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India trip for family with kids 17 and 21over Christmas holidays

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Hi Fodorites,
I have received so much good advice from you guys over the years and wanted to get your tips for planning a trip to India for this upcoming Christmas break, approximately 12/8/12-12/29/12. It will be me and my husband, both early 50’s with no real health issues, pretty fit, a daughter age 17 and a son 21. My challenge is to plan a trip which has variety (the kids can get templed and museumed out rather easily) with some relaxation built in as well. We have 3 weeks total so that we can plan for a few days of recovery from the illnesses that we will likely get while traveling. We do plan to go vegetarian so hopefully that will help. My son will also be coming off a set of finals from a difficult college quarter. I am planning to do 2 weeks in the north and 1 week in the south. We have traveled extensively, including Europe, Australia, Amazon, Galapagos, Malawi, Zaire and South Africa, but I see this will likely be our most challenging trip in terms of impressions. I want to minimize exposure to the very aggressive touts if I can by perhaps doing Taj Mahal in a day,even though I recognize that this might not be doing the Taj justice. There are 4 of us so our best bet might be to get a private driver for many of our road excursions.I would love some tips of good drivers with English skills. I have some concerns about my daughter who is tall with waist length blonde hair. We will of course be dressing modestly, hair likely covered and bound, and always in a group, but she received some unwanted attention from Turkish men when we were there, even though she was only 10 at the time.
We would like to spend most of the time in Rajastan.
There seems to be much to do in Delhi so maybe 4-5 days there?
Considering the following activities ( not all ,of course)
High Tea at Imperial
Hazrat ud din Dargah- Gawwali singers, Thursdays and feast days
Red fort
Digambara Jain Temple- contains bird hospital
Humayun’s tomb
Shopping some place Connaught Place, Hauz Khaz?
Qutab Minar
Pahargang walking tours 2 hrs ,done by former street kids
Astrologer might be fun. A blog recommended Dr. Vinod Shastri. Any recommendations from this board?

Considering Agra, Jaipur on a 3 day trip from Delhi
Udaipur- 2 days?
Jodhpur vs Bikaner
Camel safaris both places. Not sure that we want to do one or not I understand camels are not too comfortable to ride
Mehrangarh fort looked interesting for Jodhpur and the National Research Center on Camels sounded quite interesting in Bikaner
Wondering about Ranthambore National park vs Nilgiri biosphere Reserve to see some wildlife. Tigers would be nice to see ,but sounds like it is unlikely to happen, wherever we go.

Would like to get to Varanasi, as we have heard that is a very important India experience but not sure how to get there inexpensively and in a timely manner.
We are not opposed to flying but that can get expensive as well.

We do plan to fly down south to Kerala, Karnataka ,or Goa for our last week
We are not averse to 1-2 days of beach time but are not beach people by inclination-being pasty white Seattleites doesn’t help either.

Appeal of Karnataka
it appears to have a very organized tourist industry there
Nandi hills ,hill station
Hampi
Mysore

Appeal of Kerala
Christmas at Fort Cochin
Kovalam resort or Varkala
I had read about a beach festival in a blog with 50 elephants ,that is supposed to happen in Thiruvananthapuram, but can’t find any info on line otherwise. Does anyone know more about it?
A day trip with punted canoe in the back waters sounds more appealing to us than the overnight with the houseboat.I would appreciate hearing people's experiences.

Goa also a possibility but I hear that it is very crowded and to avoid over the Christmas holidays
I have done a lot of research but realize there is way more than we can do during these 3 weeks! I would really appreciate help and look forward to reading your advice
Sincerely,
Evelyn

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