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I'm looking into a 3 week first time trip to India and maybe Nepal this october together with my bf. I know; not a lot of time left!

I've been going through guidebooks and Fodors for information and inspiration. Up to this point, everything is still open. The plan so far is to fly into Delhi and then take it from there. I've seen lots of really interesting places I'd love to go!

Besides site seeing we'd also like some time to relax and rest. I haven't really been able to find something within a reasonable distance of Delhi to do this. Am I missing something? Any suggestions are most welcome!

Fllying to Kerala or Goa for about a week for this purpose is an option but obviously not really close. Also I'm not sure if the retreating monsoon from the bay of Begal makes for good beach weather? If we would venture into Nepal, maybe Pokhara would be suitable? We're not neccesarily looking for bounty beaches to tan on, but some nice weather and snoozing in a hammock after taking a swim would be nice ...

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    Are you only looking at beach locations? If not, try looking at the Neemrana hotel. It gets fantastic reviews. I haven't been there, but rhkkmk has recommended it many times on this forum and his report sounded like it was an ideal place for some R & R.

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

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    hmm dogster, depends, usually we go for what I would call midrange. I don't really have a feel for prices in India yet, but somewhere around 60 dollar a night. It also depends on what you get for your money; if it's something special I'd be willing to pay more. I think our max is around 200 dollar, but like I said, for that price I'd want something special ...

    We're in our midthirties, fit, well traveled, reasonably adventurous and not neccesarily looking to wallow in the lap of luxury although some comfort is appreciated. I'm not neccesarily looking for a hotel. Suggestions for maybe a lake or some pretty countryside away from the hustle and bustle that I understand Indian cities to be would also be appreciated.

    Not sure if this helps, I realize I'm being rather vague ...

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    The website looks wonderful. I coudn't find the rates but I think the fact that there's a comment from Uma Thurman in the review section where she calls it the most magical place in the world could be an indication ;)

    Do you have any idea about the rates?

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    EDIT for my what do i want to spend post:

    I meant 60 euro and not dollar. So around 70/80 dollar. Our max would then be around 250/260 dollars a night but this would be really splurging.

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    The base room at Ananda would be USD 490 + 5% tax (Palace view room) and the Dlx Valley view - USD 580
    + 5% tax.

    Agents who do bulk business with them can give a lower rate in the range of 370 or so .

    Someone mentioned abut Neemrana Hotels - yes they are great but they are more popular with expat and domestic tourists are basically they are great weekend getaways.

    If you are doing a travel in India in the major tourist circuits than Neemrana stay is only possible in Cochin, Pondicherry....Other Neemrana hotels are around Delhi (like Neemrana Fort, Pataudi Palace, Mud Fort etc)..

    Since you wish to do India Nepal a goor routing would be to Arrive in Delhi - Fly to Nepal (visit Kathmandu and Pkhara)- and than fly to Varanasi (which is a must see) - and than drive to Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and than on to Mumbai from where you can go on to visit Kerala as well as Goa. (Mumbai - Cochin - Backaters to Kumarakom - periyar etc).

    The final choice of places shall depend on what you like to do on a holiday....accordingly places can be short listed and a 3 weeks programme can be done.

    All the best - holikurry@gmail.com

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    Hi,

    I have been to India and Nepal and my personal preference is Nepal by a long shot...although India is a beautiful country, I just found that it was much too fast paced for me...Pakhora is a very nice place with a very lovely lake with a view of the Annapurna mountains, good restaurants and a lot of tourist services (laundry, motorcycle rental, etc). My personal recommendation for a tour guide company is at http://www.solutreks.com If you want you can email me at voyota@hotmail.com for details if you like. Have a great trip!!

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    Some random thoughts:

    I assume you already have your visas for India.

    With 3 weeks, which is a fair amount of time, you will still have to really edit your choices. India is a huge country both geographically and culturally, and it really is a matter of eliminating places rather than adding them. I am sure you are finding this to be the case. I would say in three weeks that I personally would not go to more than 9 or 10 places. If those three weeks also include Nepal, than you have to edit further. (I actually have the opposite reaction as voyota, I don’t really like Nepal, but love India. Yes there are fast paced parts, but lots of laid-back ones too. I will be hiking through some little villages outside Udaipur myself this weekend, you really can’t get more slow paced than that….)

    With regard to your specific question on where to go “near Delhi” to relax, I would agree with the Rishikesh suggestion. I like that little town a lot, and I have stayed at the Ananda which is indeed a wonderful place. You won’t find it to be “mid-range, and you may start running into higher season prices in October, but certainly a place that is worth it. But there are lots of little ashrams and smaller places that would be more in your budget range, see some suggestions for places to look below.

    I think the Neemrana suggestion is good, in particular the Fort which is not too far from Delhi. Go to http://www.neemranahotels.com. I have also thought that Tikli Bottom (http://www.tiklibottom.com/), quite interesting and is very close to Delhi.

    You might also consider Shimla, Darjeeling or Dharamsala (to possibly see the Dali Lama or just enjoy the vibe). Lake-side places may be a little bit of an issue this year because of the poor monsoon, but these hill areas are really lovely and will have some crisp fall-like weather in October.

    The Puskkar Camel Fair stars in late October (I think the 30th) and you may really want to attend that, so you might consider staying in a tented camp in Rajasthan, some of which are located on reservoirs. That would be away from the cities, and you could experience the village life. Or do a walking, camel or horse safari for a few days which would certainly away from the crowds.

    Goa and Kerala are actually quite close if you fly, so I would not rule those out. Lazing on a houseboat for a few days in Kerala really is wonderful and very relaxing. (Some have hammocks!) I would avoid the east coast of India as that will be rainy. I don’t think you will find much rain left on the west coast by October (i.e. Goa and Kerala), as the monsoon has retreated by then, and in any event, this year has been a very poor monsoon and so even if the rain lingers it is quite unlikely to be heavy. (The monsoon is actually advancing into the Bay of Bengal there, as it starts to hit Thailand and also affects the east cost of India.)

    For hotels, I would look at the Lonely Planet guidebook which really is excellent for India (sorry Fodors but it just is better). 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.

    You should also note the Diwali, a major Hindu festival (the new year) starts October 17 this year. It’s a lovely time to be in India. You will find some closures and public transport to be more crowded during that time (festival runs for several days, the public holiday is the 17th and maybe other days). But generally you should really enjoy the festive feeling of being in India during Diwali. There are always minor and sometimes semi-major religious holidays going on somewhere, so check guidebooks and ask when you arrive into a town.

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    Very interested in comments from Cicerone which were informative and just what I (a new comer to Fodors) is looking for. My partner and I are a bit older and setting out for a year of travel at the beginning of October where our first stop will be India for a period of 3 months. All the places mentioned by Cicerone are ones we plan to visit. Our main concern is in which order to do them and what transport to use. We would like to go by train where we can but also see the wisdom in flying on some occasions where distances are so great.

    We fly from Heathrow to Dehli and I suppose we thought it a good idea to firstly find our feet for a few days before setting off for Shimla to do some walking. Not sure where would be the next logical step so any advice would be appreciated.

    Cheers

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    pammiebarnes , what a great adventure you will have! You might want to post this as a separate thread in order to get some more specific advice, but I would offer some thoughts:

    I am not sure that there is any logical “order” to traveling in India for that long a time, other than perhaps the obvious of trying to see Rajasthan as a whole in one period using trains and other local transport as much as possible, and then fly south and do that area as a whole. I would suggest you work around (i) the weather and (ii) religious and other festivals. The latter is probably more important as you will be there in the cooler winter months, and you won’t really have to worry about avoiding hot weather or rain. That being said, I would still say to avoid the east coast of India, places like Chennai and beach points south in October and November; however there are some very interesting bits here, so if you schedule them for mid-December or thereafter, you would be better in terms of no rain.

    I would suggest you get a list of major and minor festivals in India and based on what looks interesting to you, use that as a guide to figure out a trip schedule. To see the Puskar Camel Festival in Rajasthan, perhaps the Durga festival in Kolkata (also generally in October but check dates) and similar events would, IMO, be a good way to set out an order to the trip. I think that there is a Kumbh Mela celebration in Haridwar stating in January of next year, which you may want to see part of, but I am sure you will find other festivals to attend if you do some searching. To me, these festivals are so interesting and so much a part of Indian life, and seeing or participating in one can really add to the enjoyment of your trip. (I happen to be in Mumbai this week which luckily coincides with the end of the Ganpati festival; which is a great one to see. Tens of thousand of people were out on the streets and on Juhu beach last night in the pouring rain singing and dancing and worshiping Ganesha, and it was a wonderful, noisy spectacle.) January 26 is Republic Day and there is typically a big military parade in New Delhi that you may want to see.

    You might also want to consider avoiding Rajasthan right around the Christmas holidays when you will be competing for hotels with Indians and overseas tourists and therefore prices are higher. November to early March is high travel season, and Rajasthan is the most popular area in India (actually Agra is the most popular, but is close to Rajasthan and usually done in conjunction with a trip there), so you will be in India during that most popular time, but it may help to avoid that area around Christmas in order to have a bit lower prices, perhaps. It is also high season in Goa and Kerala, but generally the south other than beach resorts in Goa have less tourists overall, so price differences may not be that great between Oct and Jan. (Perhaps Christmas in Pondicherry?)

    Overnight trains in India are generally good for medium to long distances; but after that you might find that 36 hours on a train is more than you want to undertake, and that is where flying can be a better use of time and more comfortable. So check train versus airline time and see how it works for longer distances. Also, flying may not be as expensive as you think. My mantra on airlines in India is: Kingfisher Airlines first choice, closely followed by Jet Airways, then others like air Spice Jet and Sahara Air in a pack with Indian Airlines at the back. But if Indian Airlines is the only available carrier and the flight is appreciably shorter than a train or driving, then it is OK. I see you are doing walking in Darjeeling, don’t rule that out in other areas like Rajasthan or the southern areas. A great way to see village life.

    I don’t know your budget, but you might consider renting a flat or house to use as a base and do short trips from there, or perhaps a house in the north for one period of time and then one in the south for the remainder. This would give you a place to store clothes you don’t need for a particular place, books and the inevitable stuff you will pick up along the way, and also give you a feeling of coming “home” which you may want with 3 months in India. It may be easier to hop on overnight trains with just a backpack and go for a 4-5 day trip without the burden of heavy luggage. You might want to pick a place with good domestic air service, say a suburb of Delhi close to the airport, etc. Or Bangalore (but that is a bit far south for touring north, so renting a north and south flat could then become attractive.) Plus, shopping for groceries in local markets and generally living a bit more like a local will give you a chance to experience a different type of India than the usual tourist who stays in hotels. You might be able to work out an arrangement at a homestay or bed and breakfast which would allow you to do something similar in terms of keeping some luggage there and returning from time to time to stay. Check things like vrbo.com. The Sawdays book may also have long-stay places that may work.

    Depending on what you decide, you might determine that flying into Delhi first is not necessary and may not be the most logical place to start. Wihle I don’t think that Mumbai necessarily makes a good first stop, I don’t know that Dlehi does either, esp in your case as you have such a long time and do not have any urgency to see Delhi first. I think both Jet Airways and Kingfisher, for example, both have non-stop service from Heathrow to Amritsar, which may be a good starting point for a trip. It’s smaller, more manageable and quite interesting. You might also consider places like Bangalore or Hyderabad, which have good international and domestic air service, and you may be able to get a flight into one of those cities from Heathrow. They might be an easier introduction to India actually than Delhi. Bangalore is good for access to/from the south west like Mysore, and Hyderabad is just an interesting destination in itself, IMO, or use it as a base for exploring the south central areas of the country.

    You might look into an open jaw flight that will allow you to fly into one city and out of another. (I assume you have looked at around-the-world air tickets, they should easily allow you go into one Indian city and out of another.) That will save you backtracking at the very end of your trip to get back to say Delhi, if you are closer to Mumbai. Also, there is service from Varansi to Bangkok, so if Thailand would be next on your list, that may be a good exit point from India.

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    thanks everyone who has replied!

    Cicerone, thanks for all your useful info. We don't have visas yet, I actually just booked a flight today but it should not take longer than 3 days to get them, so I think this will be ok. Thanks for reminding me though, because I have to admit, that I had not thought about it at all. I guess this doesn't make me look very well traveled does it ...

    You're right about the fact that the problem is more which places to eliminate than which to add. So far Agra, Varanasi and Rathanambore are on our must see list. The rest is still open ... For the rest of the trip we're leaning towards towards staying in Rajasthan and maybe travel up north towards Corbett national park so Riskikesh might be a stop too.

    Jaya, Ananda looks great but I think it will be to much of a splurge for us at this time. I'll keep it in mind for maybe a honeymoon ;)

    Cicerone, your hike through some villages near Udaipur sounds interesting. I'm actually looking at a place on the shores of lake Gaibsagar for our "relaxing' part of the trip. When you say, lakeside places might be an issue because of the poor monsoon do you mean that the waterlevel will be really low?

    Thanks again everyone, I've bookmarked all the links. I'm hoping to be able to tap into your knowledge again soon as we are narrowing down our itinerary.

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    pammiebarnes - yes, my comment on the poor monsoon is that lake levels could be low making the views of the lakes somewhat unattractive and things like boat trips either short or not possible at all. That being said, I was in Udaipur this past weekend and in the Mewari area at least, they have had decent rain, although still less than normal and less than needed. The main lake at Udaipur is about 1/3 to 1/2 full, and actually looks quite pretty. Levels at smaller ponds and lakes/tanks in the area seem to be about similar. I did not get to the Dungarpur /Lake Gaibsagar area, so cant’ comment on what that area looks like. That area is south of Udaipur; I know from speaking with local people that areas just a few hundred kilometers north like around Jodhpur have not had the same rain levels. If southern areas also missed the rain, their lake levels would be lower than around Udaipur. Also bear in mind that the monsoon ends in any event later this month, and the water in the lakes is used for irrigation and drinking water, so the levels start to go down from use. If levels are low to start with, then the use just exacerbates the problem.

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