Solo trip is all about making your own experiences so make sure you go with an open mind. Travelling solo in India can seem pretty scary but its every bit stunning, magical, awesomely confusing, and jaw-dropping. It really should be on everyone’s bucket list. Here is a complete guide of trips and tricks to know (by the experienced solo travellers) before you hit the road or book that plane ticket to cross off a destination from your bucket list as a solo traveller, remember there are just 2 months before 2017 ends, so pack your bags and get going.
The Best Part
You learn more about yourself than you could ever imagine. Travel changes you, if you are open to it, especially solo travel. When you are alone on the road with only your thoughts and experiences for company, you can’t help but start to think. At home occupied with the fuss and the fury, the hustle and bustle of so-called “normal life” it has become easy, almost standard to ignore the bigger issues and problems we face. When you are on the road, it’s not so easy, and oftentimes you are forced to face those demons, thoughts or issues that you might have ignored otherwise.
Places to visit on your first solo trip
Referred to as the Grand Canyon of Maharashtra, the Sandhan Valley is a trek of a lifetime for the thrill-seeker in you. It’s a combination of a valley with a canyon. Accessible from November to May, this water-carved valley has Ratnagad and Ajoba mountain ranges around it. Going back to basics, it is the quintessential tent-pitching camp where food is cooked in campfires with the aroma filling the air around. The trek takes five hours to finish with activities like rappelling to really get your adrenaline pumping.
Getting There– Reaching there is half the fun with a train journey to Kasara and then a bus till the Samrad village where it’s located in the Bhandardara region. You can also fly to Mumbai and then go on with the train.
Where and How long to stay– Accommodation is in the tents by the campsites in the area or even in the open if you’re an experienced trekker. This is generally a two-day trip.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Karnataka, this place is a must visit especially if you love some art and history. There are more than 500 monuments to see here, strewn across the gorgeous backdrop of hills, so make sure you devote enough time to this trip! The political, royal centre of the Vijayanagara empire, temples and even the quarters of Muslim officers in the royal army are all here in a harmonious setting, located just a few miles from each other. The river Tungabhadra also adds to the beauty of Hampi, with coracle boats and stone-hills.
Getting There – The closest town to Hampi is Hospet and you can take a train here and then a short bus ride. If you want to fly down, Hubli is the closest airport located about 160 km from here.
Where and How Long to Stay – Winter is the best time to visit Hampi with the temperature not dropping below 12 degrees. There are a lot of nice guest houses to stay at here and also some hotels if you want a luxurious trip. There are also heritage resorts with ayurvedic massages to offer. An ideal trip should be of 2-3 days to really see what Hampi has to offer.
Dare to go off the tourist circuit
“I’ve always felt far safer in a remote village in the mountains or by the coast than in a tourist-centric town like Rishikesh. This likely sounds counter-intuitive to the logic of going where everyone else goes so that you have the safety of other travellers but less touristy towns are safer because of India’s cultural dynamics. Typically, people from all over a region go to set up shop in a tourist city with the sole intention of making money – moving in and out often – resulting in a fragmented community where no one really knows anyone else. This means that the inhibitions caused by being judged by the community for a misdeed, such as harassing a visitor, are very low. India is still grappling with gender issues and laws are so lax that the idea of being judged by society is a greater deterrent than any legal enforcement.
In a small village that receives few tourists, the local community is likely to be more closely knit and a visitor will be received with more genuine curiosity and warmth. Indeed, I find that the moment I leave the tourist circuit behind and go to a relatively offbeat place, I am received with overwhelming hospitality, and locals – both men and women – tend to go out of their way to look out for my safety and wellbeing. I even found the confidence to hitchhike solo in remote Himalayan villages in Himachal Pradesh!
“I quit my corporate life with a dream of travelling the globe at age 23. 2 years later, I packed up my life into a backpack and decided to hit the road indefinitely. I travel slow, seek offbeat and local experiences, stay in a place for a few weeks or as long as it inspires me, and move on. I’ve hitch-hiked along Romania’s northern countryside, lived with a Mayan community in Guatemala, journeyed along Canada’s great wilderness by train and swum with black tip sharks on Malaysia’s east coast. I hope to inspire you to step out of your comfort zone and discover the world!”
ShivyaNath, Travel Blogger
Home to the largest Tibetan temple outside Tibet, Dharamsala also has the monastery of the Dalai Lama. The upper part of Dharamsala, known as Mcleodganj is the one more famous with travellers. Bir is located southeast of Dharamsala and Biling is on the way to Thamsar Pass. It’s a trek of 14kms which can be done on foot from Bir to Biling. Biling is also a paragliding destination with some of the best services in the world. Kaererilake, which is a high altitude freshwater lake, is in the northwest of Dharamsala and a trek can be made out of going there.
Getting There – Easiest to reach by a flight to Dharamshala, taking a bus or train is a better option to get a feel for your trip. The hotels are cheap with the best time of visit being March to October. It’s ideal even for a weekend getaway.
Where and How Long to Stay – There are lots of budget and luxury hotels and cottages to choose from. Spend two days here and combine it with a trip to Dalhousie or McLeodganj for another two days to make it a longer one.
“I am an India based Designer, Blogger, Photographer and Travel writer. I enjoy travelling as much as sharing my stories and photographs from around the world with people to inspire them to make even more wonderful journeys themselves. I call myself ‘The Wanderer’ as I often love to just wander about in the places I visit – to meet new people, see new places and to just soak in new experiences. Often it’s the unexpectedness of the moment which makes it so memorable.”
Siddhartha Joshi, Travel Blogger
If you want to go to France but don’t have the money yet, go to Puducherry instead! With French influence in its architecture, this sleepy little place is perfect for a serene, beach getaway. The food has a lot of French influence too and beer is cheap, making it a place to if you want a real culinary experience. The Auroville temple is a place to visit if you want to reconnect with your spiritual side.
Getting There – You can get here by driving down from Chennai on one of the most scenic rides in India. While there, you can walk around town and explore. It’s also famous for its incense at the Aurobindo Ashram shops. October to February is the best time to visit with the minimum temperature not going below 17 degrees.
Where and How Long to Stay – Staying in one of the colonial establishments converted into hotels is the best thing to do here. This can be a three-four day trip, ideally.
The Main Challenge
“I think while we decide to go solo, the biggest challenge or the things which come to our mind is loneliness, security and of course managing the budget. But then, this is why you travel solo. To open yourself to the world, to test your wings and learning to live a new dimension of life with limited means. It changes your priority and attitude towards life. If I can handle all this, you can too.”
Swati Jain, PR
“After 15 years of sitting beside a desk in several media organizations, I decided to travel and see the world. I have covered five continents and been to over 25 countries and my passion lies in exploring the nooks of India as well. My blog was born in 2005 as a platform to share my travel experiences. What started as a passion became a profession eventually. I became a traveller and a storyteller and my stories find a voice on my blog, It has been rated on several lists among the Top Travel Bloggers in India and digital media influencers in the country”
Lakshmi Sharath, Travel Blogger