Havelock, Neil and most of the islands are a paradise on earth.
Very distant from mainland India (it’s actually closer to Thailand than India), very hard to reach, this is the best of the best destination and my favorite place during my 5 months of traveling through India.
There are only 2 ways to get there, either on a 3 or 4 day ship trip, which is a nightmare even for the most experienced backpacker, or by a couple of hours flight from Chennai.
With very few tourists and little development, you feel this place is very real, pristine and pure. The beaches are clean, basically empty and the calm warm waters are more inviting here than anywhere else.
One of the best sports on the planet for diving and snorkeling! Due to the distance and inaccessibility, these waters are filled with fish, from all kinds and colors. The corals are untouched, and awaiting to be discovered by the curious divers.
We actually had the privilege to swim with a massive turtle and many fish which were bigger than myself. This was my first experience snorkeling and I fell in love!
In Neil, there are massive cliffs and labyrinths, where you can explore the dramatic contracts between the canyons. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot a few manatees.
Goa feels like home!
The streets are still written in Portuguese, you can see the Portuguese influence in every corner!
The architecture and the local culture are so radically different from the rest of the country, that often, Goans say they are not Indians, but Goans!
Goa is clean, has the highest rate of alphabetization, which is noticeable. People are kind, friendly and relaxed. No one tries to fool or scam you and you’re probably free to do whatever you want without being constantly molested.
With beautiful tropical beaches of yellow sand and a zillion little tropical bars and restaurants to choose from, that will serve every taste and pocket!
This little state, was once the capital of the Hippy culture, with thousands of Hippies flocking here from all over the world, dreaming of living free and lightly. There a famous flea-market during high season and you can see the remains of the flower power generation there.
Goa has a lot of culture, old colonial buildings and churches to explore in the old capital Panaji. Be aware, however, that most of the ancient frescoes and most art inside the churches got destroyed by the Archaeology society, who decided to paint the whole interior of the churches white and cover the ancient stone and graves on the ground bathroom tiles.
When I was there, I witnessed the last grasp of the golden Portuguese frescoes being destroyed as you can see on my photos.
All in all, no wonder many people restrict their trip to India, to the Goan region.
Beautiful city! The most beautiful city in India, in my opinion.
With amazingly white washed walls and incredible architecture, Udaipur is also called the “white city” and “the romantic city”.
The famous lake of Udaipur, is relatively clean and on certain days, you can see the locals showering and bathing there as well as washing their beautifully colorful clothes. The sunsets are amazing there and there’s always someone playing music. Days go by slowly in Udaipur.
Udaipur is cleaner than most cities and friendlier as well. Rajasthan is famous for the dance and arts. You can find many different traditional dance shows basically every night.
With many options as far as hotels and guest houses for all pockets, from the famous 5 star Maharaji palace in the lake, that once hosted Maddona, to the backpacker friendly style or even the family guest house where you can interact and immerse yourself into the Indian and Rajasthani culture.
The highlight of my staying in this city was the friendship developed with the owner of the guest house where we stayed, G2 (or Jeetu). We spend great moments chatting, cooking, eating and just hanging out.
The temples are amazing, the monuments and the lifestyle are a delight!
Home of mother Theresa de Calcuta, Kolkata was a little surprise for me.
Kolkata has a little tourist hub where you can have a lot of fun and find interesting things to do.
The housing is more expensive than anywhere else and with a lower quality, vegans and vegetarians can feel a bit challenged there as well, but still… there’s something about Kolkata I can not explain.
We had a great time during our week there. We visited the planetarium, which was very interesting with a little Indian twist. The speaker is talking and reading the text live, so… if it happens that he has a sore throat, don’t be surprised! He’ll be coughing during the whole session!
We found a great library, stuck at the back of a vegetarian restaurant, quite close to the planetarium, which is worth a visit.
Be aware that Kolkata has tons of drug addicts and this was the first time we actually saw people shooting heroine on the streets. The “real” Kolkata outside the tourist bubble can be intense, but we did explore it and didn’t regret it.
Contrary to most Indian cities, Kolkata has a night life and I don’t mean in the sense of bars and clubs, but people and families enjoy hanging out at night, eating something on the many street stalls. I was fascinated by the great energy at night.
I got in contact with Joao through Couch Surfing, a Portuguese student of Tabla music and he invited me for a table jam at the house of his host family.
The night was very special and interesting, and probably one of the highlights of our trip to India.
Not much more to add about Darjeeling… the tea capital of India and a mountain hill station, the Gurkaland and its people will make you feel home and never leave!
Closer to the Nepali culture and mentality than Indian, is a big tourist destination for Indians.
The cleanest city we’ve visited, with the best choice of food and drinks, from hot chocolate to the traditional Chai.