India in 16 days!

One of the most beautiful countries you’ll ever visit. It’s huge, vibrant and full of culture and you need to take your time to explore it.With the limited time we had to plan a trip to the Delhi, Agra, Rajasthan Region (Jaipur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur) and Ladakh in the Himalayas, we’ve managed to cover most of the activities and things to experience there.  I’ll talk you through the whole process from the start.

For the Visa: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/ Go through this website, fill out the application and get the usual documents stated. You don’t really take an appointment, you just go, and if you’re lucky enough you’ll have the visa within hours, like we did, they’re pretty flexible.

Vaccination & Medication: We took one for Typhoid, Tetanus, Hepatitis A and B and Meningitis. You need to have it at least a month and a half before travel. We’ve taken  Malaria tablets to be take once weekly.

We these websites for flights, accommodation and activities;

– www.ebookers.com

– www.booking.com/

– www.tripadvisor.com/ www.lonelyplanet.com/

Transportation: www.cleartrip.com You will definitely need this! For booking indian trains online.

Shows: http://in.bookmyshow.com/ For Indian events throughout India.

Let's start with my experience in India!

Our first stop was Delhi, we spent 2 days there, we went through a lot of temples and ancient places but my personal favorite was The Akshardam. It’s so freaking beautiful, best hours to visit between 3-7 pm, it holds a lot of shows that you don’t want to miss. You’re not allowed to enter with cameras or cellphones though, so I had to take this photo from the road. 

The Akshardam, from outside.

The Akshardam, from outside.

Meeting this beautiful Indian Family at Humayun’s Tomb

Meeting this beautiful Indian Family at Humayun’s Tomb

At Huyamun’s Tomb.

At Huyamun’s Tomb.

We also went to Kingdom of dreams; it’s an entertainment complex in Delhi, it holds Bollywood shows, we watched “Zangoora” show.

It’s the most popular there. Also, the complex had different Indian cuisines, from the north to the south, which is a nice opportunity to taste food from all over India!

At the enterance of Kingdom of Dreams.

At the enterance of Kingdom of Dreams.

At Kingdom of dreams entrance.

At Kingdom of dreams entrance.

On our second day we went to a dance class, you can book here http://www.delhidanceacademy.in/ 

They taught us two dance routines, filmed us and sent us the video. It was definitely worth every penny.They prepared sandwiches for us, drinks and even gave us bracelets after the class! So yeah, don’t miss out on this one!

At Delhi Dance Academy with our dance instructor

At Delhi Dance Academy with our dance instructor

We left Delhi for Jaisalmer by train, it was the longest route, it took us 11 hours to get there.Let’s just take a couple of moments to talk about their TRAINS. This was our first experience going on a night train in India and probably the worst and the most exciting thing! It was our first adventure. We took the train from the worst train station you could possibly imagine; Delhi Sarai Rohilla. Just don’t. Train stations in India generally are not even bad, but this one was pretty old. Another tip, if you’re booking for long hour-rides book AC 1st Tier, AC 2nd Tier, or AC 3rd tier coaches. Less than 3 hours, go for AC Car Chair. They’re clean, comfortable and cheap!

For this one I went with the AC 3rd Tier. Anyway, back to the train story, this train only waited for just a freaking minute! We didn’t find our coach at first, the train started moving fast and we kept running around looking for it, we panicked so we jumped in! After going through the train coaches, and talking to locals, we had to leave the train at one stop and find our coach as fast as possible before it leaves.

At AC 3rd Tier

At AC 3rd Tier

We’ve found our beds in the end after a whole hour! With the help of an Indian guy we met on the train who became a good friend and came to the airport at the end of our trip to say goodbye!

Our second stop was Jaisalmer

To be honest, this was my favorite city. They call it the golden city because of it’s golden havelis, the mystic Jaisalmer fort and the golden sandy deserts. We only stayed for a day, but we’ve managed to bring the most out of it. We started our day at 8 am. We visited Bada Bagh and Jain Temples. Don’t miss out of these! They’re gorgeous.

Jain Temple

Jain Temple

Bada Bagh

Bada Bagh

Enterance to Jaisalmer fort.

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Indian seller at Jaisalmer fort

Indian seller at Jaisalmer fort

Nachna Haveli

Nachna Haveli

We then visited the fort, passed by some havelis and did some shoppping. There are a lot of local shops within the fort and around it, so rich and vibrant with beautiful textiles and clothes. Shopping in Jaisalmer is the cheapest, from my experience. At around 4 pm we booked a Safari tour with this company  http://www.mysticjaisalmer.com/ They are very professional and trustworthy. We spent 6 hours in the desert, We rode camels, watched the sunset then then we had a Gypsy show at night with dinner.

Riding camels between the sand dunes

Riding camels between the sand dunes

We then had a train at 1 am to Jodhpur. Our third stop.

Jodhpur doesn’t really have much to it except a fort; The Mehrangarah fort and another touristic attraction. The highlight of the day was the ziplining experience we had; you can book your ticket here: http://www.flyingfox.asia/destinations/index/Jodhpur

Mehrangarah Fort.

Mehrangarah Fort.

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The experience was amazing, and the views were gorgeous. We did 6 ziplines around the place. So yeah. Definitely do this when you go.

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Another thing we did, was the shopping! The Clock Tower area is full of textiles, sarees and herbs. We couldn’t get enough of any. The best herbs and spices are from Jodhpur, the best spice shop was Mohanlal Verhomal Spices, they sit you down, make you drink their tea, taste their spices and they send you recipes of what you can do with these spices! It was a lovely experience. You need to bargain, bargain, bargain! In everything. From shopping, taking tuktuks, tour guides.. whatever it is drop the price to half. Always. and be charming. Haha! They love compliments.

Full outfit from Jodhpur.

Full outfit from Jodhpur.

Our fourth stop; Udaipur.

The white city, or the city of lakes. It’s very serene, we spent a day there, taking in all the gorgeous views. We’ve visited the palace, we roamed around, we got a tour guide, they’re always offering their services throughout the attractions, we were 5, it cost us all together 200 rupees. (Bargain!) We booked a boat ride in Lake Pichola from the city palace’s tickets’ booth. It’s very beautiful, with the views of the green mountains all around. We relaxed in this city and of course we did some shopping!

View from our Hotel; Mewar Haveli

View from our Hotel; Mewar Haveli

Boat ride in lake Pichola

Boat ride in lake Pichola

At City Palace in Udaipur.

At City Palace in Udaipur.

This is my second favorite city, Jaipur!

We spent two days there, there was so much to see and experience. On our first day we spent a day with the elephants, feeding, riding, coloring and showering them! You can book a day here: http://www.elefantastic.in/ It costs us 3000 rupees each, around 350 LE but the experience is definitely worth it. They offer a ride from and back to your hotel too. You get drinks and a cake after that! The owner was very professional and always made sure that you’re spending every minute you payed for. So yeah, DON’T MISS OUT ON THIS!

Coloring Elephants at Elephantastic.

Coloring Elephants at Elephantastic.

For our second day, we started the day at 6 am we went cycling around the city! What a better way to do that. You can book here: http://www.cyclinjaipur.com/

Price includes breakfast and the cycling tour you choose. It was a beautiful experience, but you can skip breakfast, it’s not really worth it. But you really get to see this city, the pink city!

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After the cycling tour, we roamed the city and visited the city palace and Amber fort. We then went shopping! Ahem.

Another tip here: Shop owners there aren’t really flexible when bargaining in Jaipur, they can be rude sometimes, but anyway Jaipur has the best textiles, of all the cities. We bought are sarees from there.

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Ambert Fort

Ambert Fort

City Palace in Jaipur.

City Palace in Jaipur.

Sixth stop: Agra!

Agra only has two main attractions, Taj Mahal and Agra fort. You can spend half a day there and that would be enough. We visited Taj Mahal 6 am in the morning,it gets crowded by 9-10 am. So make sure you get there early. It”s a marvelous creation, and fascinating architecture. But to be honest, it’s not the best thing ou can see in India, but it is certainly beautiful. We also had a cooking class at “Rainbow Stay Home” it was a fun experience!

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View of the Gate from the Taj

View of the Gate from the Taj

Cooking Biryani!

Cooking Biryani!

The dinner we prepared. We had to head back to delhi for a night, we had a flight to Leh, Ladakh, a region in the Himalayas the next morning.

Seventh stop: Leh, Ladakh.

Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous! We spent 3 days there, We booked a 3-day plan with an agency because we didn’t really know what to expect when we’re around 3,000 meters above the ground.

View from our room

View from our room

The first day, we rested to get acquainted with the altitude. We roamed around the streets, we chatted with locals and shopped for a while. On our second day we visited Buddhist Monastries; Thiksey, Shey and Hemis.

** The coming photos from Thiksey and Shey Monastryies.

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We then took a Yoga class at a center close to our place. It was a beautiful experience.

For the third day we visited Pangong Lake by car. We had to go for an extra 4000 meters above ground, making it 7,000 meters! It’s a tiring experience but it’s worth it. We spent a couple of hours there, but if you ever decide to go, stay for a night and leave in the morning. The roads are pretty bad and you need to go and leave early.

We spent sometime shopping there, in Ladakh everything is double the prices in Delhi and Rajasthan, also, it’s pretty hard to get a good deal out of anything. You have to try harder, they get rude most of the time though, but whatever there’s always another shop willing to offer you better prices and quality!

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Ladakh is famous for its woolen scarves and pashminas so make sure you grab one! 

We left Ladakh for Delhi, we had a flight back home that day, we still had time for shopping, probably the best time to shop is when you’re about to leave,especially when you’re constantly moving between cities, and Delhi has everything India has to offer you! So keep the shopping the last thing on your mind.

Indian goodies.

Indian goodies.

Here are some general tips for your trip to India:

Clothes and objects to bring:

– Carry as little as possible with you, two outfits are enough.

– Get a portable shattafa (but you won’t need it that much though, just incase)

– Get a loofah with you. YOU WILL NEED IT.

– Sunscreen, Sanitizer, Alchohol, wipes, towel, toilet sheets.

– Panadol Cold Flu medicine and the first aid kit.

– Get books and headphones for train rides.

– Get a portable charger.

Transportation:

– Trains are safe and clean, make sure you choose AC 1st Tier, 2nd Tier, and 3rd Tier or AC Car Chair. They’re the safest for tourists.

– Train stations are mainly organised, except the one I’ve stated above, other than that everything was normal. You can have a rocky start

at first, but later on the whole process works smoothly.

– Nobody really notices your luggage size. Their website had strict rules for luggage sizes per Tier but really, nobody cares.

– Tuktuks are safe but show them that you’ve been here before and you know the place.

Money Handling:

– Once you land in India, there are ATM machines around the airport for cash withdrawals.

– The best way to get Rupees, is through exchange, when we were there the rate was 64 rupees per dollar they’ll offer you much less don’t settle, bargain for a higher value, minimum 63.5.

– In Delhi, You can get the exact same rate as the one you see on the web at the exchange shops around Khan Market. The best place.

– Make sure money isn’t fake, know the trick from the locals.

– Don’t carry lots of cash with you, divide them between bags.

– Carry change. Have  2000 rupees in 10s and 20s.

– It can get tricky finding ATM machines in Rajasthan Region. They don’t offer the best rates either.

– Don’t pay full money upfront, wait till you get the service then pay. If they insisted, just a deposit.

– Bargain! In everything. If he offered 2000 offer 200 and start bargaining with them. Once, we bought stuff for 6000 Rupees, we only paid 2000.

– Tip the staff.

Food and Drink:

– Try the fried noodles, rice, cheese and garlic naan, butter chicken and the mamosa.

– The food there is quite spicy, even the bread, so if you’re not into it, make sure you notify the restaurant.

– Only eat cooked food.

– Only drink from Bisleri, Kinley and Aquafina. They’re the best.

–  Drink a lot of water!

General tips:

– Always have copy of your tickets and documents.

– Wear something that belongs to their culture, I wore a necklace, a Ganesha which represented luck in their culture, whenever I meet any of the locals

they immediately open up to you and if they’re shop owners they get very flexible and at ease with you.

– Wear modestly and show respect to their culture.

– Most of all, talk to locals, and don’t shy away!