When I look back to my 2016 trip to India, I feel fondness. Yes the country has its problems – overpopulation, litter and disease. However it has great food, incredible culture and amazing sights. It is a huge country and takes a long time to explore. I got an Indian visa in Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan and ended up spending 5 weeks touring India. These are the five favourite places from my time in India.
1.Port Blair, Andaman Islands
Imagine spending a night in your own town? I couldn’t believe it, I booked a flight from Chennai to Port Blair and spent 4 days in the Andaman Islands. While still oficially under juristiction of India, you need a special permit here to tour the Andaman and Nicobar islands. This was amazing to be in a city with my own name – Port Blair. I got to tour the bars and restaurants of Port Blair by night, spend some time by Corbyn’s Cove and also tour the main sights. It was even crazier for me as I backpacked it on St. Patrick’s Day!
The silly hotel culture of Ahmedabad is something I will never forget. It is the only city in the world where I have been that doesn’t allow hotel reservations and you basically are forced to get in tuk tuks and go to the hotel where they decide. Luckily as a travel writer, a local hotel stepped in to give us a complimentary place and we didn’t need to put up with the crazy rules. The city itself was also amazing for the market, the temples and of course – the childhood home of Mahatma Gandhi is also in Ahmedabad, in the Gujarat Province. I also enjoyed doing the Michael Palin and getting the special alcohol permit which foreigners can get.
3.Down in a Den in Mumbai
Mumbai formerly Bombay had so many fond memories. Getting in and out was done by train, bus and flight. Internal India companies also run a hyderabad to mumbai flight price promotion so look out for it. I was here with Katia and we toured the sights of the city including the harbour and temples, the bars at night and a trip to the famous UNESCO listed Elephant Island.
4.Holifest in Vrindavan
Vrindavan is the home of the famous Holifest and we headed to both Mathura and Vrindavan to enjoy this spectacle. The streets were packed and there was colour everywhere. It ranks as one of the craziest festivals I’ve ever attended and I also loved the Hotel in Vrindavan that I stayed in. Watch out for the freaky guys though, and the colour into your eyes.
5.Taj Mahal in Agra – 800 Not Out
People might be surprised that I include such a typical monument as the Taj Mahal in Agra on this shortlist but this was because of a special reason. I celebrated city 800 here in Agra and therefore it was a special moment for me. I loved my time in Agra, where I also visited the fort before heading back to New Delhi where my time in India came to a close.
Overall I loved India and hope you find the time to visit it too. Safe travels!