India is such a vast country. From north to south, you will find an amazing change in the architecture, scenery, and religion. As a home to a billion people, and hundreds of cheap hostels, it's a boiling pot of interesting things. The amount of experiences you can have here is never ending.
If you are starting up in the north, the major city is New Delhi. There are a large number of hostels that you can stay in here, but do your research and make sure you are staying in a good area of Delhi with access to everything you need. The city can be very overwhelming, especially for those touching down in India for the first time.
Majority of Indian travel is done by train. Be on the look out for scams constantly. Your hostel staff should be able to give you some ideas on how much particular things cost so that you don't get ripped off. When trying to figure out which trains to get on, people will scam you to try and get you to take a car with them. It is best to ask as little questions of the locals here as possible as the scams are super elaborate. Ask station staff what train you need.
In the north, the cities worth visiting are Agra for the Taj Mahal, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Pushkar and Jaipur. Rishikesh is also a very loved destination in the north for it's hippy influences and is popular with backpackers. The other not to be missed town in the north is Varanasi. It is one of the most spiritual of the cities in India and is where many of the prayers and ceremonies are held on the Ganges. There is an abundance of hostels in Varanasi and you should plan on spending at least a couple of days here to get a proper feel for the spirituality of the place. Definitely take a boat ride along the river and observe the cremations.
As you travel south, you may pass through Mumbai, one of the most famous cities for Bollywood and is full of hostels. On the west coast you will hit the beaches of Goa, also another area that is very popular with both Indian and international tourists.
A short train ride from Goa is the impressive town of Hampi. which has some of the most incredible ruins in all of India and is worth spending a couple of days exploring. The towns of Mysore, Madurai and Kochi have some great palaces and history of the region. You will find a lot of hostels in Kochi as it is quite a large city.
For some stunning beaches, hang out in a hostel in Varkala or Trivandrum down in the south and enjoy the amazing tropical wilderness. These are also great regions to check out Ayurvedic massage and treatments. Just as at your hostel which ones are the best and give the most authentic treatment.
On the east coast, you will find heaps of hostels to stay in and around the Chennai and Kolkata area.
Wherever you go in India, you will find a large number of hostels to stay in. Some of them can be very cheap and dirty. Make sure you read your reviews online and do your research before booking in to stay somewhere.
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Varanasi is wonderful -- a great place to visit.
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Darjeeling is good.
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