Oh India, I love and hate you all at the same time. It’s a country that at once amazes and frustrates you often all at once. I have visited twice, the first time in 2001/2002 and again in 2006/2007 for a total of around several months.
It really is one of the most culture shock countries that you could travel to, especially for a novice traveller. The smell, noise, colours, history, modern chaotic to ancient, all intertwine together.
I had quite a few adventures when there but as I try to keep this website up to date with more recent adventures I have not delved to much into the past, although I did do an article about my time in the far north Himalayan province of Sikkim, as it’s one of my favourite areas in the world.
However I went through some of my older photos, and that last trip in 2006/2007 is actually one of the first times using a digital camera and actually having photos from a journey, which feels strange due to the fact that for 9 years of travelling prior to that I have almost no images to show. Ah the digital age makes things so much easier!
After looking at some of those old photos a few weeks ago and having a very short stop in Delhi airport only a few days past, made me just want to publish some of the photos from the 2006/2007 trip. They are not the best as were taken on a 6 megapixel camera and was the beginning days when I started taking an interest in photography.
If you were planning a 3 month trip to India then this could also make a good travel itinerary for you.
There are a lot of photos and I will run them in the order of the trip from the very beginning to the end, and the ending of this particular journey had one of the most serious consequences for me in my entire life. Really.
In fact if you can’t be fucked with reading and looking at India then skip to the bottom of this post where I have a link into the longest and most emotional article I have ever written about what happened to me at the end of this India trip.
Backpacking in India
Landing into any big Indian city for the first time, or if you have been away for a long time, is like a slap in the face!
Man this country culture shocks the shit out of you. This time around I had flown into Kolkata from Bangkok. I’m not a huge fan of Indian cities but Kolkata was one of the less worse ones, and I still don’t really know why.
Indian food is awesome!
Yellow taxi cabs are famous in Kolkata.
Busy, smelly, dirty, chaotic. Pretty much every Indian city.
Only spending a few days in Kolkata I headed away to escape into the peace of the Himalayas at Darjeeling and Sikkim. The hiking is amazing and the people generally chilled out with a Buddhist vibe going on.
The scenery is out of this world, although I visited in the middle of winter and it was fucking cold.
Heading into the Himalayas.
Historic Buddhist monastery in the mountains. I was actually staying and mediating with the Buddhist monks a lot and learning more about the religion. Here’s a simple hint if you’re going to do the same – leave your mobile phone behind before entering a meditation session with the monks or at least turn the notifications sound off – oooops. Thankfully they have a sense of humour 😛
Snowcapped winter peaks in Sikkim.
Buddhist prayer flags were everywhere.
After the Himalayas it was time for more chaos. Trains are the best way to travel around India and for longer distances jump in one of the 2nd class sleeper carriages. Simple, but clean enough and fun.
Man sells shoes at platform.
One of the most pleasant parts of Indian travel is just cruising by the countryside in the train taking it all in. You can even sit on the roof of some trains!
2nd class sleeper.
Bodhgaya is the place where Buddha attained enlightenment under a bodhi tree. Nowadays it’s a big pilgrimage site for Buddhists worldwide where they sometimes hold international Buddhist conferences with guest note speakers about the religion such as lamas.
Temple in Bodhgaya.
Monks gather for ceremony.
One of my personal favourite photos from back then with Buddhist monks carrying pots of flowers.
Boy prepares flower rope for festivities.
Monks of all different sects can be found there. Bodhgaya is a must visit if you have the time in north India. It’s a great place to learn more about Buddhism and generally more chilled out than other areas of India, although still busy.
School children gather by picture of Buddha.
What a fucking contrast it is moving on from Bodhgaya to one of the most sacred cities in India, Varanasi. I don’t particularly like the city to be honest so am puzzled by how the hell I have been there twice.
This is full, full, full on India!
Yeah all those stereotype Indian vibes come out here. Cows everywhere, and the underlying (pun!) cowshit. It’s a dirty place, with narrow winding alleys in the old city.
It’s a very holy city on the Ganges River where Hindus come to burn the dead and spread there ashes in the river, although sometimes not the whole body burns and you will see floating arms etc in the water. Dead young children just get rowed to the middle of the river and dumped in.
Some people drink this “purifying of the soul” water. Seriously. No seriously, wtf.
Bloody cows everywhere!
They are holy animals in India in the Hindu religion. Don’t expect to find a beef burger there.
Religious holy man.
Next up was the erotic temples of Khajuraho.
Impressive enough but at this point I wanted to escape the crowds and get off the beaten path more, so went into the centre of India to Kanha National Park.
This was the inspiration for the Jungle Book and the park is a protected area for tigers. It’s remote and away from it all. After busy cities it was perfect.
Traditional countryside India.
There are no fences to the national park that is filled with tigers and they could be anywhere. Some brave people living there just walking around. I was told it was safe enough from tigers away from the centre of the park and went for short walks into the bush, but had the overwhelming sensation that I was being watched by a tiger.
Spending almost a week there I spotted several tigers. Beautiful cats.
Plenty of other animals around such as monkeys. There are so many monkeys in India that you can find them in the middle of cities scrambling along the side of buildings.
Sunrise is a great time to go and trek to try and spot a tiger.
Being a backpacker means travelling cheaply and staying in budget accommodation like in the pics below, along with the budget bathroom facilities. Not for everyone but does the job and only costs you a few dollars a night.
I’ve spent multiple times in India in $1 a night cheap and absolutely shitty rooms. Very far from great but saves you money for the more fun things. You have to intersperse that with the occasional nicer rooms to save your sanity though.
I remember one trucker hotel room I stayed at for 50 cents a night that was sooooo disgusting I had to take multiple showers in my next hotel to wash the feeling off.
The room below is luxury compared to some!
I stopped at a few various places after Kanha, including the city of Hyderabad, but was mostly aiming to get to the more chilled out south by then and hit up the beaches and mellow coast vibe of Kerala.
On the way to the city of Kochi in Kerala an elephant walks along the main road.
Kochi city itself is nothing special but there is old spice route trading history there and some relaxed beach vibes with fishermen using old fishing nets techniques.
At sunset watching over the fishing nets.
A meditation for the mind. That’s what a lot of that backpacking trip in India had been. Meditating, getting sober, getting healthy, feeling good.
Then it all changed.
This sunset from a beach in Kerala is the last photo I have before my life was flipped upside down as something very serious happened to me.
But despite what happened to me, India will always hold a strange place in my heart and if you visit you may well feel the same.
Go backpacking in India and go on the journey for yourself.
This is the link to the most emotional and inspirational post I have ever done about what happened to me that fateful evening in India.
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