India Itinerary Feedback please!

Old Apr 11th, 2009, 08:00 AM
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India Itinerary Feedback please!

Hubby & I are planning a trip to India in Jan/Feb '10. I have come up with a itinerary & would love some feedback. Some background. We have been to India before & some of these places are revisits which is what we want to do. We think we will get a car & driver for around Rajasthan. I thought once I have an itin we feel good about I will send it to a couple of companies & get some feedback from them about the itin & quotes for car/driver. Is that how it works for Indian companies? That is what I have done when arranging an African safari.OK here goes.......
1 Arrive Delhi
2 Mandawa
3 Bikaner
4,5,6 Jaisalmer
7, 8 Jodhpur
9 Ranakpur
10, 11 Udaipur
12 Pushkar
13, 14 Jaipur
15, 16 Agra
17 probably overnight train to Varanasi although contemplating day train?
18, 19 Varanasi
20 Fly back to Delhi
What do you think? Thanks so much J
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Old Apr 11th, 2009, 03:21 PM
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Hi jules! I think it's busy, but doable, given your time constraints. A car in Rajasthan worked well for us. We used Rajasthan 4 wheel drive (http://www.fourwheeldriveindia.com/ ) -- but I think the driver we had has now branched out on his own -- and he was excellent -- Ramesh Meena is his name ([email protected],) -- I'm sure others can recommend good drivers as well. By the way, I did not have a good experience with either Kumar Taxi or State Express out of Delhi.

Is there a reason you want to go to Pushkar? The reason I ask is that we were originally planning on going there, but were advised against it. Apparently, unless you are there for the camel fair, it's not that engaging -- and we were told that there are a lot of aggressive touts. Our driver suggested to us that many gap year students go there to buy drugs and party -- and while he will drive clients there, he recommends against it as a waste of precious travel time. That is why we decided to go to Shekawati instead -- and I think that was definitely the right choice. Anyway, unless there is a specific reason for going to Pushkar, you might want to eliminate it and put an extra night elsewhere. Also, while Mandawa was enjoyable, if you ony have one night in Shekawati, you may want to stay in Nawalgarh instead -- it has much better preserved havelis and I found to be an interesting town. The Roop Niwas hotel there was suggested to me and it was our back-up if we didn't stay at the Castle Mandawa. The Castle was interesting, but the havelis in the town were in pretty rough shape.

Anyway -- great start! Best of luck with the rest of the planning process. I'm sure others will weigh in as well.
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Old Apr 12th, 2009, 08:13 AM
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when you go to agra do visit the fatehpur sikri which is really worth taking a detour
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Old Apr 12th, 2009, 10:48 AM
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Thanks Trav & Raj. Raj we do plan on a stop in Fatehpur Sikri. Trave thanks for the suggestion of changing Mandawa for Nawalgarth I will look it up. As for Pushkar we do not have our heart set on that so will definately reconsider. One thing I am contemplating is that we would like to return to Orcha. We really enjoyed the short stay we had there on our last trip (several yrs ago now) & would like to go back. I am having difficulty getting it into the schedule though. If we went after Agra how would we then make it to Varanasi without going back to Delhi? I think I see a train that goes from Jhansi to Varanasi. We are also concidering taking out Udaipur & using that time elsewhere like Orcha for example. From your report Orcha still sounds as though it is the way we remember it. All food for thought!! Thanks again. J
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Old Apr 12th, 2009, 04:02 PM
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One possibility is to take a train from Agra to Jhansi, visit Orcha, and then go by road to Khajuraho and fly to Varanasi from there.
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Old Apr 12th, 2009, 04:18 PM
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We did exactly what Marija suggests and it worked well.
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Old Apr 13th, 2009, 11:45 AM
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Thanks all. So after talking it backwards & forwards yesterday we are now thinking.........we will skip Udaipur, Pushkar & Ranakpur & put that time onto Orcha & maybe an extra night in Jodpur?? Is that crazy??? I went to Udaipur years ago my hubby has not been but does not have a strong desire to go there.
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Old Apr 13th, 2009, 02:09 PM
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You are not crazy at all! The best parts of our trip were when we got off the beaten path -- Udaipur, while pretty during the winter (high lake), it is 100% tourist oriented -- and I have to assume Pushkar is as well. While Rankapur is beautiful, there are so many gorgeous temple all over India that you will have plenty to appreciate if you skip it. I think you've made a good decision!
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Old Apr 14th, 2009, 04:48 AM
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Thanks Jules 39 for decidining No for Nagaur ....
This routing is time tasted .
Mandawa has many new hotels but stick to Mandawa castle
Add Gajner Palace ISO stay in Bikaner .
Jaislamer - 3 nights { if staying a night at desert is OK } or else 2 is sufficient .This Extra night can be kept for Dungerpur - a not so famous palace but UNIQUE
Jodhpur - 2 night is more than enought .It has just Mehrangarh Fort . Rather do Jodhpur visit while coming from Jaialamer and spend that night & next day {relaxing at Rohet Garh .You may visit Bisnoi Community there .Pushkar there is a new hotel called The Greenhouse, Pushkar , try that .Rest all hotels are tooooo Basic .Agra 2 nights + Night train means 3 nights is too much . Try our Deogarh Mahal or Samode Palace in Rajasthan for these extra night .They are in same route ... Try Hotel Grand Imperial at Agra .Varanasi now you have possibility to stay in very very charming "Nadesar Place " [email protected]
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Old Apr 14th, 2009, 04:53 AM
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Yes ... Gwalior { Princely estate of Shindhia Dynasty } - Orcha * Khajuraho will be more eventful for these 3/4 extra nights .
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Old Apr 19th, 2009, 02:55 PM
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I seem to have India in my thoughts most of the time these days!!! So our thoughts are.. we have been to Khajuraho before & did enjoy our time there but it is not high on a list to return to so unless heading there from Orcha to fly to Var is a very convenient way to do things weprobably would skip it. Currently we are thinking...
1 arrive Delhi
2 Mandawa or more probably Nawalgarh
2 Bikaner
4 Jaisalmer
5 Jaislamer
6 Jaisalmer
7 Jodpur
8 Jodpur
9 Jodpur
10 Jaipur
11 Jaipur
12 Jaipur
13 Agra
14 Agra
15 Orcha
16 Orcha
17 either to Khaj or a train to Varanasi Is it possible to get to Jahnsi from Orcha & take the train to Var we are even thinking of doing the train during the day just for the opportunity of watching India go by rather than "trying" to sleep through a night train.
18 Varanasi
19 Varanasi
20 Var - Delhi
21 Fly out very late this night (really early the next moring)

We definately want 3 nights in Jaisalmer. If we took a night from Jodpur or Jaipur perhaps we should add another night to the Jais area but go out to the desert somewhere? Or stop somewhere else between Jod & Jaipur but I am not finding anywhere that really grabs me yet. We will be getting a car & driver. Thanks again for any input.
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Old May 14th, 2009, 07:32 AM
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We are still pondering! (plus I am trying to figure out if I can squeeze any more time off work!) Another question. How long does it take to get from Agra to Orcha? In other words what time do you think you would have to leave Agra to get to Orcha by mid-late afternoon bearing in mind that we may have to whole of the followning day in Orcha to wander around?
Thanks

J
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Old May 15th, 2009, 09:05 AM
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ttt
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Old May 15th, 2009, 09:45 AM
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The fast train takes about two and a half hours to get to Jhansi from Agra. Jhansi to Orcha by car was about an hour.
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Old May 15th, 2009, 09:56 AM
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Thanks so much Marija.
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Old May 18th, 2009, 07:49 AM
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Jules39 - As you have been to India before, and have many helpful and informed replies, we hesitate to add our '2 bits', as it may not add anything useful. Nevertheless, we spent 21 days in India in March on a VERY similar itinerary to yours, driving around Rajasthan before seeing Agra, Orcha, Khaj, and Varanasi. However, we spent a max of 2 nights in any location and found it adequate and that we didn't miss anything, so were able to add Udaipur and Ranakpur(which we feel shouldn't be missed) as well as Ranthambore (the tigers were a real highlight for us). We don't see any reason for 3 days in Jodhpur or for more than 1 in Orccha 9which may even be too much). Khaj temples can be done in 3-4 hours, so only 1 night need be allotted unless you plan to do one of the Nat Parks nearby. We took day train from Agra to Jhansi (2-3 hrs), drove to Orccha (1 hr) for lunch and palaces, etc, then drove on to Khaj (about 3 hrs), all in 1 day; then afternoon flight to Varanasi. We took the night train back to Delhi and wish we'd taken a plane (the train, even 1st class, was noisy and uncomfortable and crowded, but if you're young you may enjoy it, and it is cheaper than planes). I don't know why you want 3 nights in Jaisalmer, though if you want to spend more time on a camel than we did (2 hrs was too much for our old bottoms), maybe you need it - our 2 nights was more than adequate.
We absolutely agree with the Gajner Palace, west of Bikaner - lovely, with its own lake and wildlife preserve. We stayed in Castle Mandawa and enjoyed it though it was very noisy in early am (temples, mosques, etc) - had lunch at Roop Niwas and it looked nice, too. The frecoes in Nawalgarh are better than Mandawa, but will probably require driving too from the hotel, whereas all of Mandawa can be reached on foot as the Castle is in the middle of town; if you aren't already tired of the havelis, you might stop in Fatepur on the way west to Bikaner and the Rat temple and Junagarh Fort. If interested, on the way to Jaisalmer, have your driver stop at Kichan to see the Demoiselle cranes - quite a sight.
Jodhpur can be done with 2 nights, even if you see the Bishnoi villages. We, again, would not miss Udaipur (stayed at the inexpensive Jagat Niwas with a room looking right out on the lake and the Lake Palace) nor for the views than the history or culture - the Ranakpur temkple is easily doable on the way allowing 1-2 hrs max to see).
In Agra, we saw the Taj at sunrise and with a full moon - the latter was not worth it, and if you dislike crowds and long lines, you may wish to consider going at 7l:30 or 8am, just missing the sunrise, but catching early light and missing the long line at opening. Keep in mind the Taj is closed Fridays.
As you have been to India before, you probably do not need a word about traffic, roads, and Indian drivers - and if you are as young as you sound, the cultural shock of driving in India may not affect you as much as it did us - but it was a fascinating way to see Rajasthan, even if we did keep our eyes closed many times and are glad we have no heart problems!!
Best wishes on your trip - we hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
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Old May 18th, 2009, 08:47 AM
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Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD do something. OK, so you can zip round India checking off tourist sights (if you're lucky with transport), but why do that when slowing down a little will let you settle into the experience of India? I do understand the pressure of only having a short time to travel, but slowing down is especially rewarding in India. (Although I seem to remember having a rather similar arg... er, discussion over on the Europe board recently).

Orccha (one hour???), Varanasi and Jaiselmer especially reward people who slow down. If you go to all the trouble of getting out to Jaisalmer, why on earth would you turn right round and go somewhere else? Stay put, and stroll the streets and really take in all that gorgeous sandstone carving. Chill out and have a massage from a friendly young woman in a house up on the ramparts (but think three times before you get your hair hennaed!). Sit by a campfire out in the desert and listen to Gujerati tourists singing folk songs, and watch more stars than you thought possible blazing overhead (and you don't have to camp, or even ride a camel yourself, to do that). Please, take it slow in India.
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Old May 18th, 2009, 01:41 PM
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Well I wrote a reply to this a couple of hours ago & think that as I hit the submit button the site went down so I will try again! Halemu & thursday thanks for your replies. I do have to say that we tend to want to be slow travellers. We would rather leave a place out than rush through it all. We are people who spent 11 days in the Siem Reap area on our 2nd trip to Cambodia & did not get bored. I know lots of people would think we are crazy. We want the time not only to see the "sites" of an area or city but also to be able to absorb the atmosphere & culture. Hence our reason for deciding to leave Udaipur out of this trip & add the time to other places. We have been to Khaj on a previous trip so do not plan to revisit there unless we find ourselves with a day up our sleeves. Yes we have been to Orch before so we are aware that it is a quite little place but that is excactly the reason we want to go back there. So now that I have maybe explained a bit better what we are like does the itinerary I have posted half way through this post make more sence? I hope to get to the point of contacting a few places to see about drivers etc in the next few weeks and see what feedback they may have for us. Thanks again everyone.J
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Old May 18th, 2009, 02:19 PM
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I think the itinerary looks good. The only thing I might change is to drop one night in Agra and add it to Varanasi. But that's because I found Agra the biggest hassle in India, and Varanasi is so special. You can certainly find enough to do in Agra to justify two nights, and seeing the Taj at both dawn and dusk is an absolute must so you can appreciate the wonderful color changes.
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Old May 18th, 2009, 02:33 PM
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Thursday I hear what you are saying about Agra & Varanasi. These are actually 2 places we will be revisting. The whole reason for the extra time in Agra is to get another morning at the Taj so we will stick to that. Could be totally fogged in both mornings but that is the risk we all take!
Thanks
J
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