Having cancelled our trip to Nepal due to concerns about trekking in monsoon season, we did have some worries about visiting India in June / July. I did tons of research and it looked like if we stuck to our planned two week north India itinerary we’d be more or less okay and even if it did rain, it wouldn’t be 24-7. The predictions turned out to be correct and in spite of a few showers we found that our destinations were fairly monsoon proof at this time of year.
If you’re looking for a monsoon friendly two week India itinerary – we’ve included details on what we got up to below. As mentioned, the weather was generally fine with some rain in Jodhpur and Agra, and otherwise pretty blazing hot sunshine. One of the biggest benefits was the fact that many places we visited were pretty quiet, with more Indian travellers than westerners at popular tourist spots.
Days 1 & 2: Architecture & History in Mumbai
We arrived in Mumbai as it was by far the cheapest place for us to fly into – costing just £90 each from KL, including luggage and an in flight meal, with Malindo Air. Whilst we had some concerns about this plan due to the long distances we’d need to cover to get to our destinations in Rajasthan, it turned out we were really glad we spent some time in Mumbai. It was the perfect introduction to the country and a great start to our two week India itinerary.
The city is India’s commercial and entertainment capital, home of the famous Bollywood industry and many top tourist attractions. We wrote about our recommendations for how to spend a day in Mumbai, and managed to squeeze so much into a relatively short amount of time. Highlights for us included the Gateway of India, the Prince of Wales Museum and our boat trip to the world heritage Elephanta Caves, as well as the stunning colonial architecture that’s been beautifully preserved throughout many areas of the city.
Our onward train left at 2.30pm on the second day of our two weeks in India, leaving us time for a good breakfast and a trip to Crawford Market.
Uber – the only place on our two week India itinerary we weren’t ripped off using it
At the famous Taj Palace Hotel, known for hosting world leaders and dignitaries
At iconic Leopold’s – especially if you’ve read Shantaram before your trip (which you should!)
The Hotel Elphinstone is cheap for Mumbai, clean and well located with decent wifi
Mumbai to Jodphur: 17 hour sleeper train
Days 3 & 4: Blue Buildings & Our Favourite Fort in Jodphur
Arriving in Jodphur to dreadful rain at 7.30am, we made our way through the flooded streets to our hostel, hoping the day would improve.
Our first stop was breakfast on the rooftop terrace where we had our first views of the beautiful blue city and the famous Mehrangarh Fort towering over it. By this point, it looked like it would brighten up so we headed to our room to catch up on a couple of hours sleep before beginning our sightseeing when the sun came out later that morning.
The number one place to visit has to be the Mehrangarh Fort – it’s an incredible building and to be honest, after seeing this none of the other forts we visited felt quite as special. Jodphur is a fairly small city, generally friendly and welcoming, and on the whole we found it one of our favourite places we explored on our two week India itinerary.
The blue buildings are painted that way to help repel mosquitos and other insects, and make the whole city so much prettier. It’s also worth spending some time exploring the local market, as well as visiting Jaswant Thada – which some call the mini Taj Mahal of Jodphur and is another beautiful building. We’ve written a post that’s full of our favourite pictures and spots in Jodphur to help you plan your day here.
By rickshaw, uber here was a nightmare and rickshaws cheap and plentiful
Drink coffee at the Cafe Royale and people watch at the central square, by night enjoy a beer at one of the many rooftop bars (make sure it’s licensed)
Indique was a good spot, although fairly pricy – the terrace has some great views
Hostelavie, not the cheapest option but located in a great spot in the centre with quirky interiors and friendly staff
Jodhpur to Sawai Madhopur – 6.00am 7 hour train
Days 5 & 6 Tiger Safari in Sawai Madhopur (Ranthambore National Park)
One of our most memorable wildlife experiences on our travels was our opportunity to visit Ranthambore National Park, one of the best places in India to spot tigers in their natural habitat and part of the Project Tiger project. Sawai Madhopur is the small town near to the park that most use as a base for a couple of days of safaris and exploring.
It’s just two hours by train from Jaipur, making it a worthwhile stop off either before or after your time there. We chose to visit before because the park is closed from 1st July to 30th September so we were on a deadline for tiger spotting and wanted to miss the beginning of any monsoon rains.
Safaris run twice daily so if you’re feeling energetic when you arrive you can head straight out that afternoon – although we were lazy and spent the afternoon relaxing. They can be booked through the Safari office, online or through your hotel. If you’re visiting in peak season (Nov to May) it’s advisable to book in advance for the best zones. More info on this in our dedicated post on organising safaris in Ranthambore.
It all depends on your budget and luck with finding tigers but we’d recommend a minimum of two days and two safaris, more if you can afford it as the park is beautiful and there’s wildlife everywhere. A lot of people stick to the ‘Golden Triangle’ but if you have the time and money to include this on your two week India itinerary you definitely should.
Rickshaws / tuk tuks were easy and it’s a question of gipsy or canter for your safari
The town is small and most places unlicensed so we didn’t discover any good watering holes here – perhaps try one of the many ‘English Wine Shops’ or off licenses.
We found a few friendly family restaurants in the centre of town with private AC rooms and a tasty menu.
We stayed at the Dev Holiday Home which was very cheap and cheerful, if you can, splash out on a safari lodge.
Sawai Madhopur to Jodphur: 10.40am two hours
Days 7, 8 & 9 Exploring the Pink City of Jaipur
The first corner of the famed Golden Triangle, Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan state and a large city with a long history. Many of the buildings are painted in pink – giving it its nickname of ‘the Pink City’ and there’s plenty to do here, from palaces and forts to museums and shopping. We also loved that we found a couple of great spots for dinner where we had some of our favourite Indian food.
If I’m completely honest we didn’t love the place as much as Jodhpur, and the scams and hassle for tourists tend to be a bit greater here, but it’s definitely worth two or three days spent seeing the highlights on a two week India itinerary.
The first full day we had we took a rickshaw around some of the main sights, including the Amber Fort, Palace of the Winds, Jal Mahal, Jantar Mantar and the City Palace. The following day we visited the visually impressive Albert Hall Museum, took the long journey to the Nahargarh Fort for amazing views of Jaipur city, and visited the Bapu bazaar, one of the best spots to buy souvenirs for friends and family. Be prepared to get your best haggling skills on though!
Other popular spots that you might want to fit in include the Monkey Temple, which is one of the best places for sunset, and the Clock Tower, where you can climb up to the top for more great views. Our hostel also advertised Elephant Safaris and food tours so there’s plenty to do if you want an action packed three days in Jaipur. For us three days was a good amount of time on our two week India itinerary to see the main sites without rushing around too much.
Before you start any sightseeing it’s worth taking a trip to the ticket office outside Jantar Mantar where you can buy a Composite Ticket – which includes many of the main attractions for 1000IR and is valid for one day.
By hiring a tuk tuk for the day to fit in as much sightseeing as possible, costs an average of 500-600IR for up to three people.
Again many places aren’t licensed so you’ll need to be more adventurous than we were
The Backpacker Panda Emerald is the cheapest and therefore our choice, but we’d recommend splashing out a little more for the Peacock Boutique Hotel.
Jaipur to Agra: 7.05am 3.5 hours
Days 10 & 11: Agra – The Heart of The Golden Triangle
After a busy few days we arrived in Agra around 10.30am to explore the highlight of any India itinerary – the Taj Mahal. Our fifth world wonder, this was an exciting destination for us and we decided we’d spend a few days in the area. Big mistake! The Taj is amazing, the Baby Taj is okay and the Fort is worth a visit, but the town of Agra itself is really not too nice. My advice is to stay a maximum of two nights although really one is enough and splurge on a nice hotel with a good restaurant.
On the first afternoon head to the Baby Taj to get a hint of what you’ll be seeing the next morning. Costing 200IR per person, it’s considered a mini version of the Taj Mahal and is a beautiful cenotaph with stunning marble decoration. There’s a garden nearby where you can walk and catch a glimpse of the Taj Mahal itself that’s also worth visiting and costs another 200IR. Finally, our tuk tuk driver took us around to some quieter lanes where Rob had a drive, and we went together for a masala chai at a local cafe.
The following day, we were up at 5am ready for a Taj Mahal sunrise… that sadly never happened. The fact that it was somewhat grey and drizzly did mean that we didn’t have to contend with too many crowds though, and it’s still an amazing building. I’d say it’s better from a distance as you admire it from the gate and see the reflection in the pools in front, although if you have a tour then exploring the interior is probably more exciting.
By hiring a tuk tuk again, for 450IR you can take a day tour of the main sights and we were lucky to get a driver who was really decent – the best on our two week India itinerary – he even let Rob drive his tuk tuk!
At a posh hotel with a rooftop bar overlooking the Taj
We were struck down with food poisoning at this stage so didn’t eat much, but the hotel restaurants looked the best.
Not where we did! The Panda Backpacker Hostel looked pretty reasonable.
Agra – Delhi: 6am 5 hours
Days 12, 13 & 14: Discovering Delhi – Our Final Stop
By this time, I was pretty exhausted and we were more or less ready to move on – our two week India itinerary was more than enough time for us. You can’t really take a trip to India without seeing Delhi though and it turned out to be one of Rob’s favourite spots, with plenty to see and do there.
There’s so much to do that I won’t go into too much detail, save to say that our highlights of visiting Delhi were the Lodi Park and Gardens, Hunnan’s Tomb and Lotus Palace on day one. We then spent a day checking out Raj Ghat and the Ghandi Museum before visiting the Red Fort, and on our final day saw the India Gate and Parliament buildings.
We used tuk tuks and found it easier to take single journeys, the drivers here reeeally try to scam you in our experience – quoting extortionate rates, being rude when you negotiate and trying to take you to every other spice shop and ‘special market’ on the way to where you’re going.
At the backpacker friendly bars in the area west of the train station where the beer is cheap and even unlicensed places will be happy to serve you!
At the rooftop restaurants dotted around near the main bazaar – we recommend Krishna for super friendly staff and a great paneer butter masala.
The Tashkent Hotel was in a fairly good location and offers great value for money, much nicer than many of the other places we stayed on our two week India itinerary. They also offer airport transfers in Delhi at reasonable prices.