I enjoyed 1 month in India and it was my first visit. Therefore, I wanted to see the most famous sites, and all the craziness that comes along with them. Below I talk about my complete India itinerary, day by day and I will offer some guide on the best places to go and what to see. Despite all the notorious Indian scams, India is still up there as one of the country’s that sticks in my mind the most. Read about the scams here.
The reasons are the sheer volumes of people, the shocking standards of hygiene, how anything goes and how savvy Indian people are. I want to share my India Itinerary on this post to give travellers a solid foundation whilst exploring this country. This is not a place for the faint-hearted, but if you are willing to embrace India, it will reward you with some of the most memorable experiences of your life.
My 1 month India Itinerary
- Day 1-3 – Delhi
- Day 4-5 – Agra
- Day 6-7 – Jaipur
- Day 8-9 – Udaipur
- Day 10-12 – Jodhpur
- Day 13-17 – Jaisalmer
- Day 18-21 – Mumbai
- Day 22-24 – Varanasi
- Day 24-29 – Kerala
- Day 30 – Fly out
India Price Point
I discussed the prices in India in my India on a shoestring budget post. Here is a rough guide.
- Meal – 40rp-70rp
- Accommodation – 200rp
- Rail Travel – 150rp – 400rp
- Rickshaw journey – 50rp
- Attractions – 200rp – 400rp
There is so much to go through on my India itinerary, so I want to share with you all the things that I thought were the best experiences and some which you could skip over.
Old Delhi and Chandni Chowk Market – Delhi
This is one of oldest markets in Delhi and it’s an excellent way to acclimatise to India. It’s extremely hectic and one can really soak in what Indian life is all about. When you think about India, you either think ultra-spiritual yogis meditating in the hills up North or you envisage utter chaos, with animals in the streets and rickshaws zig-zagging through impossible hoards. Old Delhi is the latter, and I absolutely loved it. Be quick on your toes, stand still for too long and you will be swept along by the waves of Indian men and women.
Everything is back to basics, where animals pull carts along the streets, and people carry heavy cargo on their heads passing it from one man to the next. Also, you will see cows everywhere. They practically own the streets.
Taj Mahal – Agra
The most iconic site in the country. No India itinerary is complete without the Taj Mahal. When I visited here, it was extremely busy. Contest the long queues to enter and you will find yourself in the most majestic grounds in the world. The Taj was built by an emperor, to house the tomb of his dead wife.
In my opinion, the Taj is the most intricate piece of architecture in the world (considering its age). The exterior of the building has scriptures finely carved into the marble. Accompanying the Taj Mahal are two other large building either side, one of which is a mosque and the other is a ‘Jawab’. This is a building which mirrors the mosque, for balance.
The queues to enter the Taj Mahal mausoleum are insane, but as a western tourist you can bypass the queues which the locals have to suffer. Look out for signs and guards who will let you pass provided you are a foreigner.
Fatehpur Sikri – Agra
Until the the harsh reality of water shortages were realised, Fatehpur Sikri was the capital of the Mughal Empire. The capital had to be abandoned. after a short time as capital. The mosque is still used today however and is one of India’s finest pieces of architecture. Many omit this from their India itinerary because it is a 2-3 hour rickshaw ride from the Taj Mahal.
Don’t forget to wander the outside grounds. The real beauty of Fatehpur Sikri lies here. Be transported back in time, where ruins and the arid lands surround you. I watched on as local youths played cricket in the abandoned buildings surrounding Fatehpur Sikri. This is a memorable site for me and I urge travellers to go.
Jaipur Old city – Jaipur
In the state of Rajhastan is the Pink City, also known as Jaipur. The Pink City is the capital of Rajhastan and named after the colour of the buildings.. Take a seat in the street, stop and simply people watch for a while. Jaipur has so much life and you can see that literally anything goes here.
Look for buildings where you can ascend to the roof top and enjoy the sun setting over the old city. Simply ask the locals, who will be more than happy to welcome you. We were there nearing the Kite Festival, so enjoyed Indian locals battling kites, literally hundreds of them in the air.
Mehrangarh Fort & the Blue City– Jodhpur
My favourite fort in India was in Jodhpur and you can spend many hours walking the site and looking in the museum. The fort sits on a mountainous cliff face and viewing it from the outside, it appears as if the fort has been carved into the face of the rock. Within the Fort there are spectacular views over Jodhpur, but where the views are even better, is outside.
This area is not explored by many. Just before the main entrance into the fort area, you can keep going right. Unrivaled panoramic views of the Blue City can be seen from here. The highest of Hindu castes, Brahmin, is symbolised by this colour. But for the non Brahmins, it is also the colour believed to repel insects.
Jaisalmer Fort – Jaisalmer
Most arrive in Jaisalmer as a base to do the desert safari. My experience of the desert safari was average. I chose to go to a slightly less mainstream desert safari but scenery was underwhelming compared to others I had seen. You essentially do one big loop during the day and a half. It feels unauthentic and a forced tour around the area. I don’t know how the other safaris on the Sam Sand Dunes fair in comparison, but am keen to hear people’s experiences.
The fort is a live-in fortified city and one of the largest in the world. It really takes you back in time where people would be living inside the fort, trading and going about their everyday business. I recommend staying in a guesthouse inside the fort. It is convenient and an awesome experience. Inside the fort are some spectacular temples which you must visit. Also there are many roof top guest houses where you can grab a chai and enjoy the view over Jaisalmer.
Plus, you won’t feel like you are about to get scammed on every street corner here in Jaisalmer, unlike Delhi and Jaipur. It was my favourite city in Rajhastan state.
Dhobi Ghat – Mumbai
A strange favourite for my India itinerary, but this is essentially a large open air laundromat in the heart of Mumbai. The workers (Dhobi’s) operate here and carry out laundry for many of Mumbai’s hotels and hospitals. To see them in action, make sure you get here early. The workers will be happy to have you on site of the Dhobi Ghat and some invited us to go into the upstairs areas for a Chai and to see the view from above.
The outside streets around the Ghat are equally fascinating. Walk around the area and you will find slum like communities. The streets were remarkable with colourful shanty houses with small business downstairs, each with a ladder leading to a living area. Locals will be fascinated to see you in the area and can’t resist stopping you for a chat. This is near the Arthur Road Central Jail, made famous from the semi auto-biography, Shantaram. An exhilarating read for anyone who hasn’t yet.
Dharavi Slum – Mumbai
If you’ve seen the movie Slumdog Millionaire, then you will have seen Dharavi. This is India’s largest slum and famous from the movie. When you think of slum, you may associate it with beggars and the homeless. But the picture of Dharavi is actually not what you’d expect. Dharavi unbelievably generates between $700m and $1bn through it’s small scale industries. There are over 1 million people in a square mile of space and one toilet per 1,500 people.
Many of the homeless are not beggars, I was told. Dharavi simply has no more room, so people work during the day only to be forced to set up camp on the streets by night.
I actually joined a tour operated by an NGO called Reality Tours & Travel. Much of their profits go back into the community and they respect the area by having a strict no photos policy within the slum. The guide and local workers showed us around the work area and residential parts. The working conditions are truly horrific and anybody working in those conditions will not to have a long life expectancy.
Never the less, the area of Dharavi is fascinating so add it to your India itinerary. You have the option to walk around the slum alone afterwards. I did this but found it to be intimidating, and you stick out like a dot on a domino even more than usual.
This is one of the holiest cities in the country and also one of the most insane. You may have heard of that place in India where they burn the bodies and throw them in the River Ganges. Well, this is the place. Prepare yourself for a good day of being hassled by seemingly friendly Indian men. Unfortunately, it seemed many of the locals by the Ghats were there to rinse every dollar from you, as Varanasi is mega touristy. As a result, there will be many scam attempts, such as trying to get you to donate to the wood foundation, take you to see a spiritual Baba or even just paying to chat.
In any case, Varanasi is 100% worth it and having the opportunity to witness the burning ceremonies that take place 24 hours around the clock is really special. Remember to be respectful though, people are sending off their loved ones into the afterlife and would appreciate an element of privacy and no photos.
Each morning you can witness Indians bathing in the Holy water of the River Ganges. The very same water they wash their clothes in, poop in and even throw the dead in.
Boat House Cruise- Kerala
Take a break from the madness and head south into Kerala. By and large, everyone comes here to go on a Backwaters cruise. Arrive in Alleppey and head to the Jetty early morning to find a suitable boathouse. This is the time that the boats will arrive back from the cruise the night before, so go and have a look. If it’s what you like bargain the price and come to an agreement. Be careful not to arrive during a public holiday, as you will have limited choice and less bargaining power.
Try to resist the urge to pre-book a houseboat. We saw many that we just wouldn’t have been happy with. Another essential tip, get a boat with an open upper deck. See the pictures to understand what I mean. You will be spending so much time on the boat, so you want to be out in the open rather than cooped up in the bottom. In addition, you will have some privacy and own space away from the captain and chef. YES, you will get your own captain and chef! A 2 nights 3 days cruise is perfect as after one night, you won’t be ready to finish so soon. The backwaters are extremely tranquil and just the ticket after a hectic adventure in the rest of India.
Sleeper Class Train – Anywhere
The most adventurous way to complete your India itinerary is by train, specifically the sleeper class. Forget about air-con and comfy carriages. Opt for the prison class where the real activity happens. I felt really immersed in Indian culture whilst travelling on the sleeper class. Curious locals asked of my reasoning for my choice of class.
By evening it was extremely cold on the train, as there are no proper windows. My top tip, is wear layers, have a blanket and bring some extra socks. My toes almost got frost bite it was so cold. Locals came prepared with sleeping bags, extra socks and pillows. Go to the toilet before you board too. They are disgusting and you want to avoid them if at all possible.
Everyone will be sat on your bed if you are unfortunate enough to be allocated bottom. If you are in the mid-tier bed, you can’t fold the bed down the whole journey, as people won’t be able to sit down on the bottom bed (as the mid-tier bed is in the way). Top bed ensures privacy and security.
I love writing about India and have so much to share with you. There is so much more i can squeeze into my India itinerary but i will save it for future posts. Let me know your thoughts on Indian Travel Below.
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