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Guest post by Sydney of Routeprints.
One month in India may seem like a stretch but once you set foot in the country, you’ll know that the sheer size of the country demands more than four weeks of your time to unfold. There is something about the mystical lands of Ladakh, the spine-chilling natural beauty of Meghalaya, architectural brilliance of Jaipur, heritage walks of Delhi and chaos of Mumbai. We bet India is unlike any other country that you’ve ever visited. You will be shell-shocked with unique smells to noises, colorful bazaars to lip-smacking street food and vibrant narrow streets to six-lane highways. In one month, you will be able to cover most of the prominent cities and spots in the country but there will still be those unexplored hidden gems that’ll be out of your reach in that time frame.
To make your India itinerary a bit more organized, Routeprints curated a hands-on itinerary that covers the North-South-East and West of India. If followed strictly, this exhaustive itinerary will take you the world-famous and lesser-known but magnificent cities of India. We bet you’ll end up booking left and right by the time you finish reading this blog.
When to Visit India
India is a vast country with climatic conditions changing every time you cross borders between the states. Northern India has biting cold winter season from November to February while Southern India experiences chilly sea breeze with pleasant weather for most parts of the day. Southern India braves heavy rainfall from May to October, making it an extremely bad choice for traveling. These months are hot and dry in central, western and North of India but you can still enjoy pleasant evenings without any rainchecks. So, what time you should travel to India essentially depends on which part of the country you’re planning to visit.
Where to stay during your 1 Month India Itinerary
The accommodation is fairly cheap in India. Aside from uber-luxury properties like Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur or Trident, Gurgaon and backpacker-friendly hostels like The Madpacker or Zostel; all the 3 and 4-star properties are priced anywhere between $30 to $150. In more artsy and heritage cities like Jodhpur, Udaipur, and Goa; you can be spoilt for choice with luxurious Bed & Breakfast, Villas, Airbnbs and Homestays available at affordable prices. When in India, accommodation will never be a problem for you.
How to Commute within India
Indian Railways network has the largest connectivity between the length and breadth of the country which covers nearly all the important travel destinations. Although cheap, the 3 AC or 2AC tickets will cost an amount equal to a short-haul flight. For the sake of experience, hop on a luxury train but for convenience; take the cheaper flights leaving from all the major airports. Road transportation is improving increasingly in India. You have the liberty to rent a self-drive car with Zoom Car or hire a driver with an AC car to take you through road trips. The roads are bumpy with less than the expected number of decent pit stop choices. So do that one on your own risk.
1 Month Indian Itinerary
You can start your India itinerary from just about any of the four metro cities setting them up as your base and taking short-haul flights or over-night train or bus journeys to visit the nearby cities. For instance, you can start from Delhi and complete the Golden Triangle including Agra, Jaipur, and Amritsar or begin from Mumbai which is in proximity to world-famous sights of Goa, Gokarna, Matheran, and Pune.
Delhi (4 days)
Delhi is all things you’ve read about it in the travel guides and more. If you successfully brave through the odds of Delhi then you are guaranteed to have a blissful time in the other states. The city is chaotic, congested, polluted and mostly a whirlwind for the tourists. Start your 4-day journey in Delhi with sightseeing the Red Fort, Jama Masjid, India Gate and so much more.
Ream more: Things to do in Delhi written by a local
Agra (1 day)
Agra is barely 4-hours drive or train from Delhi that can be done and dusted in one day. Lose yourself in the mighty white marbled walls of the Taj Mahal and take a dip into the historic significance of the tomb that stands as the pride of the nation.
Amritsar (1 day)
The Golden Triangle is incomplete without a trip to the holy city of Amritsar. The Golden Temple crafted out of real gold attracts national and foreign tourists from across the world. Besides the temple, it is the sheer brilliance of local food stalls and restaurants in the city that will amaze you.
Varanasi (2 days)
Touted to be the holiest city of India, Varanasi falls right on the banks of River Ganges. This is the place Indians wash off their sins with a dip in the holy river and also perform final funerals of their loved ones. To experience the best of this mega-touristy city, take the morning boat tour of Ganges River or a walking tour of the Ghats that are seemingly overwhelming for most people. Don’t forget to feast on famous Blue Lassi and attend the blissful evening Maha Aarti by the Ghats.
Jaipur (2 days) – Pushkar/Ajmer
Jaipur is bursting at the seams with UNESCO World Heritage Sights, upmarket cafes, thumping night clubs and rich cultural history that are all linked by the Pink Walls. Being the most-photographed city in India, Jaipur is seemingly impressive. Spend your days soaking up the sun as you stroll through Amber Fort, Nahargarh Fort, Jal Mahal, and Hawa Mahal. Spend a cheerful evening at the famous Chowki Dhani resort for a quick overview of the Rajasthani culture.
If you’re feeling too energetic, take a day trip to Ajmer Sharif Dargah which is a two-hour drive from Jaipur. Pushkar is both, laidback and holy at the same time. You look up to rooftop cafes playing psychedelic music with neon lights while the Pandits perform holy Aarti down by the Ghats of river Ganges. The shocking contrast will capture you by the heart.
Udaipur (2 days)
The most beautiful and bustling city in Rajasthan has to be the famous destination wedding center Udaipur. Home to the most luxurious hotels and restaurants in India, Te White City of India attracts travelers with its opulent palaces, serene lakes and chill rooftop cafes. In Udaipur, you have to watch the sunset over some English tea and your favorite book sitting by a café near Lake Pichola. When in Udaipur go all dreamy-eyed staring outside the windows of city palace, watch the sunrise from Karni Mata temple and hog on unlimited food thali at The Namaste Café.
Jaisalmer (2 days)
Jaisalmer is unlike any desert city that you’ve been too. Endless stretches of brown sand, clear blue skies with camel riders and camp setups make the Golden City a perfect fairytale holiday destination. The relentless dunes are best treaded on camel backs during the day and nights can be concluded with stargazing and bonfire in the middle of the desert. The Night Safari is quite the experience you should opt for in Jaisalmer.
Mumbai (2 days)
The city of entertainment and dreams is busier than the bee. The dirty, loud and bustling city of Mumbai is like every other metro city in India, minus the Bollywood star presence on roads. In Mumbai, sip a cup of chai by Juhu Beach, hog on Vada Pav at Chowpatty and get a few pictures by the Gate of India. Do not expect to see too much in the overwhelming and clawing city of Mumbai. Keep it as the base for your further travels in India.
Goa (3 days)
All the stories about notorious drugging, psychedelic trance parties, raves and hippie trails in Goa are true. You can either party the nights away at North Goa clubs and open bars or relax and unwind at the natural spas and herbal baths in South Goa. Baga, Candolim and Calangute beaches are good for late-night Indian food cravings and shisha chill but Palolem and Ashvem beaches in South Goa are quieter, calmer and more laidback than anything you’ve ever seen in India. In three days, you can sip cocktails at posh cafes overlooking the Bay of Bengal, savor delightful coconut water by the roadside or get your hair braided on the beach. We best believe that you choose your experience in Goa.
Gokarna and Hampi (3 days)
Slightly less-touristy than Goa, Gokarna is only an overnight bus journey from Goa. Often known as the backpacker’s haven, Gokarna has gained privileged status with much cleaner and quieter beaches than Goa. Enjoy affordable massages, beach camping, bonfire, stays at beach shacks and comfortable bike rides through palm tree-laden roads of this beautiful city in Karnataka.
Hampi is a break from all the partying and chilling in Goa and Gokarna. Here you will get to see the oldest and most treasured fortunes of the ancient civilizations of India. The spellbinding architectural beauty of the ancient ruins and intricate craftsmanship of the local handicraft makers will leave you gasping for breath.
Mysore (2 days)
A cultural ballpark and home to the old colonial architectural brilliance of Karnataka, Mysore is quiet the travel destination for you all. You cannot go back home without spending a day in the bustling but equally simple city of Mysore. Start your day with a stroll around the Mysore Palace as you soak upon historical knowledge of the glorious past of India. End the night with delectable local cuisine. Enjoy sightseeing at Chamundeshwari Temple as you climb the Chamundi Hills for that breathtaking view of the city.
Coorg (2 days)
The Coffee Estate of the South, Coorg is one magical experience that is straight out of a fairytale and one of the best hill stations near Bangalore. If rice fields of Bali have fascinated you for long then a trip to Coorg is a must. Jeep Safari, mountain climbing, trekking through endless stretches of greens and dips in hidden waterfalls are some of the experiences waiting for you in Coorg. Besides world-best coffee, you can also sip on local wine and flavorsome Tibetan food. Bathe elephants, experience Tibetan culture and camp in the jungles by the riverside in your two-day halt in Coorg.
Alleppey (2 days)
Take a break from all the madness, start your calm-trip with a backwaters cruise in Alleppey. The best way to get a taste of the culture is to book 2 days complete package in the famous houseboats of Alleppey. The Backwaters of Kerala are adorned with palm trees, the local village produces and sounds of water flowing through the canals, lagoons, rivers, and lakes. Besides, you can spend a day exploring the city’s Mullakkal Temple and a relaxing evening at the Alappuzha Beach.
Chennai (2 days)
The ‘Dosa City’ of Tamil Nadu is just like any other metro city in India. It is busy, dirty, extremely loud and overtly touristy. After all the natural beauty you’ve soaked up in Karnataka and Kerala, it’ll be hard to come back to city life in Chennai. Nonetheless, the city has renowned religious temples, some of the best museums, cultural hotspots and delectable roadside South-Indian food joints to keep you occupied. You can spend your days visiting the Kapaleeshwar Temple, St Thomas Basilica, Ramanujan Temple and enjoy the sunset by Marina Beach.
Pondicherry (2 days)
Part India and part French, Puducherry is still a mystical place for most Indian travelers. When in Pondicherry, you will be surprised by the sheer mix of people from around the world living a life of meaning in the Auroville Ashram. Pondy is an amalgamation of conventional Indian style and French sophistication and architecture. Do not be surprised when you are served a delicious croissant and filter Kapi by the roadside stalls in crowded bazaars. Take a day-bus to Chennai Airport to catch your flight back home.
Our itinerary covers most of the major attractions but there is still a large chunk on North and North-Eastern India should be traveled to. The exotic flora and fauna, stunning waterfalls, mystical beauty of North Eastern states like Sikkim, Darjeeling, Meghalaya, and Cherrapunji will fill your senses with tranquillity. The North of India is yet another adventurous trip ideal for backpackers with a zest for adrenaline-pumping activities. You can go on exploring the majestic Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand on a two-week trip but force-fitting all those places in this itinerary would be criminal.
India is not for the faint-hearted. During your India itinerary, you will have to constantly deal with unwanted stares, scamming, rather regressive travel guides and pollution. But once here, you will fall in love with a sheer zest for life that Indians have. Your journey will be a combination of nirvana highs and sob-fest lows but we promise, you’ll never have a dull moment when in India.
Author bio: Sydney loves dancing, history, beer, and exploring hidden places. Travelling is her life as it has always given her a new experience and makes her stronger. To date, she has traveled to more than 25 countries and her favorite one is India.
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