India: Choosing an entry point

Old Dec 27th, 2011, 08:52 PM
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India: Choosing an entry point

My husband and I (both in our 40s) are planning to make our first trip to India in May. Every time I start to plan, I am overwhelmed, and end up with far too many items in the itinerary for the time we have.

We have between 10 and 15 days, and can fly into Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, or Kochi for about the same price. We can fly into one city and out of another. I thought it would be best to build out a reasonable itinerary or two before booking (but the airfares are only good for another week.)

My husband prefers smaller towns and a slower pace. I like to get to know a place. We don't plan to do the golden triangle -- and we know we don't have time to see everything. We love food, wildlife, food markets. Non-touristy stuff, but would like to see one set of ruins/caves. If we do any shopping, it would be textiles, but that is really secondary. I would be happy just eating mangos.

We plan to do at least one train trip, and could do more. Are open to domestic flights if we aren't spending all our time getting to and from airports. Not big fans of organized tours, but might hire a driver for a day or two here or there if it makes sense.

Any suggestions?
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Old Dec 27th, 2011, 10:42 PM
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Having spent the evening reading travel guides, we're thinking we might limit the trip primarily to Tamil Nadu and Kerala, flying into Chennai and out of Bengaluru. Any thoughts?
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Old Dec 27th, 2011, 11:06 PM
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Sounds like a good trip though you are still trying to cram a lot within the 10-15 days. esp. if you are also planning to visit Benguluru and the nearby places (Mysore, Srirangapatnam etc.)

Have you considered just Karnataka-Kerala? You can probably spend 4-6 days in Bangalore/Mysore/Srirangapatnam and another week in Kerala (should definitely cover Coachin, Trivendram, Trip into the Backwaters)

Have a great trip. Kerala is one of my favorite places in India
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Old Dec 28th, 2011, 01:21 AM
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It is overwhelming at first, isn't it? Here are a couple of clues. Let's assume you want to travel in South India. Go find a reputable travel agency and check out what they do. No, I'm not suggesting you use them - but just go see what the options are. It'll make life less confusing. Just google 'South India tour'. Here's an example:

Remember that a journey of, say, 100 kilometers can take you three-four hours. You don't know it yet - but you'll need a car and driver at your disposal all the time. Yes, you could do it on your own - but it's not a good idea, not 'cos it's really difficult, but because, first time in India, organising that stuff can be stressful and a humongous hassle.

Remember also, that the touristy stuff is touristy stuff for a reason - 'cos it's special. It seems a shame to not see the obvious.

A flight IN to Chennai and flight OUT from Cochin would be very efficient.

With just two weeks on the ground you really don't have the time to sit and smell the roses. Well, you could - but, for a first visit, you'd be doing yourself - and India - an injustice. There's a lot of good stuff to see.
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Old Dec 28th, 2011, 02:12 AM
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wise also pack light and
for a good medical kit to combat the dreaded Kerala krapolas.
India is a wondeful spiritual country it does require daily
detachment beyond the grinding poverty and dodginess to
properly appreciate.I love it off the beaten path many do not.
I do not go to south in malarious sweltering monsoon season. climate guides.

Happy Planning,
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Old Dec 28th, 2011, 06:06 AM
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I've been planning, planning, reading, reading, and reading. If I were you, the very first thing I would do is to figure out what the weather is going to be like in May and make my decisions based on that. I'm guessing some places are going to be unbearable.

To confuse you even more, you may want instead to look at a trip more up in the Himalayan region. I haven't even been to India yet, but from what I've read, that should be the perfect time of year there and it would probably meet all of your requirements.
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Old Dec 28th, 2011, 07:44 AM
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Agree with julies that May is NOT the best month to visit India, and you need to go up to the hills or to the Himalayas. It might be early for Ladakh, but there are plenty of other places for first timers. You could combine either the north-east or north-west with Varanasi.

Otherwise I would definitely fly in or out of Kochi. However, with only 10-15 days, and a dislike of bigger cities, I would consider using Bangalore as the other airport instead of Chennai. That way you could visit Mysore, and spend time in the hill country around Ooty. Click on my name for my recent South Asia trip report which includes Coorg/Kodagu as well as the Nilgiris.
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Old Dec 29th, 2011, 08:16 PM
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Many thanks to all who replied. I guess I knew May wasn't really the time to go, but the airfare deal was hard to pass up. We'll wait until November or January and see if we can get another deal.
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