Understanding the Travel Circuits in India for Beginners.

Last updated on
  • Short Link: https://wp.me/paSSRD-rl  
  • Booking.com | Book Tickets And Hotels Now!


    There’s a difference between traveling and touring, and no it isn’t about that dictionary definition. A tourist visits the destination occasionally for sight-seeing. For a traveler, it’s his hobby and passion. Real travelers usually prioritize traveling above their jobs and the cliche achievements of personal life.

    However, choosing a life as a traveler isn’t easy, especially for most Indians who would prefer a stable career meanwhile. Even if you intend to pursue full-time traveling in the long run, it wouldn’t seem a good idea to leave your job as a beginner.

    Interestingly, India is probably the best country for those who wish to become travelers since it has almost everything from deserts to snow and backwaters to ancient temples. The country is super-cheap for travelers. Rather, I spent more money staying in a city (especially on rent) than while traveling.

    What are Travel Circuits and why are they Important?

    Here’s the concept. Let us consider a situation where you are staying in Hyderabad, and your friends call for a trip to McLeodganj in Himachal. You could join them over for an occasional trip, but considering the distance, it would need both time and money to complete the journey. If you are working a regular job, you might have to consider a long weekend including a leave on a Friday and/or Monday.

    This would make regular travel unfeasible unless you are a filthy rich business owner. Thus, it would be advisable to travel to locations near Hyderabad, even if it means solo-travel. The areas near Hyderabad would count as a separate travel circuit.

    If you wish to explore the country and your job prevents you from traveling too far, you could consider changing jobs across tier 1 cities in the proximity of the intended travel circuits (e.g. stay in Hyderabad for a year and travel in its circuit. Then shift to Delhi and travel in the northern circuit).

    What is a Travel Node? | Travel Circuits in India

    As mentioned in the cases above, you would prefer to stay at an industrial city, while planning travel nearby. This city becomes the node.

    Different travel guides suggest travel circuits in India in different ways. I assume that our readers either have a regular job or for some reason are willing to stay in either a tier 1 or major tier 2 city while planning their travel.

    1. The Himachal Travel Circuit

    Himachal isn’t only about snow; there’s a lot more to it. Perhaps, if you are a foreign traveler, Himachal is a must-stay.

    Nodes: Delhi, Chandigarh, Pathankot

    The nearest tier 1 city to Himachal is Delhi. It’s one of the most populous cities in India and offers a lot of employment opportunities. Instead, Noida and Gurgaon are booming IT hubs. Thus, it would be a good idea to get a job in Delhi or NCR to explore nearby travel circuits.

    Chandigarh is another beautiful and clean tier 2 city on the way from Delhi to Himachal. It cuts the distance short by 4 hours. No other major city is nearer to the Himachal circuit.

    Pathankot is the primary node for the Himachal circuit. Now officially, you could call it a city but don’t keep much of expectations. It isn’t worth staying for a career. Pathankot is basically a cantonment in Punjab, right on the border of Himachal. All routes to the major destinations initiate from there.

    The two major airports in Himachal are in Kangra and Manali. I would suggest traveling through bus though.

    The significant destinations in Himachal are as follows:

    Dalhousie: Dalhousie is amongst the higher hill stations, which means it is at a higher altitude. It snows in the winters, and the summers aren’t hot either. While Dalhousie isn’t as famous, it is definitely worth a watch. The destination is 85 km from Pathankot, and a bus usually needs 2.5 hours for the journey. Another hill station you could visit is Khajjiar which is 24 km from Dalhousie. I would suggest hiring a private cab since local travel is costly at the hill station (Rs200 to 300 for 7 km).

    As a traveler, my suggestion would be to stay either at a backpacker hostel of the mud huts on the way to the bald peak. Zostel Dalhousie is amongst the most interactive backpacker hostels in India. The hill station has another one hostel named goStops.

    Spiti: Lahaul and Spiti are a wonderful mixture of greenery and a cold desert for travelers. Spiti remains snow covered during the winter, and the roadways could get blocked at times. However, just like Leh-Ladakh, Spiti is a pretty beautiful cold desert with streams flowing through it. It seems like an escape from the world. There are only two backpacker hostels in Spiti, though if you are planning a totally solo trip, you could consider the quiet hotels too.

    KeeGompa | Spiti Valley
    KeeGompa | Spiti Valley

    Dharamshala: Dharamshala is basically the district where the Dalai Lama and other Buddhists took refuge after the invasion of Tibet. However, the main temple is in McLeodganj, and I would discuss it later. You could check the War memorial and HPCA stadium in Dharamshala, the latter being worth a visit. Dharamshala is one of the cleanest hill towns in India plus it is pretty developed by the standards of a hill station.

    McLeodganj: Other than Hampi, McLeodganj is probably the best place for solo travel. The Dalai Lama’s temple is situated in McLeodganj; however, that isn’t all the hill town is famous for. You would find a lot of foreign travelers there for it is a hippie paradise. The best option for a stay would be hostels. You could also trek to Triund which is comparatively easy.

    Manali: Manali isn’t precisely near Pathankot, or Chandigarh, or Delhi. However, the hill station is an experience of its own. One of the most popular tourist spots, Manali is all covered with snow in the winters, though it has, even more, to offer in summers. You could also try para-gliding and other adventure activities there. Should you have time, try Kullu as well.

    Bir-Billing: If Manali is cliche for you, try Bir-Billing for adventure activities. Bir is cheaper and has a much larger area for paragliding. However, the stay options are limited. Rather, when I traveled, all they had was one backpacker’s hostel.

    Kangra Town: Kangra is a district in Himachal famous for its fort and a few temples. It is the district in which Dharamshala is located.

    Shimla: Shimla’s route is a straight drive from Chandigarh. It is Himachal Pradesh’s capital. Though I wouldn’t call it much of a unique destination, those who are traveling with their family would prefer it. Check the mall road and British architecture there.

    2. The Heritage Circuit

    The Heritage circuit has destinations specific to India (that’s what foreign tourists love visiting India for). While the whole of the Indian subcontinent has a lot of ancient era structure, the Heritage circuit includes locations which are still living the legacy.

    This circuit includes towns and cities in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. If you want a glimpse of the Indian culture, try it. The node of this circuit is in Delhi. Some might also consider Jaipur as the node, though it’s a tier 2 city.

    Agra: Agra is famous for the Taj Mahal which is amongst the seven wonders of the world. Delve deep into the Mughal history as you explore the Taj, Red Fort of Agra, and Fatehpur Sikri. This spot is famous for tourists; however, if you are a traveler, consider staying there for some time. Walk around the city and imagine what it could have been like during Akbar’s era.

    Taj Mahal | Agra
    Taj Mahal | Agra

    Varanasi: People would know Varanasi for its ghats, the Vishwanath temple, and the Banaras Hindu University. But there’ a lot more vibe in the ancient era city. Stay there and observe the evening aarti. Interact with the locals, and participate in religious activities. Lose yourself to spirituality.

    Delhi: The capital city, despite being a node for most northern circuits is also a heritage city in itself. Delhi has been the capital of the country on and off for ages. Instead, 7 cities were built around the area historically. The city has so many vast cultures that you would need months to explore and learn about it. Perhaps, if you choose Delhi as your node city, it would help you with the opportunity to spend the much need till for understanding it.

    Jaipur: Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan. It is near Delhi; thus you could consider Delhi the node for Jaipur. However, if you are planning to tour other cities in Rajasthan, Jaipur would be a better node. The city has a few industries and a growing IT sector.

    Jaipur has a lot to offer, yet it’s underrated considering the fact that most other towns and cities in the state have much more to offer. The heritage city is famous for its cleanliness, the city palace, the Amer fort, lake, and traditional markets.

    Jodhpur: If you have heard the Marwari, this is the capital city of their medieval era state Marwar. This is where you can experience real Rajasthani/Marwari culture. Preferably, it is advisable to sideline at least a week to explore Jodhpur. The main attractions are the Mehrangarh Fort, Umaid Bhawan. And the blue painted city.

    Udaipur: Udaipur is probably the most famous of destinations in Rajasthan. It attracts the significant chunk of foreign tourists visiting Rajasthan. The city is adorable with a lot of lakes to add on its beauty. If you are visiting Udaipur, I would suggest you stay in backpacker hostels instead of hotels. Interact with fellow travelers and spend some peaceful time around the lakes.

    Jaisalmer/Bikaner: The west of the Aravallis is a desert (the Thar) but a wonderful one. I wouldn’t suggest a particular city or town for staying there, but explore the culture in the districts throughout. Stay in the villages. Explore the desert through safaris. Check the temples.

    3. The Eastern Circuit

    The Eastern circuit is the greenest of all. It covers the Bengal hills, North-East India, and the city of Kolkata. The node of this circuit is Kolkata. Instead, there’s no other major city or town in the region worth building a career in.

    Kolkata: Kolkata is the cheapest of tier 1 cities in India. It doesn’t offer many job opportunities, yet you could find something. Try your luck with the IT companies in Salt Lake City or Rajarhat.

    While there isn’t much to explore in Kolkata, you could check Maidan, Victoria Memorial, Birla Planetarium, etc. But Kolkata will give you what no other city can. The culture of the city into art and literature is something worth experiencing. Don’t forget the fantastic cuisine there.

    Sundarbans: I never knew such a beautiful mangrove area existed in India till I visited the Sundarbans. Probably the most diverse ecosystem in the country, the forest area is a must visit if you wish to explore wildlife. It is also the homeland of the white Bengal Tiger. You could be lucky to find one there.

    Bishnupur: Bishnu is Bengali for Vishnu, the Hindu preserver god. The Malla ruler built terracotta temples in the region, and they are worth a visit. Read more about these temples here.

    Darjeeling: Darjeeling was the Shimla of Delhi when Calcutta was the capital of the British Raj (i.e., it was the summer capital). The British developed it as an administerial base, and many of the buildings are still present in the region. The beautiful hill station is now famous for its toy train and tea plantations.

    Darjeeling | West Bengal
    Darjeeling | West Bengal

    North-East: The North-Eastern region of India is in itself a beautiful travel circuit of its own with even more travel circuits within it. Eg. Arunachal Pradesh has 12 major tourist destinations, thus making it a course of its own. You could visit Guwahati and Meghalaya as a beginner.

    4. The Central Circuit

    Interestingly, the most prosperous of tier 1 cities in India are nodes of the Central Circuit. You could consider staying either in Hyderabad, Pune, or Mumbai, all three of them being nodes of equal importance.

    Pune is a booming IT hub, and a lot of companies are migrating to the city from the South. It is the lifestyle capital of India and has one of the best bars, clubs, restaurants, and cafes in the country. While Pune has a lot of historical importance as both Maratha ruler and the British had their divisions stationed there, people prefer to enjoy it as a party hub instead.

    Mumbai was the former financial capital of India. Even as of present, people know it as the city where everyone gets a job. Mumbaikars (as its residents are called) are addicted to their city even though very few were born locals. The reason is that Mumbai’s culture promotes individuality and people don’t bother with anyone else’s life.

    Hyderabad is my personal favorite place to live. It was the capital of the Nizams and has always been prosperous. As of present, the city is the second largest IT hub in the country after Bangalore. It’s cheap to stay in, and you can quickly get a job there for every skill set. The city has a lot of pre-independence era palaces. You could visit Ramoji Film City and enjoy the excellent cuisine there.

    The places to visit in the Central circuits are as follows:

    Bidar: Bidar is the former capital of the Bahmani kings. Read more about it here.

    Aurangabad: Exploring Aurangabad would need a few days since the place has so much to offer. Rather that is the reason so many schools of tourism and hospitality have opened there. The main attractions are the Ajanta and Ellora caves, the Daulatabad Fort, and Bibi ka Makbara. You could also check Lonar and its crater nearby. It would be wise to hire a guide since a lot needs to be explained.

    Hampi: Hampi is the best destination for solo travelers. It was the seat of the ancient Vijaynagar empire. Since the rulers were Shaivites and built a lot of temples and relevant structures, the town gives a feeling of spirituality. A lot of foreign tourists flock to Hampi during the winters. It is one of the hubs of the hippie culture in India.

    Your 101 Guide To Spending A Weekend In Hampi
    Hampi | Karnataka

    Gandikota: Did you know, India has a structure similar to the grand canyon. It is situated in the village of Gandikota in the Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. You could visit it along with a local camping group from Hyderabad Pune, or Bangalore. The only constructed place you could stay in Gandikota is the Andhra Pradesh Tourism resort. Remember to check the Fort and the village.

    If you get a chance to visit Gandikota, also consider a trip to the nearby Belum Caves.

    Goa/Gokarna: Goa and Gokarna are amongst the most famous beach destinations in the country. Goa was a former Portuguese territory and thus it has a lot of churches. You can experience the Konkani culture there. Add on to it that the beach parties are fun. Gokarna could be called a poor man’s Goa, but no. It has a thing of its own.

    5. The Southern Circuit

    The Southern circuit has its nodes at Bangalore and Chennai, the former being the most significant IT hub in India.

    Bangalore, just like Mumbai is a place where you would almost definitely find a job. The IT sector is strong here, and as far as you have the willingness to learn, there are plenty of opportunities there.

    Chennai is another important industrial base with prominent automobile industry. It is a pretty developed city with a lot of premier educational institutions. Being the capital of Tamil Nadu, it has a unique experience to offer.

    Hampi and Gandikota are common between the Central travel circuit and the Southern circuit. Other options are as follows:

    Coorg: Try searching Coorg on Google maps, and you won’t find anything. The reason is that Coorg was an erstwhile state in India which has been replaced by Kodagu district, Madikeri being its capital. The region is famous for its fairytale-like forests and unique culture, which a little different from the rest of Karnataka.

    Mysore: Mysore was the seat of the former state of Mysore, which ruled of the majority of the present state of Karnataka. The major attractions are the Mysore Palace, the Chamundi Hills, and Brindavan gardens. It ranks amongst the cleanest of cities in India as per the Swacch Bharat index. Since Mysore is near Bangalore, a weekend trip through a bus would suffice.

    Pondicherry: Pondicherry was a former French colony and has a lot to offer. If it were for me, I would spend a month there to explore the place. However, if you are a weekend traveler, concentrate on these three options: Auroville, the beach, and the French colony. You will feel as if you are in a traditional European town.

    Pondicherry Puducherry Rock Beach

    Madurai: Madurai is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It is ancient and so it the aura around it. The main attraction is the Shree Meenakshi Sudareshwara Temple. There are a lot more important temples in the ancient city. You could also check the Thirumalai Nayak Palace and Gandhi Museum there.

    Kerala: Kerala is both the most expensive destination in India and the most exotic. The beaches are serene are the culture is beautiful. It is the most multi-cultural state in the country with an even mix of 3 religions – Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. Kerala is so vast that I cannot describe most of it in a paragraph; however, the major tourist spots are Munar, Kochi, and Kovalam.

    Booking.com | Book Tickets And Hotels Now!
    Last updated on
  • Short Link: https://wp.me/paSSRD-rl  
  • ,

    Let's discuss here - Share your thoughts and queries!