Welcome to dagsVStheworld’s Definitive Moto Guide to South India! (well some of it anyway..)
Dags VS India
I landed in the huge smog-covered metropolis that is Mumbai, (which is still called Bombay by many locals) commandeered a $500 Bajaj motorcycle and then headed east, inland towards Ellora and the ancient cave temples of Ajanta, and then south through Ellora, Ajanta, Solapur, Vijayapur, Badami, and Hampi. My journey brought me through small dusty villages, bustling chaotic towns, abandoned factories that were now filled with gypsies and also to ancient temples and structures that have stood for a millenia. India really is an incredible country
History of India
India what an amazing place. Your mind will be in a constant state of flux-completely awed at the people, history and cuisine and also at times completely fucking pissed off at the noise, pollution, insane traffic and rude-ass people.
People have been in this country for as long as 75,000 years, but it was around 3,500BC when the first major civilization took place. The predominant religion here is Hinduism, which branched off to form Buddhism and many other related religions. India was under British rule from 1858 and 1947 and then when India gained independence the country was split into two separate territories- India and Pakistan.
Traffic in all parts of India is just plain crazy. Suicidal even. It would appear that the Indian people have no concept of patience, safety, road rules or even giving a fuck at all when it comes to getting from A-B. Horns are in constant use. Constant. It never stops. Busses, cars and trucks overtake first then look later. If you see someone pull out, get the fuck out-of-the-way. They aint gonna stop! Nearly 20 people are killed every hour on Indian roads. That’s over 150 thousand people per year. Add to that the poor condition of the roads, blasé pedestrians walking all over the place, goats, pigs, sacred cows and debris everywhere and you have got yourself one hell of an adventure. Make sure your riding skills are up for it. Seriously, don’t fuck around if you can’t ride that well, you are much better off to catch a train or fly. (Those busses can fuck right off, lol)
Places to see (Southern India)
What a crazy-ass city! Getting around on a motorcycle here is absolute mayhem. Make sure you know how to ride and keep your eyes peeled! Some cool places to check out in Mumbai are The Kanheri Caves, Colaba, Malabar Hill and Dharavi (the slums)
Aurangabad- Ellora Caves
These cave temples contain absolutely outstanding workmanship. Created from around the 6th century AD and upwards, kings, lords and other wealthy individuals would pay extraordinary amounts to the stone workers and artists of their time to create an incredible legacy of monuments that still exist to this day.The Ellora caves are about 10km from the town of Aurangabad and there are many hotels of all budgets to stay in.This town also has the ‘Mini Taj Mahal’ called Bibi-Ka Makbara, which is a tiny replica of the enormous and majestic world re-known attraction in Agra.
Ajanta- Ajanta Caves
Created from the 2nd century BC to about the 6th Century AD, the Ajanta caves have much more detail and contain better, quite well-preserved paintings than the Ellora caves do. Still I recommend visiting both, as they are equally fascinating examples of when India was in its wealthiest heyday. Around 400km from Mumbai.
Entering this town you will feel like you have entered a Bollywood film set. Badami’s hustle and bustle, old world charm and the incredible backdrop of red rocky mountains will definitely leave a lasting impression. Badami was the royal capital in the area from around 500AD to 800AD. The streets are narrow and riding through them was totally awesome! I stayed in Badami for a week and used it as a base so I could explore the nearby towns of Aihole and Pattadakal. Get ready for more caves!!
A very old and rustic town with many ruins and no restrictions on where you can go. You can probably see everything in half a day or so, then continue on to Pattadakal. Watch out for lots of sneaky little kids that are after all your cash!
This was once the main hub of the area from the 6th-8th century AD.There is the huge Virupaksha Temple the queen dedicated to her husband for conquering a bunch of territories, and is still in incredible condition. Travelling around the narrow roads in the township will transport you back at least a thousand years, and the locals are incredibly friendly and will probably invite you to drink tons of tea before they let you go!
Awesome small city where you will find the huge ‘Gol Gumbaz’ , the tomb of Mohammed Adil Shah (1627–1657) looming above the landscape as you head into town. There are literally ruins all over the place, take a ride through this amazing bustling town and explore its secrets!Lots of small streets with market stalls and plenty of local food to eat, which is of a great quality. There’s plenty of hotels to stay at as well.
An absolutely magical place surrounded by huge boulder mountains, palm trees and lush green rice fields. It’s no wonder that this was a huge thriving metropolis in its time. Temples and ruins are everywhere so stay at least 3 or 4 days here, it’s just incredible! Click below for a more detailed look at this place.
Goa and surrounds
Well what can I say? Beaches, cheap beer, lots of drugs and a cool hippie vibe! A great place to unwind, but be prepared for the usual touts and the traffic is still as crazy as all hell. The southern beaches and areas are less touristy and the northern beaches and surrounding area is full of hippies, touts and party time. There are some stunning twisty roads through beautiful mountains here too, but watch out for traffic crossing both sides of the road and overtaking on blind corners (which is pretty standard in India) I stayed in Arambol which is hippie central. Lots of yoga and dreadlocks! The food is great here too.
Where to stay
I would arrive at a town and look around for accommodation, there are not many places to camp and to be honest, I wouldn’t feel safe camping in the some of the areas that I’ve been through lately. Getting a good nights sleep is imperative if you are on a long motorcycle journey in this country, the constant madness is just totally exhausting.
There are many guesthouses, hotels and backpackers to crash at during your travels. Prices are cheap and the staff are either rude or friendly, its hit and miss. I generally use Agoda.com to search and book all my lodgings before I arrive around the world. I have tried Hostelworld, but they tend to overbook and fuck your plans up at the last-minute, so fuck you Hostelworld. Also, double-check your room price because just about everyone in India will have a go at ripping you off sooner or later, lol, just roll with it and keep positive.
India is the home of bureaucracy and red tape. Getting a Visa is pretty straight forward, but negotiating the website was just a total fuck around. Crashing and not loading and re-entering my details a dozen times kinda makes me want to bash someone about the head with a rubber chicken. I shit you not, welcome to India. As at March 2016 a six month touristy visa is available for around $60 at an applicable embassy, so apply now and you should have it within a week. There are multiple entry visas and you can also apply for an E-Visa (short-term stay) Good luck!
I found the internet to be pretty good in India. I made do with free wi-fi at hotels for the majority of my trip and it worked just fine. Getting a sim card is a bit of a pain in the ass, but in Goa I picked one up straight away with no waiting period or ID check, from Vodaphone. It had good call reception and internet was ok. Data is cheap as hell, 20 bucks will last you a long time. I still had credit and data when I left 4 weeks later.
Best time to go/weather
The best time to visit Southern India is probably during the months of October to March. I didn’t get rained on once. The temperature can get quite hot though, but that’s what I prefer as once you are on the road and riding, its all good!
Things are cheap in India, but remember to haggle where you can. Bottled water is less than a dollar. Fruit is incredibly cheap, for $2 (130 rupees) you can get a whole bunch of bananas, a few apples and more. Small watermelons are everywhere and they taste great! My hotels were on average $10-$20 (1000 rupees) per night and were of average quality. My biggest cost was probably fuel and a full 10L tank cost about ten bucks/500 rupees (which got me over 500km as the bikes here are very economical)
My costs per day were on average $45US or around 2500 rupees
- Hotels $20 US (1300 rupees)
- Fuel $8 US (535 rupees)
- Food $10 US (650 rupees)
- Flat tyres $2 US (130 rupees)