Before I left for India, I came up with a rough plan for the trip. This was the route I intended to follow:
This was what I actually did:
The main differences were:
- I didn’t go far up into the mountains of Uttarakhand or Himachal Pradesh, partly because of closures due to the floods, and partly because of time and transport constraints.
- I didn’t go to Leh or Jammu and Kashmir: considering the combination of time, weather and terrorism, I decided to stop my northward progress at Amritsar and visit other areas.
- I skipped Gujarat completely: the section from Udaipur to Bombay was a single overnight bus, so although it went via Ahmedabad I didn’t see it. I had to do this to reach Bombay by mid-November and ensure I had a full month left for everything else (which still wasn’t enough).
- I didn’t reach Patna and Gaya in the east; my apex in that direction was Varanasi.
However, the initial plan was only ever a rough draft, and an ambitious one, intended to be changed on the ground according to time constraints and advice. Skipping areas like Jammu & Kashmir, and Gujarat, which would have taken up whole weeks of the trip, allowed me to visit places like Orchha which came highly recommended by other travellers, but had never been on my initial list, and others like rural Punjab and small town Uttar Pradesh which are on no-one’s itineraries, but where I had amazing experiences.
So, having noted that the best travelling experiences can’t be summed up in checklists of things seen and places visited, I’ll now do just that.
Distance travelled (km / miles)
- By motorbike: 1020 / 634
- By train: 3897 / 2422
- By bus: 3536 / 2198
- TOTAL: 9602 / 5968
(If I could include the numerous unaccounted-for short journeys, the actual total would be well over 6000 miles)
- Number of states and union territories visited: 10
- Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh
- Number passed through without stopping: 1
- Number of items from my pre-trip list of potentially interesting places (as marked on this map) visited: 33
- Number of those which turned out to be arguably not worth visiting: 4
- Number of places not on the pre-trip list visited: 9
- Number of those which were definitely worth visiting: 6
- Milak, Bujiyaghat, Dhuri, Khejarli, Orchha, Sultanpur
- Number of the Rough Guide to India’s “35 things not to miss” list completed: 15
UNESCO World Heritage list
- Number of UNESCO World Heritage sites (cultural only) in India visited, in whole or part: 16/24 (67%)
- Humayun’s Tomb, Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Red Fort Complex, Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi, Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, Khajuraho Group of Monuments, Ajanta Caves, Ellora Caves, Elephanta Caves, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus), Jantar Mantar in Jaipur, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, Taj Mahal, Mountain Railways of India, Hill Forts of Rajasthan
- In comparison, number of UNESCO World Heritage sites (cultural only) in the UK I’ve ever visited, in whole or part: 13/25 (52%)
- Number of CS users who hosted me: 11
- Number of those who tried to rape or murder me: 0
- Number of CS users who met up without hosting: 11
- Number of those who were trying to make money from me: 1, possibly
- Number of elephants chased by: 1 (on the road to Haridwar)
- Number of possessions stolen by monkeys: 1 (head torch)
- Number of mosquito bites: many
- Number of mosquitoes killed: even more
- Assuming I don’t come down with long-dormant malaria, I’m counting that as a victory. Unless someone points out that, say, one feed allows a mosquito to lay 1000 eggs, so my net effect was still in favour of the mosquitoes.
- Number of travel posts written: 59
- Number of general posts written: 10
- Number of Twitter followers gained as a result: 3
Number of Delhi tombs seen and reviewed: 15
- Reviews here, here and here.
- Counting the Qutb Complex as 2 (Iltutmish and Alauddin Khilji), Sultan Ghari’s as 2 (his and the anonymous one nearby) and Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq’s as 2 (his and his dog’s).
- Not counting the Mutiny Memorial or Bara Gumbad.
Number of pillars and edicts of Ashoka seen: 5
- Delhi-Topra pillar, Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi
- Delhi-Meerut pillar, Delhi ridge, Delhi
- Sanchi pillar, Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh
- Sarnath pillar, Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh
- Delhi rock edict, Kailash, Delhi
Number of tombs of the Great Mughals visited: 4/6
Number of pilgrimage sites of the life of Buddha visited: 1/4
- Number of cases of severe food poisoning: 1
- Average score on the Bristol stool scale: 5
- Number of days spent with a Bristol score of 7: 17