Help - India take 2

Old Dec 5th, 2016, 02:27 AM
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Help - India take 2

Here's my previous "Help - India " thread.
http://www.fodors.com/community/asia/india/

It really did help me, there were so many great suggestions and links to investigate.
Thank you to all contributors.

Now I'm fine tuning and again seeking your input.

I'm thinking about cutting Goa, which will give us more time in Tamil Nadu.

Here's itinerary version 2.
Pick up 15 January Chennai Airport hotel.
Drive to Pondicherry 2 nights, (via temples & lunch at Mahabs).
Drive to Tanjore 1 night.
Drive to Trichy 2 nights.
Drive to Chettinad area 3 nights.
Drive to Madurai 2 nights.
Drive to Thekkady 1 night.
Drive to Aleppey 2 nights. Say goodbye to driver.
Taxi to Kumarokam 1 night, a resort which can arrange luxury houseboat...
Luxury houseboat 1 night (the birthday).
Taxi to Fort Kochi 1 night.
Fly to Mumbai 4 nights.
Home.

Most of the drives are no more than 4 hours, so we are not in the car all day, and will have time to stop at places of interest en route.
We'll be travelling light and I can pack in a flash.

This plan does remove one domestic flight, which has to be a good thing.
I like the idea of a few hours in the car, followed by an easily walkable city area with character and a temple or two. Are my chosen cities likely to deliver ?
What do you think ? Am I crazy to forego Goa ?

Any "off the usual website" hotel, guesthouse, temple or village recommendations would be very welcome.
Again, many thanks in advance.
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Old Dec 5th, 2016, 03:39 AM
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Although I haven't yet made it there, I did a lot of research and planning; I found rje's TR one of the most helpful for planning, especially with the gorgeous photos!

http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...outh-india.cfm

In my own planning, I had decided not to go to both Trichy and Tanjore, as they are relatively close. The plan had been to stop in Trichy from Tanjore, rather than staying the night. This has to do with using my limited time effectively, so it may be worth your while for the night.

If your stop in Thekkady is for the Periyar National Park, my reading suggests that it's more likely to be a disappointment - lots of tourists, few sightings of animals. I had opted for Munnar instead for the views and tea plantations - though not an "exciting" place, one that has relaxation and beauty.

We are always "missing" something when have to make choices when we travel, but my guess is you won't be missing anything "unmissable" if you pass up Goa! It sounds like a fabulous trip and I wish I could run into you there!!
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Old Dec 5th, 2016, 06:47 AM
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I agree, no need for the overnight in Tanjore - but definitely see the temple!

I have no problem with the idea of skipping Goa. The old Portuguese churches in Old Goa are magnificent if you like a lot of gold, and Panjim is a nice small town, but not worth settling for one nighters elsewhere.
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Old Dec 5th, 2016, 01:19 PM
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On route from Pondicherry to Tanjore you could make a stop in Kumbakonam - maybe even stay the night - a smaller city with quite a few, not so big, but very old temples, a good contrast to the bigger temples you will see later. These tempels sre very alive with normal day life.
About 5 km outside af town you can visit a bronze casting place Swamimalai - using the lost vax method. We went there after Tanjore, I bought a small copy of my favorit among all the bronze statues we saw there.
We really liked this city, if you go notice the big old temple waggons - chariots - parked in the streets, we went back a second time for the festival when they pull the waggons around the temple.
We also liked Chettinad area, good you have it on your list.
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Old Dec 5th, 2016, 08:42 PM
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A few disconnected thoughts Sartoric, which i hope will be more helpful than t.m.i.

1 Aleppey--i assume you are heading there not for the town, but for a local homestay? Note that this part of lake/waterways is more crowded than the Kumarokom (East ) side)--or was in 2008--and is still from my research/friends.

2. Logistics-wise, it makes more sense to go to Kumarokom first, as you head down to Kerala from Madurai. However, I realize this may be determined within your itinerary by the date of the celebration.
Great idea: beautiful quiet lakeside resort "splurge" with affiliated houseboat that will leave from the resort, sounds like a stress-free way to celebrate the big day. Coconut Lagoon is one of the places that does this. Lovely property--we spent the afternoon there. You take a small boat to reach there from the main road.

3. Ft. Kochin deserves two nights. (Three, as you had originally, is not necessary IMHO on limited time). As I wrote previously, ascertain touring day does NOT fall on a Friday or Saturday. (First time in Ft Kochin, I missed the synagogue--gave me a good excuse to see it next time, but who knows when/if you'll return?)

4. Re Periyar/Thekkady, i recall from last post that was to break up the trip, and as Progol said, other than as a halfway point, it is missable with hordes of tourists. However, there are accommodations that are supposed to be beautiful in the area. Dgunbug mentioned one in her trip report. The nearby town of Kumily also has numerous "budget" priced places.

5. re k44's post above, I've always thought this hotel, which is supposed to be like a little village, would be great fun (a well-traveled in India friend loved it0 and will likely incorporate it into my own fingers-crossed TN trip!
http://www.indecohotels.com/swamimalai.html

6. Vehicle--have you decided on which sort of vehicle you'll use. e.g. Toyota a's Innova SUV vs Etios or other sedan? Which did you use on your first trip to India? Although it costs more--maybe worth the splurge for more comfort in the Innova?

7.Finally, IF you decide to use a travel company 9in addition to using for driver) I cannot recommend Indianpanorama strongly enough. Tim (whose name Progol gave in previous post) is a fellow "Anzac" of yours. [email protected]
The company is based in Trichy, where they started before expanding nationwide, so the South india area you're visiting is essentially their "backyard" which they know very, very well (this I learned from experience). Bookings this close to your dates of departure could be problematic, and a good travel planner company--whomever you use (e.g. India by Car and Driver, as you previously mentioned?) --could perhaps help find the best available places within desired price-range. These are not always listed online (I know this too from experience)!!

Good luck and have fun planning!!
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Old Dec 5th, 2016, 09:50 PM
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Thanks everyone. Goa is now officially off the list for this trip.

Progol, I'm trying to figure out the Trichy/Tanjore equation, but not I'm not quite there yet. We're cooler with moving hotels rather than spending long days en route.The stop in Thekkady is only to break up a 7 hour car trip. I've read the fabulous report by rje too many times, as with many others. Djunbugs 273 response one springs to mind. I'm sure one day we'll meet on the road

Thursdaysd, thanks for affirming my decision to miss Goa. We never can see everything.

k44, thanks for that, I'll schedule in a stop at Kumbakonam, it sounds interesting.

CaliNurse, as usual, you're so much help. I'm becoming so frustrated with the slow response from India by car and driver, that I've already contacted indian panorama. Waiting a reply. Maybe I'll reconsider Alleppey, (Lonely Planet calls it charming lol). The problem with rescheduling is that bloody birthday.

I'll look at Kumily and your other suggestions. We would be in Fort Kochin on a Monday. We're not Jewish, but I guess the synagogue has architectural or historical significance.

Yes, I'm finding many of my first choice accommodations fully booked. You never know, there could be cancellations, I keep hoping. I'll definitely ask indian panorama when they respond.

The car (from India by Car and Driver) is an Innova. We had one of these in Rajasthan and thought it comfortable.

Planning, it's fun, a bit stressy, but makes a huge difference on the ground eh ?
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Old Dec 6th, 2016, 10:05 AM
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Sartoric, good morning. If you wrote directly to Tim at the email address I sent above, he should reply soon--within 24 hours max. In the very rare case he doesn't, it's only as he may be in Christchurch for family stuff at the moment. ( I know only because, now in final planning stages for a trip he and staff put together for me to Gujarat state, he always informs if he'll not be immediately reachable.) I hope you "connect" because he'll give you honest, detailed, and experienced answers to some of your questions.

Agreed, Innova is the way to go, for comfort as well as safety. My upcoming trip is "solo" but I'm considering the splurge for the Innova, for the above reasons.

The Cochin synagogue is lovely, and interesting historically The area around it--to which you can easily get a quick tuk tuk from the "main" area of Ft Kochi (nearer the waterfront/fishing nets/churches) is also fun to walk--lots of tourist shops, but not obnoxiously so. Speaking of the nets, I thought having a go at pulling up Chinese fishing nets--for a small fee to the fisherman, of course was great fun. touristy, but so what? There's no other way you realize the work it takes!

I think Trichy and Tanjore are only about an hour apart, traffic willing? That , of course, is THE question in India.
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