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Trip Report The Best Exotic Off-Season Holiday: Udaipur/Varanasi/Agra/ Delhi

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In late August we dropped our youngest son off at college. Twenty-two years of 24/7 parenting suddenly over in a flash.

How to celebrate the transition from sprite soccer parents to achy empty nesters? After much agonizing, we decided on something epic: a round-the-world journey to see the highlights of northern India and find enlightenment for the years to come. In spite of serious obsessions with both exotic travel and dal, neither of us had been to the subcontinent. It was time.

Or was it?

For the trip to coincide with a big birthday and work with our schedules, late September or late October were the only possible options. In September we could manage 11 days on the ground, in October only 8.5. We read multiple trip reports and sent out a desperate query to Fodorites (thanks, India veterans!) but worried that October would be too whirlwind and September too wet.

The dogster became very involved in our trip planning. He called it a “sign” when AA canceled the flight we were holding for the eight-day October trip. And in a deleted thread he also said September would be fine monsoon-wise if we “hunkered down,” and suggested the stunning restored palace in rural Rajasthan, Devi Garh, now my favorite hotel in the world.

This trip report is dedicated to him.

A magical vacation. Though we are seasoned travelers, we spent most of our time gazing at everything in awe. The sights were breathtaking, the people welcoming, the food delicious, the street life mind-blowing, the discounts impressive…and the weather just fine.

We’re not really spiritual types, but we found ourselves doing yoga, meditating, having ayurvedic treatments, chanting with a Krishna priest during our own private aarti ceremony and achieving peace and serenity at the Anokhi outlet store.

We also saw the requisite wonders, swam in idyllic pools, hung out with locals in the village, flew kites from our rooftop, sampled art/music/dance, consumed only vegetarian food, took thousands of photos and survived a Bollywood film in the most odious of Odeons.

For the most part the monsoon cooperated. And neither of us got sick.

There were a few photography mishaps, shopping regrets, and a Ganges water level issue. But all in all, it was one of those life-altering trips, especially because Mr. C and I discovered we could be great travel companions without our offspring. Since our return we’ve been burning incense, greeting each other with “Namaste,” and still haven’t gone back to eating meat.

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