My favorite places in India

Wanderguide by

Þórey Jóna Guðjónsdóttir

Backpacking through India

The food, the colors, the people, the culture! There are no proper words to explain all this. India is one of the most unique countries in the world, it is at the same time magnificent, terrifying, beyond words incredible and crazy in all aspects. I've been there twice and will certainly go again.

Varanasi

There is something special about Varanasi. Walking the narrow streets and needing to step aside for a group of men chanting "Soul be Free" carrying a body on their way to Ganges and witnessing the cremation process is something you will not experience elsewhere in the world. I recommend to take a tour around the Ghats with a guide and also to wake up at sunrise and go to the Ganges to see everything that is happening there, children learning to swim, people bathing, washing clothes and doing their morning exercise. Magical Experience✨

Image - goStops Varanasi (Stops Hostel Varanasi)
Place
goStops Varanasi (Stops Hostel Varanasi)
Þórey:The same hostel I stayed in Jodphur. This one is not as new as the one in Jodphur but cheap (400-450 rupees for a dorm bed including breakfast and water) and nice. Easy to get to know new people and they have some great tours!
Image - Kerala Cafe
Place
Kerala Cafe
Þórey:Southern Indian cuisine - the Dosai is delicious!
Image - Blue Lassi Shop
Place
Blue Lassi Shop
Þórey:Tiny little place where they make the Lassi in front of you the old school way. Prepare for a queue but it is worth it!
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Agra

I don't recommend Agra as a city. People will try to sell you things in every other step you take. BUT you have to go see the Taj Mahal! I arrived in Agra on Thursday evening and the Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays so I needed to stay until Saturday evening. One night is enough in my opinion.

Image - Taj Mahal
Place
Taj Mahal
Þórey:No words needed. Extraordinary, don't think about it - just go!
Image - Agra Private City Tour: Customize Your Own_352027
$ 11
Experience
Agra Private City Tour: Customize Your Own
Þórey:Recommend having a guide to know all the history behind everything
Image - Joney's Place
Place
Joney's Place
Þórey:Cheap and open from 5am. Perfect to grab a quick bite before going to watch the sunrise over the Taj Mahal
Image - YASH CAFE
Place
YASH CAFE
Þórey:Possible to get takeway pizza if you are not feeling to eat out. Not amazing but fine
Image - Agra Temples And Spiritual Sites Of Private 6 Hour Tour_352096
$ 15
Experience
Agra Temples And Spiritual Sites Of Private 6 Hour Tour
Þórey:If you want to see the other spiritual sited in Agra along with the Taj Mahal this is the perfect tour!
Image - Private Taj Mahal & Agra Fort City Tour_351973
$ 14
Experience
Private Taj Mahal & Agra Fort City Tour
Þórey:Taj Mahal and the Red Fort combined in one tour

Jodphur

The blue city! I only spent two days there but managed to see almost everything in that time. Recommend taking a walking tour around the city

Image - goStops Jodhpur (Stops Hostel Jodhpur)
Place
goStops Jodhpur (Stops Hostel Jodhpur)
Þórey:Really good hostel! Breakfast included, all kinds of tours available. Recommend blue city tour and food of Rajasthan 🤩
Image - Mehrangarh Fort Museum
Place
Mehrangarh Fort Museum
Þórey:If you go visit I recommend getting the audio guide. Great photo opportunities over the blue city from there.
Image - Umaid Bhawan Palace
Place
Umaid Bhawan Palace
Þórey:Nicer from far away, not a must. There is a museum there but I did not go there. Also a collection of old cars
Image - Sardar Market
Place
Sardar Market
Þórey:Nice market where you can pretty much buy everything food related. The Omelette Guy is at one end of it.
Image - Toorji Ka Jhalra
Place
Toorji Ka Jhalra
Þórey:Recommend visiting! Really amazing architecture, and if you like you can go swimming with the locals.
Image - Omelette Shop
Place
Omelette Shop
Þórey:The Omelette Guy featured in the Lonely Planet book, cheap and delicious. Very local (plastic chairs missing a piece to sit on in the middle of the street)

Varkala

Need some beach time while in India? This is the place! Placed on the edge of 15m high cliff with sunsets to die for, perfect to stay for a couple of days to relax and swim in the sea. Try Puttu, a breakfast dish that consists of rice, grated coconut and banana originated from the state of Kerala.

Image - Shiva Garden Home Stays & Apartments
Place
Shiva Garden Home Stays & Apartments
Þórey:One of the backpackers places in town, great place to meet fellow travelers. Has a lot of hammocks and books to read (My kinda place)
Image - Gods Own Country Kitchen
Place
Gods Own Country Kitchen
Þórey:Try the mango fish curry!
Image - ABBA Restaurant & Everest German Bakery Varkala
Place
ABBA Restaurant & Everest German Bakery Varkala
Þórey:Amazing toast for breakfast and some pretty good deserts, yum!
Image - The Juice Shack
Place
The Juice Shack
Þórey:Try the Puttu here!

Yoga Ashrams

I stayed 14 days in a Yoga Ashram in south India. It was one of the most surprising experiences I have ever had. Waking up at 5:20, eating two meals a day and doing 4 hours of yoga along with 3 hours of chanting and meditation each day is something I thought was going to be hard - it was awesome!

Image - Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram
Place
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram
Þórey:This is the ashram I went to, recommend it! It is a bit strict (you have to attend all the things) but you will not regret trying it! Really cheap compared to western prices, I payed around $15 per day with everything included (dorm bed, food, 4 hours of yoga, 3 hours of meditation and more)
Image - Amritapuri Ashram
Place
Amritapuri Ashram
Þórey:The ashram of the hugging Amma (google it). Really famous ashram and less strict than Sivananda (according to what I heard).

Hampi

One of my favourite places in India! It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the middle of nowhere covered by the greenest rice paddies I have ever seen. Everywhere you look there are temples that are almost thousand years old, huge rocks and small rivers.

Image - Laughing Buddha
Place
Laughing Buddha
Þórey:Very chilled atmosphere, a ton of seats on the ground where you can either sit or lay.
Image - German Bakery
Place
German Bakery
Þórey:Fancy a cinnamon roll or apple crumble? This is your place
Image - Mango Tree Restaurant
Place
Mango Tree Restaurant
Þórey:Try the porridge for breakfast! So gooood
Image - Hanuman Temple (ಆಂಜನೇಯ ದೇವಾಲಯ )
Place
Hanuman Temple (ಆಂಜನೇಯ ದೇವಾಲಯ )
Þórey:One of the two best sunset places! Not in walking distance from town but you can rent a scooter to go there. Beware of the monkeys though - they might try to steal your stuff!
Image - Matanga Hill
Place
Matanga Hill
Þórey:Second of the two best sunset places. 360 degrees view over Hampi - in walking distance from town. A lot of stairs but you won't regret it!

Mumbai (Bombay)

One of the big cities in India. I recommend staying at least a couple of nights here. Dhobi Ghat, the Dharavi Slum and Gateway of India are amazing things to see. I also had the BEST Thali in the whole India trip in Mumbai.

Image - Dhobi Ghat
Place
Dhobi Ghat
Þórey:The biggest open air laundry in the world, they wash around 1 million pieces everyday! Recommend getting a local guide to show you around.
Image - Shree Thaker Bhojanalay (Since 1945 )
Place
Shree Thaker Bhojanalay (Since 1945 )
Þórey:The best Thali in the world!! Make sure to be HUNGRY (all you can eat for one price). The service was incredible, a bit hard to find but GO!
Image - Dharavi Village
Place
Dharavi Village
Þórey:One of the biggest slums in Asia and one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Incredible experience.
Image - Reality Tours & Travel - Dharavi
Place
Reality Tours & Travel - Dharavi
Þórey:Recommend taking a tour with this company to Dharavi. 80% of the profit goes straight to the community of Dharavi.
Image - The Taj Mahal Palace
Place
The Taj Mahal Palace
Þórey:A huge building, nothing like the real thing though. Got the most expensive beer of the trip there.
Image - Gateway Of India Mumbai
Place
Gateway Of India Mumbai
Þórey:Pretty cool monument. Taj Mahal Palace is just beside it so you can take a look at that also.

Udaipur

Also known as the City Of Lakes or the White city. Udaipur is a gorgeous city where the main town is around a lake. Nice for a few days.

Image - Neelam Restaurant
Place
Neelam Restaurant
Þórey:Get the Thali!! As local as it can get - the lovely family constantly brings you more chapati, curries and whatever you want.
Image - Animal Aid Unlimited
Place
Animal Aid Unlimited
Þórey:Hospital, rescue center and sanctuary for street animals. Amazing work! You can volunteer for a day or longer
Image - Monsoon Palace, Sajjan Garh
Place
Monsoon Palace, Sajjan Garh
Þórey:James Bond movie Octopussy was filmed here. Good views but just an empty palace, maybe not worht it for a 300 rupee entrance fee
Image - City Palace Museum
Place
City Palace Museum
Þórey:Nothing extraordinary but nice view over Lake Pichola. Get the audio guide if you go.
Image - Dharohar Folk Dance [Folk Dance Show]
Place
Dharohar Folk Dance [Folk Dance Show]
Þórey:Culture and puppet show, 70 year old woman dancing with 10 vases on her head. Nice but nothing exceptional - need to pay for taking photos
Image - Taj Lake Palace
Place
Taj Lake Palace
Þórey:Gorgeous hotel located in the middle of the lake! If you have enough budget you can either stay a night or go for a fancy dinner

Jaisalmer

On the border to Pakistan, surrounded by the Thar desert and nicknamed the Golden city. In the middle of the town there is a HUGE fort which is amazing. A must stop in India in my opinion. Go to a desert safari! A lot of scams so be aware of that.

Image - Vyas Chhatri
Place
Vyas Chhatri
Þórey:Great spot for sunset!
Image - Real Desert Man Camel Safari Jaisalmer
Place
Real Desert Man Camel Safari Jaisalmer
Þórey:Did a 3 day tour with this company. Sleeping in the desert under the bare sky is something you cannot describe.
Image - Jaisalmer War Museum
Place
Jaisalmer War Museum
Þórey:Interesting musem
Image - Hotel Tokyo Palace
Place
Hotel Tokyo Palace
Þórey:The place we stayed at after our safari. Good service, hot showers and nice restaurant.
Image - 1st gate home-fusion
Place
1st gate home-fusion
Þórey:Good pizza here! A little bit fancy