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Fabio Mar 5th, 2010 02:14 PM

Goden Triangle + Varanasi: too much for 9 days ?
First time to India but forced by school holidays (2 kids aged 8 and 15) and considering to avoid the summer months june to august for monsons, heat etc...we just have Easter or Christmas short periods left, max 9 days on ground.

Proposed itinerary with car/driver would be:

day 1 arrival in delhi (9am)
day 2 delhi
day 3 delhi - jaipur
day 4 jaipur
day 5 jaipur - agra
day 6 agra + overnight train to varanasi (first class A/C sleeper)
day 7 varanasi
day 8 varanasi
day 9 varanasi + afternoon flight back to delhi + night flight back home

we get used to long and intensive trips since our kids were a few months old....
do you think we should cut varanasi ??? But our regret would be that it is not easy to come back soon or for longer periods for the same reasons.......

we love travelling independently even in remote areas of the world and we have the feeling that having a driver/guide with us all day long for 9 days would be a bit too much... !! I have no idea whether India is easy or safe to be travelled independently.
We have travelled in Nepal independently when our son was 4 years old. Should we expect something similar in India ?
An alternative to the complete fixed itinerary through a local agency with a driver/guide would be that I book hotels and transportations by myself and once we reach the places we go sightseeing with local guides hired through hotels staff or something similar

would appreciate your comments ! thanks !

rhkkmk Mar 5th, 2010 04:45 PM

november/december is the best time for india in the north...

don't cut transportation venues too close, like your last are often delayed and india is famous for slowdowns...

Craig Mar 5th, 2010 05:52 PM

I wouldn't do this itinerary but I'm not you. We did Agra-Jaipur-Ranthambore Park-Delhi in 12 days (2 nights Ranthambore) and found that it was the right pace.

On paper it looks good. Not enough time in Delhi or Jaipur perhaps, but enough time to see some of the major sights. No time for shopping or relaxing, however. While the time you have for Varanasi is ideal, you may want to cut back a day - the 1/2 day trip to Sarnath that everyone takes is not mandatory. In order to make best use of your time, you must stay on the river. That will allow you to be there without hassle for the 2 most important times of your day - sunrise and sunset.

vp_singh Mar 5th, 2010 09:50 PM

Ideally, you should not terminate your holiday in Varanasi. Remember you are travelling with young children at impressionable age. I would recommend that you do Varanasi up front & than come to the Golden Triangle.
India may not be one of the easier destinations to travel in, but it is definitely safe for independant travels. Travelling by air would be comfortable. The trains get delayed / cancelled, due to foggy conditions in late December or early January. Airlines like the Kingfisher has CAT III systems, so are likely to operate in such conditions.
Not all trains have an AC-I category available. You will need to check upon this.
I would recommend a night's stay at one of the Fort Palaces, like Neemrana Fort Palace. They have some exquisite suites. The deluxe rooms with balconies / terraces are also very good.
Happy travels!

Lyndie Mar 5th, 2010 11:35 PM

Trains run quite reliably to timetable plus or minus 3-5 hrs in my experience. OK, there are delays, however if you allow 24 hrs in case of delays to connect with international flights you will be mostly OK. Flights in winter can be delayed also. If you are familiar with travelling at a speedy pace, taking everything in digesting it as you go, as you state, then do it! Your itinerary sounds good to a regular (twice a year for past 6 years)traveller to India. Have a wonderful trip!

Fabio Mar 6th, 2010 12:05 AM

thank you all

rhkkmk and vp_singh, I will reconsider to do Varanasi first, then the rest to be on the safe side in terms of possible flight cancellations/delays and also to allow more time for last minute shopping in Delhi before flying back home.

Craig, you would add one more day in Jaipur and cut one in Varanasi ? Sarnath is not that impressive ? However we will not miss both sunrise and sunset on the River !


what about Jet Airways (9W)?
how would you compare weather conditions in dec/jan vs. mar/apr related to fog, rains etc... ?

I found a Poorva Express and Magadh Express from the station of Agra Tundla Junction (TDL) to Varanasi Mughal Sarai station which have 1st class A/C sleepers (1A)

Accomodations: it looks hard to get family rooms for 4 ! Usually max 1 extra bed is added to a double room and the younger kid is too big to share the double bed with us ! Instead we were offered to get two double rooms on each place which makes the trip a bit more expensive. I have to do my homework and deeper research. This is the fun of independent travellers !!!

Fabio Mar 6th, 2010 12:18 AM


Thanks, I saw your post only after my last one !

flight Varanasi to Delhi would arrive at 4pm while our international fight is at around 1am !!! plenty or even too much time as layover in DEL which could compensate possible delays from Varanasi. But what to do in all that time ?

Craig Mar 6th, 2010 03:15 AM

Normally, I would not recommend Varanasi as a first destination in India. However, if you and your kids stay in one of the more comfortable tourist hotels in the cantonment area, it might be doable. From the cantonment you would have to rise very early to get to the river for sunrise - this may be easier if your internal clocks are off due to jet lag. If you choose to stay on the river, you will get much more of a "feel" for Varanasi but you will have to sacrifice creature comforts such as a quiet room.

I would spend the extra day in either Jaipur or Delhi, but it depends on your timing. How are you getting to Jaipur? Sarnath is interesting but not on the scale of the other destinations so I would give it a miss.

In Mar/Apr the fog is gone. It can be very hot, especially in April.

CaliNurse Mar 6th, 2010 11:54 AM

I recommend that you FINISH your itinerary with your last day or two in New Delhi. Here's why:

Fabio, there is nothing of great interest in the airport--it's not like the airports where you could spend hours wandering around all the shops, etc. Seven hrs is a long layover in any case, no matter where you are..but even more so at IGIA. I thibk you cannot even get INTO the terminal until three hours prior to your int'l flight home.
For place to stay in ND, I recommend a great homestay instead of a hotel. Your family would be part of another family. While you enjoy "independent " travel, you would not regret this kind of experience--and it would almost certainly be in lovely accomodation that is less money than a hotel.
Speaking of which--what is your budget for hotels? Some of the "deluxe" (or even non-deluxe) rooms i some hotels are VERY expensive.

Craig Mar 6th, 2010 12:19 PM

CaliNurse reminds me that I forgot to address your possible long layover at Delhi airport. You definitely do not want to hang out there for an extended amount of time. CaliNurse is correct in that they will not even let you in until 3 hours before. You would be coming from the domestic airport which is a taxi ride away so you would not be in the airport already. Your time is so short, I do not think a home-stay would be right for you. While you would save some money, you would not have time to develop any kind of a relationship with the owner's family. Delhi is very expensive, though.

lcuy Mar 6th, 2010 04:13 PM

Since you arrive in Delhi at 9 AM, I would leave for Jaipur on Day 2, then fly back to Delhi on Day 8. You will have time to relax on that first day and perhaps do a little bit of sightseeing if you feel up to it.

Varanasi is crowded, and the hotels along the river much more basic than you'll find in other cities.I think it is better enjoyed if you have gotten a little more accustomed to India before you arrive. Visiting Jaipur and Agra with a driver will give you a little easier intro to India, then when you fly to Varanasi the city won't be so overwhelming.

Another option is to cut one day from Varanasi. I've been there twice and found two nights (with the almost full day on arrival and half day before the flight) is plenty, unless you are planning to visit Sarnath, which I don't think the kids will find all that interesting.

Either way, You'll have an extra day in Delhi at the end. You can plan on doing your shopping here (Dili Haat, Cottage Industries Emporium, Santushti Market, or Khan Market) and go sightseeing. Places like Qtab MInar, Humayans Tomb, or old Delhi will be more interesting after seeing Agra and Jaipur, and the city itself will seem a lot more civilized after Varanasi!

Keep in mind that prices at hotels are higher at Christmas, so spring break might be a bit cheaper, but not as cool.

Have you booked a driver yet? I really like a guy by the name of Narender. (email is [email protected]) I've used him on three different trips. He drives a mini van (vs a compact car) and is a very safe and calm driver. He can arrange for guides in Agra and Jaipur if you will want them.

lcuy Mar 6th, 2010 06:38 PM

I see that I wrote, "when you fly to Varanasi". I meant to say, "when you <b>GO</b> to Varanasi". The overnight train would be fun with your kids.

vp_singh Mar 7th, 2010 09:54 PM

The worst time for fog is from, say, end of December to 20 January. The flights were disrupted from 28 December, onwards, 2009. And continued to be affected off & on, the entire month of January!
March is ok but April gets warmer, in Rajasthan.
Jet Airways is good & reliable.

live42day Mar 8th, 2010 10:45 AM

Regarding fog, as VP singh says, we were delayed 9 hours in Delhi due to fog for a flight and 4 hours waiting for a train that orginated in Delhi due to fog.
I also concur with Craig, doing Varanasi first may not be the best idea. Although it was one of my favorite places, I felt glad that I eased into India before arriving there. And as I said in my trip report, I would give Sarnath a miss. The evening ceremony on the river and going out on the boats at sunrise are the highlights IMO.

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