The previous leg of our year of travel left us in Italy. Next stop: India.
India is one of those dream destinations that is difficult to get to but you have to do it if you can. I think the Taj Mahal is the landmark I most want to visit in the entire world, well the Taj Mahal, Stonehenge, Iguazu Falls, and the Pyramids of Egypt (unfortunately, the pyramids aren’t safe to visit right now).
Unfortunately however, India will be difficult. First off, it is huge, the seventh largest country in the world. And not only that, but while most countries allow 90 days entry on a tourist visa, India only allows 30, so we won’t have a lot of time here.
Secondly, India is spread out. There are so many religious, archaeological, and historic sites of interest, and they are everywhere. It’s not like Europe, which is mostly centered around cities, or the US, which is easily divided into regions (the south, New England, the Pacific Northwest, etc); in India there are destination all over the place; they are everywhere.
Third, India is dense. Despite being the world’s seventh largest country, it is also the sixth densest non island, non city-state country. India has more than 1000 people per square mile (for comparison, the US has 85 people per square mile, France has 306, China has 370, and the UK has 680), resulting in a population of almost 1.3 billion people. And this many people make things crazy (particularly disease, we’ve already gotten three vaccinations and have several pills specifically for this country).
Fourth, India is probably the least safe country we are traveling too. The country is mostly safe, otherwise we wouldn’t be going at all, but parts of the country has problems with violence against women, even when the women are accompanied by men. Because of this, we are only staying at established hotels in India, no hostels or Airbnbs for this portion of our trip. We also won’t be going out too much (if at all) at night.
Another safety issue involves eating, as Montezuma’s revenge is common here. We’ve heard that almost everyone’s stomach goes out their first week in India, and our travel clinic warned us to only drink bottle water, not eat anything uncooked, and only eat fruit covered in peels (other fruit is washed in the water we cannot drink). I experienced a similar situation during my visit to Israel, where I lapsed one time and my stomach went out.
Because of these factors (the first one in particular), Inna and I are going to miss a lot of this country. But we will see as much as we can, and we’ve also consulted with our Indian friends, who’ve given us tips and recommendations to make the most of our trip.
And so, without further ado, the plans for our month-long India trip:
One thing to note: after the British left in 1947, India started renaming many of its cities in order distance itself from British rule. So if you’re wondering why we aren’t visiting Bombay, its because Mumbai is Bombay. Likewise Kolkata was Calcutta and New Delhi was Delhi.
Another note: unlike our US roadtrip, we will not be crossing the border into India’s neighboring countries. This is primarily because of safety issues; Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Bhutan aren’t the safest places to visit. And India’s one safe neighbor, Nepal, isn’t cost effective for us to visit.
Because India is so big and we only have a month, we know we can’t do everything. Our highest priorities are Mumbai, New Delhi, and Agra (the Taj Mahal is here). One of my Indian friends recommended nearby Jaipur, so we added it to this portion of our trip. We then added Kolkata and Guwahati due to their proximity to several animal preserves. Finally, between Guwahati and Kolkata is Kurseong, as small Indian town that offers views of Mt Everest (Everest itself is too time consuming to visit on this trip).
Before I go, here are some specs to end this post. The above trip covers ~4500 miles, 15+ UNESCO World Heritage sites, five of the hundred most visited cities in the world, one of the New7Wonders of the World, one New7Wonders of Nature finalist, four national parks, one beach and one additional coast, and we will also visit one friend on this portion of our trip.
Up next: Southeast Asia!