India (Agra and Goa)

Old Oct 29th, 2011, 06:40 PM
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India (Agra and Goa)

Hi Guys,

I'm going to India for 2 months for a project in Chandigarh. I intend to travel a bit too.

I really want to see theTaj Mahal. I was thinking of taking the train from Chandigarh to Agra on a friday, staying there friday and saturday and taking the train back on sunday. I will have all day saturday in Agra. I don't know anything about agra, so I was wondering if I could get some tips on some good hotels and what else there maybe is that I can see in Agra.

I will also be going to goa by flight, how many days do you think I need in Goa? This will be either in Nov or Dec, any advice on good hotels? things to see? things to do? I'm completely clueless. Please help!

Thanks!
pgill26 is offline  
Old Oct 29th, 2011, 07:31 PM
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the sheraton in agra is decent and well located..

the town of agra is not all that interesting and quite difficult, but the fort, the taj and the "baby taj" will all occupy your day. hire a driver to take you around... allow about 2-3 hours for the taj
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Oct 29th, 2011, 07:35 PM
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One thing to keep in mind is that the Taj Mahal is closed on Friday, so plan your Taj Mahal visit(s) on Saturday.

What is your budget for the hotel in Agra? The Oberoi Amarvilas is a lovely hotel with views of the Taj Mahal from every window and they have their own electric cart to drive you to the Taj. I love the hotel and especially love their pool for relaxing. However, it can be very expensive.

Hotel Sheela is often mentioned as a nice backpacker's budget place and is also near the Taj Mahal.

Several other hotels seem to get good reviews here, but I'll let the people who stayed there comment.

My must see's in Agra:
Agra Fort
The foundations of the shah's unfinished second monument along with the view of the Taj from the garden on the opposite side of the river
Itimad-ub-Daulah's Tomb (also called the "Baby Taj")
At about 4 or 5 PM, look out over the city rooftops and watch all the acrobatic pigeons and their trainers.

Sorry, can't help you with Goa.
lcuy is offline  
Old Oct 30th, 2011, 02:14 AM
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Are you going to Goa just for the beaches? If not, the Panjim Inn is the place to stay.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Oct 30th, 2011, 03:06 AM
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Hotels in Agra - otel.com offers up to 70% off Hotels in Agra. Book your cheap Agra hotels online at otel.com and earn 5% points to use on your next hotel booking.
www.otel.com/hotels/agra.htm

Get my best deals usually here or priceline.com

More upscale Sheraton Agra and Park Hyatt or Marriott in Goa

join preferred guest programs for free suite upgrades.

virtualtourist.com

indiamike.com

2 good sites for you with local posting.

Driver/guides worked best cheap through my hotel concierge

when ther last some years ago.

Happy Travels!
qwovadis is offline  
Old Oct 31st, 2011, 08:16 PM
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Chandigarh is a great little city, and I hope you enjoy it. It is hardly touristed (at least by Western tourists) and still have a small-town feel (for a city bigger than Washington DC). Be sure to go to the Rock Garden (amazing!) You should also have time to get the various papers you need to be able to get inside some of the Le Corbusier buildings, which might be interesting.

Anyway, with regard to your question on Agra, your schedule looks OK, if a bit rushed. Agra actually has a lot to offer, if you take the time to find it. Unfortunately with only 1 day you will only probably hit the (heavily touristed) main sights. It has a very interesting old town, esp around the mosque, that most day-trippers never see. But the Taj at sunset and sunrise and sublime, so all in all it should be enjoyable. Be sure to see it at various times of the day, the monument looks very different. If you can coordinate your trip with a full moon, you might also go for one of the night full-moon views (book ahead).

I don’t think you could include Fatephur Sikri, about an hour outside Agra, which is the well-preserved ancient capital. But if you have a full day on Sunday you might be able to fit it in. It is certainly wroth considering.

For hotels, without a budget it is hard to give precise advise. I agree the Amarvilas are the best if you want to spend the money. Otherwise, I like the Gateway, some of their rooms have Taj views and they are not nearly as expensive. See www.tajhotels.com. The ITC Mughal is also perfectly nice, more like a motel, no Taj views (expect from a viewing tower which requires a climb), but perfectly fine hotel. http://www.starwoodhotels.com/luxury I am not a fan of the Trident in Agra (a completely different hotel than the Trident Gurgaon). The Park Plaza also gets good reviews on tripadvisor.com, although I don’t know it. (http://www.parkplaza.com/gurgaonin

With regard to Goa, book soon as you are in prime tourist month. Some hotel suggestions are below. But I also have to say that having seen your profile, you might really want to consider going either to the Maldives or Lakshadweep (the part of the Maldives which are in India politically). I would probably take the Maldives just because it offers far more hotel opportunities and is easier to get to. It appears you like scuba diving, and both the scuba and snorkeling are superb in the Maldives, and Nov and Dec are great months weather-wise. It is also quite easy to get to the Maldives from India, there is a Sri Lankan Air flight from Delhi (with a brief stopover in Colombo), but all in, the trip would take about 9 hours. (Versus 5.5 to get to Goa.)

Much as I love Goa, I think the Maldives may be a better fit. If you are interested, I can recommend some hotels.

However, if you choose Goa, there are lots of activities. There is first of all the World Heritage area of Old Goa with about half dozen churches form the Portuguese colonial days of various architectural styles and states of preservation. This area is just fascinating to me, and eminently walkable and doable on your own. The view from the chapel of Our Lady of the Mount is one of my very favourite in Asia: the broad river, lush landscape and the white spires of the churches rising above the palm trees. The Cliffside view from the little Our Lady of the Rosary church is lovely as well, and you get a good view of the active river below you. (Both require some uphill to get to, but the views reward you.)

Then there is it preserved old town areas of Panjim, worth a stroll for several hours or more. And then they are some colonial mansion/museums a few hours drive from Goa. There are several forts in the area, like Tiraco. The countryside also lovely, rolling green hills, dotted with churches and Hindu temples – always a contrast I find interesting..

If you are there on a Wednesday, there is a huge and very good flea and crafts market in Anjuna.

And of course fantastic food, a mix of Portuguese and Indian. The lively Calangute area is a good place to try different restaurants (and some good places to listen to jazz, try Cavala Restaurant Baga/Calangute).

And we have not even mentioned the beaches yet….
While Goa in the winter months can be congested in areas, I believe you could find opportunities for quiet. Staying in Panjim or that area and away from beach areas might be one way. (IMO the Marriott is a good choice as it has a nice spot on the river, just at the head of a beach, and is walkable or a short ride to Panjim and the Old Goa church area, see Marriott.com). The Panjim Inn, mentioned above, is another good choice, see http://www.panjiminn.com/cc located in the heart of the old town, simple yet comfortable and lots of colonial charm. The owner’s son and a local historian named Heta Pandit of the Heritage Network) offer very nice free walking tours of the old town, contact [email protected] (tel. 98-2212-8022; www.heritagenetworkindia.com).
A somewhat modest but quite comfortable hotel off the beach is the Fortune Select Regina in Candolim, North Goa. This is in the midst of a village area, including farmer’s fields, and should be quiet in the high season compared to the Calangute area (yet it is not too far a drive to that area). See http://www.fortunehotels.in/resort/G...ct_Regina.aspx. I would go for one of their units which are decorated in Portuguese colonial style.

But there would be other choices too, including in the luxury end like the new Park Hyatt, or the quite lovely Leela.

More in the budget range, a very useful website for hotels in India is http://sawdays.co.uk/, click on the book for India. You can also buy the book, Special Places to Stay India, but the website will give you a very long list of hotels to start with..


Renting a flat in Goa would be more possible than other areas, as quite a good number of Europeans have apartments there which they let on a short-term basis. Vrbo.com or holiday let sites may be helpful for that.

I would say at least 5 days in Goa, a week is probably best so you can relax. (For the Maldives, I would say the same.)
Cicerone is offline  
Old Nov 3rd, 2011, 09:59 PM
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In Agra, we stayed at the ITC Mughal, and it was very nice as a less expensive alternative to the Oberoi. I recommend that you have a colleague help book your train tickets, or use a travel agent, as the booking system is very confusing, even to a seasoned independent traveller, and not all trains are equal! I second the advice to hire a driver / guide for the day - well worth the expense.

We just got back from a 5 day stay at the Park Hyatt in Goa. It is very nice, but it is very family-oriented... Not sure I would stay there without children, as there were kids everywhere. Polite, happy kids, but still. Since we had 2 of our own, we were thrilled. We've also stayed at the Taj Exotica, and it was also very nice. Both had amazing, pristine beaches, lovely pools, great service, and expensive restaurants with hefty up charges for alcoholic beverages.

Don't wait to book your hotel for Goa. Christmas holidays fill up fast.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2011, 11:24 PM
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For loads of info on which Indian trains to book see seat61.com. To book one, use cleartrip.com, it's not at all complicated.
thursdaysd is offline  
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