13-16 February, Orchha

Orchha is favoured by tourists as a quiet place to relax and visit the ruins of the palace and fort buildings. Having done very little research into our hotel, apart from making sure it was affordable, we were surprised to arrive at a palatial looking building with a swimming pool and gardens. It was difficult to drag ourselves away from the little compound to explore the town but on our first afternoon we went to explore the market and town centre. The air was thick with flea-like bugs that were difficult to avoid, so we found a little roof-top restaurant …

11-12 February, Khajuraho

The train between Varanasi and Khajuraho was a pleasant surprise – immaculately clean, half-empty and lacking the little furry friends we had on our previous train trip. We were lucky enough to secure a six-berth cabin to ourselves and had a relatively good night’s sleep, awoken only by the attendant who told us we’d arrived in Khajuraho.

7-9 February, Varanasi

Varanasi is everything we expected India to be – an incredibly spiritual place with a lot of history and a whole host of traditions and customs on display. From our initial arrival at the railway station to the bustling and colourful streets to the ceremonies down at the ghats (the steps leading down to the Ganges), the city has made quite an impression on both of us.

5-6 February, Amritsar

We departed our hotel two nights ago well-equipped for the overnight train trip to Varanasi with enough food, drink and other supplies for what we expected to be a 20 hour journey. While I very closely guarded our bags at the train station, Richard went to check our platform number and returned with the bad news that our train had been cancelled. Over the next half hour we pushed our way to the front of three different queues only to be responded to by shaking heads indicating that we couldn’t be helped. Just when we were about to give up, …

2-4 February, Amritsar and Wagah Border

We set off early from Mussoorie and after an arduous 13-hour journey we finally arrived in Amritsar. Although the distance between the two places wasn’t that great, we had to avoid the entire state of Himachal Pradesh (due to the car being unregistered there) with the only alternate route involving five hours of unmade and very bumpy roads. Needless to say we were exhausted after our arrival and went straight to sleep.

29-31 January, Rishikesh and Mussoorie

Rishikesh is a spiritual centre, settled around both sides of the Ganges at the foothills of the Himalayas. To really immerse yourself in the place, you would need much more time than the three days we had. We did feel a little out of place in jeans and runners while the majority wandered around in pajamas. Staying in an ashram and signing up to a yoga course are definitely the things to do in Rishikesh – neither of which we felt compelled to do this time round. Nonetheless we were thrilled to see the Ganges and those who came to …

26-27 January, Keralan Backwaters, Southern India

We’re currently on a house boat somewhere in the backwaters of Kerala and I’m not sure there could be a more relaxing place than this. The backwaters are formed by large open channels that feed into bigger lakes and are surrounded by palm trees and endless fields of rice paddies. The people who live off the land have built their homes on the narrow tract of stable land between the water channels and the rice paddies. The ‘land’ component is, from what our captain-slash-guide tells us, man-made. After constructing walls around large areas of water, all of the water was …

23-24 January, Cochin, Kerala

We were reluctant to leave our little beach-side hut, especially since our early morning flight required a 2.30am wake-up call. We didn’t know too much about our next destination except its location as the gateway to the Keralan backwaters and the beginning of our boat trip.

16-19 January, Palolem Beach, Goa

The moment I saw Richard jolt up from his book and stare at the wing of the plane I sensed something could be wrong. I had thought the same thing moments earlier when the engines suddenly went quiet while we were still ascending but I’d written it off as another passing thought in my head. After a series of ups and downs, we rested high above in the air and went back to our books. The descent and touchdown on the runway was bumpy and just as stressful but we were both just glad to be back on the ground …

14 January, Mumbai

It’s difficult to explain just how different Delhi and Mumbai are. While Delhi seems to be a cultural and political hub, Mumbai is all flash, cash and wealth on display. Outside our hotel we were greeted by a horse and gigantic silver carriage with flashing lights and a red velvet interior. This just isn’t something I can imagine seeing in Delhi. We’ve read that Mumbai is just as much about the slums and that a large majority of the population actually lives in the slums but the most we’ve seen so far is a small shanty town at the other …

13 January, Delhi

Back in Delhi we were looking forward to a relaxing day of doing very little. I’m not sure if such a thing exists in India as even something as simple as going for a walk is no simple task. We went for a wander back to Connaught Place to get some photos of the buildings in the area and stopped off along the way to get a coffee.

10-11 January, Jaipur

Something about Jaipur grabbed us both instantly. The pink sandstone, the chaotic yet human scale streets and the warm afternoon sun made us feel like we could stick around for a while. Knowing we only had one night in the city though, we set off on a walk to explore the streets before sunset. Animals had much more of a presence on the streets than in Delhi – pigs, cows, dogs, goats and donkeys happily made their way through piles of garbage, unperturbed by the busy traffic surrounding them. It is amazing how they all (seemingly) live happily together.