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How touristy is Rajasthan in November?

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Having booked my flights I'm finally beginning to concentrate on my itinerary for a one month trip to India beginning Nov 24th.

I'm visiting friends in Delhi and we're planning to spend about a week with them and just over 3 weeks in Rajasthan.

So far we're planning on Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur, Jodpur, Shekawati and several heritage hotels along the way Rohetgarh and Deogarth...I'm planning on leaving Agra for another trip.

Anyway, I'm very much looking forward to the trip as this is my first time in India although my husband has spent 2 months travelling there in the past.

Here is the essence of my dilemma; we've just returned from a trip to Brazil and Argentina which I greatly enjoyed. However one of the places I was most excited about visiting turned out to be extremely touristy (Salvador, Bahia). I'm not saying that as a tourist I hate all other tourists or touristy places...we loved Rio which is full of tourists but there are some destinations where the entire focus seems to be on the tourist industry, especially when the tourists are all focused on one area of town as it was in Salvador.

Anyway my question is where should we avoid? Is this less of a problem in India? Because we have over three weeks in Rajasthan I don't want to be runnning from one destination to another...where would you spend any extra days?

I appreciate any suggestions

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    This is kind of a hard question to answer, as I don't think I understand your specific concern. Is your concern other tourists, or that you may be inundated by local hawkers and beggars? India gets only 3 million foreign tourist a year, so in a county of almost 1 billion, 3 million tourists are not that noticeable.( (Hong Kong gets 11 million and has a population of less than 5 million.) However, the places on your itinerary are among the most popular for tourists (other than Agra which I think is the most popular). Of course there is a reason for this, as the areas are beautiful, interesting, and full of history and culture. November and up until about mid-December is a bit out of the main tourist season, so you may have fewer tourists. Remember that there is a huge middle class in India (about 350 million people, larger than the population of the US) and they travel to the same sites as well, so even without Western tourists, you will encounter other travellers.

    I guess trying to compare it to places in Europe, I would say that you won't find hordes of people trying to take a photo of the Palace of the Winds in Jaipur like you would find them at the Trevi Fountain. You won't have to wait in line to get into the Amber Fort as you would at the Tower of London, Versailles or the Schornbrun Palace. Tourists are there, but in much smaller numbers. There a very few large bus tour groups, and certainly far far fewer than you would find in Europe. Beggars and hawkers will approach you are being Caucasian (I assume) you will stand out. Your hotels will most likely be full of other Western tourists and some Indians, but I don?t see that as a problem.

    I would not avoid any of the places on your list because you really would be giving up some of the best bits. It would be like deciding to got Swindon because London has so many tourists. . .



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    Cicerone,
    thanks so much for your reply, I'd also like to say that I've greatly appreciated so many of your replies to others.

    I was nervous about posting the topic because I felt I wasn't entirely clear...I suppose the reason for the lack of clarity is that the perception of "too touristy" is profoundly subjective and culturally manufactured.I posted because of our recent disappointment. Certainly we do not want to end up in the Indian equivalent of Swindon!

    I should be clear thar we've both travelled extensively in Africa and elswhere and last year we went to Iran and Armenia, clearly not overrun with other visitors! I don't in any way want to suggest that tourism is beneath me or that I am not somehow part of the problem. My concern is not necessarily too many other tourists (tourists can't spoil Rome for example) or even the question of beegars and hawkers but is rather avioding the Disneyland-esque feeling of some destinations with a high concentration of nothing but a tourist industry with one shop after another selling the same thing to a trapped audience...more like Bath, Prague or Assisi in the in the summer!

    Perhaps I'm just burned and bitter(!)as I was very disappointed by one of our destinations in Brazil which while very attractive in terms of colonial architecture was just too much for me in terms of the strange combination of touts, commercial overload and latent hostility.

    I don't want to suggest I only like destinations with no other traveller...I know some find it impossible to even "see" Venice through the tourists but I still love it... it's just a question of the balance between the cost and the reward.

    Thanks very much for your perspective, I'm very glad to hear that it should still be on the quieter side until mid December...perhaps that's when we'll head to Delhi.

    Can you suggest any additional destinations in Rajasthan... I'm considering Mt Abu and Bikaner?

    Again many thanks.

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    Well OK pretty much the last thing you could say about India is that is has been Disneyfied. For example, the Palace of the Winds in Jaipur sits along a very busy market street, none of which are aimed at tourists, and you kind of have to find you own way in, there is no entrance gate or even a guide or guard. You won't find audio guides anyplace that I am aware of. Compared to Prague, you won't find nearly the amount of things aimed at tourists, like the string of street stalls across the Charles Bridge or that every other shop in selling Bohemian glass. You will not find large crowds at most places (other than the Taj) like you do in the Castle in Prague. Fatephur Sikri was almost deserted two out of the three times I have been there. The City Palace in Jaipur is popular but very spread out so you never really feel the crowds. You will find a gaggle of street stalls in front of some places, like the Red Fort, and of course beggars and "tour guides" will approach you but will go away if you tell them to (not so much the beggars though). IMO the street stall problem at tourist attractions is much worse in places like China where the stallholders are quite aggressive and annoying.

    Maybe instead of Bikaner you could go to Puskhar, as the camel fair is in mid-November. That is really interesting, and more off the beaten path. It also has the advantage of being much closer to Jaipur.

    I have not been to Mt Abu, but if you go to Chandigar, you might want to consider going on to Simla from there. You would not find a lot of Western tourists in Simla, and the weather would be cold but clear, you should be able to see the Himalaya. Mt Abu is pretty far south in Rajasthan almost in Gujarat, I guess you could go by road from Udaipur, but don?t really know.

    If it is not on your itinerary, I would add Varanasi. This is not as popular a place for western tourists, and is really really fascinating, IMO.


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    Cicerone,
    thanks so much for your thoughts. Varanasi does certainly appleal but as my husband has been there I'm planning on leaving it for another trip. I will look into Shimla.

    I have considered Pushkar but we won't arrive in India till a couple of days after the fair though there's another large cattle fair in southern Rajasthan that I'm considering.

    Again many thanks.

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    I love Jaisalmer...is almost forgotten in time...just wander around the roads and enjoy the architecture. Presumably you enjoy wildlife so you could add Ranthambore to see the tigers - in No Sher Bagh will be great - www.sherbagh.com. A very small erstwhile royal principality we enjoyed was Kishangarh. IMO Mt Abu is over rated and consider driving times to Bikaner before you decide. Assume u have been tp the www.heritagehotels.com website for ideas. As you are not doing Agra you have the option of adding something en route del-Jaipur. Two suggestions are Neemrana Fort Hotel - www.neemranahotels.com or Tikli Bottom - quite a fav of traveling Brits tho not heritage.

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    November and February are the busiest tourist months in Rajasthan. An equally busy period is the Christmas week.

    Hopefully you have confirmed your reservations, in particular at Deogarh and Rohet as there is a huge rush for these places, quite deservedly so, if I may add.

    You will perhaps see many foreigners at all the locations and may find Jaisalmer pretty crowded but that is because it is a smalller town and gets crowded very quickly! However, compared to what you have seen in your recent trip, you will find tourism is India is still in its initial stages and you will perhaps run into the same set of tourists at many of the towns!

    You have chosen your route well, the weather will be conducive to long walks and you will find yourselves enjoying, and actually participating in, a totally different culture.

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