On January 8, I embarked with some coworkers on a trip that I had been wanting to do for a long time: north india. For many months, we were talking, planning and dreaming, until the day finally came.
The hardest thing for me was to establish a route, because 19 days seem like many, but in India they stay in nothing. There are too many things to see in such a short time. In addition, to the planning we had to add that on the eighth day of the trip we had to be in a city with an airport, since one of the three had to return to Spain before.
To plan the route, we followed the advice of friends who had already visited the country and who were great. In the end we had the following itinerary that we fulfilled as planned almost entirely.
18-day India itinerary
Day 0: arrival in Delhi
Day 1: Varanasi
Day 2: excursion to Sarnath and Varanasi
Day 3: Varanasi and night train to Agra
Day 4: Agra
Day 5: visit the Taj Mahal, the Abhaneri cistern and arrival in Shekhawati
Day 6: Shekhawati
Day 7: Shekhawati and night in Jaipur
Day 8: Jaipur and night in Bundi
Day 9: Bundi
Day 10: Bundi
Day 11: Bundi and night train to Jaisalmer
Day 12: Jaisalmer
Day 13: Jaisalmer and the Thar desert
Day 14: Jaisalmer and train to Jodhpur
Day 15: Jodhpur and flight to Delhi
Day 16: Amritsar and the closure of the border with Pakistan
Day 17: Amritsar (night in Delhi)
Day 18: Delhi
Vaccines to travel to India
There are no mandatory vaccinations to go to India, but the basic ones (tetanus, typhus and hepatits A + B) are advised. In addition, at the international vaccination center they put a reminder of polio. It is advisable to go through an international vaccination center because they inform you about the raisins currently in each country.
Apart from vaccines, you have to be very careful, especially in Delhi, where there is dengue. There is no vaccine for dengue, so you have to go covered and use repellent so that the mosquito that transmits the disease does not bite you. When we went it was very cold, with which we were completely covered, but a friend who was last August caught dengue on the last day of travel and luckily she showed up here, so be careful. In summer, during the rainy season, there are also cases of malaria. In the international vaccination center they will tell you in which areas of the country are at risk of Malaria.
Another factor to consider is the issue of hygiene, especially for food. To date, it is the dirtiest place I've ever been, and the irrefutable proof is that I had black nails and there was no way to ever have them clean. That is a simple reflection of the crap that is everywhere, so I was very scrupulous with what I ate and where I ate it, and I cleaned my hands every two seconds. I advise you to take a hand sanitizer, soap and wipes.
Visa to travel to India
It is necessary to process the visa before going to India. The tourist visa is valid for six months from the date of issue and is multiple entry, but between visits and visits to India there must be a minimum period of two months. The visa is processed by the company Arke BLS and, just when we returned, they opened a branch in Barcelona at this address:
First of May Street, 9-11 Gran Via Sud Industrial Estate 08908 - Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona.
The schedule of Arke BLS Center Barcelona is from Monday to Friday business:
- delivery of documents to process the visa: from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- information: from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Telephone: 93 263 78 48/93 263 78 48 Fax: 93 263 45 40 Email: [email protected]
By the way, Arke Barcelona only accepts applications at the window and returns by SEUR.
To make the request, you must fill out a form following the instructions on the web, attach the passport, three photos and the bank receipt of the fees that have been previously paid. The price is 64.50 euros and if you have to send it home you have to add 24 euros more. The visa took us 10 days to arrive, although surely to travel in summer you have to process it well in advance.
Transportation in India
Regarding the transport issue there is a before and after on the trip: Mahendra.
We started looking for flights to Delhi in October, days before travel to Indonesia. In the end we found a flight with AirFrance for 529 euros, with stopover in Paris, although in November that same flight was for 429 euros. To enter the airports of India, it is necessary to have the boarding pass or the reservation email printedIf not, the military at the doors of the terminal will hit you. In fact, they won't let you in the terminal until a couple of hours before the flight leaves. The last day, our plane left at 1.45 a.m. and we arrived at the airport at 6 p.m. and they didn't want to let us in, but I made a bad face and the soldier let us in.
Upon passing the security checkpoint, there is a queue for men and one for women. Women are made to enter a booth to frisk them. It is very important that you put a label with seal on all the bags that indicates that they have passed through the security control. On boarding they look at you and if you don't have it they make you come back. It happened to us in Jodhpur, because we lost a label on a suitcase and when we were boarding we had to pass the security check again. Luckily, Jodhpur airport is small, but if it had happened to us in Delhi we would have suffered.
Car with driver
Basically, 80% of the trip we did with public transport (internal airplanes and train) and the three days we visited Shekhawati we did it with a driver. In principle, we planned to find a driver in Agra to visit that area, but just a couple of weeks before we left, I had dinner with two great friends: Marta and Enric, who had been to India twice and gave me the phone number of a contact with you in case we had any unforeseen trip and thus have someone trustworthy who could help us. The contact was Mahendra Singh, the driver who had accompanied them on their first trip and who was now a good friend. With those good references, I decided to write to ask if those three days would be free and, luckily, it was. Mahendra is a good person and also has a family in the Shekhawati area, which, instead of sightseeing, seemed to be visiting old friends. I recommend it to everyone.
In addition, it has contacts with many hotels and they make many discounts, so you can get rooms for a very good price. The price of the car with driver is usually about 35 euros per day, but it depends on the number of people, the type of car and the route. It is best to ask for a budget: [email protected]
Train in india
The rest of the days we moved by train and plane. We reserve all the trains and planes on the web Cleartrip. In exchange for a small amount, this website saves you problems when making reservations, since the official website of Indian trains is quite complicated.
The best categories are AC1, AC2 and AC3. The AC1 is first class, and usually there is only one car (which quickly runs out of seats). AC2 is the second class and AC3 is the third class. We travel in all three categories and all three are good. The AC3 berths leave little room to sit on them, but nothing more. Personally, I found that the trains were very good. They were like the ones we used to go to town 20 years ago, and it was like a regression in time.
The AC categories include air conditioning in summer and heating in winter. Also, on the train we found that each bunk had clean sheets and blankets. I recommend buying the tickets with time, because the first classes run out very fast. If you want more information about trains and classes, I recommend that you visit Victor's blog: My homeland is my shoes that helped me a lot to organize the trip.
It is easy to find offers to fly within India and the best of all is that they save you many train hours. We fly with JetAirways twice and it is a good airline. The flight left quite on time and they fed us on top. On the other hand, Kingfisher canceled two flights and Air India charged us a flight and then canceled it.
One thing to keep in mind is that you have to carry the printed electronic ticket to enter the airport terminal and, above all, that the hand luggage has the stamp that indicates that it has passed through security, because if not, at embarking make you regain control.
To move around the cities, we almost always hired motorcycles rickshaws. They are ideal for two or three people in not very large cities. The bad thing is that they are discovered and we had a little cold. With the taxis, rickshaws and cycle-rickshaws You have to negotiate the price before going up to avoid misunderstandings.
In New Delhi, which is a huge city, it is best to hire a car with a driver all day. We hired one of Mahendra's chauffeurs and stayed with him all day, from the morning until he left us at the airport to return home.
Travel Hotels to India
At the beginning of making the reservations, we had a problem and it is that we send many emails asking for availability and prices and some hotels are still waiting for an answer. You have to do it with time, because the word righ now It does not exist in India and in most places it took more than two weeks to answer. We stayed at the following hotels:
Tree of life. The hotel is very good, but it is quite expensive for Delhi prices. Actually, we booked it because they were the only ones who answered us immediately to the reservation emails, and that's why in Delhi we ended up sleeping here. The triple room cost us Rs 4,500 (€ 72, a barbarity) and on top of that the extra bed was limited to a mattress on the floor. In addition, we had to make 100% payment in advance via Paypal when we made the reservation, with the bad luck that weeks later we began to receive the answers from other hotels. So my advice is that you reserve with time and have patience in receiving the answers. Also, for picking us up at the airport they charged us 900 rupees (€ 14.5) when, of course, it is cheaper.
Godwin Deluxe Hotel. In principle, we were going to spend our last night in Delhi in a much more shabby and cheaper hotel, but at that point we were tired of not having decent hot showers and sleeping on wooden boards. Mahendra got us this hotel for Rs 2,500 (€ 40) for the double room with breakfast. When we saw the shower with hydromassage we almost cried with joy. The room was supermodern, clean and with one of the most comfortable beds I've ever slept in in India. The hotel is 15 minutes walk from Delhi station and includes breakfast.
Scindhia Guest House. I don't know if you recommend this hotel. The room was not bad, but the bathroom was dirty and hot water barely came out of the shower. In summer it would not have been a problem, but with the cold weather in January we had a bad time, especially since the bathroom window had no glass. On the other hand, we must highlight the friendliness, sympathy and patience of the hotel manager, who despite the penalties of the place, was always willing to help and advise us. Triple room with bathroom and balcony: 950 rupees (€ 15.40). Internet 1 hour: 100 rupees (€ 1.6).