Here’s how to explore India in 5 or 10 days – inspired real itineraries by our writer!

Chaotic, intoxicating, wonderful, daunting, overwhelming, and fantastic.

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India is all these things, and more. After some travelling, I’ve realised that few countries in the world carve such a deep, lasting impression on a traveller as India does. India overloads the senses with its cacophony of sounds, colours and amazing food. One thing’s certain: you won’t return home quite the same after the adventure!

Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/

Many people try to cram too much into a visit to India and subsequently burn out. To get the best out your trip, concentrate on a few places rather than trying to tick off as many as possible.

Inspired by my real itinerary from the trips I made to India, here’s how you can plan your trip for varying lengths – from five to 10 days. This trip includes both crowded and peaceful places to avoid too much mayhem in one trip!

Five-Day itinerary for India:

Source: https://www.eastravel.co.uk

The Golden Triangle is the most popular tourist route in India and for good reason. Delhi, Jaipur and Agra are three cities that’ll take you into the fascinating, decadent, and passionate world of the Mughals and maharajas. Here, you’ll be immersed in some of the world’s best architecture – even if you only have five days.

Day 1: Delhi Sightseeing

After you settle in following your long travel journey, waste no time and jump right into the sights of India – the best way for tourists to do this is to rent a car that can bring you to the various locations. Taking the metro can be a challenge if you don’t speak Hindi or Tamil and with only five days to spare, time is of the essence.

Qutub Minar

Qutub Minar. Source: https://www.holidify.com/

A soaring, 73 m-high tower of victory, built in 1193 immediately after the defeat of Delhi’s last Hindu kingdom, this UNESCO World Heritage site is amazing. The way the minar reaches up towards the sky almost defies logic and is an absolute sight to take in. Opt for a self-guided tour (Tickets are at SGD12) to learn about the rich Mughal culture.

Address: Mehrauli, New Delhi, Delhi 110030, India

Chandni Chowk

Chandi Chowk Market. Source: https://electionfacts.in/

The centre of Old Delhi, this is one of the most vibrant parts of the city. The narrow alleyways are filled with stalls selling authentic Indian spices, cloth, and amazing food.

It takes some gumption to venture into this crowd though, and I would recommend doing it in the company of others. A number of local companies offer guided walking tours here, but you really can venture here on your own – just keep your belongings safe in the crowded marketplace!

Sights in Delhi

From Chandni Chowk, drive down to one of the many unforgettable sights in Delhi such as Jama Masjid, Humayun Tomb. Personally, the India Gate was a must-see – Inspired by France’s Arc de Triomphe, it commemorates India’s war dead and is an impressive 42-metre high with the names of 13,300 Indian soldiers, service men, and UK officials inscribed.

India Gate. Source:https://www.holidify.com/

Address: Rajpath, India Gate, New Delhi, Delhi 110001, India

Day 2: Agra Sightseeing

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Enjoy a sumptuous breakfast in Delhi (the options are really endless!) before you drive off to Agra. The drive is about four hours long but I promise it won’t be boring with all the incredible sights to take in on the road – a family of five on one motorbike, cows relaxing right beside the roads as you drive by, performers with monkeys while you wait in traffic lights – it won’t be a drab for sure.

Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal. Source: https://www.thoughtco.com/

No trip to Agra (or even India) is complete without visiting the Taj Mahal at least once. One of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal, was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal and is revered as a monument of love. Try to visit the Taj Mahal early in the day so you can escape the afternoon crowd.

Entrance tickets retail at INR 1050 (~SGD 21).

Address: Dharmapuri, Forest Colony, Tajganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001, India

Sights in Agra

Fatehpur Sikri. Source:https://www.fabhotels.com/

Following this marvel, check out Fatehpur Sikri, the ancient fortified city that was once the capital of the Mughal Empire. The fort provides an insight into the life of Emperor Akbar, with homes for his Hindu, Christian and Muslim wives, and a spectacular masjid.

Address: Uttar Pradesh 283110, India

Source: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/

A must-try restaurant, Silk Route in Agra offers top notch fare with impeccable service. Concealed behind the most ordinary façade, Silk Route will surprise you in terms of both décor and food. The interiors are expansive and decked in white marble, and the food will absolutely hit the spot. Prices start at INR 340 (SGD6)

Address: Basement Ratandeep Complex, 18-A/7-B, Fatehabad Rd, Bagichi, Tajganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001, India

 

Day 3: Agra Sightseeing

Sadar Bazaar

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One of Agra’s most famous markets, this vibrant market is where you’ll find souvenirs and marble inlay items such as coasters, vases and more. Try the snacks at the street too – samosa or the fluffy besan ka cheela (crepes made of chickpea flour) are not to be missed. This neighbourhood is certainly a delight for the taste buds!

Address: Agra Cantt, Idgah Colony, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001, India

 Keoladeo Ghana National Park

Source: https://www.scmp.com/

Find solace in the sounds of birdsong here at just over an hour’s drive from Agra. Known popularly by its local name Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, this forest is home to more than 230 species of birds, and comes alive in the winter months with dozens of migratory species visiting from as far away as Australia and Siberia.

Address: Agra-Jaipur Highway, Bharatpur, Rajasthan 302001, India

Spare the evening for some leisure activities such as shopping at the incredibly affordable markets there or the pricier Indian designer boutiques for some show stopping Indian outfits. A slow evening is great for you to recharge for the exciting activities the next day.

Day 4: Jaipur Sight seeing

Forget millennial pink, terracotta is all the rage at Jaipur, which is also known as the ‘Pink City’.

On arrival you’ll understand the reasoning behind the name; every building within the walled historic centre is painted a terracotta pink colour and there are few exceptions to this uniform colour scheme. This was a strategy by the Maharaja to impress Prince Albert during his 1876 tour of India.

Hawa Mahal

Source: http://travelmodus.com/

The Hawa Mahal, or Palace of Winds, is easily one of Jaipur’s most iconic attractions. This stunning red and pink sandstone structure in the heart of the Pink City features rows of carved screens and more than 900 lattice-worked windows that allow in just the right amount of breeze to keep the five-storey complex cool.

Try to wear a hat and sunscreen — the sun can be powerful. Comfortable shoes are a must, as there are lots of ramps to climb if you want to visit different sections and floors of the palace.

Address: Hawa Mahal Rd, Badi Choupad, J.D.A. Market, Pink City, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302002, India

Choki Dhani

Source: https://www.chokhidhani.com/blog/

The highlights of Choki Dhani for many are the mesmerising performances here – traditional dances of Rajasthan, fire acts, acrobatics on a bamboo (with no safety net!) and more. If you’re here, be sure to eat a Thali meal – a key component of the dining experience at a traditional sit-down restaurant where you can relax and have a hearty meal in traditional Rajasthani style.

Source: https://allaboutjaipur.com/

The food starts at INR 700 (~SGD14) and can be a little spicy so come armed with lots of water and order a cold drink in advance!

Address: Sukhdeopura Nohara, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Day 5: Back to Delhi from Jaipur

Amber Fort

Source: https://blog.wego.com/

Finish off your tour in Jaipur with Amber Fort, one of the most popular forts in India. This UNESCO world heritage site has architecture which is a noteworthy fusion of Rajput (Hindu) and Mughal (Islamic) styles. Made out of sandstone and marble, Amber Fort consists of a series of four courtyards, palaces, halls, and gardens.

A popular way of reaching the top of Amber Fort is to ride on an elephant from the car park to Jaleb Chowk. Each elephant ride will cost you INR 1,100 (~SGD22). Be sure to arrive as early as possible to get one, as demand is high and it’s not possible to book in advance.

The rest of the day sees a six-hour drive back to Delhi. If you’re ending your trip in just 5 days, then transfer to the airport. If not, continue on to the airport to take a 1.5 hour internal flight out to Kashmir, Srinagar!

Ten-Day itinerary for India

Continue your journey in Kashmir

india-itinerary-kashmir
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You might have some reservations about travelling to Kashmir based on hearsay but Kashmir is truly as safe as any other city in the world.

As a female traveller who visited Kashmir, I felt completely safe there and was incredibly touched by their welcoming and hospitable culture. Kashmir is known as heaven on Earth and for good reason – you’ll definitely fall in love with the unimaginable beauty of scenery, culture, people, food, and weather!

Day 6: Srinagar

Source: http://www.royalhouseboats.com

After settling in the night before, you can begin your adventure in Kashmir on day six. The best accommodation in Kashmir is a houseboat – on water, you will be surrounded by tranquil nature from all sides. The warm hosts in the houseboat will also provide you with piping hot Kashmiri food and tea that will hit the spot in the cold weather. There are many tour companies offering houseboat stays so booking one will be a breeze – Luxurious houseboats on Dal Lake can be reserved at INR4740 (~SGD92) per night.

Shikara Ride on Dal Lake

Source: https://www.kesari.in

A Shikara is a Gondola type light rowing boat, and it will be one of the most soothing parts of your holiday. The two-hour boat ride will take you on a relaxing sightseeing tour of the calm and placid waters of Dal Lake. Enjoy the unique on-water shopping experience as you become a part of this community that has lived for centuries on the water – Doctors, tailors, and bakers, you’ll see them all in tiny wooden shops on the lake, near picturesque vegetable gardens and acres of lotus gardens.

Just remember to wear something that keeps you warm – it can get chilly on the lake during this long ride.

Address: Dal Lake, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir 190025, India

View from Houseboat

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As night falls, enjoy the sunset view from the houseboat deck – serene, ethereal, and absolutely stunning. In Kashmir, it’s tougher to get reception for your phones so you can use this time to really be one with yourself and nature. Forget the city life at least for one night and enjoy the twinkling stars – it’s no city so you can awe at a dark sky full of stars with no interruption from building lights.

Day 7: Gulmarg

Source: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

A skier’s paradise, Gulmarg is a must-visit spot in every tourist’s Kashmir itinerary. From vibrant flowers to snow-capped mountains, Gulmarg is paradise for adventure buffs.

Stop for lunch at one of the local stalls and if the weather is favourable, you can go mountain biking, skiing, trekking, or take gondola rides for a panoramic view of the valley. It gets dark early, so try to finish all the activities before dinnertime so you can enjoy the view over your evening meal.

Source: https://tripnetra.com/

If you visit Gulmarg during summer time, there might not be as much snow but you can still enjoy the Gondola rides (INR 400/ ~SGD8) for a panoramic view of the valley. You can also opt for a pony ride that can take you up to the Thajiwas Glacier, a major attraction, especially during the summers. Pony rides (INR200/ ~SGD400) are also available in winter! Talk about a Swiss Alps experience.

Address: Gulmarg, 193403, Kashmir

Day 8: Sonmarg

Source: http://greathimalayaexplore.com

Sonmarg – which translates to ‘Meadow of Gold’, is a hill station located to the northeast of Srinagar. Set at an altitude of 9,186 feet against scenic meadows and a clear blue sky, it’s another popular tourist place in Kashmir.

Gadsar Lake. Source: https://ganderbal.nic.in/

The breathtaking beauty here makes it a perfect place for a lunchtime picnic – just ask your houseboat host to pack you a meal! After lunch, check out the Kheer Bhawani Temple located in the middle of a natural spring and the Gadsar Lake that is at 16,400 feet!

Address: Tullamulla Ganderbal Kheer Bawani, Main Market, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir 191131

Day 9: Pahalgam

Trekking at Pahalgam. Source: https://www.pinterest.com

On the banks of Lidder River, Pahalgam is a popular hill-station valley. Many trekking circuits start from Pahalgam as about ninety percent of its total area is covered with forests and rich vegetation – perfect for relaxing on the river banks or taking short treks. If you’re in for some adventure, you can partake in rafting in River Lidder too!

Pashmina shawls from Kashmiri markets. Source: https://www.dfordelhi.in

In the evening, you can indulge in some shopping at the stalls here where you can get specialty souvenirs from Kashmir such as woollens, Pashmina shawls, wooden objects, handicrafts and more.

Day 10: Srinagar to Delhi

After enjoying a relaxing night’s stay at the houseboat, have a hearty breakfast at your boathouse. The last day will take up most of your travel – Check out in the afternoon for your internal flight to Delhi, and the flight back home after this unforgettable trip!

 

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