Travel Green through India – Planning any trip is hard, but it becomes even more difficult when you’re trying to visit a very large country where you don’t know how to identify the most sustainable options.
You want to see everything there is to see, while helping to preserve their natural resources.
Here are just a few ways that you can make your trip to India as green travel as possible.
Where to Stay While Travel Green through India
If you’re looking into traditional lodgings for your India vacation, you have a few options.
First is the Indian luxury hotel chain, ITC Hotels.
Their website totes a focus on renewable energy, recycling, and maintaining green hotels with a concept they like to call “Responsible Luxury.”
Additionally, they have an agricultural business that works with farmers to outsource their products, and provides technological resources.
Their hotels are located in Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, and more, so you have plenty of options to choose from as you travel.
If you’re feeling adventurous, there are alternative lodging options available.
Home Stays are a great way to go for a number of reasons:
They’re generally cheaper than hotels, create an experience that is less tourism and more native exploration, and, because you are functioning within the rules of someone else’s home, are overall much greener than hotels.
Other options include lodging camps, ecolodges, eco resorts, and more.
Take into account what kind of experience you want to have, how many people you’re traveling with, and the distance from the place you’re staying to the attractions you want.
Sometimes, these attractions are a part of your accommodations.
For example, at Kanha National Park in Manji Tola, there is a “safari lodge” where visitors can stay.
What to Do in India
Those who want to visit eco-friendly outdoor attractions are in luck, as India’s beautiful landscape offers a plethora of options.
From wildlife excursions to national parks to tribal tours, there is always a sustainable way to spend your day.
Eco tours are a great way to experience the nature of India without harming the environment, and they provide a unique look at the culture of the country.
For the thrill-seeker, there are even more exciting ways to see India. Eco adventures will get your heart racing while you take in the sights with activities like kayaking and biking.
Of course, there is something for every age and physical ability, so if amusement parks and festivals are more your kind of adventure, you’ll have plenty of options as well.
There are so many places to explore and so much culture to absorb, chances are you’ll have a hard time narrowing it down.
The cows are holy in India and are allowed to be anywhere. This one is hanging out with the sunbathers at the beach.
How to Get Around in India
Planning out what you want to see and do ahead of time is important, so that you can cut down on travel that is harmful to the environment.
While it is probably necessary to fly into India internationally, with enough time and resources, you will find there are many options to get around within the country in a green fashion.
There are a number of creative ways to get from place to place in a big city, so if you’re up for it, look into trying those out first.
Bike tours and travel are fairly popular, although there are a number of safety concerns to take into account, especially in big cities.
If you’re not an experienced biker, you may want to consider short trips with a group lead by a professional.
Options for bike tours can be expensive, but it’s a unique and very sustainable way to see as much of India as possible.
The jungle was full of greedy monkeys choking down as many bananas as they could fill their mouths with.
The sad thing is that during the rain season when tourists stop coming, the monkeys haven’t learned how to get their own food, and many starve.
When considering how to travel long distances or just get from place to place within a city, you’ll want to look into the metro and railroad systems.
The larger cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai have urban railway systems, and there are trains that run between cities and across the country as well.
Taking a train is a great way to see the country while seated comfortably, as well as the cheapest (and greenest) way to travel overnight.
There are many ways that you can leave India as beautiful as it was when you arrived.
Use these suggestions as a starting point, and be flexible when it comes to planning your vacation.
Go out and experience this vast country for yourself.
Guide To The Golden Triangle, India
One of the most memorable trips I’ve done in India was the Golden Triangle, a triangular route between Delhi, Agra and Jaipur – some of the most interesting cities in Northern India.
It was a unforgettable experience, and while it’s definitely possible to do the trip on your own, I enjoyed the tour and managed to see so much more in a short period of time than I normally would.
Tours to the Golden Triangle in India, so if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands I recommend taking a tour instead.
From colourful cities, royal palaces and vibrant markets and bazaars, the Golden Triangle in India really gives travelers a good dosage of culture, tradition, history and beauty…
Delhi, City Of Seven Capitals
Said to be one of the oldest cities in the world, Delhi is a melting pot of the past and present, chaos and order, wealth and poverty.
Exploring the city is an overwhelming but incredible experience.
There have been at least seven major capital cities around the present-day Delhi (the first dating back at least 3,000 years!), giving the city its nickname as the “city of seven capitals”.
The most popular attraction in Delhi is the Red Fort, a beautiful sandstone fort with several unique buildings, all with their own stories to tell.
Delhi has many beautiful buildings, monuments and museums to visit, but one of my favorites was the Gurudwara Sis Ganj, an important Sikh place of worship.
It’s an oasis of peace and calm away from the chaotic streets of Old Delhi, and the complex is very beautiful.
Finally, another must-see is Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque, and known as one of the 7 wonders of India.
Wandering the streets of Delhi and exploring the differences of the New vs Old part of the city is a great way to soak up the culture and way of life of the people living there.
If your Newmarket Holidays tour allows you some spare time in the evening, I highly recommend a shopping spree at one of the shopping malls in Delhi!
Agra, City of The Taj Mahal
Agra’s main attraction may very well be the most famous and recognizable attraction in the whole of India: Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal is unique and beautiful in every way, from its romantic and touching story to the changing colors that are said to signify the changing moods of a woman; like a jewel, the Taj Mahal changes from pinkish in the morning, milky white in the evening and golden by moonlight.
Built by the Muslim Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1631 and 1654 as a mausoleum for his favorite wife, it’s an amazing piece of Mughal architecture.
Another beautiful place to visit in Agra is Agra Fort, a red sandstone fort where Emperor Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal, was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb, from which he had a view of the building erected for his deceased wife.
Shah Jahan is said to have died in the Musamman Burj, a tower with a beautiful marble balcony.
There is a secret room called the “mirror chamber” which most people aren’t really supposed to see, but if you get the chance I highly recommend you bribe the guard 😉 to let you in so you can see the incredibly beautiful bathroom, decorated by thousands of tiny mosaic mirrors, that sparkle from the light of the candles the guard holds when circling the room.
Finish the afternoon at one of the many rooftop restaurants with views overlooking the city and the milky white Taj Mahal.
Jaipur, The Pink City
Walking through Jaipur’s markets and bazaars is a chaotic but fantastic experience, with stalls selling everything from spices and teas to colorful saris, bags and jewelry, and the odd ox cart passing by next to you.
Jaipur is nicknamed the pink city because of its colorful pink buildings, which were originally painted this color to imitate the red sandstone architecture of Mughal cities.
The present earthy red color originates from repainting of the buildings undertaken for a visit by the Prince of Wales in 1876.
Pink is traditionally a color associated with hospitality, so it was the perfect color to welcome the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) to the city. The tradition has been maintained and today all residents in the old city are compelled by law to preserve the pink color.
In Jaipur, make sure to visit Janta Mantar, a UNESCO world heritage site and an observatory built in the 18th century with devices to measure time, predicting eclipses, tracking stars etc.
You’ll also find a collection of 12 zodiac sign instruments.
Depending upon the current zodiac sign the relevant instrument can be used.
Another really fascinating place to visit is the Hawa Mahal, a part of the City Palace where the royal ladies could observe the everyday life of the streets on the outside from its 950 windows without being seen.
The cooling breeze that passes through the windows gave the building its nickname “Palace of Winds”.
There are many in India who need help – dogs often seem to be forgotten when it comes to this. Fortunately, there are rescue center who dedicate all their time to help street dogs.
This one has just been picked up and taken to the Animal Rescue Center in Goa.
Exploring The Colors And Flavors Of Rajasthan
India is a country full of life, delicious food and colorful places – some, however, are more colorful than others.
The Rajasthan state of India is especially colorful, with several cities nicknamed for its bright painted buildings, as well as others known for its delicious sweets and romantic atmosphere…
Jodhpur – The Blue City
Looking out over the city from the ramparts of Mehrangarh fort it’s easy to see why Jodhpur is known as the Blue City:
most houses are painted in different shades of blue – especially in the north side of the town called Brahmpuri.
This is something the locals are very proud of, but if you were to ask them why the houses are blue, they usually respond by saying it keeps the buildings cool during summer (the city is also famous for its sunny days, giving it a second nickname: the Sun City).
The real reason, however, is said to be that the area is infested with termites, and the insects damaged and destroyed the traditional building techniques where the exteriors were coated with lime wash.
They realised that by adding copper salt into the lime washes, the insects stayed away.
Under certain conditions, copper solutions produce blue compounds, hence the blue buildings.
The Brahmin class could afford this copper solution, which is why some believe that they painted the buildings blue to emphasize their royal connection, as blue is associated with wealth and royalty – who knows, maybe it’s a bit of both?
Bikaner – City of Sweets
If you have a sweet tooth, like me, you would love Bikaner.
Famous for its Indian sweets, this is a city where you can truly indulge in sweets and snacks all day long.
Make sure you try the Kesar Kulfi, Gujiya and Bhujia while you’re there.
Other reasons to visit Bikaner is its old havelis (Indian mansions) and to go on camel safaris in the desert.
The camel safaris here are less touristy than in Jaisalmer, and the city is known for the best riding camels in the world.
They even hold a camel festival each January with camel performances, races and of course special sweets made from camel’s’ milk.
The festival begins with a procession from the Junagarh fort, where the camels are decorated in typical Rajasthani attires and colorful saddles.
Finally, it’s also worth checking out the Karni Mata temple we wrote about last week in our article about “Indian festivals you don’t want to miss”.
Jaipur – The Pink City
Jaipur has been nicknamed the “pink city” because of its distinctly colored sandstone buildings, and of course there is also a story behind why they’re all pink.
In 1876, Maharaja Ram Sing decided to paint the entire city in pink, the traditional color for hospitality, as a gesture to welcome the Prince of Wales to the city.
The tradition continued, and today all residents in the old town are obliged by law to preserve the pink color.
There are plenty of hotels in Jaipur, and if you’re planning to stay overnight you will have the opportunity to see the city in the sunset when the colors are even more intense.
Udaipur – City of Lakes
Nicknamed Venice of the East (like many other cities in the east), Udaipur is commonly considered to be the most romantic city of India.
The charming old & new town has three interconnected lakes; the Fateh Sagar Lake, Lake Pichola and Swaroop Sagar Lake.
Add forts, palaces, lush gardens, the Aravalli Mountains and temples and you can understand why people think it’s so romantic.
Jaisalmer – The Golden City
Finally, you have Jaisalmer, or The Colden City, as it’s often called, referring to the yellow sandstone buildings the city is made up of that take on a distinct golden glow in the afternoon sunlight.
The Rajmahal Fort and temples of Jain and Laxminath are the main attractions in Jaisalmer, along with the nearby desert and its camel safaris.
The interior of the Fort is amazing, but when the sun sets the best way to see it is from the outside, as the walls turn into honey-gold by the sun rays, adding to the desert fairytale ambience of the city.
Getting Wet in the wettest place on Earth: Cherrapunjee
Being soaked alone is cold. Being soaked with your best friend is an adventure.
As another weekend of travel with Nids and Dris came to an end, I am reminded of these very lines from Emily Wing Smith.
Three days of trekking around the gorgeous hills and valleys of this village, drenched in the fury of the Cherrapunjee rain is an apt reminder to why this land is known as the wettest place on earth.
And had it not been for the good company my best friend, I would have not been able to experience the panoramic beauty of the deep gorges and roaring yet amazing waterfalls of Cherrapunjee.
Cherrapunjee facts first
To reach Cherrapunjee or Sohra as it is locally known, you need to first take a flight to Shillong, the capital of Meghalya, situated in the north-east part of India.
90 minute drive after than through the scenic roads of Shillong is all you need to reach this part of world.
For tourists, the best time to visit for all the outdoor and adventure activities would be in the winter season between the month of November and February.
Standing 486,9 ft above sea level, it receives rains for eight months between March and October with 50% of it pouring in June and July. November to February it is completely dry.
In Between 1973-2012 (40 years), the average rainfall at Cherrapunjee stood at 11,859.4mm or 39.90 feet or 466.90 inches.
That’s close to 4 story tall building
Fun part of Cherrapunjee
Our heart was set to travel in the month of June to witness and experience the rain gods at their best.
However, detractors advised us against it and wanted us to travel during the winters like everyone else.
For anyone like them, we have only a few words to say.
“What fun is to visit the wettest place on earth in the driest month of the year? Come and experience nature’s beauty by getting soaked in the glorious rain of Cherrapunjee”
So off we went packed with our raincoats and precautionary meds just in case of an emergency.
Words cannot justify my experience of the Nhkalikai falls. On the first day of our visit a naughty set of clouds decided to not let us witness one of the longest drops in world (1100 ft height).
Luckily on the second day we laid our eyes on one of the most spectacular falls in this region.
Do not forget to ask the locals for the story attached to Nokhalikai Falls
The seven sister waterfalls as it’s fondly called, is about 20 kms from Sohra.
Stay a night here and be mesmerized by the rains playing with the clouds at your feet and feel the calmness of the falls standing right under it to transport your soul to a heavenly abode.
A great place to visit especially during the monsoon, there is a legendary story attached to it.
Find the story yourself and explore the nature’s love for all things on this planet
When it’s about caves, it’s always fun. In Mawsmai caves control your excitement, mind your head and wear your shoes to navigate through the low passages of the cave.
Discover the various contours of the cave and feel every bit of it’s narrow lanes.
There are dozens of other things to do and see in Cherrapunjee which I will leave up-to you to discover and experience it just like we did.
However I have saved the best for the last, the unique and one of a kind Living Root Bridge of Cherrapunjee.
Living Root Bridges
The one thing you should not miss here is the living root bridges grown over 10-15 years from the roots of rubber trees.
Generations after Generations have passed on to their children the knowledge of creating these bridges by guiding the tree’s roots to grow across the river or ravine.
With some as old as 500 years, each of these bridges can hold up to 50 people at the same time and can grow up to 30 meters long.
You should also visit the Double-Decker Root Bridge in Umshiang which is
What to buy
- Cane and Bamboo handicrafts are a must buy from Cherrapunjee.
- During the orange season, you will not only find the sweetest oranges you have ever had in your life but you can also pack in bottles of the famed orange honey.
- Another must buy is the famed Meghalaya tea
- Spices like cinnamon, pepper are also available in plenty if you find you’re calling in food as well.
What to Eat
The local cuisine of any place on this planet should be experienced.
So devour down the pork and rice along with famed Sohra Pulao (vegetable rice).
What you must do
TREK!! TREK!! TREK!! And Trek away!!
So don’t wait and visit Cherrapunjee this tiny hamlet for that heavenly walk with the clouds and to get WET like you should!
Sweets You Must Try While Visiting Kolkata
I am not a sweet speaking chap but at times, I can be deceptive.
There is a reason behind it, Kolkata boys are naturally so sweet that when they cry, instead of tears, chasni (the sweet syrup of Rosogolla) flows.
This is not to my credit; this is the kamaal (miracle) of the sweets we eat here in Kolkata.
Let’s not brag, we are simply the king of sweets, period.
In Kolkata, the Indian state of West Bengal, you will always find Haldiram.
They are a major manufacturer of Indian sweets and snacks.
There are other big names from North India also, each trying to gain a foothold.
We do taste them out, only when we want a change of taste.
Otherwise, why would a Bengali, the inventor of Rosogolla, Sandesh and Mishti Doi even want to eat anything else?
Let me be at my sweetest best and educate you on which sweets you should try out and where exactly to eat them.
While the former is available on a few Yatra blogs and travel guides, the latter is from me, exclusively!
Those white, floating, spongy delights which Adam brought with him from heaven and handed the recipe over to a Bengali called KC Das.
Since then, this is the most popular sweet of Bengal and it is as omnipresent as God himself, probably.
Every sweet seller in Kolkata would demonstrate his collection at the front because that is what a Bengali would ask for, before anything else.
You would know a good Rosogolla immediately.
It should be floating on the syrup, not sitting at the bottom.
KC Das is still available, rather his descendants are, and they have outlets all over Kolkata.
If you are staying at any of the hotels in park street Kolkata, ask the manager, and he can guide you to the nearest one.
Eat it anytime, anywhere and watch the Bengalis eating it to learn how not to spill the syrup on yourself.
This is probably what Eve smuggled out of heaven, during her expulsion.
Another Bengali sweet seller, Bhim Nag, invented it and since then, it competes with Rosogolla for the first place on a Bengali’s eating list.
This white, somewhat dry and delicious sweet comes in multiple variations, something which Rosogolla lacks.
You can find these — listed below. Nowadays, there are new flavours also coming out.
- makha sandesh
- kalakand sandesh
- norompak sandesh
- kadapak sandesh
If you want sandesh at its purest best, go for either norompak sandesh or makha sandesh.
Unlike Rosogolla which is best eaten warm, Sandesh should be cold or, at least, room temperature.
Bhim Nag (his descendants) has multiple outlets all over the city and you will find one near your hotel in Kolkata surely.
Sweet curd… only we Bengalis know how to make curd.
It’s naturally sour and sweet; we have perfected this art over the years.
Sweet curd, from a good seller, will simply melt in your mouth.
Just put the spoon in your mouth and feel the bliss.
Sweet curd comes in some variations, Payodhi being one of the popular ones.
However, if payodhi tastes too sweet for you, stick to the pure and unadulterated Mishti Doi.
While you can eat it anytime and anywhere, it is the best when it’s cooled in a freezer and served after a hearty lunch.
Not only it tastes good, but it is also a good digestive.
However, avoid Doi after dinner because it might make you cough.
There are several sellers all over the city but I visit Jadab Das at Jhamapukur.
This shop is not mentioned in the Kolkata tour guides of MakeMyTrip or Goibibo or the likes but it is listed on Google.
Ask me not how the Lord came in the name for I shall have no answer!
However, this sweet is somewhat a culmination of two pieces of art, Rosogolla and Mishti Doi.
These finger shaped sweets have a base which is much like Rosogolla but much, much softer and porous.
Then there is a thick layer of lassi or concentrated milk all around the sweet.
This layer carries multiple favouring spices and you would enjoy this sweet and thank me for telling you of this.
Tour guides of Kolkata on Yatra or similar sites often forget to mention this.
Sitabhog – Mihidana
This is a special mention because this is not exactly a Kolkata sweet but it originated in Burdwan.
However, several Kolkata sweet shops sell the excellent quality of Sitabhog and Mihidana.
Made from the flour of a special variety of rice, Sitabhog is white and often looks like the broken ends of your favourite Maggie.
Mihidana is a micro-copy of Bundi (you know what that is, right?) and saffron in colour.
While sold separately, mix them and eat them. You will forget all your worries.
Part of the experience of travel is eating what the locals eat.
When visiting Kolkata, be sure to try these variety of sweets. You will be easily immersed in an authentic experience.