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Trip Report just returned from 2 weeks in india

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thanks to all of you who helped my family of 4 with our trip to india. we just returned from our adventure, and this will be a brief report about what worked (and what didn't)!

we used castle and king for our arrangements, and were extremely happy with how well we were cared for. mr arvind answered all my emails within one day, changed our itinerary several times as I changed my mind over the months of planning, booked our drivers, guides, hotels flights etc for me and notified us when (even last minute) the airlines changed flight times. I admit I was anxious to use a guide in another country and send some money in advance, but it worked out very well indeed.

itinerary:
udaipur- roetgargh (outisde of jodphur) - chatta sagar- pushkur-samode (outside of jaipur)- agra-varanassi-dehli

some highlights:
we stayed in fateh garh in udaipur. beautiful hotel in a palace up on a hill overlooking the lake and farmland. outside the hustle of the city, a lovely retreat, great food, stunning views.

chatta sagar: this was our favourite stop in our journey. it is a luxurious tented hotel beween jodphur and jaipur. it sits on the banks of a reservoir, and it is tranquil, lush and quiet. best food of our trip. small hotel, and you get to know your fellow guests. there is a fire pit with chairs where everyone gathers and exchanges stories before dinner, and at dinner a pot of embers is brought to sit on the floor beside you at dinner to warm you as you eat outdoors- glorious. there are 2 excursions thru the hotel (included) that fodorites will like- a village tour, which felt incredibly authentic, and not as touristic/voyeuristic as others we have done. you see an agrarian economy based on the barter system, in this more prosperous farm community. you also take a lovely walk in the huge property, with a guide, telescope, birding book etc to see the animals- wild boar, deer, and many different birds.

samode: we did not want to stay in jaipur, and so mr arvind recommended samode hotel, in the country hills outside of the city. absolutely beautiful palace, great food, lovely entertainment. the gift shop was great- the jewelery was much more to western tastes, gorgeous silver products, nicer than any we saw at the more traditional stores, and still at good prices compared to home. higher end pashminas avail there too (and there is a difference when you see them! but not cheap here)

we were not fans of varanassi at all. I was there 24 years ago, and it seems to be filthier, noisier, more crowded than ever. we stayed on the river at palace on the river. very simple hotel, well located for the ghats, simple restaurant on the roof but not much else to recommend it. we were initially to spend 2 days there, but changed our flight and only spend 24 hrs there. in retrospect that is how we should have planned it- arrive in the evening, see the ghats in the early morning, see sarnath in the afternoon and then leave. or, i think varanassi could be eliminated from an itinerary and more time spent in rajastan.

anyway, wonderful trip, the kids found it fascinating, and we are glad we went.

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