Cycling through India.

Cycling through India.

I have just been cycling through India, from Delhi to Kolkata. Here are a few notes and impressions from the trip.


I have been on the road for more than 25 years. Have visited more than 70 countries. 6 Weeks ago I had still not been to India though. So I decided to do something about it and went cycling through India during the month of december.

My cycling route through India.

My cycling route through India.

India is a huge country. And you can’t cover the whole country in one trip. So I had to decide what area to visit. I decided to take a bicycle trip from Delhi to Kolkata.

Delhi is by far the cheapest place to fly to from Denmark. And Kolkata is a city I have always been curious about. As a kid I heard that it was a city with a lot of poverty. Mother Teresa was living there in the slums. As I grew older I learned that Kolkata is also a city with many intellectuals.

So I decided to pay Kolkata a visit. Having roughly 1800 kilometres of cycling to do in between to the places, I had the chance to visit both famous cities like Agra and Varanasi. But also see places that hardly ever see any visitors.

One of the great things about traveling by bicycle is that you only travel around 100 kilometres per day. So I get to visit a lot of places that are not in any guidebook. Maybe they do not have any big sights. But they have friendly locals who are not so used to foreign visitors and in my opinion these places are a lot more friendly than a city that has thousands of tourists coming every day.

On my way, from Delhi to Agra.

On my way, from Delhi to Agra.

Cycling from Delhi to Agra.

The first stretch from Delhi to Agra had very heavy traffic. And a lot of industrial places. But I still had a good time and enjoyed digging into the street food I came across along the road. India has some of the best food on the planet if you ask me.

I did not have any stomach problems on my entire trip. Almost everyone had told me, prior to my trip, that I would get sick. But I can hardly remember having such a perfect stomach like I had in India.


Visiting Agra and Taj Mahal.

Taj Mahal.

Taj Mahal.

Coming to Agra, I was not really sure if I wanted to visit Taj Mahal. Most people will say that this is insane, but I work as a tour guide and if I want to visit big tourist sights, I can usually get free trips to do that. Or maybe even be paid to visit the place.

In the end I went there anyway and I have to say that it is one of the most remarkable buildings I have seen in this world. It’s really an architectural masterpiece and I can only recommend that you visit Taj Mahal if you go to India.


Cycling through rural India.

Local cyclist in India.

Local cyclist in India.

From Agra I cycled east and in two weeks of cycling I only met 2 other westerners. This was a couple who were walking from Bangkok to Barcelona. I really love to take these bicycle trips where you get totally off the tourist trail. This is where you see how life is truly lived in the country.

You will not meet people who see you as just another tourist. but people who are genuinely curious about you. Not that I am against visiting popular tourist places. But I also want to visit some of the places in between the popular sights too when I am visiting a country.

Fully loaded truck in the Jharkhand province.

Fully loaded truck in the Jharkhand province.

A bicycle stuntman saved my trip.

Getting my bike fixed in Fatehpur

Getting my bike fixed in Fatehpur

As I was cycling into the town Fatehpur, I thought that I was done with cycling through India. My krank was broken and I had several mechanics trying to repair it. But they were not able to take it apart, as it was totally jammed.

After staying a night in a hotel in Fatehpur, I decided to go to the train station. Take the train to Varanasi. And then do the rest of the trip as a backpacker. As I was cycling slowly with my broken bike towards the station, a young guy cycled up next to me and said hello.

I was not really in the mood for talking and I have to admit that I was not very polite at first. But then he kept insisting that he wanted me to stop and said that he was a professional cyclist and could help me fix my bike.

He showed me a local bicycle repair shop and sat down with a mechanic and explained what he had to do. After a couple of hours, they had managed to replace my krank. The price for that was 5$. YES. 5 friggin’ Dollars. I tipped the repair guy another 3$ and he looked like he had just won the lottery.

The young cyclist who had helped me told me that he had worked a few years as a stunt cyclist doing TV commercials. But was now back in Fatehpur, where he was working in a clothes store. This again proved to me that the best thing about travel is the people you meet.

Deepak Chaudhary, as his name is, totally saved the rest of my trip with his helpfulness and generosity. Thank you again Deepak if you ever read this.

Deepak Chaudhary is a true Indian hero.

Deepak Chaudhary is a true Indian hero.


Cycling through Bihar and Jharkhand.

In rural India, many people make a living from collecting cow dung and selling it.

In rural India, many people make a living from collecting cow dung and selling it.

Many Indians told me that cycling through the two states of Bihar and especially Jharkhand would be dangerous. I did a lot of research though and as far as I could see, then this should be OK as long as I did not cycle at night. There has, in the past, been a lot of rebel activity there but these days it’s mainly some bandit activity as I see it. Of course, this is bad enough, but in my experience, these people only operate at night. And all I can say is that I did not feel in any danger while cycling through these two states.


Wonderful Kolkata.

I love Kolkata.

I love Kolkata.

Finally I made it to Kolkata, where I spent a few wonderful days. I spent a couple of days walking around Kolkata, which unlike Delhi, is actually a city I could see myself live in. Very pleasant city with a nice vibe, despite the poverty. And a nice population with many intellectuals.

Kolkata is the city of intellectuals and I was lucky to have one showing me the city.

Kolkata is the city of intellectuals and I was lucky to have one showing me the city.

All in all, my cycling through India trip was really great and I am not done with India at all. I will be coming back, most likely several times. India is a very different country and you will always have both good and bad days there, but I had 10 times as many good days as bad days, when I was cycling through India, so I will be back.

Cycling through India was great.

Cycling through India was great.

If you want to read about another cycling trip I did in Asia, then you can read about my cycling trip from Kuala Lumpur to Penang in Malaysia on this link.

Update, 2024:

In November and December, 2023, I took a cycling trip down the west coast of India. You can read about that trip on this link.


  1. Great write-up. I agree totally; over the years I have cycled about 9000 km in India, more than everywhere else combined. I’m looking for to retirement in a year or two so I can go back for some longer, non-summer trips.

    Did you stick to small roads?

  2. Avinash K Singh

    This is great Claus. I was also planning for a cycle travel experience to a beautiful location can you guide me some tips or like the way you prepare yourself for such trips. For example how many days it took you to complete a trip how many kms/day you prefer and for like a new cycler how much is great for me. 🙂

  3. Wow – what an experience! I’ve been itching to do this type of trip for years. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Don Porsché aka Nemorino

    I must admit I would never have picked India as a place to cycle — but it sounds like you had a great trip.

  5. Wow, what an interesting perspective and glad you had more of a good time. Double thumbs up for the fact that you enjoyed the time in our home town- Kolkata. It’s chaotic but wonderful in its own way and often gets overlooked by tourists!

  6. Priyanka Mitra

    It was lovely reading your post. what made it even more fun was the fact that I live in Delhi and am a Bengali so the praise for Kolkata was very welcome 🙂

    I work for a leading media house in India and need to correspond with you on a project I am doing on Cycling…could you please share an email address I could write to…thats of course if you are willing to help and collaborate.

  7. Kolkata nicer than Delhi? We didn’t know that. Your route sounds really nice, especially since my husband would love to visit Varanasi and Kolkata.

    As for us, we’ve also cycled a lot through India and can highly recommend the state of Tamil Nadu.

    • Hi’ Grace. Kolkata is a hundred times nicer than Delhi if you ask me. I really enjoyed my stay in Kolkata, while I would say that Delhi was interesting, but an awful place to be for more than a week. And i have heard a lot of good things about cycling in Tamil Nadu and it’s a place that ranks very high on my list of places to visit in the future.

  8. Hey Claus, Definitely agree. Have been cycling around this wonderful globe of ours for many years, a bit at a time, and India definitely a highlight. Was probably on some of the same roads as you. Cycled from Dhaka to Dharamshala 20 years ago and always itching to get back but then always want to make sure I see new places. See you have cycled Indonesia, planning a short trip next summer(Jakarta to Bali) was nice to see your input on cycling there, cheers,Tom

  9. Hi Claus

    Thanks for your post.
    Like many I would love to cycle India.
    By day it’s safe, great. I cycled Nepal and small roads make it easier and less stress.
    How about food and water? Do you have any tips?

    • Hi’ Stephen. I had no problems buying food and drink along the road in India. I never stocked up on anything. Bottles water was available in pretty much all towns and cities. And streetfood is everywhere in India. And that is my favourite food anywhere. And I had no stomach problems at all while cycling around India.

  10. Hey, Priyanka Mitha I’m also a Bengali and want to visit Delhi or somewhere by Cycle.

  11. Hi Claus,

    Nice written and really positive! I highly highly recommend cycling Mumbai to Trivandrum as well. Just finished this stretch (south to north) over 2000km in 6 weeks. Really calm, friendly people, nice coast!
    Was looking up if we should continue till Agra and then train to get in time in Nepal or train to Delhi/Agra and continue cycling east. Big part if your route. Sounds the last is a good choice!

  12. Amazing experiences!

  13. Bhagyashree P.

    Thank you for sharing the post, it was really nice reading your blog! Kindly visit :

  14. Hi Claus,
    Inspiring blog of cycling India!
    Hope will make another trip in western part of India.

  15. Hi,
    It sounds like you had an amazing time cycling India. I cycled toured for the first time in Morocco last year and would like to go to India this winter. Thank you for this write up of your tour, some of the photos and a look at your bike.

  16. Hi Claus,
    I found your website while looking for general information about cycling in India. Two questions: What kind of routing did you use? How could you avoid to use highways?

    Thanks, Harry

    PS.: Great report 🙂

    • Hi’ Harry. I used a combination of small roads and highways. I actually like cycling on the highways in India, as they have very large shoulders that are used by two wheeled transport. If you do not like noise, then this is not for you though. But I was quite happy using a combination of smaller roads and busy highways. And I did not feel in any danger when cycling on the highways in India by the way.

  17. George R Cumming

    Hi Claus,

    Exciting story of your journey. Thanks.

    I didn’t grasp how many days it took you? Was the terrain a problem? No one likes inclines.
    I’d like to try Mumbai to Nepal. Any tips or websites to help me? I’m retired and need to get fit.


    • Hi’ George. If I remember right, then I think I had 18 cycling days from Delhi to Kolkata. I took a break for a couple of days in cities like Agra an Varanasi. The stretch I cycled was quite flat.But if you start heading towards the Nepalese border, then you will have to do some climbing.

  18. Hi Claus, fascinating blog, thanks for sharing it! I’m looking at doing a cycling tour of India in a few months time, could you tell me where you slept on your tour, did you take a tent with you or is paid for accommodation freely available? If so, did you book ahead or “play it by ear” and just turn up at hostels/hotels etc?



    • Hi’ Jon. I stayed mostly in smaller roadside hotels. I always found a place to spend the night, as long as I was a little flexible with price and quality. I was warned by Indian tour cyclists to not wild camp on the route where I was going. They told me that highway robberies are common at night in northeast India. I have been told that it’s much safer when you get up towards Himalaya. I’m very happy with staying in small roadside hotels anyway.

  19. Hi Claus, I have been planning a trip exactly on these lines for sometime now. I am looking to buy a good cycle first. Chanced upon your write up and am inspired a new. Could you please give me some more advice/tips on how to go about it? Problem is I am a 63 yr old/young female.

    • Hi’ Julie. Nice that you want to do a trip like this. I do not know if you have previously done a longer bicycle trip like this. If not, then be aware that getting in and out of the bigger cities can be a bit of a challenge. Once you are in and out of the countryside, things are much easier on a bike. For finding a bike, I have a blogpost about where I managed to find some bike supplies, when I was in Delhi. You can find it on this link:

      • Hi Claus, thanks for the prompt reply and valuable tip. I am stuck because of the country wide lock down but am working on my fitness. Anyway it would only be in the winter. Wish I could be joined by some fellow cyclists.

  20. What a fantastic piece, thank you so much.Your story of meeting Deepak is the typical magic of the people of India! I have been living and working there on and off for years and would love to do a cycling trip. Was it a big hassle to fly your bike in and out? How did you do that?

    • Flying my bike in and out was not big deal. I flew with Qatar Airways, where I can bring my bike for free as luggage. And I have a soft bag for my bike, so that the wires are protected when flying. I fly with my bike 2-3 times every year that way.

  21. Pingback: I will be cycling from Delhi to Kolkata this december.

  22. Pingback: A little tips and info if you are trying to find a bicycle store in Delhi.

  23. Pingback: I have just been cycling from Agra to Etawah on India's new bicycle trail.

  24. Great write up. I’ve been worried about cycling through India for the last few months as I’ve not heard good stories. (I’m currently cycling from England to Singapore).
    Is it possible for you to send me the actual route you took? Thank you in advance for any help.

    • Hi Philly. I actually cycled on both smaller roads, as well as main highways. I felt that it was not a problem anywhere, as the big main highways have large shoulders, that are made for soft traffic. It’s very chaotic to cycle in India. But not dangerous if you ask me. Motorbike travelers often have accidents in India. But that is because they ride too fast and do not take all the animals, pedestrians and other things in to account when they ride. I find that as a slow moving cyclist, I had no problem at all on the Indian roads. So sending you an actual route will not really make much sense, as I did not plan a specific route, in order for it to be safe. Have a fantastic trip.

    • Sophie bolton

      Kia Ora from NZ Philly,

      We are looking to do this trip in reverse and would love to connect on any tips and host you if you come our way!


  25. One needs so much courage to do this, Hats off to you.

  26. This is called the real adventure.

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