When you think about India, you might think of dirty and crowded streets, shitty places, spicy food, no alcohol, strange/funny people and the Taj Mahal. And ofcourse you’ll encounter all these things! But India has so much more to offer than only this, with its rich culture and diversity of nature.
Besides it’s quite easy to travel. You can take the plane, or a cheap taxi, a (sleeping)train, bus or a tuk tuk. You can eat cheap and good dishes, but after one month you might start to crave for something without rice or a little less spicy. You can sleep VERY cheap (starting from 3€/night) in a cosy guesthouse.
- Leh, Ladakh: Stunning mountscapes in the Himalayas. Friendy village on 3000m. Take 2 or 3 days to get used to the height. In the meantime you can visit some monastery’s nearby, try to book a tour for a trek and relax on a terrace with a view on the mountains. We’ve booked a 5day trek in the Hemis national park. The price of this was extremely cheap. (About 120€ for everything. Horses for the luggage, food, tent, mattress, sleeping bag, guide, cook, transport, entrance,…). The trek was stunning. We went above 5000m. Heavy but well worth it till the last step.
- Agra. The Taj Mahal is situated here. The town itself is ugly and non-interesting. But the Taj Mahal is breath taking. If you don’t want to spend too much money on the entrance fee: Go to the back of the impressive building, on the other side of the river, for a great view too. (Featured image was taken from there). In the same day you can visit the red fort, a cool fort in the middle of the city center. If you come from New Delhi, take a stop in Gwalior, here’s a quite nice old fort.
- Orchha. A small town with lots of history. Many temples, old and new, big and small. Also a big palace you can visit without seeing another tourist.
Hint: go to the big temple in the middle of the center, and ask a kid in the neighborhood to guide you to the top. They will unlock the doors and you have to climb small stairs until you reach the roof, where you can see vultures landing from close.
- Khajuraho. Kamasutra temples. Explore, can’t tell you more about these insane temples 😉
- Varanasi. The holy city, perhaps the oldest city in the world. You will be dropped in a chaotic and vivid maze. What can you expect here? Piss on your head? Yes! Shit from a holy cow being thrown in the Ganges? Yes! Dead bodies being ritually burned in the Ganges while 20m downstream people are washing themselves? Yes! Will you become sick here? Yes! Euuhmm, should I visit it then? YES, you have to!
- Any park with tigers. We visited Jim Corbett national park but not in the right season. (You really should visit between December and may). But this park was the only one in India that was open. Beautiful park, we haven’t spotted tigers, but we saw there footprints, peacock, lots of monkeys, deer… And a bit further you can hike to some very nice waterfalls where you can swim (not one single tourist).
- Jaipur, the Pink City. Big and crowded but a few things are definitely worth visiting. The Hawa Mahall, a (ofcourse) pink building like a beehive, in the city center. The Royal Palace, fine artwork and some beautiful rooms, in the city center. The Amber Palace and Fort, situated outside the city, near to eachother. Very worth it!
- Jaisalmer, the Yellow City. Sand, dry bush and a burning sun, you are arrived in the desert of Rajasthan. You can walk around the city in just a few hours, it’s cosy, quiet and hot.The main thing to do here is a camel trip. 2 days is enough. Almost every tour goes on the same trip to the Sam Sand Dunes, but when you arrive with your camel and you want a nice photo of the dunes you will be disappointed, it’s full, but I mean FULL of tourists (so I’ve heard), you can’t take a photo of the dunes without 30 tourists. So you have to join a ‘non-touristic’ camel tour in the Thar Desert like we did. The dunes were not big but beautiful and not one single tourist was spotted in 2 days. Further you can hire a small motorbike and visit some things outside the city, for example Kuldhara, a city of ruins that has been abandoned.
- Jodhpur, the Blue City. Crowdy again, but the cosy kind. Visit the Mehrangarh fort, in the center on a hill. It’s called a fort but I actually it’s more of a palace, so huge you can see this was a wealthy city. You’ll have a great view on all the blue houses (against mosquitos). You can wander around in the streets or hire a bike and go outside the city, nice thing to explore.
There is another blue city, called Bundi, (more like a village), which you also have to explore. It’s a very non-touristic place with a big palace on the green hills, not restored but dilapidated, which is very cool! Not far from Bundi you’ll find a nice waterfall (Bhimlat falls) where you can take a dive.
- Udaipur, the White City. The city of James Bond. A clean and nice city with (again) a beautiful palace. Rent a bike and make a tour around the lake north of the city, to find lots of birdlife.
After this trip (you’ll need 5 weeks to visit all of this) you will see India is a diamond in the rough! 🙂