When travelers come to India they almost always follow the same route from the Himalayas, down through Rajasthan to Goa, stopping off at Varanasi or Pune on the way. India is absolutely vast though, especially as it takes so long to get anywhere and, if you venture into the heart of Madhya Pradesh or the hills of the North East, you’ll pass through villages that have never seen a white face before.
The remote parts of India can get pretty wild and states like Bihar are perhaps best avoided as being full of bandits. The government also restricts entry into some of the tribal areas in the north east. Still, you can still get a lot of interesting travel around the borders and get an idea of what variety of people live in this country.
In fact, even in the Himalayas or the south of India, all you have to do to get off the backpacker route by half an hour. Head somewhere where there’s nothing to interest the guidebooks and you’ll encounter a people more interested in talking to you than selling something. Get a decent base in Hindi and the Indians will forgive you anything – plus out in the sticks hardly anyone speaks English anyway.
Check out the India Travel Guide for more.