Visiting India. Recommendations?

Oct 7 '13 20 Last Comment
Oct 7, 13 2:28 pm

Fellow Archinectors, I'm traveling to India next month for a friend's wedding in New Delhi. My itinerary is as follows: Flying into Mumbai (2 days) > Kerala (4 days) > New Delhi (5 days, wedding) > Agra (1 day) > Rajasthan (3 days)).  Does anyone have any tips or recommendations or know of any hidden gems for anything that I should experience? It doesn't have to relate to architecture.


Oct 7, 13 5:03 pm

Make sure you're fully vaccinated and have a hefty emergency supply of anti-diarrhea medicine. And hand sanitizer. Lots of hand sanitizer.

Evan ChakroffEvan Chakroff
Oct 9, 13 12:20 am

here's a dot-map of Delhi architecture. I compiled this back in February before a trip to Delhi and Rajasthan.

i hate to say it, but you will get sick. plan on spending half your time in bed, or at the pharmacy for drugs. it's a damn shame, because there are some beautiful sights. map out an itinerary, then cut it in half. 

the abhaneri step well is probably the best thing to see in the jaipur area. bribe the guide to get past the fence.

agra is over-rated, but the Taj Mahal is still worth it. 

Jantar Mantar is as good as it sounds.

Oct 9, 13 11:49 am

gwharton: check and check

Even, thanks for sharing.

MR. Obsessive
Oct 9, 13 1:18 pm

i just wrote a bunch of stuff for u and it got deleted by accident :(

Hold on ill type again. 

Sarah Hamilton
Oct 9, 13 1:38 pm

I just saw an article on step wells. They're disapearing, so find some of those. Just watch out for wild animals inside.

MR. Obsessive
Oct 9, 13 1:55 pm

1- Keep yourself hydrated. 
2- do not drink water or eat water based items sold by roadside vendors.
3- Always buy sealed water bottles. Preferably "biselery" or "Kinley". U will find evian in mumbai and delhi and certain super markets in kerala.
4- Its always better to eat in restaurants rather than food stalls
5-try to avoid public toilets in the small cities although in the big cities u could just walk into a mall.

Rajasthan: Do visit "chokhi dhani" in jaipur- it is the representation of a traitional indian village. You can spend an entire evening there, there are some great activities you could engage in. Do google it for their website. The jantar mantar is epic, i hear the hawa mahal is pretty good too, although i couldnt visit.
Rajasthan also has tiny markets where you could shop for some amazing and inexpensive hand made items.

Agra: Is not a great city per se but the taj mahal isnt the only buiding u should visit there. There are a bunch of great summer palaces and summer gardens you could visit which have a strong persian influence.

Kerala: It is a beautiful state, extremely scenic. U could replace your bottled water with tender coconut water at times. Although i think it might be raining at this time of the year. A state with a hundred percent literacy rate. Language should not be a problem here.

Delhi and mumbai are metroplitan areas so ul find tons of malls and pizza huts, kfc's, papa johns and mc donalds. Although u wouldnt find the Big Mac there for obvious reasons. U could try the maharaja mac though. ;)
The pollution levels are pretty high and so are the temperatures in these places.

Mumbai is one of my favourite places in the world. It defines madness. It is where the hindi film industry (bollywood) has its base.
Avoid using google maps here as u might just find urself in the middle of a slum area also avoid shortcut routes, stick to the main roads because u might catch some illness in the slum areas if u are prone to that sort of thing. 

Its pretty sad u dont have ahmedabad on you itinerary because that is an architecture enthusiast's disneyland. The collection of corbusier buildings and Doshi's stark influence in that region is amazing. - It is the birthplace of Indian Modernism.
Maybe next time :)

Indian people are generally extremely kind and helpful especially to an outsider. 

avoid paying street urchins when they come to beg as a bunch of them will follow if u pay one.

The mode of transport is usually an auto rickshaw (a three wheeled motor vehicle) Except in delhi and mumbai which have taxi's, metro rails and trains.

Do take care and have a safe and enjoyable trip :) 


Oct 9, 13 2:12 pm

Thanks MR. The only flights I have set in stone right now are from Mumbai to Kerala and Kerala to Delhi for the wedding. Plans after the wedding are open so I'll be looking into Chandigarh and Ahmedabad.

Oct 9, 13 7:55 pm

gwharton, go fuck yourself.

Oct 9, 13 9:39 pm

Cute, doc. Something in particular bothering you about my practical-advice-based-on-direct-experience?

Nam HendersonNam Henderson
Oct 9, 13 11:11 pm

I found India amazing and can't wait to go again (some pics here). Wish I had spent more time in the larger urban areas but Delhi/Jaipur and Hrishikesh were all an eye opener.

Also really would like to visit Bengal/Kerala in future.

As Evan said Jantar Mantar is "as good as it sounds". a friend was looking at photos of the trip recently and said re: that "it looks so modern". Definetely shit myself once while i was there but only lasted a day so...

also on a related and odd note you all seen this "weird" tourism ad for Kerala?

Oct 10, 13 1:53 pm

Hahah, thanks for sharing Nam.  I can't wait for my moment.

Oct 10, 13 7:49 pm

gwharton, I apologize for being a bit rash. What did bother me is that before offering any suggestions on what to visit and see etc, you put the hand-sanitizer before. Dunno, it seems too much of a scared mentality?

Oct 10, 13 9:07 pm


I'm just trying to be practical. I've traveled to India a bunch of times for work, and have got sick nearly every time, even despite being a careful and experienced international traveler (that's never been a problem for me in China, but India ... oof). On my last trip, everyone on the project team came down with a horrible, debilitating case of food poisoning, despite the fact that we were only eating at higher-end restaurants or meals provided in the office. The fact is, basic sanitation is a huge problem there (as well as hyped-up antibiotic-resistant pathogens), and that can lead to a western traveler not being able to otherwise enjoy the many interesting sights and experiences the country has to offer. It can be a great place to go, and is easily one of the most exotic places I've ever been, but you have to be realistic about how to go about doing it.

The most important thing is to be really careful about what you eat or put in your mouth. Don't eat street food in India. Just don't. Stay away from anything that hasn't been cooked at high temperature for a long time and is still hot. No salads. No al dente veggies. Fruit can be okay, but only if you peel it yourself and are careful not to cross contaminate. Stick with factory-bottled drinks. Beer is best, since the alcohol kills most things. Bottled water is also good, but like another poster said above, try to stick with major brands if you can. Your hotel should be a good supply for that, especially if it caters to westerners. Soft drinks in cans are better than soft drinks in bottles (wipe them down thoroughly before you drink from the can though). The bottles are all recycled, and that can be problematic in some areas. Taking a supply of individually-wrapped protein bars from home just in case is also a good idea. The reason you want to have a lot of hand sanitizer is to be able to clean your hands before and after you eat, even if there's not a convenient place to do so, and at various times through the day when you've been walking around touching things. It's a cultural habit among the upper classes there to wash prior to having a meal, but the water supply is dodgy and who knows where any of that stuff has been anyway. It's not just food or drink that can get something unpleasant into your system.

I know this sounds paranoid and OCD, but it really is a problem you should be prepared to deal with. If you're careful, it's no big deal. But if you pretend it's not a problem, you'll really regret it. I promise.

won and done williams
Oct 10, 13 10:55 pm

I thought the Jantar Mantar looked like a really kick ass mini golf course, but not exactly awe inspiring (though clearly there are many who would disagree). I would instead prioritize a trip to the Amber Palace while you are in Jaipur. There is an elephant village near the fort for the elephants that serve the tourists. I'm not sure how publicly accessible it is, but there are some nice images of it if you google "hathi gaon". I also remember going to a huge bollywood movie theater in Jaipur - great experience!

Mumbai = ride the trains; chor bazaar; Crawford market. I would spend more time in Mumbai if you possibly can. It's the most cosmopolitan city in India with endless places to explore.

Chandigarh is awful. The Corb buildings are hard to access, it is provincial with little English spoken, and there is an unsettling military presence around the city and airport. I would skip it.

Ahmedabad is more interesting, though I would recommend finding private drivers who know English and can help you get to the Corb and Kahn buildings. There is also a good arch school there and several Doshi buildings, including his studio. The House of MG is also an awesome hotel, if you have some bucks to spend.

By the way, I spent 8 weeks in India with 8 other people and only one of us got sick. gwharton's advice is generally good, but I wouldn't be overly paranoid. Take basic precautions like avoiding street food and raw vegetables, but do try new things; the food in India is incredible. Also, check the seal on all your bottled water. Unscrupulous hawkers will refill water bottles with tap water. 

Oct 11, 13 6:45 pm

Gwharton, the high-end restaurants are where the problems are. Stick to home-made or even decent street food, and you will be fine. Avoid the so-called high-end restaurants, because the turnover is so low that the food goes bad, and the cleanliness is just a veneer.

I stayed in India for 16 years, and visit about 3 times a year now.

To each his own, I guess. won and done wiliams is on the ball.

Orhan AyyüceOrhan Ayyüce
Oct 11, 13 6:54 pm

amlocke had a great travelling blog of India.

Oct 11, 13 7:56 pm

Great video on food in India. Read the comments!

Nam HendersonNam Henderson
Oct 14, 13 8:44 pm

@sameolddoctor that food video made me so hungry...!

Oct 15, 13 8:31 pm

Ha - check out the other videos on their vimeo page - of course, you will be be starving by the end of it...

Oct 15, 13 11:47 pm

This is great. I can't wait!

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