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Mid-September Udaipur/Varanasi/Agra Itinerary

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Jun 22nd, 2012, 11:17 PM
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Mid-September Udaipur/Varanasi/Agra Itinerary

Getting close to booking our first trip to India - a birthday pilgrimage and our first travel adventure as empty nesters. We've each been to 5-8 Asian countries (different ones, often for work), and we've tried to do one exotic trip each year with the kids. We have ten nights on the ground in mid-September...unfortunately no way to go later in the season or to extend the trip. Traveling from the west coast of the US. There is a slight chance that another couple might choose to join us once we finalize the itinerary.

We're interested in culture, photography, music, art, dance, walking, yoga, cooking lessons, dining and shopping, probably not dozens of forts and temples. We intended to go more off the beaten track and stay longer in each place. Then once we decided that Varanasi was a priority, we ended up with a more standard tourist route. Great off season deals on all hotels - Opinions and suggestions appreciated.

Day 1 - arrive late - hotel near Mumbai airport
Day 2, 3, 4, 5 - fly to Udaipur - 4 nights Devi Garh, hikes, yoga, relax, village walks, excursion to Ranakpur, sightseeing, shopping and cooking lesson in Udaipur
Day 6, 7 - fly to Varanasi - 2 nights Suryauday Haveli
Day 8 - fly to Khajuraho - hotel TBD
Day 9,10 - driver to Jhansi via Orchha, pm train to Agra - Amarvilas, Taj + fort
Day 11 - morning train to Delhi, shop, sightsee with guide, dinner, late-night flight
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Jun 22nd, 2012, 11:18 PM
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Oops - That would be India, tagged as Singapore by mistake.
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Jun 23rd, 2012, 04:06 AM
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My first reaction was that you might be trying to do too much but on close examination this seems like a well-planned itinerary - as long as the fights and trains work out...

You certainly won't see much of Delhi - try and get a day room near the airport, if you can.
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Jun 23rd, 2012, 11:07 AM
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Thanks, Craig. Thrilled you approve because I trust your judgment and we usually like to stay 3-4 days in a place. Hoping the monsoon cooperates...It's Ganesh's birthday while we're there, not sure if that means good luck plane and trainwise.

You're right about Delhi. We might not get to see very much - mostly concerned about last-minute purchases!

Looking forward to having three weeks a some point, like all of you.
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Jun 24th, 2012, 10:17 PM
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Cross-Shopping in Udaipur at Soma. I LOVE that shop--more than Anokhi or Fabindia for clothes. (I went to the Soma Shop in Jaipur, it was lovely--hope the one in Udaipur is as nice) A place to get gorgeous block-print fabric clothes, shirts, etc. Lightweight for carrying- in case you con't get much time for those last minute purchases in Delhi, at least you won't go home empty handed.

http://www.somashop.com/shops.html

For your Varanasi hotel, some TA reviews say you are better off NOT in a suite--if that was your choice.
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Jun 24th, 2012, 10:19 PM
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LOL, i meant Cross--- "Shopping ..." etc. Not "cross-shopping" at Soma. Just plain old shopping!
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Jun 24th, 2012, 11:20 PM
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Haha - that would be a most extraordinary Indian shop!
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Jun 30th, 2012, 01:47 AM
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The tour program seems perfect to me.You must start booking flight/train tickets in advance.
September is a monsoon season but it doesn't rain more than 30-35 minutes.If possible when you are in Agra see Taj Mahal at dawn as it is the best time to explore/less people at sunrise.You are staying in Amar Vilas very close to Taj (600 mts) tickets can be arranged in advance.
Thanks
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Jul 8th, 2012, 12:04 AM
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The itinerary sounds good.

I'm a TV News Reporter (BZbC) and luxury travel writer. I recently returned from 6 weeks to Nth I dia.

Varanasi is an absolute must. It's spine-tingling, bursting with culture, colour and customs. The temples, priests and spectacular evening Aarti ceremony are imply unique. Be ure o wander down the residential backstreets and alleyways too! You'll come across street temples and amazing local sights.

Agra's Taj Mahal is def best at dawn to avoid huge swathes of tourists and gain some unique photography.

I've put up a photo gallery ( for an exhibition) at http://ani-shah.com/2012/06/24/impre...t-of-a-people/
I may inspire you about what's to come... Enjoy the trip! x
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Jul 13th, 2012, 01:11 PM
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Anisha, I usually think the shoe questions on Fodors are silly, but now I have one: I see that you traveled in monsoon season. Do you think we need rainboots for Varanasi? We like to wander around and don't want to be deterred by yucky puddles.
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Jul 13th, 2012, 01:29 PM
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Cali, I'm now obsessed with some of the furniture and upholstery on the Soma site.
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Jul 13th, 2012, 01:43 PM
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When we were there in February, it rained for almost one whole day which was unfortunately the day we chose to wander around town. The alleys got pretty raunchy with poop, etc. and there were definitely "yucky puddles". So if you are really sensitive to this (we just wear old walking shoes), bring your rain boots.
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Jul 13th, 2012, 02:38 PM
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crosscheck,
Your trip sounds great if a bit packed. We stayed at Devi Garh and loved it. There's a nice village just outside the entrance to DG which you can walk to and wander through. If looking for way to steal a day you could take one day away from Udaipur/DG.
We did not go to Khajuraho but have had friends that did and felt they could have added a day to some other part of their trip instead.
Amarvilas is wonderful both because it is so close to the Taj and because it's another wonderful place for some respite from the intensity of India. We ended up spending 2-3 hours at Taj as we were so awe inspired by its beauty and wanted to watch it change with the light. But imo you probably could skip Agra fort, not that interesting compared to other forts in India. If you can steal a day in Delhi, it was a blast to take a rickshaw ride through the markets in old Delhi. An incredible rush of sites and energy. Enjoy your trip.
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Jul 13th, 2012, 03:24 PM
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we skipped agra fort too
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Jul 13th, 2012, 03:53 PM
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Craig, We don't own rainboots...We live in SoCal where everyone is afraid to go out in the rain. Taking them could screw up Mr. Crosscheck's strict carry-on policy, so it's a big decision!

Bob, Great news about the fort - love the idea of skipping things. I want to go to a Bollywood film at some point - Agra might be the place to do it.

Paolo, Did you find it a hassle to go from DG to Udaipur to shop/sightsee? If we tweaked the trip, where would you add the extra days?

We allocated four days to DG because we would like two full days to hike, explore the nearby village and chill (which will help for jet lag on such a short trip), plus one day in Udaipur and another day to visit Ranakpur.

We also have heard that not everyone is a fan of Khajaraho, but for us it does make sense logistically - allows us to visit Orchha and do the train trip. And we like the idea of touring the temples by bicycle (weather permitting).

We're definitely planning to do a rickshaw ride in Delhi...I have a meeting there that evening, so that might end up being our only activity.
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Jul 13th, 2012, 07:55 PM
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me thinks, better to go to some parts of hollywood to see body parts
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Jul 14th, 2012, 01:29 PM
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It was a pleasant drive from Devi to Udaipur. It might take an hour can't recall, but was pleasant enough and did not bother us. If you do not have drivers lined up, Bob and I used the same Indian travel agent and drivers so we can recommend.
We enjoyed Delhi so I might add a day there but I also understand your desire to wander and rest a bit at DG. We did a similar trip to yours only reverse order and stopped in Jaipur instead of Khajaraho and Orchha. DG was at end of our trip and we really wanted a break so we actually cancelled our day trip to Ranakpur just to hang at the relaxing DG. And not a big deal but FYI your trip is going from the relatively mild, easiness of Udaipur on to some of the much more intense areas of India. It's a both wonderful and challenging kind of intense but well worth going.
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Jul 14th, 2012, 07:21 PM
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Paolo59 - Reading between the lines, it sounds as if you're giving me a gentle warning that we'll appreciate some chill time after Varanasi and our road/train trip...that's why we included two nights at the Amarvilas, which does seems relaxing, but a little over the top.

Frankly, I think we would be perfectly happy to spend the entire time in or near mellow Udaipur. Also wish we could avoid the three internal flights. But for whatever reason, Varanasi is calling to me. The logistics would certainly be a lot easier if I didn't consider it a must-see, but India is SO far. I keep waiting for Kathie to chime in and tell me to eliminate three destinations.

Other concerns: Something about planning this trip is waking up the old backpacker spirit in me and I'm not sure we'll be happy with all the handlers, guides and opulent lodgings. Also worried I won't have enough shopping time...I feel so deprived after traveling for 20+ years with my shopping-averse boys/men.

Craig - Just found some relatively-lightweight rainboots I bought many years ago in Scotland and wore once. And I read your trip report...No way we can cut out Varanasi after seeing your wonderful photos - they couldn't have been taken in the rain!

Bob - I had no idea what you were referring to - I have always associated Bollywood with wacky choreography rather than body parts, but just did some googling...Yikes!!
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Jul 14th, 2012, 07:39 PM
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lol, crosscheck, I haven't (yet) been to these places, so I'll leave it to others to say whether you need to cut destinations. Actually, while the trip sounds busy, I think it's probably do-able.

Are you pre-arranging guides? As you know, I'm not generally a fan of using guides, though sometimes they can really enhance one's experience of a place. I was guessing that you were just pre-arranging drivers.
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Jul 14th, 2012, 08:55 PM
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IMO you are doing too much in 10 days. We traveled to India mid September last year and were fortunate to have dry weather. But it was brutally hot and you must take things slowly. Transportation between locations will take more time than you can imagine. I am wondering why you are flying into Mumbai without spending time there. Why not fly in and out of Delhi? We considered Varanasi to be the highlight of our trip. Be sure to visit at the end of your trip as the water levels will be lower and the ghats (steps) will be under less water. I would skip khajuharo as it is inconveniently located. You will see other temples with intricate carvings. I suggest less time in udaipur or going to Jaipur instead. While udaipur is pretty and we enjoyed it, we were surprised by how much we enjoyed Jaipur. The drive between Jaipur and Agra was one of the most interesting (note - it takes almost a full day if you stop along the way at the monkey temple, step well and fethipur sikri (sp?) - all very interesting. I don't believe you have time to go to Orchha. I think there may be an overnight train between Agra and Varanasi. From Varanasi, fly back to Delhi. If time permits, spend 2 nites. We were really surprised at how interesting Delhi was and regretted the fact that we had so little time there.
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