Wed 30 Nov 2011 - Wed 29 Feb 2012
As we travelled, we learned what we liked and what we didn’t, what suited us and what didn’t. Early on, we discovered that being the only tourists in a town was a privilege and a chance to experience things drowning in authenticity and opportunity. But in India, that philosophy shifted.
In India, away from the tourist trail, hotels dropped in quality but upped in price (i.e. paying more for a cold water shower and a squat toilet), restaurants were harder to find, transportation became complicated and indirect, and the negative behaviour from locals (the staring, unauthorized picture taking, and sometimes the ripping off) increased. We quickly decided that we needed to weigh the allure of each sight to the complications that would arise from the travel there.
For example, in the city of Bhopal, we stayed in one of the hotels listed in the Lonely Planet guide. We were already disappointed because the only way to visit a particular sight (Bhimbetka) was to take an expensive taxi there. When it was time to leave, we asked at the reception desk about buses to Ajanta (town of Jalgaon). They shrugged. I asked if there was a website or phone number to call and find out. They shrugged. One man suggested that we should go to the new intercity bus station to find out. That sounded great, so we hopped in a rickshaw to go there. Once there, the men told us that buses didn't go that way. We'd have to go to Indore first, then transfer buses. We got on the next bus to Indore, and the very first stop was at the Bhopal's local bus station - right beside our hotel! We had asked there the day before if buses went to Jalgaon but they had said no.
In order to assist future travellers to India, I have included our route and indicated stops that were off the beaten track enough to make certain elements difficult. Naturally, that is exactly the allure to some travellers!
Our route through some of India's Tourist Trail
Our route - Off the beaten track
- Patna - our first stop because we crossed from Nepal. Nothing here of interest, and very difficult to find good accommodation.
- Gwalior - has a fort, could be seen en route or skipped, in my opinion. The Buddhist carvings are interesting if you don't plan to go to Ajanta or Ellora.
- Chittaurgarh - also has a fort, but we went here because it was en route from Bundi to Bhopal
- Bhopal - day trip to Sanchi was interesting and made this a worthwhile stop. Manohar is a great restaurant option, if the only one.
- Pavagadh - complicated transport here, but cool pilgrimage site.
- Ahmedabad - I was sick here, so my memories aren't great. We should have gone to Gandhi's ashram but didn't. Expensive, busy city.
- Palitana - way off the tourist trail but very worth it. Hotel and food were cheap and authentic. Pilgrimage up Shatrunjaya was very memorable.
- Junagadh - okay town, but very friendly and kind people. Key route stop for us heading to Udaipur.
Sixteen dollars for this? Patna