I can’t believe that the first out of eight months has already flewn by. India was absolutely amazing – it was definitely a great country to start my trip!
It is true, India can be overwhelming at times, but the positive energy is just immense. You can feel it with every heartbeat! I would like to share my favourites with you and to give you an idea of the myriad of treasures that India bears. I will divide my recommendations into different sections in order to give you a better overview.
Where to start, ha! I’ve had amazing food throughout my stay. There was not one dish I didn’t like! India is an absolute paradise for vegetarians like me. They have such a vast variety of vegetarian dishes, which makes it really hard to choose from. Thank God I had four weeks to try the majority of them! My favourites were Thali and the different paneer dishes. Thali is more typical in the South of India. It is basically rice and papad served on a banana leaf with different kinds of gravies and dips. So yummy! From all the paneer dishes, I liked Mutter Masala Paneer the best! At the beginning, I tended to have garlic naan as a side, but I soon realised that it was too heavy for me to digest in the Indian heat.
In general, the cusine in Delhi, Agra and the cities in Rajasthan is much heavier than in the South. Don’t get me wrong, the cuisine in the North was super delicious, but during this time of the year it is a huge challenge! It has been generally tough for me to eat healthy as salad is not really an option in India due to hygienic reasons, neither is “freshly” cut fruit. As a snack, I usually had a banana or a biscuit. In Kerala, I came across banana chips, which are delicious but also pretty unhealthy! It is actually really hard to tell the difference in taste between banana and potatoe chips as they taste very similar!
As a rule of thumb, meals are less than half the price in the South. I was actually quite surprised about the prices in the North as I didn’t expect them to be that high. I guess the price discrepancy is due to the fact that the North is much more touristic than the South. Usually, I would pay between 10-16€ for a meal, which I thought was quite pricey for a vegetarian dish in India. In the South, it was more like 3 to 10€, depending on the restaurant. There are definitely cheaper options but people always told me not to go as – I quote – “European stomachs are not built for it”!
My favourite restaurants for dinner or lunch were Villa Maya in Trivandrum (amazing atmosphere and food – try Trio Paneer with Roti) and Chandelao Garh where I was lucky enough to have the whole rooftop for myself! It was both the ambiance and the food that made the experience at these restaurants amazing! The best breakfast was at Chandelao Forth and in Agra at The Coral Tree. So fresh and yummy!
When in India, do not forget to drink loads of Masala Chai Tea! I fell absolutely in love with this tea! Indians use more milk than water for the Masala Chai Tea and they add a lot of sugar, which makes it really sweet. Loved it! I had the best Masala Chai in the tea factory in Munnar and in the Ashram in Neyyar Dam!
Since I travelled quite a bit within India I’ve stayed at so many different places. My favourite places were The Coral Tree in Agra, a very beautiful and colourful homestay that feels like an oasis in the urban jungle of Agra; Chandelao Garh, a former fort which has been converted into a hotel; Ela Ecoland, a nature retreat close to Munnar; and last but not least, Somatheeram Ayurveda Resort, where I enjoyed the last few days in India.
As you can see, I stayed at hotels, guesthouses and homestays and I really enjoyed the alternation between different kinds of accommodation. I can highly recommend to stay in homestays because it gives you a very authentic experience of Indian life and a chance to interact with locals. All of the homestays I stayed at were very neat and clean and the owners very open and kind. Make sure you don’t miss out on that experience!
This is a hard one because I’ve visited so many sights, especially in the first two weeks! In my view, The Taj Mahal is a must-do! The grandeur of the Taj leaves you absolutely speechless! Make sure you visit the Taj Mahal either for sunrise or sunset to get the best lighting! My second favourite monument was Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur. From all the forts I’ve seen, this one was the most impressive! I loved the views over the Blue City and the architecture that reminded me a lot of Game of Thrones. My third favourite sight was Monkey Palace, not so much because of the palace itself but because of the monkeys with which I got to goof around and play! An experience I will never forget!
I liked all the places I’ve visited in India, but my absolute favourite was Munnar! It felt like paradise! I loved the flora and fauna and the myriad of nuances of green. It was such an amazing experience! Munnar is surrounded by so many tea plantations whose beauty leave you absolutely speechless. Make sure you do some hikes through the tea plantations and up to some of the plateaus to enjoy the view over Munnar. It is absolutely breathtaking! Munnar really stole my heart!
As you might have noticed, I really had an amazing time in India. I want to thank all the people who’ve made my time in India so special! I know for sure that I will come back to visit other places, first of all the Himalayas. See you soon, India!