“India is a sensory overload, but in the best possible way.”
That’s how photographer Mirae Campbell describes her recent 15-day trip from Delhi to Goa with Intrepid Travel. We know just what she means – the country is tantalizing, chaotic and utterly beautiful all at once. It’s as unforgettable as it is indescribable.
In fact, it really is hard to put into words, which is why we sent the talented Canada-based photographer on one of our (many) Intrepid tours in India. She came back gushing: “What a cool diverse country”, “the guide made all the difference”, “the Taj Mahal was stunning”. But it’s her photos that truly capture the country’s magic.
So, check out the photo essay, then give Mirae’s website and Instagram a browse; she’s oh so amazing at what she does. Without further ado, here’s exactly what it looks to navigate city to coast on a small group tour of India:
Day 1: New Delhi
The trip starts in chaotic capital, New Delhi. You have tons of time on your first day (the welcome meeting isn’t until 6pm) so you can acclimatize and take a day trip or two. We recommend our sister company, Urban Adventures, for this.
You can also travel through the streets around the Chandni Chowk marketplace in true local style – by traditional cycle rickshaw.
You’ll realize immediately how good the cuisine in India is. Mirae the photographer said the food on her trip was “amazing”. She added, “We were just eating so much, I was so excited!”
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Day 2: New Delhi
Today your local guide will take you on a walking tour of Old Delhi, one of the oldest city areas in existence. Then you can visit the majestic Jama Masjid, Delhi’s oldest (and India’s largest) mosque. As you can see below, the architecture is awe-inspiring.
By this point you’ll be more than acquainted with the group of like-minded travelers on your trip. Ride the metro with them, stop by the Sheeshganj Gurudwara (Sikh Temple), or get to grips with the city’s delicious street food.
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Day 3: Agra
The most recognizable sight in India, nothing compares to the Taj Mahal. A beautiful example of Mughal architecture, it’s truly iconic, and a building (and experience) that’ll stay with you for life.
It’s also very busy, and so a trip there is worth preparing for. To do so, check out this all-encompassing Taj Mahal guide.
Day 4: Jaipur
Rajasthan’s colorful capital, Jaipur, is known for its pink buildings and its amazing bazaars. Enjoy exploring the city and be sure not to miss the ornate Royal City Palace.
For the next two nights of this trip you’ll be staying at a beautiful, family-run heritage hotel. But before you get too settled, take the opportunity to see a Bollywood film. Jaipur is home to one of the world’s great cinema halls, the grand art-deco Raj Mandir.
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Day 5: Jaipur
Waking up early for a hot air balloon ride over Jaipur is an experience that’s pretty once-in-a-lifetime. Photographer Mirae described the experience as “the most magical sunrise of my life”.
It’s pretty picture perfect.
On the afternoon of day five you get a guided tour around the hilltop Amber Fort. It’s an architectural marvel you don’t want to miss.
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Day 6: Pushkar
Travel to one of India’s holiest towns, Pushkar. The lake is sacred to Hindus and is particularly dazzling at sunset.
Day 7: Pushkar
Another early start, but one that’s more than worth it. The sunrise hike up the hill to the Savitri Temple is wondrous.
Reward yourself with a steaming cup of tea at the top (if the chai man is there, of course). Later, visit the colorful Brahma Temple and take in everything else Pushkar has to offer.
Day 8: Udaipur
Known as the ‘Venice of the East’, this white city is often regarded as the most romantic in India. For this reason and more, it’s a firm favorite among visitors.
There are tons of optional activities to choose from here, from a boat ride on Lake Pichola (see above) to a cooking class (see below).
If you’re into shopping, Udaipur doesn’t disappoint. Explore twisting alleyways filled with bazaars selling things like silver jewelry, shoes, bags, leather goods and miniature paintings.
Day 9: Udaipur
Today is a free day to enjoy Udaipur at leisure. Take a guided tour of the lakeside City Palace complex, the largest palace in Rajasthan. Or even visit Shilpgram Craft Village, to buy crafts and witness traditional dancers and artisans in their element.
If you’re keen to know more about this gorgeous city, check out our guide.
Mirae the photographer said that “the weather in Udaipur was really hot, so the rooftop pools were amazing to visit for the day”. Don’t they look it.
Day 10: Mumbai
After more free time in Udaipur, it’s time for overnight train one of two! At this point, it’s worth giving a shout out to the Indian tour guides that make Intrepid trips so special.
As Mirae put it, “The leader was a local so he made everything so accessible. He explained how people live their lives so nothing felt overwhelming.”
MEET ONE OF OUR LOCAL GUIDES, SANA: A WOMAN DEFYING GENDER STEREOTYPES IN INDIA
Day 11: Mumbai
Time to explore what is likely India’s most cosmopolitan city. Wander around Mumbai’s art deco buildings, shop at the bazaar-filled streets and dine in some of the country’s best restaurants. Oh, and don’t forget to grab a coconut from a street vendor.
In the evening it’s nice to visit Chowpatty Beach, where crowds of people mill about in the cooler evening air. By this point you’re probably pretty good friends with those in your group. As Mirae put it, “Everyone knew everything about each other by the end of the trip”.
Speaking of end of trip, it’s time to journey on to the very last stop…
Day 12: Goa
Spend some more free time in Mumbai before boarding an (air-conditioned) sleeper train to Goa.
Day 13: Goa
The Portuguese influence in this tropical state is totally captivating. There’s an optional visit to a local spice farm as well as a Goan buffet lunch to drool over.
Day 14: Goa
It’s your final full day of the tour and there’s plentiful options. Take a bike ride into the lush countryside, try some beach-side yoga or sip a cocktail at a local bar.
Join the group for a farewell feast this evening – the local prawns are a winner. As is Goa’s nightlife.
Day 15: Goa
Sadly, it’s time to say goodbye to both tour group and Goa’s coastal bliss. What with the otherworldly experience you’ve all shared, it’s likely you’ll stay in touch for years to come.
If you’re planning to continue your adventures on a solo jaunt through India, consider checking out these useful travel tips.
Want to experience the magic of Delhi to Goa with Intrepid for yourself? Check out our 15-day trip.
(Images all c/o Mirae Campbell for Intrepid Travel)
My Goa Trip
Me along with my family went to Goa for a holiday this January. When my father first told us we were going to Goa, I jumped with excitement. We started packing our bags two days before the journey. I packed my favorite clothes and took my swimming suit also. I also bought a beautiful Barbie sunglass. Then, on 22nd we went to Goa on a Volvo Bus and we were to board the bus at Thane near Teen Hath Naka. The bus came a little late, but I was not disheartened. Behind our seat, an old lady was sitting. During the middle of the night when the bus was moving over the hills, she started feeling sick. We felt sorry for her. My mother gave her a piece of lemon and she began to feel better. The road which took us to Goa was very beautiful. The roads were covered with green trees full with flowers of different colors.
The place we arrived in Goa was known as Mapusa. I was astonished when I saw the city. It was a beautiful city and the sun was also shining brightly. We took a taxi to take us to the resort. We reached there after 10 minutes. My father went to the reception for the keys, but the manager said that their resort is overbooked since some of the foreigners had not checked out. They took us to another resort named Aguada Anchorage situated in Sinquirium Beach. The resort was very beautiful and had villas with 3 or 5 rooms. There were lots of trees specially coconut trees and 2 swimming pools inside the resort. This was the place were the reality TV show “PATI PATNI AUR WHO” was cinematized.
They allotted us a 3 room Villa. I was very happy. The name of our villa was Casa De Kapila. It was a very beautiful villa from inside. After sometime, we took a bath. I bathed with my sister Aishi in the bathtub and felt refreshed. I took a detailed look at the house, we had everything needed, it had a well equipped kitchen, washing machine, sitting room with TV, DVD etc. We then went to the restaurant for lunch. The name of the restaurant was Schooner and it was situated beside a swimming pool. In the menu they got a variety of food. My dad ordered some of my favorite dishes. The taste of the food was delicious. After the meal we went to our villa and had a small nap. In the afternoon we went to the nearby beach called Siniquerium. I liked the beach very much. There were lots of fun activities going on like water scooter, parachute, speed boat etc.
My dad allowed me and my mother to have a ride on the water scooter. At first, I was very nervous but soon I started liking it. After this, we all took a speed boat and it took us to another beach called Candolim. It was a long white sand beach and we started walking. The sun was setting and sea was crimson red with the setting sun rays. We walked till the beach called Calangute. This beach was quite crowded. From there we took a taxi and went back to our resort.
The next day we went out at around 10.00 in the morning. When we came out of our resort, one man came and told us that he worked with a club and it was the 17th anniversary of the Club and they are keeping a contest. He gave us 2 coupons and asked me to open the same for prizes. And Presto! I was the winner. He took us to the resort where the club people gave my Dad a presentation on the club for 45 minutes. After that they scratched the card and I won a prize on a free holiday trip to any one of their clubs in India.
Same day, in the afternoon we took a South Goa package tour. We went to a village called 'Mangeshwar' where there is a famous Shiv Temple. It is also the native village of legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosale. Then we went to the famous churches of Goa. The churches were silent though there were many people. Our next spot was to a market where cashew and alcohol are famous. We bought some cashew and they were very tasty. Next we went to a beach called Miramal.
We also had a cruise trip on the river Mandovi. It was a fun filled trip and they had everything for entertainment inside the ship. A group of people were singing and dancing on the ship. We also sang along with them. We returned at our resort after the cruise trip.
The next day we first went to the Calangute beach. The waves were very big. We all had a great bath in the sea. We played with the waves and swam along them. My sister was scared of the waves and she remained in the beach playing with sand. We also went for a boat ride to see Dolphins. Next, we hired a taxi to see all the famous north Goa beaches. First we went to the Vagator Beach. The sand was white in color and there was a hill descending to the sea. There were lots of coconut trees in the hill and as well as on the beach, It is one of the best beaches I have seen. We had a great bath and swimming in the sea. From there we then went to a beach called Anjuna.
It was a rocky beach and we stayed there for 10 minutes. After that, we went to a beach called Baga. It was a beautiful beach. The water was also deep. There were lots of people bathing in the sea. We hired an Umbrella and sat under it for a while and watched the sea and the crowd. We liked the Baga beach so much that in the evening we came here again .The breeze flowing was very pleasant. The small sea side restaurants called shacks were beautifully lit and were crowded. Many people were singing and dancing there. We also had some snacks. It was a pleasant experience spending the evening there.
The next day we were leaving for Bombay. The Bus was to start from Madgao in the evening. But before leaving we were planning to go to a beach called Palolem in South Goa. We checked out from our resort in the morning and hired a taxi. We reached Palolem at about 10.00 am. I can't explain how beautiful Palolem was. It was a quite and calm beach with golden white sand and full of coconut trees. There were hills on both sides of the beach. There was also a small beautiful island across the sea. The water was clear blue and calm. There were lots of foreigners in the beach and swimming in the sea. Myself and my dad had a great swim in the sea and I collected more than hundred shells from inside the water.
After lunch we left for the bus stop at Madgao. I was feeling bad because I was leaving Goa. The next day by 5.00 am we reached Vashi. I would like to say everyone that whoever goes to Goa does not return without pleasant experiences...... See you again! Goa
Contributing Writer: OINDREE CHAKRABORTY, 9 yrs, Class-IV, Hiranandani Foundation School, Hiranandani Estate, Thane firstname.lastname@example.org