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3 wks in Rajasthan & Varanasi-Jan 2013! Feedback on itinerary appreciated!

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Jul 11th, 2012, 06:14 PM
  #21
 
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If you need a rat experience, go to the train station in jodpur before dawn. We found hundreds of Indians covered from head to toe in blankets (in the heat) to protect them from the rodents scurrying around them seeking food while the homeless residents of India slept in front of the train station. I couldn't get on that train to jaisalmer fast enough and I worried that rats had boarded the train along with us. Thankfully we saw known once we departed jodpur.
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Jul 11th, 2012, 11:43 PM
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Here are my initial thoughts:

1. You have 21 days, which is longer than many people have; yet you are only covering a rather small part of north India. You have time, IMO, to split between north and south. South India is quite different from north India in terms of culture and food. While the north has forts, the south has fantastic temples as well as churches and colonial architecture. It is also less touristed than the north (other than the beaches of Goa which are easy to avoid but very pleasant if you want a break), and IMO you may have a better opportunity to see and stay in small villages there. It is also in great weather in Jan and Feb. I would suggest you seriously consider re-working the itin to be able to see something of south India. Goa and Kerala would be good choices, although Tamil Nadu has a lot of interesting things as well.

2. January 25 is Republic Day in India. If you can be in Delhi, there is a terrific parade in New Delhi along Rajpath. Rajput soldiers on horseback and elephants. Worth seeing if you can get tickets. You may be able to re-work the itin to skip Delhi in the beginning and go in the middle.

3. You don't have to fly into and out of Delhi for your international flight. Assuming you are coming from NYC airports you can take a non-stop United flight from Mumbai to EWR or vice versa. This works well if you do the south first or last. You could also take the United non-stop from EWR to Delhi and then return via the Mumbai flight.

If you don’t mind connections, then you have lots more options, like flying into or out of Chennai, Bangaglore, Pune, Hyderabad or Trivandrum and connecting either via Asia (Singapore or Bangkok) or going east and connecting in Dubai, Frankfurt, the UK, etc.

There is a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok to Varanasi (short stop in Gaya, no change of plane), which can be a good way to exit or enter India.

4. I have seen your other post on the camel safari question. Maybe it is me, but I find camels quite uncomfortable to ride. There is something about their gait which is not easy to adjust to. I would not want to be on a camel for more than about an hour to be honest. I prefer horses. Have you looked into a horse safari? I see Hacra offers them. I have used Princess Trails for day rides in Udaipur and they offer safaris, see http://www.princesstrails.com That is probably less touristy to begin with, as many people just do the 2 hour or so camel trek. Fewer people ride in my experience. You could also look into hiking/walking. See something like Oxford Walks at http://www.atg-oxford.co.uk/discovering.php#worldwide. These are longer walks than overnight, but would take you to very small places more off the beaten track and may be what you are looking for. Mountain Travel Sobeck might be another good choice, see http://mtsobek.com/ (and they do camel safaris). Another company is Backroads, they do mostly bike trips, but see http://www.backroads.com/.
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Jul 12th, 2012, 01:46 AM
  #23
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Cicerone,
I have thought about the possibility of traveling in other regions, so I will consider it. Tickets are already bought, however, in and out of Delhi.

I appreciate your comments but don't think we're looking to travel beyond Rajasthan and Varanasi. I have a total of 20 nights, including the night we arrive. So it's really 19 nights I have to allocate. We prefer to cover a region well and it seems to me that each of the towns have plenty to offer without leaving the region. So I'm not sure that either of us has a strong desire to travel further afield. I'm still trying to contain my trip within this region.

Thanks for the comments about the camel safari -- I will definitely keep them in mind! Someone wrote about the sore thighs for days after, and that will definitely influence our thinking.

Good to know about Republic Day. Do smaller towns also celebrate? I think I remember Live42day writing about being in a small village and going to a few activities.

June - love it! If I need rats, I'll keep the Jodhpur station in mind!

Jules 39 - I'll look for your trip report. Thanks for mentioning it.

Thanks again everyone for taking the time to write. It certainly gives me more to think about. I'm getting a bit overwhelmed trying to sort it all out right now!
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Jul 12th, 2012, 03:20 AM
  #24
 
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Hi,

You itinerary looks great. It will be hectic but it'll feel so rewarding and worth it when you look back at what you've seen and learnt.

I'm a travel writer (and BBC Journalist) and recently spent 6 weeks touring Nth India.
I stayed in everything from local cheaper accomodation to havelis to the Taj Palaces. Each has it's own charm.Taj Umaid Bhawan palace in Jodhpur I have just reviewed... http://ani-shah.com/2012/07/12/playi...urreal-luxury/

Jodhpur also has many lesser-known stories about it's people and culture. They're fascinating aspects... http://ani-shah.com/2012/07/10/opium...ty-mehrangarh/

Varanasi was a personal highlight for the colour, bustle, evening aart ceremony and culture. So was Haridwar.

I've started reviewing the trip with my photography for an exhibiton - think you may find some inspiration.http://ani-shah.com/2012/06/24/impre...t-of-a-people/

Lastly, can I tag along? Haha, Enjoy x
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Jul 12th, 2012, 01:53 PM
  #25
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Ani- thanks for the feedback-- i'm becoming a bit overwhelmed by the planning right now, going back and forth between possible approaches and I'm still tyying to slow it down a little. It's helpful to hear that it's good.

I LOVE your blog and photos! Beautiful pictures! They capture a wonderful sense of place - very intimate. I so enjoyed the photos of Jodhur in the early hours, as well as the opium tea preparation.

Sure, you can tag along -- but only if you take us to those luxury places! Ha ha to you, too!

Paule
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Jul 12th, 2012, 10:59 PM
  #26
 
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If you take an overnight train and do NOT see some kind of rodent scurrying round your compartment, or on the station platform, i 'll eat my turban!
The rats were in the station mgr's office (in Ludhiana, Punjab) but only a mouse in the compartment. Considering the amount of food and crumbs, it'd be surprising to not see hungry little meeces.
Prepare your hubby.
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Jul 13th, 2012, 02:01 AM
  #27
 
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Good luck with planning; it is stressful beforehand but really worth it once there.
If any way at all, give yourself half a day at least in each place to just rest and soak up the atmosphere. Without that it may become a bit of a whirlwind. But if you're prepared for that, go for it!
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Jul 13th, 2012, 02:30 AM
  #28
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CaliNurse,
Thanks for the warning - hubby IS prepared for the onslaught of India -- it was his idea to go, after all. But just in case he has a rodent reaction, I'll make sure to have my smelling salts ready!

ani-thank you! Still going back and forth between eliminating or reducing the smaller places (Bundi, Ranakpur/Narlai) to consolidate the trip and stay in Udaipur and possibly Jaipur for 3 days instead of 2. That's really the dilemma now.
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Jul 14th, 2012, 06:34 AM
  #29
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I'm now thinking of taking a day from Bundi and staying 3 days in udaipur. If I completely eliminate Bundi, the drive from Jaipur seems too long, no? But I get the feeling I would enjoy having 3 nights.
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Jul 14th, 2012, 08:01 PM
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Take the train - IMO much easier than so much time on the roads.
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Jul 16th, 2012, 02:20 AM
  #31
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Hi, June,
I thought about using the train more, but it just isn't convenient for the smaller locations or stops I'd like to make, making the trip much longer than it needs to be, or taking overnights, which I'm reluctant to do. We will be doing the Varanasi-Agra overnight, but sleeping on trains can be difficult so I'd like to avoid them if possible.
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Jul 16th, 2012, 07:00 AM
  #32
 
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Just realize that the road trips, while often interesting, can also be slow and endless. Many of the roads are poorly paved and the trains can sometimes be quicker. If there are stops to be made in between destinations, then car travel is the way to go, but if not, I would consider a train.
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Jul 16th, 2012, 12:36 PM
  #33
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I appreciate what you say, June. It's obviously a lot of tradeoffs. I am planning to leave in Bundi, which really makes the drive between Jaipur and Udaipur doable. I think that's really the only part of the trip that I'd consider a train, but the schedule didn't look all that great and the stopover in Bundi is one I want.

I did consider overnight train rides, but dear hubby (DH in on-line parlance) is not a happy camper (or traveler) if he doesn't get enough sleep, and truthfully, neither am I, so the only train ride we'll have is the overnight from Varanasi to Agra. That should give us the experience without exhausting us too much!

Otherwise, we'll fly between Delhi and Varanasi and also at the end, flying from Jodhpur (after Jaisalmer) to Delhi.

Thanks, though, I do appreciate the comments, and no matter what I decide, there will be challenges to face!
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Jul 16th, 2012, 12:56 PM
  #34
 
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as i remember the jaipur-udaipur drive was not all that bad

our notes say 6+ hours drive on a good road..
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Jul 16th, 2012, 02:28 PM
  #35
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Thanks, Bob. We'll be stopping in Bundi for a night, then moving on to Udaipur. I decided to stay one night only in Bundi and 3 in Udaipur. Your comments definitely inflluencedmy thinking.

Getting excited-- hotels are now being decided and reserved! The trip is taking shape!
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Jul 17th, 2012, 06:18 AM
  #36
 
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fantastic
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Jul 18th, 2012, 02:34 AM
  #37
 
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Hello Paule,
I work in Delhi and try to get out the city as much as possible! Bundi has been one of my favorite getaways of the last 6 months (with Varanasi!). 1 night should be enought you're right even if I really suggest you to visit the countryside around! We rent a bike for some hours and drove up to the waterfalls (it will be dry in January but that's really nice!).On this website you can find a lot of details on Rajasthan cities http://www.trip-in-rajasthan.com/places-to-travel

I have not been to Ranakpur, but I know that Ghanerao marble temple is very impressive and according to the budget, my colleagues recommand more frequently Narlai (nice hotel!).

In Jaisalmer, do not miss the night in the desert! Fifu Guest House proposes this kind of activity, it was awesome for me!
Enjoy your holidays.
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Aug 28th, 2012, 02:56 PM
  #38
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Thanks, SMT, I'll check out the website. I have a colleague who is thinking about volunteering in India and this would be great for him. I only wish I had the time to do it!

Paule
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Aug 28th, 2012, 03:06 PM
  #39
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SMT, this is a wonderful organization! I'm going to contact them and see if there is any way I can visit one of the programs. I agree, it is a a wonderful way to be more in touch with REAL India. Thank you again for the link.

Paule
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Aug 28th, 2012, 06:15 PM
  #40
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Of course, seeing that SMT has only just signed ip and then posted thismon several threads about India leaves me wondering a little anout ner connection. But it does look like a good organization doing valuable work.
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