Travel guide: 9 top places to see in India

India is a fascinating country of extremes, beauty, poverty, history and culture. As you may have heard or read before, it can be an attack on the senses on a literal and figurative level. It’s one of those places you’ll have a love-hate relationship with. However, it’s also the kind of place that grows on you when you finally get to peel off the layers.

Places to See

India is a huge country that is different from place to place, some parts may be cold during one part of the year, while another might be summery. Some of the architecture and culture may be the same in one region, but completely different in another. Exploring this country is an adventure in itself. Here are some of the places I’d recommend visiting during your trip.

When one hears or reads about Agra, they automatically think of the Taj Mahal, which is one of the most iconic and recognizable landmarks and structures in India. It comes as no surprise that this UNESCO Heritage Site is usually on many people's lists of places to visit in the country. Its majestic white color and intricate designs are picture perfect from any angle, despite the crowds that come and go.

MUSICAL. To add to the ambiance, musicians dressed in traditional garb, play music in Amber Fort

MUSICAL.

To add to the ambiance, musicians dressed in traditional garb, play music in Amber Fort

Buy the composite ticket that costs INR 400 because it includes a combination of attractions such as the Amber Fort, Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal and the Albert Hall Museum.

Varanasi is an ancient city that has centuries of history; it is also an assault on the senses, as you will see cows wandering about, corpses by the river and rituals happening by the Ganges. The latter flows through Bangladesh and India; it is also a sacred river to the Hindus. The Hindus worship the river as the goddess Ganga in their religion. It is not just a sacred river; the Ganges sustains the locals as it is a main water source.

CREMATIONS. It is a local practice to cremate loved ones and holy men along the ghats and spray their ashes on the Ganges.

CREMATIONS. It is a local practice to cremate loved ones and holy men along the ghats and spray their ashes on the Ganges.

 

LOCAL LIFE. Locals live off the Ganges to support their way of life and is an integral part of their daily routine.

LOCAL LIFE. Locals live off the Ganges to support their way of life and is an integral part of their daily routine.

OFFERINGS. Locals leave offerings along the river as a sign of respect and worship.

OFFERINGS. Locals leave offerings along the river as a sign of respect and worship.

Sarnath Temple is a noteworthy day trip from Varanasi as it is the place where Buddha delivered his first sermon. The complex has a number of significant stupas in a ruinous state, some of which include the Chaukhandi, Dhamek, and Dharmarajika. Buddhists from different parts of the world visit Sarnath for their pilgrimage. There is an entrance fee of INR 100 for the temple.

PILGRIMAGE. Many Buddhists go on a pilgrimage to Sarnath to fulfill their religious obligations.

PILGRIMAGE. Many Buddhists go on a pilgrimage to Sarnath to fulfill their religious obligations.

BUDDHISM. For Buddhists, a visit to Sarnath near Varanasi is a must because it is where Buddha preached his first discourse.

BUDDHISM. For Buddhists, a visit to Sarnath near Varanasi is a must because it is where Buddha preached his first discourse.

These are just some of the places to see while in India, it is a big and diverse country that changes its landscape, culture and history once you move from one region to another.

How much will you spend?

India is a backpacker’s dream destination, because it is affordable and in some cases, might even be cheaper than other Southeast Asian Countries. On average, you will spend somewhere between P800 to P1000 per day, and in some cases, you might spend even less. Accommodation is cheap, even if you stay in a nice hostel, the price for a dorm bed is around P300 to P500 per night. I’ve heard there are cheaper rooms available, if you look hard enough. There were some non-negotiables for me when it came to choosing a place to stay, and these included a decent common area and wi-fi. Cheaper accommodations may not have internet or have a poor connection.

Food in India is cheap, especially if you eat at food stalls or local restaurants. There are meals for P40 to P50 or even less. Some meals can cost you around P150 to P200, but the servings are large and may even be good enough for two people, depending on appetite. 

One of your biggest expenses during your trip is the attractions, as these can eat into your budget. Some examples include the pricey combination ticket for the Taj Mahal and Agra fort which is approximately P760 per person. Make a list of the places you want to visit and cross out which ones you think you can do without.

Another major expense when traveling around India is transportation. Some cities have metro lines that make it cheap and convenient to visit spots around the city, these are really cheap at around INR 10 to INR 15, which is approximately P8 to P12 even if you’re destination station is far. Long distance and/or overnight train rides are part of the experience when traveling around India. The cabins have tiers with corresponding prices; from the cheapest hard seats to pricier ones, where seats are converted into beds with linen, pillow, blanket, and even a curtain. Higher tiered cabins can cost you around P1000 one way, while cheaper classes are cheap at approximately P130 one way depending on distance. Booking tickets in advance (weeks or months ahead) is advisable since train tickets, especially higher tiered ones, sell out quickly; checkout www.cleartrip.com when you book. – Rappler.com

Joshua Berida is a full time writer, part-time wanderer with insatiable wanderlust. He plans his next trip during a current one. He plans on exploring the Philippines and beyond. Read about his adventures on thewanderingjuan.net

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