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family trip advice 18 days in India,leaving 12/14/12!

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Dec 3rd, 2012, 12:33 AM
  #1
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family trip advice 18 days in India,leaving 12/14/12!

Hi ,
I have been reading the forum and getting great information and I thought I would just post the details of our trip and ask if anyone had any particular activities to recommend for or against. We are a couple in mid 50's with a 17 yo daughter and a 21 yr old son. The last 5 days of the trip, the 21yo son's girlfriend will be joining us. Everyone weighed in on what they wanted to see and do so the trip had many moving parts. We have traveled together quite a bit and everyone is pretty easygoing and healthy. There may be some misspelling since I can't read my own chicken scratching when I am typing
I did some of the hotels myself but had help from Castle and Sons with others. We will be using a car and driver supplied by them for the northern portion of our journey and our time in Kerala was planned by Travel Thrills, a company recommended by a colleague of my husband's.
I know that we are squeezing too much in and will need a vacation from our vacation. Perhaps you will be reading my tale of woe in a few months, but I am hopeful it will still be a wonderful experience.
We have already had some bad news since our nonstop flight from Seattle to London was cancelled and they just offered us an American flight through Dallas with 45 min to connect. I think once we are on the London leg, I will be able to relax a little. Unfortunately we are in middle seats the entire route now ;-(
written below is our itinerary with some ideas of activities. Like Violetm, I don't want to do every fort, just a sampling.I would love some advice!

Sunday, 16-Dec
Arriving Indira Gandhi New Delhi 1:25am,planning to stay in Eaton Smart
SpiceJet SG114 Depart New Delhi 13:40, Arrive Varanasi 15:05
Varanasi Lodging Rashmi Guest House

Monday,17-Dec
Sightsee in Varanasi
early morning boat ride on Ganges
Dasasnamth ghat
Vishnanath Temple
Meer Ghat Nepali Temple-
Rashmi Guest House

Tuesday, 18-Dec
Fly to Delhi SpiceJet SG233 depart Varanasi 11:30 arrive Delhi12: 50
Car to Agra 4-5 hrs , Arrive Agra early evening
?see Taj in the evening
Agra Lodging Hotel Howard Plaza

Wednesday,19-Dec
Sightsee Agra; see Taj in the morning. not sure if we need to see anything else.
Travel by car 5-6 hrs Jaipur
Fatehpur Sikri;
Abhaner;
Galta Monkey Palace
hotel Shahapura House

Thursday,20-Dec
Sightsee Jaipur
Jantar Mantar Observatory
City Palace
Chikhi Dhani- folk dances, puppet shows?
Hawa Mahal?
Amber Fort? 11 km NE, leave 4 hours to see it
hotel Shahapura House

Friday,21-Dec
Morning Sightsee Jaipur,
drive to Udaipur 6-7 hours
Udaipur Hotel Jagat Niwas Palace

Saturday,22-Dec
Sightsee Udaipur
City Palace-
Jagdish Temple ( hindu)
had gotten advice not to go to Gardens
boat ride on the lake?
Bagocki Haveli?

Flight Udaipur to Mumbai 5:45pm arrive Mumbai 7:05pm
Mumbai hotel Hotel Fariyas Mumbai

Sunday,23 Dec
Flight Mumbai- Aurangabad 6:25 am arriving Aurangabad 7;20 am
See Ajanta Caves
Aurangabad Hotel Lemon Tree

Monday,24-Dec
Aurangabad - Explore Ellora Caves
Aurangabad Hotel Lemon Tree

Tuesday,25-Dec
Fly Aurangabad – Mumbai flight S2-3224 7:50 arrival Mumbai 8:40
Mumbai -Calicut Flight S2-4423 11:40 arriving Calicut 13:25
Flight 9W 7093 13:25
Backwater cruise?-haven't been able to find a short one without a stay on board
beaches
Stay at hotel Hyson Heritage

Wednesday 26-Dec.
Travel to Wayanad-2 hr by car, hairpin turns
Pookada lake ,Lakkadi Hills ,Karalad Lake
Stay at hotel Vythiri resorts (tree house)

Thursday 27-Dec.
Wayanad
trekking to Eddakkai cave , Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary, Pazhassi tomb
Stay at hotel Vythiri resorts

Friday 28-Dec.
Drive from Wayanad to Kochi 6.5 hours
Tour Kochi
Kathakali in the evening?
Stay in hotel Travancore Court

Saturday 29-Dec.
Kochi
St. Francis Church
Chinese fishing nets
Athirapally Waterfalls


Sunday,30-Dec
depart Kochi
Go to airport 45 min.
Air India Flight A1466 at 7:30 am to Delhi, arriving 10:25
Pick up son's girlfriend who arrives 1.5 hrs previously
Delhi hotel Master Paying Guest house
Tour Delhi
Old Delhi walks?
High tea at the imperial?
Gawavali singers ( any fest days on 12/30,1/1 or ½?)
Digambaea Temple contains bird hospital 8 am -9 pm
Dances of India 6:45 pm daily?
Pahargang walking tours 2 hr, 10 am former street kids ?
Mcdonald-check out lamb burgers?
Shop C Lal and sons for Christmas ornament
Laxminaayan Mandin Temple ?

Monday,31-Dec
Depart Delhi 7:20 am train to Amritsar arrive 13:25;
Pickup from station at 1325 Hrs. check in the hotel
1400 Hrs Visit Jallianwala Bagh and lunch
1530 Hrs Visit Wagah Border
1900 Hrs Visit Durgiana Temple
2000 Hrs Visit Golden Temple
2200 Hrs Drop at Hotel
Amritsar hotel Ranjit Svaasa

Tuesday,1-Jan
5am train Amritsar - Delhi; arrive in Delhi 11:15
sight see Delhi after noon
Delhi Master Paying guest house

Wednesday,2-Jan
Delhi sightsee
Airport hotel Eaton Smart in Terminal 3

Thursday,3-Jan
Depart Delhi 3am; 7 hr London layover
Arrive same day Seattle 4pm
venturesome4 is offline  
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Dec 3rd, 2012, 01:42 AM
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Wow I am tired just reading that, are you sure you can handle that amount of travelling? In India travelling can be very draining.
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Dec 3rd, 2012, 04:53 AM
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There is absolutely no way I would agree to that itinerary. You won't have time to breathe, never mind experience anything. One day for Varanasi? Two hours for the Golden Temple?

However, since I presume it's already booked, I'm not sure what you're asking. The time to consult us was before you locked this marathon in. And a 45 minute layover in Dallas? Make them come up with a better routing.
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Dec 3rd, 2012, 05:45 AM
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I'm out of breath reading your itinerary, but I recognize that everyone's travel style is different. My main concern is you 45 minute layover in Dallas which I definitely would not accept. As thursdaysd advised, make them come up with a better alternative with a minimum of 2 hours to connect. As far as the rest of your itinerary, I was in Varanasi for 1.5 days and felt it was enough. Try to see the evening ceremony at the Ganges, putting the river to sleep. You probably will be able to get from place to place in the allotted time, but I am pretty sure you will not be able to see everything you have on your itinerary at many of your stops.
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Dec 3rd, 2012, 05:49 AM
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At least take the new toll road between New Delhi and Agra and save a few hours driving. You will be exhausted....flew from US, got a few hours sleep in Delhi, flew to Varanasi, ran around, slept and now to Agra by way of Delhi. Gosh, we are doing the samething in 6 nights. Good to be young and strong!
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Dec 3rd, 2012, 06:08 AM
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you've got to be kidding!!

THIS IS INDIA... YOU HAVE NOT ALLOWED FOR SET BACKS... at this time of year flts are often delayed because of weather..

i don't think you want to be on indian roads after dark, EVER...

did you have trouble scheduling the medevac flight for your return home??
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Dec 3rd, 2012, 06:15 AM
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Hi venturesome - Lucky you - going for 18 days! As others have said, it's not too late to make some changes that will improve your trip:

First, as thursday noted, AA needs to find you a better flight or bump you up to business class. After they canceled our Chicago-Delhi non-stop, they wanted to reroute us all over the place with many stops...I was persistent and ended up with two very convenient BA flight.

If you sit in middle seats on that itinerary w/ the nailbiter Dallas connection, you will be zombies when you arrive. Then you are then going directly to Varanasi, one of the most intense places in India. Especially after flying coach you need a at least a day of doing nothing.

Are you are locked into your itinerary or can you tweak?

If you're locked in, I would choose just one sight per day (or two max), and hang at hotels and cafes for massages, yoga, reading, photography strolls, chai etc. for the rest of the time. Otherwise, you'll never get over jetlag or even remember what you've seen.

If you can tweak, let us know - Might not be too late to cut out some internal flights and one-nighters. I would also work on making sure the gf sees more of India than just Delhi w/ a hectic day trip to Amritsar. Is she coming all the way from the US for just 5 days?

Also, I think this itinerary is not teen/young adult-oriented enough. Instead of starting at 5:30 am most mornings, they'll want to sleep in, linger at meals, avoid too many temples, shop, chill, and maybe find some nightlife. There are MANY travelers their age in India - the Lonely Planet thorn tree board will give them some ideas.
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Dec 3rd, 2012, 06:20 AM
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I didn't see any night driving, but if there is any I totally agree with Bob. Indian roads are exciting enough in the daylight, do NOT plan to be on them after dark. You will be sharing the roads with pedestrians, cyclists, motorbikes, carts drawn by animals varying from camels through donkeys to bullocks, cars, vans, buses and huge trucks. The roads, aside from new super-highways, are liable to be potholed and one and a half lanes wide if you're lucky. Lights are far from universal. Driving times are unpredictable.
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Dec 3rd, 2012, 10:49 AM
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Please for the sake of your enjoyment and the family make some tweaks, you can't enjoy India with this itenary, India is a great place but I fear that you are going to be doing yourself, the family and India a great disservice.
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Dec 3rd, 2012, 11:46 AM
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If you had an agent draw up this itinerary for you, fire them.

Any place you spend one night will likely be just that - one night, no time to sightsee, to experience the place. With 18 days, I'd choose not more than 6 stops. Even with 6 stops, you'll be busy and exhausted by the time it is over.
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Dec 3rd, 2012, 09:39 PM
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Hi, Well, thanks for your advice. Much of the itinerary is set in stone.
The flight cancellation to London is really what worries me the most as well. It was VERY frustrating since they didn't give us any other option but routing through Chicago with the same layover.an even worse option. They said it is legal and refused to budge. Any ideas about changing their mind, especially at this late date would be much appreciated! We only have carry on so are hoping things work out. We have 9 hrs in London so could still catch the proper flight to Varanasi but sure seems unnecessarily stressful.
Thanks Shelleyk, we will check out the evening ceremony. We will be staying right on the Ganges. Do you know where the ceremony is?
As far as the activities that are planned ,we were only planning to do 1-2 things at every location. The locations are fairly locked but the activities are flexible. I had just thrown a few options out to see if people had recommendations. We will have a driver and there are no drives planned for evenings unless something happens, which I understand is quite possible.
The girlfriend will be spending the quarter working in Delhi so she will see plenty at a more leisurely pace, crosscheck. I appreciate the fact that the young folks are not that interested in multitudes of temples or palaces .What would you say are the"not to be missed" ones on our itinerary? Appreciate the tips about the Lonely planet thorn tree board.
thanks Elainee, for the tip about the new toll road. that sounds like a great idea. Well, I will keep you posted.
Evelyn
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Dec 4th, 2012, 02:25 AM
  #12
 
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Venturesome,

Wow, what a trip! Who is Castle and Sons? Do you mean Castle and King?

Your plans for Dec 31st are seriously impossible:

Monday,31-Dec
Depart Delhi 7:20 am train to Amritsar arrive 13:25;
Pickup from station at 1325 Hrs. check in the hotel
1400 Hrs Visit Jallianwala Bagh and lunch
1530 Hrs Visit Wagah Border
1900 Hrs Visit Durgiana Temple
2000 Hrs Visit Golden Temple
2200 Hrs Drop at Hotel


There is NO WAY you can do all that. For starters, you give yourself only 35 minutes between arrival at the train station and arrival to the Jallianwala Bagh.

Also, the drive from Amritsar out to the Wagagh Border Ceremony, and then going from the parking there to get inside the viewing area-- Allow one hour between departing from wherever you haVe lunch (per yor itinerary) and actually getting into the seats at the viewing stand.

I dont know if the prices are similar, but we stayed at Hotel Ista in Amritsar. Not only a comfortable and modern hotel, but a great location for the kids, as it is right across the driveway from a big shopping mall, including a food court, and the Indian equivalent of Target ( it is called HyperCity)--which they would get a kick out of.


Unlike most everyone else replying, i would NOT worry about the 45 minute layover in DFW. With DFW being a major hub for American Airlines, I have several times arrived later than scheduled, only to find the ongoing flight was held until all the "feeder" flights' passengers had boarded. The flt to London will have passengers arriving from all parts of the West and Midwest.
But,on the flight from Seattle to DFW, be SURE the flt attendants know to allow you quick exit. Be pushy if you have to!! Also, once yo get to the gste there, have the AA attendant phone ahead to the gate people at your flt to London, and say you're on your way.

I love Abhaneri village and palace and stepwell, but that day, consider skipping it--too far off the main road considering your tight schedule. But DO stick with the plan for Galti-ji the Monkey Temple on the outskirts of Jaipur. Agasin, the kids will love it (so will you).
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Dec 4th, 2012, 04:47 AM
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Your title says you are leaving on Dec 14, right? But you also say AA cancelled your SEA-LHR flight? I took a look at aa.com and that flight is still listed for Dec 14. Possibly they have switched to a smaller plane?

I was checking because you need to do your own research before arguing with the airlines about which flight they should move you to, not just let them give you what they want. There is also a connection through LAX with a three hour layover, which is probably the one I would take.
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Dec 4th, 2012, 07:28 AM
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venture, Now you have all of us involved. The 9-hr layover at LHR sounds even worse than the 45-minute connection at DFW. If you are traveling on the 14th, it looks as if there is now room on the BA nonstop (AA codeshare) - Call again!
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Dec 4th, 2012, 01:04 PM
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Now I am looking at flights as well. The flight to New Delhi leaves at 11:40am on the 15th from Heathrow to get to Delhi at 1:20am on the 16th. The way I see the schedules the 1:30pm AA flight from Seattle thru Dallas arrives too late in Heathrow to catch that flight. (That is AA78)I hope I am mistaken. Maybe there is an earlier Seattle-Dallas flight I did not see. There are flights from Seattle at 7:10am thru NYC with a 3 hour layover which arrive in Heathrow about 6am, plenty of time to catch the Delhi flight. FYI...that Delhi flight has only one open seat that that is in first class. Full plane! No chance of getting a better seat.
Just ignore me if I am one too many cooks.
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Dec 4th, 2012, 01:37 PM
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The evening aarti (?spelling) ceremony is held at the main ghat in Varanasi. If you are staying on the Ganges, you might be able to walk to it. When I was there it began at 6:30, but ask your hotel for the exact time. It lasts about 45 minutes and you can view it either from the ghat or from a boat on the Ganges, which we did. The steps get very crowded, so get there early to get a good viewing space, if you want to view it from the land. Bring your camera.
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Dec 4th, 2012, 04:24 PM
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i thought the aarti show was soooo boring as to put a mere mortal to sleep..
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Dec 4th, 2012, 05:12 PM
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Well, as one who is interested in culturally significant ceremonies, I found it quite interesting. That is one of the reasons I love overseas travel-to experience what I cannot see at home. I guess "different strokes for different folks" applies here.
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Dec 4th, 2012, 05:57 PM
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We loved it as well - wanted to go back the following night. More choreographed than other aartis we saw - priests dancing with fire and incense to spirited beats and songs, but we found it captivating.
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Dec 4th, 2012, 10:38 PM
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You guys are great, doing all this research. So,since a few of you have been on the computers looking for alternatives, i will let you know the plan.
I had a few of the details wrong. my husband made the initial arrangements with British Air, which included a non stop fare Seattle to London. The London to Delhi leg got cancelled so the alternative flight required that we take a different flight to London. Hence we were presented with the options . We checked and the flights the last days have been running on time. To change is prohibitively expensive at this time. There are some options if we do miss the flight so that we can still arrive in Delhi in time to make the next connection to Varanasi.
(several flights leaving at 20:10 and making connections that will get us in to Delhi at a more humane hour)
Currently we arrive in London 8:40 and leave 11:40. We arrive in Delhi at 1:25 am and will sleep at the Eaton Smart for a few hours ,leaving Delhi at 13:40,arriving Varanasi at 15:05

Calinurse you are correct. It is Castle and King. That is a great idea to involve the flight attendants and will be our plan. We have had to do that in past. Luckily the terminals are next to one another and the kids can run very fast.
I also appreciated the idea of where to stay in Amritsar. Seeing a Mall in India would be an interesting experience for sure. Glad to know how much time it takes to get from one place to another. That is why it is so helpful to have input from fellow travelers. We may just do the border ceremony and the golden Palace. That schedule is just for the 5 of us.
Our family doesn't really feel the need to linger in Agra after seeing the Taj in the morning. Do you think that if we left in the morning that there would be time to experience Abhaner? How far off the highway is it,time wise?

Shelleyk. I think the aarti ceremony sounds very interested and if we are still upright at that time, I hope to see it.

Thanks so much
Evelyn
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