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Need help - Itinerary and Suggestions for first time trip to India

Need help - Itinerary and Suggestions for first time trip to India

Old Dec 27th, 2011, 04:58 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 62
Need help - Itinerary and Suggestions for first time trip to India

Hi. My husband and I are planning our first trip to India (Feb. 2013). We have traveled quite a lot but this will be our first visit to India. Based on my research and information that I obtained from the message board, the following is my preliminary itinerary. I intend to hire a private guide/drive for most of the trip. Max. length of trip, including travel, is 20 days. I generally dont go to more than three cities in any one trip, but I am finding that to be impossible here. I am trying to do this so that I am not spending the entire time packing and unpacking and traveling. Any thoughts about length of time and manner to get from one destination to another would be appreciated.
My main interest is cultural. I love to see and experience things that I can't see or do in New York. (In Thailand it was Tong's secret fishing village, orphanage in the forest, going to hilltribe villages and making merit) Generally, one palace/church/fort is enough for me. If I can find something to do off the beaten path, I would be happy. If I could do this without seeing tourists or tour buses, I would be thrilled (I know that won't be possible at the Taj Mahal.) Anyway - here goes:

Leave from New York
Delhi/New Delhi (2 days?)
Varanasi (2 days)
Agre - (1 day)
Ranthananbure National Park (2 days)
Jaipur (2 days)
Jodphur - 2 days - Cattle Fair
Udaipar - not sure if I should include this
Maldives - 2-3 day (this is my husbands portion of the trip)

I can't decide if I should try to include PUshkar, Jaisalmer, or Bundi
I wanted to do a jeep safari to go to some of the rural areas, but I don't know where a good place to do that would be.
I was originally going to try to add some time in Bhutan??

Would anybody add anything - or take something away.
Should I try to get different guides for different parts of the trip - I was thinking of talking to legends and; india by car and and Rajasthan four whell drive pvt ltd.

I know I am asking for a lot here, but I know when I need to seek the advice of experts......
All thoughts and comments would be appreciated.

Judy (brencara)
New York
brencara is offline  
Old Dec 27th, 2011, 05:41 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Delhi to Varanasi- 12 hr train or 2 hour flight & about 45 minute airport/city drive on both ends.
Delhi to Agra: 3+/- hr train or 4 to 8 hour drive
Agra to Ranthambore: 4 to 5 hour drive
Ranthambore to Jaipur 5 hour drive
Jaipur to Delhi 4~5 hr drive
Essentially one full day should be added to each city to allow for getting to the next city.

Unless you are doing drive-by India, I would do no more than 5 cities plus the maldives. You could do the route above, or do Delhi, Varanasi. Agra, Udaipur, Jodpur and your quckie trip to the Maldives.
Travel in India takes a lot longer than you'd expect. The roads can be bad, trains or planes late or cancelled.

If you love it, you'll find a way to go back. If you go too fast, you won't love it.
lcuy is offline  
Old Dec 27th, 2011, 07:09 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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your trip plan is a disaster in the making...
moving in india is very slow...

you will want at least one day to travel between cities and at least 2 days in each city...

every minute in india is a cultural experience...

i don't think you will see many bus tours at all... maybe in jaipur..

i would cut your trip to delhi 3+ days, varanasi by plane min. 2 days, agra 2 nights one day minimum, could add another day.... 3 days jaipur...3 days min to get to and from india... 3 days maldives min---expensive to get there and to stay there... maybe udaiput for 3 days to enjoy and relax...

may i suggest you talk to avrind at castle and king who just did my 2nd trip and did a great job for [email protected]

picking your hotels is very important to your overall enjoyment....they are unusually expensive... good place to use points if you have any...

heritage hotels are a real joy...
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Dec 27th, 2011, 10:45 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 4,438
One night in Agra is fine, but do arrive afernoon, tour Fort etc, then to Taj Mahal first thing in the mronig before train riders from New Del arrive.

Maybe skip Varanasi this time, and concentrate on the Rajasthan (cities and villages) area that you already mention, before leaving for Maldives. Twenty days is not a lot for all you want to do.

Lcuy and Rhkkmk are right: don't underestimate the time in takes, and the unpredicitabilities, of travel .

Whether you enquire of them or not (I am planning third trip with them now) do check the itinerary page and other great info at
for some ideas and photos.
CaliNurse is offline  
Old Dec 28th, 2011, 05:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,237
We are similar to you in many ways in what our usual travel style is (slow travel with a focus on quality over quantity), and I too discovered that it won't work for India. The difference between us is that we are leaving in a month, and I am just now making plans. And, we plan to take a longer trip than you will be taking.

Originally we too thought we'd include a national park for a wildlife experience. After all the reading I've done, I've discovered that all too frequently national wildlife parks and the experience there just aren't what many foreign visitors expect. Thus, we are passing on these.

Here is an itinerary with a totally different focus than normal, and it may be more what you are looking for even though it doesn't hit all of the usual biggies.

This current thread over at Tripadvisor will give you tons of help.

Click on my name, and you'll find links to other interesting and helpful things I've discovered in the planning process.
julies is offline  
Old Dec 28th, 2011, 03:47 PM
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To my knowledge there is no cattle fair in Jodhpur, but it's a great city to visit. The little town of Ossian about 20 miles outside Jodhpur is well worth the time. The fort in Jodhpur there is the best in Rajasthan and has an elevator to the top so you can take a leisurely stroll to the bottom.

Don't miss Udaipur -- lovely and romantic. Many Indian newlyweds go there for their honeymoon. The drive from Jodhpur to Udaipur is scenic -- Aravelli Hills, Ranakpur, Khumbulgarh Fort -- not to be missed.

I've not been to the Maldives. How about taking a trip to the beach at another time? I agree with other posters that India is so difficult that you will welcome taking the time to see what you see with less hassle.

But I loved driving along the crowded, maddening roads in India -- cows, water buffalo, camels, herds of goats, an occasion elephant, seeing the Indian people in their own setting. I saw so much and learned so much.
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Old Dec 28th, 2011, 03:59 PM
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Posts: 62
Thank you all for your comments. Is this any better? I am now thinking:
(not sure what order)

Delhi - 2 full days
Varanasi - 2 days
Agre - 1 day
Jaipur - 2 days
Jodphur - 2 days
maldives - 2 or 3 days

Will probably use a combination of train/plane/drive
Will still want to have car/driver/guide
Not sure what order I should do this in
Still wondering if I should include Bundi or Pushkar (I know, I know - less is more) Just want to make sure that I am not making a mistake by leaving something out or not substituting something.
Do I need to add time anywhere?

Is this any better?
Judy (brencara)
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Old Dec 28th, 2011, 04:48 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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Julie S, THANKS for the link to that post on TA. To answer your question there...even if only two people--trust me on this--Innova is WELL worth the additional price--better views from in car, better comfort and last but not least in India...better SAFETY
CaliNurse is offline  
Old Dec 28th, 2011, 04:51 PM
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If you have 20 days you could def'lly add more places.
"Less is more" sure...but how often do you get to India?
You could definitely add villages in Rajasthan.
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Old Dec 28th, 2011, 05:39 PM
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If I were to add one more place would you recommend Udaipur or someplace else? I know I am obsessing, but I really want to get this right.

Also, any comments of where I would fly (one time if I want to save some driving time.)

Any thoughts to a jeep safari out of any of my stops so that I can see some out-of-the way villages and the real India?
brencara is offline  
Old Dec 28th, 2011, 09:06 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 4,438
Greetings, Judy.

It's ALL the "real India"!! Everywhere!!!! Within 10 minutes of stepping out of the airport, you'll get what i mean.

Congratulations, you are normal. (-; We ALL obsess the first time in a new place, i think, especially with limited time when one must try very hard to make the most of that time, guessing what will or won't be essential

For a few ideas of Rajasthan "off the beaten track" stops, i again refer you to the excellent INdianpanorama site and one of their newsletters:

This was written over 2 yrs ago, so these places may be less "unusual" than they were then.

On my trip next month, I am making two stops between Jaipur and Agra (which is along your route) which i think will be interesting:

One to Karauli (mentioned in the newsletter) and another to Bharatpur. The owner of one of the in-town homestays in Bharatpur just opened a sort of "country inn" called The Royal Farm outside town. I dont know anything about it, other than what i've read on tripadvisor, or heard from the owner (via email and his website). They serve food from their garden. See first two reviews here:

and Rinkesh's own site:


I will be there next month and will report back . You have plenty of time to plan and book, and if you are like i was 4 yrs ago, preparing for first trip back after 40 yrs, you will go back and forth many times before settling on a final itinerary!!

If you havent already discovered it, do check Indiamike. Amazing source of info, from people of all ages, nationalities, economic status, interests, on every single detail of travel in India .
CaliNurse is offline  
Old Dec 29th, 2011, 07:27 AM
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Posts: 4,237

I am planning this on the fly as we are intending to leave in a month, and we want interesting and authentic and off the beaten track but not super pricey lodging. I think we'll have about 3 weeks in the Rajasthan area and, while wanting to see a lot, we do nor want to run around with chickens like our heads cut off. Plus, we want a good mix of activities and locales. AS I said earlier, we are like you and prefer not to keep on the move packing and unpacking, but I am finding that travel style impossible for India. So, I am giving in to the more usual tourist type itinerary. But, we are intending to periodically mix in places for relaxation too.

Check these places out (none of these are in the typical biggies itineraries but are smaller and more rural offering various types of activities) as alternatives to some of the more well-know places. This should keep you busy for hours.

I don't know what your budget range is, but nearly all of these are under $100 a night. If you want to pay more, there are other similar options that I haven't listed becasue we are trying to keep prices down so we can afford to go for 6 weeks. The ones with the * are places we are seriously considering for our upcoming trip.

Udai Bilas
Prithvi Vilas*
Ravla Khempur
Chandelao Garh*
Fort Pokaran*
Rawla Jojowar*
Fort Dhamli*
Ghanerao Castle*
Ravla Blenshwara*
Birders Inn*
Roopangarh Fort
Phool Majal
Tordi Garh
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Old Dec 29th, 2011, 09:15 AM
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Posts: 62
Thanks Julies - I guess you know what I will be doing (obsessing over) this weekend.
....And you know I will want to hear all about YOUR trip you and all the other wonderful people who have taken their time to give me information - Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!
brencara is offline  
Old Dec 29th, 2011, 06:08 PM
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 396
We just returned from a month in India (you can see my trip report, if you want). As others have said, you don't have to worry about seeing the real India -- it will be all around you. That said, I would definitely keep Varanasi in your plans -- it was the most incredible experience of our trip (and the one we still marvel at).

I would definitely use a combination of travel methods. Trains take time so I would limit their use -- maybe just one between Delhi and Agra. With the number of cities you plan to visit, I would include several domestic flights to give yourself more sightseeing time -- that will allow you to spend at least 3 nights in a couple spots.

Choose an area in Rajasthan to cover with a car and driver since driving around India is an experience in itself. I agree that the area between Udaipur and Jodhpur is fantastic -- don't miss Ranakpur Temple. You may also want to include a splurge stop in this area at Rawla Narlai, an outstanding resort in a very special small town.

I am also a big fan of Bundi. I think the best thing that we did on our trip was having a good mix of big cities and smaller villages/towns.

You would need to research the flights etc. but you might fly from Delhi to Varanasi and then from Varanasi to Jodhpur. From there you can hire a driver to do a circuit something like this: Jodhpur - (Narlai) - Udaipur - (Bundi) - Jaipur - Agra. Then take the train from Agra to Delhi and catch your flight to the Maldives.

You can also stretch your time in Delhi to 3 nights with two nights at the start of your trip and one at the end. (With an early flight, you can still have a half a day for final sightseeing/shopping.)

We could not have been happier with V.P. Singh at Legends and Palaces. You can outline what you think you would like to do, and Mr. Singh will prepare an itinerary for you with lots of excellent suggestions. In our case, we had him take care of everything: guides, hotels (with my input), and transfers to/from airports and train stations.
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