I have recently returned from travelling around India for 5 weeks with my boyfriend and our friends, and I have to admit India was unlike anything I expected at all! Not only was this my first time backpacking, but it was also my first holiday abroad without being with parents, and I think it’s safe to say I dived in at the deep end.
Here is our route, and I actually think we managed to see quite a lot considering we only had 5 weeks;
Delhi > Srinagar > Jammu > Manali > Dharamsala > Delhi > Jaipur > Ajmer > Pushkar > Agra > Lucknow > Varanassi > Darjeeling > Delhi.
When I told people I was going to India, everyone’s reaction was pretty much the same… a skeptical face with the question, WHY? To everyone, India seems an extremely poor, almost third world country, which is smelly, dirty, too hot, and as far from a holiday destination as they could imagine ( minus the south)! Of course, this is true of the some of the places I visited, but couldn’t be LESS true of others, and my trip certainly showed me that India has got much more to give than people perceive.
My favourite part of the trip definitely has to be North India (Srinagar, Manali, Dharamsala), and if anyone is planning on taking a trip to India, I really do recommend and urge you to go to these places. We left Delhi after only one night and escaped to the amazingly beautiful area of Srinigar in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, and although my judgement may have been clouded because I was so happy to leave Delhi, I have to say that I think it is the most beautiful, relaxing and surreal place I have ever been.
Before showing you pictures of the breathtaking places I visited, I have to tell you about the one and only, DELHI. I’d heard from everyone about Delhi’s craziness and humongous population, but I didn’t really pay attention. I simply googled imaged it, which brought back beautiful pictures of temples and buildings, which of course, satisfied my curiosity… but boy was I in for a shock when I arrived!
I’ll set the scene of my first India Experience : Just left the airport after an 8 hour flight, and 2 hour car ride into Delhi. I step out of the car and sling my backpack on. Its 50 degrees – but not even a nice, sunny, 50 degrees. Its humid, stuffy and basically like being in a hairdryer. All I can hear is horns beeping and see crowds of people EVERYWHERE. As we start walking to find our hotel, we have literally have about 20 people coming onto us shouting “AUTO RICKSHAW AUTO RICKSHAW”, “NICE HOTEL, CHEAP ROOM, FOLLOW ME, FOLLOW ME”, all fighting for our attention – and ignoring us when we say no. I have never experienced anything like it before and found it extremely overwhelming. We then manage to get rid of the groups and take an alley hoping that our hotel is at the other end. While walking down I spot piles of faeces, heaps of rubbish, and even used sanitary towels sprawled everywhere. My stomach turns. The hotel is not there of course, instead, just another bustling street which happens to be the Main Bazaar. A young boy offers to show us to the hotel, we accept thinking he looks genuine. We carry on following him for about 10 minutes, before realizing he doesn’t have a clue( you get this a lot in India). Luckily, another guy offers to help us who thankfully, was genuine and we finally get there! BEST FEELING EVER – apart from the first boy who claimed to help us standing outside refusing to leave until we give him money ( we didn’t). So yes that basically was my first experience in India, and I have to admit I had to stop myself from crying a few times. HOWEVER – it got a whole of a lot better from here, and Delhi actually became quite nice after a nice cold shower, and it was even nicer at night with some beautiful markets.What Delhi definitely proved is that India is not for the faint hearted, not one single bit!
Our first meal in Delhi
We then headed to the hills to escape the chaos and heat, and after a 24 hour bus journey, we arrived at Srinagar. Srinagar is all on water, covered with beautiful green lillipads, on Dal Lake to be precise, and here we stayed on a houseboat for 6 nights, which is probably the most relaxing time I ever had, surrounded by beautiful surroundings and the loveliest people.
While staying in Srinagar we did a mini trek in the Himalayas which was pretty amazing! We saw glaciers, drank fresh Himalayan water ( which was the nicest water I have ever tasted), but the best bit was probably being mobbed for photographs by about 300 Indian children who were on a school trip, and who had obviously never seen white people before. This happens everywhere in India, and gives you a major ego boost, as you feel like a celebrity! – Until it gets a little weird.
There are so many photo’s I want to share, but as I would here ALL night If I did, I have only selected a few…quite a big few! But I hope you like them, and I really do urge everyone to go to India! The people are probably the most friendly people I have ever met, they have spectacular things to see, the food is delicious, and it is ridiculously cheap!
I literally had the best time of my life and I can’t wait to back and do the South!