Traveling in India
For some people a first time trip to India sounds like a daunting experience.
The country is so massive it’s hard to even know where to begin or how to get around.
If you are joining us on our Yoga Teacher Training in India you may have a couple weeks before or after the training to see the sites.
Here are a couple of itinerary ideas and suggestions on how to get around when traveling in India.
More thank likely you will arrive in New Delhi. It is convenient to have pre-booked your hotel or hostel and have a ride arranged. It’s always nice to know when you are leaving the airport someone will be waiting for you with your name on a board, ready to whisk you away to your hotel.
Traveling by Train
Train travel is fast, convenient and relatively inexpensive.
It is the most popular way for backpackers and independent travelers to see India.
What at first may seem chaotic, the train system in India is actually very extensive and quite organized.
If you have freedom of time after the yoga training you may not need to purchase tickets in advance.
If you are on a stricter schedule, advance purchase of tickets is recommended. There are many rail companies in India and also different “class” codes that can be confusing. Clear trip is a reputable booking site that accepts credit cards.
Adventurous types on a short train trip (2-3 hours) may not mind second class. Be warned it is crowded and hot. Reservations are not necessary. Be prepared to stand or if you are lucky to get a seat, an uncomfortable slat of wood may be it.
For longer or overnight trips of 6 hours or more a private or semi-private sleeper car with air conditioning is the way to go.
The North Tour – The Golden Triangle
You really only need a few extra days to do this trip. 3 would be tight, yet doable. 5 days would be great.
Train travel times:
New Delhi to Agra – 2-3 hours
Agra to Jaipur – 4 hours
Jaipur to New Delhi – 4 hours
Agra – Taj Mahal
Of course this is on everyone’s “Wanderlist.” You’ll no doubt want to see the sunrise over this spectacular monument and I’m sure strike a yoga pose for Instagram!
Jaipur in Rajasthan
Known as the “Pink City” for its rose-colored buildings, Jaipur is a fortified city and protected by multiple gates. Stroll through a local bazaar or visit Hawa Mahal – Palace of Winds, a stunning five-story sandstone building with unique architecture.
Tour the City Palace, a vast complex with a museum housing rare manuscripts, paintings, and an armory. Visit the 18th-century royal observatory known as the Jantar Mantar, and examine a variety of precise astronomical tools. Visit the hilltop Amber Fort and explore its well-preserved palaces, temples, gardens, and pavilions. You may even be lucky to be there during a festival. India ia a country of festivals. It seems every time you turn around there is some sort of parade, fireworks lighting up the night sky, music, ceramic lamps burning brightly and colored paper lantern strewn about.
The South Tour – Kerala
Train from Goa to Cochin – 12-15 hours
Cochin is a leafy green fishing village that offers excellent food, lots of shopping opportunities and plenty of walking. It is very tourist friendly and can be a welcome place of rest after hard traveling or an intensive yoga teacher training.
If you eat seafood the fish and shrimp are fresh caught daily and define the concept of sea to table.
Shop for jewelry, fabrics, rugs, statues…Cochin has it all. You can even sit down at a perfumerie and create your own signature scent with fine oils.
Stroll through Jew Town – a neighborhood and synagogue where the air is filled with the aroma of spices, streets lined with fresh cashews and shops filled with interesting curios.
As Cochin is a developed town, there are many places to eat, but in particular the restaurant at the Old Harbour Hotel – a 300 year old building and first hotel in Cochin is a standout for a special meal. Carri herself has eaten here 4 times! It’s that good.
Malabar House is also a favorite especially at night when they often have live sitar music.
Backwaters of Kerala
In Cochin you can organize a day boat trip on the backwaters of Kerala. This is a must do and many people come to the area solely for this purpose.
There are plenty of tour operators happy to book you on their boat. They are virtually all the same. You do not need to book this trip before arriving in Cochin. Simply stroll down the street and pick one. Do this the day before you take the boat trip as it will leave in the morning.
If you have more time you may even choose to stay overnight on a houseboat.
Tea Plantations of Munnar
Cochin to Munnar – 4-5 hours by car
An interesting side trip is to visit the green, undulating hills of Munnar, especially if you are looking to take a break from the heat. The air is cooler and less humid as it is more in the mountains.
This is a tea producing area where you can hike through tea farms, take tours, learn the process of tea production, buy and of course drink tea!
There are plenty of tour operators that can arrange car transport and hotel round trip from Cochin.
Beaches Near Cochin
There are many great beaches that are easy to get to from Cochin.
Simply take a taxi or hire a car and driver for the day.
Flights in India
If train travel does not sound like the option for you there are quick, easy flights within India on Jet Airways or Spice Jet.
You may consider flying on the longer trips from say Cochin back to to New Delhi or New Delhi to Mumbai.
Making the pilgrimage to Mysore?
Fly to Bangalore then take the 3 hour train to Mysore.
If you want to study at the official Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute prior registration is mandatory as is a minimum of 1 month.
You can of course visit Mysore as a tourist and simply enjoy the peaceful, serene town and take in the many abundant Yoga classes there are available.
This is a Yoga village and considered “mecca” by many Yogis.
There is also plenty of shopping as well as palaces, temples and gardens to visit.
Have you been to Varanasi? Stay tuned for info on one of India’s holiest and most cherished cities.