One of the things I spent a lot of time researching before setting off on my Indian adventure this year was a 2 month itinerary around India. I’d already spent a month there before, going from Delhi to Goa and covering various places in between. This time 2 months felt like a good amount of time to revisit a few places and see lots more.
There’s so much to see in the subcontinent that 2 months still wasn’t nearly enough time and I could have easily stayed double that to explore further. I left knowing there are so many more places I want to go, such as Amritsar, Darjeeling and Dharamsala, and that it wouldn’t be the last goodbye.
Here’s a run down of my route around India.
Delhi – 3 nights
Delhi delivers culture shock, there’s no escaping it, and unless you have friends or relatives there I can’t see why many people would want to stick around for more than 2 nights. We had to stay an extra night due to train availability.
A day or two spent seeing the sights and you’re good to go.
Agra – 1 night
Apart from the Taj Mahal and maybe the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah aka the baby taj, there really isn’t a great deal on offer here. We had great fun staying at Zostel though, which is perfectly located on the Taj East Gate Road and provides a bit of relief from the manic city.
Jaipur – 3 nights
3 nights in Jaipur was plenty of time to fit in the sights including taking a trip out to the Amber Fort, which is a must do. It’s also a great place to get practicing your haggling skills at the markets.
Pushkar – 2 nights
2 nights/3 days is enough time to explore Pushkar’s sights including the holy lake and temples as well as sample some of the delicious food at the picturesque rooftop restaurants. 3 or 4 nights would be ideal for a bit more chill out time. We didn’t get to make the most of this as we had to work around the limited trains from Udaipur to Mumbai.
Udaipur – 4 nights
It was so nice to be able to base ourselves in one place for more than 2 or 3 days in one of my favourite cities, especially before embarking on the 17 hour train ride to Mumbai.
Mumbai – 3 nights
Ample time to check out the main sights, wander Colaba and explore other parts of the city. We took in two extremes of the city in one day, visiting the Dharavi slums before drinking cocktails at the AER lounge at the top of the Four Seasons hotel.
~ Mumbai cricketers at Oval Maidan
Arambol – 3 nights
Reaching the beaches of Goa after the hectic north was a breath of fresh air. And when seeing the huge stretch of beach Arambol had to offer we immediately booked an extra night. On day 2 we started to regret this as we didn’t find that the town had too much to offer and the nightlife was a lot tamer that I was expecting. I’m sure there are much better places to explore in north Goa but if you’re looking to partake in beach acrobatics and dance around drum circles, this is the place for you.
Anjuna – 2 nights
High expectations made Anjuna a little disappointing. I can’t comment on the flea market as we managed to schedule our stay for the wrong time! Perhaps the area is more lively on a Wednesday (market day) but the party beach I was hoping for was just a few trashy bars blasting music and competing with each other in the day. At night there was one ‘beach party’ consisting of 5 or so people dancing on the sands and one psy-trance club, which we enjoyed the sound of until the early hours from our guesthouse!
~ The quieter end of Anjuna beach
Agonda – 4 nights
This was the place in Goa I was waiting for. It’s still quite untouched by mass tourism but I’m not sure how long things will stay that way with developing Palolem round the corner. We spent 4 blissful days here sunning and swimming, hanging out at our favourite spot, Jardim-a-Mar and practicing some yoga.
~ Agonda – Just. Look. At. That. beach
Palolem – 6 nights
Wow this place has changed in 6 years; more bars, more beach huts and a different crowd of people. It’s a lot of fun though with plenty of beach bars, great restaurants and a beautiful palm fringed beach. Plus a silent disco party a few times a week. As you can see we struggled to move on!
Hampi – 3 nights
We almost didn’t go to Hampi but boy am I glad we did! So many people rave about it and with good reason so I’m glad we managed to squeeze it into our schedule. We stayed over the river in mud huts surrounded by rice paddy fields at The Goan Corner. Ahh.. It was nice to get back to some culture after lounging and drinking on the beach for a while.
~ Vitthala Temple, Hampi
Bangalore – 1 night
Just for a stop over between Hampi and Kochi. This is one of the most westernised cities in India but we managed to find some of the best South Indian thalis and masala dosas here. The restaurant below the Adora hotel for the thalis, and Indian Coffee House for the dosas (and scrambled eggs, Adam tells me).
Kochi – 3 nights
Perfect amount of time to wander the arty cafes and shops and sample some delicious Keralan food. We took a day trip from here to the backwaters and spent an evening watching a traditional Kathakali performance.
~ Chinese fishing nets, Kochi
Varkala – 2 nights
We were recommended Varkala by some friends and really liked the sound of it, so made room for 2 days there. We immediately loved the vibe so wished we had more time. By the second day we realised there wasn’t a great deal to do other than eat and hit the beach, which was lovely, but we didn’t feel like we were missing out on too much. If there’s anything I do regret though, it’s not having enough time to explore more of Kerala.
Pondicherry – 2 nights
I was worried about not having enough time to recharge here after the 13 hour bus from Trivandrum and before the 34 hour train journey up to Kolkata. Yes, 34 hour train journey. But it was a perfect amount of time to see what we needed to see and munch on as many French pastries as possible.
Kolkata – 5 nights
Far, far too long. But we didn’t have a choice due to train availability, as per! I expected a lot of hassle here and to begin with I was pleasantly surprised. After 2 days though, we’d managed to battle with a dozen or so taxi drivers who just refused to take us anywhere and got lost late at night in some dark and unfriendly streets. Don’t get me wrong, there are some nice things to see but due to some personal experiences I was ready to leave.
~ The view from Blue and Beyond rooftop bar where we were dreading the battle to get back to our hotel!
Varanasi – 3 nights
My post on Varanasi will tell you about my experience here and how we couldn’t have asked for a better end to the trip! It would have been nice to have an extra night but it was time for us to move on.
And back to Delhi for 1 restful night at an airport hotel
But of course it was an ordeal trying to get from the train station to near the airport!
Itineraries should of course be left flexible. You never know how much you’re going to love or hate a place or who you might meet that could sway your plans. I’d also always recommend trying not to cram too much in, and looking back on this it looks as though we did!
If there’s anything I’ve learnt so far on my travels it’s that trying to fit too much in within a certain time frame just contributes to stress, exhaustion and maybe a break down here or there. That’s one of the things I left the UK for and not what travelling should be about!