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India Itinerary (Delhi, The Taj Mahal and Rajasthan) - your thoughts?

India Itinerary (Delhi, The Taj Mahal and Rajasthan) - your thoughts?

Jun 27th, 2010, 10:49 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2003
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India Itinerary (Delhi, The Taj Mahal and Rajasthan) - your thoughts?

Just looking at this trip to India and would love to hear your thoughts on it. Maybe some of you have done this trip already. This one is a guided tour with The Travel Department in Dublin. Thinking of the one in September. What weather should I expect.
* Flights from Dublin to Delhi with Aer Lingus and British Airways (via London Heathrow).
* Transfer on arrival by luxury coach to your hotel in Delhi.
* 2 nights 5 ***** hotel accommodation in the Crowne Plaza Delhi Hotel on a half board basis. www.crowneplaza.com
* Half day guided tour of New Delhi including Qutub Minar, the world’s tallest brick minaret and Humayan’s Tomb.
* Half day guided tour of Old Delhi including the Red Fort, Raj Ghat the memorial site of Mahatma Gandhi, the Jama Masjid mosque, the bustling and colourful market of Chandni Chowk and the Imperial City, you start the day with a Cycle Rickshaw ride.
* Transfer by luxury coach to your hotel in Agra.
* 1 night 5 ***** hotel accommodation in the Trident Hotel Agra on a half board basis. www.tridenthotels.com
* Afternoon guided excursion to the Agra Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
* Sunset guided excursion to the magnificent monument to love – The Taj Mahal.
* Transfer by luxury coach to the desert city of Jaipur with stop en-route to visit the Fatehpur Sikri – the deserted red sandstone city built by Emperor Akbar.
* 2 nights 5 ***** hotel accommodation in the Trident Hotel Jaipur on a half board basis. www.tridenthotels.com
* Full day guided tour of Jaipur, known as the “Pink City”. Visit the Amber Fort overlooking the Maota Lake, the City Palace Museum, the awe inspiring Jantar Mantar and Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds).
* Transfer by luxury coach to your hotel in Jodhpur.
* 2 nights 5 ***** hotel accommodation in the Taj Hari Mahal Jodhpur on a half board basis. www.tajhotels.com
* Free time for sightseeing and shopping of your own choice.
* Half day city guided tour of Jodhpur, the home of the Rathore rulers of the princely State of Rajasthan.
* Transfer by luxury coach to your hotel in Udaipur, known as the City of Lakes, with en-route visit to the Ranakpur Temple Complex in the valley of the Aravalli Hill range.
* 2 nights 5 ***** hotel accommodation in the Trident Hotel Udaipur on a half board basis. www.tridenthotels.com
* Morning excursion with guide to the City Palace Museum and the spectacular garden of Sahelion Ki Bari.
* Afternoon boat cruise on the serene and beautiful Lake Pichola.
* Free morning for shopping and then transfer by luxury coach to the airport for your afternoon flight between Udaipur and Delhi.
* 1 night 5 ***** hotel accommodation in the Crowne Plaza Delhi Hotel on a half board basis. www.crowneplaza.com
* Transfer by luxury coach to Delhi Airport for your return flight to Dublin (via London Heathrow).
* Flight departs Dublin on Thursday afternoon (1340hrs) and arrives into Delhi on Friday morning (0620hrs). Flight departs Delhi Monday morning (0815hrs) and arrives into Dublin on Monday afternoon (1705hrs)

*10 nights accommodation in India and 1 night on the flight.

It costs €1,829 per person (including tax of €260)
Thanks in advance for any thoughts you might have on this.
P.S. I've been to China and Lake Garda with this company before so I am familiar with them already and found them great to deal with.
Regards, Martina
martina is offline  
Jun 27th, 2010, 11:45 AM
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None of the hotels are 5***** and maybe they did the same thing in China for you and you were comfortable with it there, so you will be okay with it in India.

I see this tour as rather fast-paced but that may work for you. You will be visiting all of the standard tourist sites but not interacting much with the locals and perhaps that is fine with you. I'm sure there will be all of the obligatory shopping stops where your tour company or the company that they have contracted get a nice commission but wandering on your own will not happen on this tour.

September is the end of monsoon season in India.
Craig is offline  
Jun 27th, 2010, 12:44 PM
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Too many sites in too short a time -- schelpping on and off buses sounds horrifying to me.

Check out the Trident in Agra on tripadvisor.com. It's definitely not a five star. I think your tour company is not being honest with you. We had booked the Trident on our own, then read the reviews and rebooked.

Craig is right about the weather.

I recommend that you contact ramindia.com for a much more personalized tour.
indianapearl is offline  
Jun 27th, 2010, 12:45 PM
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indianapearl is offline  
Jun 27th, 2010, 02:13 PM
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Caveat Emptor. Get a new travel agent - one who doesn't lie.
dogster is offline  
Jun 27th, 2010, 02:41 PM
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The half day guided tours in Delhi are going to allow you to see, but not enjoy. The traffic in Delhi is very heavy therefore to see everything in half a day you will not be allowed to linger and wander around.

Delhi alone can use up 2 to 3 days.

P.S. a cycle rickshaw is too scary for me, especially if it's in traffic with cars and trucks. They're better suited for travel in residential areas or on side roads away from major traffic.

Since you like this tour operater, you should ask for other itinerary options that don't try to do so much is so few days.

September could also still be quite hot.
Jaya is offline  
Jun 27th, 2010, 05:15 PM
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we loved the cycle ride...it is not too long and lots of fun...just close your eyes when entering or crossing traffic..

it is a whirl wind tour....no time to slow down...

i don't like the idea of 1/2 board every place...makes you feel guilty if you want to go out for dinner....

probably all buffets which are tiresome...

price is high but it is all inclusive...

tridents may bill themselves as 4 0r 5 *, bur realistically they are 3.5*... ok but not fab and usually somewhat removed from the city center...
rhkkmk is offline  
Jun 27th, 2010, 06:53 PM
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Hotels in India will advertise themselves as five stars, but it doesn't mean that's what they really are. It's an unreliable rating system in India.
Jaya is offline  
Jun 27th, 2010, 10:53 PM
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a. None of your destinations include a Fort-Palace, so unique to Rajasthan, steeped in haory past!
b. Jaipur >> Jodhpur is 212 miles, too long for ride in a coach.
c. Some areas of the Chandni Chowk are now OB for rickshaws. You will need to catch it beyond the Sis Ganj Sikh temple & get back to Jama Masjid through a long ride or vice verse, easily done in a car (pick ups & drop) but not when moving about in a coach.
d. At Jama Masjid you will be given a garment to put on, a sort of a night-gown,to enter.
Happy travels!
vp_singh is offline  
Jun 28th, 2010, 09:09 PM
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I generally agree with what has been said so far, but here are my thoughts on your questions:

1. Weather in September in north India, where your itin will take you, is still rather hot. Temps average in the 26-33 C range. It is also rather humid due to the rains. While it is the last month of the monsoon, in the desert areas of Rajasthan, in good monsoon months they only get 3-7 inches of rain in September, so it is rather relative. (It is south India which has the downpours.) You may have overcast days, which actually helps with the heat. It is also very green which is quite pretty, and the lake in Udaipur is likely to be at its fullest if the monsoon has been good. That being said, if you can move the trip to October or November, you will have better temps. See weather websites for comparisons. Bear in mind that Diwali, the Hindu new year and a major holiday is celebrated in the fall (November 5 in 2010, it moves from late Oct to mid-November). This can be both a good and bad time to visit. Good from the standpoint that you will see lots of celebrations and eat the holiday foods on offer. Bad from the standpoint that travelling can be more crowded.

2. All the hotels on the trip are on half-board basis. Does that mean breakfast and dinner? That is kind of a waste, IMO in many places on your itin, esp Delhi, where there are numerous good restaurants. In Agra, you might want to splurge for dinner at someplace like the Amarvilas or in Udaipur you might want to have dinner at the Lake Palace hotel or go out to the marvelous Devigarh. I would not want to be limited to dining in the hotel. I am assuming the tour is going to force you to some place for a group lunch, so really overall you are going to probably have some dull meals.

3. You are trying to cover a lot of ground on this trip. Very hectic half day tours in Delhi, and the first day tour appears to be on top of an overnight flight which arrives at 6 am. Kind of hard to undertake such a tour with jet lag. I would prefer to set my own schedule for that first day, which would mostly include a massage and relaxing. One day in Jaipur to cover everything, including going out and back to the fort which is a bit out of town. (I could spend most of a day in the City Palace museum). Only one day in Jodhpur, as you arrive late in the afternoon one day, and depart early in the morning on the day after that. This is bookended by some rather long drives. The trip between Jodhpur and Udaipur will take the whole day, so you have one day in Udaipur and a bit of the morning on the next, again a short time to fit in such a lovely city. Then you are going back to Delhi in the afternoon, driving more than an hour by bus to reach the hotel for one night, and then repeating the return trip at 5 am or so the next morning so you can reach the airport in time for your UK flight. Staying at an airport hotel would make more sense, as there are several within 10-20 minutes drive of the airport. I am exhausted just reading the itin. You will certainly grow to hate that "luxury" coach by the end of the trip.

4. As mentioned above, the hotel star rating system in India is rather meaningless. A hotel can have a 5 star rating based on the size of its rooms and the fact that it has a hairdressing salon, even thought it has not replaced (nor cleaned) its carpets in 25 years. While Oberoi, the operator of Trident hotels, is a good hotel operator, Trident hotels, for the most part, are not their 5 star product. They are more of a 3/4 star product. (Other than their New Delhi which is a 5 star but you are not staying there). Their Trident hotels are quite uneven, IMO. Some are great (like Delhi), some perfectly fine (like Udaipur) some not at all good (like Agra).

5. There are two Crowne Plaza hotels in the Delhi, one of which is in Friends Colony, a bit to the east of the main tourist areas, and the other is in Gurgaon, a suburb of Delhi near the airport. You need to find out which your tour has you in. The Friends Colony is the preferred location of the two, although that is not really a great location for a tourist, IMO, as there is not much walkable in the area of interest. The Connaught area would be more interesting for a tourist and you may spend a bit of time in transit getting to sites. The Gurgaon Crowne Plaza would be more than an hour to downtown tourist areas and would not be a good choice. This seems to be similar to many of the hotels on the list: the Agra Trident is quite a bit out of the centre. The Udaipur hotel, while in a lovely setting on the lake (only limited lake views from its rooms however, the best views are reserved for those of its sister luxury hotel next door, the Udaivilas), is also out of town and there is nothing in the neighborhood of interest.

6. Finally, when I read this itin, I just want to yawn a bit from boredom. Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udai….sorry, I dozed off just typing it….. This is the identical itin of hundreds of thousands of foreign travelers to India, and not really for any reason other than it is easy for the tour agency to arrange it. (London, Paris, Rome, Venice could easily be substituted for the above on similar package tour to Europe. Nothing wrong with these places, but you are missing lots in between.) At least consider Varanasi, or a game park, or including a smaller village, or spending more time in one place. All you are seeing is Mughal and Imperial (English) India. There is much more.

I don’t think that going on a tour is really necessary, you can plan all of this on your own and make bookings on your own. This site and some guidebooks are really all your need. Tours tend to involve long bus rides and short visits to sites. I prefer to set my own daily itin, and if I want to spend 3 hours in a museum, I will do so. 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. A lot of these hotels are in the budget range, and all seem interesting and several, like the Imperial in Delhi, are outstanding (but it ‘s not a budget hotel by any means). 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. A lot of these hotels are in the budget range, and all seem interesting and several, like the Imperial in Delhi, are outstanding (but it ‘s not a budget hotel by any means). Two good operators generally in India are the Oberoi group (http://www.oberoihotels.com) and the Taj group (www.tajhotels.com. ). The Aman group also has some properties open in India and is opening others that would definitely be worth considering if they are in your budget. Take a look at amanresorts.com. There is a small Indian chain called Neemrama which operates a number of unique hotels in palaces and other old buildings and could be something to consider if you want a different experience. Go to http://www.neemranahotels.com. Sheraton and Marriott run a number of good hotels in India as well, generally in the major cites.

For short distances you can drive, hiring a car and driver is generally not expensive. I generally do not like to spend more then 4-6 hours on any day on an Indian road, no matter how good, and generally would avoid driving at night on any Indian road. Trains are also an excellent option, I like day trains just because you can see the countryside; overnight trains are possible and generally comfortable and quite inexpensive, but if you are not on a tight budget, for longer distances flying would probably be preferable. One or two overnight trains for the experience may be fun. For train schedules look at www.indianrail.gov.in., the state railway of India. My mantra on airlines in India is: Kingfisher Airlines first choice, closely followed by Jet Airways, then others like air Spice Jet and Sahara Air in a pack with Indian Airlines at the back. But if Indian Airlines is the only available carrier and the flight is appreciably shorter than a train or driving, then it is OK.
Cicerone is offline  
Jun 29th, 2010, 08:27 AM
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Martine, It does sound like a lot is packed in. But I agree with Craig--this may work fine for you. Traveling with a larger group of people can be fun, and is more to some folks liking! (I took one trip this way in the USA and it was loads of fun).

Many of us do not have the luxury of spending lots of time, but we DO want to at least see a bit of India. I'd personally do i differently, but i know you are looking at budget, limited time, and feeling good about this company.

I wish you could take an extra trip (in addition to sunset) to the Taj Mahal when it first opens (about 5:30 am, depends on time of yr) because it is wonderful to see before the big crowds arrive. Perhaps they would be willing to have you do this on your own, waking earlier than usual? We spent hours there--the feel and story of the place is so awe inspiring--much more emotional (for me)than I'd expected.

Glad your tour includes Agra Fort--a fantastic place. I hope your guide is able to create images of the people's life there , as did our guide, rather than just giving the basic facts.

I see your tour also includes the Red Fort in New Delhi. It's yrs since i was there, but everyone we spoke to said Agra Fort is so much more interesting, you could skip the Red Fort in Delhi.

Any chance you'd be willing to try a different travel planner that would give you more flexibility? You might be surprised--traveling by private car may not be much more than the big bus. Perhaps check some of the Travel Planners mentioned on Fodors. such as Ramindia or Indianpanorama (which I've used twice) at least to compare prices with a private driver vs a large group, IF that is how youd be willing to travel.
CaliNurse is offline  
Jun 29th, 2010, 08:29 AM
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p.s. Before your trip, try to read a good historical novel--even part of one--about this area. Highlr recommend "Beneath a Marble Sky" about the city of Agra in Mughal times, and the family of Shah Jahan.
CaliNurse is offline  
Jun 29th, 2010, 02:57 PM
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cicerone: " . . . or in Udaipur you might want to have dinner at the Lake Palace" -- the Lake Palace no longer permits non-residents to dine at its restaurant. I think this is because of the attacks on the Taj in Mumbai.

martina: Notice how so many of the hotels are Tridents? Sounds like your tour company is getting a rake off from the Trident Corporation. I don't believe they're five-star hotels.
indianapearl is offline  
Jun 29th, 2010, 04:32 PM
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At this point, it would be nice to hear some feedback from the OP.
Craig is offline  
Jun 30th, 2010, 11:36 AM
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Thanks to everyone for your detailed observations. It's been a great help. I am concerned about the time being spent on the 'luxury coach'!! I hadn't realised the distance between the cities. I guess I was comparing it to the China trip, but there we travelled by plane between Bejing, XiAn, and Shanghai, so we didn't have so much wasted time. I don't really mind not being able to sample the restaurants or the fact that the hotels aren't top class. I really want to get a taste of the place and I know that in such a short time, that's all it will be. Unfortunately, I can't change my dates, but perhaps I will do a bit more research and maybe keep India for another time.
Thanks again to everyone.
martina is offline  
Apr 26th, 2011, 05:58 AM
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I think the cost is too much for travelling in a group and for the services mentioned. It would be best if you contact any Indian based travel company and do the private tour. I am sure you can get the private tour in cheaper prize. Exclusive tour will give you more flexibility plus more insight of the places. You can do village safari in Jodhpur, Bishnoi villages of Kejarli & Guda.
Rajasthan is best done by road in a private vehicle not a big luxury coach. I would suggest you to take an idea from the other travel companies too before firming the plans.

Recommendation for the hotels in the price mentioned above should be:
Oberoi's Delhi
Amar Vilas - Agra
Raj Vilas - Jaipur
Hari Mahal - Jodhpur
Udai Vilas - Udaipur

Happy Planning
Gogreen is offline  
Apr 26th, 2011, 06:39 AM
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Gogreen, I expect Martina is already home from her trip, as she posted this last June.
Kathie is offline  
Apr 26th, 2011, 10:03 AM
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Thank you Kathie.....for waking me up
Gogreen is offline  

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