My Ultimate India Itinerary 1 Month Journey is the perfect India travel itinerary to follow for people wanting to see the best parts of this incredible country over 30 days. Start by getting thrown into the hustle and bustle of Mumbai, journey through the Rajasthani desert, witness the beauty of the Taj Mahal, and the sublime Himalayan foothills in Rishikesh before finishing in holy Varanasi: The Oldest City on Earth.
India is one of my personal favorite travel destinations. A journey through India embodies the raw, authentic, and beautifully contradictory elements of travel that got me hooked all those years back.
In this Ultimate India Itinerary 1 Month Journey I’ll detail a less-popular India travel route that I believe is one of the best ways that you can see the country in one month. Of course, India is huge! It would be impossible to see all of its beauty even in one lifetime, let alone trying to cram it into a 1 month itinerary! For this reason, I’ve also included a section dedicated to other areas of India that you might want to consider when forming your own India travel route.
At the bottom of this post, you’ll also find a comprehensive travel guide to India that should answer all of your questions about travel in India. My goal is to make this travel guide as detailed as possible to help you organize your India travel planning ideas and inspiration.
Be warned; this India travel itinerary is fast-paced! It’s not designed to be a luxury vacation nor an idyllic getaway. I want you to leave exhausted, yet renewed, and with a lasting, refined sense of the word travel. India, for all its flaws, harbors a thousand wonders which of a few, I’m sure, will be safely embedded in your soul. Surrender to the experience, embrace the moment so that when you look back all those years later, a new part of you comes clawing back at each living memory, forever in your heart.
Things You Should Know About This This 1 Month India Itinerary
Before you start reading this India itinerary 1 month post, I think it’s important to know that I planned this travel route to be followed by taking overnight sleeper buses. Of course, it can also be followed by taking trains or even a car in some cases. However, I believe that the best way to travel in India is to use the extensive network of sleeper buses. If you’re on the fence about how to travel in India, make sure to check out this guide to traveling in India on overnight sleeper buses.
I also acknowledge that most people won’t follow this India travel itinerary to the tee. I’d prefer if travelers took a few spontaneous detours or adapted this itinerary to suit your style of travel. However, I have written this India travel guide and route as if it would be followed step-by-step in order to provide as much value to you as I can.
Throughout the itinerary, I’ll link to the best-recommended tours and unmissable experiences for each destination. I’ll also link to some of my favorite hostels and hotels, and the best-rated options. You’ll also find links to other guides and posts that I’ve written. These go into much more detail and include a bunch more photos to inspire your travels.
Also, for those still in the planning stages of your India trip, make sure to check out my comprehensive India packing list.
Alright, with that out of the way, let’s get right into my Ultimate India Itinerary 1 Month Journey!
This India travel itinerary begins in the country’s most populous city; Mumbai. Following the coast of the Arabian Sea, travelers will pass the little-explored Ahmedabad, before journeying deep into the Thar Desert of Rajasthan to Jaisalmer. From here, this ultimate 1 month India itinerary route encompasses the best of any Rajasthan travel plan, including the ancient Mughal empire cities of Jodhpur, Udaipur, Pushkar/Ajmer, and Jaipur. Next, it covers the famous “Golden Triangle” tourist route of Agra and Delhi. The last leg of this India trip sees a short break in the yoga and adventure capital; Rishikesh before making the final pilgrimage to India’s holiest and most ancient city; Varanasi.
Some clear trip highlights include:
- Experience the incredible food and fast-paced beat of Mumbai; The Capital of Bollywood
- Exploring incredible Indian stepwells in Ahmedabad
- Explore the Jaisalmer fort and journey into the desert on the back of a camel for 2 days
- Find the Blue City of Jodhpur and explore the Mehrangarh Fort
- Visit the wedding capital of India in the White City of Udaipur
- Embrace the vibrant market life in the Pushkar oasis
- Visit the incredible fort and iconic stepwell, climb the wall, and traverse the bustling street markets of Jaipur
- See the Taj Mahal in Agra
- Witness India’s most densely populated city; Delhi
- Unwind in India’s yoga capital, explore jungle waterfalls in the foothills of the Himalayas in Rishikesh
- Reflect on your journey in India’s holiest city, witness the ghats, and take a sunrise boat ride on the Ganges River.
India Itinerary Map
Below is a rough map outlining the proposed route for my Ultimate India Itinerary 1 Month Journey.
The Ultimate India Itinerary: Day By Day
Here’s the day-by-day breakdown of this 1-month India itinerary. You probably don’t need me to mention that you can carve your own route through India. The day-by-day breakdowns are best served as a general guide and to provide some inspiration for adventures and experiences as you go.
Day 1-3: Mumbai
This India travel route begins in the Bollywood capital of India; Mumbai. I chose Mumbai as the starting point for this journey because often, the cheapest flights land here, at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport.
Tip 1: Install Uber before landing at the airport. There is a dedicated “Uber” pickup point just outside of arrivals where you can hail a driver to take you to your accommodation.
Tip 2: Make sure to use either Skyscanner to compare the cheapest flights to Mumbai from anywhere in the world. Use the whole month search to get a calendar view of the cheapest dates to fly.
Once you arrive, stash your bags and get exploring. There’s so much to see and do in Mumbai! Below are some highlights you should add to your own India itinerary.
See The Gateway of India
The Gateway of India is the most popular tourist attraction in Mumbai. The erection of the monument began in 1911 to commemorate the landing of King Goerge V and Queen Mary. It’s located on the waterfront at the Apollo Bunder area, not far from Colaba. It’s a popular spot to visit, with many travelers coming to see the unofficial “Taj Mahal of Mumbai”.
Colaba is the tourist district of Mumbai and home to some of the city’s best attractions. These including the Shivaji Museum, Jehangir Art Gallery, and the famous Leopold Cafe from the book Shantaram. You can get lost in the beating heart of Colaba’s streets, falling in love with its unique charm and scenic sites.
Eat World-Renowned Cuisine and Taste Incredible Street Food
To be completely honest with you, after tasting the street food and cuisine on offer in Mumba’s Dhabas, nothing in India really compared. In other words, It’s safe to say that Mumbai has the best food in India. Below are some spots that you must eat at. I guarantee you’ll remember it for the rest of your life!
- Pancham Puriwala (get the deluxe Thali, we had it like 2 times)
- Dara Singh Thali at Mini Punjab
- Cannon Pav Bhaji (near the CST station gate 3.
- Leopold Cafe (for fans of Shantaram)
Check Out the Thieves Market “Chor Bazaar”
After filling up on thalis, puri, pav bhaji, and all the chai in the world, take a wonder down the famous Thieves Market.
This is a small market district of Mumbai consisting of just a few narrow lanes where you can find pretty much anything in the world – and it all comes from dubious backgrounds!
Best Mumbai Day Tours
Transport: Overnight Sleeper Bus or Train to Ahmedabad
After 3 days of exploring Mumbai, it’s time to move onto the next destination on this India itinerary 1 month journey. You can book comfortable sleeper buses using Bookaway or Redbus.in. The beauty of traveling in India by sleeper bus is that you don’t need to waste any precious days exploring since much of your transit time will happen overnight as you sleep.
I mentioned my guide overnight sleeper buses in India above but if you skimmed past it, here it is again.
The bus journey from Mumbai to Ahmedabad takes roughly 9-10 hours. So, try to book a bus departing later in the evening. Also, take note of where the bus terminal is located on your ticket and plan an uber accordingly, keeping in mind the nightmarish Mumbai traffic.
If you’d prefer a train journey, you can book online using Indian Rail. However, it can be a little difficult to book without an Indian phone number or ID. Furthermore, popular train journeys are often booked out weeks in advance, so plan accordingly.
Duration: 9-10 hours
Book the bus: Mumbai to Ahmedabad
Day 4: Stop-Over: Ahmedabad
I originally added Ahmedabad to my India itinerary as a quick stop-over between Mumbai and Rajasthan to break up the long journey. However, after visiting, I was surprised as to just how many epic things there are to do and see here.
Visit the Ahmedabad Stepwells
The most fascinating and beautiful sites in Ahmedabad are the incredible stepwells. Stepwells or baoris as they are known in India, are essentially sets of intricate steps that descend deep into the ground to access and store water.
Stepwells are a common architectural attraction throughout India and they once served as meeting places and a central location for people to gather and share stories. The Indian boaris of today remain as cultural icons that reflect Indias unique and diverse history.
Stop By the Sabarmati Ashram – Mahatma Gandhi’s Home
Another great place to visit in Ahmedabad is the Sabarmati Ashram, which was established by Mahatma Gandhi by the Sabarmati River in 1917. Here, you’ll get to explore the ashram, the Gandhi museum, and the former house of Gandhi himself!
Book the tour: Half Day Tour Including Visit at Gandhi’s House
Best Ahmedabad Day Tours
Transport: Day Bus or Train to Jaisalmer
This is one of the only times in the India travel itinerary where I’d recommend getting a day-bus instead of an overnight sleeper. The reason is that there’s just not enough time to get a sleeper bus on the same day as you arrive. Alternatively though, you could stay an extra day in Ahmedabad and depart on an overnight train or bus the following day. Just know that you’ll need to make up for the day if you want to stick to a 30-day visa or 1 month itinerary in India.
Duration: 10 hours
Book your bus: Ahmedabad to Jaisalmer
Day 5-8: Jaisalmer
After a long bus or train ride, travelers will arrive in the 900-year-old Jaisalmer: The Golden City, located deep in the Thar desert near the border of Pakistan.
When you arrive in Jaisalmer, you’ll immediately realize the dramatic change of pace from the mayhem of Ahmedabad to the quaint, desert lifestyles of the Rajasthanis. If you’re following this India itinerary for 1 month and make it to Jaisalmer, then you’re in for a treat. This was one of our favorite destinations in India, and there’s plenty of epic things to see and do.
Explore the Jaisalmer Fort
If you’ve taken an early morning transport option as recommended in the India travel itinerary above, then you’ll arrive during the afternoon. No matter where you are in Jaisalmer, the towering honey-gold fort dominates the desert landscape, and I bet you can’t wait to explore it.
So, drop your bags at your accommodation and get exploring! The Fort is known to be one of the last remaining “living forts”, where approximately one-quarter of the living population still reside within its walls.
Upon entering the sandstone gates, it’s like stepping back in time, or perhaps into a set of Game of Thrones. Inside you’ll find buzzing markets, intricate Jain temples, palaces, and passionate street performers. I recommend following the Lonely Planet’s guide to finding the best attractions within the fort or, just wandering around yourself.
At numerous sections of the citadel are sandstone steps leading up to the fort’s wall. I highly recommend heading up to the many wall viewpoints to watch the desert sun slip behind the Thar horizon.
Tip: to make the most of your experience in Jaisalmer, I highly recommend staying in a hotel or hostel within the fort walls. This is remarkably inexpensive and most of the better options include a rooftop terrace. Read the accommodation section below for my recommendations on where to stay.
Camel Safari (1-2 Days)
This next attraction is something that I consider a must-do in India. If you’re just reading this India itinerary 1 month blog post for travel inspiration, then make sure to add a camel safari to your list!
A camel safari is a Thar Desert experience where you will ride camels with other travelers led by a Real Desert Man for 1, 2, or 3 days. For overnight trips, you will spend the night camping under the expansive desert stars. This is a great way to experience the authentic Rajasthani culture as the guides all come from small desert communities of camel herders. If you book the tour I recommend, you’ll also be welcomed to the remote villages where you can get a sense of what real desert life is like.
Tip: Pack pens, paper, and stationery to give as gifts to the children living in the remote desert communities.
A camel safari in Jaisalmer is by far the most popular attraction and therefore you could expect there to be loads of good operators, and plenty that aren’t so great too. Check out the links below to get a better idea about what to expect, and to book the trip.
Gadisar Lake is a man-dug lake that was constructed in the year 1367 AD. The lake was built to capture monsoon rainwater that is said to have provided fresh water for all of Jaisalmer’s residents.
There are numerous shrines and temples that line the Gadisar Lake, which makes it a great attraction to check out in Jaisalmer. If you have an extra day between the camel safari and fort-exploring, make sure to add the Gadisar Lake to your itinerary!
Best Jaisalmer Day Tours
- The Best Desert Safari: Real Desert Man Overnight Camel Safari
- Jeep Safari in the Thar Desert
- Jaisalmer City Private Tour
Transport: Night Bus or Train to Jodhpur
After an incredible four days in the Jaisalmer desert, it’s time to move to this itinerary’s next destination; Jodhpur. I recommend traveling by night bus and picking one of the later ones to arrive at first light in Jodhpur.
Duration: 5-6 hours
Book your bus: Jaisalmer to Jodhpur
Day 9-10: Jodhpur
Arriving in Jodhpur is another very dramatic change of pace to the quiet desert life that you’re probably already acclimatized to from Jaisalmer. Jodhpur is known as the old Marwar capital and features an equally impressive hilltop fort at its center.
Jodhpur is also known as India’s Blue City, due to its majority blue theme it’s got going for it. There are many reasons as to why Jodhpur is blue, but the truth is that nobody really knows why.
Tour the Mehrangarh Fort
The most popular attraction to visit in Jodhpur is the Jodhpur fort: the Mehrangarh. This fort is situated high on the hilltops in the center of Jodhpur and is one of the largest forts in India.
The entry ticket to the Mehrangarh Fort costs 400 rupees and includes access to all of the temples, courtyards, and museums within. It’s a little steep for a fort in my opinion, but I certainly wouldn’t skip the experience to save a few dollars.
You can either opt for a self-guided tour of the fort, where you’ll be given earphones and a playback recorder that walks you through the history of the Mehrangarh. Alternatively, there are English speaking tour guides who work at the fort too. However, I’d suggest just booking the guide below instead since you’ll also be shown the blue city streets at the end of the tour.
Book a tour: Mehrangarh Fort Private Tour
Admire the View From a Rooftop Terrace Restaurant
Many of the hotels and restaurants in the city of Jodhpur have rooftop terraces where you can admire the beauty of the city and the famous fort. I’d highly recommend choosing a hotel which has one so that you are able to unwind with incredible views once the sun sets.
Book this view for $3: Bob’s Hostel Jodhpur
Explore the Blue City
It’s funny how a bit of paint can become such a world-renowned tourist attraction. While many of the Jodhpur buildings in the Old City are blue, don’t expect a sweeping field of blue. I know I was confused when I first arrived in Jodhpur as to where the blue streets where.
To help you find the best streets and areas, I’ve written a separate guide here, so make sure to check it out and bookmark it for when you arrive.
Check Out the Sardar Market & Ghanta Ghar Clocktower
In the city center of Jodhpur is the Ghantar Ghar clocktower and the Sardar Market, also known as the Clocktower Market. If you’re roaming the streets of Jodhpur as part of this India one month itinerary, then chances are you will end up here sooner or later.
At the market you can browse the wares and try some delicious samosas and street food while snapping some great photos.
Stop By The Toorji-Ka-Jhalara Stepwell
Another notable attraction in Jodhpur is the Jodhpur stepwell, or Toorji-ka-Jhalara stepwell. I actually stumbled on it by mistake and immediately recognized it from photos I’d seen when I was planning my first trip to India.
The stepwell is a popular place for people to hang out, as well as for tourists to snap some photos. Entry to the stepwell is free and within walking distance of the Jodhpur clocktower.
Best Jodhpur Day Tours
Transport: Bus From Jodhpur to Udaipur
The next stop on the Ultimate India Itinerary 1 Month Journey is Udaipur: The White City. The bus journey from Jodhpur to Udaipur is quite short so you can book a really late bus or a morning bus to avoid wasting a day in transit.
Duration: 5-6 hours
Book a bus: Jodhpur to Udaipur
Day 11-12: Udaipur
As with most cities in Rajasthan, Udaipur has several endearing nicknames. It’s known as The City of Lakes, The White City, and India’s Wedding City. Udaipur is a truly beautiful city that should definitely not be missed on your India travel route.
However, in my opinion, there aren’t as many things to do and see in Udaipur as in some of the other cities. Two days should be enough, but if you want to spend more time to unwind and explore the intricate cobweb of narrow streets and sprawling lakeside temples and palaces, then I’m sure you could fill out a few more days easily.
We managed to get invited to an Indian wedding which was held on the outskirts of Udaipur. As a result, we had a bit of catching up to do in terms of itinerary items. In the end, to make up for it, we ended up staying three days in Udaipur, managing to see everything we wanted.
Explore the City Palace of Udaipur
Starting off the Udaipur adventures in true fashion is a trip to the City Palace of Udaipur. This is easily one of the most impressive palaces in the world, and it took over 400 years of construction to complete. The palace is more of a mini-city, containing temples, art galleries, halls, villas, and elaborate gateways. The City Palace truly is a testament to the architectural brilliance of the Mewar dynasty.
The City Palace sits beside Lake Pichola and visitors are free to explore the palace grounds independently or with a guide. The entry cost is 250 rupees per person, but you’ll be stamped with an additional 250 rupee fee if you bring a camera of any sort.
Book: Udaipur City Palace Tour
The primary lake of Udaipur is Lake Pichola, an artificial lake constructed as far back as 1362 AD. Many of Udaipur’s most famous attractions surround Lake Pichola, including the Summer Palace, Jad Mandir (island), Jagdish Temple, the Monsoon Palace, and the Neemach Mata Temple.
The lake encompasses four islands; Jad Mandir, Jag Niwas, Mohan Mandir, and Arsi Vilas.
Exploring the lake and it’s various attractions is a must-add inclusion on any itinerary for India!
Check Out the Bahubali Viewpoint
Has the hustle-and-bustle of city life got you feeling like you’ll be longing for some nature? I certainly know that by now I was! Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with a not-so-popular item on an Udaipur itinerary.
The Bahubali Viewpoint is located at the back of Udaipur and requires you to either rent a car, motorbike, or driver to get to. You’ll drive around the Monsoon Palace and into the Aravali Mountains where there are plenty of places to relax and enjoy a bit of much-needed nature.
I’ve written a complete guide to how to get to Bahubali Viewpoint from Udaipur which you can find on the link below.
Visit Animal Aid: Udaipur
Animal Aid Udaipur is an animal rescue sanctuary for street animals in Udaipur. It’s open to visitors who are able to come and meet the animals and even give a helping hand. If you’re an animal lover looking to give back, spending a few hours helping at the Animal Aid is a good addition to the India itinerary.
Check out their website.
Best Udaipur Day Tours
Transport: Bus From Udaipur to Pushkar
The next transit journey from Udaipur to Pushkar can get a little confusing. Pushkar is a very small and remote desert oasis and is only well-connected to neighboring Ajmer. Therefore, you’ll need to book a bus or train to Ajmer first. For this journey, we chose to take a night train because it was possible to book last-minute and it ended up being cheaper for us.
Regardless of whether you choose a bus or a train for your route, once you arrive at Ajmer, you’ll need to take the short 30-minute bus onward to Pushkar. It can be a slightly intimidating experience trying to get transport to Pushkar. However, if you politely reject the touts and pushy rickshaw drivers, there is a direct public bus that runs from both the railway station and the bus stand to Pushkar for only 15 rupees.
From the bus station in Ajmer, you’ll find the public bus near the last bus stall. At the railway station, you need to walk across the pedestrian overpass to the front of the station, just below the overpass.
Duration: Bus/train: 6 hours to Ajmer | public bus to Pushkar from Ajmer: 30 minutes.
Book a bus: Udaipur to Ajmer
Day 13-15: Pushkar
Arriving in Pushkar is a refreshing breath of fresh air as we near the halfway point on the India one month itinerary. The small oasis town of Pushkar is the perfect place to de-stress, unwind, and just simply take a minute to breathe. Pushkar is definitely an off-the-beaten-path destination but has been a travel hotspot for Israelis for quite some time and it’s become one that’s definitely catching on with the rest of the world.
Pushkar’s population is only a mere 21 000 people, but sees thousands of visitors to its sacred lake on spiritual pilgrimages yearly. The main attractions include the Brahma Temple and the annual Pushkar Camel Fair in November.
Take Some Short Hikes For Sunset Views
Have all these vibrant cities left you craving a bit of outdoor adventure? There are a couple of short but scenic hills with hilltop temples that make for great sunset hikes.
I’ve written about these viewpoints in separate articles which I’ll link to below. They’ll contain information on how to get there, what to expect, and some photos of the view. If you’re looking for more inspiration for where to spend sunset in Pushkar, make sure you read my Pushkar sunset blog too.
Read More: Gayatri Mata Temple Hike Pushkar
Read More: Savitri Temple Hike Pushkar
Browse the Market Wares
Pushkar has a long history as a Hindu pilgrimage destination, with travelers coming far and wide for centuries to witness Lord Brahma’s holy lake. With them, came traveling merchants who built Pushkar’s vibrant market culture that remains today.
While the town is very small, you can easily get lost in its markets. You’ll find stalls selling everything from fine handmade silver jewelry, clothes, spices, knives, tools, and hemp products. If you’re looking to pick up a souvenir on your trip to India, this would be the place to do so.
Visit the Pushkar Lake & Brahman Temple
When you’re in Pushkar, you’ll end up at the lake at one time or another. The story behind Pushkar’s lake, or Pushkar Sarovar, is that Brahma, the creator of the universe made the lake by dropping a lotus on the ground. Devout Hindus believe that taking a dip in the lake cleanses the soul and cures skin ailments. While you won’t often find westerners swimming, Hindus regularly bathe and wash their clothes in the holy waters.
Tip: What many people don’t tell you is that there’s a well-designed and highly-efficient scam that targets western tourists in Pushkar. A “Brahman” or high-caste Hindu will tell you that he wants to give you a blessing in the lake and that it won’t cost anything. After he has you by the lake, he’ll “bless” you and your family, tie a string on your wrist and begin demanding money or a “donation”. You’ll find most travelers walking around Pushkar with this piece of string, so if you get roped in, don’t feel too bad.
The second-biggest attraction in Pushkar is the incredible Brahman temple. This is known as Jagatpita Brahma Mandir and is located just beside the lake. It’s a beautiful temple to explore and a unique one too since there aren’t many dedicated to Lord Brahma in other parts of India.
The Annual Camel Fair
One of the main attractions and celebrations held in Pushkar is the annual Pushkar Fair or Pushkar Camel Fair/Kartik Mela. The celebration is held each year on the full moon period in the Hindu lunar month of Kartik. This is a festival attraction that is featured on many India travel itineraries, and rightly so!
Rajasthani people from all over the state walk their camels through the desert to Pushkar every year to take part in the livestock trade and annual festivities. It’s also now become a huge Rajasthani tourist attraction which also now brings people from all over the world. Expect camel-themed festivities including camel beauty contests, races, parades, and even dances!
2020 Pushkar Camel Fair Dates: November 22-30.
Best Pushkar Day Tours
Transport: Bus From Pushkar to Jaipur
After a relaxing three days in Pushkar, it’s time to crank up the heat once more as we make our way to Jaipur; The Pink City. I recommend taking a bus for this leg of the journey because it’s much more convenient to take a bus from Pushkar town than going all the way back to Ajmer for a train. It’s also much faster than other routes so far. So, taking an afternoon or morning bus is a good bet.
Duration: 4 hours
Book: Pushkar to Jaipur
Day 16-19: Jaipur
Jaipur is the biggest city in Rajasthan and therefore I’ve dedicated a full four days to exploring its splendors. Entering Jaipur, you will be thrown into the thick of things, landing right in the center of the Golden Triangle tourist route.
From epic forts, mind-blowing palaces, beating, breathing, bazaars, and astonishing monuments, Jaipur is the city of culture and one that is a clear highlight on this Ultimate India Itinerary 1 Month Journey.
Nahargarh Fort stands on the hill-edge of the Aravalli Range and overlooks the Pink City of Jaipur. It makes up one of Jaipur’s three colossal forts that once formed an effective ring around the city.
The entry cost is 200 rupees for foreigners, but it’s well worth exploring. Even if you don’t have the time to see the interior, I highly recommend taking the hike up to see the city from its walls, which is free.
Jaipur City Palace
Jaipur is the capital of the Rajasthan state and for many years the Jaipur City Palace served as the ceremonial and administrative seat for the Maharaja. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction for Indians and international visitors who come to admire the many courtyards, galleries, museums, restaurants, and beautiful doors and archways.
However, the City Palace still has royal utility, serving as the home for the present Jaipur royals.
The entry cost to the Jaipur City Palace is 500 rupees per person. Admittedly, it’s a little steep compared to the other attractions you would have seen in India so far. However, visiting the City Palace in Jaipur is still definitely worth adding to your India itinerary.
Amer Fort and the Jaipur Wall
For those of you reading this India travel guide and still in the planning stages of your India one month itinerary, make sure to add the Amer Fort (Amber Fort) to your list of things to do!
As I touched on earlier, Jaipur has three main forts, but none are as spectacular as the Amer Fort. This fort is located just a short car or rickshaw drive from Jaipur in the town of Amer. You can spend several hours admiring the many ramparts, gates, cobbled paths, and incredible viewpoints over the Thar desert.
The entry price for the Amer Fort is 200 rupees, which allows visitors to explore freely. Alternatively, you can book a local, English-speaking guide to show you through the fort and explain the finer details.
Just opposite the entrance to the Amer Fort is the famous “Great Wall of Jaipur”. This is a very scenic wall which snakes its way up the hilly terrain, serving as a first defense against invaders.
These days, the Jaipur wall is an important historical relic of Jaipur, and also one of the best spots to watch the sunset!
Also located in Amer is the popular Panna Meena Ka Kund, or Jaipur Stepwell. This is a beautiful stepwell that has gained popularity among photographers and on Instagram for its creamy, faded yellow, symmetrical steps.
Visiting the Jaipur stepwell is free, so it makes perfect sense to add it to your itinerary after the Amer fort and the Amer Wall.
While there are many more attractions worth considering in Jaipur, including the Jal Mahal, the Jantar Mantar, and the Birla Mandir, I’ll try to focus on just a few. If you’re running short on time, then Hawa Mahal, in my opinion, is one of the most impressive.
It’s recognized as one of the most beautiful palaces in Rajasthan, which is no simple feat! The Hawa Mahal was built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, who was the grandson of Jaipur’s founder. To match Jaipur’s “Pink” architectural style, the palace is built out red and pink sandstone. Its facade features a honeycomb exterior of 953 small windows known as Jharokhas.
Again, you can admire the building from afar, but checking out the inside is well worth the 200 rupee entry fee.
Bonus: Jaipur Hot Air Balloon Experience
Alright, this last itinerary recommendation isn’t a Jaipur-specific attraction, but a worthwhile one nonetheless. If you’re been considering doing a hor air balloon ride in India, then one of the best operators you’ll find are in Jaipur.
The trips usually run for sunrise or sunset and float over the golden glow of the Thar Desert. If you’re looking for a breathtaking experience with a mind-blowing view, it doesn’t get much better than a hot air balloon ride in Jaipur.
Best Jaipur Day Tours
- Jaipur Amer Fort Walking Tour
- Jaipur City Palace and Amer Fort Tour
- Private Full-Day Tour of Jaipur Highlights
Transport: Bus From Jaipur to Agra
Following an exhilarating four days exploring Jaipur’s many attractions, it’s time to continue on the Golden Triangle route onwards to Agra. I recommend taking a late or an early morning bus since the distance is not really long enough for an overnight sleeper. Alternatively, you can book a direct train, with the fastest option only taking 3.5 hours to reach Agra.
Duration: 5 hours
Book: Jaipur to Agra Bus
Day 20-21: Agra
For many, Agra will be a highlight of this India 1 month itinerary due to the opportunity of seeing one of the world’s most beautiful buildings; The Taj Mahal. In all honesty, there’s not that much to do in Agra besides seeing the Taj. But… have you really been to India if you haven’t seen it? Besides, Agra makes the perfect stop-over en route to Delhi and Rishikesh, which are the two next destinations on this India travel route.
The Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is by far, India’s most iconic building. The ivory-white marble mausoleum has to be seen to really be appreciated. The stonework and architecture of the Taj are second to none and is commonly recognized as the most beautiful building on earth.
And that was exactly the builder, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s plan. He proposed the construction of the mausoleum as a token to his favorite wife; Mumtaz Mahal, from which the building got its name. It now serves as the tomb for both Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal, who rest in large coffins in the main building.
The construction of the Taj Mahal finished in 1648 after the long, twenty-year construction. It’s an urban legend that following the commission, Shah Jahan cut off the hands of all 40 000 workers to ensure that nothing as beautiful would ever be built again. To further illustrate this plan, it’s said that he also ordered the lead architect to death!
While visiting the mausoleum grounds is a must-do (go for sunrise), you can also get a good glimpse of the Taj from many rooftop restaurants and terraces in Agra, as well as from the riverbank, and from the Agra Fort.
Skip the line: Taj Mahal Entry Ticket and Private Tour Guide
The Agra Fort
In all fairness, The Agra Fort doesn’t get the attention that it truly deserves. While being largely overshadowed by the Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort is one of the most impressive on this India 1 month itinerary! It’s really more akin to a walled city than just a royal fortress, being 94 acres (38 hectares) in size and encompassing an assortment of palaces, courtyards, bridges, towers, gateways, and bastions.
You can get to the Agra Fort by walking from the Taj, taking around 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can pay a rickshaw driver 150-200 rupees to drop you there. Otherwise, book a guided tour.
The entry cost to the Agra Fort is 550 rupees for foreigners.
For Backpackers: Stay at Zig Zag Hostel
Zig Zag Hostel in Agra is by far my favorite hostel in all of India. It’s one that I’m not only willing to recommend, but I’d go as far as to say it’s an attraction in itself.
We arrived at Zig Zag very early in the morning and immediately upon arriving we were greeted and given a bed to crash on for free. The owners of this small hostel do their best to make the stay an experience. They run free walking tours, food tours, and best of all, their “secret” Taj Mahal viewing area.
If you’re looking for a great hostel to meet other travelers, embrace Indian culture, learn how to cook, and get a chance to see the Taj from arguably the best viewpoint in Agra, stay at Zig Zag!
Book: Zig Zag Hostel
Best Agra Day Tours
Transport: Bus From Agra to Delhi
The short distance from Agra to Delhi and its well-connected nature means that both trains and fast buses are a viable option for the next leg of transport. Just keep in mind that New Delhi is remarkably huge. Plan ahead to book a route that stops at a bus terminal within a reasonable distance of your planned accommodation.
Duration: 3-4 hours
Book a bus: Agra to Delhi
Day 22-23: Delhi
For many, picturing the quintessential Indian urban city results in New Delhi coming to mind. It’s the capital of India and has been continuously inhabited for as far back as 600 BCE! It’s difficult to comprehend such an ancient city, let along begin to venture into its deep-rooted history.
Today, Delhi serves as the administrative capital but offers much more than politics for travelers in India. I originally planned to visit New Delhi as a transit visit on the way to Rishikesh, but I’m very glad I did. If you’re following this India itinerary for one month, then a 2-day stopover in Delhi gives you enough time to explore without sacrificing too much time in the mountains. While there are many forts, palaces, and monuments in Delhi worth visiting, I treated my visit to Delhi a little differently. Instead of chasing attractions as we had in the past 21 days, we instead just wandered the streets in search of great food and hidden gems.
Regardless, I’ve still included some of the main highlights in Delhi below for you to consider for your India travel itinerary. However, you’ll find some more great ideas on this blog.
One of India’s many UNESCO World-Heritage listed sites, the Qutab Minar, or “Victory Tower”, is a five-storey tower built from marble and sandstone.
Inside the tower is a marble spiral staircase that winds its way all the way to the top. Although, this staircase has been closed for several decades, so it’s only possible to admire it from afar.
The Lotus Temple is one of the most unique attractions on this India travel guide for the reason that it’s a relatively modern monument. This is especially apparent after considering the ancient wonders we have been exploring to date.
The entire lotus building is made from white marble and almost resembles the Sydney Opera House, from my home-country.. If you’re in Delhi as part of your India travel itinerary, make sure to check it out during night time.
Best New Delhi Day Tours
Transport: New Delhi to Rishikesh
The next destination on this Inda travel route is the incredible Rishikesh, located on the River Ganges in the foothills of the Himalayas. For this trip, I highly recommend getting an overnight sleeper bus from Delhi since the duration is perfect for a full night’s sleep.
Tip: make sure to plan a bus route that leaves from a bus terminal close to your accommodation. Delhi is a very big city and traffic can be horrendous, so plan ahead. On the other side, you’ll also be dropped at a bus station in Adarsh Gram. This is 15 minutes from the main Tapovan area of Rishikesh by road. Once you arrive, share a Vikram (large, blue tuk-tuks) to Tapovan with other passengers. Don’t pay more than 350 rupees for the whole group!
Duration: 8 hours
Day 24-27: Rishikesh
Nearing the end of this Ultimate India Itinerary 1 Month Journey, travelers will arrive in the hippy, yoga, and adventure capital of India: Rishikesh.
Rishikesh is my favorite destination in the country and a perfect place to visit after a very hectic and fast-paced 3 weeks of traveling in India. There are plenty of opportunities for adventures, hikes, waterfalls, cliff jumping, and more. Alternatively, you could treat the next four days as a bit of a detox while you soak in the calming ambiance of the Ganges River.
Below I’ll detail some of the best things to do while in Rishikesh, but the reality is that there’s just so many. You’ll find more ideas and details for things to do in this Travel Guide to Rishikesh.
Hike to Waterfalls
Rishikesh’s idyllic natural location on the banks of the Ganges and deep in the Himalayan foothills means that there are naturally some epic hikes and waterfalls to explore. Most of the waterfalls can be reached by foot from the Laxman Jhula bridge in the main tourist area of Tapovan.
I’ve written a separate Rishikesh waterfall guide, as well as individual guides for how to reach each waterfall, the latter of which you’ll find in the links below.
A populat attraction in Rishikesh is the “Beatles Ashram”. But, what is it?
The Beatles Ashram is the name given to the yoga and meditation ashram made famous by the Beatles. They chose to stay here while creating their record-shattering White Album in the 1960s. Rishikesh’s popularity with spiritually-minded and free-spirited adventures today may draw inspiration from the Beatles, who shot India and particularly Rishikesh into the global tourist spotlight.
Exploring the Ashram is like stepping back in time to the “swinging sixties”, as you explore the old, no longer running ashram.
Whitewater Rafting on the Ganges
Out of the many incredible destinations on this 1 month India itinerary, Rishikesh has to be the most diverse. It offers the best of both extremes; relaxed, sleepy vibes, and hectic, adrenaline-pumping adventures.
One of the best things to do in Rishikesh is to go white water rafting down the mainy courses of the Ganges River. Below I’ve linked to one of the best-rated whitewater rafting tours, which accommodate courses and routes for people with varying experience and ability.
Rent a Classic Royal Enfield and Explore the Mountain Roads
Name a better way to explore the Himalayan foothills than by a two-wheeled classic. In Rishikesh, you can rent a 500cc+ Royal Enfield for approximately 1500 rupees per day. This gives you the freedom to explore the greater mountainous region surrounding Rishikesh.
If you’re up for an epic adventure, I’ highly recommend riding to the Kunjapuri Devi Temple for the most scenic ride and epic views at the end.
Bungy Jump & Giant Swing
Still feeling the need for speed? Rishikesh has a world-renowned, bungy jump and giant swing which is run by jump masters from the birthplace of bungy; New Zealand.
Both the bungy and the giant swing are the tallest and most-epic in India. Also, they are really cheap when compared to other parts of the world. If a bungy jump has been on your bucket list for a while, then definitely add it as a must-do attraction on your India 1 month itinerary.
Book: Giant Swing Rishikesh
Best Rishikesh Day Tours
Transport: Bus from Rishikesh to Varanasi
Are you ready for the longest journey on this India travel itinerary? The bus journey to our final destination; Varanasi, is a very long, but scenic bus route that stretches nearly 840 kilometers starting and finishing at different points along the Ganges River.
Luckily, there are a few very high-quality and comfortable overnight sleeper buses departing from the bus terminal in Adarsh Gram, just 15 minutes from Tapovan in Rishikesh.
I highly recommend taking a bus for this journey as it offers the only direct transport to our next destination. Also, try to get a sleeper bus departing at around 4-5 or in the afternoon so that you arrive in Varanasi early the next morning.
Duration: 16 hours
Day 28-30: Varanasi
We’ve made it to the final destination on this Ultimate India Itinerary 1 Month Journey, and what an adventure it has been. The final highlight of this India trip is Varanasi; the holiest of cities, which is a fitting end to this incredible pilgrimage of ours.
Varanasi, which is also known as Benaras, is recognized for its holiness in Hindu and Jain religions and played an important role in the development of both Buddhism and Ravidassia. It’s a holy pilgrimage site that attracts tens of thousands of people to its banks every year.
According to some sources, Varanasi could also be the oldest surviving city on earth, founded up to 5000 years ago by Lord Shiva. However, according to the historians, best estimates put Varanasi at around 3000 years old, which is still a very impressive figure.
Ganges River Boat For Sunrise
The Ganges is the world’s most sacred river and its waters flow from glacial waters high in the Uttarakhandi Himalaya, over 1000 kilometres from Varanasi. By far, the best way to experience its beauty and sacred importance is to take a sunrise boat ride from the Varanasi Ghats.
This is one of the most popular things to do in Varanasi, and consequently, there are hundreds of row boats lined up every morning at the river banks. On a morning boat ride, you will get to experience the golden glow of the morning sun lighting up the temples and burning ghats as you slowly row downstream.
Visit the Ghats
Devout Hindus travel from all over India to cremate their loved ones in the ghats of Varanasi, the holiest of burial sites in India – the biggest of which is the Dashashwamedh Ghat. The fire burning in the ghats is said to never extinguish and often has been burning for several hundred years. However, the Varanasi ghats mean more to Indian people than just a cremation site. Most offer steps leading to the water’s edge where devout Hindus can bathe and perform religious rituals.
Visiting such a holy place requires travelers to exercise respectful reservations. Don’t disrespect the lives of those being cremated and respect the ancient culture and customs.
Meet a Sadhu
The Sadhu or Holy Men of Varanasi are spiritually devout individuals who have vowed to renounce the material world. Due to the sacred nature of Varanasi, these ascetics often congregate to the city where they pray and practice daily rituals and ceremonies on the Ganges riverbank.
For one to become a Sadhu, they must give up all worldly possessions and means of acquiring them. They get by solely from the donations of others, much like devout Buddhist monks in other parts of Asia. I found it fascinating that many of Varanasi’s Sadhu started very ordinary lives, some of which were successful businessmen or corporate employees.
Getting the opportunity to photograph the Sadhu of Varanasi was an incredible moment for me. My goal was to try to capture just how respected and revered these men are in Hindu culture and religion.
It might seem strange to those from the west to be blessed by a naked man covered in human ashes and wielding a peacock-feathered staff. But, after witnessing these unusual and far-distant customs, it makes me question all of the weird things that we do in the west and still consider normal.
Perspective is important, but the meaning we derive from our unique cultures and history is what makes the human race so fascinating.
Cleanse the Soul in the Ganges
Did I mention that the Ganges was a holy river? Okay, you get it. But would you be willing to bathe in its cleansing waters?
It’s said that one dip in the holy river cleanses the mind and soul and rids the body of afflictions. It’s no wonder then that you’ll find many Hindu men and women bathing together each morning.
For westerners, it may seem just a little strange that one would swim in water that contains the burnt ashes of thousands of other humans. But for Hindus, this is one of the purest forms of cleansing.
Experience the Ganga Aarti
Each evening, thousands of people gather to the Dashashwamedh Ghat to watch the holy ceremony known as the Ganga Aarti. It’s a fire ceremony, or Agni Pooja, conducted by high-caste Brahman priests. The ceremony is dedicated to worshipping Lord Shiva, the River Ganga, Agni (sun), and Surya (sun).
The Ganga Aarti is performed in many cities, villages and towns along the Ganges River, but none draw a crowd like the Aarti in Varanasi.
The fire performance with live music and chanting is a powerful scene that will leave anyone feeling fresh and with a renewed sense of appreciation for this beautiful ritual.
Best Varanasi Day Tours
The End of the Ultimate India Itinerary 1 Month Journey
And just like that, this epic India 1 month itinerary draws to an end. The final day will see you fly back to your home country, or onwards to your next country or destination. There is an international airport (Lal Bahadur Shastri), which is located approximately 45 minutes drive from the city center. Public transport to the airport exists but is slightly confusing and unreliable. Instead, I recommend just booking a cheap private airport transfer online.
There are many flight routes connecting Varanasi to major international terminals. However, you might find that some of the cheapest flights include a layover in Lucknow or Delhi.
For those continuing their India travel itineraries, or moving onto Kathmandu Nepal, perhaps to do some trekking, there is also a central bus hub just 15 minutes from Varanasi central.
If you have made it this far down into the blog post, I thank you, and really hope that you gain some value from this travel guide.
India is an incredible destination and if you’re still planning your trip, I wish you all the best in your adventures! Moving on with this blog post, I’ve included a rather lengthy travel guide to India below which should answer most of your questions and give you some useful tips about planning a trip to India.
More Destinations In India To Consider For Your Trip
While I know that you probably feel like this India 1 month itinerary covers A LOT in just 30 days, there are so many more places worth visiting that didn’t make the cut. Below I’ve listed a few notable places and experiences that you might want to consider when planning your itinerary or for future trips.
- Ranthambore National Park
- Goa & Hampi
India Itinerary Travel Guide: What to Know Before You Go
Before you embark on your epic India travel itinerary, make sure to check out some of these tips and answers to common questions to have you more prepared for your trip.
Visas for Travel in India
Do you need a visa to travel to India? The answer is yes. For most western countries, the visa process is quite simple and can be completed online using the government’s e-visa platform. You’ll need to provide all of your information and an electronic passport photo as part of your application. The visa you will want to get for travel is an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) e-tourist visa.
It’s possible to apply for visas of different lengths, but if you’re only going to travel in India on a 1-month itinerary, then 30 days makes perfect sense. The price varies depending on your country of citizenship, so you should check the e-visa website for up-to-date visa fees and information.
Besides securing a visa, perhaps the next most important thing to consider for your India travel plan is what you are going to bring! I’ve covered what you should pack (and what you shouldn’t) extensively in this India packing list blog post, so make. sure to check it out before you go.
How Much Does it Cost to Follow this India Itinerary for 1 Month
Travel budgets are a difficult topic to cover because everybody travels differently. That’s why in this India itinerary guide, I’ve linked to budget, mid-range, and luxury accommodations throughout.
The truth is that traveling in India can be very cheap. Some days, I spent less than $4USD for accommodation and probably less on street food, easily clearing under a daily budget of $10USD. However, if you’ve read some of my other guides or blogs, then you’ll know I can be pretty stingy when it comes to a budget. Living basically and cheaply is just something that I’ve learned to prefer over the past few years of living on the road.
However, I do understand that many people prefer to spend a little more on nice restaurant meals and rooms with a view.
Here is a cost breakdown of what you might expect to pay daily if you usually stick to a budget when traveling. Truthfully, these numbers are conservative and if you’re used to living on a budget, you’ll probably spend less. For those with a higher-end budget, expect to pay anywhere between 3-10x as much.
|Food, snacks, and drinks daily (3 meals)||600 rupees|
|Various activities/tours/entry tickets||750 rupees|
|Total daily budget||2200 rupees (~$30 USD)|
More: Essential India Travel Booking Resources
Find Cheap Flights
The best and easiest way to find cheap flights is to use an airfare search engine like Momondo and Skyscanner. Between the two, you’ll be guaranteed to always find the cheapest flight, anywhere in the world.
TIP: If you’re flexible on dates, search for “Whole Month” to see a calendar result with the cheapest days to fly.
Finding the Best Deals on Your Accommodation
Whether you’re looking for hostels, hotels, guest houses, or resorts, between Booking.com and Agoda, you’ll always get the best deals in India.
TIP: To find the best hostels, I usually compare reviews on Hostelworld, then check other booking sites to further compare prices and deals.
Booking Tours and Transport
You already know that I prefer independent travel. In saying that, sometimes the best and cheapest way to get things done is to just book a tour or package. For India, I always use Klook and Viator.
By far, the cheapest way to get from place to place in India is to take long-distance, overnight buses. A reliable bus network is Redbus.in, which also has a downloadable app. You could also consider BookAway to compare cheap buses and land transport options in India.
Travel Insurance for a 1 Month India Trip
India is going to be one destination where you’ll definitely want to have travel insurance.
I swear by, and always use World Nomads Travel Insurance. Their policies cover me for the things I actually want, like hospital cover, accidents, theft, and travel delays.
Most importantly, since World Nomads value their returning customers, if you need to claim, they don’t try to dodge you like most insurers.
Use the widget below to get a quick, personalize quote from World Nomads to add to your list of things plan for your India itinerary 1 month journey!
Getting Around in India – Trains vs Buses
I’ve touched on the topic of trains and buses when it comes to traveling around India already throughout this post. As you’ve seen, choosing buses over trains is typically going to be a cheaper and easier option, especially if you like to book things last minute for most flexibility.
However, there are routes in this India 1 month itinerary where a train journey makes more sense e.g. from Udaipur to Pushkar. For a more in-depth rundown on traveling in India on buses, check out his blog post.
Best Time to Visit India
What’s the best time to visit India is a question that also comes up quite often. The answer is that it will vary depending on where you’ll be spending time. For this itinerary, the best time to visit is between the months of October and March. During this time, weather is cooler in the desert, and you’ll avoid the monsoon rains too.
Notable Holidays, Festivals & Celebrations
With a country with such a rich history and diverse culture, you’d expect there to be hundreds, if not thousands of notable holidays, events, and celebrations worth visiting. That’s exactly what I was faced with when trying to organize the dates for my first travel itinerary to India.
Below I’ll summarize some of the biggest and most well-known holidays and celebrations, as well as where they are celebrated.
All India, Holi Festival: Usually March
(If there is one festival that you try to experience, make it Holi! I celebrated Holi in Varanasi a few years ago and it was one of the best festivals I’ve ever experienced).
All India, Mahashivratri (Shiva’s birthday): Usually in March
Pushkar Camel Fair: Usually October or November
All India, Diwali: Between October – December
Maharashtra, Ganesh Chaturthi: August – September
India Travel FAQs
1. How to Avoid Delhi Belly
Delhi Belly or travelers’ diarrhea is a serious problem that western stomachs just don’t tend to deal well with. Our immune systems tend to be too weak to handle Inda-level bacteria due to years of consuming ultra-sanitized diets. However, don’t sacrifice the experience of tasting some of the best street food in the world simply because you’re worried about getting sick. Instead, combine common sense with preventative supplements like Travelan, probiotics, and activated charcoal tablets (make sure to consult with your travel doctor first).
2. Is Travel in India Safe?
There’s a common misconception, perhaps due to the fast-pace and overall hectic ambiance that India exhibits, that it is unsafe to travel. However, I firmly believe that travel in India is just as safe as many other countries in Asia. Of course, there are going to be instances where travelers get mixed up in the wrong crowds or are the target of scams, but the inconvenient truth is that this happens everywhere.
3. What is the Deal with the Caste System in India?
Indian society is structured on the ancient customs of caste, known universally in India as Jati.
Hindus believe that people from different parts of India, and with different customs, are born into that caste based on how they lived their previous lives.
This concept is extremely dense, and any uneducated foreigner is going to make a mess of trying to explain it. However, below is an infographic that I think does a good job of explaining the gist to outsiders.
The caste system divides Hindus into hierarchical groups which dictates things like who one should marry, what work one should carry out, and how much respect one deserves. This system is 3000 years old and although progressive Indian cities tend to break the mould of caste a little, it’s still a fundamental part of Indian culture and society.
At the top of the caste ladder are the Brahmans, who are the holiest of castes and work as priests and teachers. Divergently, those at the bottom of this hierarchy: the Dalits (untouchables), are those people deemed so low in society that they aren’t part of the system. They are condemned to conduct work that is deemed too dirty or degrading for other castes like dealing with human waste.
Admittedly, this is a very over-simplified explanation aimed at appeasing the general curiosity of travelers and outsiders. The truth is that India harbors an incredible diversity of people, with seemingly millions of secluded and interconnected cultural attributes, languages, heritages, and religions.
More India Itinerary Highlights to Inspire Your Adventures
And that concludes my Ultimate India Itinerary 1 Month Journey and India travel guide. If you found it useful, you have any questions, suggestions or updates for other travelers, please reach out by leaving a comment.
Otherwise, if you’re looking for more travel inspiration for India, check out this list of links below.
MY CAMERA AND PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT
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