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Seeking your advice planning a trip to India

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Hello all:

I am in the preliminary stages of planning a trip to India in November/December 2016 – solo female traveller. Thanks to all for your very informative trip reports, which has made my planning so much easier – I am in your debt.

India has been a passion for me since I was twelve, so I am well read on the subject, and have a solid understanding of its history, art, and architecture, and I am an avid ‘armchair traveller’ to India. Reading your trip reports, I just don’t know why it has taken me so long to actually GO there.

I am planning for approximately 3-4 weeks (dependent upon ability to get free from work, and accumulating the bucket of money to pay for the trip :)

I am planning the trip around Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu, as my primary passions are history, architecture and art, and both will fulfil my desires.

I was originally enticed by the Luxury trains, as I adore both trains & luxury, but ditched the plan after reviewing the cost (versus what I could do hiring private drivers and staying in fairly wonderful hotels), the short time one spends at each site, and the reviews on the banal food (I LOVE my Indian food).

So, I decided to design my own trip, with the help of your input from Trip Reports, my research, and an Indian tour agent (There are a few excellent ones recommended on this site (Legends & Palaces, Castle & King, TGS)). Before I approach an agent, I need to have a preliminary Itinerary and budget.

Itinerary

So, here is a very preliminary Itinerary, and I welcome your comments. It may seem a bit odd, but I am trying to combine two regions that are extreme, in every way:
• London to Delhi: 1 night
• Delhi: 2 Nights
• Fly to Udaipur (working back from the extreme point to Delhi airport)
• Udaipur: 3 nights (this is my ‘chill out’ time)
• Jodhpur: 2 nights
• Jaipur: 2 nights
• Delhi/Fly to Chennai (car to Mahabalipuram)
• Mahabalipuram: 3 nights.
• Tiruvannamalai: 1 night
• Pondicherry: 1 night
• Tanjore: 1 night
• Trichy: 1 night
• Madurai: 2 nights
• Thekkady or Munnar: 2 nights – can’t yet decide which one
• Cochin: 2/3 nights? (Second chill-out time)
• Mumbai/Delhi for a night before flight back to London

Additional information:
• I might be able to add an additional 3-7 days. If so, where should I spend them?
• I always try to do too much, in too short a time
• I don’t mind one-night stays, but if there is a way of combining nights in one central area and doing day-trips, I would appreciate your guidance. Tamil Nadu itinerary is based purely on seeing as many wonderful temples as possible – but could I cut down on the number of locations and do day-trips?
• I have difficulty in ‘chilling out’ (I get really stressed trying to chill out), so there is a limited amount of that. Anyway, spending 4+ hours in a car is probably more ‘Chill-Out’ time than I can possibly cope with
• I can’t decide between Thekkady or Munnar, as both appear to be appealing spots between Madurai and Cochin.

Hotels:
Is this enough information to provide an agent?
• I’d love to have the money to do the whole trip within the ‘Oberoi Bubble’, and I am not ashamed to admit it. However, this is not going to happen. I expect I would like the occasional splurge for a couple of nights in the Oberoi or similar.
• I generally stay in three/four-star hotels in Europe, so I would expect similar standards.
• I am very interested in staying at the heritage Haveli and boutique Hotels/B&Bs.
• I expect great food in the hotel, as I may be having dinner in the hotel (solo female)
• I would expect to pay $100-200 per night (cheaper if possible!), single occupancy, and expect room with a good view

Budget for 28 days:
Can you advise me on the budget please, based on your experiences? I am assuming:
• Price per night for accommodation: $100-$200 (Splurge days: Outrageously expensive, and not included)
• Average price per day for driver: $60 per day
• So total, minus airfares and food, for 28 days, the budget would be approximately $6,000 - $7,000

Looking forward to your advice.

Best regards … Ger

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