Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Backpacking Itinerary: India in Three Weeks

There's the rest of the world, and then there's India. Simple statement, sure. Yet it encapsulates every traveler's experience in this vastly diverse and culturally rich country. As we were on an extended trip to India lasting three weeks, we knew we could see a lot of places. But we didn't. India is a huge country, a continent in itself. It would be impractical to run around trying to see everything all at once. We have learned early on that to really, really see a place, we need to travel slowly. We tried to cover the basics. However, the travel gods had other plans. Thankfully, they did. We experienced everything from Indian urban metropolis, Indian mountains in the Himalayas, to the vast northern Indian plains, and we covered four of India's great religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Sikhism.

Below is our backpacking India itinerary in three weeks. This will be the first in a series of itinerary posts I will be releasing. Hopefully, this will help future travelers to India with their own itineraries and general planning.

Open India Itinerary Map in Google Maps
India itinerary in three weeks

New Delhi

Karim's in Delhi, India
The richest, most flavorful mystery meat dish at Karims located in Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi

What to See Old markets, Mughal palaces and monuments, and some crazy Indian driving
Transport Kuala Lumpur to Delhi via six-hour AirAsia flight at 189 MYR (one way, promo fare)
Where to Stay The Estate ~ posh B&B in a gated community away from downtown (sponsored by Roomorama)
Nirvana Hostel ~ residential area south of Delhi and great for meeting fellow travelers
Posts Kindness of Indian Strangers
Why Travel Tuesday: Best Mystery Meat in Delhi
The Jaisalmer Misfortune
Roomorama Has Got It Going On


McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, India
The Tibetan township of McLeod Ganj in the Himalayan foothills of Dharamsala

What to See Tibetan culture, the Dalai Lama, and the Dhauladhar Himalayas
Transport Delhi to Dharamsala via 14-hour tourist seater bus at 700 INR one-way
Where to Stay Jagatram Niwas Guesthouse ~ really good but far from center (as in 10-minute trek uphill)
Hotel Mount View ~ decent twin rooms, close to center, and great views of the Himalayas
Posts Why Travel Tuesday: the Dhauladhar Himalayas
Finding Tibet in Dharamsala, India
Keeping a Candle Burning for Tibet: the Norbulingka Institute
Daytrek to the Dhauladhar: Prelude to the Himalayas
How to See the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala


Golden Temple, Amritsar, India
Sikh devotees offer prayers at the Golden Temple of Amritsar

What to See The Golden Temple and the bizarre India-Pakistan border ceremony at Wagah
Transport Dharamsala to Pathankot via 4-hour ordinary public bus at 70-80 INR one-way
Pathankot to Amritsar via 4-hour ordinary public bus at 70-80 INR one-way
Where to Stay Tourist Guesthouse ~ filthy dorms, filthier bathrooms, but great for meeting fellow travelers
Posts The Holy City of Amritsar and the Golden Temple
Why Travel Tuesday: India-Pakistan Wagah Border Ceremony


Taj Mahal, Agra, India
Cool fog envelops the Taj Mahal, one of the greatest landmarks in the world.

What to See The Taj Mahal and other the masterpieces of Mughal architecture
Transport Amritsar to Delhi via one-hour Kingfisher flight at 2,514 INR
Delhi to Agra via two-hour seater train with AC (train was delayed for 4 hours!) at 331 INR
Where to Stay Friends Paying Guesthouse ~ relatively quieter area but still close to the Taj Mahal
Posts India's Monument to Love: The Taj Mahal
Why Travel Tuesday: Fatehpur Sikri
Photos from the Adventure to Fatehpur Sikri in Agra


Varanasi, India
Boats along the banks of the River Ganges wait for the days catch,
which these days, are mostly tourists.

What to See Cremations at the banks of the River Ganges and the holy Budhhist sites in Sarnath
Transport Agra to Tundla via one-hour autorickshaw at 300-500 INR
Tundla to Varanasi via 10-hour sleeper train with AC (train was late, of course!) at 916 INR
Varanasi back to Delhi via 14-hour sleeper train with AC (train arrived early!) at 1110 INR
Where to Stay Ganga Fuji Guesthouse ~ pretty standard and located close to the central ghats
Agrawal Guesthouse ~ peaceful area in Sarnath and good value for money
Posts The Cold, Clammy Hands of the Man from Varanasi
Photos from the Holiest of Holiest Places in India
A Much Needed Escape to Sarnath
Why Travel Tuesday: The Other Side

Was this three-week India itinerary any helpful? Did you find travel inspiration in any of the India stories and photos?

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