India is just a continent in itself, impossible to define, impossible to understand in just one trip, neither two or three. India is one of the most ancient civilizations on earth. More than 1.2 billion people (that is more than the whole American continent)! 22 official languages and thousands of others spoken all across the country! Many big religions especially the Hinduism. You can see in India paradisaical beaches, ice-rocky mountains, cows and luxury cars on the streets, tropical weather and sand dunes, elephants, tigers and thousands of incredible species. Everywhere you go you will meet amazingly generous people and they will welcome you to the really Incredible India!
In 2015, we (Carolina and I) crossed the country from south to north on the west side. We started in the state of Kerala in Kochi and we ended in Macleod Ganj (Dharamshala) in Himachal Pradesh. This map here shows our itinerary.
Of course we made many friends on the way, and we will give here the best contacts we have from south to north.
You will hear this expression a lot: “Shanti, Shanti” which means “be calm”. It wonderfully expresses the Indian way of life: no problem, no stress, no hurry, no worry.
Kochi is a very good place to start visiting India. Flying directly there is also a very good option. From the airport you can ask for the bus to Kochi which will be the cheapest way to go there. One of our best friends is a rickshaw (tuc-tuc) driver, and another one has a guesthouse.
– Babu & Keyarke (KRK): The best rickshaw drivers you can have in Kochi. They can pick you up from the airport and bring you to the place you stay. They are also excellent city guides.
You can contact Babu through his Facebook here. Phone: (+91) 9895 351519.
KRK doesn’t have Internet; his phone number is: (+91) 9656 430896.
– Abeel: Abeel is also one of our best friends in Kochi and he has a guesthouse that is very well located. They have a very nice terrace with WiFi and you are in the heart of the Indian life of Kochi.
The name of the place is Nova de Cochin (www.novadecochin.com). Facebook of Abeel. Phone: (+91) 0484 2215224. On Google maps.
Mumbai is probably the most expensive city you will see in India. Hotels especially are more expensive than everywhere else. We have a very good friend in Mumbai. He lives in New Mumbai, but spends most of his time in Colaba. He is very helpful, generous and reliable person. His name is Kumar.
Facebook of Kumar.
Phone number: (+91) O882 6933601
Kumar is by the way a travel agent and has a lot of experience with traveling within India and he can help you with trains, etc. He is also perfectly qualified to handle groups and to organize itinerary for them and to accompany them.
Our common friend in Colaba, Mumbai is Sunny. Sunny has a tailor shop and makes tailor-made suits and any other kind of clothes you can imagine for men or women. Quality and prices are excellent. Here is his page.
Best place we found to stay in Colaba, Mumbai: Hotel Prosser’s, Hotel Prosser’s on Google Maps. It could be very useful to book.
Phone: 22834937 – 22817548 – 22841715. Email: pro.gh.@hotmail.com
Address: Curzon House, 2-4, Henry Road., Apollo Bunder Road, Colaba, Mumbai.
Also called “The Golden city”, Jaisalmer is a wonderful city in the desert of Rajasthan. Our best friend there is Swaroop and here is his Facebook. Swaroop knows very well Jaisalmer and the surroundings. He has a very nice Jeep and can show you around, go with you to the desert and introduce to the incredible social life of the city.
Best place to stay: We think it is better to stay outside of the fort; it is much less touristy.
Hotel Palace Height, Hotel Palace Height – Google Maps.
Ask for Firoz.
Pushkar is a very beautiful holy city in Rajasthan. Perfect place to relax, hike and eat vegetarian. It is also the place for shopping.
A wonderful place to stay is the Hotel Bharatpur Palace. Ask for Meena or her brother Idlib. Both of them are extremely helpful and nice. Prices are very reasonable and you can have a wide range of rooms. Bharatpur Palace is Bharatpur Palace on Google Maps.
The best contact you can have is Niyaz. He even works at the tourist information, and is extremely helpful, generous and funny. His Facebook.
Rak International is a good place to stay: www.hotelrakinternational.com.
Macleod Ganj, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh
Macleod Ganj is well known for being the residence of the Dalai Lama and the place where the Tibetan government in-exile is established. It is like an escape into Tibet while being in India. The city is in the mountains and offers a wonderful view on the snow mountains of the Himalayas.
You can have many kind of classes in Macleod: cooking, massage, Tibetan medicine, Yoga, meditation, etc. But it is mainly famous for its Buddhism classes and Philosophy of Buddhism. Just ask for the Tibetan Library.
Your best contact there is Munna. Here is Facebook.
You can find him at the Mount View Hotel, here on Google Maps.
Munna is originally from Kashmir and manages two hotels in Macleod. He can help you with lodging for short or long term and for different budgets. He is very reliable and kind.
Here is the list of the cities we visited in 2015 from south to north. Feel free to write us for any questions or recommendations about those places:
Kochi – Goa (Palolem beach) – Hubli – Hampi – Mumbai – Ahmedabad – Udaipur – Jodhpur – Jaisalmer – Khuri – Bikaner – Pushkar – Delhi – Haridwar – Rishikesh – Chandigarh – Dharamshala – Macleod Ganj.
In 2017, we went back to India and we spent more than 3 months in Kashmir.
We created a different destination page for Kashmir and Ladakh.