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1. Posted by usha (Budding Member 10 posts) 9y

I am 18 and am trying to plan a trip to India next fall. I want to backpack India by myself. I was wondering if anyone has recommended routes and whether I should take 1 or 2 months. I would like to cover Northern India, but also make a stop in Goa. I definitely want to go to Kolkata (there is no way to convince me otherwise) and maybe other places in West Bengal, and then the normal tourist places like the Taj Mahal and Jaipur. I also want to go to New Delhi and Mumbai and maybe some hill stations. What are typical backpacking routes? Is it safe for an 18 year old female solo traveler? Any other advice would be greatly appreciated.

2. Posted by arif_kool (Travel Guru 1757 posts) 9y

hi Usha,
Nice to hear an 18 year old deciding to cover the length and breadth of India.... i really appreciate that...i believe 68 weeks would be enough to cover most of the important places. Being an 18year old female travelling alone u just have to be a bit cautious as in finding accomodation becoz some hotel guys have perverted mind..
If u r coming between July and mid October i would recommend u to visit Leh-Laddakh area also, as the roads are open only during this brief period.... Being in Leh is certainly like being in some other world.... U can follow the Delhi...shimla...manli--leh route...Further from Leh there are excursions to Nubra Valley and Pangong Lake which are not to be missed...Let me know if u need to know more of this route....

Warm regards
Arif

3. Posted by usha (Budding Member 10 posts) 9y

thanks, i'll look up on leh.
also, how do you tell between which hotels are safe and which aren't? especially since i want to try to book everything ahead of time.

4. Posted by aharrold45 (Travel Guru 1281 posts) 9y

Be prepared for the what the f... am I doing here!!!, I want to go home!, I need some space! syndrome to set in, but in between all of those times you'll have things that make you glad to be in India. Mumbai is very depressing, shocking and generally unenjoyable place to stay, but Elephanta Island is a nice little trip from Mumbai where you'll have a major population of monkies (some might try and steal your food out of your hands). New Delhi will have you ripping your hair out. I didn't get to Kolkata even though I had plans, I was so fed up with the Indian guys that I had to get out of the country before my 3 weeks was up before I did something I'd regret.

You'll come across some really amazing sites especially the Taj Mahal and some of the buildings in places like Haridwar. On the other scale you will see poverty and stuff more shocking than you have prepared yourself for. Like all the thousands of beggers who are so starved that they are basically only a skin covered skelton with no muscles to even move their bones. In Mumbai you might see the same man I did who had his face stretched in a similar shape to one of those masks worn in the horror movie Scream. You might see the guy with lumps from head to toe ranging in size from finger tip to golf ball all over his body. Those are all in the place that is meant to be where the rich people live!

Rishikesh and Mousoorie (I think that's how it is spelt) were nice places to get away from the mayhem of the big cities. To get to Rishikesh I got a 2nd class train from New Delhi-Haridwar and then got a bus from the bus station (just over the road from the train station) to Rishikesh. Then to get to Mousoorie I got a bus from Rishikesh- Dehra Dun and another bus from Dehra Dun. That place is really nice and has clean air and a lot less harrassment than you'll get in all the big cities. Mumbai doesn't have as much harrassment due to Auto rickshaw and cycle rickshaws not being allowed in the city centre.

You wont leave India the same way you went, you will have graphic pictures in you head of the horrific poverty and you'll have amazing pictures in your head of the Taj Mahal and other majestic buildings.

Be warned, when you go to India DO NOT trust any Indian male. I spoke to many hundreds and not one of them actually said one sentance that was the truth. They are the best salesmen and cons on earth no doubts about it. As soon as you hear the greeting Hello My Friend!!! that is an automatic sign they are about to con you and rip you off. They all try to con money from you, take you to a different place because they will get a commission out of it. If you get a cycle rickshaw or auto rickshaw you'll agree on a price before hand and then if you go by what the Lonelyplanet tells you is the right one, they'll get you were you want and then the price will have risen 100 rupees or so. Unless a price is labelled (which it rarely is), do not take what they say as the first price, haggle the price down a bit because they have given you the rip off foreigner price.

[ Edit: Edited on Apr 15, 2007, at 6:32 AM by aharrold45 ]

5. Posted by usha (Budding Member 10 posts) 9y

Thanks for your response, aharrold. Did you travel through India alone or with other people? Were you able to meet other travelers in the same situation as you and travel with them for awhile, or were you able to meet any Indians that you actually trusted and became acquainted with? What sort of accomodation did you stay in?

6. Posted by wouterrr (Travel Guru 3379 posts) 9y

Quoting aharrold45

Be prepared for the what the f... am I doing here!!!, I want to go home!, I need some space! syndrome to set in, but in between all of those times you'll have things that make you glad to be in India. Mumbai is very depressing, shocking and generally unenjoyable place to stay, but Elephanta Island is a nice little trip from Mumbai where you'll have a major population of monkies (some might try and steal your food out of your hands). New Delhi will have you ripping your hair out. I didn't get to Kolkata even though I had plans, I was so fed up with the Indian guys that I had to get out of the country before my 3 weeks was up before I did something I'd regret.

Usha! u should know that not all think like this. I went 2 times to India and both times I stayed five months. I just love India. there is a saying about India; you hate it or you love it. aharold is perhaps somewhere in between if he could manage 3 weeks;)

My advice is to just undergo India. u need to get used to the country in the first days. get out on the streets and find out. just explore. India is an adventure and works on the senses. you could always take a flight back home if it is really too hard. I agree with aharrold about the Indian men. most of them that start talking to you are just touts and are out for your money. poverty is extreme in some places. you can't ignore that. but that is also part of India. I loved Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. all very interesting places and cities like no other (really Indian with the hustle and bustle and all the chaos, I really love it).

Enjoy your trip. It will be special anyways;).

[ Edit: Edited on Apr 15, 2007, at 12:07 PM by wouterrr ]

7. Posted by Ardy (Full Member 62 posts) 9y

Usha, you are doing almost the exact same trip as I will be on in May-July 2008, I will have to keep an eye on travellers point for when you get to India, post some info and photos if you can!

Does anyone know whether the roads to Leh are open in May, it was one of the places that I wished to reach most... but I read above that it only opens in July, is there any long way around, a non direct route? I will be in the south east of India by July.

8. Posted by arif_kool (Travel Guru 1757 posts) 9y

hi Ardy,
I have been to Leh thrice... the land route is open only in the first week of July. Even though the journey is long and tough but it passes through spectacular landscape. U will be on the edge of ur seat and enjoy every bit of it. Moreover Himachal Government tourism runs a daily bus service from manali to leh with an overnight halt in a tent..
the bus has more foreigners than Indians. I highly recommend that.
Then if u wanna fly, there are daily flights from Delhi to Leh which operate round the year.. Let me know if u need more info..

I really feel pity for Aharrold for having suffered so much in such a beautiful and enchanting country like India.... He only saw the negatives which are present in every part of the world. He failed to see and feel the heart of india which welcomes and embraces all its guests and treats them at par with God.. I recommend you to visit india again to dispel all ur misgivings.

Finally a word to Usha, as ur of indian origin, u dont need to worry so much. In u wanna book hotels in advance i would recommend u to go for the government tourism hotels that are safe and can be booked in advance. Himachal pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Keral, Orissa, North east, all these states have decent tourism hotels which are affordable, safe and can be booked online.

warm regards
Arif

9. Posted by Shrinagesh (Full Member 102 posts) 9y

Usha,

It is not advisable for a girl of your age to travel alone. The risk is always there.
Plan your trip to the detail and dont venture to places where you may be alone and could be victimised.Am sorry that am sounding negative but your safety is more important.
As you are a person of Indian descent, try wearing Indian clothes as much as possible, a pair of glasses( said to help avoid problematic men throughout the world) and a bindi. This could help to an extent.

Good luck!

10. Posted by aasheims (Budding Member 7 posts) 9y

Hi;)
I wouldn’t recommend to spend too much time in Jaipur.. I didn’t like it, but maybe others have a different point of view. If you got time try heading to the west towards Pushkar or Jaisalmer – beautiful places:)