A route that includes the Taj Mahal, the Himalayan mountain range and the deserts of Rajasthan.
India is the seventh largest country in the world, after Russia, Canada, USA, China, Brazil and Australia. That’s why, unless you have a few months to travel calmly throughout India, it’s best to see India in stages. That’s why here I advise you to start with a travel route for Northern India.
If this is the first time you are going to visit this colorful country, in my opinion, the Taj Mahal is a must see. Or are you going to come here and leave without seeing the Taj Mahal? Therefore, the best thing would be to fly to the capital, to New Delhi. It is in the north of the country and from there one can start to move to other sides.
In our case, we went three weeks to India, we wanted to see a lot of things and we did a great route through the north of India. Our journey begins with the Taj Mahal, passes through the Himalayas and ends in the deserts of Rajasthan.
The travel route for Northern India that we chose to do was as follows:
Travel Route for Northern India: What to see?
1. New Delhi
We landed in the capital of India, New Delhi. The capital of India, it is the most populous city in the country and the fifth most populous in the world. Unfortunately, it also tops the list of the most polluted cities.
Two days in the capital is more than enough. The Chandni Chowk bazaar and the Khari Baolse spice market in the old part of Delhi are a must in the capital. Although, what I liked the most, was Humayun’s Tomb for its ostentatious architectural constructions. If you have time, you can visit the Lotus Temple and the Hauz Khas neighborhood, which is known as the “bohemian area of Delhi” or the “hipster neighborhood.
Round trip by private car to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal. Agra is part of what is called the Golden Triangle and is located 206 km south of New Delhi. The Golden Triangle is a tourist circuit that connects New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.
The mausoleum is mainly made of marble. It was built between 1632 and 1654 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is a monument dedicated to love, symmetry and perfection. In 2017, the Taj Mahal entered the exclusive list of the new 7 wonders of the modern world as far as monuments are concerned.
From Agra, we returned to the capital and the same day we took a bus to Rishikesh, the world capital of Yoga. Located 230 km northeast of New Delhi, it is an ideal place to enjoy the nature of India, the Ganges, and meet your spiritual side.
One of the cities that surprised me the most. Haridwar is located just 10 km south of Rishikesh and 200 km northeast of New Delhi. It is located on the banks of the Ganges River and is considered one of the holiest places in India.
The best known temple is the Har Ki Pauri Temple; a temple dedicated to the god Shiva on the banks of the Ganges, although sitting on the banks of the Ganges and watching people getting into the river to purify themselves is quite an experience. After a quick visit to Haridwar, we then took 12 hour bus to Shimla.
Shimla, an English colonial town, is located 350 km northeast of New Delhi. Has an altitude of 2200 meters above sea level and annual temperatures, that usually range between -4° C and 31° C.
We visited the surrounding snow-capped mountains, which are part of the Kufri Natural Park, 20 km from Shimla, where we also visited a curious zoo.
6. McLeod Ganj
Then, we went to Daramshala, specifically to McLeod Ganj, the place of the Dalai Lama’s exile. McLeod Ganj is a small village located in the upper part of Dharamsala. It is located in the Himachal Pradesh state of northern India, 240 km from Shimla and at an altitude of 2000 meters.
McLeod Ganj is home to the Dala Lama’s Residence, there is a Tibetan museum on Chinese repression, and the scenery in the surrounding area is definitely worth a visit.
India Itinerary: Why did we choose this route?
With this route, counting the quick visit to Haridwar, we saw a total of 11 cities and were in 6 different provinces. Not bad. We saw the most spectacular monuments, visit three sacred cities and visit both mountainous and desert places. We only lacked the beach.
All our trips were by bus. Although some bus trips were a bit heavy, we were immediately comforted when we arrived at each of our new destinations. Above all, we were amazed at how different each new place was compared to the previous one.
Many people make a similar journey, but the other way around. Passing first through the hot province of Rajasthan and then up to the Himalayan mountain range. In my opinion, if you go in winter, it is better this route that I have described to you previously. First, you will climb the cold mountains and then you will be able to enjoy twice the heat of the Rajasthan deserts.
Alternative travel routes through the north of India
On the other hand, if you are not convinced by these sites, you can choose other places. For example, another good option is to head northeast to visit Varanasi, which is said to be the spiritual capital of India. On the way, don’t forget to stop and contemplate the curious temples of the Kamasutra in Khajuraho.
You can enter the province of Madhya Pradesh, south of Agra, if you prefer to discover deep India and the centre of the country. This province is known for its national parks and Bengal tigers.
If you are more of taking internal flights because you want to save hours of travel I advise you to take advantage and go further. One option is to travel from New Delhi to Bombay, the financial centre of the country where Bollywood is located. Or to the east, to the Darjeeling Mountains, next to Nepal.
But if you’re looking for a party and a beach, I recommend flying to Goa. And while you’re at it, get close to Hampi and its magnificent temples. If you want beach but prefer more tranquility, you have to go further south, to Kerala, not far from Sri Lanka.
Why to make a travel route for Northern India: Conclusion
Personally I loved our route because we could see a lot of incredible places in one go. Among many other things, we enjoyed both mountainous and desert places, saw the Taj Mahal, got to know the Dalai Lama’s place of residence and discovered the Sikh culture. But it is true that it would have been ideal if we had had one more week. It would have allowed us, for example, to see in depth the province of Rajasthan, which was the one we liked the most.
I hope that this route through the north of India and its alternatives will serve to help those undecided who do not know very well where to go. There are so many things to see that it is difficult to choose well.
I don’t think it needs to be said, but just in case, remember that whatever route you decide to take, do it ahead of time and calmly. The one who covers a lot does not squeeze much. If you like the country, you will have more opportunities to come back and see more things. Don’t worry, India isn’t going anywhere.
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The longest walk begins with a step.
– Indian Proverb –