Help for my first trip to India

Apr 19th, 2006, 05:28 PM
  #1  
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Help for my first trip to India

With this post I start asking for your help for my first trip to India. Tentative date will be from January 27-February 17 (total days in India will be 20). Budget will be around 5,000 dollars (for two). This is my tentative itinerary:

January 28-29 New Delhi

January 29-30 Varanasi

January 30-January 31 (Agra)

The rest of days will concentrate on Rajasthan and it will be like this:

Jaisalmer 4 days; Jodhpur 3 days; Jaipur 3 days, Udaipur 3 days. On route to Udaipur want to go to Ranakpur too. Last two days in New Delhi for last minute shoppings.

Questions: I've been searching in different India Tours companies and they usually includes cities like Bikaner, Mandawa and Pushkar. Are these cities just for a nights rest between the most important cities or are a must? How would you combine the flights, trains and car and drivers in the most effective way between the first four cities mentioned? To which cities you would fly, take train or go by car? What kind of lodging can I get with my budget? Thanks in advance for your help.




gilawi01 is offline  
Apr 19th, 2006, 05:44 PM
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You are soooo lucky to be able to have 20 days in India. Don't try to do too much is all I can say. I think your itinerary is not too much of a stretch but others will weigh in. I would work up my own itinerary with the help of the Fodorites here instead of doing some pre-fab itinerary put together by a tour company. My experience is limited to our 12 day trip so I will not attempt to help you. To get your best deal, e-mail at least 3 different tour companies such as Compass which we used. Bob (RHKKMK) on this forum got a great deal with another company for some budget places - I am sure he will post and give advice. India is wonderful - if you thought Thailand and Cambodia were a wonderful experience, just wait - India is amazing - you will love it.
Craig is offline  
Apr 19th, 2006, 06:55 PM
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Others will respond with specifics. Here, I will only say that with that kind of budget you should sample at least a couple of Oberoi properties - say, Amarvilas at Agra and Udaivilas at Udaipur.

agtoau is offline  
Apr 19th, 2006, 07:49 PM
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I have in the past recoed a TA I was very happy with too. My first cuff comments. Agra needs only 1 night so hope that is how you are planning it. In Agra nothing compares wiht the Amar Vilas so stay there and book early as it is the only premium acco in Agra. Land in Delhi, Delhi Varanasi Delhi by air, then Delhi-Agra by fast train, in Agra pick up your car and driver who will be with you through the rest of your trip. By road Agra-Jaipur-Jodhpur-Jaisalmer-Udaipur. The Udaipur back to Delhi by air. Some of these are long drives so it is good that you have 2/3 nights in each place.
hobbes is offline  
Apr 19th, 2006, 07:53 PM
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Sorry - forgot to add. That is a good budget for India. I am assuming it does not include your air tickets and is budget for lodging, food, transport, etc? Combine a few Oberoi Vilas properties with a few others eg in Agra definitely Amar Vilas as nothing else compares but in Jaipur maybe a converted palace hotel for a different experience else Raj Vilas. Jaisalmer and Jodhpur no Vilas properties. In jaisalmer Killa Bhawan, in Jodhpur Umaid Bhawan are probably the best. In Udaipur you can choose between Udai Vilas and Devi Garh. In Delhi try to stay at the Imperial. The other chain which has lovely properties is the Neemrana group.
hobbes is offline  
Apr 19th, 2006, 08:45 PM
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i assume that it does include airfare so please advise us....where will you be coming from as well..??

as you leave delhi so quickly i am surprised that you will not go there for several days??

rhkkmk is offline  
Apr 19th, 2006, 09:28 PM
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Some random thoughts from me:

1. US$5,000 for 20 days is US$250 a day. I assume that is for two people, not per person. I actually think that for hotels, food for two, airfare for two, train fares for two, car transport and incidentals like entry fees, etc, that might be tight, mostly if you are thinking of the 'Vila" range of Oberoi properties as mentioned above (which are lovely) or some place in Delhi like the Imperial (which again is wonderful and I would highly recco it). Any of those properties in the high season of January and February could easily eat up most if not all of the US$250. Just keep this in mind. You may need to go down a bit in hotel prices, or up your budget. If the US$5,000 is supposed to include your international airfare then I don't think this is doable with the hotels which have been recco'd so far. Websites for the various hotels mentioned so far are below

http://www.oberoihotels.com
http://www.theimperialindia.com
neemranahotels.com

For price comparisons with these higher-end properties, I would also suggest you look at Taj properties, go to www.tajhotels.com; and some of the lower end Oberoi properties (mostly Trident, but don't be confused by the Trident Hilton in Gurgaon which is a 5 star property.)

2. Bikaner and Pushkar are often on itineraries for their special sights, especially the camel fair at Puskhar which is in November. They are not overnight resting places, and are in fact kind of hard to get to. It is up to you whether to include them. India is a huge, huge country and it is really a matter of eliminating choices rather than adding them. Even though you have 20 days, you don't IMO, want to rush yourself. With 20 days, I would choose at most 6 places. This will give you a chance to actually see and experience them, rather than just viewing them through a car or train window and having the "if this is Tuesday, this must be Jaipur" feeling. You have 8 stops and 9 with a stop in Ranakpur. Your itinerary would also involve either some inconvenient train rides or a lot of very long drives, which will get tiring after a while, Indian roads being what they are. I would cut out either Jaismaler or Jodphur. Personally I find Varansi really interesting and in addition to the Hindu ceremonies on the river there is a very large Buddhist temple area as the Buddha preached his first sermon there. You might want to spend more time there.

3. January 26 is India National Day. There is a very large parade in Delhi on that date, which you might find interesting to attend. Pageantry, military, etc along Rajah. If you can arrange your schedule to be in Delhi a bit earlier this might be interesting. Just a thought.

4. I think you may want more time in Delhi to begin with. Jet lag will take its toll, there is a lot to see and do, I would not rush out right away. Most every international flight arrives at obscene hours like 1 am or later, so your first day can be pretty exhausting anyway. I would give yourself at least 2 full days in Delhi NOT counting your arrival day.

5. In Jan and Feb early morning and evening fog can be an issue when flying, so try to schedule flights for mid-day or take trains or a car whenever possible.

Other helpful websites:
www.indianrail.gov.in. - state railway of (India)
http://www.jetairways. - private airline in India, very good
http://www.airdeccan.net/airdeccan/home.asp - new private airline
http://indian-airlines.nic.in - state-run airline, domestic schedule, avoid if you can


Cicerone is offline  
Apr 20th, 2006, 03:49 AM
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My reflections are as under:
a. 20 days are a sufficient time for you to see all destinations in your post. However, to get rid of the jet lag you may stay in Delhi for three nights.
b. You may add Khajuraho too, visiting the western group of temples. Delhi – Varanasi – Khajuraho (by air). You may take your car from Khajuraho & drive to Jhansi (110miles approx.), catching the evening 6:00pm fast train to Agra, arriving in Agra by 8:30pm.
c. In bigger cities like Delhi you will necessarily stay in modern 5-star hotels. In smaller towns we have some bewitching super-deluxe heritage properties.
d. The destinations of Bikaner, Mandawa & pushkar lie on the cut-and-dried touristy itineraries sometimes not even suitable for American intellect! American travellers deserve a customized plan. You will appreciate, a truly remarkable tour plan involves a lot of research, imagination, focus & ‘inspiration’.
e. Your budget will also allow you to take an erudite guide-escort with you. His presentation can make a world of difference to sight-seeing, as a lot of objective stimuli on your travels are cloaked in esoteric Hindu cultural & mystical meanings. These small objects arouse curiosity in an intelligent traveler.
Best Wishes.
vp_singh is offline  
Apr 20th, 2006, 05:17 AM
  #9  
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Thanks all for your responses. To clarify some comments: the budget is just for travelling in India (flight will be with American Airlines FF miles). Bob, I will be departing from San Juan to New Delhi, via Chicago, arriving at ND at 8:30pm.

Craig: I'm working on my itinerary first and will follow your suggestions of sending to three or four differents tour companies (Compass will be one of them). Your India trip report was one of the reasons I started thinking of doing this trip.

Hobbes: How long are the "long drives" you mentioned. I don't want to be travelling 7 or 8 hours by car to reach each destination. What about trains from Agra to Jaipur for example, or from Jaipur or Jodhpur to Jasailmer?

Cicerone: Thanks for the webiste info. Will look into it. Will consider stay another day in New Delhi. I will be happy to stay at any good hotel in Rajasthan area. Doesn't have to be the Oberois. but in Agra maybe will like to stay at Amarvilas. In case that this itinerary is too "tight", what could be left out: Jaipur or Jodhpur?

vp singh: where can I find an erudite-guide escort? Will you left out Bikaner, Mandawa and Pushkar for a longer stay at Jaipur, Jaisalmer, etc...? In Jaisalmer will like to spend a night in a Tent at the dessert. Where can I arrange this?

Again, thanks to all
gilawi01 is offline  
Apr 20th, 2006, 11:06 PM
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Thanks!
As for your questions, please find as under:
a. Keep an eye for some forthcoming ‘trip reports’. These are expected to be posted on Fodors sometimes end of May or June. This wonderful couple is on a world tour, India being the first leg. They shall post when they arrive back in the United States. Your dilemma of an erudite guide-escort shall be solved.
b. I would prefer to leave out Bikaner, Mandawa Or Pushkar & provide for something different on internal rural roads, at short distances. That will add colour to your tour plan & give you a feeling of participation in your itinerary.
c. Three nights in Jaisalmer are perfectly conducive to a good holiday. Perhaps a minimum of two in Jaipur shall be fine but it all depends on the final ‘evolution’ of the itinerary.
d. Your Hotels in Jaisalmer, I prefer Gorbandh & Fort Rajwara, will organize the tents on sand dunes. There are a lot of private outfitters doing it. However, when you go through your hotels, it is essentially their responsibility to give you good accommodation, clean bathrooms & good food, for these hotels enjoy tremendous reputation. The Gorbandh belongs to the Maharana of Udaipur. Their legacy for ceremonials goes back to the Sand Hurst.
Best wishes.
vp_singh is offline  
Apr 21st, 2006, 01:32 AM
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Great to know that India is such a popular tourist location for all you guys.

India is a great country and I am sure Indians will be proud to welcome you all in their land as you have welcomed us all with your hospitality here in switzerland.

Just a few thoughts --- 4 days in Jaisalmer ans 3 days in Jodhpur are just too much --- my suggestion, cut off a day from each of these places and go to Mount Abu and see the beautiful marble temples of Dilwara nearby. I am sure you will all be fascinated.
Secondly, this is strictly my opinion, don't trust anyone or any agency blindly --- value systems differ from person to person depending on education level, income,etc... --- don't hesitate to reach out to the cops whenever you are in trouble -- security in Rajasthan is particularly strict these days.
Have a great trip -- enjoy!!!

ST
swiss_tourist is offline  
Apr 21st, 2006, 05:06 PM
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vi_singh: Thanks again for your info. If Bikaner, Mandawa, etc...can be left out of the trip, in what area those internal rural roads are taken? How many days in Jodhpur an Jaipur would you recommend?

swiss tourist: I'm considering four days in Jaisalmer, but that includes the arriving and departing days. Two full days is still too much? Thanks again.
gilawi01 is offline  
Apr 21st, 2006, 05:55 PM
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You might find out trip repot useful..you can search for

Long India Trip Report---Rajasthan Nov/Dec 04

I've given lots of web links and hotel recommendations. We most enjoyed the time we spent outside of the cities (Shetawati, Bindi, Bassi,Ranakpur Deogarh etc) and enjoyed our time at the heritage properties where we stayed.
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Apr 21st, 2006, 08:23 PM
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welltravelbrit: read your great report minutes ago and enjoyed it a lot. Your description and experiences in Jaipur will lead me to consider to stay just for one night or skip it. Any recommendation for the extra night?
gilawi01 is offline  
Apr 21st, 2006, 11:12 PM
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a. One property immediately that comes to my mind is Khimsar (one night), a fort 25 miles south of Nagaur, a beautiful grand heritage property well appreciated by every one. It could also be Kuchaman (Between Jaipur-Khimsar). A lot of wonderful off-beaten properties lie strewn over the whole of Rajasthan. Again, some may be well appreciated by a European tourist but discarded by an American!
b. Two nights in Jaipur are a must. Jaipur certainly is more commercial, being a state capital, but has a charm of it’s own. It’s an old city 1727c. but planned so well that you marvel at the foresight of the architect…also, the socio-cultural stratification of the Hindu caste system is reflected in the design of the city!
c. A night in Jodhpur may be fine & one more in, say, rohetgarh just 28 miles south of Jodhpur. It has all the old-world charm at a pittance! They have some great thorough-bred Marwari, Arabic & English mares in the stable. The Thakur (estate owner) himself takes the tourists out for horse riding. ‘The opium ceremony’ will hugely amuse you, though there was a somber purpose behind such ceremonies.
All the best!
vp_singh is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2006, 04:02 AM
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Your long car transfers will be Jaipur-Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Udaipur. Expect each one to be 4-6 hours. Hence, 3 nights say in Jaisalmer works like this. You will leave Jaipur post breakfast and reach Jaisalmer in time for a late lunch. You will get that half day, the next 2 full days and the 4th day will leave post breakfast for Jodhpur. The desert scenery can be stunning and for many of these transfers car will be more time efficient than train. A good travel agent will advise you which sectors to do by train - I used PresTours, [email protected]. You could also consider the Palace on Wheels if you like trains - people eother love it or hate it!
hobbes is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2006, 05:26 AM
  #17  
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Thanks Hobbes. Is it a best option to travel from Japiur to Jaisalmer instead getting first to Jodhpur? I was looking at at Rajhastan map and Jodhpur is on the way to Jaisalmer. Just my observations.
gilawi01 is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2006, 11:20 PM
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I'm not entirely sure which comes first, you could well be right it is Jodhpur. Your TA will figure out most time efficient car transfers.
hobbes is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2006, 01:00 PM
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Gilawi01,

Glad you found the trip report helpful. We really enjoyed our trip and I have to say I would return to Inida anytime!

Jaipur definately was not a highlight for us but I wouldn't cut it out entirely. It happened that I missed the market shopping there because we were there on a Sunday. If you have any interest in jewellery including fabulous semi precious stones I've heard it is by far the best. This may explain the gap between our experience and other's raves.

Frankly we enjoyed the places that took us further from the main stops and further from other tourists! We loved being out of town and visiting the villages. That having been said we LOVED Dhelhi but I think that was because we were staying with friends who arrange everything for us.

I enjoyed Udaipur but although we had three nights there we left after two. I really like the town it just felt we had seen what we were interested in. I'm always inclined to have 3 or more days per destination but with a car and driver at our disposal we ended up modifying our itinerary adding more insigle day including Bassi and Ravla Khempur.

In Jaiselmer we enjoyed staying within the city which gave you the option to wander around at night which we preferred to the larger hotel on the outskirts of town.

I'm not sure where you're from but vp singh is right there are far more Europeans at the heritage properties. My husband's an American and I'm a Brit and we really enjoyed the diversity of adding a couple of nights on route at slightly more local places.

Deogarh and Devi Garh were the most well know of the places we stayed at and while we enjoyed bith we really liked the more family run places which allowed the opportunity to meet and speak to the owners.

Hope this helps.
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2006, 04:53 PM
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welltravelbrit: Thanks again for your input. Your suggestions and experiences are worth to consider. After reading and analizing all the posts I'm preparing an updated itinerary with some more questions.
gilawi01 is offline  

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