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Trip Report INDIA - ONE FAIRLY HECTIC MONTH IN MAY 2016

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Finally managed to find time to return to India and although I started planning the trip last year it ended up with last minute changes which I now feel made it far more tiring than it should have been but it was still mostly a wonderful experience.

We originally planned on going to Bhutan at the end but due to the final costings we decided that we would leave Bhutan for a separate holiday so Shimla and Amritsar were added instead.

Again I used Louise Nicholson and Quo Vadis for all the arrangements and as before requested the best hotels we could afford plus rooms with balconies or separate sitting areas (as I smoke) and good views especially in the Himalayas.

Itinerary

Delhi - 4 nights
Panna National Park - 3 nights
Varanasi - 2 nights
Darjeeling - 3 nights
Pelling - 3 nights
Gangtok - 2 nights
Amritsar - 2 nights
Shimla - 4 nights
Kolkata - 3 nights

Two nights were marked down after Varanasi and Gangtok to stay overnight in Delhi to be able to catch morning flights. Both nights would be at the J W Marriott close to the airport, we stayed here last time and it is an excellent hotel.

We flew Thai business Phuket to Bangkok and I had to book Jet Airways over to Delhi due to timings and then Thai Air for the return from Kolkata, all business class.

Used the e-visa service which worked well, the only downside is the 30 days which cannot be extended, this meant we lost one day as Thai fly out at 2 am from Kolkata.

We left Phuket on 30th April due to arrive Delhi just before midnight but due to supposedly bad weather in Bangkok the flight up was delayed, they swapped us to an earlier thai flight but this sat outside the gate for 30 minutes so we still missed the Jet flight. Due to this Thai provided seats on their flight into Delhi but only one business and one economy were available. They did promise the same food and drink for both seats but on boarding they said they did not have the information so if this happens to you make sure you get everything in writing before going through. Luckily the air hostesses sorted this after takeoff. Other than that the flight was very good.

NEW DELHI

The queue for the visa on arrival was short and all processed without any problems. We were met and taken quickly to The Lodhi hotel, there is hardly any traffic at this time in the morning. Reception were very efficient but we could not get to sleep until around 4.30 am!

I had difficulty choosing between The Lodhi and The Imperial but went for The Lodhi and this was a great hotel, we would certainly stay there again, lovely big rooms and balcony, service and food very good and location was quiet. We went for High Tea at The Imperial and I thought it was too big and impersonal so happy with our choice.

Sunday - met our guide at 11.30 am and visited the Qutub Minar Tower, Raisina Hill, India Gate and then stopped for a very late lunch at the Lodi Garden Restaurant which was excellent. Sunday is a good day to visit these places as traffic was light and they were not as busy.

Monday - we went to Old Delhi (Shahjahanbad) and took the rickshaw ride (great way to see the area) through the lanes, bought some spices at the market and finished back at the Mosque. We then went to Birla House where Mahatma Ghandi was shot and finished at Khan Market for shopping.

Tuesday - Humayan’s Tomb followed by the Museum of Modern Art, the first a must do, the second somewhat disappointing although this was our choice!

We left the guide at this point, went for the High Tea (not the best one we have had!) and then shopping. Do go to Hauz Khas which has some lovely shops and the added extra of a medieval tomb and remains of a university and the end of the road.

Our guide was good but some information did conflict with my own research and what our other guides said, it can be quite amusing to question them.

We really liked Delhi, felt we missed a lot which is inevitable on the first stay so would certainly return.

Next stop Panna

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