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Choosing between India Itineraries: North or South? Both??

Choosing between India Itineraries: North or South? Both??

Jul 5th, 2005, 09:23 PM
  #1  
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Choosing between India Itineraries: North or South? Both??

Hi:
I have read many of the reports and questions posted here on India itineraries and am so excited that I'm getting overwhelmed by the choices. This will be my first trip to India and I have no idea if I'll be able to go again so I am trying to decide whether to visit the North or South or whether I can somehow do a bit of both in 18 days. Here's one version of an itinerary. Is it too much? Can you recommend skiping one place to do another better place? Should I see things and travel in a different order? Any feedback will help. Thanks.
Day 1: Arrive Delhi evening stay overnight
Day 2: Drive to Agra, stay at amarvilas
Day 3: get up early morning to see Taj then drive on to Varanasi and stay night
Day 4: Varanasi
Day 5: Fly to Jaipur stay at rajvilas
Day 6: Jaipur
Day 7: Fly? to Jailsemer -- or Johdpur
Day 8: Jailsemer
Day 9: Back to Delhi - fly??
Day 10: Delhi
Day 11: Fly to Madras
Day 12: Madras
Day 13: Cardamom or some tea plantation town
Day 14: same
Day 15: Drive? Fly? to Kerala stay at Coconut Lagoon
Day 16: Kerala
Day 17: Fly to Bombay
Day 18: Bombay
Day 19: Leave India

Thanks for any input!
Paulo59 is offline  
Jul 5th, 2005, 10:41 PM
  #2  
 
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Well, I think the trip sounds very hectic.. Remember, that distances are far and roads are not in the best of shape and hence makes traveling not very comfortable. Trying to North India plus south India plus Bombay would not do much justice. Maybe you should try and do North India and just Mumbai since you are departing from Mumbai. South India has lots of beautiful places and temples. Maybe you should do that on a separate trip. Maybe others can also give their view but I think the itenary looks very difficult and hectic and you might not be able to thoroughly enjoy….
MiniAK is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 01:53 AM
  #3  
 
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It is too much. It seems like you would be driving or flying every other day and more frequently at times. We did not have 18 days but I do know that you need 3 full days to see Delhi and 2 full days to see Jaipur. If you include Fatephur Sikri (you should), Agra will take 1-1/2 days. Travel in India can be a wonderful experience, full of photo opportunities. However, it can also be exhausting if you try to accomplish too much. If I had 18 days, I would either focus on Rajasthan, Delhi, Agra and Varanasi or do Jaipur, Agra, Delhi and add a southern destination.
Craig is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 02:10 AM
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I also think it seems very hectic. You only have 2 days for Kerala. It's a wonderful place where you could easily spend a week, two weeks, or even much longer. If you jump around so much, you'll never get to really know the people in any of these places. I would say go for fewer places with much greater depth. Then you'll really be able to absorb Indian culture. If you're really interested in India, I recommend going for either north or south on this trip - and go back again. You may very well become addicted to India, like I am. I've made three extended trips there, all to different regions.
Mealea is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 02:40 AM
  #5  
 
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It is very hectic i but if you like a bruising pace on holidays - and feel you need to cover both the North and Kerala this trip - is doable with some tweaking.

I agree with Craig re Delhi needing 3 days - ideally 3 full ones not counting the day you fly in and might be jet lagged. Agra seems all right because I think you are getting 1.5 days there. Presumably you will stop to see Fatehpur Sikri en route Delhi-Agra by road and also if you want see the Agra Fort your first day. Try to see the Taj twice as it is different in different lights and IMO warrants 2 visits. Also, check if your dates coincide with the full moon nights when it is open at night - it may be worthwhile to plan your itinerary around this as it is truly an experience to see the monument bathed in moonlight.

I would delete Chennai which has little which is "unmissable" IMO. Instead add that time to Kerala. In Kerala choose one thing i.e. plantation or backwaters (Coconut Lagoon) and spend 2 nights there - bear in mind that it is a longish car journey and hence not worthwhile for 1 night. Ditch the day spent in Bombay. Instead spend a day in Cochin which should be the point you fly into for Coconut Lagoon or the plantation anyway - it is a natural halt with flights and hence makes sense, plus a town with a great deal of history. Time your departure from Cochin with your international flight - if you need to the hotels situated near the airport offer day rooms.

One other comment. This itinerary tho tight (with my changes) may be doable in the Nov-Feb period. Any other time the weather will be way too sapping for it.
hobbes is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 12:58 PM
  #6  
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Thanks so much for the feedback. We are going the last 2 weeks of December and 1st week of January. We have not booked flights so if you think we should arrive and depart through Delhi and skip Bombay, please advise. Here's a few follow-up questions.
Is Delhi preferable to Bombay if I can only do one?
Is 2 days in Jaipur and 3 in Jailsemer good? Also, is Jodhpur preferable to one of these?
If only one place in S India should it be Kerala? In Kerala which is the better S India experience - backwater (C Lagoon)or Tea Plantation/Hilltown?

We will see sites, temples etc, but prefer to spend more time just wandering around and soaking up the atmosphere, people... So we tend to spend less time at sites than many other tourists do. We do like cities as much as countryside so I am still tempted to fit in Bombay. Thoughts?

Here's a revised itinerary draft:
Day 1: Arrive Delhi evening stay overnight
Day 2: Drive to Agra, see Fatehpur Sikri (and possibly Agra Fort) on the way. See Taj at night? Stay at amarvilas
Day 3: get up early morning to see Taj then drive on to Varanasi and stay night
Day 4: Varanasi
Day 5: Fly to Jaipur stay at rajvilas
Day 6: Jaipur
Day 7: Fly? to Jailsemer -- or Johdpur
Day 8: Jailsemer
Day 9: Jailsemer
Day 10: Fly back to Delhi
Day 11: Delhi
Day 12: Delhi
Day 13: Fly to Kerala stay at Coconut Lagoon or a plantation
Day 14: Kerala
Day 15: Kerala
Day 16: Kerala
Day 17: Fly to Bombay
Day 18: Bombay
Day 19: Leave India

Thnaks again!
Paulo59 is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 02:55 PM
  #7  
 
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I think you'll really be glad you added in the extra days for Kerala. I would absolutely say go for the backwaters. This is what makes Kerala so unique and beautiful. I thought the tea plantations were just ordinary and you can see this sort of thing in many other parts of the world. The backwaters would be a totally unique and special experience in Kerala and it's my favorite part of India.

If you like cities, I might leave in Bombay. You could maybe cut Varanasi though.

I haven't heard of Coconut Lagoon. Is it a big new resort? I think the best places in Kerala are the small heritage house hotels, not the bigger places. I know a very special place if you want the true Kerala experience.

I'd recommend going to Cochin and staying one night if you have time. I really liked the Malabar House Hotel. Cochin is great just to stroll around and soak up the atmosphere.
Mealea is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 03:47 PM
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Way too hectic and way too many flights. In 19 days I strongly suggest you focus on Delhi, Agra and Rajasthan or Southern India.
glorialf is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 04:02 PM
  #9  
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Thanks Mealea. Yes, please tell me your special place in Kerala.
Paulo59 is offline  
Jul 6th, 2005, 05:24 PM
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Looks better Paulo. Still a bit of tweaking tho.

(1) In case Taj by moonlight is not open your dates still try to reach before 5 PM to see it once in evening light

(2)I think you should check the flight timing Varanasi-Jaipur and figure out how much effective time you are getting. Jaipur 2 days is rushed but doable if it is 2 almost full days - the Amber Fort, the Observatory, a meal at the Rambagh hence the opportunity to admire the heritage palace hotel, Hawa Mahal. As I said 2 almost full days is better.

(3) Last time I checked there was no flight Jaipur-Jaisalmer so you may have to factor driving time into your plan. I think Jaisalmer is more "unmissable" than Jodhpur if you have to choose one of the two. The architecture is gorgeous and it is really a feeling of a small town in the midst of vast desert - very unlike Jaipur or anything else u are seeing. Also not sure re Jaisalmer-Delhi flight. One thing you could cosnider is the train Jaisalmer-Delhi. It will give you an experience of Indian Railways (which for luxury travel are quite comfy) and if you do an overnight journey will be very time efficient.

(4) Fly to Kerala and overnight at Cochin would make sense IMO. Cochin warrants a few hours and then you can awake fresh for the 3-4 hour car journey Cochin-Kumarokam. In Cochin the Brunton Boatyard is a goregous boutique property by the same management as Coconut Lagoon - they own, IMO, some of the best hotels in India. Look it up on www.cghearth.com. It is well located near the Jewish quarter which has one of India's oldest synagogues - worth a dekko.

(5) Coconut Lagoon is again IMO a not to be missed experience. Everything about the hotel including the deisgn of the quasi open air bathroom si enchanting. Just the place for some down time after your hectic first 2 weeks.

(6) Bombay is closer and better connected i.e. more daily flights to Cochin than Delhi is so if you can fly out of Bombay without making a diff to your tickets explore that. However, as I mentioned earlier I am nto sure you will gain anything with a day in Bombay so I would suggest using it as a transit point,
hobbes is offline  
Jul 7th, 2005, 08:05 AM
  #11  
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Thanks again hobbes. I did not realize how much travel time was included in my trip. I will add a day to Jaipur for travel time from Varanasi and skip Bombay except to fly out. But the big question remains. Should I skip South India (Kerala) on this trip and stay north by adding another stop such as Rathambore to go on tiger safari? Is Rathambore the best place for a tiger safari in India? Is there another more interesting northern site, such as Udaipur, that is not on my itinerary? Or is it worth it to go to Calcutta for a few days? I have read so many books by Indian novelists that are based in places like Bombay and Calcutta that I feel like I am somehow missing a big part of India by not going to one or the other.
Paulo59 is offline  
Jul 7th, 2005, 08:36 AM
  #12  
 
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Personally, I would stick to Rajasthan and do the south another trip. Rajasthan is fascinating. Udaipur is great and I would NOT miss the Jain temples -- to me they were more spectacular than the Taj. I would spend no more than 2 days in Delhi. 2 days in Jaisalmer is enough. Jodphur is great as is Mt. Abu. I spent three weeks in Rajasthan, Delhi and Agra and took one flight. Everything else we did with a driver and it was fabulous. You see a lot by driving and you don't have to deal with Indian air system.
glorialf is offline  
Jul 7th, 2005, 12:33 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 8
Hi Paul,
i have read all the post and i am sending a travel plan,which is very simmiler to my travel plan i went in india with my wife in month of march for 20 days
Day 1 delhi
Day 2 delhi - udaipur fly
day 3 udaipur - ranakpur -Jodhpur one of the beautiful temple in india
day 3 jodhpur - jaisalmer two nights is enough
day 4 jaisalmer
day 5 jaisalmer - khimsar heritage hotels village life
day 6 khimsar - jaipur
day 7 jaipur -
day 8 jaipur - ranthambore
day 9 ranthambore
day 10 ranthambore - agra
day 11 agar - varanasi
day 12 varanasi - mumbai
day 13 mumbai - cochin
day 14 cochin - kumarkom
day 15 kumarkom - periyar
day 16 periyar - kumarkom - alleeppey backwaters
day 17 alleppey - cochin
day 18 cochin - mumbai.

This was my travel plan and i enjoyed the north india and south india with a tour escort and we had very wonderful hotels of oberoi and taj. Oberoi services is very good instead of taj but taj has very unique properties.
In Jaipur we used rambagh taj hotels
In agra amarvillas best hotel for view choose the room with terrace.
In Jaisalmer fort rajwada
In Jodhpur Ajit bhawan
In udaipur devi bhawan because our travel agent told us before that there is no water in the lake so stay at devi bhawan. But one the best to stay at devi bhawan choose orange suite
khimsar fort is very good to know the indian village life and culture.
varanasi taj ganges.
mumbai lila palace
cochin taj malabar one of the best
kumarkom coconut lagoon choose the private villa
periyar taj i forget the name

this was my travel plan with the hotel.
if you wish to get more information.

please write me
roger_jonathan is offline  
Jul 7th, 2005, 03:42 PM
  #14  
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Hi Everyone. Here's an alternative itinerary for my trip. It cuts out the South. Any thoughts on this or my earlier questions? Please also give suggestions for favorite hotels for my itinerary.
Option 2:
Day 1: Arrive Delhi evening stay overnight
Day 2: fly to Udaipur stay night at Devi Bhawan one night
Day 3: Drive Udaipur to Jodhpur stay at _______________ for one night.
Day 4: Drive Jodhpur to Jailsemer stay at ______________ 3 nights
Day 5: Jailsemer
Day 6: Jaislemer
Day 7: Drive Jailsemer to Jaipur stay _______________ 3 nights
Day 8: Jaipur
Day 9: Jaipur
Day 10: Drive Jaipur to Rathambore stay at _______________ for 2 nights
Day 11: Rathambore – morning and evening safari
Day 12: Morning safari then drive to Agra. See Fatehpur Sikri on way and then Taj at night
Day 13: Morning Taj then drive to Varanasi stay 2 nights at ____________________________taj ganges?
Day 14: Varanasi
Day 15: Fly Varanasi to Delhi – stay 4 nights at Imperial
Day 16: Delhi
Day 17: Delhi
Day 18: Delhi
Day 19: Leave India
Paulo59 is offline  
Jul 7th, 2005, 05:08 PM
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OK, my 2 bits!!

(1) Are u talking about Devi Garh hotel in Udaipur? Is gorgeous but another option could be Udai Vilas which is beautiful in its own way. Whether or not the lake is dry is not so important to Udai Vilas as it is to Lake Palace (which IMO is anyway very run down). Also, it has rained a lot to date this year so maybe the lake is even full.

(2) IMO, 1 night in Udaipur is rushed and I would make that 2 and skip Jodhpur. In case you keep Jodhpur on your itinerary Umaid Bhawan is an option to Ajit Bhawan. Both are great.

(3) I love Jaisalmer so I would not change 3 nights there. Also, the drive to Jaisalmer from Udaipur or Jodhpur and the onwards to jaipur will be 2 of your longest.

(4) Jaipur hotels you could consider Raj Vilas – boutique, gorgeous, lap of luxury Vilas property, Rambagh – converted palace, large, majestic setting tho food and service could be better, Samode – 3 boutique palace hotels, less luxurious than Raj Vilas but very historic

(5) Are you willing to splurge on a night at Aman Resorts – www.amanresorts.com. I have heard rave reviews of their Aman Bagh property. It is only a 2 hour drive from Jaipur. If yes then you could do 2 nights Jaipur and 1 Alwar where Aman Bagh is located

(6) From Alwar Ranthambore is a 3 hour drive. The best hotel in Ranthambore is again a splurge – the Aman-i-Khas, recently opened. The Vilas property there is Vanya Vilas. My personal favourite with the advantage of the closest proximity to the tiger reserve is Sher Bagh – www.sherbagh.com. Re your chances of seeing tigers in Dec I would say 50-50. Best tiger spotting months are the warmer ones when they are near watering holes i.e. Oct-Nov and March-April. In April we saw 6 tigers on 2 game rides.

(7) I would rearrange Agra to stay 2 nights at Amar Vilas and do 1 night at Varanasi. BY the time you get to Amar Vilas from Ranthambore it will probably be afternoon (the game drive will be early AM, back to your hotel 9ish, shower, breakfast, see Fatehpur Sikri en route, check in Amar Vilas 3ish?) Amar Vilas is another hotel to be experienced and this 1 night will be rushed. If you time your departure from Agra day 2 early AM you will still get almost 2 full days in Varanasi. The Taj Ganges while one of the better Varanasi options does not compare with some of the other properties recoed here. Also consider taking the overnight train Varanasi Delhi – very time efficient as gives you a full day in Varanasi and gets you into New Delhi Railway Station very near the Imperial.

Answers to your other questions. You mentioned in an earlier post that you are not people who spend a majority of your time at sites, rather you like to soak up ambience. In that sense you might enjoy Bombay and also Kerala which are completely different from Rajasthan and the north. Between Calcutta and Bombay I would say Bombay is a more fun place to visit. It is a city which never sleeps, where you see life all times of day and night, with amazing contrasts.

Re Kerala. Given the timing you could consider dropping Ranthambore and doing Cochin-Kumarokam. I understand your comment re not knowing whether you will ever come back - after all there is so much of the globe to explore! Ranthambore is an interesting safari experience but I believe it does not compare with say Botswana. If you drop ranthambore and Jodhpur, do 1 night each in Agra and Varanasi you can consider adding back Kerala.
hobbes is offline  
Jul 7th, 2005, 09:00 PM
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Hi Paul,
Option 2:
Day 1: Arrive Delhi evening stay overnight Club Room At "Maurya sheraton"
Day 2: fly to Udaipur stay night at Devi Bhawan one night (Orange Suite)
Day 3: Drive Udaipur to Jodhpur stay at _______________ for one night.
MY Opinion that you should stay for two night and cut one night from jaisalmer. Jaisalmer two night is enough. Second day in jodhpur do the village safari bishnoi village. Ajit Bhawan choose the Heritage Deluxe room .
Day 4: Drive Jodhpur to Jailsemer stay at ______________ 3 nights Gorbandh Palace / fort rajwada
Day 5: Jailsemer
Day 6: Jaislemer
Day 7: Drive Jailsemer to Jaipur stay _______________ 3 nights You can not fly, but this a very long drive. 600km
cut the one night or come back to jodhpur and catch a flight for jaipur
Day 8: Jaipur
Day 9: Jaipur
Day 10: Drive Jaipur to Rathambore stay at _______________ for 2 nights Vanya villas is one of the best aman-i-khas is also very nice
Day 11: Rathambore – morning and evening safari
Day 12: Morning safari then drive to Agra. See Fatehpur Sikri on way and then Taj at night amarvilas
Day 13: Morning Taj then drive to Varanasi stay 2 nights at ____________________________taj ganges?
Day 14: Varanasi
Day 15: Fly Varanasi to Delhi – stay 4 nights at Imperial
Day 16: Delhi
Day 17: Delhi
Day 18: Delhi
Day 19: Leave India


roger_jonathan is offline  
Jul 7th, 2005, 09:30 PM
  #17  
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Looking at my itnerary, is there a way to save myself the 6 + hour drives from Udaipur to Jailsamer? (I think I decided to cut Jodhpur to reduce # of stops.) How about from Jailsamer to Jaipur? Can you fly or take the train to these places instead? Or how can I rearrange the itinerary in some way to create shorter drives? Thanks!
Paulo59 is offline  
Jul 8th, 2005, 01:01 AM
  #18  
 
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I think there is now an Alliance Air direct flight Jaisalmer to Jaipur so you can potentially cut out half a days travel - http://indian-airlines.nic.in is the Indian Airlines flight but I do not know the Alliance Air website and cannot find it either. Don't know timings or reliability too.

From Udaipur to Jaisalmer you could explore a train, may be faster than by road esp as I think they are both metre gauge stations. Check this site: http://www.indianrail.gov.in/, and then hit "trains between important stations". You can work out routes, times, classes avaialble, and fare There is a lot of information about Indian trains on this site toohttp://www.seat61.com/India.htm.

You could add the night you cut from Jodhpur to Udaipur.

What have u decided re Kerala?
hobbes is offline  
Jul 8th, 2005, 03:35 AM
  #19  
 
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hi, being Indian I obviously havent been anywhere, being from Mumbai am sad you guys dont find it a tourist spot...although I reluctantly agree, between delhi and mumbai, delhi has a lot to offer....I would def do North and South in two seperate trips or you wont do justice....if do have all those days in north, I would add Shimla or Darjeeling for a twist, all places in your north trip are sand and heat...learn from the Brits and head uphill to cool down for a day or two...Cheers
lordofthejungle is offline  
Jul 8th, 2005, 04:59 AM
  #20  
 
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The drive is an interesting one and you can end up spending six hours flying by the time you have to hang around the airport, potential flight delays (which are not rare) and the airports in India are not pleasant if you're a non smoker (at least that was true 5 years ago). The non smoking sections have as much smoking as the smoking sections -- in other words the rules were ignored.
glorialf is offline  

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