India and Nepal are two of the most fascinating countries I have ever been. Its ancient temples, vibrant culture, traditions, impressive landscapes and tasty cuisine made an impact changed the way I see the world.
I had the chance to visit India and Nepal back in August 2016. The original plan was visiting Kathmandu to meet up with my sister, who was volunteering at a school in Hetauda, as we were going to spend a couple of weeks exploring the country together.
However, my plans changed when I searched flights from London and realized there were no direct options to Nepal. There were stopovers at either middle eastern countries or India. The fastest and cheapest option was a ticket to Delhi.
And that´s how I got the idea of a trip from Delhi to Kathmandu by train and bus. My then flatmate and close friend Javi decided to join me on my journey of seventeen days and 1.500 km across Delhi, Agra, Varanasi, Lumbini, Pokhara and Kathmandu.
Would you like to join us on our adventures through India and Nepal? keep reading.
Planning the trip: visa requirements
India is a though country to get an online tourist visa as the official website is slow, has constant failures and doesn’t accept debit cards. The single-entry tourist e visa costs 50USD and takes a few days to be approved once you pay and send the required information. This is the link for the Indian evisa:
The visa stamp on our passport to entry Nepal was easy to get at the Indian-Nepali border of Sonauli. A single-entry visa valid for 15, 30 or 90 days costs 25, 40 or 100 USD and can be purchased on arrival at the airport. It is also possible to get the visa online prior to arrival. This is the link for the online visa:
Planning the trip: when to go
The northeast region of India and Nepal have five different seasons:
Spring: March, April, May; Warm days, cool nights, moderate humidity and moderate precipitation.
Summer – Rainy season: June, July, August, September; Hot, very high humidity and heavy precipitation.
Autumn: September, October, November; Warm days, cool nights, low humidity and low precipitation
Winter: December, January, February; Cold, moderate humidity and low precipitation.
Our 17-day route included Delhi (3 days), Agra (1 day), Varanasi (3 days), Lumbini (1 day), Pokhara (4 days) and Kathmandu (5 days).
How to move around:
Internal flights, public transport and private cars are the main options to move around India and Nepal. In order to maximize our time on a budget we booked trains to move around India, while in Nepal we had no option bus the bus.
Booking trains in India is quite a mission. We unsuccessfully tried to get our train tickets online from London, so the first thing we did when we got to in Delhi was heading to central station to purchase them. We managed to book a regular afternoon train from Delhi to Agra, a sleeping train from Etawah Junction (1 hour ride from Agra) to Varanasi and a sleeping train from Varanasi to Gorakhpur. From Gorakhpur we shared a minivan to the border town of Sunauli, where we hop on a local bus to Lumbini. After that, we took local bus from Lumbini to Pokhara (9 hours) and from Pokhara to Kathmandu (11 looong hours).
Travelling in public transport was overall a great experience where we could have a glimpse of the local lifestyle. We loved the local buses in Nepal, full on decorated and featuring local music.
The main Hindu and Buddhist sites we visited were:
Delhi: Safdarjung Tomb, Lodhi Gardens, Humayun’s Tomb, Akshardham temple, Jama Masjid, Connaught Place
Agra: Taj Mahal, Agra Fort
Varanasi: Dashashwamedh Ghat, Manikamika Ghat, Kashi Vishwanath temple, Samath site
Lumbini: Holy site including Maya Devi Temple, considering Buddha´s birthplace.
Pokhara: Phewa Lake, Tal Brahi Temple, Shanti Stupa (World Peace Pagoda), Tashi Palkhiel Tibetan settlement.
Kathmandu Valley: Swayambhu (Monkey Temple), Boudha Stupa, Pashupatinath, Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square