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Planning for India - comments please

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I've finally come up with a first pass for the Indian section of my RTW - can't believe it took so long. (Note to guidebook editors - it would have been much easier if you divided India by geographic region instead of states.) I spent ten weeks in India back in 2001 (see ), mostly in the north, plus north Goa, Mysore, Kochi and the backwaters, and Chennai. This time I'm concentrating on the south, and only repeating Mysore (which I feel I shortchanged last time).

Same background info as for the other legs: I'm early 60s, solo female. I'm not really into big cities, neon, nightlife or shopping - although I love markets. I also love mountains, waterfalls and rocky coastline, and I'm interested in architecture, religion and especially food. I prefer crafts - glass, textiles, ceramics, jewelry - to fine arts. I travel more on the budget end, although for India I'd be interested in the occasional splurge hotel, if anyone has recommendations (splurge for me, that is - 7,000 INR tops).

Mon Nov 22 - arrive from Nepal, bus to Gokharna, train to Lucknow (2 nights)
Wed Nov 24 - fly to Hyderabad (via Delhi on Indigo) (3n)
Sat Nov 27 - car and driver via Bidar to Bijapur (2n)
Mon Nov 29 - drive via Badami to Hospet (3n) - end car and driver

Thu Dec 2 - train to Madgaon, bus to Palolem (2n)
Sat Dec 4 - car and driver to visit Chandor area, train to Mangalore (1n)
Sun Dec 5 - train to Kannur (3n), arrange to see Theyyam
Wed Dec 8 - bus or car to Coorg (3n)

Sat Dec 11 - bus or car to Mysore (4n), possibly via Tibetan village, spend last night in hotel in Brindavan Gardens
Wed Dec 15 - bus to Ooty/Coonoor (4n) - need advice on which one to pick, and whether 2 or 3 full days
*Sun Dec 19 - bus or train to Coimbatore, night train to Varkala (2n)
*Wed Dec 22 - bus to Kanyakumari (1n)

*Thu Dec 23 - train - either Kanyakumari to Madurai (arrive 21:50) overnight in Madurai or Trivandrum to Kodai Road (arrive 23:44) and pre-arrange transport from Kodai Road station to Kodaikanal (there's a bus from Kanyakumari but it's 10 hours...)
Fri Dec 24 - bus or car to Kodaikanal if not already there (4n)
Tue Dec 28 - bus to Madurai (2n)
Thu Dec 30 - bus or train to Trichy (3n) - visit Thanjavur from Trichy

Sun Jan 2 - bus or car to Chettinad region (2n)
Tue Jan 4 - bus or car to Puducherry aka Pondi (4n)
Sat Jan 8 - car to Chennai via Dakshina Chitra and Kanchipuram
Sun Jan 9 - fly to Colombo

*I'm reluctant to skip Kanyakumari when I'm relatively close, but I could take these four days and add one each to Hospet, Lucknow or Hyderabad (not both, because the Hospet-Madgaon train doesn't run every day), Mangalore and Madurai. Or I could drop a day from Ooty/Coonoor to add an extra night in Varkala or Trivandrum.

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