India – Travelogue

india

This was written during my student days and published in Leeds Student.

To be fair, 45ºc is just unnecessary. There’s really no need for such blistering heat – particularly when you’re a ginger fair-skinned Brummie. When I landed in Delhi this summer, India was approaching the end of its worse heat wave in decades. The hot and sticky humidity made my month of backpacking around the North a bit of a sweaty struggle. However, during an unexpectedly productive four weeks of solo travel, I went paragliding off the Himalayas, rafting down the Ganges, took an elephant ride in Rajasthan, joined the patriotic hollering on the Pakistan border, visited 18 cities, survived numerous lethal rickshaw rides, acquired a good few dozen mozzie bites, learnt some Hindi, received endless grillings from curious natives, cultivated an impressive ginger mullet and witnessed all manner of festivals, forts, heritage sites, museums, shrines, temples and ghats. Awesome.

13 rolls of film and 6 hours of video tape later, I looked forward to settling in the cooler Southern city of Bangalore for my subsequent two months of development work. The highly Westernised ‘silicon city’ of the sub-continent, Bangalore boomed in the 90’s, attracting lots of foreign interest and migration – putting a heavy strain on the infrastructure. A portion of India’s 250 million English-speaking-middle-class elite work in the plush high-rise offices, literally on the doorstep of some of the world’s poorest. It is a grim contrast.

India – Travel Tips

india

Incredible India is like several countries in one – culture, religion, language, food all differ from state to state, and one could easily spend several years backpacking around the country of a billion, and still only see the tip of the iceberg!

Guide
Lonely Planet is the best guide for India, but try to get off the beaten track and check out accommodation and restaurants not listed. Hostelworld.com is great to see what fellow travellers are currently recommending in India.

Money
Rupees are a closed currency – you can only get them in India. The cheapest way to get cash is with your ATM card – all cities have machines, as do all airports. If, however, you are taking traveller’s cheques, dollars, euros or sterling etc…, go to Chequepoint, on the main bazaar in Pahaganj, Delhi for the best rates the country.

Accommodation
The budget hostels listed in your Lonely Planet are generally fine (the worse I experienced was a paper-thin foam mattress and a mammoth-sized cockroach or two, 95% were ok!). Dorms will always be the cheapest option, at just a couple of pounds, but I rarely saw them outside of Delhi All rooms, no matter how cheap, will have ceiling fans. Air-con rooms are perhaps around £5-£10 whilst luxury digs can start at just £25. Share with friends to make a saving. Camping isn’t much of an option on India’s beaten track.