India: the plan

As almost anyone who knows me will already be aware, I’m planning to travel around India for a few months later this year. I’ll be blogging the journey on here as I go.

The rough plan is: fly out to Delhi on 16th September, buy a Royal Enfield Bullet motorbike, explore as much as I can in three months, return to Delhi, sell the bike, and fly back to the UK on 16th December.

I’ve deliberately left the details vague, as I want to retain the freedom to choose at the time where to go and what to see next. I’m hoping to couchsurf most of the way, and since I’m also self-propelled, I haven’t had to book any accommodation or travel tickets in advance.

On the other hand, I’m Sandhurst-trained, so I can’t just sit idly by without coming up with some kind of plan. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been making a note of places which sound interesting. It’s just a rough list: I’m sure there are places on it which aren’t really all that interesting, and must-see destinations that are missing. I’ve already decided to concentrate on northern India, so here are all the locations excluding the peninsular states:

Northern India places of interest, plotted on Google Earth

My first thought was to go north from Delhi, then back down through the western states to Mumbai, and from there take a train to Kolkata and head back up the Gangetic plain to Delhi. Taking a train would save time, but I’d miss out on a number of places in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh that I’d like to see. I’d also love to see Kolkata, Darjeeling, Puri and Konark, but there’s a quite a distance of “uninteresting” territory (according to the probably inaccurate plot) to cross, twice, to get there and back.

So, reluctantly dropping West Bengal and Orissa from the itinerary, I’ve come up with this route plan instead:

Northern India rough travel plan, plotted on Google Maps

Phase 1: Delhi, Uttarakhand, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir (possibly a quick visit to Leh by air?), Punjab, back to Delhi. Mid-September to mid-October.

Phase 2: The Golden Triangle: Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, with a friend who’s flying out to join me for the last two weeks of October.

Phase 3: Rajasthan, Gujarat, Mumbai. First half of November.

Phase 4: Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar. Second half of November.

Phase 5: Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. First half of December. Returning to Delhi by 14th December at the latest.

If anyone would like to join me, those are the timings to work around. One obvious opportunity would be to fly to Mumbai for mid-November, travel up through Maharashtra together and get a train back to Mumbai a week or two later from Indore or Bhopal.

I’d like to hear any suggestions of places to visit. I’m sure Punjab must have a lot of interesting sights, and at the moment my plot only has Amritsar and Wagah. Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have no pins at all and could easily be included on the way to Patna.

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