Hey everyone- it’s been a while! As a few of you might know, I decided to take a bit of a digital detox recently so things were a bit quiet on the blog front. I’m now back in cold Korea but I have soooo much that I’m dying to tell you about my 2 months in India. I decided to put together this little overview of some of the highlights of my trip before I get properly stuck in with all the nitty gritty. Here’s what I’ve been up to!
I Became a Yoga Teacher!
Starting with the biggy first. Completing my yoga teacher training was actually my main reason for making a return trip to Mother India. I did my course at Suddha Anand Yogshala, a new ashram that’s recently opened at Varkala Beach in Kerala.
For anyone looking to do their YTT, I can’t recommend this place enough. The owners are extremely professional, highly experienced and some of the kindest, loveliest people I’ve ever met. I have so much to tell you about this experience that it deserves a post of its own…. watch this space!
I Went off the Beaten Path with Go Mowgli
As part of this trip, I really wanted to explore the growing backpacker scene in India. Having travelled o India independently before, I always think it’s such a shame when I hear people saying that they’re too scared to travel to India. India is a huge country with a rich culture, kind people, amazing food and has so much to offer travellers. Luckily, there are more and more companies trying to make travel in India easier and more comfortable for apprehensive first-time travellers. I decided to try out some tours with Go Mowgli, India’s first hop on- hop off tour company, specifically for backpackers.
The most memorable and rewarding days of my trip were those that I spent being shown around by Go Mowgli. The guys not only showed me all the places that aren’t in the guidebooks, but they taught me everything I could ever know about them, too. I joined them for their Kochi city tour, Mysore city tour and their bespoke Hoysala Temple Trail tour.
I Sailed Down the Backwaters of Kerala….. Twice!
The backwaters of Kerala are commonly regarded as one of the big “must-sees” in India. On this trip I was lucky enough to see them not once, but twice- first in the touristy, backwater hotspot of Alleppey, and later in the serene, quiet haven of Kollam with the YTT crew. If you’re heading to the South of India make sure you don’t miss this area!
I Got Wheels
Forever a pedestrian, I finally got some motorised wheels in India! Yeah, it was just for a day…. And, no, it wasn’t a motorbike… But, for a serial clutz sans driving licence (and also sans cycling proficiency badge…..) I was pretty proud of the fact that I successfully spent the day zooming about Hampi with no broken bones or bruises. I’m looking forward to hopefully being in the driving seat again on future travels!
I Got my Nose Pierced….
…. in a shop selling fake handbags with a 10-year-old boy outside selling novelty lighters. But, once again, I survived to tell the tale! I decided to get the left side of my nose pierced as my own little souvenir from India. Most Indian women get the left side of their noses pierced as they believe that it helps reduce pain during childbirth. Don’t worry, I’ve got no plans of popping out any sprogs anytime soon- I just like playing cultural chameleon! And I’m possibly having a mid twenties crisis….
I Explored Ancient Ruins in Hampi
The first stop of my 2 months in India was Hampi, and it was the perfect start to my trip. This UNESCO world heritage site was like a flintstone-esque apocalypse zone and I loved everything about it. History buffs and Instagram addicts alike will never want to leave. If you happen to be in Goa, definitely make the 8-hour train journey to experience a whole new side of India.
I Experienced the Ganesha Festival… 4 Times!
Ganesha, the Lord of Good Fortune and Remover of Obstacles, is such an important part of Hindu culture that he has a 10-day celebration dedicated to him. Since I was jumping between states, I managed to celebrate the Ganesha Festival in 2 different places. First in Hampi, and then in Goa.
One of the things that I loved about watching the Ganesha Festival was how fun and engaging it was, even for the young teenage worshippers. Rather than being stuck in old traditions of standing, kneeling and singing hymns, people of all ages took to the streets for a massive party with fireworks and huge sound systems. As a not-so-practising-catholic, I should suggest that a tuk-tuk and some techno would definitely get me back to mass!
I Saw Goa in the Monsoon
Although the monsoon period might not be the best time for topping up your tan (one of my favourite hobbies), it is a great time to see Goa in all it’s green, green glory! Plus, you’ll avoid the heaps of other tourists and inflated prices that are the norm in high season.
I Never Ever Wanted to Leave Mysore… Ever
When I finally did leave Mysore it was with a heavy heart and an even heavier backpack. Mysore is a mecca for shopping- save some rupees and some space in your bag for this stop on your trip. What was supposed to be 3 days in the city, turned into 6 days spent being getting my arse whipped into gear in private ashtanga yoga classes, seeing all the hidden spots in the city with Go Mowgli, and feasting on yummy vegan Indian food!
I Developed a Serious Addiction to Masala Dosas
South Indian food is typically lighter and less spicy than North Indian food but equally addictive. My absolute favourite dish was the masala dosa- a fermented pancake filled with curried potatoes, served with sides of sambar (a slightly waterry curry) and chutney. Usually this is eaten for breakfast but I could happily eat it 3 times a day. Plus, all this yumminess rarely sets you back more than 50 rupees- that’s about 60p or 79 cents!
I Was Underwhelmed by Wayanad…
You can’t love everywhere and I really didn’t love Wayanad. As a solo traveller on a backpacker’s budget, I found a lot of the highlights where either too expensive or too difficult to reach independently. This is a beautiful part of one of the most beautiful states in India but I just couldn’t click with it. If you do decide to visit this area, I would definitely recommend going as part of a tour or in a group to make the most of your time there.
…But Extremely Pleasantly Surprised by Kochi
Much like Mysore, Kochi was another small city that I struggled to tear myself away from. Most of the things that I had read about Kochi online had said that it’s only worth a couple of days and that there isn’t much to see. I spent 5 days there and would spend 5 days there again if I had the chance! Kochi has a lot to offer travellers- you just need to know where to look. Luckily, I was being shown around by Go Mowgli who took me to all the hidden gems!
I Became a Local in Varkala
The bulk of my trip was spent around Varkala Beach- I spent 4 weeks there on my yoga teacher training course and a week at either side just chilling out. Slow travel was a bit of a theme throughout my trip- I skipped a few destinations in order to spend longer in places I really clicked with. I loved the feeling of being a local here- having a favourite place for coffee, a favourite place for healthy juices and, of course, a favourite place for paneer butter masala!
I Made Friends from All over the World
Who said solo travel is lonely? Apart from a few long distance bus and train journeys, I was pretty much never alone in India. I kept a tally of the nationalities of the friends I made on this trip and wasn’t suprised when I realised that I pretty much made friends from every corner of the globe. Yup, from Canada to Argentina to Scotland to Romania to Taiwan to New Zealand, and about 20 more countries in between. Thanks to everyone who helped make my trip amazing- I’m sure we’ll meet again!
I have so many tales from India to share with you all so stay tuned over the next couple of months! You can follow me on Facebook or sign up to my newsletter so you never miss a post!
Have you ever been to India? Leave me a comment and let me know the highlight of your trip!
Read Next: Backpacker’s Guide to Hampi
Read Next: Backpacker’s Guide to Palolem Beach, Goa
Read Next: How to Spend 2 Weeks in Rajasthan
Read Next: How to Travel India on a Budget
Big thanks to Go Mowgli for having me as a guest on their tours and showing me all the best bits of South India! As always, all opinions are my own.