We arrived in Delhi to find the country in the middle of demonitization. Modi had stripped 80% of the value of the country’s currency overnight in efforts to battle the black markets. Banks closed. Most ATMs shut down. The few that remained open had lines hundreds of people long. And we didn’t have a single rupee in our pockets.
Stay: Prime Balaji
Eat: Karim’s (Seekh Kebab, Chicken Biryani, Tandoori Roti, Sheermal), Jalebiwala, PT Gaya Prashad Shiv Charan (Paranthe), Dal Makhani
Do: Red Fort, Main Bazaar St, Humayun’s Tomb
Specifics: Smoke Beedis for 10 rupees a pack
Telengana Express. You’re only in Agra to see the Taj Mahal. Be the first in for sunrise to avoid the crowds.
Stay: Taj Hayat Homestay
Eat: Janey’s Place (Mughlai Biryani, Malai Kofta, Jayaffeles, Paneer Pasanda), Sheroes’ Hangout
Do: Taj Mahal, Red Fort
Lichchavi Express from Tundla. At least we were meant to. Our train was delayed by more than 27 hours somehow. We opted for the next train headed to Mughal Sarai and paid the porter a few rupees to make sure we were on it.
Stay: Hotel Alia
Eat: Dosa Cafe (Veg Idli, Masala Dosa, Masala Vada, Uttapam), Varanasi Cafe (Breakfast), Kashi Chat Bhandar (Gulab Jamun, Potato Chat, Tamatar Chat, Gal Goppa), Baba Lassi
Do: Morning Boat Ride, Evening ceremony on the Ganges
Fly from Varanasi to Jaipur, the pink city. One of my favorite stops.
Stay: Moustache Hostel
Eat: Rawat Kachori (Pyazz, Mawa Kachori, Besan Ke Laddu), Kishan Lal Govind Narian Agarwal Lassi), LMB (Paneer Ghewar), Indian Coffee House, Peacock (Thali, Rogan Josh)
Do: Amber Fort, Pink City, Monkey Temple, Jal Mahal, Raj Mandir Cinema
DLI JSM Express overnight to the deep desert.
Stay: Surya Paying Guest House
Eat: Killa Corner (Ker-Sangri, Kadhi Pakora, Paneer Butter Masala, Ghotua), Jaisalmer Oasis (Veg Makahan Wala, Gutta Curry, Jeera Rice), Milan Restaurant (Tandoori Chicken, Paneer Makahani), Kuku (Muesli), Bhang Shop, Traveler’s Cup
Bus to Jodhpur. Watch out for the street dogs. Watch out for the food poisoning.
Stay: Geeta Mahal
Eat: Omelette Shop (Ali Baba, Masala Butter Cheese), Janta Sweet Shop (Rabri Laddu, Balushahi, Mirchi Bada), Shahi Samosa, Gypsy (Thali)
Do: Clock Tower, Mehrangarh Fort
Bus to Udaipur, “Venice of the East”
Stay: Mewari Villa
Eat: Chirag (Aubergine Tomato Curry), Yummy Yoga, Grasswood (Coffee), Pap’s Juice
Do: City Palace
ONE HUNDRED MILLION THOUSAND RUPEEEES. Fly from Udaipur to Mumbai. UberPool everywhere.
Stay: Traveller’s Inn Fort
Eat: Leopold’s, Cafe Madras (Rasam Idli, Mysore Masala Dosa, Butter Idli, Medu Vada, Kaapi, Mysore Pak), BAD Cafe, Kyani & Co (Kheema Pav, Bun Maska, Mawa Cake, Irani Chai), Kala Ghoda Cafe, Swati Snacks (Panki Chatni, Satpadi Roti Gatta Nu Shak, Pav Bhaji)
Drink: Colaba Social, Doolally, Khar Social
Do: Marine Drive, Chowpatty, Colaba Causeway, Gate of India, Bandra, Slumgod Dharavi Slum Tour
Fly from Mumbai to Goa. Russian tourism mixed with Burning Man. Hire a scooter.
Stay: Jungle Hostel
Eat: Thalassa, La Plage, Fish Tail, Sakana
Drink: Curlie’s, Waters
Do: Vagator, Anjuna, Ashvem, Arambol, Old Goa, Cliff’s, Wednesday Anjuna Flea Market
Specifics: Feny Alcohol, King’s Beer, Goan Sausage
VSG Howrah Express to another one of our favorite stops. Hire a scooter and explore.
Stay: Siri Homestay
Eat: Chill Out, Ravi’s Rose, Mango Tree, Gopi, Hoova Cafe, Laughing Buddha
Do: Temples, Anigundi Village
Hampi Express. Not much going on in Bangalore unless you work in IT support. Coffee and dosas.
Stay: Social Rehab Downtown
Eat: Shri Sagar (Butter Masala Dosa, Idly, Vada, Coffee), Brahmin’s Coffee Bar (Coffee, Vada), Vidyarthi Bhavan (Coffee), Meghana Foods (Chicken/Special Biryani)
Drink: Arbor Brewing Co, Church Street Social
Fly to Thiruvananthapuram. Enjoy the beaches.
Stay: Karthika Plaza
Eat: Juice Shack (Juice, Puttu), Darjeeling Cafe (Kerala Style Fried Chicken, Booze)
Do: Varkala Beach
Rounding out the top 3 favorite stops. Mix of international influences, cafes and art scene, and hundreds of thousands of people that poured in for New Year’s Eve.
Stay: Robin’s Guesthouse
Eat: Qissa Cafe, Teapot (Nilgiris Tea), Dal Roti (Chicken Kati Roll, Thali), Kashi Art Cafe, Loafers Cafe, Solar Cafe, Mary’s (Chicken Korma), Chill Out Cafe (Pizza)
Drink: XL Bar
Do: Chinese Fishing Nets, Bazaar Road Jew Town, Cherrai Beach
Specifics: Kulfi, Tapioca Chips