DEL/Agra/Rajastan in 7 days

Jan 28th, 2010, 09:44 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 109
If you are still looking for a hotel, recommend the Amber Hotel which is just off the Ring Road and Mathura Road (the highway to Agra) intersection. Very convenient to start your drive to Agra. Also very close to the Lotus Temple so you should stop by before heading to Agra. It is moderately priced (compared to the big names), very nice, has good recommendations (including mine), and they will arrange an airport pickup if you wish.
garybear is offline  
Jan 28th, 2010, 11:20 PM
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I agree you would be hard-pressed to do the drive all in daylight, and I agree even more strongly that you don’t want to be on an Indian road at night, it’s rather dangerous. But my big issues is that IMO you don’t want to do a drive of that length in one go. 5-6 hours is the most I really can take in one day on an India road. Indian roads are not smooth 4-lane superhighways, are generally not in great shape physically, and there are huge numbers of trucks, not to mention bullock carts, camels, motorcycles, buses and a very large number of people walking along the roads. There is a lot of swerving, braking and honking involved in the process. Much of the oncoming traffic will actually be coming at you in YOUR lane trying to pass others. Expect a lot of near-death experiences. Add darkness and a tired driver to this mix and you can imagine the result. 12 hours would be a really long time in the car.

I would instead suggest that you take a night train from Agra to either Jodhpur or Udaipur (time to either is about the same, between 10-12 hours depending on the train you take). This will save you the drive, give you an extra day in Agra, and give you an interesting experience as well. It will also be far cheaper than hiring a car and driver on your own (you can go first class for US$36). There are also day train options if you want to see the countryside, but the journey will take most of the day (esp to Udaipur), and with your limited time a day train may not be the best use of it.

I think Jodhpur and Udaipur are very interesting cities in dramatic settings. But just FYI, Agra has about 1.5 million people, Jodhpur has a population of just over a million, and Udaipur has a population about the same as Washington DC (500,000) but that is still larger than Zurich. So, don’t expect a village or anything. Or course they may seem to be small compared to Bangkok and Cairo, which are really megacities.

Where is Haidikan?
Cicerone is offline  
Jan 29th, 2010, 12:12 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
I guess this would be TOO obvious a solution to the first part of your journey?

Kingfisher Red IT4367 Delhi (DEL) - Agra (AGR)
06 Mar Sat 11:40 arr. 06 Mar Sat 12:40
INR 3,249.00

lol lol lol.
dogster is offline  
Jan 29th, 2010, 01:02 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
Dunno why, but I get the feeling you haven't been to India before. So, I'd be looking at this for your first night, to reduce mega-stress, taxi scenes at the airport and meltdown - Delhi airport can be chaos, believe me:

look, I've done it for you:

you will take the Lemon Tree deluxe package. It's at the bottom of the list. Why? because it contains return airport transfers. Why would you want those? Because you will be eaten alive if you walk outside the airport WITHOUT a transfer booked. Even the pre-paid guys will probably have NO idea where the hotel is - or ANY hotel, for that matter - you don't need the grief, jetlagged, overwhelmed and confused.

As a matter of interest, why do you feel you have to go to Agra first? Do you have a particular need to plonk yourself in the middle of the most carnivorous city for newbies on your first full day in India? You could fly to Udaipur first and work your way back to Delhi from there.

Now that we know a little more about you [ashram etc] I think you might enjoy this website:

Here's a way of staying in your chosen places, having lovely local people to talk to, show you around, great food, none of the inner-city tourist ghetto and none of the relentless horror that CAN hit a first-time traveler in the first few days.
dogster is offline  
Jan 29th, 2010, 01:30 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
If you went to Udaipur first, I've just realised you can fly on the 5th. giving you an extra day. Delhi ain't a good start to India in my opinion, particularly given your stated needs: 'I love nature and would prefer smaller, less crowded places to big cities...'

Here's your flight:
Kingfisher Red IT4305 Delhi (DEL) - Udaipur (UDR)
05 Mar Fri 09:30 arr 11:10

INR 3,499.00

as you see, it's WAY better value than the Agra flight.

Let me know your thinking thus far and I'll make some other suggestions. You won't see it all, but in the time you have, there are some other really great options. Don't lock in on staying the obvious places. There are places you can stay that give you access to the [ho hum] tourist sites, but don't mean you have to STAY in them. You CAN have your cake and eat it too - but only if you stop listening to the voice of reason and start thinking outside the box.

I get the feeling you'd be happier in the rural areas.

Some idea of what you're expecting to pay for accomodation would be a help. In places like Delhi, the hotel prices will take your breath away. Cicerone's suggestions are, as always, great but may be in the wrong league. Lemon Tree is a cheap option [for Delhi] - and they are a damn good chain. Highly recommended.
dogster is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2010, 01:18 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 4,393
Hotel nr airport: Check Hotel Saptagiri nr New Delhi airport.Recommended as a good place, very near IGIA, by India-based travel agent I trust totally. Definitely NOT the Centaur--rated by Tripadvisor as one of the world's dirtiest hotels!
CaliNurse is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2010, 07:45 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 37
Thanks for all the help. the reason I feel I need to go to Agra first is that the Taj is closed on Fridays. I arrive 9:45 Friday night. I wish I could go on from there as it will feel like 9:45 am on my body clock. I sleep well (thank you Ambien) on planes and am used to intn'l travel. True I have never been to India and true I was much happier in the temples in Sukothai (sp) Thailand that in Bangkok. I love the countryside and am not at all opposed at thinking outside the box. I love it!
So, i arrive Friday nt I think I need to go to Agra first because the Taj is closed on Fridays. I have to be back in DEL Fri at 7pm to meet the group to go to Haidakhan (I'll find out where it is)All is know is that it is at the base of Mt Kailash is all I know. It is the Babaji ashram. I am going for the Navaratri -Divine Mother - festival March 16-24.
so if I did the Taj on the way back (Friday) when I need to be back to DEL it would be closed.
It would be great to overnight train to U. or Jodpur unless you have an out of the box suggestion.
I can fly back to DEL the 12th to meet my group.
I would like to keep room costs below $100 USD if I can. I do not need luxury but I would like quaint and clean. The homestay website looks great. I love b and b's.
Can't wait to hear back from you. I'll be online everyday now. I was away for five days. Thanks!
lisa_m is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2010, 08:56 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
Hi lisa, glad you're back. I thought you might an out-of-the-box kinda person. lol.

O.K. fair 'nuff re Agra. May as well get that out of the way, if you must. First, what do you think about the Kingfisher option to Agra? And the Lemon Tree? You can save the $$ later on in your trip. That first night ain't the one to try and economise - but if you feel you must, better shout out now. Already it's booked out on the [incorrect] date I dialled up for you.

I don't know Calinurse's suggestion but that doesn't mean it ain't perfectly fine, or the cheaper of Cicerone's ones. I'm just suggesting a place with multiple recco's in here and a chain I totally trust.

I get the feeling you might be feeling beholden to the driver you've arranged. Don't. Plans change hourly in India. Rameesh will be used to this. If you are locked in on him as driver for your week, then everything is different. So, better let us know.

I need to know that you've looked on a map. Somehow, I'm not entirely sure you have. In fact, after this post: Jan 29, 10 at 11:17am - I'm sure you haven't.

I also want to know, other than your completely contradictory statement at the top of this post:
'...I've been told to go to Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur. My interests are palaces, gardens and temples. I love nature and would prefer smaller, less crowded places to big cities...',
what research you have done.

dogster is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2010, 09:05 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
'Cos, if you want to go to Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur, even on travelaw's reasonable itinerary, you're gonna be driving PAST the nature, PAST the 'smaller, less crowded places', PAST the really cool 'palaces, gardens and temples', PAST the wondrous rural areas, all in your headlong dash to get to the overcrowded tourist places, full of every hustler in creation, all intent on hassling YOU.

So, better decide.
dogster is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2010, 09:15 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
'...I have to be back in DEL Fri at 7pm to meet the group to go to Haidakhan (I'll find out where it is) All is know is that it is at the base of Mt Kailash...'

Maybe you should look here, too:

Gawd, lisa. Good Karma ain't gonna get you very far in India. Let me introduce you to Google Search.
dogster is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2010, 11:53 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 4,393
HI again, Lisa,
If you want to start your trip to New Delhi in a homestay NEAR the airport(15 minutes drive) checkoutthe website for Chhoti Haveli.They will send a driver for you. oth that, and Hotel Saptagiri, are well within your budget.
If you havent already, please do yourself a favor and check out the Indiamike webiste. It is absolutely loaded with grat ideas about just--you guessed it--India, and you'll find most recommendations are for people on a budget that favors lower priced accomodations than some of the recs you'll get on Fodors for places like the Taj and Oberoi 5 star hotels! Also, do check tripadvisor for recommendations in the cities you are going to.
if I were planning thetrip yo have in mind, i'd get feedback from an excellent experienced travel agent in India. Why? Because you tell them what you want, where you want, price you want, and they can help you plan it all.
CaliNurse is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2010, 04:21 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 37
It's not necessary to economize the first night in DEL. As for the flight to Agra...isn't it a hassle to get to the airport an hour plus early, go through security etc than to get on a train or get a driver if I am on the road to Agra anyway?
Don't blow my hiar back...just askin' ;~)
An overnight train on Sunday nt from Agra to ?? would be fine.
I am not tied into the driver and would love an out of the box trip NOT! going past the nature, cool palaces, temples etc. you mentioned above. I'm open and so very appreciative of your expertise.
As for the ashram, all the travel is handled by the group I'm going with so did not need to research that part. Best, Lisa
lisa_m is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2010, 07:11 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 37
dog.....loved the babajicalling website. It was wonderful. Nice info on the DEL airport scenario. I definitely want someone to meet me at the airport and minimal hassle sleeping the first nt. Wish I could work it out to go to Agra at the end but can not. Awaiting the next post. Thanks!
lisa_m is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2010, 08:16 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,689
Well thanks to dogster I see that you are going to Haldwani in the State of Uttarakhand, north east of Delhi. (When I Googled Haidakhan, I only found the ashram in Colorado, which I was fairly sure was not on your itin). I feel compelled to say that you might want to toss the Rajasthan itin and head up there instead, as that appears to be very close to the Jim Corbett National Park where you can see tigers and other wildlife, and you could also go to Rikisesh, one of my favourite “smaller” places. This whole area is much less touristed and you might find it fits your interests better. (Not as many palaces, but chock-a-block with temples and lots of beautiful countryside.) If you did this area, you could meet your friends in Haldwani, no need to meet them in Delhi.
Cicerone is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2010, 09:07 PM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
Damn good idea, Cicerone. 10/10 for lateral thinking!
I'll be back.
dogster is offline  
Feb 4th, 2010, 12:31 AM
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Remember lisa - you know where you're flying from - I don't. You know whether you'll have jet lag, I don't. You know how experienced a traveler you are - until your last-ish post, I hadn't the faintest idea. You're an experienced international traveler, you say - so was I, and THEN I went to India. lol lol lol.

All I'm trying to do is ease your way in and look after you from my Uncle Dogster distance for that first, potentially mind-altering 24 hours when India can eat a budget traveler alive.

So, in the midst of your wonderful Gung-Ho-ery [and, never misunderstand me, I'm direct but I'm on your side here] you'll need to consider all the above. You can arrive in Agra in as many pieces as you choose. You can walk there, if you think that'll be more fun. lol.

On the assumption that you want to get to Agra refreshed, that the purpose is to SEE Agra and the Taj, as opposed to stumbling exhausted from one hustler to the next, taking pictures to remind you that you were there, then I'm suggesting the easiest way.

I've never caught the Shatabdi Express there, so I don't know the departure time. I know there's a 6 a.m. So, you could get up at 4.00 a.m. to catch that... which completely defeats my exercise. Others will advise you.

Remember, you'll be carrying your bags. If you're smart you'll arrive at the railway station some time before it leaves anyway. So you have to get from your hotel to the station before that. Then, when you arrive in Agra, what are you going to do? Run the gauntlet of taxi-drivers? Where are you going to stay? How are you gonna see the Taj? Just rock up, run the gauntlet, stand in a queue...? You can, it's perfectly easy. By the time you get there, if you have jet-lag and no sleep, you'll be too exhausted to see it.

If you want to go over all this again, into infinity, I suggest you read these, amongst many, many other posts:

let me introduce you to the Fodor's search engine. See the little empty box up the top right?

But lisa, we're still here, 36 posts later, faffing around about the first 12 hours of your trip...

All the options are fine. Just choose one. Zillions of people take the train, equally as new to India as you are. So do that. There are lots of trains to Agra. You can go express or you can stop 400 times on the way. You can do it in 2.00 hours or 4 - or 10 if you're keen.

But we really haven't made much progress on the rest of your adventure, have we?

You could choose not go to Agra at ALL, follow Cicerone's excellent suggestion above and wiggle right out of the straight-jacket you've put yourself in. All of India is amazing. Whatever you think is most fun. Whatever you think will prepare you best for Babaji.

You will be there in exactly 30 days.
dogster is offline  
Feb 4th, 2010, 09:57 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 37
I know. I realized how soon it is today and I am awash with joy. India is going to be as big an assault for me as anyone on the planet. As I have said, I dislike crowds, touts all of it but I know in my heart I am supposed to go there. So I will trust....and depend on your expert guidance you so graciously are giving to me. I have spent so much time on the first 36 hrs because! of all the reasons you just mentioned. I feel I want to see U. because of the lakes, I've read Jodphur has the best fort and I was hoping it would be a little less frenetic than Jaipur.
I meet my group in Delhi Friday evening the 12th and have Sat there. We head to Haldwani on Sunday and spend the night there, then jeep to Haidakhan for days. I will have a day (Sat the 27th and Sun the 28th) and a half in DEL before I fly back to Austin on Sun 12:25 am! to Austin via Chicago.
Soo - the nature trip to the north has some appeal but I really do want to see the majesty of the forts. Not sure I need to see more than two or three...... -AND- this all began when I was in the thrid grade and read "Road to Agra" I have held it near my heart ever since and it is the highlight of the trip for me. The ashram idea got presented a year ago and solidified me finally booking my ticket to go to India.
So I must do the Taj and will then have Sunday the 7th- Friday the 12 th when I have to meet my group in DEL. Sorry it has taken 35 posts to get here. I have learned an immense amount in the journey. After realizing how aggressive Agra is I would like to see the Taj Sat at sunset and Sun at sunrise and then I a open to leaving Agra by train or plane so to have M-TH to sight see. Sorry if I am being redundant. Suggestions now?
lisa_m is offline  
Feb 4th, 2010, 11:15 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
Oh bless you. If it wasn't at least ten times your age, ugly as sin and on the other side of the world I'd hug you with all the affection an old Uncle Dog is permitted. I can feel your excitement!

But don't think for a moment I'm an expert at anything. Cicerone's bredth of accurate information far surpasses mine. All I know about is the giant HIT of India and just how much it can knock you around. I don't know what Cicerone does or how she gets to know so much, all I see is her generosity and razor-sharp grip of the details. So give thanks to her, more than me.

But I reckon she and I travel differently some of the time. I bet I'm naughtier than Cicerone. She may not be an afficionado of the low-life hell-holes I've been known to frequent - and have written about in here at [too much] length. Probably I'm a better advisor on how to get yourself out of ridiculous situations you've got yourself into. One day you'll get time to click on my name and read - but not now. This is about your dreams.

Indianapearl will be reading, Mrs. Marge, LisaM, lcuy, Jaya and the esteemed j.p singh will be watching over you too. They'll chime in when you need them.

For some reason, the complete, open-hearted, dreamer lunacy of your voyage appeals to me. Whatever India chooses to give you, it will. I can no more influence events any more than you can.

So, you NEED to go to Agra, first up. Now I understand why. Well, to start with, throw away all ideas presented thus far and GO on 'The Road To Agra'.

This is simple. Who cares how long it takes? That's not the dream. Have Rameesh pick you up in Delhi in the morning and drive there. Simple.

You are right to hesitate while we talked other options. You KNEW your heart - of course, till your last post, I could only intuit it.

As you aso intuited, this is your KEY decision. Everything follows from there. It seems to me that fate has provided your solution. Rameesh is your man. He comes highly regarded and recommended from at least two posters in here whose words I know to be true. Travelaw, for example, would have personally dismembered him, had he not been up to scratch.

Whaddya think so far? You'll need to lock Rameesh in very soon. No, you don't have to lock in a schedule - just him and his car. A smart cookie would lock in a price. Travelaw is in lock-down in Iraq so can't reply, but I bet Mrs. Marge is looking in. Let her advise you.

It's 3.00 a.m. in Bangkok, when I am now. I have to change hotels tomorrow, so if you're on line now, get back fast before I crash. You'll KNOW, the minute you read these words, whether my latest thoughts are right.

If you think they are, then scroll back and look very, very carefully at travelaw's schedule. Read the appropriate parts of this, if you haven't already:

Then look carefully at the Mahindra Homestay website. I think it's perfect. Your intuition will guide you to the right places to stay. Follow it.
dogster is offline  
Feb 4th, 2010, 02:42 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,110
Austin??! Austin??! My home away from home . . . (even though I live in the wilds of darkest Indiana). Once you return, let's reconnoiter and arrange a dinner so we can talk about India. We can invite bonnieheather who's also an Indiaphile (she and her spouse live near Austin).

Here's the deal -- many Fodorites have used Ramesh (Ram) Meena as our driver, so he comes highly recommended -- Linda (?), travelaw, bonnieheather, MrsMarge, indianapearl, lisasiegel, and liv42day are all fans. All of us have given him even a superb evaluation. Travelaw has used him twice. Don't know if he is available in your time frame, but if so, book him NOW!!!

I enjoyed seeing the Taj, but it was a colossal pain in the patoot. I'd never do it again. Others would dispute that evaluation. I am old. You sound like you are young, so perhaps you have a different stress level than I. But there are so many glorious things to see in India that you won't be disappointed, no matter where you go.

If I had to choose which three cities in Rajasthan Jodhpur, Udaipur, and Jaipur), I'd choose Jodhpur because of the fort and Ossian (and this is with respect to your limited time). They're all wonderful in their own way, but since you so little time,you've got to make a decision.
indianapearl is offline  
Feb 4th, 2010, 02:53 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 37
Thanks. Well, nowI am thrown that you suggest to take the car. I was prepared to take the train. Ramesh is planning to pick me up in Agra to go to Jaipur but since I have read so much about Jaipur being so crowded and aggressive so I thought about passing over it and going to U. in which case It seemsI should fly ude to the distance. I am enthralled with Travelaw's description of the drive from Jodphur to U. through the Aravelli hills. It sounds beautiful.
Maybe I should fly to U. Sunday afternoon spend S, M, T nts there Wed drive to Jodphur and do the fort there then fly back to DEL on Friday afternoon. I would still like to hear from dog about the places I would be going PAST on the way to Jaipur, U. and Jodphur. I could do more or less with Ramesh but I do have him booked now to get me in Agra but would it be best to fly or overnight train to U. or Jodphur? Thanks!!
lisa_m is offline  

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