one on the Konkan coast, by the temple town of Udupi, Karnataka.
Travelling to Manipal is pretty direct if you are travelling by road or rail. Most buses drop you off right at the town centre ‘Tiger Circle’ aka ‘TC’, while the Udupi Station is fifteen minutes away from Manipal by road. Air travel might be a little more cumbersome, as the closest airport is in Mangalore, and takes a little over an hour to get to.
- By train: There are two superfast trains, Mumbai Express and Matsyagandha Express, that take an average of 14 hours from Mumbai to Udupi. Delay in the trains’ travel time doesn’t usually extend one or two hours, but on good days it reaches on time.
- By bus : Buses travel along the scenic Konkan coast and get you to Mumbai via Goa. Many families choose to drive down in their cars, and make a good trip out of it. It takes 17 hours by a commercial bus. The ride is smooth as the bus steer clear from the Ghats for the most part, and get you home easy.
- By flight: Again, if you live in Mumbai’s western suburbs, the only travelling you have to do is to the airport to and from Mangalore. Despite the high fare prices, the advantage remains that you reach Mumbai in an hour, so you can opt for this mode if you are in an extreme hurry.
It’ll take you ten hours to Majestic, and a majestic ten hours to anywhere else from there.
- By bus: Regular buses are available between Tiger Circle to central locations in Bangalore like Gandhinagar, Airport and Majestic. The bus is the most popular mode to travel by, considering that it’s cheap, and gets you to Bangalore the fastest. The buses ply overnight, and make it extremely easy as a journey. The 8-10 hour journey is best completed in a sleeper bus, semi-sleepers posing issues with respect to space and comfort.
- By train: The journey by train is longer and take about 14 hours. There are direct trains from Udupi to Bangalore, and the trip’s overnight. It’s a scenic route, and a very comfortable journey, something you could look forward to if you have a few hours at hand.
- By flight: Least preferred of all the modes, it’s very expensive compared to buses of trains. Unless, you have to travel on an emergency, a flight from Mangalore to Bangalore takes about 45 minutes, while the cab journey to the airport alone will cost about 1200-1400 rupees.
The capital city takes the longest to get to among all the metro cities. Most people prefer a flight from Bangalore, as there are no direct flights from Mangalore. But flights may also be taken from Mumbai or Goa. The part of the journey that needs proper planning is getting to either of the 3 airports.
- Flights via Bangalore: To maintain economy while travelling, it’s preferable to take a bus to Bangalore airport, and catch a morning flight to Delhi. These buses shuttle to and from Bangalore Airport directly to Tiger Circle. It’s best to take a direct bus as the city can be very confusing for newcomers. But, although these buses are frequent, during season it’s advisable to book them at the earliest.
- Alternatively, getting a connecting flight from Mangalore to Bangalore and Bangalore to Delhi is a good option too. You can travel without hassle, although you might have to look for cab buddies back and forth from Mangalore airport. You could also reach Bangalore by train, but the railway station is far away from the airport, and may not be advisable unless you have a place to stay over in Bangalore for a day or two.
- Flight via Mumbai: The system remains same, get to Mumbai, from Manipal, and then a direct flight from the airport. Travelling by train would be easier, considering that the train leaves you much closer to the airport. But here too, you would need knowledge of the city to make sure you get your flight in time.
- Train: Direct Trains like, Rajdhani, Duronto, Mangala Express etc are available from Udupi to Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway station. Rajdhani takes about 36 hours, while all others extend up to 40-44.
- Flight via Bangalore: There is no dearth of flights connecting these two metro cities and takes only about two and a half hours. Next you can take the 45-minute flight to Mangalore or take the bus as already discussed above.
- Flight via Mumbai: You can take a flight from Kolkata to the financial capital which is easily available and takes less than three hours. The downside here is that the fare is costlier than the one for the aforementioned route. This can serve as a back-up option if flights to Bangalore are booked. You can take the flight to Mangalore from here or other modes of transport as mentioned before.
- By train: This option is the last and least preferred option of the lot because it takes a much longer time to get you from Kolkata to Mangalore. The superfast train, Vivek Express, starts from the Santragachi Junction near Howrah and reaches Mangalore in 43 hours. This option is , again, not very reliable as the train is prone to delays.
Once in Mangalore, you can hail a cab to get you to Manipal.
- By train: This option is the slowest but is viable if you have a lot of luggage as happens at the end of the year. Moreover, the timings may not always fit your schedule. The Mangaluru Central express takes a little more than a full day to get you from Hyderabad to Mangalore.
By bus: Direct buses (sleeper and semi sleeper) ply from TC to Hyderabad almost every day making them a convenient option and quick way to get to Hyderabad. The only downside is that the journey takes 16 feet-numbing hours so you better buckle up.
- By flight: This option again is expensive and naturally limits the amount of luggage you can take. You can take the flight from Hyderabad to Mangalore after an hour long stop in Bangalore.
Chennai: Where the only seasons are hot, hotter and hottest.
- By bus: Buses (both semi sleeper and sleeper) operate between Chennai and Bangalore at comparatively modest fares. This journey takes only 6 hours (a delay of up to 1 hour ,if any, occurs). Once you reach Bangalore, you can use any of the modes of transport we’ve already enumerated above to travel further on to Manipal.
- By train: There are many trains such as ,the Mangalore Express , West Coast Express and the Madgaon express which take 15-16 hours to get to Mangalore. The most convenient option is the Mangalore Express which takes you through Kerala with its scenic backwaters and lush fields making for a relaxing journey.
- By flight: You can take either a direct flight to Mangalore or a flight to Mangalore via Bangalore which takes close to 3 hours.
- Direct flights to and from Mangalore are available from Dubai, Riyadh and Oman. If not, they definitely have flights to Mumbai. Travelling from Mumbai to Manipal can be seen in the ‘Mumbai’ segment.
These are the usual routes from major cities in India and abroad to travel to Manipal. If you have any doubts about specific towns that you might not be sure about, contact us, and we’ll help you out with the alternatives.
Qais Akolawala & Shagun Nevatia, for MTTN.