For my girlfriend and I, traveling to India represents the pinnacle of chasing adventure and experience.
Northern India is definitely not the location of choice for kicking back and putting your feet up. Beautiful cultural traditions and sites collide making northern India one of the most interesting places to travel to.
Planning ahead for our trip, we knew that we wanted to take in Indian culture, food, and historical landmarks. This led us to the north of the country with famous spiritual destinations such as Pushkar and Varanasi. Being just a train ride or short flight from Delhi, we started our adventure in the bed of culture.
We purchased round trip tickets to Delhi and immediately upon arriving we were impressed by a beautiful new subway system (which handily puts our SF BART to shame) that took us directly away from the airport and into the city center. This was the only simple transfer we took. Organizing travel to our remaining destinations was more difficult than we expected and we expected difficult: as we spent an entire afternoon scuffling past countless aggressive scammers just to obtain our train tickets from the station.
We managed to book train tickets for our entire trip, which took us on the following loop: Delhi, Pushkar, Bundi, Agra, Varanasi, and back out of Delhi. However, one train was spontaneously canceled and we spent an afternoon scrambling to find our solution. We opted for a bus ride, which we found the community generally frowns upon. The ride was fine though but we still can’t figure out why it is not more recommended.
The rest of our two weeks was filled with a lot of walking, sightseeing and eating:
The second most populous city in the world offers an incredible array of history, culture and food. From upper class quiet neighborhoods to crazy packed city streets, Delhi really provided us with the most overwhelming of experiences. While easy to dismiss this as just another city, there are incredible historical destinations sprinkled throughout the entire city. We enjoyed walking around Humayun's Tomb as well as other popular destinations such as the Red Fort and Lodi Park. The food options are even more plentiful than the sites, and we found ourselves often wandering toward Connaught Place in search of an evening meal.
A small spiritual lake is the center of a lovely small town with easy to walk streets and much to learn about Hindu tradition. We enjoyed good food and even happened to witness an indian wedding moving through the city streets!
A beautiful small town that was long ruled as a Princely State during the British rule. There is an incredibly beautiful palace that housed the prince and overlooks the lovely blue town. Locals hang out on rooftops and the guest houses make for great stays. We booked a cave painting tour and had a great time walking through remote and rural villages and nature.
Home of the Taj Mahal. A must see destination that can be covered in one day. Don’t Miss Pinch of Spice - the best Indian food we had on our trip!
The most famous spiritual destination along the holy Ganges River. Each morning huge crowds gather to bathe (pictured above) in the holy water and each evening a special Hindu ceremony is held. The narrow city streets are filled with both tourists and locals alike taking part in spiritual traditions and ceremonies.
Two weeks in Northern India was a fantastic time, albeit exhausting. We had the following takeaways:
Trust the information you research and avoid constant barrages of ‘helpful advice’. While this is a regular travel strategy, in India, it is even more important to remember.
The historical sites are truly incredible and are even visited by many Indians traveling from all over the country.
Be careful what you eat, we did our best to avoid ‘Delhi Belly’ but were not successful.
The culture is much different from American culture and we found talking to people and learning to understand the differences (i.e. cows walking the streets) to be a highlight of our trip.