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, to spend a couple of weeks exploring the country together. However, our plans changed when I searched flights from London I realized there were no direct options to Nepal. There were stopovers at either middle eastern countries or India.
And that inspired the idea of a road 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.
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:
Advisory : Services of e-Visa involves completely online application for which no facilitation is required by any intermediary / agents etc. It is advised not to believe or fall in trap of any such unscrupulous elements who claim speedy/express grant of e-Visa and charge money for it.
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:
Summer: April, May, June; Hot, low to moderate humidity and low precipitation
Monsoon or rainy season: July, August, September; Hot, very high humidity and heavy precipitation
Autumn: October, November; Warm days, cool nights, low humidity and low precipitation
Winter: December, January; Cold, moderate humidity and low precipitation
Spring: February, March; Warm days, cool nights, moderate humidity and moderate precipitatio
This was our 17-day route:
Day 1 – London- Delhi
Day 2 – Delhi
Day 3 – Delhi – Agra
Day 4 – Agra – Varanasi
Day 5 – Varanasi
Day 6 – Varanasi
Day 7 – Varanasi – Lumbini
Day 8 – Lumbini – Pokhara
Day 9 – Pokhara
Day 10 – Pokhara
Day 11 – Pokhara
Day 12 – Pokhara– Kathmandu
Day 13 – Kathmandu
Day 14 – Kathmandu
Day 15 – Kathmandu
Day 16 – Kathmandu – Delhi
Day 17 – Delhi – London
How to move around:
We unsuccessfully tried to book our train tickets to Agra and Varanasi online from London so the first thing we did in Delhi was heading to Delhi 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 bordier 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).
The main sites we visited:
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 Mayadevi Temple, considering Buddha´s birthplace.
Pokhara: Phewa Lake, Tal Brahi Temple, Shanti Stupa (World Peace Pagoda), Tashi Palkhiel Tibetan settlement.
Kathmandu: Swayambhu (Monkey Temple), Boudha Stupa, Pashupatinath, Kathmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square