Experience of a Solo Woman Backpacker in India
India is a challenging destination for a wide variety of reasons that include the population density, extreme weather, transportation delays, the proliferation of scammers, Delhi belly, culture shock, etc but at the same time it is beautiful, historical, fascinating and a land of many hidden jewels with beautiful hearts.
It started with complete nervousness
“I was very skeptical to come to India and travel all over India alone with such a young company. My first night of the experience was when I was the most nervous, I had to take a train from Kochi to Bangalore where my experience was to begin but I had a hard time locating the platform on which the train was supposed to come, India can be unorganized at some times.
All the anxiety, the fear, the terror came onto me once and my uneasiness gripped me hard. I knew I was being nervy and just needed someone to reassure me that everything is fine. So, I contacted my experience captain at The Tarzan Way. He made me realize that this is very normal in India and I just have to find platform number 3 and board the train there. When I finally got on the train and settled in, I lost the signal on my phone.
I couldn't contact anyone but I knew the train is the right one, the people are nice and I could reach out to The Tarzan Way if I had any kind of emergency"
You can plan your own personalized experience with The Tarzan Way at their Travel Support page.
My first location, the Garden City
“I reached Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India, and started my travel journey with TTW.
Bangalore was mainly a transit city so I didn't have many plans to explore the city. I had a lot of curiosity to visit and see the beautiful structure of the IIM Bangalore built by the very famous award-winning architect but due to some unforeseen political problem, I wasn't able to visit it.
The hostel I stayed in was amazing and a perfect fit for youngsters but the only little problem I had was that the size of the room.
I was lucky enough to experience the beautiful and colorful annual flower show festival held in Lal Bagh Park and tried some amazing fish in one of the cafes around. I also ensured my visit to the National Gallery of Modern Art as the best way to experience one's culture is through the art they create.”
Ahmedabad was just amazing for me!
"As I wanted to experience all the modes of transportation in India, TTW managed my travel from Bangalore to Ahmedabad by flight. Ahmedabad, the city endowed with a rich architectural heritage, was one I was really fascinated about, so I decided to stay there for 5 days.
TTW beautifully crafted my itinerary and managed to include everything I wanted.
First thing was to visit IIM Ahmedabad, which was one of the reasons for my whole trip to India, and it was amazing!
Then I visited the National Institute of Design and met some of the architecture students who suggested me some places to visit as an architect and soon I realized that the moment you open up and initiate some conversation, people are more willing to help and discuss with you. They love to show their culture, suggest their favorite places, and show local activities.
Very close to the sunset, I saw a beautiful Riverfront flower park. I wanted to take the picture of a flower so I went inside where a guard saw me and insisted to pay for the entry and the camera. He insisted to take me to the ticket booth and forced me to follow him as he wanted to take advantage and make me pay because I was a tourist…So when we quit the park, I just stopped following him and went out of that area.
Le Corbusier was a very famous modern architect and one of my major reason to visit Ahmedabad. He built some famous houses and museums that I wanted to visit. Ville Shodan was a success as the family allowed outsiders to visit. The day ended with a very delicious dinner at Gordhan Thal suggested by TTW. The people there were very nice and helpful.
Overall, Ahmedabad was chill and I didn’t hesitate to go to some institutes or unis and chill in their green area, the food there was cheap and the ambiance was peaceful.”
Next stop, meeting the TTW Team and exploring Delhi
“I took the night sleeper train to Delhi. Everything was fine, people were kind and even if I didn’t understand, I saw how their bond began to evolve. At first, no one knew each other, so it was a little awkward to sit like that. But soon people began to talk, to discuss and then after 2-3 hours, they were friends. I reached Delhi and met a sari seller in Old Delhi bazaar who taught me how to deal with sellers as a tourist. I was lucky to always meet people who were nice and respectful.
My hostel in Delhi was really cool and clean. So after I refreshed myself in my room, I met Naman, The TTW member who planned my trip. He along with another TTW member came to take me from my hostel and we went to have lunch together. They showed me how to use the metro, how to deal with the drivers, and so on.
I had some knowledge and experiences so it was not entirely new for me. But for someone who is new to Indian culture, this service is just amazing!! Then we went shopping and since we get along pretty well, Naman decided to make me try Old Monk, very famous alcohol in India. So we went to a rooftop bar and enjoyed our night over there. It was really cool and I really appreciated their gesture.
No matter what, My next trip to India will be with them for the rest of my life. I preserve a whole other trip for Delhi and the North of India so I didn’t really travel in Delhi. Also because I began to be a little travel sick."
Know more about the gems of Delhi here
The next stop was Agra…
"Taj Mahal! I don't know what to say since it's just breathtaking. But honestly, Agra Fort was kinda more interesting for me than the Taj Mahal from an architectural point of view. Agra being far from Delhi, I had 1-2 hours of travel. I was not very active and I didn't want to go to Agra. I wanted to travel another time, I didn't have a lot of time and I admit, I was lazy. But then, Naman insisted to book the first train and go there early in the morning before I leave for Jaipur. So I agreed and he booked a train ticket. And I so do not regret it!
And even if it was around 9 am, there wasn't much crowd and it was beautiful. The taxi driver I met was also very kind and told me a lot about the city, the story of the Taj Mahal, and what I should pay attention to as a tourist to avoid being scammed. Also, I had the best Ice cream in my life in Agra at the entrance of the Agra Fort. It was so so good..."
Read more about the Mughal Marvels of Agra here
Jaipur was not how I expected it to be
"After coming back from Agra, during the night, I left for Jaipur. I was tired and less motivated. I took a bus from Delhi which was not bad but some issues happened. Naman was always in reach and talked with the bus attendant about what was happening. They changed the bus at the very last minute so there were no solo beds. I ended up with an Indian girl in my sleeper bed compartment instead of my private block. It was not bad though, she was a kind girl.
When I arrived at the hostel, I was tired and a bit down. The hostel was really big and the rooms were spacious. There I tried Uber Moto. for the first time and it was really cool! I mostly did shopping over there. But I don’t know I was not really at ease and I really wanted to visit Chandigarh.
So I talked with Naman the next day and we decided to shorten the stay in Jaipur and go to Chandigarh. That was really cool of him! I had to pay some extra charges but it was nothing compared to the relief! I think I’ll come back later to Jaipur! "
Chandigarh is really unique!
"Chandigarh, It was a whole different city to experience! Even the fashion over there was unique and I truly felt outside India. It was a large, modernist, and cold city. The moment I get out of the bus, it was around 7 am and in India, it is very rare to get coffee at 7 AM. I really wanted to rest before I went to my hotel so I searched for a coffee shop. I saw one in a very luxurious 5-star hotel but found it difficult to access and decided to head to my hotel. There was a guy who saw me struggling with my suitcase, so he helped me and accompanied me as he was going to the same place. But we could not get coffee there. I asked a tuk-tuk on the road to go to the hotel. I wanted an Uber but the guy who helped already stopped a tuk-tuk so I negotiated and accepted. But the Hotel was kinda difficult to reach and the road was not very clean.
The hotel keepers were very nice and helped me reach my room. Afterward, I went to the Chandigarh Law Building to know the procedures for a visit. The guide told me to come the next day at 3 pm for the group visit. I then learned that Le Corbusier Foundation gives free bicycles or very cheap electronic ones for the whole day. So I booked one and did Chandigarh on a bicycle. I ended my day with an authentic lip-smacking Punjabi thali.
But in general, Chandigarh was kinda boring…and I didn’t really feel welcomed. I don’t know. The whole city was green, red, and gray, there were bricks, trees, and concrete. Everywhere was the same. Every corner had the same landscape. It was kinda scary for someone coming from Europe…It’s an ideal city for modernist people but I just didn’t feel it myself…"
My last few hours
"I went back to Delhi as a transit, and here again, Naman was really helpful. With his partner and friend, we went to have dinner. They made me try some local snacks and desserts(Paan) and it literally blew my brain out! It was so fresh that I felt it in my whole body. Amazing discoveries. They’re really cool and open-minded.
The most important thing that I learned while traveling was just to stay open to people while being careful and observant. Of course, as a solo female tourist, people would try to flirt but instead of being fearful or harsh, I responded to them with a smile or some discussion.
I had a lot of meaningful experiences, people who wanted to help (while flirting …) What’s bad? You just refuse to give your number or ID but you thank them for their help with a smile and respect. Trust me, they’ll respect you. Of course, a lot of times they’ll try to take advantage of your tourist situation, especially the tuk-tuk drivers. Even if you don’t have internet (it happened to me) know the basic price for the transportation and then with offline google maps, you can calculate and know approximately the price you should give. When I was in the urge, I, knowingly, suggest a price slightly more than what I should pay and they accept easily. But not gonna lie, Tuktuk drivers are another whole story to tell.
A source of stress before you understand all the hidden tricks...But, it’s another memory, like an adventure, a challenge to deal with and I liked it. It was like a game for me. Nothing scary, nothing stressful. It’s very fun to travel to India and meet these extraordinary people. I hope everyone can experience this amazing adventure."
I got to know about The Tarzan Way after reading their unique travel experience and got in touch with my experience captain to prepare my experience accordingly, you can check the same here.