Backpacking isn’t just for budget travelers, it’s for those looking for an Adventure or an Experience. Backpacking across India is just that! Home to approximately a sixth of the world’s population the sheer size of India means you could spend months traveling and still barely scratch the surface of what the country has to offer.
While extravagant vacationing in India is possible backpacking seems to have it’s own appeal for those willing to rough it out. The idea behind backpacking is to take you to common as well as lesser-known places of rare beauty and to show you a world that exists beyond brochures and boundaries, beyond luxuries and beyond imagination! The few who brave it are rewarded with an up-close-and-personal view of India, one that even if they wanted to, they probably couldn’t forget.
Why Backpack Across India?
India is one of those places that has so much to offer (See: 10 Reasons Why India MUST be on your List of Holiday Destinations) on and off the tourist trail. While on a tourist vacation in India, what you see just scratches the surface of what India is about. Backpacking is a way to uncover the superficial layers that never reflect the truth of a great culture and finally discover the real gem that shines within. Without a scheduled itinerary and the comfort of tourist tour buses you get an up-close-and-personal experience of the real India.
The Highlights of Backpacking in India
To truly experience the intense, diverse and brilliant culture and people of India I would not recommend you shut yourself in air-conditioned taxis or buses and spectate on the locals from the smartest hotels with a view or scenes reserved for tourists only, but throw yourself into it and you experience a sensual overload of what India really is. Backpacking in India is possible but vastly different from backpacking in other countries or regions like Europe, America, South-America and so on. Lodging can be as cheap as few dollars a night in hostels and budget hotels and food for less from road side eateries and other establishments. Transport is easily available and connects even the remotest of places. The people up close and the hospitality not to mention learning about the culture first hand. The camaraderie with other travellers is another draw for backpackers, it’s a great way to meet people from literally all over the globe, from all walks of life, races, castes and all with the same goal to decipher the mystery and charm that is India.
The Lowlights of Backpacking in India
At the same time it’s best to take it easy and do a little bit at a time. This really is one of the few places on the globe you can still get serious culture shock. Skimping too much is not advisable either, while lodging and food can be really cheap you really get what you pay for. Living on a shoestring is always a challenge, especially in India, where pinching pennies means crummy hotels, suspect food and grueling travel. So it’s ok to indulge remember a little extra goes a long way on some stuff to keep your experience more pleasant for your sanity too. The dirt/dust, heat and big crowds especially in the cities are a bit of a put of but can be remedied by a quick escape to smaller villages or the outskirts. The best advice to minimize the negative effect travel in India can have is to allow time or keep to a small route, pick a cooler time of year and remember that although India can be dirt cheap it will always be more expensive for a traveller.
Typical Backpacking Trails in India
Most travellers visiting for the first time usually land in Delhi the capital and have their sights set on the Taj Mahal. So a good place to start is the North with the most frequently visited part of India the “Golden Triangle” of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra. To escape the crowded city and usual tourist trails head further North to the Himalayas, where there are some very popular backpacking trails like that of Kullu-Manali, Shimla, Jammu-Kashmir and Leh-Ladakh. There’s nothing like those mountains renowned for its remote natural beauty and culture to make you feel at peace. Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the east are the lesser traveled gems of beauty and nature untouched by commercial India worth a visit for sure.
It is worth noting that southern areas like Goa and Kerala are significantly less stressful than bigger northern cities and especially the Rajasthan/Agra/Delhi tourist trail. The feel of these southern states is like that of another country all together. You’ll find unparalleled greenery and an abundance of palm fringed beaches in the south. Head to the laid back European flavoured beaches of Goa for a relaxing time or the spice capital Kerala for breathtaking views of nature. Visit some of the hundreds of temples or religious sites , or stay at a wildlife reserve and see the incredible animals of India.
For an unusual taste of India try visiting the rain forest clad emerald islands of Andaman & Nicobar to it’s east or the pristine coral islands of Lakshadweep to it’s west.
To explore India is to discover a land gifted with everything that makes for a perfect travel spot whatever your preferences from a mountain destination, cultural exploration, historic adventure to a laid back beach vacation.