A Gap Year in India

Why go backpacking in India?

Backpacking in India can feel like a bit of an overwhelming experience. Many of its cities are vibrant and hectic, but it also has plenty of more peaceful places to visit – not to mention the stunning mountain walks and hikes South Asia is famous for.

India is the seventh largest country in the world and, with over a billion people, has a population ready to outnumber that of China in the coming years. It’s big! It’s busy! So a gap year in India will reward you with extreme diversity in geography, climate, culture, language, and ethnicity. Backpacking in India can be stressful, but also exhilarating, the country offering up a rich heritage and a wealth of fascinating religions and ethnography. A gap year in India will open your innocent eyes to the world.

Things to do in India

Check out our current top picks


Volunteer with Children in India

from £945

14 days


Discover the colourful culture of India when you volunteer alongside local teachers supporting disadvantaged children in the Southern state of...

Volunteer in Slum Teaching in India

from £177

7 - 168 days


Volunteer on the Slum Teaching volunteer project in India. Located in Delhi.

India Animal Rescue

from £595

7 - 84 days


The project that you will join in India provides continuous support and care for the street animals of Udaipur; many...

Volunteer with Street Children

from £880

21 - 182 days


Travel to exciting Delhi and volunteer with street children on this thoroughly worthwhile programme.

Gap Year in India

from £820

28 - 112 days


A rare opportunity to live and work in an ancient Indian culture.

Volunteer with Children in India

from £945

14 days


Discover the colourful culture of India when you volunteer alongside local teachers supporting disadvantaged children in the Southern state of...

Social Travel: Volunteer in North India

from £126

7 - 42 days


Travel through the diverse parts India, working with NGOs, help others, create impact and enjoy our cultural, adventurous and spiritual...

Medical Internship in Delhi

from £895

14 - 28 days


Gain invaluable work experience and insight into life as a doctor or nurse in vibrant Delhi. Choose a range of...

India Child Care

from £675

14 - 84 days


Create exciting sessions to develop the children’s creative and communication skills at day care centres and community outreach projects. Learn...

2 Week Pre-Medical Programmes

from £1880

14 days


If you are a student, aged 16-18, looking for a career in medicine, join one of our two internships this...

Latest advice and inspiration for India

Check out what our writers have been up to in India


The Cities

Your starting point on your India gap year may well be Mumbai, formerly Bombay, a sprawling city on India’s west coast. You’re not going to find the greatest nightlife in the world, but the city more than makes up for it with beaches, music festivals, a bustling film scene, and theme parks. Travel during Indian holidays like Eid, Diwali, or Holi to experience Mumbai in full party mode.

Elsewhere there’s Agra, home to the Taj Mahal, the world famous white marble mausoleum. It’s a hugely busy attraction, but a stalwart on any bucket list that deserves to be ticked off. To the north is the city of New Delhi, which ironically has areas centuries old and ideal for catching a glimpse of the past, as well as busy bazaars, and also Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan, home to the magnificent City Palace complex.

To really grasp the culture of India, the religious city of Varanasi in North India is worth visiting. This Indian city lies on the banks of the Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, and is the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism, believed to be the favourite city of the Hindu Deity, Lord Shiva. The ancient buildings and holy people really make this place a unique experience.

If you plan your trip well enough, you could be lucky enough to participate in one of India’s biggest and brightest festivals, The Kumbh Mela. The celebration involves a huge pilgrimage of Hindus who gather at the sacred river, and is held every three years on rotation at either, Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik, and Ujjain. Brave backpackers can join the locals and sadhus by dipping themselves into the Ganges, Shipra, or Kushavart River, which is believed to cleanse the body and soul.

The Scenery

The busy cities of India can begin to feel a little stressful and tiring as your stay in this incredible country continues. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to escape.

In the north of India backpackers can test their limits by climbing the mighty Himalayas. It’s no easy feat, so be sure to pack proper equipment: warm clothes, a tent, stove, and take along some friends. Oh, and a guide is pretty important too! There are several trekking routes through the Himalayas, catering to various levels of fitness, so you can choose one that best suits you.

India boasts over 7,500 kilometres of coastline and, particularly if you head south, it’s easy to find beautiful beaches on which to kick back and work on your tan. India is also a megadiverse country, offering up a frankly ludicrous amount of wildlife to seek out – meaning there are a great volunteer opportunities.

You don’t have to try too hard to fall in love with India on your gap year.

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