Itinerary In/Around Mumbai

Old Feb 26th, 2011, 11:26 AM
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JDZ
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Itinerary In/Around Mumbai

We will be attending a wedding in Mumbai in July, and we'd really like to take this opportunity to see India while we are there. We would really love to see ancient temples and sites, as well as see some wildlife such as tigers and elephants. We have read about Elephanta Caves, so I'm sure we will go there. Does anyone have any other suggestions? Also, what is the best way to get to our destinations from Mumbai? We greatly appreciate all the help you can provide.
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Old Feb 26th, 2011, 01:05 PM
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i suggest that you get a good guidebook and check out the opportunities....rajastan is a wonderful area to visit.... you would fly there..
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Old Feb 26th, 2011, 07:59 PM
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There are loads of suggestions, but how much time do you have to sight see? Being July, and very hot and humid, you may want to go further north toward the hill stations. Also the monsoon rains may have already started so that will factor into which parts of India you will want to travel to.
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Old Feb 27th, 2011, 05:05 PM
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We will be staying for about 1 1/2 weeks after the wedding. Thank you for your help!
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Old Feb 28th, 2011, 01:39 AM
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Some thoughts and suggestions:

1. Have you received the invitation to the wedding? The reason I ask is that it is not unusual, in my experience, for the wedding to be spread out over several days and even over several locations. This may affect how much free time you have to travel after the “wedding”. If there are several events, you aren’t expected to go to every event to which you are invited, although that is certainly a fun and interesting thing to do if you can. (I went to a wedding last week in which the ceremony and a dinner were held in Mumbai on the 12th, another dinner was held in Bangalore on the 16h and another dinner in Vishakhapatnam on the 19th. This was to accommodate friends, family and business associates in these locations. I chose to go to Visakhapatnam because that worked best with my schedule and I had not been there before. The bride and groom were fairly tired by the 19th!) If you can tell us where the wedding will be, and your budget, we may be able to make hotel recommendations.

2. The Elphanta caves are just an hour by boat from Mumbai, and you should easily be able to fit this in on one of the wedding days (as events are likely to be at night). You should not need more than 4-5 hours for the trip altogether. You could do a trip to the Elphanta caves in the morning, take a rest or sit by the pool in the afternoon and then go on to a wedding event in the evening. I believe that the caves are closed on Mondays, check guidebooks.

3. If you have 10 days or so, then you can choose 2 locations outside of Mumbai, and probably a third, to see in that time. IMO, Mumbai merits little time, so I would not plan to spend time there after the wedding. See the few bits on offer as part of your time in the city for the wedding. More than 2-3 places in 10 days is rushing things, IMO, unless they are very close together (which is not usually the case with India).

4. Most of India will be quite hot and fairly rainy by July. (I am kind of surprised that anyone would hold a wedding in July in Mumbai to be honest, due to the rain which is generally quite heavy in Mumbai). While the monsoon does bring a certain green beauty to India, it is not the best time to go to a beach location (unless you got the east coast, which is dry in the summer months.) Desert areas of Rajasthan don’t get deluged with rain, but it is usually quite hot at that time. So as mentioned above, you might want to consider cooler/dryer places. The southeast coast of India, around Chennai, Pondicherry and that area. Ladahk may be a good choice as it is dry and cool. Hills stations like Shimla can be very wet in July as well, although cooler. See guidebooks and sites like weatherbase.com for an idea of temps and more importantly rainfall.

5. Wildlife viewing may be a little bit of an issue in July, due to the heat and the monsoons. It will be wet in the south (like at Periyar park) and very hot in the Rajasthan area. There is also the theory that wildlife viewing is not as good in the rainy season as animals don’t need to congregate at water holes. If you have been to Africa, you might want to re-consider how much time and effort you want to put into trekking to a park, as IMO a safari in India cannot compare to an Africa safari either in terms of the animals which can be seen or the organization of the drives. It is possible to do a trip, but bear all that in mind. I think that Jim Corbett National Park may be the best place to see elephants, but I have not done a safari specifically for elephants and don’t have a lot of information on this.

6. Otherwise, without a better idea of your interests, its hard to say where you should go. You probably should consult some guidebooks, as well as your own interests, and the weather, before you make plans. Ancient temples and sights can be found on almost every corner in India; although the south has larger, more complete, more active and more interesting Hindu temples, as they were not invaded by the Mughals who destroyed many of the temples in north India. (Varanasi was destroyed many times, and is one of the few places in the north to have rebuilt temples each time.) So think: beach or jungle, city or countryside, museums or shopping, mountains or deserts. South or north (they are so different as to almost be two different countries, IMO.) If religion is an interest Jain, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Parsee, Catholic and Jewish communities are to be found, plus more minor religions and cults. You have not mentioned whether you are interested in going to Agra (i.e., the Taj Mahal), that is bound to be quite hot and do to very limited air service, a bit of a pain to get to. The Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays, so bear this in mind as well when planning. I am not a person who thinks that one “must” go to see the Taj Mahal when going to India. There are many fascinating places.

7. Mumbai is very well served by domestic flights and the train system, so you can get most anywhere you would want to go. For distances of 4-6 hours by land, you can go by car or train. For distances for which car travel is too far, but a flight may not be warranted, the train usually works well. Trains aver very inexpensive, however there are budget airlines like Indigo and Spice Jet which can be competitive; and then very good carriers which are usually a bit more expensive like Jet Airways and Kingfisher. Overnight trains can work, and are very cheap; I would not doing more than 1 or at most 2 with your short itin, as I think they can be tiring (if you are under about 35, this may not apply to you. At a certain point in life, they loose their charm even in Europe, IMO.)

8. If you have not purchased your international air tickets, consider flying into Mumbai and out of another city like Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad or Chennai. This would save some backtracking for your flight home. It is not necessary, and is usually less convenient, to fly into and out of the same city when making a tour of India. If you can tell us what US city is your home airport, we may be able to provide routing suggestions.
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Old Feb 28th, 2011, 03:39 AM
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Pune has good weather in July. You can visit historic places here, visit to Ajanta and Ellora caves or go to Ratnagiri/Dapoli seaside which is still not so crowded as Goa.
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Old Mar 6th, 2011, 10:51 PM
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JDZ,
Agree with some of the points made by Cicerone. July will be peak rainy season in India. If you are in Mumbai then rainy season is actually the season to enjoy this part of the country. Even Mumbai itself is very enjoyable in the Monsoons.

Options
a) If you want to visit caves - Try Ajanta, Ellora or Karla (pretty close to Mumbai). For Ajanta / Ellora you will need to fly out of Mumbai (60 - 75 min by flight). Karla is about 2 hours drive away.

b) Enjoy the Western Ghats (the hill range running along the Western Coast of India from Mumbai down to the tip of India). This is what lot of locals also do. The Western Ghats are very beautiful in the rains - vegetation is lush and green, most of the times the hills have a cloud cover, multiple waterfalls come up.
Some of the places that you can visit in the Western Ghats -
i) Sindhudurg, Ganpatiphule, Kashid (All are on the beach) - pristine beaches with very little population and hence you will only find some local hotels - no big names.
ii) Malshej Ghat, Bhandardhara, Karjat, Bhimashankar (all are up in the Hills and offer a chance to drive in the clouds - literally). Karjat and Bhimashankar also offer very good trekking opportunity. Bhimashankar is a more complicated trek and requires an overnite stay.
iii) Mahabaleshwar & Panchgani - India's strawberry capital. A hill station created high in the hills by the English. It is far less crowded in the rains but again is very beautiful and cold in this season.

Very Important - Avoid Elephanta caves in July as the sea can be very rough and the boats taking you to Elephanta are not the best in the world. Most of the times they don't operate in the rainy season.
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Old Mar 6th, 2011, 11:26 PM
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While I agree that India can be very lovely in the monsoon, I also believe fairly strongly that this is an acquired taste, and that a first-time visitor to India would not really enjoy the rain. I think this is esp the case in Mumbai, of which large parts, more often than not, flood during the monsoon. While the OP will be in Mumbai for the wedding, I would not recommend staying in Mumbai or going to the beaches of the west coast (pretty as Sinduburg is). It simply is too rainy and overcast. It can interfere with travel schedules as well as local sightseeing schedules, not to mention not being able to lie on the beach or by a pool, which on a holiday is something many people want to do for at least part of a trip.

I don’t think first-timers can appreciate the contrast the monsoon offers when they are trying to see India with no previous experience, and are battling rains in addition to just adjusting to India generally. I have to say quite honestly that it was not until the last 2 years or so (out of 15 years travel to India, more than 100 trips) that I began to appreciate the difference that the rainy season can make to a visit. I can understand why people living in India love that time of year, but don’t think they their reasons for doing so necessarily apply to visitors. (Having lived in Switzerland, I love winter best as I think it is at its most beautiful then, but tourists probably don’t as it is quite cold.)
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Old Mar 7th, 2011, 02:11 AM
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Agree totally. Given this point of view - i think there are very few places in India to enjoy in July.
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Old Mar 7th, 2011, 10:39 AM
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Ajanta/Ellora would be my best suggestion.
There are some wildlife sanctuaries in the south as well. Hari on the Africa board will give you the names and best times - Bhandipur is one and you could also visit the tea gardens and hill stations of Ooty and Coonor which are not too far from these sanctuaries.
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