Early Travel to India

Photo - Lloyd Triestino Victoria in 1950s

The journey to India in the early 1900's was a long one.  People used to travel by ship before the days of commercial flights.

Ancestors can be traced on Ancestry.com to find ships logs.

My mother for instance travelled with her mother in 1935 aged 4 on the SS California owned by the Anchor Line and built in 1947 sailing from Liverpool to Bombay.


A home for the ayahs: from India to Britain and back again - click here


Thanks to Alan Lane for this : 

Well, most planters, and many other expats too, used to travel by sea to various locations departing from Tilbury or Southampton if on P&O, or Liverpool if on Anchor Line vessels, to Aden, Karachi, and Bombay.

Before the second world war, some personnel would travel on the British India Steamship Co vessels to either Bombay, or to Calcutta via Colombo, Ceylon.

Usually, if the vessel docked in Bombay, at Ballard Pier (near to the Gateway to India structure!) they would travel onwards to their destinations via train. If to join tea, then it was the train, first class air conditioned in later years. I did this when I returned to India in 1964, after having arrived on the Anchor Line ship, MV Cilicia. The train journey took three days from Bombay (Victoria Terminus) to Calcutta (Howrah), going through the Western Ghats, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, then West Bengal.

On arrival in Calcutta, most planters stayed at either the Great Eastern Hotel on Old Court House Street, or the Grand Hotel on Chowringhee. They would then take the Indian Airlines flights to Assam or Cachar. If the Dooars (Bagdogra) or Darjeeling, some would go via Dakota owned by Jamair.

Before the war, and I believe just after, until commercial airlines started, planters had to travel to Dooars/Darjeeling by train to Kurseong. If proceeding to Assam, then they had to take the train from Sealdah station in Calcutta (as my father did) to Goalkunda ghat (now in Bangladesh) and then board one of the IGN or RSN paddle steamer ferries that sailed up the Brahmaputra River to Gauhati, Tezpur, Jorhat and Dibrugarh. Journey time around two weeks! 

If personnel took the train, again from Sealdah, to Assam, the train would pass through Bengal (Dooars) to Cooch Behar, then to Dubri in Assam. Before the bridge across the Brahmaputra was constructed, all train passengers had to disembark from the train and take the ferry across to Gauhati, then connect with another train to travel to Upper Assam. If proceeding to Cachar, planters would get down at Lumding station, and take the train from Lumding to Silchar via Haflong in the Mikir Hills. This train was a narrow gauge one. However, prior to India’s Independence one could travel from Calcutta to Silchar through Sylhet (Bangladesh).

First flight to India - click here