We’ve already taken a shot at discovering India in 20 quick days. Check out that itinerary!
But considering you’re a serious traveler, or a digital nomad or just someone with kick-arse paid-leave contract, you may have a little more time to explore this complicated, vastly oxymoron-ish, richly cultured country.
We’ve taken the previous itinerary and added more diverse destinations to it to help you discover India in its true essence.
India in 30 Days
To the original list, add the destinations that are in bold:
- New Delhi
Aurangabad houses the Ajanta-Ellora caves, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The spectacle includes rock-cut caves displaying few of the most beautiful and skillful sculptures and artwork from ancient India.
If there was a contest to find the most chilled-out destination in the chaos that is India, it would be Puducherry, an old French colonial town in South India.
The French have a left a heavy impact on the small town’s culture, food, architecture and ambiance. Combine that with a world famous ashram, French-inspired food, a trip to a brilliantly designed mediation center and pristine beaches, and you’ll have a Puducherry-Auroville retreat that’s near perfect.
The quintessential colonial capital of the East, Kolkata was also the capital during the British Raaj. From the first metro network in India to the only city with historic-and-still-functioning trams, Kolkata also offers up, possibly, the best food India has to offer. It’s a perfect destination to soak up colonial history, the famed Durga Puja festivities, world-class sweets, and some of the best local markets.
India in 90 Days
90 days, we understand, might be a stretch for tourists. This is itinerary is hence perfect for backpackers, serial travelers and digital nomads.
The number of destinations increase to include 7 more:
- New Delhi
- New Delhi
A jewel among India’s most royal cities, Udaipur, with its lakes and palace complexes might just inspire you with its rich heritage. It is undoubtedly a luxury destination and backpackers may want to stay away. But a little luxury never hurt anyone!
Sanchi is famous for its Buddhist Vihara, a piece of religious architecture that has been standing since 3rd Century BC. Yep, you read that right.
Located in the central most state of Madhya Pradesh, Sanchi lies close to havens such as Gwalior, Khajuraho and Bhopal.
Home to the famous-of-late Sula vineyards, Nashik is one of those sleepy resort towns that are pretty much perfect for a luxurious weekend getaway. Apart from a wine-induced couple of days, you’d also get the option of exploring ancient carved out temples and caves.
Also known as Ootacamund, this is the greenest, habitable destination in the list! A hill station famous for the amount of rainfall it gets all year round, the lush tea estates, waterfalls and lakes nestled between hills, Ooty is a luxury retreat for not just luxury travelers, but budget travelers too.
Eat. Sun bathe. Eat. Surf. Eat. Take a dive.
Next to Goa, Kovalam is a calmer and possibly, prettier cousin. If you’re not in the mood to chill out with an Ayurvedic massage, you could just as easily put anything from speed-boating to surfing on your list.
It is difficult to cross a simple section of India without stepping into ancient temples and religious cities. Puri is one of those cities.
Jog along the beach, or make a trip to the Jagannath Temple and visit the majestic Sun Temple of Konark. The sculptural intricacy, the religious artwork and the scandalous history will astound the staunchest of non-believers.
Whether it’s a glimpse of the Himalayas from one of the view decks, or a leisurely paddle through the Lake, Nainital nestled in the mountains is a pretty-as-a-picture getaway for locals and foreigners. Leaving aside the ample opportunity it presents for a serious trekker or a rock-climber, the stronger reason to go to Nainital, is the Jim Corbett National Park.
Book a lodge, get a guide and set off on a safari!
One part of a trip to India hasn’t been included in any of the lists above. But it happens to be one of the best destinations in the country — Ladakh.
A road-trip, whether in cars or motorbikes, to Leh-Ladakh is sort of a rite-of-passage for Indian travel enthusiasts. Through the rocky mountain roads, steeps icy slopes, remote monasteries and eerily calm lakes, the trip make up most of our memories from college, or from our lives from when we were young adults.
Like any road-trip, the journey to Ladakh requires careful planning, certain physical preparations and the help of local guides. It also requires time. If you have less than 90 days to spend in India, then you could take the trip, at the cost of missing out on other destinations.
If you have more than 90 days, however, then I would definitely suggest that your hire bikes, pack the warmest clothes you can find and make the trip.
Travel & Planning Hacks
For tips on planning, take a look at the India in 20 Days piece.
India, like most countries, can be unsafe for travelers, especially women.
- Take into account pick-pockets, cons who try and get you cancel your tickets by suggesting to book with them, petty theives, sketchy salesmen or photographers, and ‘agents’ who pose as tour guides. Learn how to say “no” — a method implemented and mastered by locals.
- Note that most places in India have religious places of worship, and the itinerary above reflects that. Given that Indians are day-by-day opening up Western culture and clothes, you may not have to cover yourself head to toe — especially not in the bigger cities. But try and avoid shorts, mini-skirts, shoulder-less tops (short-sleeved or sleeveless is fine), or see-through clothing material whenever you’re off to a place of worship. Carry a long stole or scarf or dupatta, along with you. You’ll be able to use it as a head-covering if necessary.
- Travelling alone, especially during nighttime is advised against. I would give the same advice to women travelling along in other countries, to be honest. But it holds especially strong for those travelling through India. It would be best to avoid local buses, places that are too closely packed with people and narrow alleyways.
- Trains and buses are all great ways to travel through India since they’ll give you a glimpse of the country’s social fabric. We’ve all enjoyed travelling on local buses and trains during our travels, alone or with friends. However, always try and spend more on tickets. While no one can guarantee anything, higher ticket costs ensures more hygienic booths/seats and reduces the chances of being groped, stared at/teased, by a great deal.
- Ensure that you have the numbers of local police and medical services on your phone before travelling. Safety apps are just as necessary.
Tickets & Accommodation
Check out Part I : India in 20 Days!