Why North India Sucks (Sometimes)

Back in February when all this travelling lark started, I made the deliberate decision to start in the south of India and work my way up to the north. Why? Well, a few reasons really.

The first is the weather. India has a distinct monsoon season which soaks the country from June until September, and it starts in the south, slowly making its way up to the Himalayas in the north.

india monsoon

A very confusing diagram of India’s monsoon. In French. Sorry.  Photo credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/

I wanted to avoid heading right into the water’s pathway, although I do get the overwhelming feeling that I’m being chased now, and anyone who knows me will know that I absolutely hate being chased. Yes, I will punch you. No, I’m not sorry.

The second reason was that I’m a little bit of a pansy when it comes to travelling. I like a little peace and quiet, and my home comforts every now and then, and I knew that the south would be a nice way of easing into India’s chaos.

cycling on river bank kerala

Ah, the South. Look how lovely and relaxed you were

So I shouldn’t be surprised that now I’m kicking myself for leaving the madness until now.

I have this little quirk, that I’m always blaming ‘yesterday Hayley’ for today’s problems. Yesterday Hayley didn’t pack her bag and now I have 10 minutes to catch the train. Yesterday Hayley ate too much cheese and now I have monster thighs. Yesterday Hayley is a total bitch sometimes, and now she’s messing with me big time.

Yesterday Hayley spent too much time sunning herself on the beaches of Kerala and Goa and now Today Hayley is forced to endure 45 degree heat in the north of India thanks to the monsoon’s looming arrival.

I’m now in Pushkar, in Rajasthan, and although a lot of Rajasthan has been wonderful, the constant scams, aggressiveness and hassle from the small minority is really starting to get to me. That, along with the heat and it’s almost too much to bear.

pushkar sunset

Pushkar, you are so pretty, but you are trying my patience.

Pushkar is a holy town, meaning that every restaurant here is vegetarian, you must cover yourself at all times, alcohol is strictly not allowed, don’t even think about PDA’s, and you must respect the local culture and people.

I have nothing against any of this. Of course it is a given that you must respect the way of life in any place you visit. The thing that I am getting tired of is the constant touts and rip off merchants using ‘respect for the local culture’ as a way of shaming you into parting with your cash.

Jodhpur city

Jodhpur, the Blue City. It looks innocent enough, but it’s crazy down there!

On a quiet walk to the ghats earlier this morning, a man got very aggressive with me because I wouldn’t pay him 1,000 rupees for a ‘blessing’. After telling me over and over again that ‘no money’ is expected, and he is a ‘100% truthful man’, still the request for cash came, of course after the blessing had been received. He then began to shout at me, telling me I am disrespectful to the local culture because I refused to pay up.

Our rickshaw driver bailed out halfway through our planned day out with him and another driver took his place halfway down a street with no explanation… Surprise, surprise, he tried to charge us more for the journey when it ended, despite us reconfirming the agreed cost to him.

Even shopping, which should be a relaxing experience, comes with its own drawbacks. Shopkeepers give you one look up and down, decide you are a rich foreigner and inflate every price by at least 100%.

Listen, India. I am all for experiencing and respecting the local culture. Believe me. But I am not going to part with the equivalent of two night’s accommodation cost so you can hand me a flower and tie a piece of string around my wrist.

This is definitely worth 1,000 rupees, don't you think?

This is definitely worth 1,000 rupees, don’t you think?

In India’s southern states of course there was the odd bad egg that tried to make you part with more money than you should, but at least they were good enough to do it with a smile on their face, and to generally take ‘no’ for an answer.

A simple question here; ‘how much?’ is almost impossible for people to answer. They will avoid this question like the plague until you are so far down the line that when they finally do give you the (hugely inflated) price, you’re pretty much committed. This happens over and over again. Every day. Without fail.

So come on, people. Can we just all get along and be fair about pricing? I saw you offer that top to an Indian woman just two minutes ago for 100 rupees, and now suddenly it’s 300? Let’s just cut the crap, OK?

Jaisalmer shop

Beautiful street stall in Jaisalmer, complete with cow.

Maybe it’s the crazy heat up here, or maybe it’s just that there are a lot more tourists to prey on, but boy, am I sick of being shouted at, constantly ripped off and straight-up bullied for money. Looking over your shoulder all the time does not a good travelling experience make.

I knew the north would be a challenge, but I’m tired now. I’m not 23 anymore and I just want to be left alone.

So I have decided to bypass Jaipur, Delhi and Agra (for now – I may feel brave enough to come back in a while), and head yet further north to the Himalayas. On Thursday I have a 21 hour train journey to contend with, ending in Amritsar, home of the Golden Temple. Then the plan is to head into the mountains and their cool, crisp, open arms.

I know what you’re thinking. ‘If you hate the north so much, why are you going… erm… north?’

Good question! I think what I’m stressing about the most is the crowds, the heat, and being ripped off, so heading to Himachal Pradesh and perhaps Kashmir, home of yoga, Buddhism, zen and landscapes so pretty you can’t help but stand in amazement, is just what the doctor ordered.

The climate will cool off, and there will be plenty of adventure sports to try too. I’m thinking white-water rafting in Manali, trekking in the Indian Himalayas and perhaps even some paragliding!

So bring on the (further) north! I’m ready to love India again!

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Why North India Sucks

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Hayley is the author behind A Life of More, a travel and lifestyle blog with the goal of helping you to live a happier and more fulfilled life, whether you're currently travelling or happily settled.

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Comments 31

  1. Menorca

    I know it’s extremely hot already in India and how awful it may all seem right now. Merchants ripping off tourists are not uncommon honestly, and infact, they also quote higher prices to their own countrymen too. This only happens in smaller shops, where bargaining is also very easy. Even though I’m not good at bargaining, I have seen my mother and many others bargain for 1/3 the price, and after some arguments, they do reach a common point!Ofcourse,if you go to an airconditioned mall where every thing has fixed prices, then you won’t have to haggle with anyone. But, what I’m just saying is:Don’t be so put off with North India!If you know a local, whether a distant friend or CS’er or hostel people..get them to accompany you for shopping and you’ll be seeing a drop in quoted prices.Bonus points if they can bargain a bit!I hope you have a lovely time in the mountains!

  2. Jen

    Don’t hate north India 🙁 and you definitely won’t hate the Himilayas!

    Leh, Dharamshala… such incredible beautiful peaceful places! You will love them.. I promise! z

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    LovePuffin Travel Blog

    Thanks Menorca. I’m trying to stay bright and happy but it’s so draining! I don’t mind a bit of bargaining, but even that is a lot less jovial here than the south. I’m sure I will love it up in the mountains. That’s where my heart is 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

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  5. Megan

    mwhahha im laughing so hard because this post takes the words right out of my mouth. this is EXACTLY how i felt about northern india (take mind, i haven’t been to southern india yet…) i was there for around three weeks (faridabad for a wedding, delhi, agra, jaipur) and while i enjoyed the experience, i am not eager to go back there. i think i’d love the himalayas and where you’re heading to next, and the south, but that little area of india i spent time in was not a joy for me. i have traveled to 70+ countries and while i know ill love other areas of india, i would say this little area falls to some of my least fav travel experiences. i went to kathmandu for a few days to ‘calm’ down and actually LOVED it up there. it was busy and dirty, but with a different vibe and calmer people.

    anyways, everyone told me i was insane for not loving india as much as they all do, but i just didn’t. with that being said, ill definitely get back there one day- ill just head to the south or to the far north 🙂 safe travels!

  6. VickyFlipFlop

    Nooo, don’t bypass the Taj! Jaipur and Agra are awesome. If you join some sort of tour your guide will bat off the pedlars for you and you can just enjoy the scenery 🙂

  7. Karilyn

    the far north is gorgeous, but sadly you will come across the same touts. They are in every touristy town up north. Kashmir wasn’t too bad, but Ladakh has gotten bad as well. Their season is so short they try to make as much as they can in little time.

    Pushkar Jaipur and Agra are the worst. Try to stay out of the tourist ghetto in Delhi and it will be easier than if you don’t.

    I lived in India for 8.5 yrs and I still never loved north India too much!

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    LovePuffin Travel Blog

    Thanks for the comment, Megan!

    The thing is, I really do love India…. Just not right now! I bet tomorrow will bring a new adventure and suddenly I’ll fall in love again. That’s the funny thing about India. It’s like a whirlwind, and you never know what’s coming up!

    I’m sure you would love the rest of India, give it a chance! 🙂

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    LovePuffin Travel Blog

    I think maybe I’ll fill in those gaps on the way back down. Kind of like a golden triangle finisher for the India travels. I think I will have been here for 4 months by the time that rolls around though. So much for two months…. I must love India more than I thought!!

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  12. Katrina the Two Week Traveler

    The only part of India I have any interest in is the Himalayas. I’ve read so many similar stories to this. It doesn’t seem like a place I would enjoy. I’m sure it has its charms and the people who love India really love it, but I don’t think I would.

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  14. Aleah | SolitaryWanderer.com

    I hated Varanasi (where I got groped in public), but I loved Jaipur. You shouldn’t miss it! It made up for my experience in Varanasi. Also, Agra while very touristy is still worth a day of stay there. Taj Mahal deserves a visit especially during sunrise. 🙂

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    LovePuffin Travel Blog

    Don’t let me put you off, Lauren! Just be aware that there are people who will try to scam you, so make sure you keep your guard up in tourist areas especially. India is a great country, let me know if you need any more tips or help at all 🙂

  17. Shelly @ Norway To Nowhere

    Oh man, I’m getting anxious just reading about your experience. I have been so torn on whether I want to visit India or not (I HATE HAGGLING so so much). I think I’d be right there with you at this point. The mountains are calling and you must go!! 🙂

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  20. Sharley

    Hi Hayley,

    I spent two weeks in India in the Easter holidays, in the North/West, it has left me wanting to go back and see the south, which I will definitely do at another time.

    However, do try and find the patience to go to Delhi, Jaipur and Agra- the latter is purely for tourists but the Taj Mahal is incredible. Delhi is a bit manic, but I did love Jaipur. The culture and heritage of these cities far outweighs the negatives. I was there for 15 days and fell victim to Delhi belly on day 13 I thought I had managed to escape. I read your blog a lot and continually feel envious at the extent in which you are travelling India, you seem to have had some testing times, but that’s but I loved most you can’t predict India; anything goes.

    Enjoy the rest of your travels and stay safe, but like I say do try and get to the biggest tourist cities- I loved them.

    Sharley xx

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    LovePuffin Travel Blog

    Hey Sharley! Oh no, not another victim of Delhi belly! It seems that it’s completely unavoidable really!!

    Never fear! I’m planning to finish the trip in Delhi, and definitely not miss the Taj. I’ve heard amazing things from other travellers who have been there. I’m glad you loved it, and you’re planning to come back one day. Let me know if you need any tips or anything, I’d be happy to help! x

  22. Steph

    Hello again! After enduring India for a full month, I stumbled upon this post again. It’s made me giggle and almost cry haha. I also got scammed out of 500rupees at Pushkar lake after being told that I was “disresepcting their culture” because I was sat down watching. I can laugh at it now but at the time I was absolutely fuming. I feel ya on the scams too now.. Unfortunately we got scammed on our first day which led to many regrets at the end of the trip… But hey! It’s all part of the experience right?
    Love this post even more now that I’ve travelled India!
    Steph.
    P.S. Writing this to you from Stops Hostel! Great recommendation. Looking forward to rereading the rest of your India posts!

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    Hayley Griffiths

    Hey Steph – So glad you found Stops, it’s pretty epic isn’t it??

    Oh yeah, I remember the fun of Pushkar lake. The worst part is that most people will feel embarrassed by the ‘shaming’ and pay through the nose! Absolutely terrible!

    I hope you’re enjoying India and taking the bad with the inevitable good that comes with it. Have a blast! xx

  24. Tyler & Ashley Peterson

    Totally agree 100%! We LOVED southern India! The people were so kind and welcoming everywhere we went! Then we headed north and it was like night and day! From the moment we arrived in Delhi to the day we flew out everyone was trying to scam us and badger us for money. There were no smiling faces, constant touts and hasslers, and everyone was after money. India went from our favorite to least favorite country really quick. Jaipur wasn’t worth the stop if I could go again I would only visit the Taj then head out.

  25. Radhika Varma

    Why don’t you head afterwards to Kerala, the southernmost state of India. I bet you would find it a better place than North.

  26. Tired of the white man's crap

    Nothing to see here folks, another beaten up old chavvy white women banging on about something she has no clue about.

    P.s. haggling is a thing in that whole continent, get used to it.

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