Travelling in India

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Pederson
Posts: 20
Joined: 28 Nov 2010, 5:40pm

Travelling in India

Postby Pederson » 24 Jan 2019, 7:18am

We are looking for advice on our first trip to India. We are not in our first flush of youth, and would be grateful for any information ie: area, time of year etc.

simonhill
Posts: 2350
Joined: 13 Jan 2007, 11:28am
Location: Essex

Re: Travelling in India

Postby simonhill » 24 Jan 2019, 10:34am

If you have any plans, it would help to outline them because India is a vast country with many different regions. Giving brief info on it all can run into a book in itself.

If no plan, then I'd advise getting a guidebook and finding out where you want to go and what you want to see. I s'pose you could basically say: mountains; culture; or countryside. North or South.

I've cycled a lot in India (4 trips, 12 months 12,000kms, top to bottom and side to side), although not for a few years so my knowledge is a bit out of date. Nonetheless, in the past I always recommended first timers to try the south first. Generally it is much less hectic and standards/quality/food are better. The states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu are good starting points. There is some wonderful scenery (and beaches) in Kerala and plenty of cultural highlights in Tamil Nadu. There are also some hills to climb in the Western Ghats. You can get flights (eg Emirate, Qatar, etc) to lots of the smaller cities so you can fly in one and out of another.

Obviously if you want big mountains then you are looking at Northern India and the Himalayas. If you want the cultural and tourist icons, eg Taj Mahal, then its the Northern Plains, but generally this area is much more crowded, poorer and harder work to cycle.

Re weather, any guide book will give best time to go. The country is dominated by the Monsoon weather system. If heading for lowland India you want to avoid the wet SW Monsoon. The cooler and drier NE is the one you want, although this does bring rain to the East Coast. Generally Nov to March are good for plains India. The weather site Accuweather gives detailed historical data for any town in the country.

nirakaro
Posts: 970
Joined: 22 Dec 2007, 2:01am

Re: Travelling in India

Postby nirakaro » 24 Jan 2019, 3:17pm

+1 to all of that. Much as I love India, anywhere north of maybe Mumbai can be an exhausting madhouse. It was fine when I was twenty-three, but when you're past the first flush…
Tamil Nadu I found a good deal more relaxed, and Kerala a sheer delight. It has been a maritime culture for centuries, with a lot of engagement with the outside world, and the difference that makes is marked.

Bmblbzzz
Posts: 2536
Joined: 18 May 2012, 7:56pm
Location: From here to there.

Re: Travelling in India

Postby Bmblbzzz » 24 Jan 2019, 5:28pm

The people are certainly more easygoing, as a rule, in the South.

Pederson
Posts: 20
Joined: 28 Nov 2010, 5:40pm

Re: Travelling in India

Postby Pederson » 24 Jan 2019, 7:13pm

Thanks everybody for all your help. Just one other point should we be worried about insects and bugs?

hufty
Posts: 500
Joined: 28 Jan 2011, 7:24pm

Re: Travelling in India

Postby hufty » 24 Jan 2019, 7:21pm

Re the exhausting madhouse - once you're up in the mountains it's fine - as anywhere where there are no people there's no problem.
Please do not use this post in Cycle magazine

nirakaro
Posts: 970
Joined: 22 Dec 2007, 2:01am

Re: Travelling in India

Postby nirakaro » 24 Jan 2019, 8:33pm

Pederson wrote:Thanks everybody for all your help. Just one other point should we be worried about insects and bugs?

Hehe. Depends how much you like insects and bugs. :D

Bmblbzzz
Posts: 2536
Joined: 18 May 2012, 7:56pm
Location: From here to there.

Re: Travelling in India

Postby Bmblbzzz » 24 Jan 2019, 9:10pm

Pederson wrote:Thanks everybody for all your help. Just one other point should we be worried about insects and bugs?

I guess it depends where you are. Things like malaria are not going to be a problem in urban areas or at reasonable altitude. However, an Indian friend did catch chikungunya (originally an East African disease, mosquito-borne) while out on his farm. But then you can also catch this in Mediterranean Europe.

simonhill
Posts: 2350
Joined: 13 Jan 2007, 11:28am
Location: Essex

Re: Travelling in India

Postby simonhill » 25 Jan 2019, 10:21am

Most of India is tropical (the rest is sub tropical) and this means that there are plenty of exotic creepy crawlies.

If going in the dry season (recommended) you generally find that there are not many mossies, although they are still a bit of a problem particularly at dusk and overnight. Cover up or use Deet anti mossie cream when awake. At night it is usual to have either a net, a fan, or a/c. Although recently I have started to use the plug in devices that have a small bottle of fluid that is heated to a vapour. The modern ones are pleasant to use and work well.

You will find some people are more affected by mossies, others aren't. I am lucky and rarely need to take any precautions.

As you will be in a mainly urban environment, your exposure to other bugs, snakes, etc will be limited. You will often see small lizards in your room. Don't worry these are geckos and they are your friends as they eat things like mossies. Love your gecko.

On the road you may see snakes, but more likely dead than alive. Snakes will lie in the road to take the sun, but if there is any vehicular traffic they quickly move off. I have had to dodge a few snakes, so you do have to keep an eye out on very quiet roads.

Unless trekking or sleeping in the jungle, I wouldn't worry.

Edit You can buy good anti mossie cream in India. It is 'nice' smelling and uses low level Deet so isn't too toxic. It is called Odomos

User avatar
GraceJ
Posts: 29
Joined: 5 Aug 2010, 2:58pm

Re: Travelling in India

Postby GraceJ » 6 Feb 2019, 11:33am

I agree with the others recommendation that the South would be much more fun for a first tour in India.

Our favorite state for cycling has to be Tamil Nadu due to the fact that there are so many back roads with very little traffic on them.

Kerala has a more tropical feel to it and better scenery but there was more traffic to contend with and many of the roads in that state had almost no shoulder.

On our website, we have quite an extensive section on cycling in India. It might help you decide which region you wish to cycle through. https://impressions.bicyclingaroundthew ... india-map/
BicycleTraveler magazine http://www.bicycletraveler.nl and Impressions from Bicycle Travels http://www.bicyclingaroundtheworld.nl