We have just completed a 6 week tour of India in an attempt to capture a flavour of this marvellous country. Obviously even 6 months would not be sufficient to get a real in depth feel for such a diverse country but with the time available to us we feel that we have experienced the frenetic and balanced it with the relative calm of other parts. We have looked at Indian tradition, the iconic monuments like the Taj Mahal and Golden temple and visited some of the major religious and spiritual sites for Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist faiths.
It simply is not possible to take it all in in one go and neither can you pay justice to any one town city or village by turning up in a bus, getting a tick in the box and driving off again. Almost inevitably you will need to take some form of public transport but without doing so you would miss such a massive element of the Indian way of life.
Tuk Tuk, rickshaw, bus, train, taxi and even the metro in Delhi are all integral parts of the Indian culture so we have attempted (and been forced into their use at times) to utilise all the modes of transport to immerse ourselves in the culture.
Never too old to travel
We are two 50 plus travellers who now have a little more time on our hands to do this but who also wanted a little comfort along the way (only at times) so have experimented with various accommodations which we will write about separately on the site as we cover each of the areas in greater detail.
In the following brief article I have captured OUR itinerary for this 6 weeks and it is important to understand that NONE of this was preplanned (even the decision to come to India itself left us with insufficient time to get our visas without needless worry!!)
Our Route in breif
Cochin – Cherai Beach – Allepey – Periyar – Bangalore – Delhi – Agra – Khajuraho – Varanasi – Rishikesh – Amritsar – McLeod Ganj – Delhi – home
Don’t take our lead on this, rather, I advocate a hybrid system whereby you loosely plan an itinerary from the comfort of your armchair with the internet resources and travel guide books at hand and then once you land in India and experience the absolute sensory explosion you can take time to re-evaluate the armchair decisions based upon your feelings at the time.
…In life…IT IS GOOD TO BE FLEXIBLE AND TO GO WITH THE FLOW..in India…IT IS A MUST.
Remember the oft used adage that it is the journey that counts and the destination is usually secondary (but of course you cannot miss the Taj Mahal no matter how good the journey is!)
I have captured some prices we paid for the transport between destinations dependent upon the mode of transport but of course these are just indicative and related to2013 prices.
Much more importantly, they relate to what you feel you can barter the price down to,,,a sport in India really. The trains are a great way to get around and once you break down any fears or apprehensions they become a great way to observe the country and people you have come to visit, The pricing structure is dependent more on the type of compartment you choose rather than the distance travelled…we noticed that the difference between Air Conditioned and non Air Conditioned carriages equates to about double the price….but then the price is extremely low to start with compared to, say trains in the UK. I will have a separate article on modes of travelling in India on this site shortly.
Deciding on how long
Decisions on how long to stay in one place were made based upon a number of factors but ultimately a good gut feeling took charge and made the decision. Factors helping the gut to decide:
- Is the accommodation comfortable
- Accommodation cost
- Climate, how hot is it
- How frenetic the place was
- Did we just need to relax a bit
- What attractions were in the local area
- Was there a good vibe
- What food was available and what quality
- Could you buy a beer with your meal
- Do we want to use time on the internet
- Have we received a good recommendation/tip from another traveller
- What transport options are available and what times are buses, trains or flights
Of course the decision making process is complex but it can be fun if you impose few constraints on yourself. For example Di desperately wished to see an elephant in the wild so this pushed us in the direction of Periyar and she had also harboured a wish from childhood to visit the Golden Temple which placed this in our itinerary. I had no specifics other than to see the Taj Mahal so we gradually formed a plan. Rishikesh and McLeod Ganj were just inspirational decisions probably made by a bolt from the sky!
We have only seen a small section of a vast country but by letting our own feelings dictate where and when we travelled then the experience has tailored itself perfectly around us as individuals.
The first decision was to get out of freezing cold UK…a sunny, calm, beach with not too much of the sensory turbulence we fully expected led us to book our first accommodation in Cherai Beach to relax for a week before the push up through India.
In the itinerary below I have included links to my galleries and separate article on this site and this may help to make decisions on where YOU think might be the ideal destination.
The Itinerary – The detail
Kerala State – Southern India
Flight into Cochin Airport from Heathrow, UK (Approx £550)
6 nights (Taxi Rs3500 to Allepey)
Relax on the beach
Walk the backwaters
isit Fort Cochin
1 night (Taxi Rs2300 to Periyar)
2 nights ((Taxi Rs2200 to Munnar)
2 nights (Overnight bus Rs1200 to Bangalore)
Karnataka State – South Central India
1 night (Flight Rs9000 to Delhi)
Delhi – no overnight stop taxi (extortionate Rs4400 because of Holi festival!!)
3 nights (Overnight sleeper train Rs1600 to Khajaraho)
Madhya Pradesh State – North Central India
2 nights (Overnight sleeper Rs1500 to Agra)
Uttar Pradesh State – North Central India
3 nights (overnight sleeper train Rs1300 to Rishikesh)
Uttara Khand (Uttaranchal) State – N India
7 nights (Overnight day n night train Rs500 to Amritsar)
2 nights (Taxi Rs3500 to cLeod Ganj)
Himachal Pradesh State – N W India
McLeod Ganj – 4 nights ((Overnight semi-sleeper bus Rs1800 to Delhi)
Delhi – 4 nights (Flights out of India)
Obviously if you are unable to spend 6 weeks away from home then you will need to bespoke your itinerary but you should gain a little from understanding the methods of travel between different centres. Should you have ANY questions then please feel free to post a comment below and I will respond to you with advice. Iam also contactable on email through the site.
Regards and happy travelling Gary 🙂