India help needed

Reply

Oct 17th, 2017, 07:55 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 37
India help needed

We are planning a trip to celebrate my husbands 60th this February. It's a big dream of his and for once I am letting him plan, I should say we are doing this together. He has reached a private tour company that has good recommendations here and TA. But.....I feel that I must seek Fodor people for a little help. We are planning on seeing Varanasi, Udaipur, Jaipur, Agar, and Mumbai. Of course, I can't leave it at that. I would like to see Calcutta and not see Agra. We can see Agra on our next trip. If we do this can anyone talk a little bit about Calcutta and suggest an itinerary for our total 12-13 nights. We will fly into ND and out of Mumbai. I was thinking:

3 nights - Varanasi, 3 nights -Udaipur, 2 nights -Jaipur, 3 nights - Calcutta, and 2 nights- Mumbai.
--
SLifestyle is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 17th, 2017, 10:09 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,229
Unfortunately, I think you will be spending a lot of time in airports because so many flights connect through ND. Without looking at fight schedules (something you are going to have to intently study), I think you might probably be best off taking a flight directly to Calcutta as soon as you can after landing in ND. Then, make your way back to Varanasi.

In your shoes I'd drop Jaipur, visit Udaipur, and have a couple extra nights in Mumbai. This might still be too complicated and time consuming to fit in all of these disparate places.
julies is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 17th, 2017, 10:43 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 4,194
Hi SLifestyle.

Before giving itinerary suggestions, here's a question: what are your arrival and departure airports? Mumbai ?New Delhi? Kolkata? Once yu know those, it is easier to plan your route. Also, this will help determine the number of nights in each place (i.e. if you arrive late at night, or early enough to enjoy a full day, will determine if you "need" 2 nights or 3 nights in a place).

IF a big part of your husband's dream for his 60th birthday is to see Agra, I recommend going there on this trip. Life is unpredictable, and although you may be back(for me, India is addictive!) ..who knows for sure.
CaliNurse is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 17th, 2017, 11:13 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 4,194
Oh, apologies; I see your arrival and departure airports!! From ND it is a relatively easy drive to Agra (there's a relatively new highway) and Jaipur.

What are you arrival and departure times? That will also determine number of days/nights in your itinerary.

From Udaipur you can get a direct flight to Mumbai. There are three direct flights during the day, if I recall correctly. There's an early morning flight that will get you into Mumbai at about 8:30 a.m. so that will give you that first full day there. Two nights would then give you two full days of exploring Mumbai, which is sufficient in the context of your planned stops.

As hard as it is: What are the top four MUST-SEE places for you and your husband with 11-12 full days on the ground?

Allow jet-lag recovery time! Where are you flying from?

Husband is wise have contacted a good travel planner/agency. With limited time travel in India, , a company that can make the journey as seamless as possible (e.g. transport between airports/hotels, and between places) is essential

I
CaliNurse is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 17th, 2017, 07:46 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 22,716
When you say "We will fly into ND and out of Mumbai" do you mean you already have the tickets? If you want to see Kolkata (not Calcutta) you should start in Kolkata - I suppose if you are flying into ND you can connect to a domestic flight. Then fly or take the night train to Varanasi.

However, it would make much more sense, with your limited time, to do the standard Golden Triangle type trip, including Agra but finishing in Mumbai and saving Varanasi and Kolkata for another trip.

India is not a place for fast travel. Aside from the fact that it is a total assault on the senses, the roads are often terrible and encumbered with everything from pedestrians through bullock or camel carts to huge Tata trucks (do NOT plan to drive after dark), and flights may well be late, especially in ND at certain times of the year.

Agra requires at least a one night stay, so that you can see the Taj at dusk and dawn. You'll know why when you see it.
thursdaysd is online now  
Reply With Quote
Oct 18th, 2017, 08:13 AM
  #6
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 37
We plan to fly into ND and out of Mumbai, thank you
SLifestyle is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 19th, 2017, 02:14 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 4,194
Thanks for clarifying/c confirming your arrival and departure societies. Int at case, i definitely recommend flying at the end from Udaipur to Mubai.

Don't wait to choose book hotels if possible. Winter's a popular toast season time in India and it can be hard to find rooms at certain hotels, especially the smaller "boutique" or heritage ones, this close (yes, even four months in advance!) to your arrival dates. For example, I missed out on my top recommended choice in Udaipur. Was still happy with the "second choice" but it reminded me to book (or have travel planner company) book well in advance next time.

Re: Agra, if you decide to go (I've made my case, above ) as Thursdaysd said, you definitely should overnight there. The Agra Fort is fascinating (get a guide!) and highly recommended, especially as you'll not see the Red Fort in New Delhi . You can arrive into Agra in the afternoon, see the Fort and the Moonlight Garden (which will allow you to see the Taj Mahal from different perspective--its back) and then wake early the next morning to get to the Taj Mahal before the crowds. However, expect haze even at dawn, due to now omnipresent air pollution including from the typical Indian town morning cooking smoke fires. My sunrise pix are of smokey haze around an orange sun. That was 7 yrs ago, and I doubt the air has improved.
CaliNurse is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 19th, 2017, 02:32 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 4,194
Apologies for typos. Winter is popular tourist--not toast!!--time.

What is your tentative itinerary? Have you kept the original destinations (adding Agra) or--with difficulty--decided to eliminate one or two? So many choices, so little time ..the eternal dilemma!
CaliNurse is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 19th, 2017, 04:16 PM
  #9
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 37
3 nights in each place- Calcutta, Varanasi Udaipur to Mubai then fly home.
Thoughts on Kalkutta? Are we nuts? The walks sound amazing. I read in another post about the argument for or against Agra and the same about Calcutta, this about says it all for me:

"I really don't want to see any sights--monuments, tombs, museums. We typically like to wander about taking in the atmosphere of a place--regular neighborhoods, interesting markets, walks along rivers etc".

We were in Shri Lanka 3 years ago and I wish we had more time hanging out and less driving for hours and hours just to see sights. I was there but It doesn't feel like it. Too much time in the back of a car, forced to listen to someone talk about things that I neither of us cared about.
SLifestyle is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 19th, 2017, 05:33 PM
  #10
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 4,194
You're not nuts. Kolkata is fascinating. I was there for four nights. Kolkata has a very different "feel" from other big cities in India . I had a great guide there (name available if you want). It'll be an interesting contrast to the other places. Highly recommend staying at the Oberoi (preferably pool view room--slightly higher "category"). Beautiful, historic hotel in a great location for wandering on your own--you can easily reach Mother Teresa's "house" and the wonderful old Park Street cemetery, on your own, walking down chaotic Park Street. Don't miss, with walking tour, the Kumartuli neighborhood, and possibly the hustle/bustle of University Bookstalls/Indian Coffee House areas (though I'd heard the bookstalls were being removed--guide there will know).The guide I went with did a fabulous tour of different ethnic/religious neighborhoods.
With those four destinations, you will be doing lots of to-from travel. Good that you have three nights in each place. Bare minimum, or you'll repeat your Sri Lanka experience. Are you flying? Trains? Driving? Be aware that flights can be delayed, or worse, cancelled. That's another reason to work with a reputable tour planner company. They will "have your back" if anything goes awry. I always tell people, if you have a perfectly 100% seamless time in India, you haven't had the "real India" experience. But you can get very close.

You're going to have a fantastic trip!! Enjoy the planning!
CaliNurse is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 19th, 2017, 06:45 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 31,841
We enjoyed Kolkata. I highly recommend Calcutta Walks - a chance to see the city through the eyes of locals. We took two walks with them.
Kathie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 20th, 2017, 05:52 PM
  #12
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,229
If it will help you reinforce your decision about skipping Agra, we've now made three trips to India (spent 4 months total there) and have not yet visited Agra. I will fit it in some day and am not feeling there is a great gap in my life not having visited.
julies is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 21st, 2017, 08:06 AM
  #13
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 37
Thank you Julies, I guess Agra isn't going anywhere. We need to purchase our air asap and now thinking that Kolkata will be our big city visit and reduce our time in Mumbai to one night so we have more country time.
SLifestyle is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 21st, 2017, 09:20 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,229
Just one night in Mumbai isn't worth it. Perhaps you should should just stick with a round trip out of Delhi (unless you can find fantastically better airfare prices with one leg out of Mumbai). If you are only planning to visit Kolkata, Varanasi, Udaipur, and want more time in the countryside Delhi makes more sense. Or, see if you can fly in or out of Kolkata for one leg of your journey. It might cost a bit more but could definitely be a time saver (maybe, depending on touting times).

IMO what you really need to do is to spend lots of time investigating flight possibilities before you make a decision and book your international flights.

I know this is heresy on this site where people plan really, really far in advance. But, we have never booked plane tickets to India from the US more than 4 to 6 weeks in advance. And, since we do have some flexibility (I don't know if you do), I have always found very good, competitive airfares. So, I don't know that you need to fee the pressure to get those tickets booked immediately before you have a good skeleton itinerary plan.

Sorry to add to your confusion, but if you want more time to actually just wander and less time to tick off the bucket list sights, I have a couple other more unusual suggestions that might fit your itinerary.

The smaller, less known town of Bundi. Lots and lots of great wandering about without so many tourists. We found a local rickshaw driver who took us all around to lots of smaller interesting places in town.

If you enjoy wildlife safaris (in the wild). We have stayed here for two nights on two different trips. It is a two hour drive from Udiapur. http://castlebera.com/itinaerary/

For an authentic experience with a noble family in the area stay at Chanound Garh where your trip includes a guided walk through the local village. http://www.chanoudgarh.com/home.html

I don't know if this is additional confusion or a help.
julies is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 21st, 2017, 01:21 PM
  #15
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,263
If this is your husband's 60th birthday trip, and his dream is to see the Taj Mahal, why would you nix that? India isn't for everyone, and it is a tough travel. If you find it isn't your cup of tea, would you go back for him to see it?

I've been to India many times. I didn't think it would be that big of a deal, but after I saw the Taj Mahal on my first trip, I made the effort to go back on three subsequent trips.

I think you will be spending a lot of time traveling and in airports. I'd recommend starting in Kolkata, then Varanasi, then hire a driver to do the Delhi-Agra-Jaipur triangle, fly to Udaipur (from Delhi), then save Mumbai for another time. You can reverse or mix up the order based on the flights available, especially since many flights in the north and east require a transfer in Delhi anyway.

This way, you'll have a bit more time in each place. It's always better in India to build in extra time, to allow for delayed or cancelled flights, traffic congestion, and the fact that, unlike rear view mirrors, things are always farther than they appear on a map or Google!
lcuy is online now  
Reply With Quote
Oct 21st, 2017, 01:37 PM
  #16
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 22,716
I agree with lcuy. The Taj is one of those places that have to be seen to be appreciated - photographs do NOT do it justice. I have not been back to see it, but I was very glad I included it on my first trip to India.

Plus, you never know what will happen. I was trotting up and down (lots of) stairs in Japanese temples and castles last year. This year I have trouble with the four steps up to my front door.
thursdaysd is online now  
Reply With Quote
Oct 21st, 2017, 11:46 PM
  #17
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 4,194
I'm confused. At first it sounded like you already had your plane tix; if I now understand correctly, you haven't yet booked them.
If so, is there a particular reason you cannot fly directly into Kolkata (since this is one of your must-do places)? It would save "back-tracking" from New Delhi on domestic plane rides, if you could fly directly into Kolkata, instead of your originally stated plan of flying into New Delhi.
I hope this doesnt sound pushy or nosy--perhaps there is a reason, e.g.alimited frequent flyer route if that is how you are "paying" for tickets. But as said above, by other Fodorites, JulieS and Lcuy, it 'd be lots easier, and save precious time within your limited number of days, if you start in Kolkata.
CaliNurse is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 25th, 2017, 07:34 AM
  #18
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 37
Thank you, yes we have our tickets, we start and end in ND. We have 10 nights to travel in India. If Kolkata and Varanasi are the most important to us and we fly out of New Delhi how should we spend our time? We had planned on visiting Jaipur and Udapuir. Should we do both of those places? I could really use a creative itinerary idea. Thank you

Plan A
Varanasi- 2 nights
Kolkata - 4 nights with maybe a day trip out of Kolkata
Udapuir OR Jaipur- 4 nights
Fly to ND

Plan B
Varanasi- 2 nights
Kolkata - 3 nights
Udapuir - 3 nights
Jaipur- 2 nights
Fly to ND

Plan B
Varanasi- 3 nights
Kolkata - 4 nights with maybe a day trip out of Kolkata
Visit surrounding areas outside of Kolkata and or Varanasi - 3 nights, mix it up?
Fly to ND
SLifestyle is offline  
Reply With Quote
Oct 25th, 2017, 07:42 AM
  #19
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 22,716
Kolkata - 3 nights
Varanasi - 3 nights
Jaipur - 4 nights including side trip to Shekhawati region

I have not looked at flight times.
thursdaysd is online now  
Reply With Quote
Oct 25th, 2017, 11:34 AM
  #20
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 4,194
Great point Thursdaysd makes.

I'd chose Plan A ; see my reasons below.

Also, WHICH of those, if any, between-city domestic flights are nonstop? Any? That would affect your plan.

If there were a place I would eliminate, it would be Jaipur city. If you want a day trip out of a city (gapped idea) I would NOT do that in Kolkata. Unless you make a day out into the countryside to see some village life, you do not "need" 4 nights (days?) in Jaipur or Udaipur. See Thursdaysd's idea above, about some time out of Jaipur city if you chose that option.

There are nearby or day trips out of both the Rajasthan cities you mention. In Udaipur, you could do an easy half-day trip to nearby Delwara Village (which i had planned but didnt get to do). Or you could stay at a gorgeous restored palace IN the village (Devi Garh) and use one full day of that to take a day trip into Udaipur. OR IF you are in Udaipur for four nights (three full days) you could do a full day trip out to the famous temple Ranakpur, and Kumbalgarh Fort.

You are very close to the actual travel dates, and often especially in winter season, the most desired hotel fill up. So...wahtever you decide, don't wait much longer to get specific!

Good luck!! India is wonderful!!!!
CaliNurse is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:51 PM.