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I want unique ideas & fascinating places for 4-6 weeks in southern India

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We’re looking for suggestions for a trip of 4 to 6 weeks in the southern half of India. Probably our trip will be right after the holiday season until the end of February. We’re in our 60s, well-traveled, independent, like history and cultural events, mid-range budget, adventuresome, interested in the unique, outdoorsy, enjoy nature, active people who enjoy things like hiking and kayaking. We don’t need or want the luxury experience, and we’re not interested in a trip to primarily go to the beach. We’re not shoppers.

This will be our second trip to India. In Feb./March of 2011 we spent 6 weeks in the north—primarily rural Rajasthan, Varanasi, Uttarkarhand areas. On our trip we didn’t do the usual tourist routine and instead did a variety of things and activities and visited places that met our needs. We really found the most enjoyable things in India to be visiting more minor sites, observing and participating in everyday life, doing some lowkey things, and interacting with native Indians (and not a bunch of fellow tourists) rather than the biggies and the places that all tour groups visit.

We really liked the small rural, off-the-beaten-path places we stayed like Fort Dhamli and Castle Bera (where we did leopard safaris) and Fort Bhadrajun. Varanasi was fascinating and so was another holy city on the Ganges, Haridwar . We really enjoyed our time in Jaisalmer and Orchha because they were unique areas that were also absolutely fascinating to just walk around and observe. The only two large cities we spent any time in were Jodphur and Udaipur; both were fine but weren’t the highlights of our trip. Ranikihet was so different from the rest of India and gave us a feel for the atmosphere of a true hill station.

We spent a couple days at three different rural resorts--two where we hiked and one where my husband went fly fishing for masheer; these were all unique experiences we’d do again. After having visited Corbett and Rajiji parks, we have mixed feelings and impressions about India’s national parks.

As for what we wouldn’t do again because it wasn’t us. Khajuraho was not a place that did anything for us, so I’d avoid places like this that are a lot of travel for a couple hours of sights on future travels. The luxury experience at Udai Bilas was also nothing we’d repeat.

So, do any of you have any great recommendations for places we’d really like in southern India? And, I should also add in here that I am also very tempted by northeastern India, but that seems as though it would probably have to be a different trip. But, maybe not; maybe we could do both areas.
Thanks much!

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