Those who fly into Delhi can do the tourist circuit from the capital city to Agra, the home of Taj Mahal, and then to Jaipur in Rajasthan. From Jaipur it is easy to move on to explore the rest of Rajasthan. The desert state’s cities Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Jaisalmer are filled with old palaces, forts and bazaars. Pushkar is a small town by a holy lake and famous for its annual camel fair. Camel safaris in the Thar desert are also popular in Rajasthan.
After returning to Delhi it is time to head to Rishikesh on the foothills of the Himalayas. For many backpackers it is the perfect place to relax, enjoy the mountains and explore the ashrams in the area. Nearby is the holy Hindu city of Haridwar, standing on the banks of the Ganges river just like Rishikesh, but with less travellers and more serious pilgrims. Many travellers spend a long time in this area, but those with more energy can visit another one of Hinduism’s holiest cities, Varanasi, and maybe Bodhgaya, where the Buddha gained enlightenment.
Two Months in South India
South India has beaches, temples and wildlife, and incredibly spicy food. Those who fly into Mumbai can explore the trendiest city in India for a few days before heading to Goa or Gokarna for some beach time. From Gokarna it is easy to continue the trip through the rest of Karnataka from Hampi, the old capital of the 14th century Vijayanagara kingdom and a thriving tourist town, to the cities of Bangalore and Mysore.
South India has several wildlife parks for some elephant and tiger spotting, as well as cool hill stations: Coorg in Karnataka and Ooty, Coonoor and Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu is also filled with famous Hindu temples including the Meenakshi temple in Madurai. Then it might be time to decide where to head to for the rest of the trip: east or west. On the eastern coast are the temples and beaches in Mamallapuram, the old French colonial town of Pondicherry and the nearby Auroville community. Those who fly into Chennai can start by exploring these before moving to the rest of South India. On the south-western coast, on the other hand, are the tropical beaches of Kerala, and a trip to the Keralan backwaters is on most visitors’ itinerary.
Two Months in India in The Hot Season
The hot season from March to early June is a good time to travel to the Himalayas and explore the mountains and hill stations of Himachal Pradesh. Shimla is the old summer capital of the British Raj, and Manali is an old backpacker favourite. The headquarters of the Tibetan Government in Exile and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama are also in Himachal Pradesh, in McLeodGanj, near Dharamsala.
And when the road opens between Manali and Leh, for those who dare, it is time to go and experience Ladakh. India’s northernmost part is a land of Tibetan Buddhism, harsh climate, stunning mountain views and some of the highest roads in the world. The road between Manali and Leh is only open from around May to October depending on snowfall, but when it is hot in the rest of India, Ladakh is the perfect place to visit. It is also one of the most unforgettable travel experiences in the world.