Asia Forums

Start a new topic Change Forum
Advanced search

Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore

Jump to last reply

Hello,

We are planning a trip to India and would like to spend a week seeing the sights in Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Ranthambore. We will have 8 days and arriving end of June. Can someone please suggest a suitable itinerary, places to stay (not the oberois and high end ones) and details on the safari and if it is worth it. Or is Bharatpur a better choice?

Thanks in advance.

  • Report Abuse

    I think we need more information.

    So, dt - what research have you done so far? Any? What appealed to you? When you typed in your requests in the search box just up at the top of this page, when you read the trip reports and multiple posts on this topic, what took your eye?

    When you looked thru your guide book, when you perused the five million travel websites about India - which excited you?

    Do tell us. That'll help a lot.

  • Report Abuse

    Hi

    I'd like to piggyback on this thread. We are planning a similar trip for late April (we are late, I know) and could use some help. Dogster, I have spent a ton of time on Fodors and the web in general, but getting actual info from those who have been is critical. Maybe both DT and I could benefit from your help.

    We may stay more like 10-11 days and IF we can do it, would like to start in Delhi and do Agra (day trip possible to avoid moving around so much?) and Jaipur. The only other thing we'd like to try to fit in is a trip to Rishikesh (my husband wants to spend a short time at an ashram--yoga and meditation practitioner) and Corbett. If we can't do that, then Ranthambore would work instead of Corbett.

    We are travelling with 2 kids, 12 and 15. So, any itinerary that would help us to keep them happy would be great. Wildlife is one of those things. Elephant ride at Amber Fort is good?? Elephant safari at Corbett? How good or cheesy are these things? We've taken the kids to Eqypt and Morocco and the difference between some of the camel rides and "5 minutes treks" was ridiculous.

    We can't do the very top end of things either...two bedrooms at the Oberoi for 10 nights is nuts...but would like to stay in nice places. For example, Khem Villas in Ranthambore looked great! even the Imperial in Delhi looked 1/2 the price of the Oberoi properties. I can't seem to focus in on a similar place in Corbett. Any advice?

    I know it will be hot....but we can only travel on school breaks, so we are stuck with this time.

    If you can help, that is great. Much thanks in advance to all you experienced India travellers.

  • Report Abuse

    May & June is certainly not the time to do the Golden Triangle. It would be much better to do a Hill Tour in these months. But for those, who, probabaly have no options, I would suggest that you stick to only Delhi / Agra / Jaipur in those 8 days in hand. It would be extremely exhauting moving about on account of the heat & perspiration. The heat is palpable inside the monuments.
    It is pointless to go to Bharatpur for most of the migratory birds have taken off for cooler climates. Only a few species of local birds would be on sight.
    Ranthambhore would be a better choice - if you had a couple of extra days to spare - as most of the water holes have dryed up & the lakes too have shrunk in size. Most of the animals stay closer to water, helping sight seeing. But be careful of the dates of travel for Ranthambhore Park is closed about three months during this time.

  • Report Abuse

    Yeah, it'll be hot - I'll be in India at the same time [April, May] - you gotta take it into consideration - with kids particularly. Twelve yr. olds, in my experience, are not too good at 'soldiering on'.

    Paris, I'll give it some thought - I've just woken up, I need coffee. My initial [always best] thought was completely off-topic - Nepal instead.

    But I'll try and stay on track. Off-season and heat means more TIGERS and 50% off the rates. I'm gonna search out a great deal I found for you. BaCK SOON.

  • Report Abuse

    www.andbeyondindia.com/

    off season- rates @ 12,500 rs. Two of them have a stay 2 nights, get three deal. Indian game parks can be truly hideous. It ain't Africa. You must get a good one - or don't bother.

    Why not send Daddy off for a bit of Rishikesh on his own and Mum and the kids do game parks at the same time? [That way, three in a room, off season rates - hey, looking good] Is that a possibility?

    I guess you MUST see Agra, 'cos its famous, I guess you MUST see Jaipur, 'cos it's there. There are truly three million ways to achieve this Golden Triangle. Tourists have been doing it for three hundred years. Do you want to do it EXACTLY like everybody else in the world does it? Allocate two nights, three days as a basic minimum, stretch it to three, get a family-mobile and a driver [incredibly easy to sort out, I'll show you later] and off you go to see the Wizard, the wonderful wizard of...

    you know the rest. There are many. many ways to skin that Triangle cat. They involve more time and a creative mind. I hope you have the latter - the former could be a problem. Another two nights could get you a stay in an amazing castle...

    www.neemranahotels.com/neemrana/index.html.htm

    or www.neemranahotels.com/pataudi/index.html.htm

    or
    http://www.samode.com/home/palace/s-place.htm

    Or on and on into infinity.If the heats gets to you, all the places are interesting enuf to stay inside.

    Really, it's all about the kids, isn't it? If they go feral, the holiday is spoiled. What kinda kids are they? well-travelled by the sound of it. Animals + proper accom. at these places = BIG BUCKS - and BIG TRAVEL [mostly] to get there. Think 3/4/5 hours to get there, 3/4/5 hours to get back. Minimum.

    Wanna be more creative? Open their little eyes? [You won't do this, I know]

    Delhi/quickie to Agra/
    Varanasi/Kathmandu/Kolkata. Three flights, each to a fascinating central location. You stay dead-centre of things each place. Everything is walking from then on. As much excitement as you want - instant escape to your central hotel.

    That'll get their little eyes rolling... lol. If interested, I'll show you how. Easy as pie.

    But, sigh, I know you really just want to do the obvious. In which case, after Jaipur, you drive off looking for a game park, spend a lotta dough over three nights, come back, have two nights in Delhi - all over.




  • Report Abuse

    Actually unless you are used to it the heat then will roast you and to echo what dogster and VP said it will be pretty rough for the kids. If you must go then you must but its way preferable to go in the fall or winter. Delhi can get to be 115F in the summer. Not too conducive to enjoying a tour.

  • Report Abuse

    Thankyou dogster, singh, Pariskid and jacketwatch,

    One thing I forgot to mention was that we are travelling with a 11 yr old boy. He is the one who is more interested in doing this trip. He read somewhere that Taj mahal will eventually be closed to public because of the pollution and he wants to see it before that happens. He travelled to Africa with us when he was 7 yrs old and did not complain once.

    Day 1 and 2 : We were thinking of doing 2 days in Delhi seeing Jama Masjid, Raj Ghat, Parliament, Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Lotus temple. 2 nights at Delhi

    Day 3: Then travel to Agra. Leave early in the morning from Delhi so we can see Fathehpur Sikri and then see Taj at sunset. 1 night at Agra fathehpur sikri to agra is 37km. Delhi to Agra is 204km 41/2 hrs

    Day 4: The next morning do a Sun Rise visit to Taj and then leave to Jaipur. Visit Amber Fort and jantar mantar night at Jaipur Agra to Jaipur is 237 km 5hr drive Fort and palace close at 5pm. observatory closes later.

    Day 5: Hawa Mahal and leave Jaipur to Ranthambore Evening safari. Night at Ranthambore Jaipur to Ranthambore is 145km. Cover Pushkar temple on the way.

    Day 6: Morning safari. and leave
    Ranthambore to Delhi is 424 km.

    These are the things we are contemplating on. Take a private car upto Jaipur and then take a train to Ranthambore and back to Jaipur. We can take a flight from Jaipur to S.India.

    Ranthambore closes for the season on June 30th. Since it is off season and tail end of the season do we get better deals.

    The other option is drive from Agra to ranthambore via Bharatpur 265 km.

    Then go to Jaipur. Flyout from jaipur

    I have no clue as to where we can stay and if all this can be done. Looks good on paper. We are short on time and dont mind cramming in on the schedule.

    We know it is going to be hot but given the date of Ranthambore closing and our arrival into Delhi because of the schools closing in 3rd week of June on the Eastcoast, we have little choice. We prefer the heat to the monsoons.

    Thank you for all your input. It makes it easier for me to make our travel arrangements.

    I am sorry if I have managed to confuse you all.

    Thanks for taking time to answer our questions.

  • Report Abuse

    Hqave you ever said to your keen, intelligent 11 year old boy..'you know, you can't have it all...'?

    The first four days is a pretty standard hurtle thru the sights. If that's how you want to travel then it's a perfectly efficient way to do it.

    Then, on Day 5 you seem to have taken opium, or some kind of travel hallucinogenic. Your fantasy life seems to continue from then on - lol. You might want to rethink.

    Here are all the ways to get to Ranthambhore:

    www.ranthambhore.com/faq.html

    But, errr. you are going to Ranthanbore for ONE night? Via Pushkar? Mmmm - have you done the looking at map part of the planning? lol

    I suppose your lad wants to see the tigers before they disappear, as well.

    Then you go to South India as well?

  • Report Abuse

    I've just been breaking down your trip. Almost every day you are up at 5.00 a.m. - each day lasts about 12, 13 hours. Seems like hard work to me.You go all the way to Jaipur and, actually, you'll only spend about 4 hours actually seeing anything. You go all the way to Ranthanbhore for 5 - 6 hours safari in total. I don't get it.

    I know you're trying to cram stuff in and please an inquisitive 11 year old - but I have the distinct feeling that you are all going to be too exhausted to enjoy ANY of this.

  • Report Abuse

    Dogster is spot-on for day 05. Travelling from Jaipur to Ranthambhore by car, you will need to retrace your way (from Jaipur), back to Dausa >> Lalsot >> Sawaimadhopur. This distance is approx. 150km & will take about 5 hours. The road from Dausa to Lalsot passes through, at times, densely populated areas with progress, of necessity slow. The road via tonk is in a bad shape & will take even longer. Pushkar is a good 141km from Jaipur & another 272km to Ranthambhore...impossible! You have a set time when you can enter / exit the Park, about 3pm?? for that time of the year, 2:30pm for winters.
    Driving from Agra to Sawaimadhopur is not too bright an idea, entrain from Bharatpur, to take the evening safari. The cottages at Khem Villas will be a good idea as some of these open into wilderness, a small lake & the aravallis of Ranthambhore in the background!

  • Report Abuse

    Visit Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, with a stop at Fatepur Sikhri. or do Delhi, Agra and Ranthambore. You do not have enough time to do both Jaipur and Ranthambore.

    The odds of seeing a tiger are extremely low in India. If you still want to go to RNP, take a train (the road is brutal) and keep your expectations low.

    If you have been on an african safari, I'd do Jaipur instead. Visit Fatepur Sikhri and the nearby Bharatpur in between Agra and Jaipur if you want some outdoor time.

    Might depend on the monsoon...it may have passed and the roads will be okay, or it might still be going on. Either way, allow time for delays. you can survive the heat, but you must go slowly! Personally, I think RNP would be torture in May or June...dusty, lots of bugs and hotter than Hell.

    As far as mid range hotels, I enjoyed Samode Haveli in Jaipur, and have heard glowing remarks about Jasvilas in Jaipur.

  • Report Abuse

    dtnestea – I believe that your son is quite misinformed that the “Taj will be closing soon due to pollution”. It is a statement which does not even make sense. Tourists are not damaging the Taj, although air pollution may be, but closing it to tourists is not going to do anything to stop the air pollution damage, which comes from industry in the area and to some extent from car traffic in Agra. Most importantly, India is also not about to close its Number One tourist destintation, rest assured. The Taj literally gets about 90% of all tourists to India (at about US$17 a head, its not a bad money maker either). If you are seriously contemplating making the trip to Agra because of an article your son read, perhaps this is a good time to teach him that much of what is written in newspapers and magazines is sensationalized or even wrong, and that he needs to learn to critically analyze what he reads. I would say that there is a better chance of the praymids crumbing into the desert due to the air pollution, or – more likely -- being completely engulfed by the suburbs of Cairo first, so perhaps you should go to Egypt (but not in April either I would say).

    You say you “prefer heat to monsoons”; however most likely in June in north India you will in fact find BOTH, as the monsoon may be breaking right over you during your trip. See weatherbase.com for rainfall averages; if the monsoon is just a week early (not that unusual), you will be in the rain. I also believe that you do not know what “heat is”: we are talking over 100 F every day, and quite often over 110 F each day. And no place to find air con at any tourist site. And that punishing sun with no cloud cover. If the rain comes it is actually a relief. But then traffic stops and can slow you down and you have a VERY tight schedule.

    I would agree with the other posts that I believe you are underestimating the travel times. I also don’t at all understand how you are going to see the Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, THEN get to Puskar in the morning before driving down to Ranthambore AND get to the park in time for the afternoon drive. The game drives are not evening game drives like in Africa where the last hour or so is in darkness, they depart around 2 pm and last 3 hours or so. I see no reason to drive to Agra from Delhi in 4.5 hours when the fast morning train takes 2 hours. On Day 4, your day might be possible if you do not stop to eat or go to the bathroom, and encounter no traffic at all on the roads; although I question how much of the City Palace (i.e. the “observatory”) you will get to see if you try to include the Amber Palace and the drive up from Jaipur on the same day. FYI, Fatephur Sikri is on the road between Agra and Jaipur, and most people stop there on the way to Jaipur, and not ,ake a trip out and back from Agra (about an hour each way), although it is possible to do that. However in Agra you have left out the Fort and any other sites within Agra other than the Taj. I cannot stress enough how bad the road is between Agra and Ranthambore. The road between Jaipur and Ranthambore is good road, but the Agra-Ranthambore road is quite bad and IMO this might be the time your child will start complaining, and you will have5-6 hurs to listen to him.

    With only 8 days, I heartily agree that you need to cut something out. With only 8 days I might even say to only go to 2 places, but with Agra being one of them, that is possible. However, driving all the way to Ranthambore for 1 drive seems like a big waste. Bharatapur is bird watching only, no big wildlife, and would be fine for 1 night (and more sense as it is on the way to Jaipur), but not sure if birding is what you are interested in.

    pariskid678, in answer to some of your specific questions: the elephant ride up to the Amber Fort is about 10 minutes and is on the winding road up to the palace, so it is not a “nature” ride. Certainly fun, certainly touristy/cheesy, but certainly should be done. But is not a substitute for a safari or anything.

    I am a big fan of Rikisesh, but note that it will only be marginally cooler there in April. It is on a much smaller scale than Varanasi, more walkable, very few tourists and your kids may find it more accessible for that reason. You could certainly travel to Corbett from there for a few days. You could easily do a day trip from Rikisesh to Rajaji National Park, see http://www.rajajinationalpark.in/. There is also excellent walking/hiking in the area and whitewater rafting, although by April I can’t say it will be really fast (which you may prefer for the kids). There are also actually tiger, snow leapard and other wildlife right in the hills around Rikisesh, I can’t guarantee you would see them, but there are seen from time to time. It is an easy train ride from Delhi (but also look into the Kingfisher flight to Deera Dun which is quite easy). I would suggest you look at that Ananda resort there ((http://www.anandaspa.com/), which is about 20 minutes outside the town, with wonderful with spa treatments, a tremendous view, and great yoga instructors, peacocks wandering the grounds; your husband could also go into town for instruction or even stay at an ashram on the river if he wants to total immersion experience. (I have to laugh at the concept of a “quick trip” to an ashram, it seems to really defeat the whole purpose of the spiritual experience!! It’s like we want instant enlightenment, which the sages along the Ganges there have been seeking for decades...) This hotel may be out of your budget, but is really worth considering if you can do it. The Glass House might be an interesting compromise if it is cheaper, the Neemrana group certainly have some interesting hotels, see http://www.neemranahotels.com.

    Please remember that is will be VERY hot in April, see weatherbase.com and just expect hot hot hot. I don’t actually think a day trip to Agra would be fun, I think it would be more tiring in the heat than anything. I think it would be better to have a hotel room (and pool!) you can retreat to, and go to the Taj for sunrise (cooler and very beautiful and not possible with a day trip) and maybe sunset, and if you want do some other things during the day you can venture out for a few hours, or if only some one to go out, the others can stay at the hotel. Look at the Taj View Hotel, which is much cheaper than the Oberoi and perfectly fine (see their suites which may work for the whole family and have excellent views of the Taj). The Mughal (a Sheraton) would also be a good choice.

    In terms of schedule, you could do Delhi, train to Agra, then drive to Jaipur, stopping at Fatephur Sikri on the way. Then you could, if you wanted a little adventure, take the overnight train from Jaipur to Rikisesh; your kids may think the sleeper trip is fun. (Haridwar Mail, departs Jaipur 11 pm, arrives Haridwar at Noon, then about an hour drive to Rikisesh. AC 2-tier is US$18 per person, first class AC is about US$25 per person but I am not sure that these are bunk bed seats, you would have to check.). Otherwise, you could go to Rikisesh first from Delhi (4 hours by train to Hardiwar or 1 hour flight) and then reverse the itin or go back to Delhi from Rikisesh and do Agra Jaipur and back to Delhi. There are many ways to do this.

    Other places to consider for April would be Ladakh or the hill stations like Darjeeling or Shimla or a place like Dharamsala where the Dali Lama has his headquarters. I don’t know that you would say these are prime wildlife areas, but really beautiful scenery with mountains, very interesting culture and people. Ladakh has a large Tibetan Buddhist population and would be quite different, the other places are quite Alpine in their feeling/weather – and always the odd chance of seeing the Dali Lama, and you can of course visit the headquarters; I believe yoga instruction is available in town. And much better temps in April than the baking plains. You might also consider the south like Kerala, which while still hot in April, is at least on the sea so you can get a little sea breeze relieve, and you can do the houseboat thing and go to the beaches and then there are several wildlife parks in this area.



  • Report Abuse

    Cicerone- i have recently heard from two Indian travel people that there has been talk of closing the inside of the Taj off to tourists in the very near near future. Too much co2 emitting from the humans, or something?

  • Report Abuse

    Thanks Cicerone and Dogster for all the helpful comments. I have got only a second to write here, but wanted to let you know that your comments are not going unread and are appreciated! I will come back later in the day and ask some more questions, but did want to say the following...

    I know a "quick trip" to the ashram sounds like a bit of a joke, but really my husband is a serious practitioner of meditation. He has been on many week-long silent retreats, etc. Anyway, this trip is a family trip, not a retreat, and he just wants a taste of it...trying to fit alot of things in...I know.

    The tour guy at Yatrik has recommended a place outside of Varanasi (Vajra Vinya institute). I am getting mixed reviews on Varanasi (Sarnath) vs. Rishikesh for getting some ashram/spiritual taste, combined with things the family could enjoy.

    I'm going to check out all the things you guys mentioned. I do fear, more than the heat (I've done Egypt in June...mind you, when I was much younger) a ton of mindless running around and very little chance to see things and appreciate. I am trying not to underestimate the travel. We have the budget to fly, take trains or have a private car and driver (which all the tour co.s want to sell you). So, I just want to make it as efficient as possible.

    Thanks again for all the comments. I will re-post later in the day.

  • Report Abuse

    'I do fear, more than the heat... a ton of mindless running around and very little chance to see things and appreciate.'

    Eight days. Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, Bharatpur AND either Rishikesh or Varanasi. I reckon you could add in Kolkata there too, I think you've got a spare half an hour.

    Hmmm - something's gotta give... unless we have all truly moved into the Twilight Zone. heh. I look forward to the next instalment.

  • Report Abuse

    Ok, Dogster, wait no longer, here is the next installment. Listen, here's the deal. We have to go during a school break, so we don't have weeks and weeks to spend. So, we fall into the old trap of "If we are going so far away, we need to see as much as we can (within reason) while we are there" Even from Paris, India is a long way away and we can't go multiple times (at least not in the near future). So, we do the best we can with timing and trying to fit in a good number of things without going crazy. By the way, the kids are well traveled and are good travellers. They have not been to India, but have been to Egypt, Morocco, Turkey and tons in Europe. However, you are right when you say that if the kids are not happy, the trip is going to be a bust. So, we have to try and fit in good stuff for them (and nice places to stay...as you said, you need to have a pool and a place to get out of the sun.) I did look at the Samode properties previously. I had not seen the others you recommended.

    However, I do think it is time for a sanity check on the travel and plans. So, here goes on our potential itinerary (proposed by tour operator. Maybe writing it down will help me to see if it is crazy. Please feel free to comment, but don't be too harsh...just remember how hard it was to plan your first trip to India with lots of conflicting ideas, preferences and advice.

    Day 1 - Fly to Delhi. Overnight.
    Day 2 - Tour Delhi
    Day 3 - Fly Delhi to Varanasi.
    Day 4 - Varanasi (Sarnath)
    Day 5 - Fly Varanasi to Delhi. Drive to Agra. (Terrible travel day, I know...but how to do it otherwise?)
    Day 6 - Agra
    Day 7 - Drive to Ranthambore
    Day 8 - Ranthambore
    Day 9 Ranthambore to Jaipur (drive)
    Day 10 - Jaipur
    Day 11 - Fly Jaipur to Mumbai and exit.

    Basically, there is a travel day on every other day. But, I am hopeful that some of the travel will be ok..like maybe we will see some decent things on the way and the travel is just part of the trip.

    Just how crazy does this sound to you all? By the way, this is one of the more calm itineraries being proposed. Others I have received have more cities!

    One final question guys. Is it possible to find someone to just be the guide and or driver for the trip? I can set up hotels and flights on my own...not a complete idiot, after all. But, we need a guide...with kids, we cannot leave too many things to chance. Not in India. Some of the prices that the tour guys are quoting are high...and they aren't even proposing the Oberoi and Taj properties. Ouch. We will do it, if necessary, but I hate to be ripped off. Advice? I have a reasonably high budget, but just don't feel like I'm getting a lot for my money on a bunch of these quotes.

    Thanks and looking forward to replies.

  • Report Abuse

    dt - I've been lurking here and now that you've refined your itinerary, I'll chime in...

    The itinerary now looks busy with every other day travel but it is doable. Don't forget what Cicerone said about the road between Agra and Ranthambore - I've not taken it myself because of her advice. In any case, you'll have all day. Do stop at Fatephur Sikri on the way, about 45 minutes outside of Agra.

    While at Ranthambore, resist the temptation to do every single game drive - maybe just do the two on your off day but do find a way to fit in the Ranthambore Fort - you can explore it on your own in an hour or two - have your driver take you there.

    You can book hotels directly, but my experience is that the local agencies can usually do better. It is best to shop around - booking one hotel through an agency does not mean you must book all of your hotels through that agency. Keep in mind that reservations can get "lost" and often your agency can bail you out if they made the reservation.

    Guides are generally local so you will be met at each destination by a different guide. It is possible for your to have the same driver for your entire tour (except Varanasi) - arrange both guides and driver through your agency.

    As for quotes, be very specific about what you want - type of vehicle, type of room, is breakfast included in the price etc.

  • Report Abuse

    We toured India for 17 days in March of 2006, arriving in Delhi and travelling through various cities and towns, including Agra, Jaipur and Udaipur, from where we flew to Mumbai. VP Singh arranged the entire trip and served as our guide (except in Mumbai). He provided a car and driver and was the most wondeful guide, charming, informative, undertstanding, etc. My wife and I recommend him without reservation.
    Accomodations were sometimes "name" hotels and many times in heritage hotels and forts. Except for one location, everything was excellent. Total cost was extremely reasonable.
    I would suggest you contact him or any other reputable agent in India to assist you in your planning. The good ones will work with you and accomodate your needs and desires.
    Continuing to read the many posts in this forum will make you more educated and able to deal with the various proposals you will receive.

    Good luck and have a great trip.

    Jerry

    By the way, the roads in India are truly third-world and travel by car is long and sometimes difficult but you will see many parts of the country other than the cities and this will greatly enhance your travel experience and understanding of the country.

  • Report Abuse

    o.k. LOL, i'LL just go with the flow. Here are specifics [I'm gonna try and keep you out of the clutches of travel agents]

    Day 1 - Fly to Delhi. [you'll sort that] Get a hotel pick-up. Trust me. Just do it. Overnight.

    Where are you thinking of staying? What crap hotels are your travel agents trying to foist on you? Prices? Is the Imperial what you're after? Or is that too expensive? Look for off-season rates. Don't go too far down-market.

    Day 2 - Tour Delhi
    Have a look here:
    www.delhimagic.com

    These guys might suit your Delhi plans. I reckon you could get your own personal tour easy as pie. There are some terrible tour guides out there.

    Day 3 - Fly Delhi to Varanasi.
    Day 4 - Varanasi (Sarnath)
    Day 5 - Fly Varanasi to Delhi. Drive to Agra. (Terrible travel day, I know...but how to do it otherwise?)
    Day 6 - Agra

    Varanasi is a GREAT idea. Good start. Use Kingfisher Airlines. Just do it. They will look after you from kerbside to your cab at the other end. Trust me. Just do it.

    Flight331 Delhi/Varanasi 09.20 will get you there by 10.40

    In Varanasi STAY BY THE GHATS.
    My suggestion:
    www.palaceonriver.com
    http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g297685-d596275-Reviews-A_Palace_on_the_River_Rashmi_Guest_House-Varanasi_Uttar_Pradesh.html

    Get Pappu there to handle your pick-up/drop-off and tours. It's all done in one move.

    [So far, no travel agents... lol]

    Varanasi to Agra. FLY.
    Go to www.flykingfisher.com/
    and book Varanasi to Agra.

    Kingfisher 334 at 13.30 [to Delhi - change to 2301 Delhi/Agra at 15.30] arrive Agra 16.30

    So, we're still on schedule. No travel agents.

    Agra hotel - where are you thinking? Price? Local touring in Agra I dunno - others will hepl there. Either way, all you need is a hotel transfer on arrival, a night in a hotel and one or two visits to the Taj and whatever else. Can be sourced locally, easily, I'd imagine.

    Agra - Ranthambore: which part of Cicerone's comment didn't you understand?

    'I cannot stress enough how bad the road is between Agra and Ranthambore. The road between Jaipur and Ranthambore is good road, but the Agra-Ranthambore road is quite bad and IMO this might be the time your child will start complaining, and you will have5-6 hours to listen to him.'

    You're just not going to give up on this are you? O.K. I can't help you here. If you're determined, then do it. I'm sure you'll see one hundred tigers.

    BUT whatever you do - you certainly don't need a guide OR a driver while there. All you need is someone to get you IN and get you OUT. Maybe your choice of safari lodge could sort this out for you. Then it's done in one easy move, totally safe and secure.

    So think back. You can do this in a totally controlled manner, section by section, completely independently. Some will give you the line about hotel bookings going astray, weirdness and general horror - but it really doesn't have to be like that at all - particularly if you stay in reasonable places. Tell me your thoughts.




  • Report Abuse

    I'm chiming in with some support to comments people have made already with regards to the road travel on your route. Where part of the road travel will add to your overall experience, as some point (probably halfway into the trip to Ranthambore) it becomes just plain painful.

    We travelled by road (October 2007) from Delhi to Agra. This relatively short road trip turned into a 7 hour long journey. There was a protest march underway in addition to multiple crashes on the road.

    From Agra we travelled by road to Ranthambore. Again, another 7 hour day on the road, excluding the stop at Fathehpur Sikri. Of which the last 2 - 2 1/2 hours were downright painful. As in, all we could do was sit and hold on, the road was so rough. My travel companion tweaked her back on this road and had issues for the rest of the trip.

    Was it worth it? For me it was, maybe not for my travel companion. We went into the park 4 times - 3 times to look for Tigers and the fourth time to see the fort (which we loved). We saw a female tiger on our first trip in - then didn't see any other tigers for the rest of our stay.

    From Ranthambore it was a much easier trip to Jaipur - but it was still 5 hours.

    You know your kids and what they'll be able to handle.... my kids would be looking for the exit door and the closest pool!

  • Report Abuse

    I'm getting very confused between dtnestea in late June and pariskid in April, so I won't comment directly to either of you. the bottom line is that you cannot overschedule in India unless you are fullly prepared for the frustration and hard choices that will come when things go wrong...and they will.

    By way of example:
    I was scheduled on that Kingfisher flight from Varanasi to Delhi last May. When we got to the airport, they blithely announced they had departed two hours early, and would be happy to refund my money. We barely managed to get on the one other flight to Delhi that afternoon, but it meant our driver sat waiting for us for several hours and that we were on the Grand Trunk road in the dark getting to Agra, the one thing I feared. But at least we got to Agra.

    A ew blocks from our hotel, police had closed all the roads leading to the Taj Mahal and the Taj itself so that some celebrity or politician could have some alone time. No advance warning to all the tourists who'd allowed just enough time to see one sunset in Agra. Didn't affect our viewing plans, but we were lucky the 0beroi cart was allowed to come and get us from the closure point. Guests of other hotels were just waiting till the road opened, some from the afternoon till at least 9 pm.

    Again, things worked out, and I love the crazy adventure that is called traveling in India. But how unfortunate if you are scheduled so tightly that a rainstorm, protest march, or traffic accident kept you from seeing the Taj Mahal or forced you to choose between traveling in dangerous conditions or making your flight home?

    I went on a "once in a lifetime" trip to india in 2005, and did just Delhi/Agra/Jaipur in two weeks. It was so great that I've done three more "once in a lifetime" trips to India since then, and will likely do a few more. In two full weeks, choose three spots, four if they're easy to get to, and you'll have a much better time.

  • Report Abuse

    In fairness to pariskid678, my comment on the drive to Ranthambore was in the post to dtnestea, so pariskid678 may not have seen it. To clarify, Pariskid678 plans to be there for 11 days in April, and dtnestea is there for 8 days in late June. dtnestea has not been back on this thread, we may have scared her away…

    Pariskid678on your latest itin, my thoughts would be as follows:

    I don’t know why someone would want to travel every other day in the April heat in India. More so with 2 children. If two adults want to inflict that on themselves, that is one thing, but not sure it is fair to the kids (who may ultimately punish you for it in any event). Traveling in India, even by air, is nothing at all like traveling in Europe (where I have lived). I don’t know if you traveled on this sort of schedule in Morocco and Egypt, and what time of year you did that traveling, and if you had your kids with you; if all three are true, then perhaps you can handle this schedule. But overall, and IMO I don’t know why anyone would WANT to do it. This is not a contest to see as many places as you can.

    You might want to seriously consider cutting out Delhi entirely. One day is going to be quite rushed, and you could use your time better elsewhere. I think Delhi offers a lot to see and do, and really I am not sure that there is a point to trying to do any of it in one day. Many of the sites, like the Red Fort, are huge and offer no air conditioning and little shade. You might far better enjoy more time in Jaipur or Ranthambore.

    Hard to make a choice between Varanasi and Rikisesh. Varanasi is much larger, but offers the cremation Ghats and bathing Ghats, and you really do not get the former in Rikisesh, although you do get the latter. The cremation Ghats are a sight to see, as is the morning bathing ritual; but the evening arti in Rikisesh is very moving. There is a version in Varanasi at Dusashwamedh Ghat and some other places, IMO, the one at Rikisesh is much smaller and more intimate, and you may well be the only westerners in attendance. I believe, but cannot say for sure, that there are more yoga centres and ashrams in Rikisesh; they are certainly more visible. Varanasi is more of a place for the dying, for lack of a better way to explain it (but of enormous spiritual importance to Hindus), and Rikisesh is a place for people still on the journey. I guess I should ask what type of meditation your husband was interested in, if it is Buddhist meditation, than Sarnath, about an hour outside Varanasi, would be better I would think. I apologize if I am telling you something you already know, but Sarnath is where the historical Buddha preached his first sermon and is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site. Rikisesh is more of a centre for Hindu/yogic meditation as it is a major Hindu pilgrimage site. My personal opinion is that the countryside around Rikisesh is far more appealing: it is mountains and the foothills of the Himalaya and much more green. You can cross on footbridges hanging over the river with the mountains behind you and see the ashrams and temples along the sides, which is not the case in Varanasi. Varanasi sits in the flat plains of the Ganges and does not offer a lot in the way of physical beauty, IMO, beyond the river bank, which is actually quite barren, esp. in April at the end of the dry season. But the temples from the water are quite spectacular and the cremation Ghats too. It’s really a tough choice I would say.

    The Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays. Hopefully the day you have chosen to visit is not a Friday. As mentioned above, the odd closure for a celebrity or head of state (such as president of France which happened recently) is possible as well, but that is something that you really cannot control. As with all things, you must be flexible.

    I have myself often recco’d the Kingfisher flight between Varanasi and Agra which dogster mentions above, which requires a change in Delhi. However, I have also noted that the connection time is less than 45 minutes, so I am not sure if Kingfisher allows this connection, and it should also be noted that while Kingfisher is an excellent airline with a good on-time record, this is a very tight connection time by any standards. (Kingfisher may not even allow the connection.) However, Delhi domestic airport is tiny and the gates would literally be next to each other (there are maybe 8 gates at the terminal), so it is worth thinking about. If possible, I would go business class, as if the Varanasi flight is late the airline will give you better service in making the connection, IMO. See http://www.flykingfisher.com/. If the Varanasi flight is very late, you could of course drive down right from the airport, however I would NOT recommend doing this drive in the dark, and it takes about 4 hours from the airport, so if the flight is very late, you probably would need to go into Delhi and take the train down. So, you would need to be flexible if something happened to the flights. You might also move Varanasi in the order of the itin as noted below.

    The other option you have of course it to take the train between Varanasi and Agra. There are several night train options, you could also choose a day train if you wanted to see something of the countryside (but loose something of a day) . The shortest day train seems to take about 8 hours, same with the shortest night train, with an 11 pm departure and a 7 am arrival into Tundla Junction, about 20 miles from Agra itself (but this train, the Vikramshila Express #6791 from Mughal Sarai Junction outside Varanasi seems to have the best on-time record and probably is the best choice rather than taking a train to Agra itself, but you have several options, see www.indianrail.gov.in. and Indiamike.com
    is very helpful too, where I believe you have also posted. A night train may be your sanest option, IMO, given the short time you have and the amount of distance you want to cover.
    With regard to the drive from Agra to Ranthambore, I will repeat what I have said in previous posts: “It looks doable on the map, but about half of it is in fact a dirt road, and is the most bone-crunching, spine-twisting road I have experienced in 20 years in Asia. Even our driver did not want to do this route, be we (stupidly) insisted. I would really seriously re-consider any itin that included a drive between Agra and Ranthambore. Your spine will thank you.” I would add that if your children are at all prone to car-sickness, this could be quite an unpleasant journey.
    You might consider setting up the itin in this way: Fly into Delhi – train Ranthambore – drive to Jaipur – drive to Agra – train to Varanasi – fly to Mumbai. The train from Delhi to Ranthambore is about 4 hours, and there are many options. If you can give me your flight arrival time into Delhi from Paris, I can make some suggestions for the train to Ranthambore.

    If you have any option to change your international flights, you might consider flying from Paris to Bangkok, then flying from Bangkok right to Varanasi first. Thai Airways has in the past had a daily flight to Varanasi, although I could not find it on their schedule today; but it might be worth looking into. This might be an attractive routing if you could do it.

    If your international flights are in and out of Mumbai, you might consider going Varanasi first (Kingfisher flight via Delhi, but a “legal” connection, however an overnight at an airport hotel in Mumbai is probably necessary if you have a late night arrival from Paris), then doing the rest of the itin. Or you might also consider going to Varanasi LAST. Then at the end of the trip, fly from Varanasi to Mumbai either on Jet Airways or Kingfisher. You have to change from domestic to international terminals in Mumbai, which requires a taxi ride and you have to bring your luggage, but its about 10 minutes between terminals.

    As for guides and drivers, you can’t really use the same driver or guide for the trip, as your distances are too vast. You can’t use a guide in Ranthambore (you have to go in the park’s jeeps). IMO you do not need a guide for the Taj, but may want one if you want to see other parts of Agra, but I would let the heat and your exhaustion level dictate. You could use a guide for parts of Jaipur, like the Amber Palace (I have done with and without, a toss up whether one is needed), but I think one for the City Palace is helpful as that is huge. So overall, I would just pick up guides for the day from hotels or people here who may recommend them. For hotels, I would absolutely book on your own and contact the hotels directly. You may be travelling over Easter, but you are in LOW season, and India is tottering on the edge of recession, so take advantage of both. A very useful website for hotels in India is http://sawdays.co.uk/, click on the book for India. You can also buy the book, Special Places to Stay India, but the website will give you a very long list of hotels to start with. A lot of these hotels are in the budget range, and all seem interesting and several, like the Imperial in Delhi, are outstanding (but it ‘s not a budget hotel by any means). Two good operators generally in India are the Oberoi group (http://www.oberoihotels.com) and the Taj group (www.tajhotels.com. ). Neemrama has already been mentioned, but see o http://www.neemranahotels.com. Sheraton and Marriott run a number of good hotels in India as well, generally in the major cites.

    The rumour about closing the inside of the Taj has been around for at least 15 years as far as I know (I first heard it in 1992 or so) I don’t give it a great deal of credence, but of course one never knows. I could see placing more strict controls over the number of people who are allowed inside at a given time, which currently is not done to the best of my recollection. Climate control could of course be introduced as well. Closing the interior would be a last resort I would think. There are no paintings inside that need to be protected, it is all marble, so I have a hard time believing that human breath and perspiration is doing damage (unlike say to frescos and other delicate paintings in other places like the Last Supper in Milan)




  • Report Abuse

    Thanks a million to everyone for all your valuable comments and suggestions. After reading the suggestions and doing some reality checks this is what we are planning on doing. Nothing concrete. It is all in the planning phase. One thing for sure is my flight to Delhi is booked.

    Day 1 and 2 Arrive in Delhi. Overnight at Delhi. Spend 2 days and the next night in Delhi. ( 2 nights at Delhi)

    Day 3 My husband says that we should take the train from Delhi to Agra. Spend all day in Agra and the night. That should give us sunset visit of Taj and the the Agra Fort. Here we will rent a car that we will keep til we reach Jaipur. (1 night at Agra)

    Day 4 Next day see the Taj at Sunrise and head to Fathehpursikri and then reach Jaipur by night. (1 night at Jaipur)

    Day 5 and Day 6 2 options. Keep the car and drive to Ranthambore or take the train. We are NOT GOING to Pushkar. Couple of game drives and the fort and head back the next day. ( 1 night at Ranthambore)

    The next morning back to Jaipur. Stay 2 nights at Jaipur and fly out of Jaipur.

    We are trying to do the most in the little time we have as Paris mentioned. The school holidays start late June. I have been to Agra when I was a kid. i know things are a lot different now. We have done the game drives at Kabini and only saw tiger pug marks. Thought we could try again.

    Thank you all for your help. I am going to start looking at hotels in a few days and get back to you all for advice. Thanks again.

  • Report Abuse

    The schedule looks better I would say. I will assume that by “rent a car” you mean hire a car with a driver. I would strongly advise against any person not resident in India actually driving their own car. (Most Indians who are wealthy enough to own cars actually have drivers themselves). You do not understand the rules of the road (to the extent that they exist at all in India which is questionable) and IMO it is really not a good idea for someone to “learn” to drive in India. With a child in the car, I would go so far to say as this would be dangerous. A driver is quite inexpensive, and you can either just hire one to take you to Jaipur, or hire one for the whole journey (see below).

    It is a toss-up whether you would want to drive down to Ranthambore or take the train, look at the schedules and see, only the very fast non-stop trains are actually faster than driving, and those times may not work with the game drive schedule. The road is quite good and the drive takes 2.5-3 hours. On the other hand, you won’t need the car/driver at all during your time in Ranthambore as you will be in the park and using the park’s jeeps, so you will be paying a bit for something you are not using, but it is not really that expensive, look into pricing and see. You might also check with the hotels in Ranthambore and/or Jaipur to see what they would charge for a one way or return transfer, rather than a car/driver you hire yourself. The hotels will most likely charge more, but that will give you an idea of top-line prices for yourself when you start looking for drivers.

  • Report Abuse

    Cicerone thinks 2.5 hours Jaipur to Ranthambore - j.p singh says 5, dreaming says 5. I dunno.

    You'll spend about 6 hours in the park over two drives. [the rest is checking-in, eating, showering, calming down your disappointed lad after he didn't see anything - and sleeping]

    Then drive back 5 hours to Jaipur... sounds like hard work to me.

  • Report Abuse

    I have read your conversation with great interests. I am considering getting a ticket to and from Delhi July 29 to Aug 20. I only have two days to keep the fare I found. Can anyone suggest an itinerary for me? historical sites, temples, natural beauties, one or two Yoga lessons are all welcomed, not planning to get a car, neither a guide or join a tour group.

  • Report Abuse

    Cicerone, I meant hire a car and driver. I would never dream of driving there.

    Dogster, I feel if we get to see a tiger on the 2 game drives, it is good. One that place closes at month end and 2 we don't have more time. Like I said earlier, we did 3 days at Kabini and saw pug marks. I looked at couple of places. I will write those details in a a few days.

    I have'nt looked at the Train time table yet. Maybe Jaipur to Rbore via train may not work.

    Good Night all and thank You!

  • Report Abuse

    Here I add to your confusion!
    The road between Tonk & Sawaimadhopur is under reconstruction. The only reasonable way, of date, to Ranthambhore is from Dausa > Lalsot> Sawaimadhopur. It has been redone...the section from Dausa to Lalsot (40km approx) is ok, though passing through densely populated areas, with speed breakers, aplenty. The section between Lalsot to Sawaimadhopur (70km) is good, with just a few miles at the other end in desrepair.
    The best way to get to Sawaimadhopur is to catch the Golden Temple mail from Bharatpur & arrive in SWM at 13:05 hrs, check-in, partake of lunch & be off on tryst with tigers!
    Have your bookings done on this train quickly for it is a long distance train & Bharatpur has a small quota.

  • Report Abuse

    Wow. Dogster, I too am reaching for the sedation.... This is Pariskid (11 days, 2 kids). DTnestea is with 8 days, 1 kid. Clear? Maybe we are both insane. Lol.

    Ok, I am seriously reconsidering the Agra/Ranthambore route due to all your comments Cicerone et al. I am being quoted guides and drivers all the time by the tour guys and frankly, I KNOW it is a waste of money to pay for a driver to sit around for 2 days while we attempt to sight the elusive tiger.

    Ok, I am going to be brave here. Should we just drop the whole Ranthambore thing? Dogster, I know you think we should! I just thought that if we stayed in a lovely place there, then it would be relaxing and a chance to maybe see wildlife and take a break from the hustle of other cities. But, if the hassle of getting there is too much trouble, and you all think we will never see a tiger and will only be disappointed.... Maybe I should just save the safari idea for a trip to Africa. (which is what I wanted to to this year, but got voted down).

    Cicerone...I have not booked the int'l tix yet. We are using miles. What a pain. We can only get tickets into Delhi and out of Mumbai (using any reasonable amount of miles). I never considered Bangkok to Varanasi. Seems like you are going further and then coming back.... My husband is a buddhist and I do think the Sarnath area may be the ticket.

    I know many of you have said to stay on the river in Varanasi to see the real city. I don't know. With kids, they are going to need to get out of it and go to the pool, like you all have said. We need 5 star accomodation, or close to it. I don't know what else to say about that...call us wussy.

    I am getting discouraged..not that you guys are not helpful and great!

    PS In Jaipur, any comments on Dera Amer (for 2 hour elephant "Safari") or the Monkey temple? Sound like things my kids would like.

    Thanks all.

  • Report Abuse

    Will you consider a completely lateral thought? This assumes you'll blow out Ranthambore.

    Fly Varanasi - Kathmandu. One hour direct. Air India. Stay 3 nights.

    Fly Kathmandu to Delhi. 2 hours max. Connect straight thru to Agra if you can.

    If you're prepared to consider it, I'll show you how.

    Varanasi, I understand your concerns. You'd have to involve your kids in this choice, so they all agreed that it would be REALLY COOL to stay right in the middle as a total ADVENTURE - even though it might be kinda strange and pretty basic and we all have to work together... you know the line. Once there, the staff will love you to death.

    the other options are way outta the action. You'll end up like package tourists bused in and out.

    BTW its in travel agents best interests to have their car and driver hanging round as much as possible, doing nothing. Of course...

    Assuming my fabulous idea gets the can you're faced with what to do for three extra days in Rajasthan. That shouldn't be too difficult. Just bloody hot. Are the kids into horses? There are some horse-riding places that are pretty cool close-by. Desert tents? You could wander down to Udaipur stopping in castles along the way...

  • Report Abuse

    No, do not be discouraged, that is how tour operators get you to buy tours!! I have been planning a South Africa trip for some months myself, and know how you feel, but you must wade through the choices and eventually a more concrete plan will come into focus.

    In terms of miles, Bangkok is a bit west of course, but in reality if the flight times work, it really is an easy flight, esp. if you get a good non-stop from France which will let you connect onward with a reasonable layover, but it would all depend on what flights you can get.

    You can fly from Bangkok to Katmandu on Thai (that is in fact how some of the Bangkok-Varanasi flights work, via a connection in Katmandu, it’s all part of the Buddhist pilgrimage trail). You can then fly Katmandu to Varanasi. I have to say I am not a huge fan of Katmandu, it is quite large and overbuilt and polluted (and that was about a decade ago when I last saw it, I believe it is much larger now), but others like it. I found it too hippyesque and not really spiritual enough; like Kuta rather than Ubud in Bali. I think the countryside is a different matter, but you really don’t have time for that if you want to include India and with only 9 days on the ground overall.

    I actually think that if you want to keep to your original itin, that you might also look into whether it would be better to fly INTO Mumbai and out of Delhi. The reason for this is that IMO you may find more domestic flight options in/out of Mumbai (it’s a huge air hub) and because your departure from Delhi is more than likely going to be late at night, you may be able to give yourself more time on your last day in north India rather than spending it tying to get down south to Mumbai by air to connect to your intl flight. See http://www.flykingfisher.com/ and www.jetairways.com.

    If you flew into Mumbai first, then you can do an overnight there (several airport hotels within moments of the airport, and actually IMO a better selection and closer than around Delhi’s airport), you could actually take the 1:30 pm flight to Varanasi (via Delhi but a “legal” connection as Kingfisher considers it one flight). You could also consider instead taking the very early Jet Airways flight to Jaipur (like 6 am) and doing the itin in reverse which would mean you are not wasting a day in transit.

    I like Ranthambore a lot, but one cannot go with any hope of seeing tiger, just the thought that it would be a bonus if you did. There is lots of other interesting wildlife and the drives are quite scenic and fun (have not done them in the hot season), but if you go ONLY with the desire to see tiger, then this may be a disappointment. (I have been with travelers who had this goal, and seemed to think it was the park’s fault when they do not magically appear). If you or your children are on this category, then I would agree to give this a miss and plan for Africa at some point (but generally October is better for this is virtually all the countries).
    On three trips to Ranthambore, and a total of probably a 12-15 drives, I saw tiger on one drive. You might not even mention tiger to the children if you go, and then it really will be a bonus if you see any.

    One thing to also consider is possibly taking a train from Ranthambore to Agra. I think the best might be the day train, Ananya Express/2316 which leaves at about Noon and arrives at 4 pm. (Journeys in the other direction have a bad on-time record for almost all trains.) With this train, you could get in a morning game drive at Ranthambore and arrive in time for sunset at the Taj. This would be preferable to the drive. Your itin could be: arrive Delhi/Mumbai from Paris - fly to Varanasi – fly Varanasi to Jaipur (Jet Airways to Delhi then Kingfisher to Jaipur, depart Varanasi 2:30 pm arrive Jaipur 7:30 pm) - drive to Ranthambore - train Agra – train to Delhi and if necessary fly Agra to Mumbai. (If you were flying out of Delhi, you could take an early evening train from Delhi and go to the airport as late as possible for your flight which would give you more time in Agra and might spill over into an extra day elsewhere in the itin.) Or arrive Delhi/Mumbai – fly Jaipur – drive Ranthambore – train Agra – train Varansi – fly Delhi or Mumbai to connecting flight home.

    I like to include at least one train ride in India per trip, if for nothing else than for the great people-watching in Indian train stations (you may enjoy this more than the safaris in Ranthambore).

    You can still consider Corbett, which is close to Rikisesh, but that does not really help your husband most likely vis a vis the meditation. Unless you skipped Jaipur and then did Varanasi and Rikisesh. I am not sure both are necessary, but interesting. I agree that a place like Udaipur with its lake, or Jodhpur with its huge fort and blue-tinged houses, are very interesting and would be a good substitute for Jaipur, but look into flights carefully (you really don’t have time to drive and probably not even for a train, you may have time for a train). Camel treks are generally possible from Jodhpur, as they should be from Jaipur (have you looked into that? Don’t know about the elephant safari near Jaipur, sorry. I have a bit of a question as to how much “wildlife” would be seen, but the ride itself might be fun.)

  • Report Abuse

    wotravel- I think you should post your question on a separate thread.


    pariskid- If you can book a 2 hour elephant trip in Jaipur, i think that would be a lot more fun than trying to get to Ranthambore. the entire journey will be simpler, and you will definitely spot the elephants, unlike the tigers in Ranthambore..

  • Report Abuse

    HI Dogster, I could not read all of the threat but I believe you are too ambitious. I have been to all the places you mention in 1 trip (rishikesh, delhi, taj, rathambore + jaipur) in 12 days and it was quite tiring (fortunately we then went to the beach).
    A couple of comments: not sure if u r dealing or not with an agency, but you should. I have travelled the world in all sort of budgets and India is one place where you need to have somebody sorting it out for you in order to maximize your time enjoying it (Btw, India has been my favourite trip ever, everything went smoothly). India is very special,s ome times planes will not fly for whatever reason (or as it happens in our return from Rishi, an elephant decided to stay in the track of the train and we stopped there for 2 hours). Or cars break down or there are accidents. So you need an agency that can help you. Otherwise it could be a logistic nightmare (plus a waste of time).
    Then the agency get you a travel guide that can actually guide you and keep the beggers/people at bay. My guide in the TAJ was fantastic.
    We spent 3 nights in Ratha (btw it is better to take the train from near Agra and then from there drive to Jaipur - 5 hs min). And did not see any tiger. Most of them are unfortunately gone now. I will not go there. In order to guarantee a tiger sighting you need to go to far and remote parks. The Oberoi in Ratha was amazing though but I was utterly dissapointed at not seeing any tiger. There are few other animals to see.
    In my humble opinion Jaipur is not that great... unless u want to buy jewels. Now the road trip from Ratha into Jaipur was fantastic.
    Fnally, in Delhi, you can stay at the Imperial, it is fantastic. Or try the Sheraton. The restaurant there is considered by many to be the best in India.,

  • Report Abuse

    Bless Miss Saigon. She might be a little bit confused but her motivation is pure. She sure ain't the only confused one in here by now, I'd reckon.

    How are you Marija? I'm off on my next journey in two weeks. Epic. Three months in India - more or less. Strangely enough, without a travel agent. I dunno how I cope...

  • Report Abuse

    Hi all

    You have not scared ME away yet...but I am definitely thinking hard about this trip. Saw a friend yesterday (indian) who grew up in Bombay and she said we would be crazy to go to Rajasthan in April. She said " It's the desert! You will be miserable. Go in Dec-Feb." Not unlike many of you are saying. This morning at the airport, saw another Indian friend, who is sending her child to Rishikesh in April with our school's class trip and her dad (who obviously lived in India) reiterated the "you are crazy" to send her in April. Hmmm. How many times will it take me to hear this before I i) change our destinations in India either to the far north or beach areas or ii) delay the trip until next winter. Or, will I just forge ahead and weather the heat in April, spend beaucoup bucks on a shady tour operator and see no tigers (LOL)?

    Cicerone, I did check out the weather base. Thank you. Looks like Agra, Delhi etc, have 25+ days in April with weather over 90 degrees. I do think spending 6 hours in a jeep, broiling hot, looking for limited wildlife could be not the best idea.

    So, I'm still thinking. Maybe Dogster, the Varanasi, Kathmandu option is not a bad one. It will be cooler there! Maybe Shimla/hill towns? I wonder if Delhi/Agra, Varanasi and Kathmandu could be a decent trip. Blow off the Ranthambore and Jaipur sections..boy, though, my kids would want an elephant ride....Argggh.

    If you can stand my convoluted thinking and musings, then weigh in. Mind you all, it is because all of your advice that I keep thinking of new options and trying to figure out the best plans. You have only yourselves to blame!

  • Report Abuse

    Well, I think you have all possible info on the Agra/Jaipur/Ranthambore nexus. Nothing will divert you from Agra, lest the Taj crumble before you see it - O.K.

    Varanasi seems to be hitting a chord - husband will like Kathmandu - so it all comes down to the kids. Only you know what little angels/monsters you have raised. lol. So better get them involved, eh?

    What do they think about all this?

  • Report Abuse

    Dogster: Man you remind me of the character played by Jack Nicholson in "The Bucket List." :D I mean you are always on the go, seeing new sights. Are you retired and very rich? :D

  • Report Abuse

    Hi Pariskid: In Varanasi I highly recommend the Ganges View Hotel--lovely and gracious, excellent location right on the Ganges and terrific veggie dinners. See my posting titled "Just returned from Northern India" for more information on our itinerary and the hotels we liked. Also that posting has information on a very lovely and responsible young man who was our driver for 13 days and assisted with trip planning. (veeruindia@hotmail.com)

  • Report Abuse

    In 2005 I can attest the road from Agra to Ranthambore was just dreadful Apart from the pot holes, distressing sights of peolpe selling their children for sex by the roadside, 'dancing' bears, yuck.

    There is no comparison between a good Southern African game park (believe me if you research it right you can hire a car & visit state parks for a fraction of the top end luxury options) and Indian 'tiger' reserves. But I do understand the desire to see those tigers - just that as so many have said above, your schedule is punishing, too much, too soon, too hot... Make it more achievable, & promise to visit another time. You need to buy yourselves some time to sit and enjoy those fantastic sights & smells.

    Good luck.

  • Report Abuse

    Haven't seen the movie, jacket - but basically 'yes' and 'yes'.

    Marija: Track me on Google? nah. I'll post the itinerary - even then you'll have trouble finding me. Kavanth, Chhotra Udepur, Balasinore, Dasada, Danta, Poshina - not exactly the tourist hot-spots, eh?

    Where? you're saying. lol. Me too.

  • Report Abuse

    Hi...I got back from a month in India in mid-Nov and went to the places (among others of course)you are thinking of visiting...In Delhi I stayed
    at the Thikana; it a B&B type venue but differnt that what you might think of if you are US or Brit...go to their website and to New York Times website for some opinions/reviews..People who own it are great...food is great and you'll learn something about India cooking...they will get you a car and driver at legit rates...I wouldnt spend a lot of time in Delhi (two days is fine, with a car/driver you can do lots more in a short time)...I stayed in the Clarks Shiraz in Agra and it's fine...not upscale but fine...when you go to TM go early and the line will probably be long...women in one line/men in the other...dont take anything but camera...water and a little map is part of the entry fee but you have to ask for it...but give the summer, you will probably want extra water...spend lots time there...it is fantastic...tho most reviews I have read suggest only one night in Agra...I wish I had spent one more day just to walk around in the bazaars, etc...obviously go to the fort...Ranthambore...go, go, go and I stayed at the Tiger Den...people were really helpful and cooperative...my "cabin" was more than enough and I would suspect that they have likewise space for 4...dining staff was great and food is fine, a pretty good massage, too...at least one day book a jeep (they hold four vs the "van" at 20 or so...more expensive (1500 rupee($30)more I think but worth it)...I lucked out and saw the fabled Bengal Tiger on both safari trips...but in general, trip is worth it, just plain fun...Jaipur...go there, too. I stayed at the Alsisar Haveli and it was fine, matter of fact I enjoyed it as it is unique...but get a room(s) on one of the uppper floors...not on the main/or street level...Jaipur is a lot of fun for siteseeing and just waking the shops...particularly if you are in to shopping and just want atmosphere...good resturants, too. Again, I used car/driver/guide...to do the major stuff and then walked a lot...obviously budget plays a role but I took a car and driver from Delhi to Agra, to Ranthambore and to Jaipur...it's a great, fun experience to ride the roads of India...I felt it was great and in retrospect a unique and extremely worthwhile experience and worth the extra money...I use a travel company to do all the selection of hotels, airplanes, drivers/guides...and it was quick, convenient and stress free...if you would like the name of the agency, let me know...I highly recommend them and the gal who did all the "heavy lifting" for me...in fact I got to calling her my guardian angel! Always checking on me to make sure everything was ok. I think all the hotel I mentioned would work well with the kids...they are airconditioned and so were the cars, antything to make it a more comfortable

  • Report Abuse

    We spent 17 days in India and Nepal in Dec. 2007. we wanted to see tigers so we booked three days at Ranthambore. We had amazing sightings on the second and third days, but most people we met spent the same amount of time and never saw any tigers. If you really want to see the tigers, spend more time in Ranthambore. It would be a shame to drive all that way just for one game drive. We did 6 and could have gone for more!
    Our itinerary was this:
    Day 1 Depart SFO
    Day 2 Arrive Delhi at night
    Day 3 Delhi
    Day 4 Drive to Jaipur, relax (5.5 hour drive
    Day 5 Jaipur
    Day 6 Jaipur
    Day 7 Drive to Ranthambore (5 hours)
    Day 8 Ranthambore
    Day 9 Ranthambore
    Day 10 Ranthambore, train to Agra/Fatepuh sikri
    Day 11 Agra/drve to Khajurahu
    Day 12 Kahujurahu
    DAy 13 Fly to Varanasi
    Day 14 Varanasi/ fly to Kathmandu
    Day 15 Kathmandu
    Day 16 Dulekell
    Day 17 Back to Kathmandu/ fly to Delhi/ fly home

  • Report Abuse

    Aaaaah,

    The drive from Agra to Ranthambore. I am late to this discussion, but what a day that was. Fatehpur Sikr was amazing so I am glad I saw that.

    I am also glad I saw the back roads of Rajasthan. Though I probably didn't need HOURS and HOURS of it.

    Here is a video clip from my India trip:
    www.spike.com/video/india-day-8/2812443

    The last 5 minutes or so are driving away from Fatehpuhr Sikr and through Rajasthan, arriving at the Ranthambore Regency late at night.

    3 drives in Ranthambore, 3 tigers seen. 2 heard mating. I should have gone to see the Fort too.

  • Report Abuse

    Hello all,

    I am very much in the thread, been reading all the posts. Now my husband is helping me with this. He loves trains and so does my son. They are inclined to doing most of the place to place by train rather than by car and get on the express trains. Yes i know express trains in India are not super fast.

    Delhi - 2 days
    Delhi to Agra by train. Train leaves at 6:15am and gets at 8:15am. We found a hotel opposite the station. It was Yatris Nivas but has been bought over by the Tata group and remodelled. It is called Ginger. I ahve talked to couple of people who have stayed there.

    Agra - 2 days
    Taj, Fort, drive to Fatehpursikri
    Agra to Ranthambore by train. Train leaves at 7:40 AM and reaches Ranthambore at 10:55 AM. the game drives start at 3 PM.

    Ranthambore - 1day
    Another AM game drive (6 AM to 10AM ), see the fort and leave by train at 2:30 to Jaipur and reach Jaipur at 4:45 PM.

    Jaipur - 2 days

    Fly to S.India and do nothing

    I am looking at hotels in Agra, Ranthambore and Jaipur.

    This plan looks good. We will have to hire a car for the day at Agra and Jaipur.

    I will post again once I have the hotel information.

    Have a great Wknd!


  • Report Abuse

    Don't know how you've arranged this but unless you see the fort without going back to your lodging, you will not see the fort, have lunch, get packed and get to the train - too much to do. If you skip lunch, you can do it.

  • Report Abuse



    We have to fly to hyd from Jaipur and all the flights with the exception one indigo flight at 6am and a spicejet flight at 2:45pm. The fares show up as Rs699 and when you go to complete it adds Rs.8000 as fuel charge.

    The other airlines want to take us from Jaipur to Delhi or Mumbai or Goa and connect us 7 hrs later.

    Is there a better way to do this or should we change the entire plan and take a train to Ranthambore from Delhi on day 1, jaipur, Agra & Fatehpursikri, then Delhi and fly out of Delhi.

    My son loved the idea of taking the trains. He has travelled twice by train in India.


  • Report Abuse

    dtnestea, your post is a little unclear. Do you need to get to Hyderabad at the end of your trip to northern India? Or you can fly home out of Delhi? Also, at the start of your trip are flying into Delhi from some third place, most likely from Frankfurt? (I have seen your other posts)

    I think in either case, some options would be (assuming a start by landing in Delhi and the 2 nights in Delhi): train to Agra, drive to Jaipur stopping at Fatephur Sikri, drive or train to Ranthambore, train to Delhi, fly home or to Hyderabad.

    Another route would be: train Delhi to Ranthambore, drive to Jaipur, drive to Agra stopping at Fatephur Sikri, drive from Agra to airport for flight to home or Hyderabad. (While the drive takes longer than the super-fast trains, driving right to the airport may be faster than training into central Delhi, as with the train you would need about an hour to get from the station to the airport depending on time and traffic and the station in Delhi at which you end up; Nizamuddin station is south and would be closer to the airport). However, if your flight departs late at night, you don’t want to do the drive up from Agra at night, so taking a later evening train would make more sense and give you more time in Agra.

    It would be helpful to know what time you are arriving into Delhi from Frankfurt, as that might make a difference in the routing, i.e. there may be a fast train you could get to one place versus the other that may make going to Ranthambore first more attractive than going to Agra or vice versa. It would also be helpful to know what time your flight departs to Hyderabad or home (can’t tell where you are going at the end of the 8 days).

    I guess I should point out that if you have 28 hours, you COULD take the a train from Jaipur to Hyderabad, the Jaipur-Mysore Express/2976. This would probably be an unforgettable journey. US$60 for first class, but you might actually be more comfortable in the 3-tier AC where you could lie down, for US$26.

  • Report Abuse

    Hello Cicerone, Our flight from Frankfurt arrives at 12:05AM. We have to end up in Hyderabad. We will fly back home from there on a direct flight.

    At this point with the routing an rerouting and looking at the maps and time tables I am ready for sedation.

    Looking at your post I think we should take a train to Ranthambore from Delhi. That way we can catch some sleep on the train and just do a evening game drive and rest. Next day also, do a game drive and the fort. Maybe have the hotel pack us lunch. Take the train to Jaipur.

    Spend 2 days in Jaipur and then 2 days in Agra and 2 days in Delhi.

    If we can hire a car one way and it works cheaper, travel by a car. But lot of people say that roads in Rajasthan are not that good.

    We gave up on Bharatpur. My son and I did one of the bird sanctuaries in Mysore few years back.

    Thanks for all your help!

  • Report Abuse

    OK, thanks that is helpful. From Delhi it is 3-4 hours to Ranthambore by train. However, according to the schedule, I believe that there is only one morning train, and it does not arrive into Ranthambore until 1 pm, and if it is at all late, you may well miss the afternoon game drive which depart around 2:30. The drives go out at set times and they will not wait for you. So my suggestion would be to sightsee in Delhi first for 2 nights, and then take a late afternoon/early evening train from Delhi, and arrive Ranthambore at night. It’s nice to see countryside from the train if you can, but not so much if you are doing so sitting on the train tracks during a delay and missing a game drive. There is a train that leaves Delhi at 5 pm and arrives at 8:30 pm that might work well for a departure after your second night/day in Delhi. It’s #2954 and departs from Nizamuddin station. You should of course check the train schedules to make sure my information is correct and current.

    From Ranthambore, you can either get a driver to take you up to Jaipur or take the train. The road between Ranthambore and Jaipur is good, there was a recent post that there is some construction on it which might slow things down but I don’t believe affects the quality/condition of that road, but look for that post. After Jaipur you can drive to Agra, stopping at Fatephur Sikri, again that road is good. The worst road on your route is between Ranthambore and Agra, but you are avoiding that one. Bharataphur is on the way bewteen Jaipur and Agra, and could theoretically be included, but IMO you don’t really have time with only 8 days and doing all the places you already have, so I don’t think it is worth it.

    Then from Agra you can decide whether it makes more sense to drive or train up to Delhi for your flight to Hyderabad, look at the flight and train schedules. It is also possible to fly on Kingfisher from Agra to Hyderabad via a connection in Delhi, not sure of the cost, there is about a 2 hour lay-over in Delhi for this routing, but overall this would be easier than train or driving if you don’t mind paying for it. If you were planning on driving between Agra and Delhi, the flight costs may not actually be much more (the train of course is cheaper, but then figure out the cost of getting from the train station to the airport as well.)

    I also would say that even though Spice Jet and Indigo add the fuel charges, that the fares all in don’t look that bad. It’s like the discount airlines in the US that are so cheap, and then you have to add in the taxes. The total fare is like US$178, so maybe you should just stick to your original plan of flying from Jaipur. Are the flights from Delhi to Hyderabad that much cheaper?

  • Report Abuse

    Hello everyone,

    Need advice on hotel in Agra. I just got a quote $159 for the Gateway Hotel. 5th floor Taj View for 2 nights. Is that a good deal? Should I go ahead and make this reservation.

    Also, has anyone heard of Pearl Place In Jaipur. Trip Advisor gave good reviews on it. It is the the only place I have seen so far that said that the rates are same for all.

    If this is done, then I am left with Ranthambore.

    Thank you!

  • Report Abuse

    If you go to Jas Vilas be sure to ask for an extra mattress. Beds are harder than most.

    Also had an interesting experience there: we didn't eat any meals there although they were included. We ordered from Pizza Hut for lunch and had a great delivered pizza. When it came time to check out we told the manager that we owed him for the pizza and instead he handed us 500 ruppees! No idea why!

  • Report Abuse

    dtnestea, Peronally I think you are mad, crazy or a masochist trying to cram everything into 8 days *lol* or is this your husband's idea of a joke *grins*.

    But since you're doing it, I'd have have done anything to stay at the Amarvilas in Agra because it's pure heaven on a stick, especially if you get one of the balcony rooms! No other hotel has the same breath-taking views of the Taj.

    Incidentally, Jas Vilas is an absolute delight. Try to see the Monkey Temple in Jaipur, also. We found that more interesting than the Amber Fort.

    Can't really recommend the Delhi B&B (where we stayed) as it's prices - for what it offers - is pretty steep.

    Let us all know how your 2-week crammed into barely 8-days vacation goes!!!

    See you in London in 2112 for the Olympics where you will doubtless be the "hot" item in the new event, "How much of India I can see in barely 8 days"!!!

61 Replies |Back to top

| Add a Reply

Sign in to comment.

Recent Activity

  • Announcement:
  • Fodor's Go List 2015 Has Been Announced
    by Emily_D Fodor's Editor | Posted on Dec 19, 14 at 05:08 PM
View all Asia activity »
  1. 1 narrow down destinations, Japan 2 weeks in April
  2. 2 Which to see first - Kyoto or Tokyo?
  3. 3 Trip Report Burma - Our Mad Dash Across Too Much
  4. 4 Nepal- recipe?
  5. 5 Trip Report vietnam and laos
  6. 6 A Thailand holiday vacation 9 years in a row!
  7. 7 Trip Report 5 Days in Siem Reap
  8. 8 Thai Vacation: Valuable Last Minute Details - Chapter 1
  9. 9 Elephants in Northern Thailand
  10. 10 Bangkok: Shangri-La, Penninsula, Mandarin Oriental
  11. 11 What did you think of Mumbai?
  12. 12 Connaught Place
  13. 13 New Hanoi Hotel opening
  14. 14 Trip Report 3 weeks in Myanmar-What an adventure!
  15. 15 10 Day Japan Trip - Need Some Help Choosing!
  16. 16 Trip Report My SEA trip - photos update
  17. 17 Air Asia All You Can Fly
  18. 18 Busan in two weeks January 2015, coping with the cold.
  19. 19 Which Section of Great Wall? And add visit to Ming Tombs?
  20. 20 Trip Report Travel Report for Laos - Asia’s Most Relaxed Destination
  21. 21 Best country to visit 1st time in Southeast Asia
  22. 22 Myanmar Itinerary Please Help?!
  23. 23 Trip to Borneo to See Orangutans
  24. 24 Travelling btwn M'asia&Jkt
  25. 25 Kerala Itinerary - Houseboat and Tree House Questions
View next 25 » Back to the top