8.5 Days in India - Insane?

Jan 6th, 2012, 06:45 AM
  #21  
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Thanks for your concern, Cali. This is turning into a real nailbiter. We have until January 7th at midnight to book, and are still on the fence. Spoke to several people last night at an event where everyone but us seemed to have visited India. This opened a whole Pandora's box. Their advice:

- 8.5 days IS too short...but better than nothing
- 8.5 days is fine...but go to the South instead
- Do Bhutan with a Taj Mahal add-on
- Don't miss Calcutta
- Wait until you can go for a month
- Wait for the Jaipur Literary Festival
- Wait for an Emirates sale

Clearly, if we go, we will have to return to India. But we cannot do that until we get the first trip out of the way. We are going to get one more opinion today from the expert who would book our driver, etc., and will report back.

Kathie, Thanks for the link - I read your whole inspirational trip report...instead of getting my work done. Sikkim sounds awesome and is now officially on the bucket list, but Blwetorch seems to be correct about iffy weather.

dhunbug, We go to Mexico every winter (when it is not even that hot) with two other families, and the "archivist" of the group always has to photoshop out Mr. Crosscheck's sweat. So I shutter to think about how he will look in India. He will have to spend the whole time in air-conditioned theaters screening Bollywood films while I hit the bazaars.

Hi atravelynn, Great to see you here on the Asia board. You must have read my mind about Plan B: We are considering a gorilla trip in Sept if India doesn't work out.
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Jan 6th, 2012, 07:24 AM
  #22  
 
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Calcutta is again a very intense city. It can take from 1 day to a full month to see, depending upon, how you look at it. The Museum, the largest in India is worth seeing. A cruise on the Ganges will be a real treat. If you can undertake the boat trip to the Sunderbans( where the rivers meet the Bay of Bengal), it will be really special....with a chance to see the elusive Royal Bengal tiger. Calcutta was the capital of British India till 1911......and was known at that time as the 2nd most important city of Britain after London. Away from Calcutta ( now Kolkata, the local Bengali nomenclature) you will also like the queen of the Himalaya, Darjeeling. Darjeeling besides being famous for the exquisite tea is also well-known for the view of the great mountain range Kangchenjungha( the 3rd highest peak in the world, after Everest and K2). Darjeeling is just an over-night train journey from Kolkata. Kolkata was famous as the City of Palaces............we wondered why?!...............later on, as we grew up, our trained architect's eye learned to look beyond the temporary stalls on the side-walks, beyond the creepers on the parapet walls.......and there we discovered the 'palaces' of the by-gone days. Don't let Kolkata grow upon you...otherwise, you'll yearn to keep returning, every few years.
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Jan 6th, 2012, 07:40 AM
  #23  
 
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It will also be easier to touch Bhutan...the border town is Phuntsoling...from Kolkata( Calcutta), via Dajeeling. But again, in September, the Himalayan region( including Bhutan) will be rainy...and the hill-stations feel rather melancholic during rainy seasons.
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Jan 6th, 2012, 11:43 AM
  #24  
 
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If you decide to go, i'd go with Trav_eller's itin, and agree if poss, have more thab a hectic one day in New Delhi . Sounds like you view this as a basic, first time trip.

For the quieter part of the trip, plan on spending the evenings AT the hotel, and pick decent ones. They do NOT have to be 5 star!!!! At the end of busy days of sight seeing/exploring, having a nice little refuge place and hotel with restaurant lets you relax and digest physically and mentally at the end of the day (and get ready for the next) I almost never eat dinner AT hotel restaurants...except in India, where the feet-up at end of day and NOT having to go out again were welcome. Oh yes....massages too are cheap and a nice way to relax,

LATER when you are able to take a bit longer time, or even if not,you can do the slower paced trip (and the South is perfect for that).

OK, so one more day to decide, right ?
CaliNurse is offline  
Jan 6th, 2012, 05:56 PM
  #25  
 
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PS I should have mentioned why I included this timing:

Night 4 Amber Fort in the am

The elephant ride to the fort only operates in the am. Arrive early to beat the queue.

Cheers, Alan, Australia
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Jan 6th, 2012, 07:32 PM
  #26  
 
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or you can take a jeep. I've heard too much about cruelty t the elephants i guess.
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Jan 6th, 2012, 07:34 PM
  #27  
 
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and Cross, remember the Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays, and 9if you are still going) schedule knowingly.
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Jan 6th, 2012, 07:44 PM
  #28  
 
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forget the jeep, take the ellies no matter the price... we just did it for the 2nd time... see my trip report
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Jan 6th, 2012, 07:45 PM
  #29  
 
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your driver can pick u up at the back of the fort so you do not need to walk down--a huge relief
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Jan 7th, 2012, 12:36 PM
  #30  
 
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"or you can take a jeep. I've heard too much about cruelty t the elephants i guess."

Mine seemed well-looked after and wasn't mistreated by the mahout. Of course, if no-one rides the elephants there would be no reason to look after them at all. Then you would only be able to encounter them in zoos.
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Jan 8th, 2012, 04:43 AM
  #31  
 
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Here's what I'd do:

1. Arrival day - Delhi
2. Delhi
3. Train to Jaipur
4. See Jaipur
5. Drive to Orchha
6. Orchha, a.m.; drive to Agra
7. Agra; night train to Varanasi
8. Varanasi
9. Fly back to Delhi and home

It's whirlwind, but it enables you to see a lot. I think it's doable if you can get the right transportation connections. And a full day in Varanasi will give you a great taste of it. You could probably do a sunrise boat trip on morning 9 before flying back to Delhi.
If you're really not interested in Delhi, you could perhaps get an afternoon train to Jaipur on day 2, giving you more time elsewhere.
althom1122 is offline  
Jan 8th, 2012, 07:01 AM
  #32  
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Thanks for the continued interest in our trip. I promise to include all this decision drama in the report...if we go. We now have until tomorrow at midnight Delhi time (whenever that is) to get the tickets. If we do go, I won't bug all of you about the itinerary until several months from now, in case we can add some extra days. Jaipur is sounding a little too touristy for us, although we do have some interesting people we could meet there. If possible we'd like to go to just three locations: Agra, Varanasi and Ahilya Fort (near Indore, with 3-4 days there). Any ideas about how we could work that out?
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Jan 8th, 2012, 08:01 AM
  #33  
 
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With your short time, I think you are wise to limit yourselves to three locations.

Keep us posted!
Kathie is offline  
Jan 8th, 2012, 01:22 PM
  #34  
 
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Try this. It is a pretty neat route finder that tells you whether a flight, drive or train is the best option.



http://www.travellers-palm.com/routefinder.cgi

Actually, I know nothing at all about this agency (I've just been using their site for research), but they have some pretty nice looking options on the site like mini itineraries you can put together, and they might be able to help you out.
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Jan 9th, 2012, 01:43 AM
  #35  
 
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In case you need to buy a train ticket, you can do that online on www.irctc.co.in
'Tatkal' (urgent) tickets are also available 24 hrs. prior to train departure, and you do not need to take a hard copy with you, a soft copy on mobile or laptop will do.
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Jan 9th, 2012, 05:56 AM
  #36  
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Ticketed!
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Jan 9th, 2012, 06:08 AM
  #37  
 
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Fabulous!
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Jan 9th, 2012, 06:28 AM
  #38  
 
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Excellent. I thought for a moment you'd pike out. Now we'll get serious. First thing: got to www.jetairways.com, click on 'About Us' and go to 'Our Network', top of the list. Go to 'View out route map'. That'll show you flights. Peruse.

You can do this the easy way or the hard way. Me, I'd go for the easy way. Agra is your madness, of course. There ain't no flights so, whichever way you do it, you're up for at least ten hours [2 X 5 hours] driving. I'd be wary of overnight trains - you'll probably have an adventure but you won't get any sleep, which will screw you up the next day.

And join Jet Privelege.

Getting IN to Agra is your problem. Either fly to Kajuraho and go overland from there OR fly back to Delhi and drive down.

To get out of Agra, probably the easiest way is to drive to Jaipur and fly to Indore from there. Otherwise it's back to Delhi... nahhh. A night here

At Ahilya, book either of the two best rooms. If you click on 'rooms' the first picture that comes up is the Dogster suite - your room. Don't take the others unless you want a view of the vegetable garden. Or a tent. Not luxe but fabulous position [second picture]. Enquire whether the 'maharaja' will be in residence. If he ain't the service is slack. I'll advise more later.
dogster is offline  
Jan 9th, 2012, 06:31 AM
  #39  
 
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BTW, I'm assuming you go Delhi/Varanasi/Agra/Indore.

and the words 'a night here' are an accident.
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Jan 9th, 2012, 08:27 AM
  #40  
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I love the way you're all invested in my ridiculously brief journey. At this rate, we'll have 1000 posts by October...and then it will all be over in a flash.

Now that I have the tickets, I vowed I would take a break from agonizing about the specific destinations. But I couldn't resist taking a look at everyone's cool links, especially "my" suite at Ahilya. (The tent looks excellent as well - which has more light?)

Perused the Jet site. What a fantastic name for an airline. Says it all. Can Kingfisher, the one named after the beer, be trusted as well? Assuming not, and we stick to Jet, Indore-Varanasi-Agra might be a better order, giving us a full day at Agra on the final day before a midnight flight.

Dogster, Are Ahilya and Varanasi too similar as two of our three destinations...both spiritual rivers with ghats, aartis, boat rides, etc.? If the maharaja is not in town (how could he NOT be for our visit?), should we omit Ahilya and just do Varanasi, Agra and a splurge at Amanbagh? Though not a restored fort, it does offer rural splendor, hiking, a village experience and nice Amex Platinum benefits.

julies, my trip was too complex for your link - Is there a site with more variables, like which planes get delayed and which trains have rats? Or, better yet, a call center.
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