I Travelled in India for Four Months and Picked the Top Six Destinations for First Time Backpackers


"I love waking up in the morning not knowing what’s gonna happen or who I’m gonna meet, where I’m gonna wind up." – Jack Dawson

After I took my CA exam in November I had just one thing on my mind–travel. I didn't know what places to go to, for how long and what hotels to book. So, after a lot of contemplation I just packed a rucksack with no bookings and return tickets. Basically, I backpacked through Rajasthan, Agra, Himachal, Goa, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu, and as my trip came to an end I realised that India has huge potential for backpacking, that desi travellers fail to explore. So I picked my top six travel destinations in India for first-time backpackers!

For beginners who are under-confident or just risk-averse, Jaipur is the best place to start your backpacking adventure with. It is colourful, vibrant, culturally rich and decidedly safe. The people, the cops and everyone was super friendly to me. Jaipur is a small city, easy to explore and there's so much to see that you just can't get bored. The food here is a bonus!

Best time to visit:

October to March

The hippie capital in the north is popular amongst foreigners but the Indian audience seems somewhat oblivious. I visited Pushkar some time ago on a solo adventure and quickly fell in love with the vibe, energy, and culture of the place. The serene ghats, colourful markets, and the hippie, laid back aura had me hooked. It is safe, not secluded and just perfect for a newbie backpacker!

Best time to visit:

October to March

Known as mini Israel, Kasol is a favorite amongst Israeli youth who visit here after finishing their mandatory defense training. It sees a great deal of travellers from all over the world now and has gradually earned a hippie reputation. Kasol is the base for many stunning places like Kheerganga, Malana, Grahan and Kalga. Visit here for the best hash, delectable Israeli food, and spectacular views.

Best time to visit:

September to June

"Quit your job, buy a ticket, get a tan, fall in love, never return.”

Well, I did all of that, except that I returned. I saw seagulls scuttling across the sea, dolphins leap in and out of water. I went diving, saw more fishes than I knew the names of, had the local fish thali every day. Travelled in buses, lived like a local, swam in the sea, met these amazing people who left me all overwhelmed with their love. I spent a month at the beach and realised how Goa was so much more than just drugs and parties. It is a definitive on your bucket list!

Best time to visit:

August to March

One of my most treasured journeys was travelling to and in Kinnaur. The eastern part of Himachal Pradesh proximal to the Indo-Tibetan border is most famous for its apple orchards and treacherous roads! I found it to be one of the safest places in India. I travelled here during off season and was quick to understand why Himachal is called "the coldest place with the warmest of people". The entire Kinnaur stretch is full of gorgeous places to explore. My favourite ones are Kalpa, Roghi, Chitkul, and Nako. Don't miss the thukpas and momos here.

Best time to visit:

September to December and April to June

I had climbed the unrelenting hills in Hampi everyday of the week I spent there, to truly apprehend the meaning of tough climbs and worthy views. The boulder-strewn landscape here is incredible, one of a kind and undeniably strange. Geologists claim that it is one of the oldest exposed terrains on earth. And I, (just like every traveller who set foot in this straight-outta-Ramayana land) was awestruck and baffled how those boulders managed to balance themselves at unbelievable angles and monstrous heights.

Hampi is a rich "ruin" in the heart of South India. This evocative, lush green town has a grand history. Visit here for the food, rock climbing, Goan Hippie vibe, history, architecture, and culture. In a nutshell, it is every backpacker's dream come true.

Best time to visit:

November to March

Special mentions

This list would be never-ending if I had talked about every single destination I had in mind. Like Rishikesh, the yoga capital also famous for river rafting is a good idea for a first time backpacker. Agra, an architectural testimony of our rich Mughal history, Varkala, another coastal hippie stop, and Varanasi and Khajuraho, holding great significance culturally and religion-wise. All of these stunning places can be on your travel bucket list this summer.

So, when are you setting out on your Indian backpacking adventure?

Think we missed out on something? Tell us about it in the comments below! 

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