India is a country that does not leave indifferent and that can hardly be described in words. Not even in images . It is necessary to travel through it, live it and feel it in the first person to get an idea. It is a country that changes people. It is not a topic, it is true. I think it affects the travelers because of the poverty that they can see in it, the dignified and positive way in which the Indians face it and the religiosity present in every second that passes there.
If you really want to travel through India there must be a certain predisposition to adventurebecause, as you can imagine, public transport is not very comfortable or very well organized but, yes, it reaches almost everywhere. My only advice is that you go as long as you can because the country is huge, the transports are slow and especially because the body and the head need some time to adapt to India. In my case I think I started adapting to the country after 2-3 weeks of being there. I was 4 months and I went from south to north , traveling mainly by bus and train . In the northern states, Ladakh and Cashmir, I also traveled by hitchhiking. In the attached map you can see the route.
Here are some of the places I liked the most in my adventure for the world’s largest democracy :
The southern state of Kerala is one of the most famous in India. It is on the west coast and, in addition to km and km of tropical beaches, it is full of jungles and animals. Culturally it is also very interesting because here you will find Hindu temples, churches, mosques and even synagogues in a state that is considered communist (it is full of communist flags everywhere).
With the permission of the Ayurvedic medicine treatments and massages and the Khatakali dances , the most famous experience of Kerala is the canoe ride through the Backwaters of Alappuzha or Kottayam. The Backwaters are rivers, lakes and canals surrounded by vegetation and in which many people live.
The small town of Hampi is the most popular destination of the State of Karnataka. Once the town was the capital of the Vijayanagar Empire . Today, many of its ruins are still preserved, which are a World Heritage Site by Unesco . The landscape around Hampi is brutal and the best way to get to know it is by renting a motorcycle and climbing some of the mountains. I recommend the Monkey Temple,but forget to give bananas to the monkeys, I had to leave running chased by a few. My friends still be parting the ass.
The Vicente Ferrer Foundation (Anantapur)
As you may know, the Vicente Ferrer Foundation is an NGO that works in the State of Andra Pradesh in India. Specifically in the surroundings of the city of Anantapur, one of the driest and poorest areas in the whole country. This NGO was founded by Catalan Vicenç Ferrer (candidate for Nobel Peace Prize) in 1969. It has more than 155,000 members throughout Spain who support and finance sustainable development projects (Agriculture, microcredit, water management, health and education). ). It employs more than 1800 people in various hospitals, schools and projects.
We visited the foundation without knowing if they would let us be, and the experience was incredible. They gave us a room, food and an Indian guide who spoke Spanish and showed us several hospitals, schools and projects. We spent 3 of the best days of the entire trip. Awesome the work they do in India. If you want to visit the NGO, they organize trips themselves .
Goa is probably the most touristy and smallest state in the country. It is the ideal place if you are looking for beaches and party. In addition to its beaches, Goa is famous for its hippy markets and its trance parties. The normal thing in Goa is to sleep in a cabin on top of a palm tree in front of the beach, and rent a motorbike to tour the state.
Varansi (or Benares)
One of the oldest cities in the world, inhabited continuously for more than 3000 years. It is one of the obligatory places if you want to know the authentic India. Varansi is a city sacred by Hinduism because it passes through the Ganges River, that makes religion pervade everything. It is estimated that about 60,000 people bathe every day in the sacred and heavily polluted waters of the river. So a walk through the Ghats (the stairs that go down to the river) is essential to get to know the city.
If you arrive to the north of the Ghats, you will reach the crematoria. There you will be able to witness how the deceased are burned in a ceremony that is repeated every day for thousands of years . After burning them, they throw the ashes into the river but some families do not have enough money to buy the necessary wood, so do not be surprised if you see human remains, half burned, floating down the river Ganges. These are the kind of things that it takes a little getting used to in India.
Haridwar and Rishikesh
Haridwar is in the north of the country, in the state of Uttarakhand. Haridwar signifies the door to God and also passes the Ganges River for him. Although here it is clean. This town is famous for the Kumbh Mela festival . A festival that is held every 12 years and that in 2003 brought together 70 million people . So it’s the biggest festival in the world and probably in the history of mankind. The next will be held in 2016.
Rishikesh is close to Hariwdar, so if you travel through this area it is a good idea to visit both villages. Rishikesh is the mecca of yoga . Since the Beatles came here to do yoga, the people have seen how every year more and more foreigners came in search of inner peace. The river Ganges also passes through the town and at this point it is very clean so it is highly recommended to bathe in it.
Mc Leod Ganj (near Dharamsala)
When the Dalai Lama had to escape from Tibet in 1959 he came to here and since then Mc Leod Ganj has become the capital to the exile of Tibet . Mc Leod is a small village on top of a hill and surrounded by nature and mountains. Here you can get to know the Tibetan culture in freedom and if you are lucky you can attend some of the conferences that the Dalai Lama gives from time to time. The surroundings of the village are also perfect for excursions.
Manali is a village in northern India at more than 2000 meters above sea level. This town is famous among travelers for being the place where those who want to smoke xaras (Indian hashish) go. And it is true that there are many people who go to that (especially Israeli), but Manali is also a good place to go on excursions. The forests around the town are beautiful and are made up of giant trees with huge waterfalls. There are also several sites with thermal waters. If you are interested you can do climbing or paragliding.
Leh is the capital of the northernmost state of India, Ladahk. Leh is located at 3600 meters high and can only be reached by plane or from Manali on a road that only opens summers and reaches more than 5000 meters in height. A brutal road, long but highly recommended.
The city, like the entire state of Ladakh, is mainly Buddhist and looks more like Tibet than India. The lunar landscapes and mountains of Ladahk are impressive and make it one of the best places to go hiking.
Srinagar is the capital of the famous Cashmir. A land that has been facing India and Pakistan for decades. Srinagar is a city with a huge lake in the middle, full of houseboats where you can stay . A very recommendable experience is to spend a day in a boat walking around the lake observing life in it.