India

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Maharashtra

Namaste!

I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last post, but India really is an incredible place; the days are flying by and I’ve lost track of time. So, if you didn’t know already, I’m travelling around India for 4 months before moving on and I’m enjoying it so far… let’s get started.

I’m going to go straight for it here and say it; Mumbai is chaotic. As soon as I hopped into a taxi from the airport I was in complete shock at how the roads are like death-traps. The constant slamming of breaks, the weaving in and out of non-existent lanes, and the relentless use of the horn all add to this mad max style of driving. People just walk out into the road, stopping between lanes; waiting as a 3-manned scooter hurls past, before then moving across yet another lane in between 2 buses, a cow, and a cart pusher. I’d never seen anything like it in my life yet I was smiling and even laughing at times because even though it is chaotic, that’s just the way Mumbai is…Read More…


 

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Goa

Well, the question as to where to go after Mumbai was a tricky one; many people I met headed north east, some north west to Pakistan. However, the rough route I’d chosen was to head south, then north east before swinging back in towards Rajasthan and heading directly north towards the Himalayas; but I didn’t really have a plan as such. Everyone I knew who’d been to India at some point suggested Goa. Now, I knew that Goa was the more tourist friendly part of India but, after several recommendations, I decided I’d at least pass through on my way south. However, once in North Goa, I was told that if I’d made the visit to the North I’d have to visit the South to see the comparison; so what was intended as a week or so in Goa turned out be the best part of two weeks (though in all honesty I don’t really regret it).

Getting from Mumbai to Anjuna entailed a difficult 11hr train journey, 20 minute bus rise and a 5min trio in a taxi (the driver of which got lost). By the time I arrived at my hostel I needed either a good sleep or a good drink and, considering that most of the people from the hostel were sat outside having a few chilled ones, I decided it’d be rude not to join them; this was the start…Read More


 

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Karnataka

It was 6:30am, the sun had just about risen, it’s uncomfortably warm, and I was tired; this was not the way I wanted to arrive in Hampi. After being hassled into getting a Tuk Tuk, I was told that my hostel is on the other side of the river and that I must get a ferry across. Once at the river I noticed that there was a small crowd of people surrounding what I thought was a large rock; this rock then moved, stood up, and revealed itself to be elephant bathing in the river; as it turns out, this is something that happens daily. Read More…


Coorg

I felt like I’d exhausted the midlands of Karnataka, so decided I’d head towards Kerala (as I’m still heading south) but, whilst consulting a map to determine the easiest route, I came across a place called Madikeri; a hill station situated in the Kodagu District (also known as Coorg). This district is the final outpost of Karnataka and creates a border with Kerala; it seemed like a good enough place to spend my last days in the state and a natural pathway into Kerala. Read More


Kerala

I could see both in Kerala and after my great stay in Fort Kochi I decided that Munnar would be ideal for the tea fields (it was also one of the places I’d heard of before entering the country) and Alleppey ideal for the backwaters. So, the plan was obvious: head east inland to the hill station of Munnar, then head back south west towards the coast to Alleppey…this proved to be one of the best weeks I’ve had in India so far. Read More


Tamil Nadu

Looking past the rocks and the sound of thundering waves you see two islands (large rocks really); one of which is a memorial to a Hindu Monk named Swami Vivekananda, who is said to have achieved enlightenment by meditating there for 3 days, and the other primarily a 30m sculpture of Thiruvalluvar, who was a Tamil philosopher. I sat for over an hour, Chai in hand, just staring at these islands, listening to the waves, generally soaking up the atmosphere. Read More


Rajasthan

Now, I don’t generally like to say that you ‘must visit’ certain places (I’m not a ‘top ten places to visit’ sort of blogger-there are enough of those about) but when in this city you really should take the winding path up to this place or, if you’re lazy, get a cab. The path is actually surprisingly difficult to find as the narrow roads leading to it feel like a maze but, if you do make it, the views as you gradually make your way up (dodging herds of cows on their way down) are only surpassed by the views from the top. Read More


Punjab

The small military group take their turn in trying to march with some sort of authority towards the border gate (all of which is simultaneously happening on the other side, the whole thing coming across as more comical than serious). They all meet at the gate, which is opened, and both sides exchange a show of light hearted one-upmanship on the other (though I’m sure the actual feelings are of a strong dislike). Read More


Himachal Pradesh

Dharamsala or, more specifically, McLeod Ganj, was somewhere I’d wanted to go from as far back as being in the south of India. Though not a Buddhist (or of any religion at all for that matter), the lure of the Himalayan foothills, the chance to meet Tibetan refugees, plus the fact that it’s the home of the Dalai Lama, made the area very, very appealing. Read More


Uttarkhand

Rishikesh: home of the yoga bums, pseudo-hippies, various drugs (a few of which I may or may not have sampled), and The Maharishi Mahesh (Beatles) Ashram. Anyone who follows my blog will know that I won’t have come to Rishikesh for the yoga, and definitely not to hang around with the tie-dye crew, but to see a place famed for the way it changed, or at least altered, the way that the Beatles wrote songs and helped change the way eastern music was seen across the world (though admittedly it was more George Harrison who did this).  Read More


Uttar Pradesh

My time in India was soon coming to an end; I had 10 days left in what I believe to be an amazing country. However, I realised, after visiting a friend in Dehradun, that I would have to skip one or two places; my plan was to spend a few days in New Delhi, then head to Agra before reaching Varanasi, which would be my final destination. I soon realised that I’d much rather spend a few extra days in Agra and Varanasi than get tied down in the chaotic city sprawl of New Delhi. So, I left Dehradun (which is near Rishikesh) and made my way to Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal. Read More